I don't know about you, but I seem to see more mums and dads carrying babies in slings lately. Like any piece of baby equipment, a great way to find out if they could be right for you is to find out what other experienced mums and dads think of them. Which worked for them? Which were comfortable? Which did baby like? What are the perils? We canvassed a group of mums, and a dad too (it's almost a gadget after all) to find out how the baby sling thing has been for them.
I tried about three different ones, a BabyBjorn, a fabric wrap-around one and a Mothercare version, but found that Joseph was a) either very heavy (8lb 12oz at birth) or I'm just not that strong, so he was quite a lump to carry, b) he was a very long baby and his feet would kick me in the groin area which was very uncomfortable, c) I had to carry a change bag so it wasn't as hands-free as having a buggy in which baby, change bag and all manner of worldly goods could be stashed away.
We did use a metal-framed one which goes on your back, from when he was 6mths, to go on walks and seaside jaunts, as this was a practical option out in the countryside. I have to say that my partner mainly used this because it was heavy, especially with Joe in. I have only used it once for Tom in the recent heavy snow when the buggy was just not going to make it through the drifts.
Suzanne, mum of two, 5yrs and 10mths
When Nina was tiny we found she preferred the BabaSling to be carried in. It keeps the baby all snug in a pouch type environment. When she was a bit older I bought a Wilkinet, which loads of mums swear by, but eventually ended up with a BabyBjorn carrier which I found so much easier to use, especially one-handed!
Since Nina was about 6 months we have also used a Macpac Vamoose back carrier for our walking trips in the hills - it's a really good piece of kit.
Lu, mum of one, 11 months
I used a front carrier BabyBjorn brand, which was good from birth to about 5mths (until the kids got too heavy). Both kids loved falling asleep whilst cocooned in carrier, then loved being able to look around when they were old enough to face forwards on walks.
It was especially good with two kids under two as our 19-month-old could ride in stroller and the newborn could be close to me. I also used them to carry and comfort Freya because she was terrified of the vacuum cleaner when little!
Sarah, mum of two, 3 years and 1 year
I certainly did use a baby carrier or two! I initially bought an expensive Bugaboo pushchair and then had a baby who had other ideas – he hated being in the pushchair and wanted to be held all the time. In desperation I discovered the world of slings and babywearing and didn't look back!
I developed a sling addiction and bought them in all the different varieties (wraps – e.g. Didymos; Mei Tais – e.g. Joey slings; pouches – e.g. Hotslings ; ring slings e.g. Freedom slings; and structured carriers – e.g. Ergo) and colours (to match different outfits and for different occasions, such as walks, quick outings etc). The Bugaboo became an expensive sling-storage unit until I sold it virtually unused.
I also went to sling meets and chatted online with other babywearers at www.slingmeet.co.uk and made some really lovely friends who shared my approach to parenting.
Slings are very helpful with using public transport and soothing to babies. It's lovely having your baby so close too. My husband also loved using the Mei Tai Joey sling and refused to take the buggy anywhere.
However, slings aren't the answer to everything. You do have to put in the time to learn to use them properly and safely. Also, whilst it does help you get on with your life, doing the cleaning/shopping with baby in sling is still not as easy as doing it with no baby! Also, no one sling is perfect – different slings are good for different times, people and ages of baby.
I used slings, first in front carries, then back carries as he got older, until my son was about 18 months and he started to refuse the sling, preferring to walk.
Charlotte, mum of two, 3 years and 7 weeks
Yes - my partner Paul and I both use baby carriers. Paul uses a secondhand BabyBjorn and I use a kari-me sling. Jake loves being carried and I find the kari-me very comfy. Only downside is that it is a bit fiddly to tie and looks a bit messy when it's on.
I also tried the Better Baby sling, which Jake liked but I didn't, very hard on the shoulders and back. Now he is heavier I tend to take him out in his pram but still use the sling if he's feeling poorly or is having a cuddly day.
Tammy, mum of one, 10 months
Hell yeah - these things really work on lots of levels. Really good for calming down screaming babies, they let you do stuff with your hands whilst the baby is held safe and happy (try making dinner without one!), much more portable and all-terrain than a pushchair when out and about, and dads love them. They are especially great when the baby can hold its head so can turn them round to face out. We had a Wilkinet.
Tom, dad of two, 4yrs and 15mths