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  Life   More Features  23 Jan 2018  A library for babywear

A library for babywear

THE ASIAN AGE. | NIRTIKA PANDITA
Published : Jan 23, 2018, 12:19 am IST
Updated : Jan 23, 2018, 12:19 am IST

As more and more parents started to reach out, their doubts about what effect the slings will have on the child are addressed by the group.

(From left to right) Prachi Dedhia, Yaman Banerji, Rashmee Bhatia Gajra, Aloka Gambhir, Sharmila D’Souza, Koshali Dalvi
 (From left to right) Prachi Dedhia, Yaman Banerji, Rashmee Bhatia Gajra, Aloka Gambhir, Sharmila D’Souza, Koshali Dalvi

When passing through lush green farmlands in the hills or the rubble of a construction site, one often sees women going about their work with their babies tied securely to their chests or backs with colourful scarves and slings. This way, they can freely go about their daily routine, while the baby is at ease enjoying the mother’s warmth. 

Pondering over this exact thought, architect Rashmee Bhatia Gajra started the Mumbai Sling Library in 2014. It was when her second child was born that she realised how convenient it would be to carry him in a sling instead of putting him down. Later in 2016 joined in five mothers Yaman Banerji, Aloka Mehta Gambhir, Prachi Shah Dedhia, Koshali Dalvi and Sharmila D’Souza, giving the group new life.

Together, they run a pop-up library introducing new parents to baby-wearing — or going around with babies tied to their bodies using slings. “Having the baby tied against your body is not a common sight in urban India. But if you go to the remote rural areas, it’s a often seen. I think, culturally, we missed a few generations of this practice,” says Yaman.

Describing the benefits of this system, she explains that this practice falls under the bracket of attachment parenting. The more you follow the cues of your child, the more they will grow into mature and self-sufficient individuals. “If the mother holds the child against her chest it helps in lactation and coping with postpartum depression,” she asserts, adding, “By keeping the baby next to mother’s body, happy hormones are released.”

Yaman Banerji holding a baby in one of the slingsYaman Banerji holding a baby in one of the slings

Talking about its effect on the parent body, the certified baby-wearing educator reveals that the products used are ergonomic carriers. These are designed in accord with the body and provide the required support distributing the weight equally.

As more and more parents started to reach out, their doubts about what effect the slings will have on the child are addressed by the group. “They ask if the sling will harm the child’s leg resulting in crooked walking, will the back have hunch, will they not learn to walk, and similar queries. We answer their query with the example of our own babies,” she smiles.

Started with five families, this community has grown to have between 400-500 parents attached to it. At present they have 50 products in stock, which were personally used by the five-member team and their babies at some point. At the meet-ups that happen twice a month, they discuss the benefits of baby wearing, safety parameters and fabric options. They also perform quick demos and rent out products at nominal prices, creating a library-like format. 

For those who cannot make it to the meets themselves, the group offers personal consultancy as well.

Though now the core members’ kids have outgrown the age where they can be carried around in slings, the organisers are still asked for judgment by several brands. “We have brands sending us products for feedback, which we give out to parents to test out,” says Yaman, adding that every single meet had a few fathers in the crowd along with the moms too. 

The community also runs a number of support groups focusing on breastfeeding, weaning, toddler meals and promoting green options like sustainable menstruation and cloth diapering. “Our primary motive, along with spreading the benefits and joys of safe babywearing, is to create a comfortable healthy community for new mothers, where they can find support and reach out to for sailing through a very demanding role they fulfil tirelessly,” Yaman concludes.

Tags: parents, breastfeeding, sharmila d’souza, aloka mehta, gambhir