The BabaSling Classic
Reviewed by Shelley Owens
For some people baby wearing is a way of life. Whether they come to it by preference or necessity, parents everywhere are embracing the idea of carrying their little ones close to them with the aid of one of a variety of slings, pouches and baby carriers on the market. As a mum with 3 small children aged 19 months and under, baby wearing is a necessary mode of transport for one of them, usually one of my 6 month old twins and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to be chosen to review the BabaSling Classic! My twins are larger than average babies their age, with particularly long torsos so had really outgrown the 3 way carrier that I had used from birth. The BabaSling is a totally different design to the type I had been using so I was really looking forward to seeing how they fitted into it and how IT fitted into our daily lives!
I have to say it looked pretty fabulous when it arrived, neatly packaged in its co-ordinating travel bag, slipped into its cardboard holder. I was very impressed by this minimal packaging, we hate waste and they have really made the most of the space with key features listed in 11 different languages, pictures of the 5 carrying options plus Breastfeeding and a list of the 9 different colours available! Definitely no wasted space there then!!
Made from 100% cotton, our sling was in the vivid Aqua Blue shade and I wondered if it would be a bit feminine for my husband to use but if he had any reservations about it he didn't say, in fact he insisted on being the first one to try it out! Armed with the instruction booklet (in 9 different languages!) we set about fitting the sling. It has 2 buckle fixings – one is the adjustable safety strap and the other is a large outer buckle with 2 adjustable straps which tighten the "railings". These are the padded outer edges of the sling and become the "upper" or "lower" railing according to which shoulder you choose to wear the sling over.
Once adjusted to fit, you can choose from one of the 5 fabulously named positions that you would like to carry your baby in, we chose "Side Saddle" as our babies are older and enjoy being carried on the hip. I would definitely say that initial set up is best attempted as a two-man (or woman!) operation. The instructions, whilst clear and with pictorial aids do take a little while to grasp and I would recommend that you watch the available online video BEFORE attempting to fit it just to save a little time and frustration. Once you get to grips with which part of the sling the instructions are referring to I have to say that they are much easier to follow!
Our little one enjoyed sitting astride Daddy's hip on our trip out although I noticed that Daddy was a little less comfortable and a bit fidgety! It seemed the weight of our chunky monkey was causing the padded shoulder strap to pull towards his neck so we agreed some adjustments were needed!!! On our return journey we attempted "Little Joey" which is a cross legged, outward facing position and this was far more successful!
On Day 2 the BabaSling faced it's real test – my first solo outing with it! With toddler and one baby in the double pushchair, I attempted "side saddle" which I found tricky to position and I was certain I was doing something wrong, again perhaps it is a two-man job until you have had a bit of practice?! As I had hoped, this position allowed me to have BOTH hands free to push the pushchair with ease and although it had felt initially a little unnatural to not support the baby in the sling, we completed our journey without the need for any major adjustments. As we travelled back home however my little one fell asleep and her head slumped forwards uncomfortably, I remembered that for younger babies the upper railing should go under the neck as a cushion so I moved it up from under her arms. This was fairly successful but I was neither comfortable or confident and having looked through the booklet again I think if I had used this type of sling from an earlier age I would have known how to lower her into a lying down position.
With a little practice we have found it is getting easier to position the baby and sling correctly – this is so important for the both safety and confidence for the baby and the wearer! I have used it a few times at home when my son was teething and having a particularly clingy day and I popped on the sling and slotted him in and he soon settled. I have several "baby wearing" friends who have used a BabaSling from birth and they wouldn't be without theirs. We were past the breastfeeding stage when trying ours out but I can definitely see the benefit to this style of sling and this one in particular has a very generous amount of fabric, allowing the wearer to feed discreetly.
The 5 positions make it one of the most versatile slings that I have seen on the market and it will definitely grow with your baby as you progress from "Easy Tiger" to "Side Saddle". BabaSling market the Classic as suitable for birth to 2 years or 3.5kg to 15kg (7.7 – 33lbs) although having carried my 19lb, 6 month old son around for more than half an hour I would beg to differ! Whilst this is definitely a "one size fits all" sling I think you do have to bear in mind that people really do come in all shapes and sizes. I personally have struggled with positioning the baby and retaining the shoulder strap in the correct position and over the past few weeks the reason for this has finally become clear. As I have a large frame, broad shoulders AND a large chest it actually affects the way the baby sits against my body. Essentially all this means is that I must adjust the slings straps according to which position I am going to be using, the instructions imply that once the sling is set up for your use it won't require any further adjustment so please be aware that this may not be the case depending on your build!
The Babasling, in spite of our teething troubles, has become a popular member of Team Owens and we give it a 4 out of 5. We would definitely recommend it to our friends however we would advise them to use it from birth so that both they and their offspring are comfortable and familiar with it before they are ready to use the more advanced positions.
The BabaSling Classic is available to buy from BabaSling here.