Slings in the City, the brainchild of Queens mom Bianca Fehn, also offers monthly meetings in Manhttan. The group, devoted to baby-wearing, started in January 2005 as a Yahoo information group and now has over 1,000 members throughout the metropolitan area.
Fehn, single mother of Matteo, who is turning 3 in December, credits Big Apple Parent with starting her on the baby-wearing road. Soon after Matteo was born, Fehn traveled into Manhattan with the baby to visit her doctor. She read a copy of Big Apple Parent while waiting for her appointment. An ad for a baby carrier caught her eye, and she bought a sling. But she didn’t know how to use the carrier and figured out other moms would also be confused.
With so many options in baby carriers — front, back, side, sling — Slings in the City fulfills a need as a place where moms can get together and practice. Certain carriers are challenging to use, Fehn admits, but reports that some moms figure it out right away. At the meetings, she says, “we all bring our carriers, so we can find the perfect one. You don’t have to buy a lot of different types to figure out which is best.” She adds that little tips — like how to pull a piece of fabric to make a carrier more comfortable — can make all the difference in the world for your back and shoulders. Fehn notes that she still comfortably carries Matteo, who weighs 32 pounds, in either a front or a back carrier.
While the benefits of getting around the city without a stroller are obvious — no subway maneuvering, or narrow aisles to navigate — Fehn says she was overwhelmed by the response to the baby-wearing gathering held last summer in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Many more moms than she had expected showed up; some just saw the gathering and joined in. Certain advantages to baby-wearing are universal; moms can discreetly nurse, and colicky babies (Fehn’s included) are often soothed by being carried close to their mom. The group also offers a sense of community, she points out, adding that many groups have come together because of Slings; a homeschooling group, a hiking group, and a knitting club all came out connections made at her meetings.
Slings in the City has free monthly meetings in Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and New Jersey in addition to Manhattan. Fehn used to run all the meetings, but now limits herself to those held in Brooklyn and Queens
Slings in the City is the New York City Chapter of Nine In Nine Out (NINO), the national baby-wearing organization, on the web at www.nineinnineout.org. For information on Slings in the City, go to www.slingsinthecity.com.