ONE of the country’s oldest ‘sling libraries’ is celebrating 12 years of helping new parents live a more mobile life.

Oxford Sling Library, which now runs at four venues in the city, is a community group set up by parents that seeks to encourage and educate mums and dads in how to use a baby carrier safely.

A team of volunteers, trained to offer personalised sling fittings, have been running sessions since 2008.

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Though carrying a baby with a sling or wrap has been used for centuries, it has become increasingly popular in the UK since the group's creation, with it promoted as a way to encourage bonding between parent and child.

Josie Hadjiev, lead consultant at Oxford Sling Library, said: "There are many aspects to consider for each individual case such as parent and baby physiology, any specialist health circumstances for the parent or baby, or simply that baby prefers to be carried in a particular position perhaps due to colic and we find a way to match the needs of that person.

Oxford Mail:

"At our busy sling library sessions, we see babies and children of all ages and stages."

Volunteers can give to interested parents information about slings appropriate for a baby’s age, positioning, how to breastfeed in a sling, different ways of carrying twins, as well as the various types of slings and baby carriers.

Oxford Sling Library currently has more than 300 items for hire.

The wide selection includes stretchy wraps for newborn babies, woven wraps, tie-on-carriers, ring slings and buckle carriers.

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There are also options to carry premature babies, twins, multiples, toddlers and preschoolers.

Ms Hadjiev, who took on the running of the library six years ago, after being inspired by seeing parents around the world carry their baby by a sling, said: "Hiring a sling or baby carrier can be a fantastic low-cost way to find out what really works for you and your baby before investing.

"Many people hire a sling short-term for an upcoming holiday. We stock seasonal-suitable slings and special occasion slings."

She added: "While baby slings and carriers are sold in a few shops in Oxfordshire, visitors to the Oxford Sling Library will see a broader selection of good quality, comfortable, affordable and easy-to-use options that hold baby in an ergonomic position which is essential for an optimal development of spine and hips.

Oxford Mail:

"Getting a personalised sling fitting can make all the difference."

It costs £6 for an individual professional sling fitting or £10 for a family fitting (two adults).

The group are also able to fit any sling or carrier that parents bring to Oxford Sling Library events.

To hire a sling or baby carrier costs £5 for two weeks, £10 for four weeks, or £15 for six weeks.

The group is non-profit and so all money raised from hiring out slings goes to cover room booking costs, refreshments and updating the group's baby carrier stock.

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There are approximately 230 active sling libraries in the UK, with Oxford Sling Library one of the first launched.

It currently runs at four venues throughout the week; the South Oxford Family Room on Tuesdays, The Maple Tree in Wheatley on Wednesdays, the West Oxford Community Centre on Thursdays and Flo’s - The Place in the Park on Fridays.

The East Oxford venue offers the biggest collection of baby slings for hire.

See the Oxford Sling Library website or Facebook page for specific dates and times.

All venues are buggy and wheelchair accessible.