Mass produced carriers are familiar to most people. They are usually one item in a range of baby products marketed by the manufacturer, and are readily available in most High Streets.
Superficially similar to soft structured carriers they have a shaped body and fasten with buckles.
For several of us at Sling Guide, these types were our first slings and they served as a useful introduction to the world of hands-free baby care.
But it would also be fair to say that few, if any of us would be inclined to buy a similar product to use with another baby.
Mass produced carriers are, in the main, only suitable to use with very young babies and quickly outlive their usefulness.
By four to six months most of these carriers will be uncomfortable for the wearer because they do not distribute weight evenly over the torso. Most babies will also be outgrowing them.
This makes these slings a very expensive option for the first few months when compared, for example, with a stretchy wrap or some of the hybrid carriers which mimic the effect of a stretchy wrap.
Mass produced carriers are also not as versatile, generally only offering the option of a front carry facing inwards or outwards. We do not recommend carrying with the baby facing outwards because it places extra stress on the sling user’s back, holds the baby in an unnaturally fixed position and allows him no escape from the outside world.
Concerns have also been expressed that these carriers place too much stress on the base of a baby’s developing spine because they do not allow the baby to be seated in a spread leg or ‘froggy’ position, which would distribute his weight across the buttocks and thighs.1
However, we would like to see more research on this aspect and we offer it here simply for your consideration.
In summary, while mass produced carriers can be a useful introduction to slings, they are an expensive, short-lived option, which can be easily bypassed.
But, if you do use one of these slings, do remember to carry the baby as high and snug to you as you can to improve the weight distribution, and to face him towards you for your comfort and his sense of security. A good guideline is that you should be able to kiss your baby’s head without any effort.
1 See “Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress,” Rochelle L Casses DC at http://www.continuum-concept.org/reading/spinalStress.html