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Travelling London: slings for the win

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Travelling London: slings for the win

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I have to be totally honest and make a confession. I have never even attempted to take a pram or buggy on the Tube. However, as a born and bred Londoner, I felt enormously proud that my little one had her very first trip on the Underground at just 4 weeks old, cuddled up in a stretchy wrap sling. I wasn’t showered (so, thank goodness for dry shampoo)! I was totally exhausted (but hooray for being hands free for very much needed coffee)! But, I felt a huge sense of independence and confidence having my baby safe and close, comfortable and protected in a sling as I made my way up London’s Victoria Line.

Buggies on buses: never again!

My few attempts at getting on buses with the buggy were very frustrating. That time when the baby had just fallen asleep in the pram, then the bus jolted as it started off and I was stuck attempting to comfort a crying baby on a moving bus (I think I may have ended up crying too). Or the many times when I went to get on and there were already two buggies on the bus, so I was left waiting at the bus stop – much to an impatient little one’s annoyance! My enormous pram didn’t exactly help the situation – a smaller one, particular one which easily folds would have made much more sense in hindsight…

So for me, continuing the life I loved in London, and nipping up and down into the centre of town, and keeping that feeling of independence, meant using a sling. And I quickly realised that actually there were just so many other benefits as well, and ways in which using a sling as we travelled around hugely impacted on me, my baby and on my whole parenting journey.

day out on public transport baby sling

My experience: babywearing the benefits

  • Getting through crowds: so much easier to nip in and out with my little one in a sling rather than wading through with a buggy.
  • Reassuring me baby about crowds. They feel secure up close to my, seeing my face and hearing my voice.
  • Chatting about what we’re seeing; pointing out landmarks and interesting sights as our eye-lines are at the same height.
  • Conversations with people around you; an odd one for a Londoner; but people do chat to you when your baby is in a sling. On days when I’m feeling overwhelmed or lonely this can be really nice!
  • Quicker to get around; less cumbersome and restrictive than bringing the buggy.
  • Less inconvenient to others, as I’m taking up less space, and less in people’s way.
  • Felt much safer to have the baby securely in the sling, than ending up holding them in your arms on a moving bus or train.
  • I was less anxious that she would cry. I knew I could comfort her if she needed it.
  • Just having the freedom to get out and about means I can still enjoy so much of what London has to offer, and with a little buddy coming along too!
  • It changes the pace of the day so that travelling and the journey becomes as much the trip out as the destination.
  • No having to check my route is ‘step-free’, or ask around for someone to help me carry a pushchair up steps.

So here are my top tips for using a sling for travelling in London:

  1. Make sure you have a really comfy sling that you’re confident getting on and off on your own.
  2. Ask for that seat. Although very often people will offer you a seat when its busy, if they don’t, then ask. In my experience nobody minds you asking. Usually they’re just deeply embarrassed that they didn’t notice you!
  3. Make sure you have a bag or good pockets where you can easily get to your phone/ticket/bankcard. (You can just use contactless to tap straight through the barriers). I often take a separate changing bag. Then my compact cross body bag has just the essentials for the journey. I can pop that bag into the changing bag when we arrive.
  4. I found learning to feed in the sling a huge help with travelling. When my baby needs a nap I snuggle her in and feed. Even the person next to me was none the wiser!
  5. Unless you’re used to it, I’d recommend avoiding rush hours where possible. It gets incredibly busy and can be stressful and overwhelming for you and your baby!
  6. Enjoy it! I have found it such a lovely way to chat to other passengers. The minute there is a baby at eye level the typical Londoner stony faces melt away and they become chatty.

How do you get about in London with the family? Have you used a sling in London?

About the author

Katharine Boylan worked as a Primary School Teacher before having her daughter in 2016. She now runs Carried and Gathered is a CalmFamily consultant. She now works supporting new parents and their babies in South London.

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