BabyRoo Baby Slings – Okotoks, Alberta


Baby Slings: Okotoks, Alberta

By Laura Simeon

1. Wearing your baby is convenient.

When you carry your baby in a sling, you can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Plastic "baby buckets" are heavy and awkward for parents and they sure don't look too comfortable for the baby being swung around at knee level! Your sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket or cushion when you're out. It blocks out excess stimuli if you're breastfeeding a distractible baby, and lets you nurse discreetly when you need to. I've found my sling especially handy when negotiating busy airports with a small child and several bags!

2. Wearing your baby promotes her physical development.

When your baby rides in a sling attached to your body, she is in tune with the rhythm of your breathing, the sound of your heartbeat, and the movements you make – walking, bending, reaching. This stimulation helps her regulate her own physical responses, and also exercises her vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a "transitional womb" for the new baby, who has difficulty controlling her bodily functions and movements. Premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.

3. Babies worn in slings are happier.

Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss. In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day as opposed to Western babies, who frequently cry for hours each day. Crying is exhausting for both baby and his parents, and may cause long-term damage as the baby's developing brain is continually flooded with stress hormones. Babies who are not wasting their energy on crying are calmly observing and learning about their environment. Baby-wearing is particularly useful for colicky or "high needs" babies who are far happier being worn, but even the placid, content child will benefit from the warmth and security of being held close.

4. Baby-wearing is good exercise for you!

It's hard to find time to exercise when you are a new mother, but if you carry your baby around with you most of the day or go for a brisk walk with your baby in her sling, you will be doing your body good. A long walk in the sling is also an excellent way to put a child to sleep.

5. Toddlers appreciate the security of the sling.

Many people associate slings with infants, but they are very useful for toddlers as well (most slings accommodate children up to 35-40lbs). The world is often a scary place for toddlers, so they feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to. Toddlers are also prone to becoming over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a melt-down occurs. It is also very practical in places like the zoo or aquarium, where a small child in a stroller would not be able to see very much.

6. Baby-wearing helps you and your baby communicate better with each other.

The more competent you feel as a parent, the more you can relax and enjoy your child. And a large part of feeling confident in your parenting is being able to read your baby's cues successfully. When your baby is held close to you in a sling, you become very sensitive to each other's gestures and facial expressions. Many baby-wearing parents report that they never learn to distinguish their baby's cries (as mainstream parenting books say they should) – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying! Each time your baby is able to let you know she is hungry, bored or wet without crying, her trust in you is boosted and your confidence in yourself as a parent is reinforced. This positive cycle of interactions builds upon itself, enhances your mutual attachment, and makes life more enjoyable for everyone.

7. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents and other caregivers.

Slings are a useful tool for everyone in baby's life. It makes me smile everytime I see a dad going for a walk with his baby in a sling. Baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Fathers don't get the automatic headstart on bonding that comes with gestation, but that doesn't mean they can't make up for this once baby is born. The same goes for babysitters, grandparents and anyone else the baby comes into contact with. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you.

8. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.

Instead of being pushed along the street inhaling exhaust fumes in a stroller or running around loose in a busy parking lot, a child in a sling is held safe and secure right next to your body. Slings also provide emotional safety, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace.

9. Slings save you money.

Apart from being easy to use, slings cost far less than those big boat-like strollers, designer front-carriers or baby backpacks. In fact, once you start using one you'll probably find it among your most useful and economical possessions.

10. It's fun to wear your baby.

Who doesn't love to cuddle a downy-headed, sweet-smelling little baby? And when your baby is older, having her in the sling makes conversations easier and allows you to observe her reactions to the wonders of the world around her. It's also fun for baby, because when she is up at eye level, other adults notice and interact with her a lot. Your child will feel more a part of your life when she is in her sling, and you will find yourself becoming more and more enchanted with your special little person.

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