The Baby Sling Trick: how a baby carrier can effectively improve sleep quality and duration

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

A baby sling is ideal to help your baby sleep well and get the most out of her baby sleep patterns.

Hug a Bub sling with mom Photo courtesy by Hug a Bub Australia

Carrying easily soothes your baby to sleep.

With a sling, or baby carrier, you can help your baby sleep anytime, anywhere ...

... and still have your hands free.

That also makes it perfect to introduce her baby sleep schedule and make the most of her natural sleep patterns.

The baby carrier definitely is my personal top favorite baby sleep accessory !

Read my Hug A Bub review for more on my personal experience or see this (super old ...!) Youtube video I made about this technique, in particular to help with nap scheduling.

Why use a baby sling?

Well, reason number one without a doubt:

... it's just so wonderful to be so close and all cuddled up, for both of you.

But there are SO many baby wearing benefits , especially if you use a truly good carrier.

For sleeping , use your baby carrier to:

  1. Introduce your baby's sleep schedule
  2. Soothe your baby when she's too fussy to settle for sleep easily

Most babies and children - and adults for that matter ... - sleep very easily when on the move. A walk in the stroller or a drive in the car very often sends them off to sleep in a snap.

A 'walk' in the sling does the same trick, but better in quite a few ways. You have your baby close to you, which feels absolutely great for both of you: your baby will easily settle for a safe deep sleep .

You keep your hands free to do other things too, with the older kids, some work around the house, ...

You can carry baby in the sling when you are out but of course also at home. So you do not h a ve to go out for a walk to soothe her to sleep or when fussy.

Baby carrying benefits

Buggies and strollers and the likes have become the standard means of transportation for babies in today's industrialized world.

However, in the past and also in less-industrialized and more traditional places, carrying baby is the default way of getting around: babies and toddlers happily join their mother's everyday activities, carried on her back.

Many scientists regard this traditional way as most beneficial for the emotional and behavioral development. Although not always possible in every situation in every society, carrying your baby when you can and want to, has many benefits.

These benefits include increased bonding with baby , less crying , reduced fussing .

That also means a more relaxed mom/dad, resulting in a more relaxed baby again. A baby who grows up confidently.

And the carrier also makes you very flexible (compare climbing on the bus while weight lifting a stroller to hopping on with baby in the sling).

So, when you're working on your baby's sleep schedule just put her in the sling at your chosen nap time. Or at night to help her settle for the night.

In No Tears Naps (aka Nap in a Snap) I discuss setting up your baby's best napping schedule in full detail, including the sling trick and other handy tools to get the best naps.

Do this very regularly for a good week or two, it will help set your baby's "sleep clock". Once she's used to the timing, she will settle far easier in her crib too.

Using the sling like this is especially useful when your baby does not easily settle to sleep by herself yet. If she is able to settle herself in the cot, I would recommend to keep that good habit.

And then enjoy the wonderful feeling of carrying your baby close to you any other time you like ...

Carrying your baby close in a sling also works great as a baby colic remedy .

Possible concerns about using a baby sling

Even if baby slings become more and more popular, many parents worry weather they are safe and OK to use. Let's have a look at the main concerns:

  1. Is using a sling safe for my baby? When used correctly, an appropriate sling that offers full back support poses no safety problems . It is important to follow the instructions of the manufacturer to make sure baby is firmly wrapped and in a good comfortable position.
  2. Can I use a baby carrier? Unless you have severe neck, back, or hip problems there is no reason why you could not carry your baby in a sling.

    Hug a Bub child's play Photo courtesy by Hug a Bub Australia

    And even if you do have problems, there are very good ergonomic slings that even help you carry baby in a safer way than when carrying her without a sling .

  3. Will I spoil my child when carrying so often? No research has shown that extra carrying spoils a child in a bad way.

    Studies reveal that babies who are held and carried more, cry less and are more content babies .

    Babies who are closely bonded to their parents grow up to be confident independent children.
  4. Is a sling complicated to put on? The first time, yes it might be a bit complicated to wrap a seemingly endless amount of cloth around you and then fit baby in it as well.

    But after a bit of fiddling around you'll put on most types of slings in no-time. It's really child's play!

Choosing a good baby sling

Baby slings are not expensive but it's important to choose one that suits you well. Your sling must be ergonomic and safe for both you and your baby.

Since you'll probably end up wearing it quite often, the sling will be part of your outfit so pick a color and fabric you like.

There are different types of baby carriers . There are the soft cloth slings, ring slings, maya wraps, pouch slings and you also have the stiffer baby carriers for front and back.

They differ in texture and looks of course, but also in comfort for you and baby, the minimum required age (the soft cloth and wraps ones are usually from day 1), maximum weight, ...

I've never been creative and brave enough myself to do so, but you can make your own baby sling using a free online baby sling pattern . I've seen fantastic results of beautiful and super inexpensive yet great quality slings!

Whichever sling you decide on, give yourself, and your baby, some time to get used to it. Once you're both comfortable, you'll be all set for the Baby Sling Trick : on to more and better sleep!

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.