The Cheap and not so cheerful
Since the advent of Amazon and eBay, the market in slings and carriers has become huge and international. Either website will offer you an array of baby carrying devices, Many of the prices look too good to be true. You may also see carriers available to pick up with your weekly shopping in the local supermarket. Do they offer good value though?
The Ebay effect
When buying from the internet, it is difficult to know exactly what you are going to get. Many “branded” carriers on offer, particularly those from overseas, are in fact copies of the well known brands. You have no guarantees that these products have been safety tested. Are you sure that they are made with dyes that are safe for children (many babies suck slings) or come with safety instructions? There is little come-back if anything went wrong with them. Many of the slings do not conform to current safety guidelines, and could be a suffocation risk for your baby. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. If you are being drawn to the big brands, consider buying from a reputable retailer, or second hand. I will go in to more details on these options below.
The High Street
The cheap carriers for sale in supermarkets and baby stores may appear to be good value on the surface. However many parents struggle to use them comfortably. The number for sale as “never used” on Facebook Marketplace will give an indication of this! Your local babywearing consultant will be able to help you to improve the comfort. Alternatively if you are wanting to use a sling regularly you may find that getting a slightly more expensive carrier will be a better in the long run.
The top of the range
On a recent visit to a local department store, I saw a range of 2 brands of baby carriers, with prices ranging from £70 to £160. There were perhaps 6 different carriers to chose from. Some people assume that the most expensive carrier will be the “best”, but this is not always the case. Carriers are often described as being like a pair of jeans. What suits you won’t suit someone else. It is only by trying them on that you will identify what works for you and your baby. By all means have a try of them.. but would you buy a car from a showroom that only had 6 cars to chose from?
To put this in to context, as a Babywearing Consultant I have access to 29 different brands of slings, wraps and carriers. The most popular carrier retails for around £70 new, the most expensive is £155 . The vast majority come in for under £80. Most of these brands are not available to buy on the high street. Many can be used from newborn upwards, some will last until you child is 2, 3 or even older. If you find a carrier that works for you and your child, and use every day, this works out as amazing value for money!
How using a Babywearing Consultant can help you to save money!
You can try before you buy! You will know that whether you are buying new or second had you are getting something that will work for you and your child. If buying new, you will often be entitled to discounts which typically range from 5-10% off the recommended retail price from reputable retailers. If you prefer to buy second hand, you will be signposted in the direction of groups and retailers where you may get a good deal. I would always recommend that you pay with Paypal Goods and Services. If possible get a proof of purchase from the seller, just to protect yourself.
If you already have a sling or carrier that you are struggling with using, a sling professional will help you to optimise. Small adjustments can make a huge difference to a sling you have already spent money on . It could save you from shelling out for a new sling!
Do you need a sling for a special event such as a holiday, or for a short timeframe? Hiring instead of buying can be a great money-saver!
So, is a sling or carrier a waste of money?
Ultimately, anything that you buy and don’t use will be a waste of money. By getting advice before buying a sling or carrier, you can ensure that it ends up being one of your most used pieces of “baby kit”, and fantastic value. And who can put a price on an item that could reduce crying by up to 43%?
Ruth Grint is a Babywearing Consultant based on the Wirral, Merseyside. She offers advice on slings, wraps and carriers though one to one consultations , small group workshops, and by telephone or Skype call.