Find out how to wear a pouch sling and make it work for you and your baby.
Pouch style slings are widely recognized as one of the easiest of the baby carriers to use.
They are also loved for their simplicity, sleek look and ‘poppability’.
There are many benefits to babywearing, but make sure your pouch is correctly sized for you. Without a doubt, the most common mistake with pouch slings is that the pouch is improperly sized for the wearer.
In general, people have pouches that are too big for them. Many are surprised at how snugly a baby should be worn.
Also if your baby is too low in the pouch, their safety is compromised and you are likely to experience neck, back and/or shoulder pain.
When your baby is in the pouch, they should be snug and secure against your body (as if you were holding them), not swinging in the pouch.
Your baby feels snug and secure, you feel confident that you can use the sling hands-free.
The lowest point of your baby's bottom is at about your belly button level or slightly below.
The sling caps the outer part of your shoulder perfectly, without creeping towards your neck or sliding off your shoulder.
Your baby's weight is evenly distributed across your shoulder, back and hip.
It will just feel right!
Your baby’s bottom hangs lower than your belly button and/or they do not feel secure in the pouch
The sling slips off your shoulder or restricts your arm because it is sliding off (some restricted arm movement is normal, but if you find yourself unable to move your arm because the sling slips off otherwise, then the sling is too large).
You feel the need to push the sling entirely on top of your shoulder.
Your baby's weight is not distributed evenly and is focused more on your shoulder.
Your lower back may become fatigued or achy sooner.
You may feel the need to support or lift your baby up higher.
In the hip carry, your baby can lean back or from side to side too much.
In the cradle carry, your baby may sink deep into the sling and be unsupported by your body.
The sling fabric may be loose and 'tent' around your baby.
Always ensure that your baby's face is not covered with fabric and that their face is in eyesight.
If you have an adjustable pouch, snap it to a tighter setting.
If you have a traditional pouch sling that doesn’t adjust, you may wish to flip the shoulder or do the pouch twist to tighten the top rail and get a snugger fit.
If these tips do not properly size the pouch for you, then you will need to get a smaller pouch.
Your baby feels too high on your body.
In the upright carries (hip carry, tummy to tummy) you should be able to lean forward and easily kiss your baby's forehead.
If the baby's head is in front of your face in the hip carry and it bothers you, then it is probably a bit too small. Go up one size and you should be fine.
The sling may be too close to your neck, bunch up on your shoulder, pull on your shoulder, dig into your shoulder or opposite underarm.
The sling will feel uncomfortably tight to you or your baby.
The edge of the sling may cut into your baby's legs, but this alone isn't necessarily a sign that the sling is too small.
It is normal for your baby to look slightly squished in the cradle carry to a new babywearer. Your baby's legs can be bent, crossed or folded on top of their body. It is fine if they can reach their toes.
Just because your baby is squished looking to an adult does not mean they are uncomfortable. Babies are flexible and are used to being in confined quarters. Most babies find it soothing.
Always ensure that your baby's airways are free and that their chin is not being held to their chest. Never cover your baby's face with fabric. Keep your baby's face in eyesight.
Generally having the ball of your shoulder in the centre of the fabric is the most comfortable.
However, if you prefer not to have any of the fabric down your arm, you can centre the fabric evenly on your shoulder.
Don't let it scrunch up towards your neck - this will quickly become uncomfortable, causing neck and shoulder pain.
Smoothing and spreading the pouch as far down your back as possible is essential for your comfort. This distributes your baby's weight evenly across your shoulders and back.
A pouch that is bunched up or twisted causes pressure points and back strain.
If you are feeling any discomfort in your back, reach up behind your back, grab the pouch and give it a good yank, as low as you can.
When carrying your baby with their legs out of the pouch (hip or tummy to tummy positions) their legs should be wrapped around you, with their knees up and their bum lower or at the same level as the back of their knees.
Legs should not be dangling down; they should be parallel to the floor, or angled up.
To achieve this, pull the fabric up and under their knees. If there is extra fabric, bunch it up behind their back rather than under their knees.
This position is both most comfortable and most safe for your baby, as it keeps them securely in the pouch and reduces red marks behind their knees.
The seam marks the deepest area of the pouch and that is where the bulk of your child's body should be positioned.
In a tummy-to-tummy, hip carry or back carry, the seam should be aligned with your baby's spine. In a forward facing carry, centre the seam under your baby's chin.
If, when you first put your baby into the pouch, something feels off, check the seam!
Do a shoulder flip or a pouch twist to give additional stability and support:
For the shoulder flip, take the top layer of the pouch and flip it over your shoulder. This offers additional stability and support to the upper rail of the pouch.
Put the pouch on upside down. Arm goes through the pouch with the pouch rails/openings facing you.
The opening of the pouch will be facing away from you and towards the floor.
Now grab the rails/pouch opening with your hand and bring it through so that the opening is facing upwards.
Insert your baby as usual.
The pouch twist is great for adding stability to your pouch. It is also handy for making your pouch just that little bit smaller if required.
If your baby is getting ‘lost’ when being worn in your sling, this one's for you!
Pull the inner fabric high up your chest so that there is more fabric behind your baby than in front. This will reduce the width of the pouch, allowing tiny infants to see out better.
Also, make sure you are doing a reclined carry instead of having the baby lying all the way down.
You might also want to use your baby's arm to help hold the fabric away from their face.
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This article was kindly written for us by Bellaroo - unique, quality products for mumma, baby and child.