There’s a debate going on, almost as intense as digital vs. analog, satellite tv vs. cable. It’s padded vs. unpadded. No, it isn’t referring to women’s underwear. It’s the baby sling debate.
For those of you who haven’t been up on the Hollywood news of how stars like Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, and even Brad Pitt carry their children, baby slings are worn over the head and shoulder and often have a ring sewn into the end for adjustability. They are used to carry newborns through tots 4-years old. The slings have been proven to simulate a more womb-like environment for the young child, promoting a happier baby and one more closely bonded to its parent.
But even with such a basic design, there are many variations. One of the biggest differences is whether the sling contains batting sewn into its layers (padded) or is simply fabric without batting (unpadded).
There are pluses and minus to each, it really comes down to these three issues: comfort, ease of use, and support.
- Comfort Padded baby slings typically have padding where the sling hangs on the parent’s shoulder. This makes carrying the child more comfortable, which is especially important for extended periods. One brand has side rails sewn together over the shoulder pillow; which doubles their padding and prevents the sides from falling down toward the parent’s elbows or pressing into his/her neck, thus keeping the whole sling in better proportion for the wearer. One criticism of the padded baby sling is that the extra batting causes it to get warmer than its unpadded counterpart, especially in the summer months, although cotton batting and fabric will stay cooler than polyester.
- Ease of Use Advocates of the unpadded sling prefer being able to slip the non-bulky sling into a purse. It is also more adjustable than the padded version since padding cannot fit through the ring.
- Support The batting of the padded baby sling serves to support the child’s head and legs, simulating how a parent would hold a child. This is important for an infant, and also allows for hands-free nursing. The padded side rails are an extra safeguard against the baby falling out.
Whether you choose a padded or unpadded sling depends entirely on your situation. If you have a newborn or infant, padded would be better because of the extra support it gives your baby. For older children who won’t be carried for extended periods of time, an unpadded sling might do the trick. Either type is a great way to bond with your child while giving your arms a break.