Wearing your baby in a sling provides a safe, protective environment for baby when you are shopping or traveling in crowds. Walking through an airport with a toddler in toe is nerve-racking when you consider what could happen if you let go of his hand even for a moment (or take your hand off his stroller and get distracted). Between the ages of one and two, when the infant begins to walk, dart out from your protective arms, and explore the environment, babywearing keeps the toddler close to your side in any situation where a free-roaming toddler may not be safe. Have you ever noticed that a walking toddler’s face is at the exact level that people hold their lit cigarette? Busy shoppers or travelers often don’t watch out for little people. Bring your baby or toddler up to a safe level and relax—he won’t go anywhere without you.
With babywearing, transitioning (changing environments or going from wakefulness to sleep) is easier. While you are standing in line at the airport, a worn baby is safe, secure, and happy. If your baby fusses a bit on an airplane, wear her and walk around the plane so that she is attracted by the visual stimulation of the environment. When baby is ready to go off to sleep in a hotel room, wear her down in the sling until she falls asleep and then slip out of the sling and put the baby on the bed. Home to a baby is where mother and father are, and the sling is a constant reminder of baby’s “home.” It makes adaptation to new environments easier and travel more pleasant for the whole family.
Here are some other uses for the sling while traveling:As a pillow. For breastfeeding or just for laying baby across your lap, a folded-up baby sling makes a comfortable pillow. Fold the sling the way it came in the package, and you have a useful pillow.
As a changing pad. Place the sling on the floor or on a changing table (don’t leave baby unattended on a table), place baby’s head on the shoulder pad of the pillow, and presto! You have a comfortable diaper-changing surface. During changing, place a clean diaper under baby to protect the sling.
As a cover. The baby sling makes a convenient cover during travel for napping, discreet nursing, and warmth.
For car travel. In the early months the padded railing of the sling can be placed around the head of a tiny infant for stabilization during car travel We would wear out our baby from home to car, bend over the carseat and position baby securely in the carseat, using the sling as a head support. When arriving at our destination, we would lift the sleeping baby out of the carseat and put baby on. This maneuver usually requires two persons. The wearer holds the sleeping baby in the sling pouch while another person lifts the rest of the sling over the wearer’s head.
While eating out. How often have you said, “I’d love to go, but I’ve just had a baby.” Some mothers go stir-crazy after a few months. There is nothing in the mother-baby contract that says you have to stay home and become a recluse after you have a baby. But a new mother is usually not ready to leave her baby to go out. Babywearing allows you to “have your baby and take her with you.”
Formal wear. When our son Stephen was two-months-old, we were invited to a black-tie formal affair. Rather than decline the invitation, as new parents usually do, we wore Stephen in a fashionable sling, and we all had a great time. With a few breastfeeding snacks, Stephen nestled peacefully in the sling during the three-and-a-half-hour affair. Stephen was not a disturbance, but he was often the center of attention. Onlookers initially had that puzzled expression, as if wondering, “What is that she’s wearing?” The puzzlement soon turned to admiration: “Why it’s a baby, how cute!” By the end of the evening, as the guests noticed how content we were with our babywearing arrangement, there was an air of acceptance throughout the room. Babywearing had achieved not only social approval but also social admiration.
Here’s another scenario: Shortly after the birth of a baby, dad says, “Honey, how about a date? Let’s go out to dinner.” Mom replies, “But we can’t leave our baby.” The answer to this dilemma? Babywearing. Babies are quiet in restaurants when worn in a sling. They seldom cry and are usually seen and not heard. Babies can breastfeed discreetly and are rarely disruptive to restaurant patrons.