Dear Mr. Smith: I am a new dad and very happy about it, but I can't imagine wearing one of those fabric baby slings for my newborn. I do, however, want to be a decent guy and take some of the weight (literally) off my partner. Is there anything cool for dads out there? Something in black or gunmetal? And in sporty techno-fabric?
Answer: Coincidentally, this question has recently presented itself to me personally. If I wear one of these things, I am wondering, will I have to buy some Teva sport sandals and zippered fleece jacket to go with it? Will I have to carry a bicycle helmet and a hemp shopping bag at all times as well?
The answer, of course, is no I won't, and neither will you. There is a surprising variety of slings available, and not all of them look fiercely organic or sporty. And the baby book I am currently reading with something resembling actual interest touts these things as a kind of panacea: They keep newborns snug and comfortable, they stop them from crying, they leave your hands free.
Note that we are talking about a fabric sling, not one of those padded, Velcroed front carriers of the Snugli variety. (I have one of those too, but am loath to wear it because of its nasty nylon surface.) Fabric slings come as very simple loops with a ring, or more complicated long wraps that come with instructional diagrams. Most of them can be wrapped in varying positions: with baby at neck, chest, waist or hip, for example. And many come in clever patterns or colours, not just oatmeal and hay. The coolest are slightly stretchy, so you can wear them tight and not look overly swathed. A company called Hotslings (www.hotslings.com) makes the most fashionable ones, including, yes, a shiny black variant that will nattily match your grey blazer and dark jeans. (I also like Hotslings' Windsor pattern, which is navy and black.)
From what I understand from women, a guy doesn't lose any of his sex appeal by wearing a baby. Be prepared, though, for the baby to attract more attention than you do.
To see a video of a badass hipster demonstrating a complicated wrap technique for a tiny newborn, go to Youtube and type "Aurora anbefaler; Babyslynge."
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