Last time I talked about my experiences with the awful Aldi sling that pops up in their baby events: now, I’m going to actually start talking about some good slings! My first properly positive babywearing experiences.
I’d come to the conclusion: I want to wear my baby, and I don’t want to do it in this.
Even though Teddy was always a pretty good sleeper, I was not – I spent a large percentage of every night until he was approximately five months old, insomniacally browsing eBay and Mumsnet and researching every baby product under the sun. That included slings, and after lots and lots of reading, I decided on…
Carrier Number 2 – Close Caboo Lite
Oh, how I loved this sling.
I contemplated stretchy wraps for ages, in my middle of the night Googling. I loved how the babies all looked so contented in the pictures: snuggled up close, snoozing on their parents’ chests. Tightly wrapped and snug as a bug.
But I was just that little bit aware that I’m as uncoordinated as a carp on a climbing frame. I had no confidence whatsoever that I’d be able to take that long piece of material and get it to form anything remotely resembling a comfortable sling. The TICKS guidelines (see my previous post) would have gone out the window and my poor baby would be dangling somewhere around my knees, or so I theorised.
Then I remembered the Close Caboo, and how some of the women in my NCT group had tried it out before the babies were all born, and had raved about it. I had a look, and liked what I saw.
The Close Caboo Lite is somewhere between a stretchy wrap and a ring sling – it’s the same kind of soft, stretchy material as the wraps, but it has a little bit of structure to it.
It’s actually in two parts: the stretchy part underneath, which is a big cross, threaded through sturdy rings with the cross fixed at the back so you don’t have to flip any material around. You put your baby in there, closely tucked into your chest with their legs in a perfect froggy position, tighten it all up using the rings to make sure they’re nice and snug, and, if you wish, tie the loose ends in a knot under their bottom (with smaller babies in particular, it’s quite secure enough leaving the ends untied). You then tie the big panel around both you and the baby for a bit of extra support. The material spreads out in a big, wide stretch over your shoulders, distributing the baby’s weight evenly so you don’t end up with a sore neck. The baby is easily held in the perfect position, high up and close enough to kiss.
Oh my goodness, how I loved this sling.
I’ve probably made it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is; it’s so, so easy. If I can manage it, anyone can. As soon as I put Ted in it, I felt so much happier than when I was using the Aldi carrier. He was so much closer to me, for a start – no random panels of material separating us. If I’d still been breastfeeding, that’s also possible in a Caboo, if you adjust the hold a little. I also felt very supported: I’d worried that I wouldn’t feel secure with something I had to tie and tighten myself, without any reassuring buckles and clips, but it all felt very safe. I had none of the shoulder and back pain I’d had with the Aldi carrier, even when I took Ted out in the sling for the best part of a day.
Ted loved it, too. The fabric is so soft and snuggly, he always seemed to love the feel of it next to his face. And, apparently, it was great for chewing and sucking on – I’d never be able to sell mine on, as it’s now got milky dribble stains that I doubt will ever wash out.
Ted was about a month old when the Caboo arrived, and I regularly used it until he was about six or seven months old. By that time, he was a bit heavy for it to be totally comfortable, as his weight was pulling on my shoulders, although he was still well within the weight limit of 15kg; something that probably wouldn’t be a problem for people with fewer back problems than me.
In fact, as Ted still isn’t quite at 15kg, according to my calculations, I’ve just dug out the Caboo and given him a quick go (he’s now fifteen months, just for reference’s sake). Not the most comfortable I’ve ever been, I must admit, as he immediately started wriggling to get his arms out, but it didn’t pull on my shoulders as much as I thought it would. It could still work as an emergency carrying measure, especially with a slightly more docile baby than Ted, or maybe just a sleepy one. I did, in fact, resort to the Caboo for a couple of nights when Ted was eleven months old and wouldn’t sleep at all, due to a lovely combination of sprouting six teeth in one go, and having hand, foot and mouth. Nothing was soothing him at all, but cuddling up in his old favourite sling managed to give him a couple of hours rest.
With the Caboo, I discovered a whole new level to my babywearing experience. Where the Aldi carrier introduced me to the whole concept and showed me hints of what I could do, it was the Caboo that really opened those doors. It was so comfortable, most of the time I barely felt Ted’s weight at all – even though he’s always been a right chunk. I could get to places that were difficult to access in the buggy, and I could calm and comfort a fractious, teething baby without my arms aching.
Depending on the retailer, the Close Caboo Lite comes in between £49.95 and £54.99, in a couple of colours. Traditional stretchy wraps that you tie yourself are usually quite a bit cheaper, but I found the ease of the Caboo made the price difference worth it, for someone as (poetically) cack-handed as me. Now I’m more confident with babywearing, if I have another baby I’d probably try a stretchy wrap, but I’ll be hanging onto the Caboo anyway. If nothing else, it’s a perfect sling for babywearing beginners.