When someone asks on an online forum what the best baby carrier to buy is, there is often the suggestion to attend a local sling meet. Why? Because there is no one carrier that is ‘the best’.
In fact, there are so many options, that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. Attending a free sling meet gives you a chance to try out these options with experienced, qualified educators who can assist you to make the best choice for you, whilst promoting babywearing philosophies and safety.
So what is a sling meet and what can you expect when attending one?
As mentioned above, there are usually experienced ‘sling group leaders’ or ‘educators’ present. Often, but not necessarily, they will have completed an educators course focusing on how to use different carriers safely and be able to demonstrate basic carries with all types.
When you first arrive at a sling meet, it’s a good idea to make yourself known to these leaders, they’ll be keen to assist you with whatever babywearing questions you have. There are no silly questions!
If you have your own carrier, do bring it along so you can be assisted in adjusting it to meet your needs. However, there will usually be a range of options for you to try so don’t worry if you don’t have a carrier yet. There are also weighted demonstration dolls available so you don’t even need to have a baby! (During pregnancy is a great time to attend your first meet). Prams are also absolutely welcome, as are pajamas and/or stained clothes and messy hair!
Anyone who cares for a baby or child is welcome to attend.
There may be a number of demonstrations, from soft structured carriers (SSC’s- think Ergo, Tula, Beco etc), basic woven wrap carries to more complex back carries. It’s important to remember to stay with your experience level, not jumping too far ahead to a skill beyond your stage. The educators can guide you on what carries are best for you and your child’s stage.
Ask lots of questions, try out a few carriers and take on tips and advice. Once you’ve got the information and assistance you need, you’re not required to stay for the entire length. However, since you’re already out of the house, feel free to put your feet up and have a cuppa to reward yourself. Chances are, your hands are now free!
by Jacinta Gartner
** Many thanks to Jacinta Gartner @ Hitching a Ride for this blog post. Original blog post can be found here – http://www.hitchingaride.net/#!The-sling-meet/cpxs/2 **