Being a childminder can be a pretty tough job sometimes. Having to split your care and attention 2, 3 or sometimes even more ways! Constantly having to make sure that all of your mindees are safe, happy and entertained. Slings can play a pretty big role in making a childminders job that little bit easier, seeing as a sling offers all 3 of the basic needs of most children! It provides safety meaning they can’t run away or disappear anywhere whilst dealing with another child. It provides comfort, not only on a physical level but on an emotional one too, great for if you perhaps take on another child and experience some jealousy from your original minded child. Last of all it provides happiness, mostly because they are having all their needs met at the same time, it creates less stress for you making for a happier childminder and of course who can resist the odd ride of ‘giddy up horsey’ on the way to the park!
It can also mean less of a financial burden. Slings are, on the most part, cheaper than buggies especially the double or triple ones. They will last you longer as they have fewer breakable parts and lastly they take up barely any room so you can make do with perhaps only one buggy instead of two. Some slings are so adjustable you can use the same sling for a tiny baby or a big preschooler!
So whether you use a sling full time or part time for your minded children, they are sure to make a difference to your daily life.
real life examples
Mum and childminder
When did you start using slings & why?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted to carry her in a sling and spent time researching this before she was born. I wanted a convenient and comfortable way to keep her close to me, so that she would feel secure and snug, knowing I was there. I’d read ‘The Continuum Concept’ by Jean Liedloff and felt strongly that I wanted to respect what Liedloff calls the ‘in arms phase’ of early childhood. I also found out about the many other reasons for carrying babies, for example that babies who are carried cry less, and that it can help with wind, reflux and other digestive complaints, and is great for babies’ cognitive and emotional development all round.
My daughter was constantly carried or in arms until she was crawling, and then only occasionally used a pushchair for short periods. When she was aged one, I began childminding, and slings proved an incredibly powerful tool in helping me to calm and sooth my young mindees whilst having hands free to do everything I needed to do.
How has using a sling generally benefitted you and children you mind?
I see how my own daughter has developed as a highly confident and independent child. She knows I am always there if she wants to come for a hug or carry at any time, but usually prefers to walk or run around. I’ve noticed also how strong a walker she is, having been used to movement from birth, as opposed to having spent extended periods being pushed around. My mindees benefitted from being easily calmed and soothed when they found separating from their parents tricky at the start of the day. It was particularly useful to use a sling when I had three one year olds to care for simultaneously, and one crying could set the others off too. The sling pre-empted many an upset moment, as the child who felt vulnerable could have a snuggle whilst I was able to continue attending to the others.
Can you tell us one specific occasion in which using a sling had a positive impact in your daily life?
In addition to what I’ve said above, slings have been invaluable in getting both my own daughter and mindees aged from 6 months to two and a half years off to sleep. Even children who were used to being left to get themselves to sleep in a cot at home, were calmer and went to sleep more quickly whilst being carried in a sling, making nap times stress-free for me and them. I couldn’t imagine having managed without my slings while childminding or with my own daughter.
What one piece of wisdom would you pass onto other childminders who may be considering using slings?
For a childminder interested in slings, I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with their local sling library or consultant for a chat about the options for carrying the babies and/or toddlers in your care. That way you will be able to learn about sling safety and comfort as well as have a look at all the choices of slings and carriers available. You won’t regret it!