International Babywearing Week: Local Resources

manchester kids days out babywearing

For International Babywearing Week (again this year we’ve caught the last day!) we decided to republish our article on local resources, updated of course. Please let us know in the comments if you have any more you’d like to add!

Today is actually the last day of international Babywearing Week (2-8 October) but babywearing such a life-saver that we thought it was worth being the last on the bandwagon. Babywearing, as I’m sure almost everyone knows, is the practise of holding your baby close to your body with the aid of a wrap or sling for a good portion of the day. The idea is that baby feels close and secure (lots of babies seem to love falling asleep in this way) and mums (or dads) feel less stressed knowing baby is happy. What’s not to love? But like many aspects of parenthood, it is not quite as simple as it sounds.

During pregnancy, I’d given babywearing a little bit of consideration – as in I thought “yeah sounds good, I’ll probably give it a go at some point” and then turned to more important things, like how I was going to get my shoes on my balloon-animal feet. The next time I thought (and I use the term ‘thought’ in its very loosest sense) about it was two days in to being a mum, desperate to do something about my baby’s reflux. At approximately 2am I ordered a very expensive wrap online and hoped it would solve all my problems. Sadly, my little guy hated it and I was left with a bit of fabric that cost more than most of my clothes and a still-pukey baby. I thought that babywearing just wasn’t for us.

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Fastforward a few months and a very experienced babywearing friend of mine lent us one of her many carriers, showed us how to use it and we got on so much better. It still wasn’t the Bug’s favourite mode of transportation but now he graciously allowed himself to be strapped on, especially if it was daddy doing the strapping. Now, however, I entered a new world of mummy worry –  were his joints under pressure? Was his head ok? Could he breathe? And why wasn’t he falling asleep like the other babies? (it turned out he just hated falling asleep).

Oh how I wish I’d known about sling libraries and the like beforehand. I really would have liked to have got on with babywearing in those early months and now I do believe that with a bit of patience and experimentation, we could have cracked it. Like breastfeeding, it seems to be one of those things that you feel ought to come naturally, but actually takes a little bit of fiddling – right sling or carrier, right technique, just feeling confident in your own ability – before it all comes good. And when it comes good, it comes really good, with babywearing fans citing all sorts of benefits such as higher cognitive skills for babies and lower stress levels for mum. I’ll take being able to use both hands at once as all the benefit I need, though those other things sound pretty good too.

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Sling libraries and other babywearing groups can give invaluable advice. For instance, now the weather is turning colder, what is the best way to dress a baby in a carrier or sling? Other mums (and dads) are there to give you the benefit of their experience. Sling libraries also allow you to rent out a carrier or wrap for a week or two, meaning you get to figure out which one is best for you before you commit to buy, and someone showing you the right way to put it on can make all the difference to your confidence levels.

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Detail of a SUPU woven wrap

Here is our round-up of local sling libraries and baby-wearing groups – give one a try, it could make all the difference:

  • The Prestwich and North Manchester Sling Library meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month for sling hire, advice and general chat, 1 – 2pm, at St Pauls Church, Moor Lane, M7 3WX (next meeting October 27). There is an extra-long Sling Library Sunday on the 15th of this month.
  • The High Peak Sling Meet gets together once a month and is also a good source of information on breastfeeding (next meeting October 14, 10.30am Revive Church New Mills)
  • The Bolton and Bury Sling Meet and Library is a volunteer-run service that is very active and meets in quite a few different locations, so if you’re in that general area you should find one to suit you.
  • There is a sling meet at Ashton IKEA run by Emma, a babywearing consultant and pregnancy/antenatal yoga teacher, plus a team of volunteers developing person-centred counselling skills as well as sling expertise, so perfect if you need a sympathetic ear as well. The meet is on Wednesdays 10-1 though check the website when planning your visit – Emma also visit Chadderton, Oldham, Chorlton and Levenshulme so take a look to see when she will be in your area.
  • The Warrington, Wigan and St Helens Sling Meet and Library is run by a trained babywearing teacher and meetings are very regular – see here for a list of October events.
  • The South Manchester Natural Parenting Group has a sling library as well as covering lots of related issues such as breastfeeding, co-sleeping and more.
  • The Sale Sling Library meets most weeks at the community space in Tesco, Atrincham.
  • The Salford Sling and Meet is a very reliable source of information – even if you can’t get to a meeting their website has tons of information for the new babywearer.
  • The Chorlton Sling and Social meets once a month at the Library.
  • Cheshire Parenting Collective supports families in Stockport and Cheshire on their journey to becoming parents, from pregnancy to toddlerhood. You can check their events page for details of regular sling meets in Macclesfield and Wilmslow & Poynton.

Once you’ve cracked babywearing, a fun class (and an actual means getting some exercise, which seems like a far-off dream in the beginnings of parenthood) is Sling Swing. This basically teaches you some dance moves while baby snuggles close. Jiggling around with a baby strapped on is a surprisingly bonding experience and it can be a good way to meet other parents/carers. It is run at various locations around Manchester, visit the website to find a local class.

The images in this feature are of the gorgeous SUPU wraps which we are coveting for their beautiful peacock-inspired designs. The wraps were created by Jess Anderson, a New Zealander transplanted to Ramsbottom. Jess is also a mum and a textile designer so designing her own wraps seemed like a natural progression of her combination of skills and we love the result. We like to highlight both local suppliers and mum-owned businesses at Rainy City Kids so we asked Jess if we could feature a couple of her designs in this article. We were thrilled when she said yes.

Jess told us “I love supporting local business and it’s quite an important part of being from New Zealand. We are such a small economy that it is drilled into us to buy local and support small business and that is what I am keen to continue through the SUPU brand. My weaver is just down the road, along with the fabric, rope and printing that I am using for my packaging. I really believe in homemade quality hence the reason I am personally making the wraps and cotton bags for SUPU. I have some long days ahead of me…. This may not be sustainable long term, but for now, I will enjoy the making process.”

You can see more of Jess’s beautiful work at her website, on her Facebook page or her instagram.

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