5 years ago, almost no one in Bulgaria had heard of a sling. Women who carried their baby in a sling - exotically tied in a strange scarf - were rare and everyone gave them curious glances. Gradually, however, this exotic began to enter our lives more and more, and the sight of a baby in a sling began to become more and more common. In the forums, mothers and mothers-to-be discuss whether or not they would carry their baby in this way, why and how it is done, and often ask each other which of the different types of baby slings is actually the most comfortable and practical for the baby and the mother.
Is the sling a fad?
If we assume that fashion is something that people wear or use because it is new, interesting and challenging - then yes, the sling is fashion. Any woman who wants to show that she is up to date with new trends, that she follows the novelties and applies them in her life, that she is liberated and not a slave to conservative norms is ready to wear her baby in a sling because she wants to be fashionable.
However, we all know from experience that looking after a child is one of the most serious challenges we have ever faced, and one takes serious challenges seriously. When it comes to our child, we don't look at what's trendy or what's interesting - we look at what's useful and what would work. Because when the child cries inconsolably, when he does not eat well, when he shows aggression or is sick, then all our pretensions to modernity quickly disappear like a balloon blown away by the wind. It is important for us not to act modernly, but to act correctly in relation to our children. Because the way we raise them now depends on what kind of people they will be in time. Our responsibility is too great to follow fashions and currents. In this line of thought, the mother who carries her baby in a sling certainly does so, not because it is fashionable. Apparently there is something else that motivates her to do it.
The sling as a necessity
First let's say that the sling is really nothing new under the sun. All over the world, people have been carrying their babies this way for hundreds of years. In our country too, carrying a baby in a sling was very common among our great-grandmothers. The difference between the sling as we know it today and the sling of our grandmothers of the last century is that the current one is made of fine delicate fabrics, with applications and ornaments, while our grandmothers used a much coarser hand-woven fabric for the purpose. The rest are just similarities. With the industrial era in Western society came the cult of industrially produced goods, and along with hundreds of other devices in people's lives, the baby carriage also entered - this happened in the middle of the 20th century. Until then, it was unthinkable for people that the baby was not attached to the mother's body, but moved in something like a chest on wheels. It is definitely easier not to carry the weight of the baby on your back, but to push it on wheels. More convenient yes, but is it healthier? Nobody thinks about that. A baby that has lived in its mother's body for 9 months feels a physical and psychological need to continue being close to its mother's body after birth. A mother who has carried a baby close to her heart feels a physical and psychological need to continue to feel the baby close to her heart. This is precisely the maternal instinct - the need to be close to the baby and make sure that it is safe. This is the feeling that makes us listen to the baby monitor hour after hour when the little one is not in front of us and quietly peek through the open door to see what the baby is doing in the bassinet. It is the feeling that causes the baby to sleep soundly in mom's arms and the moment she puts him in the crib to give a sudden scream as if his life is in mortal danger. These are the human instincts that dictate a baby and a mother to be together, until the little one learns to discover the world on its own and to cope with new challenges on its own. Any attempt to go against nature has not led to anything good. We accept it as normal for mothers to experience postpartum depression and for babies to cry - only this is not normal, it is a product of our distorted idea of normality in our attempt to live without regard to the simple laws of nature, as if we are not part of nature. Mothers will struggle and doubt their parenting abilities until they start listening to their inner voice and not the experts. Babies will struggle and cry until mom accepts them back in her arms without being a burden to her.
Thus human experience has arrived at the idea of the sling as a way to raise our children in the way our nature dictates. The baby needs to be close to mom - that's the only way he's calm. The mother needs to be close to the baby - that's the only way she is calm. However, the mother also needs many other things – to go out among people, to work, to have fun. Many of her needs cannot be met if she has a baby in her arms. Most human activities require our hands to be free and to be able to move freely. How can this happen if we are carrying a baby in our arms or if we are pushing a stroller that cannot pass through subways, overpasses, bumps, etc. With a baby in our arms, our hands are busy. With a stroller, we don't have the freedom of movement - we can only move along wide asphalt paths, but not freely through the urban jungle or on outings in nature. For this, the need has made man invent this device, which will give him free hands and freedom of movement while carrying the baby close to him. We don't have to choose a personal life or a life close to the baby. For centuries, women have lived their lives close to their baby, carrying the baby with them everywhere they go, with both hands free.
It has been medically proven that in the sling the baby is in the healthiest position of the body - in the same position in which mothers have carried their babies for thousands of years. In the same position in which we carry our children today when we hold them in our arms - without anyone having taught us - somehow mother and baby instinctively know what position to be next to each other. It is also medically proven that there is no means of carrying a baby other than the sling, in all its varieties, that resembles this healthy position in which we carry our baby when we hold him in our arms.
So judge for yourself - fashion or necessity?
It is important for us as modern women to keep up with our times, to be mobile, active and active. It is difficult for us to shut ourselves up at home among the four walls with a baby in our arms and forget everything else, because we know that the world is changing so quickly. If today we voluntarily decide that we will devote ourselves only to the baby and leave everything else behind in 2 years, when motherhood ends, we will be surprised to find out how different the world has become during the time in which we have devoted ourselves to hermit baby-sitting. It is important for us to stay up to date. He who does not develop, he is not competitive. He will not be able to realize himself in the way he wishes. However, in order to keep up with the latest developments, one must constantly meet people, communicate, get informed, and experiment. This cannot happen if the woman is locked at home with the baby and nothing new happens to her.
So for me the question of fashion or necessity does not stand at all. Fashion and necessity. Because I want to be modern, contemporary, searching and finding my own way and at the same time I want to be a mother - worthy of my children - to be there for them, to support them and to give them all my love. For me, the sling is a necessity for the modern woman. More and more women realize this need and manage to find balance in their lives - the life of a modern woman and the life of a mother.
Author: Neli Vasileva-Stefanova,
child psychologist and early childhood development specialist. email@example.com