Ding-a-ling I Like Your Sling!By Muireann Kyeyune 9th May 2015
“Ding, ding, ding, just ask her!” a little voice and bell repeat in my head. “Okay,” I think, “I can do this!”
I’m standing in a not so busy back street of Temple Bar, Dublin staring at Spanish woman wearing a baby on the front of her body. I’m both excited and nervous. It’s 2009 and the last time I’d seen women with children tied to their bodies was in Africa. You’d see Ugandan women dotted on the slopes around Kisoro with a hoe in their hands and a baby nestled tightly in brightly-coloured cloth.
I’m pregnant with my first child. I know I just have to ask her where on earth she got this long piece of material from and how with a series of knots it worked. I furtively look around and pluck up the nerve to approach her.
“You... like my sling?!” she replies in a heavily accented voice. The slight look of alarm melts away as she tells me all about her discovery of slings. She talked about how easy it was to get around and do things knowing that her baby was snug and quiet. There’s a knack with knotting, she explained, “But you practice.” The only disadvantage was that it was difficult to put on in town once she’d parked her car.
It would be another 3 years until I bought a sling myself after my initial conversion. I can blame a busy full time working lifestyle but honestly it was the thoughts of buying something untried off the internet! With online reviews to help, I eventually purchased my first sling and looked forward to the birth of my second child. I loved my sling and especially loved wearing it when out and about. Nothing better than having baby on board, as you alight the London tube. Soon I too was being approached by nervous mothers-to-be and interested strangers full of wonder and questions.
Recently I sat down with my friend Vicki to learn more about baby wearing and how she got into slings and wraps. We’re in a busy cafe at York train station. Her son comfortably stowed, breathing gently as he slept. Like many mothers Vicki and her husband purchased what they thought were the essentials for babies; a car-seat; a cot and a pram. Later she realised only the car-seat was the ‘must-have’ and the pram is rarely used.
Vicki was initially given a wrap to try out and immediately saw the benefits of wrapping her son during the first few months of life. With her interest sparked she went online and found a world of Facebook sling groups, advice and even a Yorkshire based ‘Sling Library’. At a sling library you can rent for two weeks to try out different styles and brands to see what works best for you and your needs. In contrast to me, she then went on to confidently buy the right ones for her online. Because there isn’t a one fits all sling or carrier, she now has a collection.
There are so many choices for both mothers and fathers to consider. You can have solar weave, stretchy, heavy types and even ones to buckle and others with rings. There are ones that keep baby happy when teething in the house or ones best for an airplane and travelling abroad. There are soft structured ones for walking the dog with a toddler in tow on your back.
We gathered our belongings to catch that train to London when Vicki was approached by a grandmother. “Excuse me; I think my daughter would like that for her little girl. What’s it called?” Vicki smiled, used to the questions and listed off some fantastic brands for her to try. Ding a ling, someone else likes your sling!
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