When I set up Peekaboo Slings, my aim was to simply help people to carry children in slings. My services are open to everyone, regardless of background, parenting choices, or ability. This no-judgement approach underpins everything our team does – at meets, within our Facebook community, at events, in workshops and consults. We want to normalise babywearing and promote carrying your children close – put bluntly, we don’t care about the rest.
Carrying is not a lifestyle choice
“Using a carrier does not mark you out as a particular type of parent, who subscribes to particular cultural beliefs; it simply means that you are choosing to keep your child close, according to your biological instinct and their biological needs, making life work in the best way that you can.” – Dr Rosie Knowles, Why Babywearing Matters
If you are a parent/grandparent/carer, it is likely that you will spend a large portion of your time carrying your child in your arms. Carrying and being close to your child is essential to promote a secure attachment between you, and has many physical, emotional and social benefits (see Rosie’s book for more information). It is not just for hippies, breastfeeding mums, or people who can’t afford a buggy. Anyone can carry their child, and anyone can carry in a sling.
There is no one right type of sling
If you have forayed into online babywearing forums, you may have encountered strong opinions on which type of sling is the best. Lorette from Slingababy says that the best carrier is the one that suits your needs – how can someone else say what will best suit you? There are many, many slings and carriers on the market, to suit a wide range of people, budgets, and preferences.
We have no time for snobbiness about sling types and brands in our team – a carried child is a carried child. If you and your child are safe and comfortable, we are happy.
It’s not a club
I often hear that the babywearing world seems hard to break in to, and I don’t think we help that perception. Babywearers often have signals to greet other wearers in the ‘wild’, and the excessive jargon we use can seem intimidating and overwhelming to those new to it all. Fans of individual brands can be very passionate and demonstrative of their support, and this can look cliquey from the outside.
Sling meets, however, are one place where everybody should feel welcome. Walking in to a sling meet for the first time shouldn’t feel like like you’re trying to break in to a club, or intruding on a group of friends. As sling librarians, we are here to help you to carry your baby – regardless of what that will look like.
Your life is none of our business
I’ve been at sling meets where parents have felt the need to justify their choices, or explain that they really do fit in to the babywearing ‘type’. While I am happy to listen to parents’ experiences, I would never expect a parent to do this. With a few notable exceptions (health issues being one), sling librarians don’t need to know much about you to help you find a sling or carrier – and your parenting choices are certainly not relevant.
We want to improve
There has been lots of discussion in librarians’ and consultants’ groups recently about how we can better support parents and children, particularly those with disabilities. This type of discussion is very useful, as it helps us to improve and shape our practice. Sling librarians should be open to change and suggestions, so if you have a less-than-ideal experience at a meet, feed this back and help us understand how we can improve.
Find out more
Check out the Sling Pages for details on your nearest sling meet, library, or consultant.
Read my post on doing it wrong.