Saturday, 10 July 2010
As you'll know if you've read my review of the Sleepywrap, I'm a big fan of babywearing. The advantages are too numerous to list but just to quickly mention a few, it's great for new mum/baby bonding, baby is up out of the way of ground-level traffic fumes, you can talk to him all the time, he's reassured by hearing your heartbeat and feeling the movement he recognises from the womb, it takes up much less space in the luggage or on public transport and your hands are freed up to multitask or hold older siblings' hands to cross the road.
Before trying out the Sleepywrap, I'd always used a structured baby carrier but I was warned by a friend who'd recently reconverted herself as a babywearing counsellor that they are sometimes advised against because they spread apart baby's thighs which can cause hip problems or be uncomfortable and also, they risk squishing little boys' squishy bits ! Although I loved the Sleepywrap when on, I was initially concerned about messing up the knots (they're actually dead easy but it's a big responsibility !) and it's tricky to put on in a confined space or outside because it inevitably drags on the floor. Not good if it's been raining.
When I was offered the chance to try out a sling from Lifft, I was intrigued as I'd never tried out this style of babywearing. As you can see from the picture at the top of this review, Lifft slings allow babies from birth onwards to be carried horizontally. The website explains in detail three different carrying positions, the Front Lifft (suitable from birth), the Little Buddha Lifft (from 2 months) and the Side Lifft (from 6 months - suitable as soon as your baby can sit and support themselves).
As Pierre is now 1 year old (well, he will be in exactly a week's time), I was limited to trying out the Side Lifft but the other two positions do look great for newborns. My first thought about the Lifft sling was how easy it was to put on. You just fold it in half, throw it over your shoulder, slot baby in and you're away. No knots, no working out which bit goes where or how to put in baby or worrying whether it's too tight or too loose ... it's all perfectly simple and obvious which means less stress about not doing it right and putting baby at risk.
I have to admit that at first, I couldn't see how just sitting Pierre in a little pouch with his legs hanging down could be a secure way of carrying him but he does feel really well held-in. He obviously felt safe and comfortable because he spent the whole time smiling at me and stroking my shoulder ! He also spent every minute turning his head around, constantly looking left and right like he was discovering the world for the first time. I realised that unlike the Sleepywrap and other front-carrying options, where a large percentage of his field of vision is blocked by me, the Lifft sling gave him the ability to have a good nosey around wherever he wanted. I always assumed he'd have a good view from his pushchair but it's apparently all a lot more fascinating at chest height rather than knee level ! Speaking of being at chest-height, the Lifft sling is also perfect for discreet breasfeeding in public.
The one downside of this type of sling is that it's not a one-size fits all. The good thing is that the company are very accommodating - "We like to make things easy at Lifft Slings ! Don't lose sleep over sizing ! Just buy your T-Shirt/Dress size ! The Lifft sling is available in a large range of easy to use sizes according to ladies dress size or men's chest measurements. If you are a perfectionist, you can double check your size with a tape measure from your shoulder diagonally across to your opposite hip, but dont lose sleep over it ! As part of our service we are pleased to exchange garments as often as it takes for you to feel satisfied with the fit. If you are between sizes, we are happy for you to buy two slings and return the unsuitable sling for a no quibble refund." Reassuringly, they add that Lifft slings come "in a variety of sizes from 6 through to 22 for ladies, or S through to XL for men. Over and above this, particular sizes can also be made specifically for you and your individual shape and size." The bad thing is, if you like to share the babycarrying with daddy, you'll need to buy one sling each which is obviously a lot more expensive.
I thought it would be uncomfortable carrying Pierre on one side, or at least make me waddle like a penguin and unconsciously lean over to one side, but it was actually amazingly comfortable and unobtrusive. I could quite easily hold hands with the girls on both sides and walk quite naturally without the sling or Pierre getting in the way and it didn't dig into my shoulder or give me back ache at all. The Lifft sling is actually scientifically tested to make sure you walk in a way that is comfortable and good for your back : "The Lifft Sling has been 'scientifically proven' to reduce the extent of 'lateral trunk flexion' and keep the spine straighter whilst walking and standing. This is very important after childbirth when our stomach muscles are unable to offer sufficient support to the spine." They call it lateral trunk flexion, I call it sticking out your hip when you wander around with baby on one side, but whatever the name, we all do it !
The Lifft slings can be used from birth right through to toddlerhood, the upper limit being given as approximately 3 years of age (35lbs). They are machine washable and seem very sturdy. Another plus point is that they are designed and made in the UK, with materials sourced in the UK where possible. There are various colour schemes available, many of which are totally unisex so dads will love them.
I think it will definitely be my favourite babycarrier for the summer months because Pierre is much less tightly swaddled than with some others so he won't overheat. I also love the fact that I can grab it and throw it on with a second's notice if we're heading off to the park and that it is so simple to put Pierre in and out of it. We were planning on taking a pushchair on holiday to Turkey at the end of the month but I think the Lifft sling might do the job perfectly, and take up a lot less space and weight in the luggage. Top marks because it is so user-friendly, even if it's not the most versatile (size-wise) of the baby-carriers that I've tried.
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £ 49.99
for more information and to buy online : http://www.lifftslings.com/
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