Baby carriers are powerful tools for parents and caregivers, enabling them to hold their babies much more comfortably and securely than they would otherwise. They help a new dad put a fussy newborn to sleep. They let a new mom use both hands to make a sandwich. They allow for discreet breastfeeding. They let an experienced parent or caregiver carry a baby on her back and wash the dishes, do the laundry, take a hike, weed the garden ... all while keeping the baby safe and content.
Many of the most comfortable and versatile carriers, however, have a bit of a learning curve. That’s one reason we formed Magic City Slingers, Alabama's first babywearing group. We bring together experienced “babywearers” and people who would like help choosing and using a baby carrier. It’s sort of a “fellowship of the sling.”
Our monthly meetings are a cross between a class and a play group. We bring lots of different styles of carriers and let people try them on to see what they like, and we also demonstrate how to use different carriers. Our meetings are free to attend and any parent or caregiver is welcome.
About the Leaders
Magic City Slingers was founded by two stay-at-home moms, Kristen Stewart, a retired teacher, and Susie Spence, a recovering lawyer. Dana Gale came to the second meeting, 8 months pregnant with a stash of carriers she wanted to make sure she knew how to use from day one, and joined the team several months later.
I'm the mother of two sweet girls only seventeen months apart, born in 2004 and 2005. Before my first daughter was even four weeks old, I made my first ring sling and we were hooked. I used it to fly alone with her the week after I made it and learned how to gently "wear her to sleep" and take off the sling instead of getting stuck holding a sleeping baby.I used slings and pouches (all made by me) with her until I was pregnant with her sister and started using an Ergo to easily wear her on my back. I even used it to carry her on my back while I went apple picking at seven and a half months pregnant!
When my second daughter was born, babywearing became even more important. She suffered from reflux and needed to be held upright so slings allowed me to do that while caring for my toddler. We use carriers every day to make life with two small children work! Both of them love to ride in the sling. We use all types of carriers now and people are always stopping me to ask about them. I've helped many friends to start using slings so joining forces with Susie to start Magic City Slingers just made sense. We want to offer any knowledge we've gained to help any interested parents in the Birmingham area to wear their babies.
I’m a stay-at-home mom to a daughter born in 2001 and a son born in 2006. As an infant, my daughter was definitely low maintenance. When she was about a week old, I got a Baby Bjorn because the book Baby Bargains recommended it and I thought it was the ‘gold standard’ for baby carriers. We used it for grocery shopping and a few other things, but she gained weight rapidly and it was too uncomfortable to use by the time she was three months old. Unlike his sister, my son has been more high maintenance from the beginning. His hobbies include eating and yelling. He knows how to smile sweetly, too ... but he’s not interested in doing so while lying or sitting and watching me do chores. Like his sister, he gained weight rapidly, and the useful life of the Baby Bjorn was even shorter ... he never seemed to like it much anyway.
As I struggled to find ways to cope with his generally fussy demeanor, a friend loaned me a Nojo padded sling. I tried it; he hated it. I eventually found some information about how to use it and tried again, with a bit more success ... I realized that the sling was too big for me to wear comfortably, but it was what I had, so it was what I used while I searched for alternatives. I searched and I searched, and I finally found good online resources with information about different kinds of baby carriers. I bought a pouch first and was delighted to be able to carry my baby securely in the tummy to tummy position. Our whole quality of life improved! Because there were no local resources to help me choose or learn to use a carrier, I ended up spending many hours ferreting out information on the internet. I’m excited and proud to help give the Birmingham area a source of free, in-person help with learning to use baby carriers. I’m also excited to help start an organization that’s focused, in such a practical way, on helping parents more easily meet the needs of their babies so they can focus more on the joy of parenting than the job of parenting.
I was 8 1/2 months pregnant when I came to my first slingers meeting and I knew, without a doubt, that i would become a baby-wearer. Trying on slings with a huge belly was tricky, but i was hooked. Once my daughter was born, I came back to meeting after meeting and ended up becoming knowledgeable enough to start helping out the other parents in attendance. My daughter is now 3 years old and rarely asks to be carried. My baby-wearing days aren't done, though, as I'm currently expecting her little brother or sister.
I can't count the number of times that having a sling saved my sanity; the grocery store, family reunions, birthday parties, all were so much easier to navigate with the baby sitting snug in the sling on my chest or back. Seeing the look on a new mom's face when she realizes just how easy it is to carry her baby is priceless and one of the things that kept me coming back to meetings even after my own daughter was a little to grown up to be carried.