I always find it hard to answer this question - mainly because each and every sling library session is so different! They vary so much... in almost 5 years of running sling library drop in sessions no two have ever been the same.
The reason they vary so much is simply because it's a drop in session and I completely tailor what I cover, what advice I give etc depending on who comes on the day. I've had some sessions where its been nearly all newborns or expectant parents and we've spent a lot of time on stretchy wraps and Caboo's and I've had other sessions where its been all older babies and I've not even taken a stretchy wrap off the shelf. More commonly I get a total mix and I cover all 5 types of slings and carriers during the course of the 2 hour session. Usually I probably only see a toddler about once every other month, but just once I had a session where quite spontaneously 4 families came looking for toddler carriers in the same session!
So what can you expect at a Sling Library session?
- They take place in my home and in the local children's centres. Either way setting and session as a whole is really relaxed. Come in take a seat, make yourself at home - you are welcome to feed, change your baby, comfort them in any way that works, you're welcome to walk around or use the loo, grab a glass of water from the kitchen etc.
- At my home you can bring your buggy in, no need to leave it outside. I simply ask they go in the next room so we have plenty of space for trying on slings in the front room. Unless baby is sleeping and then I'll make a bit of space. At the Children's centre buggies are left outside unless again baby is sleeping then do bring them in.
- People are seen on an approximate first come first served basis. I say approximate because really it's the babies who are in charge here so its first come first served allowing for babies to eat, sleep and be changed when they want to be!
- Generally everyone gets about 10-15 minutes of one to one time in the first instance. That's to say dedicated time with me where you tell me what you'd like help with and I then go through this with you. Whether that's help with a preexisting carrier or finding something new. Normally,10-15 minutes is enough time for me to demo one option, help you try on this option and then leave you with a small pile of similar things to try on by yourself, while I help the next family. If there is time once I've seen everyone I will start coming back round - this might be to answer any questions you have following trying on the others I left you with or practising with that one, to fit check your favourite of these and/or sort out with you if you'd like to hire or buy. Or if it is a quieter session there might be time to show another option/demo a different type of sling.
It is worth noting that the Sling Library sessions can get busy. In fact they can vary a lot in terms of how busy they are. The average is about 6-7 families in a 1 hour session, but some sessions are quieter and many are busier. Our busiest ever saw 16 families which equated to 24 adults! So if you have a lot of questions or feel like you need a bit more help it can be worth considering a private consult instead. From experience I've found the drop in sessions work best for those who already have some idea of what they want and/or feel confident to try things themselves following being demoed once, Or people who have a sling already and just want a fit check and some tips with that one carrier. While others who are maybe less confident and/or newer to slings sometimes struggle in this format and feel they get a lot more out of a private session where they are able to have more one to one support while trying on as many options as needed. This is also a good option for anyone who doesn't cope well in busy situations or feel they'd benefit from a quieter learning environment, or a time that works better for them and their little one. That said if you do find you need more support but don't feel a private consultation is doable for you, I've known families simply come to multiple sessions and receive the same amount of help just spread over a few weeks. You are extremely welcome to do this! Everyone learns in different ways so whatever works best for you.
Other questions I am often asked about these sessions;
- Can I bring a carrier I already own? Yes of course! Please do! Very happy to help check fit and help you gain confidence using your carrier.
- I have been given several carriers can I bring them all? You absolutely can, but if it is a busy session its unlikely I'll manage to cover them all. 10-15 minutes is usually enough for me to give you a quick verbal run through of the pros and cons of each of your carriers and then demo and help you gain confidence with the one that seems most promising for the age and stage you are at. You are welcome to come back to another session in the future for more help with one of the others, you might find a private session (where we can really explore each in detail, compare them and gain confidence using each) more helpful.
- Do you only have slings? Or do you do carriers too? I tend to use the terms slings and carriers interchangeably, but I have a huge range of slings and carriers of all types. Currently over 90 in total! There is more info on the different types here, and full list of what carriers we have here.
- Can I hire a carrier? Yes, if you'd find it helpful to hire to try that sling or carrier out properly at home before investing, or if you'd like to borrow something for a holiday or specific event you are very very welcome to. Full list of our carriers and hire costs are here.
- Do I have to hire? No, only if you'd find it helpful. You are very welcome to come to the session for advice only.
- Can I come while I am pregnant? Of course! It can be really helpful to come before baby arrives to get an idea of what is out there and what might suit you. And there is no limit to how many times you can come, many people come first while pregnant to get an idea or to get a newborn option lined up, then again once baby is ready to move onto a next step option and then again to learn new carrying positions with their sling (i.e. forward facing, hip or back carrying positions once baby is older). Some even come back much later with toddlers ready to move up into a bigger toddler carrier.
- Can we buy from you? Yes! I sell a number of slings and carriers, and I usually have a good selection available in stock so you can simply purchase at the library (or organise a door step collection). If you'd like a specific design that I don't currently have in stock I can usually arrange for this to be delivered directly to your home within a few days. I don't sell everything, but those I don't sell I have discount codes for to purchase directly from the manufacturer or from a good independent stockist.