Congratulations on your decision to carry your baby, there are so many benefits for everyone in the family when your baby is carried - watch out for our next blog post all about that coming soon....
You've chosen a fantastic place to come along for advice and support, we love nothing better than empowering you with all the knowledge needed to make your own confident decisions about how best to carry your baby, we meet every Wednesday, both term time & school holidays - check our page for Christmas & Summer meet times.
Ideally you'd come and visit us during pregnancy, its much easier to 'get your bearings' and learn about different styles of sling without meeting the needs of your new baby along with potentially still feeling tender from the birth - but that's not always possible, so here are our top tips for planning your first visit with baby....
There are a few things to know about the group once you arrive, which will help to ease your anxiety about coming for the first time, but there are also things you can do before you set off, that can make a real difference.
- Find us
- Sign in
- Comfort & FREE drinks!
- Plan your outfit!
- Plan baby's outfit!!
- Bring ID / Proof of address (if you want to hire)
We are quite hard to miss really - look for the mad group of people surrounded by slings!
Jokes aside - I remember going to my first meet up in IKEA with my 1st baby, to arrange a coffee group there 7 years ago. I'd never even been to IKEA before, and was so nervous
I couldn't see the person I was meeting amidst millions of tables, and very nearly turned around and walked back out.
I FELT SICK, DIZZY AND NEARLY FAINTED!!
So if you suffer with nerves and anxiety, I totally understand - its really brave coming to a strange place meeting strange people. We have volunteers and peer supporters who are there make sure you are not left stranded and will show you the ropes.
Anyway, back to THE DUMMIES GUIDE TO FINDING US....
1. Use the lift or stairs to come to the MAIN ENTRANCE on the 2ND FLOOR
2. As you are facing the entrance to the store, take the first right walk PAST THE TOILETS, INTO THE RESTAURANT.
3. At the first table on your right, TURN RIGHT immediately and we are straight ahead in the corner.
You should see lots of our purple signs dotted around on tables to reassure you, are in the right place -
So you managed to find us, well done for getting this far!
If its a busy time one of us will at least give you a wave, to let you know you're in the right place and hopefully we'll be organised enough to have the sign in sheet available for you to put your name & the reason for your visit (social / new baby advice / to hire a sling etc)
This will help us to prioritise your consultation, sometimes a peer supporter may be able to help you - if you or your baby have any particular needs please put this down on the form so we can make sure the person with the best level of knowledge can see you.
We can also use this form when applying for funding for the Sling Library so we can show who we are supporting.
Now take 5 - its time to make sure both you and your baby are comfortable, refreshed, and relaxed.
If you are flustered, hot and bothered when you try a sling for the first time, your baby will pick up on that and will also fuss, which could then look as though they 'don't like' the sling so its important that you feel relaxed.
Take advantage of IKEA's generous FREE tea & coffee - sign up for an IKEA Family Card at one of the orange machines in store (we can point them out to you)
Breakfast and cake is also good value, and highly recommended!!
Think about anything else you can do for your baby ahead of your consultation - feed, change etc You are very welcome to breast, or bottle feed your baby anywhere in IKEA, especially at a Sling Meet, although there are also more private places available if you prefer, and great change facilities (at those toilets you walked past on your way in)
It's a great time to chat to other parents at the meet, ask about their sling experiences, pick up tips, and make friends!
Before your visit...
So now you know a bit more about what to expect when you arrive, and you feel ok about setting off to find us, there are some things you can do before you leave to help things go smoothly.
Allow enough time for your first visit - you'll want time to look at a few options, try them out - and you'll more than likely be giving your baby at least 1 feed during your visit - either before or after trying a sling (sometimes during)!
We recommend giving at least 1.5 hours for your first visit (+ time afterwards to sit with us & eat cake!!)
Plan your outfit
All of the benefits of carrying your baby can be multiplied tenfold if you are in skin to skin contact with him/her.
I will write a separate piece on skin to skin soon, but you may have heard about skin to skin at birth, well these benefits don't go away at 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years!
Just think about the sensation of skin on skin when you make love to your partner, its electric (or I hope it is) masses of OXYTOCIN is released - the hormone of LOVE, and BONDING.
It's not just in a sexual sense, its well accepted that skin to skin with your baby will help them to breathe better - taking in more oxygen, more regularly, it will regulate their heart rate, relieve pain / colic / reflux and loads of other magical benefits.
Soooo - don't wear a jumper, or a high neck top, without a vest top underneath, which you can peel down to. I highly recommend a vest type top, with cardigan or jacket over the top so you can have as few layers between you & your baby as possible - maximising the benefits.
When you have your baby against you, they act like a little hot water bottle keeping you warmer too so you may find once they are on you, you won't want so many layers.
Plan your Baby's Outfit
Following on from the above, for maximum skin to skin contact, especially before baby is 6 weeks old (adjusted age for preemies) we recommend putting baby into a sling in just a nappy - then layering around mum & baby for extra warmth if required.
However this may not be ideal while you are trying different slings, but as few layers as possible, dressing baby in something easy to peel off down to a vest.
You should NEVER sling a baby whilst they are wearing outdoor clothes such as coat / snowsuit. If wearing a onesie, make sure there is plenty of room in the legs.
To Hire Slings - Bring ID & Proof of Address
We don't take your card details, we don't take cash deposits or cheques - we just want to make really sure WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE (Read with a mafia type accept!!)
Speaks for itself - we just need to keep our sling safe so many more people can benefit, they are not cheap, and they've taken us a long time to build our collection.
We'll feel awful when it comes to hiring your perfect sling & you DON'T HAVE any ID, so please help us out & bring 2 forms of ID - one photo, and one proof of address.
What other parents say......
Sarah says: Don't be afraid to ask to try different things. What suits one person doesn't suit another and way better to try a few to find one that really works for you than go away with something you're not too sure about.
SarahJane says: Don't be afraid to touch all the slings!! Feel em, get to know them a little xx