If you’re a new parent or a parent-to-be, chances are, social media has targeted you with adverts of influencers mums wearing their babies in some new fancy-looking stretchy hybrid sling everybody is talking about. They seem so cosy and the sling seems easy to use; it’s a picture of bliss. The reality is, those new hybrid stretchy slings are far from being amazing. The reason for that is that they are sized, and it is very hard to get a good fit with a baby, especially a newborn, with a sized hybrid stretchy sling.
The K’tan, Konny Baby, Studio Romeo, Tricotti Slings and the likes come in different sizes based on your clothing size, and chances are, even if you order the size that matches your clothing size, it won’t fit properly. Just like with clothes shops, you might fit some size 8 tops in one shop, but not in the next one. I have rarely seen parents with one of these slings that fitted them. If it’s too loose, you can try flipping the front cross panels and see if that will make it tighter. Babies, especially those with no head control, need to be supported well enough in a tight-enough sling so that they don’t slump, with their head well-supported in order for them to keep their airways clear at all times. A baby who slumps in the sling can be very dangerous as this increases the risk of suffocation. So it’s no joke.
If the sling is too small, it will be too tight; your baby will likely cry in discomfort and you will feel squashed together. A sling that’s too tight will likely put pressure on your baby’s back, make them sit too straight and not respect the C-shape curvature of their spine. It’s important to respect your baby’s natural positioning and spine shape, especially with very small babies. You can’t fix a sling that’s too small.
Your body is also likely to change during the first few months of your baby’s life. It is very common for new mothers who have given birth to lose some weight after the birth, for breastfeeding mothers to have the shape and size of your breasts change a lot while your milk supply establishes itself, meaning the size you picked might not fit at the beginning but can later on or vice-versa. It’s also not uncommon for partners to put on some ‘sympathy’ weight during the pregnancy that will shed later on (my husband certainly did!!).
Babies grow and they might not grow with the sling, because although the material for these type of slings is stretchy, for a lot of them, it’s not stretchy enough to accomodate a growing baby. Again, because they are sized, they can’t be too stretchy or they won’t hold the weight like a good stretchy wrap would do (e.g., Boba, Hana, Calin Bleu, Je porte mon bebe). So sadly, they won’t last long and you’ll have to move on to another sling pretty quickly. The costs mount and this can put off a lot of parents on a tight budget.
Babies’ back need to be well-supported so that the rest of their upper bodies (neck and head) is also well-supported to keep the airways clear. This is why it’s recommended to carry them in 3 layers for slings made with stretchy material: a cross pass and a horizontal or ‘pocket’ (for wraps) pass. Some hybrid stretchy slings are either made only of a cross pass (e.g., Studio Romeo, Tricotti Sling) or include an external horizontal pass that is quite narrow and doesn’t cover the whole back (e.g., Konny Baby – they also suggest to tie that pass on the front in the middle of the baby’s back, which can put pressure on that point). In addition, carrying babies who are starting to move around (mainly to gain some visibility)in a stretchy cross-pass only sling carries a risk of fall. There is a point where they will be able to wriggle themselves out, and because the fabric isn’t robust enough, nor can it be tightened, and this can be dangerous.
Sadly, I have seen too many pictures of these slings being demo-ed in very unsafe or uncomfortable for the baby positions, or parents coming to see me with baby in an unsafe position, because this it what the manual showed (also very common for some ‘popular’ stretchy wraps). The baby should always be carried upright, legs out of the sling, with 3 layers for stretchy slings. See pic below.
So, are they ‘bad’ slings? No! If they fit you well, you wear it safely and your baby is safe and secure throughout the months you will use it, then it’s fine. Are they ideal? Not really, but you haven’t made a ‘bad’ choice, we can support you. Do I recommend them? No, I recommend you don’t let Instagram or influencers with no babywearing knowledge sell you slings. I always recommend that you make an informed choice by trying slings on before you buy one and letting us, qualified sling consultants, guide you so your babywearing is enjoyable, safe and afforadable.
So what’s the alternative? The Close Caboo!! It has been around for a very long time and is probably the ‘original’ stretchy wrap hybrid. And guess what? It’s not sized! It’s fully adjustable, it fits everybody and can be tightened by pulling the straps through a ring system. It’s simple to use, can be used in lots of different ways and you can even use it to carry twins because you can make it tight enough to support 2 babies, yep! The external horizontal panel is wide enough to cover the back and give some head support, and the stretch is really good. It’s roughly the same price as a K’Tan or a Konny and will likely last longer. You can find them second hand easily, and to save even more pennies and be eco-friendly, we offer them for hire for only £5/month (or £10 for the first month with a 20mins consultation, then £5 rolling)! If you want to be a bit more adventurous, you can try a stretchy wrap too. It’s worth giving them a go with guidance (from us, truly!) and get recommendations for some good brands (not from clueless Instagramer!). We also offer them for hire at the same cost. Drop us a message and we’ll be more than happy to assist you face-to-face or online.
(This review has been written by me, experienced and certified babywearing consultant, I am unbiased and not affiliated with a particular sling company, this is my professional opinion. You are welcome to agree to disagree with me I am here to support parents make informed choices, not criticising their choices)
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