How to use a baby sling

To hear Scott tell it, a sling is his baby care Leatherman. Check it out:

The simple fabric baby sling is most-used tool in my parenting arsenal. In addition to strapping your little one to your front, side, or back, it can fill many different roles in a pinch:

In sling mode, use the "tail" to:
* Protect baby from winter gusts
* Clean up minor spit ups
* Cover up while nursing

Spread out, the sling can become a:
* Clean place for a diaper change
* Ground cloth at the park
* Blanket
* Swaddling wrap
* Mini sun tent (draped between sticks, diaper bag, etc)

Advanced uses:
* Padding, pillow, or strap in a shopping cart
* Toddler leash (strap the loop around them while holding the tail)
* Pouch during pickup time to collect things that have migrated into the wrong room

Of course, you’ll want to wash it in between some of these off-label uses.

Buying tips:
* Don’t get the "padded" or "shaped" styles – they’re much less flexible beyond the intended use, and less comfortable in many positions
* Pick an extra-large size for a longer "tail"
* Look for a fabric that gives without stretching too much

I’ve used a Maya Wrap through two children, and highly recommend them (especially the newer designs, which include an integrated pocket). The fabric finally wore out after 4.5 years of wearing and washing; I’m currently using a homemade model created from a rectangle of appropriate woven fabric, plus two heavy-duty metal rings from the hardware store.

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  1. Serrina says

    Having just delivered my first child on 01/31/2006, I pre-bought a few different slings prior to our baby’s birth. I didn’t get the Maya wrap, but have come to love the Moby Wrap as it swaddles our baby against my chest and calms him when he’s fussy. The baby’s weight with this wrap is evenly distributed across your back and allows me to be hands free. Downside – a couple minutes to criss cross onto yourself. Other than putting it on, it’s comfy!

  2. Jill says

    I learned with baby #2 to beware of dark colors which may be hot in the summer months. I agree with the dislike of padded versions- hot and bulky too.

  3. says

    The best wrap for a little baby is the Moby Wrap! I always felt like my infant was going to fall out of the Maya wrap and I hate the Bjorn…it killed my back. You can wear your baby facing towards you or away from you in the Moby and it can hold up to 35 pounds–not that I would recommend hauling around a 35 pound child in it! For the heavier baby, I love the Mei Tai. My 20 month old loves “riding” in the Mei Tai and being up on my back. I don’t know how I would ever deal with 2 babies under age 2 without using a sling. A must for any parent!!

  4. says

    I used the bjorn until my boys got too heavy (20 lbs at 7 months)and then got the ergo carrier-loved both! Definitely new parent must haves.

  5. kytyn says

    we had a MayaWrap that I loved for all the reasons Scott listed – plus you could cram it into a diaper bag pretty easily. however my stay-at-home-dad husband loved our padded sling – he mostly used it for walking the kids to sleep at home so the bulkiness of it didn’t matter. another friend has a bjorn-type harness thing that he takes his daughter on long walks in which works for them. a sling is a must-have; ~which~ sling may vary.

  6. says

    For those of you who are, like me, “wrap-challenged” (even with the 20 minute instruction video, I couldn’t figure out how to do the Maya wrap without endangering the life of my baby and/or my saninty)…may I recommend the sling carriers from Walking Rock Farm slings are, I will admit, a little bulkier and than traditional wraps. And you can’t double it up as a picnic blanket or leash, BUT if you want something that’s as easy to throw on as a shoulder bag and extremely safe for your baby – this is worth checking out. My daughter loved being in hers and would go anywhere happily. And I’ve since loaned it out to two friends and their kids have loved it as well (and the product stood up to all the use). So…just another option for those who might love the idea of a sling but be too embarassed to admit that they can’t quite get the whole wrap thing.