I honestly don’t know how people eat, clean or do the shopping, unless they babywear. More power to you if you can manage it, but for me, my sling has been my saviour. Unfortunately, we’re at the stage now, where Cara has outgrown her stretchy wrap and I have to move onto a more structured, or a more solid carrier. However, I thought I’d outline the pros and cons of the stretchy, as I see them, for anyone expecting or who has a newborn.
(I won’t get into the pros and cons of babywearing in general, in this post, but you can read more about the benefits here. Méabh and Tricia from Snugglebugs are amazing sling consultants and they will definitely be able to convince you of the benefits.)
- The stretchy is amazing around the house. You can tie it on in the morning and pop baby in and out as you need to. I have done the hoovering, cleaned the bathroom, written a blogpost, hung out a wash and cooked a dinner, all while Cara slept in the stretchy.
- It’s really snug. If you’ve never used a sling before (I hadn’t) this is a lovely introduction. Once you have baby in the sling, they’re snug and happy and you have no concerns about them going anywhere. It will give you confidence to move onto another sling, once you see how secure baby is in it.
- Our stretchy was amazing for colic and fussiness. Our girl loves to bounce and we had to bounce constantly for the first few months. Having her in the stretchy meant that we could simply walk with a bit of a bounce and it would help to settle her. I was also able to put her in the sling, bounce on my birth ball, and still have my hands free.
- You can breastfeed in the stretchy. It won’t be completely hands free, but in the early days it will make it much easier to have one hand free! As Cara got bigger and better able to support herself, she didn’t really like feeding in the sling, but it was great in the early weeks.
- It’s warm. This could be a con I suppose but we had Cara in September and not having to bundle her up excessively made going for a walk that bit easier. (We also bought one of these fleeces, to add an extra layer when we were heading out.)
- It prevents baby from being passed from Billy to Jack. This is controversial I know, but bear with me. Our baby is always much harder to settle when she’s had a lot of handling, but I find it really hard to say no when someone asks to hold her. (More on this later) She is always so snug and cosy in the stretchy that people rarely ask to take her out! It’s a bit sneaky, but it works really well for us.
- It’s machine washable at 30′. When you have a spewy baby, and trust me, we do, this is essential. I could almost have done with two though, one to wash and one to wear!
- A stretchy wrap is a good value sling. They cost about €70 and hold their value quite well for selling on at a later date. We used a JPMBB carrier and I think we definitely got our money’s worth.
- You have to tie it on in advance. The stretchy we have is 5 metres long and because it’s going to house your precious baby, you don’t want it trailing in the Aldi carpark while you tie it on! This was fine for heading to the supermarket or somewhere where you knew you would use it, but I often found if Cara wasn’t in it, I was less restricted if I took the wrap off… only to have to retie it, 20 minutes later.
- It is only suitable up to about 6 months (or a little less in our case because Cara is quite heavy) This is only a con, because I’d happily keep her in a stretchy forever if I could!
- It can be tricky to get the hang of tying it and positioning baby properly in the wrap (this is really important). However, once you’ve done it a couple of times, it becomes second nature. I went for a sling consultation while I was pregnant and then practised with a teddy until Cara arrived. This meant I got the hang of it fairly quickly.
- It can limit your clothing a bit. The easiest thing to wear with a stretchy (especially if you’re breastfeeding) is a stretchy vest or a nursing vest, then your wrap and then a cardigan, because then you can leave the wrap on for the day and you have easy access for feeding. It’s also better to layer up over your wrap, so that you don’t have to disturb your baby if you get too hot, you can just take off a layer or two. This means your wardrobe will be limited for a couple of months. I wear basically the same thing everyday, a vest, a pair of jeans and a baby!
- People look at you a bit funny when you don’t have baby in it. I got a few funny looks if I went somewhere, without the baby, and I had my stretchy on. (I found it easier to leave it on, especially when she was so little.) I didn’t really care too much but it might be a consideration for someone else.
So there you have it. If you think of something I’ve left off, put it in the comments below. All in all I found the stretchy a great introduction to babywearing and I’ve definitely been sucked down the rabbit hole. I’m carefully planning my next purchase!
If you want to try before you buy, there are lots of sling libraries around the country where you can rent a stretchy wrap (or any kind of sling) for as little as €10 a month. I would highly recommend these meets, as even if you don’t hire a sling, you get to chat to lots of other mams and see their gorgeous babies. You’ll find a list of sling libraries on the Babywearing Ireland site, here.