TOP 5 TIPS for parents expecting a new arrival and looking for a carrier!
Every month we look to the knowledge and experience of professionals working in Sling Libraries, Carrying Consultancies or providing online support.
This month we have been talking to Cristyn Jenkins from The Babywearing Consultant
Cristyn is originally from Wales and became an independent babywearing consultant in 2018. She provides support for families all over the island of Ibiza and also internationally through her fantastic online support service for parents and families.
The Babywearing Consultant offers valuable resources for families starting out on their parenting journey who maybe don’t have a sling library nearby but want to know more about carrying. With Cristyn’s personal experience as a mother of two, combined with her training with the School of Babywearing and Slingababy, she has a wealth of knowledge and skills to share.
We asked Cristyn, ‘What are your top five tips for parents expecting a new arrival and looking for a carrier?’
1 - My first tip for expectant families is to think about what it is you want from a carrier
Managing your intentions and expectations early on can help you map out the first steps on your babywearing journey. Being clear on what you would like can help you find a carrier to suit your individual family dynamic and can also help avoid disappointment. It’s worth considering things such as, where you want to use your carrier - home, out and about, or both? Is anyone going to be sharing the sling with you - a partner, a grandparent? What’s your budget? What are your priorities – comfort, ease of use? Are you willing to compromise on one to gain on the other for example, the sling that’s quicker to use but a little less comfortable – such as the convenience of a buckle carrier with snaps and buckles over the cushy comfort of a wrap?
2 - My second tip is ‘don’t ask for recommendations’
Stay with me on this one! It sounds counterintuitive, I know but, actually, asking for recommendations may only create more confusion. You see, everyone who has used a carrier will most likely have an opinion and proclaim the one they have is ‘the best' baby carrier. That’s probably true; for them. People come in all different shapes and sizes and have different abilities and preferences. What may be the perfect carrier for one person may be a total nightmare for another, or definitely not the best!
Which leads me on to tip number 3 ...
3 - Connect with your local babywearing service (or find an ‘experienced’ online retailer or babywearing professional)
Jump on Google or social media and search for a babywearing meet up, sling library or independent carrying consultant in your area. It’s such a great move to do this whilst you’re pregnant. You can talk through your babywearing goals (from tip 1) with a trained expert (or it may be a really experienced parent running a meet-up) who can then explain the different options available to you based on your personal preferences.
Going along to a sling library or babywearing social is also a fantastic opportunity to connect with other parents. Becoming a parent is incredible but it can also be tough going. Isolation is a common theme in early parenthood. Getting out of the door with a little one can be a daunting task at the best of times. If you’ve already touched base with your local sling group, then the familiarity of knowing where you are going and who may be there can really ease those early day nerves when leaving home.
If you can’t find a local sling group or professional, then online support is becoming increasingly popular and there are postal hire services available which don’t have geographical limitations. Alternatively, search for a retailer who specialises in baby carriers and accessories who should be able to thoroughly answer any questions and recommend a variety of carrier options for you to consider. They may also be able to introduce you to local babywearing professionals you may not have found previously.
4 - My fourth tip is PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE!
If you’ve visited your local sling library and brought home a carrier (or purchased one online) then don’t wait until baby is here before picking it up. Put it on, look in the mirror, grab a teddy or long-legged chunky monkey, and pop it in the carrier! There really is no substitute for practising and each time you put your carrier on, you will gain confidence which will make it a little bit easier to truly master once your baby arrives!
5 - Fifth and finally, keep an open mind. Be willing to try different options.
It can be really disappointing when the carrier you’ve had your eye on throughout pregnancy feels uncomfortable or complicated, but don’t give up! If you're confident you’ve received sound advice, it may just be a case of ‘practice makes perfect’!
Also be open to the idea that you can have more than one sling. When people ask me my favourite sling, I always give the same answer, “different slings for different things” … just like shoes! I mean, you wouldn’t wear stilettos out hiking and you’d probably not wear your slippers round Tesco (side note, I’ve definitely worn my slippers to the supermarket by mistake!)
Babywearing journeys are transient; our needs are ever changing and so our sling requirements may change too
I hope you find my top tips helpful! If you would like more support with understanding the different types of baby carriers available then my FREE 6 page guide could really help you. Please visit my website here to download your copy.
A note from Slumber-Roo (Beco UK Team): If you're based in the UK and would like help finding your local sling library or carrying professional, contact us here - we're always happy to assist and can also recommend Beco Ambassadors where you can try Beco carriers before you buy!