Friday, March 26, 2010
Hotslings - the carrier of the week
This wasn't my first carrier, that honor goes to "The Ultimate Baby Wrap" stretchy wrap, but this was my first carrier I used all the time. A "Hotsling" is a pouch style carrier, meaning you fold the fabric into a pouch the baby will sit in, and it slings across your shoulder. There are some definite issues with a one shouldered baby carrier - mainly that it only distributes the baby's weight on which ever shoulder you have slung it across. There is also the issue that this carrier is not good for babies between four and seven months because there is no convenient way to carry them. It is also a front or hip carrier, so chores such as cooking are not recommended, because the baby cannot sit safely on your back. It is a sized carrier, so it isn't easily swapped between two different sized parents, meaning a family needs to purchase two if both parents plan to babywear. Finally, whichever shoulder has the sling across it, is generally constricted, so while you may have two free hands, you don't necessarily have two free arms.
All of that being said, I would recommend this sling to any new mom who was looking for a good, easy carrier to use. It is one piece of fabric, so you just fold, slip it on, put baby in and go. There's no wrapping, knots, or tying involved. It's incredibly compact so it easily fits into any diaper bag or can remain in the car inconspicuously. Newborns can be held in a cradle carry, which is the position where they are laying down horizontally across mama's chest (or papa's depending on who is wearing the carrier). Supposedly moms can nurse in it, which I never tried, but I can believe it would work well. It is quality made, so the fabric doesn't pull as the baby grows. Around 3 or 4 months, the baby can sit kangaroo style, where they are sitting up in the cradle position and able to look out and hide in mom's chest. At about 6 or 7 months, the baby will be able to sit in a hip side carry, where the carrier holds the baby on mom or dad's hip. This is convenient for babies who are on the go and wanting to be picked up and put down frequently, or for a parent who is grocery shopping. The sling allows plenty of arm movement, despite one of the shoulders being restricted, so shopping, running errands, and visiting people is a breeze. Because the baby is so close to the parent, it thwarts the efforts of random strangers who reach out to touch the baby (hand sanitizer please!), and it comes in plenty of different colors.
I've spoken with a lot of different moms and many of them find this carrier to be too complex. It honestly isn't, but it's intimidating LOOKING. If the carrier comes with a DVD (as hotslings does), I recommend watching it, if not, youtube has many videos that instruct how to use the pouch style carriers. It doesn't matter if you have a "Peanut Shell", "Amy Coe", or "Hotslings" brand - the videos are interchangeable because it is in the same category of sling. I highly recommend practicing around the house until you get the hang of any carrier. Put the baby in the pouch over the couch or bed, so you don't risk dropping him/her on the floor. Then, walk around for a bit, see how it feels. Check out the Baby Wearer Forums where you can see videos, post pictures, and ask for advice if you still need help. Some mom's claim their baby hates the sling, and while that is sometimes true, it's not true nearly as often as many moms claim. Baby's don't like anything new, but if you keep moving and soothing your baby, within a few minutes he or she will love the sling. It has the additional benefit of swaddling the baby tightly because it is fitted.
In the world of slings, this one is quite affordable running about $50 (many other types of slings are upwards of $100-200 for a quality, lasting carrier). It is definitely possible to find a used one for even cheaper.
I distinctly remember when James was about six or seven weeks old. We had just bought the Hotsling, and I was just getting the hang of it. I was doing laundry as dinner was cooking, and baby was sleeping peacefully in the sling. At the time, we hadn't realized he was allergic to dairy, so it was hard to get him to sleep peacefully without a lot of screaming. As I folded the laundry, I remember thinking "wow, I'm getting the hang of this 'mom thing' a little bit. With this sling, I can actually do the bare minimum housework i need to do without sacrificing my baby's comfort or happiness" - and that was a big deal to me. My baby never had to sit alone in a swing while I cleaned because he was securely sleeping in my pouch carrier (of course, we definitely allowed him time in the swing - all things in balance). I did have to be careful as to what cleaners I sprayed because with him up against my body, any toxic cleaners would inevitably be within his breathing range. That of course led to two observations on my part:
1. Cleaning wipes such as clorox, windex, or murphy's oil soap, etc. are wonderful inventions.
2. Going green and getting rid of toxic cleaners is even more wonderful. Not only does one avoid the spray as with the wipes, but the fumes as well. Just one more reason to be a Hippie Earth Mama.
Basically, i would say that if you can get two baby carriers, this would definitely be one of the two I would recommend. There are solutions to almost every problem, and many resources to help people learn to use the sling while keeping baby comfy!