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Baby slings have been used in European countries for decades and in Africa even longer. The sling provides parents the opportunity to have both hands free while still maintaining constant contact with their infant. The sling, if used correctly, provides gentle pressure on the infant, which can stimulate neurological impulses similar to those experienced in the womb. Young infants often prefer the feeling of being swaddled and restricted; a baby sling can create the swaddled feeling without using heavy blankets. When an infant is in a baby sling, the motion that is felt is similar to the rocking motion that is experienced in the womb and can help calm the child.
Selecting a Sling
Slings come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Consider your infant's size as well as the size of the person who will wear the sling. If a sling is too loose, the infant could slide down and become hunched over and suffocate. The position that the sling is designed to hold baby in is also important. Some slings can be worn multiple ways, allowing the wearer to choose the position that is most comfortable. Consider where the weight of the infant will settle when choosing a sling.
When Not to Use a Sling
If your baby is a preemie or had low birth weight, don't use a sling until your infant is normal weight. Babies who have respiratory complications should not be placed in a sling. The tightness of the sling can create breathing difficulties for these children.
Never place your baby on his stomach in the sling. If an infant manages to slide down the sling to the point that his face is covered, he should be repositioned in the sling. An infant’s chin should not be allowed to touch his chest will lying in a baby sling, as this will restrict the airway of the infant.
Baby slings can be a wonderful tool to allow parents to be active while remaining close to their infant. However, it is vital that the parent is aware of the infant’s position in the sling at all times just as they would be if the child were directly in their arms.