A unique library for parents to hire baby slings in Lancaster is growing as the trend to move away from prams increases.
Run by three directors who are trained baby wearing consultants as well as five peer supporters, Morecambe Bay Slings recently became a community interest company.
The sling library is held at The Cornerstone cafe in Dalton Square every Thursday lunchtime, but director Abi Doughty said there are many people who do not know about the group.
“Using slings to carry babies rather than using prams is becoming ever more popular and we run a service that teaches parents how to use slings safely and hire our slings to them as well as helping people with their own slings,” Abi said.
“Some people are not sure what to expect when they come, but they come into a thriving, bustling cafe with lots of friendly faces.
“We have a chat with them and find out what they want to try and then we teach them how to use it.
“Some people bring their own sling and others hire them or go and buy their own.
“There’s no one best design because there are so many different types; they all fasten differently or are different shapes. It’s a bit like an underground sling world that new mothers don’t know about.
“People have no idea and will buy a high street sling because that’s all that’s available in the shops. But if someone brings it to us we can show them how to make it more comfortable for them.
“It’s an amazing rich world of textures and materials.”
Abi, who is married with sons aged two and seven, said many people find slings easier to use when out and about.
“In Lancaster you can’t move for people with slings but in some towns you just don’t see them,” she said.
“Prams can get in the way and it can be easier to use a sling.
“I never use a pram. We have one for the in-laws to use but that’s all. A lot of people in the group never use a pram, but some do like to have one for certain trips.
“Some people do it initially because they have a little baby that they don’t want to put down and they can get things done while they are holding it.
“When you get a sling and get it just right people suddenly have a smile and they glow. It’s a huge bonding thin as well as being practical.
“There’s a huge list of benefits of using slings. It helps mums with post natal depression and can help prevent it.
“That bonding is a major thing. It also helps them develop good muscle strength.
“My son is two and he goes in a sling a lot even though he loves walking and running. I wear a sling as a scarf and then if he is tired I will carry him.
“If you are wearing a well-fitted sling then the weight is spread and your muscles build up as they grow.”
Morecambe Bay Slings was originally set up as a not-for-profit parent and baby group.
But the group’s growth led to it recently being properly registered as a company.
“The cafe has been absolutely crucial in our growth,” Abi, 41, said. “We have been there for two years and the venue is perfect.”
The drop-in sessions are held every Thursday from 10am until 1pm, with mums and dads both welcome.
“We would love to see new people come along,” Abi added. “They can see what it’s like for themselves and try out some slings.”
The group can be found at www.morecambebayslings.co.uk and on Facebook.
The library sessions are free but there is a charge for the hire of the slings.
The team also runs home consultations.