Heather Felker's business, Sling with Me, offers an array of natural parenting products, from cloth diapers and babywearing wraps and slings to baby-safe nail polish and natural toys. But it's more than just a place to find products.
When Milford resident Heather Felker moved her business from her home to a downtown location, she knew she needed a spot for more than just retail.
Her business, Sling with Me, offers an array of natural parenting products, from cloth diapers and babywearing wraps and slings to baby-safe nail polish and natural toys. But it's more than just a place to find products.
Felker also provides one-on-one or group consultations for parents and caregivers who are new to babywearing or other natural parenting methods, offering information on how to properly carry a child depending on its development, cloth diapering and breastfeeding.
"My goal is to be as much education as retail," Felker said. "It's important that places that sell items for infants also provide education [on how to use those items]."
Felker offers all of her clients invaluable advice on the products available, knowledge acquired through her experience raising eight children using cloth diapers and babywearing methods, as well as her studies at the Babywearing Institute. She also helped found the Delmarva Babywearers group in 2006, provides breastfeeding support as a La Leche League leader, participates in the Real Cloth Diaper Circle of Delaware and serves as the Vice President of Outreach and Board of Directors member for Babywearing International.
Felker originally started Sling with Me in 2009 and operated the business in her Milford home until August of this year. As a home-schooling mother of eight children ages 2 to 27, Felker found that it was necessary to have a separate place for her business.
"I opened it more as a hobby and as a resource," Felker said, "and then clearly found there was a need. There's nothing like this in Milford."
Felker has filled a niche, according to her customers, offering a local one-stop-shop that not only provides all-natural products, but also provides instruction on how to properly use them.
"It's the only store I know of that I can go into locally, buy natural products and let my kids run around," said Bridgeville resident and mother of two Heather Donohue. "It gives you a sense of comfort to know that she's so willing to help and open-minded. You're not going to be judged because you don't baby wear or you use disposable diapers. She's there to help you if you want to learn."
The store includes a play area that offers a place not only for children to enjoy themselves while parents are shopping, but also offers a place for new and seasoned parents to meet and discuss parenting techniques.
"I want this to be a place that moms can come and find each other, find support and normalize these parenting practices again," Felker said.
She believes that nationally, people have strayed from the practice of baby wearing, a method of transporting children that has been used around the world for centuries. With hectic work schedules and other distractions that make it harder for parents to hold their children, Felker advocates that mom or dad try baby wearing with one of the varying styles of baby slings, wraps or carriers that allow the child to rest on the chest, back or hip, instead of using a stroller or other device that often times makes getting around just as difficult.
Even if a customer brings in a product that was purchased at another location, Felker has no qualms in assisting a new parent with learning how to properly use it.
Milford resident and customer Phenicia Spells said that it's Heather's knowledge and variety of products that makes Sling with Me more than just a retail store.
"Heather just takes the time to explain everything until you understand i. She never makes you feel like you're asking a dumb question," Spells said. "She wants you to understand it and be comfortable."