Many parents are now expecting their child care providers to have some knowledge of safe sling use, and to use slings with the children in their care.

Secure attachment in the Child Care Setting

Forming secure attachments with their primary care giver is vital to children’s social and emotional development. It helps them to grow into happy and healthy sociable beings.

The relationship between a child and their parents, is of course, paramount. But what about those children whose care is provided by more than one person? What if their care provider is absent for periods of time due to work or illness? Many of us work full time. Many of us have children who have attended nursery since they were 6 months old. We have seen first-hand the difference that a strong secure attachment with nursery staff can make.

For those children who are cared for by extended family or private care providers, building bonds with those carers is critically important. A strong attachment with nursery staff can make a big difference to children’s happiness and comfort, and also to parent’s confidence in leaving their babies with a childcare provider.

Here in Sheffield, where the sling revolution is well and truly underway, nurseries are telling us that prospective parents are asking if they practice babywearing. Parents are listing use of slings as one of the criteria they are using to base their decision of childcare provider.

How can sling use help in child care settings?

Slings can help carers to hold children close, responding to their needs quickly and soothing children who are upset. Childcare providers tell us how they put distressed babies or crying children into slings and feel them calm down, as they are rocked and swayed in the carrier, often falling asleep.

Slings are particularly helpful for providing familiarity for children who are already carried in slings by their parents. Using slings with these children can help replicate the routine they have at home and provide a familiar source of comfort.

Slings enable babies to be carried at height, seeing the world through the eyes of the person carrying them. It provides a new perspective for them, being able to observe how their carer interacts with the world, how they communicate with other people, how they behave. This observation and learning helps their social and emotional development.

Child care

Slings also provide a safe haven for over-stimulated over-tired babies and children. Holding a baby close in a sling provides them with some respite and rest during a busy and active nursery day.

As well as the emotional and social benefits, for childcare providers, using carriers has obvious logistical and practical advantages. Slings can be used on day trips and walks, whilst one baby is in a sling, the same carer can push a double buggy, maintaining the 1:3 staff to child ratio.

There are a number of circumstances in which slings could be useful for childcare providers:

  • Providing security and attachment
  • Settling-in and transitions
  • Replicating familiar routines from home
  • Encouraging bonding with multiple staff 
  • Assisting in sleep and nap routines
  • Soothing and comforting babies/children
  • Going on day trips and walks
  • Quick carries around nursery buildings
  • Being ‘hands-free’ to look after other children

Different types of slings

There are several different types of slings that could be used. Each type of sling presents different pros and cons and some aspects to consider include:

  • The age range it is best suited to
  • How easy it is to learn and master
  • Potential for trip hazards (for example from long straps)
  • Potential for overheating (for example from multiple layers of fabric)
  • How to fold, care for and store

Safety Guidelines

Of course, whichever sling is used, safety guidelines must be followed. The most important aspect is to ensure children are able to breathe easily; once babies are over 3-4 months they can hold their own heads up and protect their own airways. The best known guidelines in the UK are the TICKS guidelines.

If you are a childcare provider using, or thinking of using slings, it is a good idea to undertake staff training and introduce a policy and consent forms. Parental consent and the consent of staff members should be secured before putting a baby/child in a sling.

Our Training and Support for Child Care Providers

Sheffield Sling Surgery consultants are trained and have an in-depth understanding of carrying and using slings. We have experience delivering training and support to nurseries, childminders and nannies.

We can deliver bespoke training and follow-up support to give you and your staff the knowledge and confidence you need to carry children in slings safely and comfortably.

Training sessions can be delivered to up to 10 people at a time. We appreciate that time is in limited supply in a busy childcare setting – we can come to you at your convenience. We can even deliver the session remotely via online video conferencing.

Training sessions cover an introduction to attachment and carrying; demonstrations of different types of carriers including a discussion of pros and cons; safety information; and hands-on practice with the sling(s) of your choice.
Staff receive handouts and leaflets, web links and access to video tutorials. Staff are given certificates of attendance for their continuing professional development records.

We can offer follow-up support with buying and caring for slings, developing policies, consent forms and dealing with parental queries, and producing safety and risk assessment information for use in your childcare setting.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Training and Support Package for Childcare Providers please email us for more information and pricing.

We have trained several childcare providers in the South Yorkshire region and the list can be found here.