Next on the list of outdoor baby kit review list is the Babasling.
We bought the Babasling very early on and it was the first sling we ever took our daughter for a field walk in. The Babasling is a fabric one-shoulder sling and I liked the idea of having my tiny baby held close against my body and protected from the elements in those early days. It was also fairly economical compared to some other slings and looked sleek and simple to use. However, having tried this sling both when my daughter was only a few days to a few weeks old and again recently at 7kg +, I have yet to really get on with it. Despite myself and baby’s Dad both spending considerable time trying to follow the guides, we have never really felt confident about wearing the sling correctly and comfortably and adjusting it is certainly not as easy as it looks. However, for the early days it does keep baby pretty snug and for short walks is fairly handy.
About the sling
Babasling is an award winning one-size hammock style sling, made from cotton. It was developed with all the benefits of ‘baby-wearing’ in mind and is designed to keep your little one snuggled up close next to you. The sling offers five different positions for baby, and an extra two options for discreet on-the-go breastfeeding. With its adjustable straps it can be fitted to all adult shapes and sizes as well as expanding to accommodate the growing baby. It has in built safety features including large clip buckles and a special additional safety strap.
The sling can be used as soon as baby weighs 2kg – so pretty much from birth. There are different positions for different ages – one set for until baby weighs 9kg and more for bigger babies until they can no longer be comfortably carried. The Babsling website states this can be as late as 3 years old! Certainly there is a lot of material on the sling and it has asjustable straps, so in theory this should be possible, although my personal experience is that positioning this fabric to accomodate a larger, wrigglier baby can sometimes be trickier than the instructions would lead you to believe.
Ease of putting on/taking off
Insert head and one arm through sling. Reverse to take off. Simple. At least it is if you are the sole user and have adapted the sling to fit you already. Adjusting the straps is a bit fiddly as they tie behind your back and because they are a double layer of fabric they can on occasion get rumpled up and jam the adjuster slide, meaning that you realistically need to keep taking the sling on and off to get the fit right rather than adjust whilst it is on you. This can be a bit time consuming – not ideal with a baby losing patience! Fitting baby in the chest-to-chest positions is straight forward. Slide baby into sling from your shoulder and make sure the fit is snug is pretty much the basics of it. Front facing positions I found trickier. Turning baby around is no issue but fixing the material so that it supports baby’s legs and feet without twisting them to one side or the other requires patience and a certain knack which unfortunately came to me rarely. As a result, I often felt that my daughter did not have adequate back support and that her body was always slightly twisted, although she seemed to be happy enough!
The Babasling has a really great padded shoulder rest which takes the brunt of the weight. However I would say this is more a sling for that quick nip round the block or for doing odd jobs round the house than long distance treks. Again – it is probably just down to my positioning technique but I never managed to quite get my daughter to sit so that the weight felt evenly distributed. As the sling is up on one shoulder and goes diagonally across the body it felt fantastic using it to support baby in a cradle position but upright chest to chest or face forward both felt lopsided and seemed to pull across the body, leaving you to try and compensate with your hip and causing back and shoulder ache for anything but a quick trip out. Babasling themselves recommend that you regularly switch shoulders and positions with the sling and recommend you consult your doctor if you suffer from a known back problem. Having said that, the side on position which supports you holding baby on your hip, actually relieves a lot of the stress on your body caused by carrying baby without a sling in this common position. My hands were quite restricted as I felt the urge to have one ready to support baby on the lower side of the sling in case she wriggled loose, or when older lurched to one side or forward when being carried face forward. The other hand felt a bit constrained by the shoulder support. It is less cumbersome than an all-round body wrap carrier though and definitely cooler for summer walking, especially with it’s 100% cotton fabric.
My daughter always seems pretty content to be carried in this sling and loves the front facing position, even if it does feel like it doesn’t support her back properly as she always manages to squirm her way sideways in it. You do need to keep a careful eye on baby in this sling when tiny to make sure they aren’t too warm and muffled up in the fabric.
The Babasling is incredibly light weight and portable and if you don’t mind the odd crease, rolls up pretty small. It is easily cleaned and can be popped in the washing machine at 40 degrees although you can’t tumble dry it and it will need an iron if you want to get it looking shop fresh again. It can be quite easily slung over many or few layers for summer and winter wearing, although anything too puffy or bulky could obstruct the way it hangs against your body and prevent it fitting correctly.
This is a simple styled sling and blends in with your normal clothes fairly well, although as with all fabric slings – there is no disguising the fact you are wearing one! It comes in a good range of plain colours, including a good range of darker colours that would go down with ladies and men and breaks the mould of the normal pastels or black options! Choose carefully though with your baby in mind – whilst the darker shades are better at hiding everyday grub and mud, if your baby like mine suffers from reflux and constant vomiting and dribbling, then the cream one may well be the better option!!
The sling is incredibly versatile with 5 normal positions and 2 breastfeeding positions for on-the-go discreet feeding – ideal for breastfeeding mums who don’t want to cut their walks short by having to get baby home to be fed. Babasling have put together a step-by-step guide, video instructions and a downloadable pdf file to help you get to grips with your new sling, which you can find here. The 5 normal positions include cradle positions, chest to chest, front facing and on the hip, covering the preferences of even the fussiest baby! Adjusting the straps though to secure a new position can be tricky with the baby in the sling and with one hand, as the material straps do not pass easily through their fixings and can get rumpled up, resulting in often need two hands to alter their length and baby having to be popped in and out a few times before you’re ready to go. This can be quite frustrating.
At £39.99 the Babasling is a good option for short walks towards the lower end of the baby carrier price range. It does not feel excessively priced for what it is, unlike some of the much more expensive fabric slings. Babslings can be picked up second hand easily from around ebay for £10-£20 – not too major expense for the economical outdoor parent.
Read other kit and product reviews here.