Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Article about choosing a sling

I am working on this article. This is a first pass at it, a very rough draft. What common questions have I overlooked? Does anything come off too heavy-handed?

When choosing a carrier, many factors must be considered. Here are some of the main considerations:
  • Comfort.
    When selecting a carrier, think about how the baby’s weight will be distributed on the parents’ body. In general, the wider the straps, the more comfortable the carrier. Narrow straps dig into the wearer, and the heavier the baby, the more uncomfortable narrow straps become.
    Also keep in mind the baby’s comfort. Think about how you would feel hanging from your crotch with your legs dangling straight down. Carriers that have wide support to form a seat are more comfortable for babies.
  • Flexibility.
    How long will this carrier last?
    Can it carry a baby from newborn to preschooler?
    Will it become uncomfortable when baby gets bigger, in the case of most front carriers?
    Or does it only work with babies who can sit unassisted, like most hip carriers?
    Does the carrier hold baby in one position, or a variety of positions? Typically, the more structured a carrier is, the fewer the options. Many front packs can only be worn on the wearer’s front, with baby facing in or out. Very unstructured carriers like wraps allow the most flexibility, but require time and patience to master. Mei Tais are also very flexible, allowing even newborns to be worn on the wearer’s back. Ring slings and pouches offer a wide variety of carries on front, back, hip, and nursing.
  • Lifestyle.
    Are you a grab-and-go person? You might prefer the simplicity of a pouch or ring sling.
    Would you rather take time and get the maximum comfort and flexibility? More "advanced" carriers like wraps and mei tais might be right for you. Do you want a carrier that can easily go in the wash, like cotton, or are you willing to do some extra work for a gorgeous fabric like silk?
  • Style.
    Are you a dressy person, or a casual person? Sporty or spicy? Solarveil or silk?
    Do you like the look of a very streamlined carrier, or does a long piece of dramatic fabric add to your look
    A baby carrier is YOUR accessory, so choose something that fits your style.
  • Season.
    If you live in a cold climate, you might enjoy the comfort and softness of silk or fleece.
    In a very hot climate, you might opt for lightweight, breathable, sun-protective solarveil.
    Cotton is an excellent, breathable option for all climates.
  • Who will wear the carrier?
    Many first-time parents look for one carrier that both mom and dad can wear. Experienced parents, however, realize that mom and dad would seldom choose the same clothing accessory like a bag or jacket. There are many exceptions, but as a general rule, dads often prefer simple designs like a pouch, or something with buckles and straps like a front carrier or backpack. Moms also like pouches, but unless the parents are very close in size, it’s not possible to share something this fitted. Ask yourself: could you share a fitted jacket with your partner? Would it fit both of you well? Many moms are drawn to beautiful fabrics and the flexibility of pouches, ring slings, wraps and mei tais.

If no one carrier suits you, you’re not alone. Many babywearers have multiple carriers for different occasions. You wouldn’t wear your running shoes to a formal wedding. A good babycarrier should last three years, as long as most pairs of shoes. Better brands have high resale value as well. So it’s well worth it to build a collection of carriers to carry you through three of the most precious years of your life.

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