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Many questions on this site reference baby slings, but none of them really explain what they are or what the benefits of using one are (as say, compared with other carriers like the Baby Bjorn). When we were shopping for baby stuff, baby sling was on the list (along with a lot of completely unnecessary stuff) and in all truth, I fore-went the baby sling, thinking it just another contraption for some company to make money on.

I would never have experienced the joys of using one, if it had not been for the fact that my Grandfather's New Wife bought me one. I know I came to consider it an essential blessing, but never really studied its actual benefits/pitfalls.

My sister, and two of my sisters-in-law fore-went using one, despite my experience with it and all three of them looked at me like I had just walked off an Alien Space ship when they first saw baby and I wearing it, so I thought it might be helpful to ask:

What is a baby sling and why should I use one?

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A sling is a traditional baby carrier made from a large piece of cloth and tied in a manner that secures a baby / small child to an adult. Carriers like the baby bjorn etc are modern or more engineered versions of a sling. They do the same job and may have some conveniences like plastic clips or may just use branding and advertising to make them seem better. The sling has been around for centuries and slings still feature heavily as convenient ways to carry young children around in poorer regions.

To use one or not is a matter of personal taste. Some of the things I like about using a sling are:-

  • Easily shoved in a bag when you don't need it.
  • No special laundry care - just shove it in with everything else.
  • For very young ones it's a great way to maintain their body temperature and they soothe more easily as they can hear your heartbeat and breathing etc.
  • Tying it different ways allows greater flexibility where an 'engineered' carrier is usually more limited.

In the 1st world you do tend to get people who look at you like you've come from mars (although as a dad out with the kids I'm used to that.) They are perceived as being a bit "hippy" which in some respects they are.

They can be a bit of a fiddle to learn to tie initially (for nearly a whole 5 minutes for someone who has managed to learn to tie their shoes) and you do need a bit more space to put them on and take them off, and if you're putting them on/taking them off in the wet then you can sometimes end up getting the ends wet.

Detractors claim they're dangerous, but usually they have not used or tried one and don't understand how a child is secured. So long as they're used properly they're no more or less dangerous than any other baby carrier.

Caveat:- there are a category of slings called 'bag slings' and the above may not apply to them, I don't know much about them and have not included them in this answer.

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It also adds flexibility to the mom because she can nurse the baby with both hands free once she gets the hang of using the sling this way - something other carriers also can't claim. –  balanced mama Nov 24 '13 at 14:47

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