As a mum, you get things done in whatever way works. What is (just about) working for me today whilst I write this blog, is standing in my kitchen doing the familiar mummy sway as my four month old daughter snoozes (finally) in a sling on my chest. The sling has been my saviour with baby number two. My son at two and a half has perfected manoeuvres such as the ‘loose limbed fall to the floor’ and the ‘windmill around a held hand’ when he disagrees with proceedings. With my daughter in a sling, I at least know that if he occupies a hundred percent of my attention during one of these moments then she is still safe. Not to mention that the close proximity in which she is held is comforting and calming to her which means she sleeps beautifully … as long as I’m moving!
The first day that I put her in the sling though, I was not as confident as I may sound. She was newborn, tiny, floppy and was bundled up against the cold. I was terrified her head would fall forwards, I wouldn’t notice and she wouldn’t be able to breathe. I must have stopped every six feet along the road to check that she was ok. The walk to collect my son from nursery took a long time!
Like most pieces of baby equipment, slings are safe as long as they are used correctly and the acronym TICKS, created by the UK Sling Consortium, is a quick and easy way to make sure that your baby is positioned safely:
T - tight, to hold the baby in the correct position and close to you
I – in view at all time, you must be able to check your baby’s colour with a glance as an instant check of their wellbeing
C – close enough to kiss. This ensures that your baby is being held up on your chest in a secure position or in a cradle position, they should be face upwards
keep chin off chest. Babies have large heads and immature neck strength. Their head falling forward can block their airway and stop them breathing.
S – supported back. In an upright carrier a baby’s chest and tummy should rest against your chest and in a cradle carrier the baby’s bottom should be in the deepest part so that they don’t slump into the wrong position, obstructing their breathing.
Protect your own back by keeping a good posture when carrying and by stopping and readjusting if you (or your baby) are uncomfortable. Try and ensure that your baby’s thighs are supported to protect their hips. Slings can also be invaluable for babies with reflux as the upright posture can help to relieve symptoms. It’s also useful to know that many areas have a sling library where you can get advice on safe carrying and try out which kind of sling works best for you and your child. A quick Google or search on Facebook should bring up your nearest group.
Now that we’re safe and secure we are well and truly on the move. TICKS has certainly helped me to complete my journeys more confidently, not to mention a lot more quickly!