Decision Fatigue! And how I can help…

Decision Fatigue is something I learnt about recently and wanted to share with you because it is something that we all encounter everyday and understanding about it and why it happens can really help…

The phrase “decision fatigue” describes the idea that your ability to make good quality decisions – weighing up all the pros and cons – goes down the more decisions you need to make.

Making decisions takes a lot of mental energy and so it makes sense that the more decisions you need to make in a given time the more likely that your going to become fatigued and start making snap descions, impluse purchases or start to suffer decision paralysis (where you just can’t decide).

So why am I telling you this? Well as new parents you are literally having to make 100s of decisions constantly, all day, every day. When to feed the baby, when to change the baby, why is baby crying? Do they need burbing? Are they over tired? Do I have enough nappies in the change bag? Does baby need an extra jumper? Do I need an extra jumper? … I could go on, but you get the idea. ALL DAY, EVERYDAY!!

That constant mental tax makes it really hard to make good decisions about things like what what carrier to buy.

It makes it really likely you’ll feel overwhelmed with choice. It makes your more susceptable to “timed” sales offers, or to just buying whatever that celebrity or influencer was gifted. In fact, this phenomeon is the reason companies offer timed sales, offer influencers free gifts – they are using the fact that many of use will be scrolling when we are feeling burnt out and desicion fatigued and thus much more suceptable to just buying without researching or trying first as we usually would. This mental tax can also make it more likely that you experience “decision paralysis” – that feeling where you just can’t decide… and so you don’t get a carrier at all but then maybe feel guilt and worry that you’ve missed your opportunity or left it too late (you haven’t, it is literally never too late).


If this is you – I can help.

I can listen to your needs and work with you to whittle down the choices to the ones that are most likely to suit you. I can ensure you feel confident fitting and using whatever you choose and I can help you check fit for you and baby and assess suitability for you personally so you can be assured whatever you go on to purchase really does fit your needs.

I offer hires so you can try before you buy and really be sure your making a great decision. I offer discounts to anyone who has hired first too, so you won’t lose out by hiring first.

I stock a carefully curated selection of carriers that work for a really wide range of parents and needs to ensure there is choice without too much choice!


If your feeling decision fatigued trying to find the right carrier for your family please do get in touch – I really can help.

-Madeleine


Baby Bjorn Move Review

The Move is the newest carrier from Baby Bjorn, bringing their current offering up to 3 models – the Mini, the Move and the One. While the Mini is designed with just the newborn period in mind and the One is designed to last longer and offer more support, the Move is designed to plug the gap and come somewhere in between the other two. It is nowhere near as bulky as the One but offers more support than the Mini. It won’t last as long as the One, but it will last alot longer than the Mini. A best of both worlds, prehaps… or at least a comprimise between the two!

The Move replaces the older “Miracle” model. Which offered a very similar lumbar support and shape and sized panel, but was very stiff and warm and didn’t have an option for a wide comfortable seated position for baby. The Move certainly is vastly improved relative to the Miracle, much softer, more breathable and offering a more supportive and cuddly feel with a slightly more adjustable slightly wider seat.

See the Move in action, how to use it and hear my full thoughts on its main pros and cons in the video here or read on below.

Key Features and Thoughts on the Baby Bjorn Move

The Move is weight tested from 3.2 to 12 kg (7 to 26 lb). In practise I find while the lower end of this weight range is realistic the upper end is less so! The Move genuinely works fairly well with a brand new newborn. The Mini is a little smaller and can work better with really tiny newborns, but for most babies born at term – they will fit in the Move right from the start or within a week or two. The panel goes down short enough and can be squashed down width wise to accomodate most babies right from the beginning.

Most parents find this carrier works well upto around 6-8 months and then it becomes less comfortable for parent and babe. The reason being is that while the panel will continue to adjust in height, it doesn’t adjust further in width and so ultimately it just becomes less comfortable for baby as the weight of their legs is less comfortably carried. And less comfortable for parent as more of babies legs are sticking out and not stabilized against them and thus baby starts to feel heavier. Plus the design of the waistband and how it is stiffened is such that it rarely transfers as much weight onto the hips as other carriers with differently designed waistbands. So in general most parents will find they move on to something else long before baby reaches the 12 kg upper weight guide.

In terms of how the Move adjusts – it has a slider to allow you to incrementally increase the length of the panel as baby grows. There is a handy guide sewn in to help you work out where it should be based on your baby’s height in cm or inches. The slider is really stiff to move – you have to absolutely wrench the material through! Popping it on a table so they weight of the rest of the carrier is supported does help too, but it does need alot of force. This reason it is so stiff is to ensure it doesn’t move during use, so it is reassuringly stiff! And just as well you only need to move it occasionally as baby grows!

What does not adjust is the width. For a smaller baby, the material is very soft and does squash down. For a bigger baby you can pull it out and spread as needed. There are seat adjuster buckles that allow you to “shape” the seat to fit and these do help alot (as demonstrated in the video above). But there does come a point where you just can’t get the seat wide enough or shaped enough to support baby as their legs get longer. However, with a baby between 0 and 5-6 months you can usually get a good fit by first loosening the seat adjustment buckle, sliding your hands in to do a pelvic tilt, then pulling the fabric as wide as possible and retightening the seat adjustment buckle as much as needed to support. Beyond this point, then it is sadly time to move onto a new larger carrier or use a scarf to widen the seat as shown here.

You fit the parent first and then the baby slots in after.  This is a key halmark of all Baby Bjorn carriers – they all feature some kind of internal harness so that you can fit parent and baby seperately. So that you first fit the carrier to the parent and then fit the baby into the panel seperately. This is quite different to most other baby carrier brands where you strap the waistband on first then fit the panel and shoulder straps around both parent and baby together. The pro is that for very nervous parents it can feel a bit more secure while getting baby in and out. Some parents certainly find this method easier, while others find it more faffy. When it comes to “easy” there is always a healthy dose of personal preference mixed in, so always definitely worth trying before you buy. The con is the internal harness is that it is harder to use this carrier to breast or chest feed in, it is harder to shift the carrier to one side to access a boob and where the internal harness sits can also limit access or limit your ability to adjust layers etc. Some might manage it but in general this isn’t a carrier I would suggest for anyone looking for a carrier to support feeding.

In terms of fit for parent – this is a carrier that tends to fit some people better than others. The straps do all adjust to fit a wide range of sizes – but the stiffened material and the metal strut bits don’t really mould to fit individuals so definitely some people will find they get a lot better fit than others. It is definitely a carrier that is worth trying on and comparing with a few others before you buy… because most parents who try it find something else more comfortable. For those it fits just right it is perfect, but its not as many people as you might think. Plus while it does fit a wide range of sizes – it is not a carrier I would pick out for anyone who is at the far ends of the spectra – neither the super petite nor parents of a larger plus sized build. The straps do not go as small nor as large as some other carriers on the market.

The material is really lightweight, soft and breathable. It is in fact really soft and strokable – far softer than it looks in photos. Think high quality fitness wear – designed to be soft enough that it won’t rub or make you hot even while running a marathon! It’s definitely material I would be quite happy to have against newborn skin. The panel in particular is really soft and simply moulds to fit around baby. It is so different to older Baby Bjorn models where the panel was really thick and robust … this new air mesh material really does softly hug baby and support them in whatever shape they want to be in. This material continues round the parent harness too but the parts on parent have been stiffened for support. This is a shame as it doesn’t nesicary mould to fit you, and I’d like to see some of this stiffness removed and replaced with lightweight padding for a more adjustable tailored fit… but compared to the Miracle (which is the model the Move is effectively replacing) it is a huge step in the right direction from Baby Bjorn.

It offers 2 carrying positons – front inwards and front facing outwards. Both are shown in the video above. It doesn’t offer either a hip carry nor a back carry. You can read more about the pros and cons of carrying baby outwards facing here.

One of the things I really don’t like about this carrier is the manual. I feel like if you follow the manual to the letter, it will lead you astray. For example it states

“For secure closeness and control of your child, carying your newborn facing you high up on your chest. Once a bit bigger your child can be carried lower down to relieve pressure on your shoulders”

So I agree wholeheartedly with the first sentence – it is key to carry baby high and tight both so you can monitor their cues and keep them safe and for your own comfort (carrying high and tight protects your core and pelvic floor from strain). But the second part is simply not true. If you drop the waistband lower that your waist… it can’t transfer the weight onto your pelvis (as I discuss in detail here) and the consequence is you will feel more weight and more pull on you shoulders, not less!! You will also feel more strain in your core and pelvic floor. So please do adjust the waistband fit where ever gives you the best weight distribution, dropping it won’t save your shoulders!

Another example of the manual leading you astray is in the description of the parts of the baby carrier. It describes;

  • arm holes – but generally babies like their hands up by their face and not hanging down by their sides
  • head support and straps to tighten the head support – that puts pressure on the back of babies head. When parents come to me stating baby doesn’t like the carrier 9 times out of 10 just folding down this head support bit makes all the difference. No one likes pressure on the back of their head. It engages the flight or fight response and negates baby’s natural reflex to push their head back if they are experiencing low oxygen. Not to mention preventing them looking around and naturally strengthening their neck muscles. So please ignore this and fold it down (as shown in my video above).
  • Leg strap – for reducing the size of leg openings. The manual states these leg straps need to be used for babies between 3.2 and 4.5 kg (7-10 lb) to prevent baby falling out the side through the leg opening. But as long as the height is set to the smallest anyway the gap is so small already there is no way a baby over 3.2 kg could possibly fall out of this gap. The carrier would have to be extremely loose and low for this (or the height set for a much much taller baby), and even then I am not sure it is possible. So this leg strap is a bit redundant. It is also really fiddly to do up and parents often report worrying that it is cutting in but being concerned about safety if they don’t. I would love to see the manual explain that this is an option if you think the hole is big enough for baby to fall out of and otherwise not to worry overly about.

Does the Baby Bjorn Move offer good value for money?

Ultimately this is the key questions isn’t it – does the Move offer good value for money? At the time of writing, the Move retails at ~£120-£130, for a carrier that really only lasts around 6-8 months and only offers 2 carrying positions. When you compare it to something like the Beco Gemini, which is also light weight and mesh, offers 4 carrying positions and works from newborn through to 18 months but costs only £105. Or to the Kahu Baby – again lightweight, easy to use, offers 4 carrying positions and lasts to 2 years and cost £95. Or even the Ergo Omni 360 Cool Air, which is more bulky but again offers 4 carrying positions, works from 8 weeks and lasts to approximately 2 years and costs only a little more at £155. It doesn’t in all honesty seem to offer the best value.

If it fits you really well, and fits you better than these other brands that last longer and do more… then maybe it is worth it for you. But in reality it often doesn’t fit as well as these other brands, and if you are considering purchasing this carrier I hugely recommend you try it on and also try these others on and compare them before investing.

-Madeleine

Kingston Sling Clinic Is Back!!

I feel like it I have waited forever to be able to finally announce this news – since the last Kingston session back in March that was sadly cancelled just 22 hours before I was due to be there. But at last! Here we are! Kingston Sling Clinic is back from Monday 26th of April.

I have a new slot and a new format! I will be there once a month on a Monday, 10-12pm. It is a longer slot than before but instead of drop in, there will be 10 minute bookable slots (with 5 minutes between each family to allow cleaning of demo dolls, touch points and time to fill in hire forms etc as needed). Booking is essential and you can do so here

We have dates booked in for April, May, June and July and you can find the full information on dates, when, where etc here.

I am so happy to be able to welcome families back to these low cost sessions and to be seeing clients face to face (albeit behind masks) once again! I am crossing my fingers that my other venues (and hopefully some new ones too) will also be able to return soon – so do keep an eye open for news of more dates and more locations.

If the current dates don’t work for you or if you need more help than can be offered in a 10 minute slot then please do get in touch to book a one to one consultation – either face to face in my home or yours or online via Zoom. Or if you don’t feel quite ready yet to come in person – all my socially distancing friendly services will still be running. Including postal or doorstep collection hires and online consults.

Looking forward to welcoming many of you in Kingston over the coming months!

-Madeleine

Battle of the Newborn Specialist Buckle Carriers – Comparison of the Ergo Embrace, Baby Bjorn Mini and the Izmi Baby.

While most buckle carriers are aimed at supporting babies from a couple of months old all the way through to toddlerhood, there are relatively few that genuinely fit a newborn well. For this reason many parents start with a stretchy wrap or a Close Caboo for the early days and then move on. But if you’re looking for a buckle carrier that you can use right from day 1 then the three to consider are the:

All three of these are designed with carrying a newborn in mind, so are made from soft, light materials and sized to fit a smaller form snuggly, and prioritise the head and neck support that they need.

So how do these 3 compare? Which one should you go for?

Lets start by taking a look at their basic stats…

Ergo EmbraceIzmi BabyBaby Bjorn Mini
Recommended Weight Range3.2 – 11 kg (7 – 25 lb)3.2 – 15 kg (7 – 33 lb)3.2 – 11 kg (7 – 25 lb)
Realistically works forFrom birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts to about 9 months ish.Right from birth, no need to spread legs at all. I’ve even had success with babies weighing as little as 1.75kg (just below 4lb), grows with baby to at least 1 year.From birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts only to about 4 months ish.
Number of Carrying positions2 (3)42
MaterialJersey
(79% Polyester, 17% Rayon, 4% Spandex)
Cotton or Cotton with a mesh panel
(Cotton is 100% Cotton)
Cotton, Jersey, or Jersey Mesh
(Cotton is 100% cotton, Jersey is 80% Polyester, 16% Cotton, 4% Spandex, while the Jersery Mesh is 100% Polyester)
Cost£80£80£80-90

Longevity

As you can see of the 3 the Izmi baby fits the earliest and lasts the longest. While none of them are weight tested below 3.2 kg (or rather insured to print any lower than this on the label), the Izmi actually can work for even the tinest babies. It comes with a booster cushion and it’s adjustable width and height means that it can fit smaller babies earlier than the other too. It’s the one I have seen work over and over again on babies born prematurely because it’s so flexible in terms of how it can be used and so working with parents I can usually help them find a way that baby can sit comfortably in this carrier even if baby isn’t yet ready to spread their legs, or has low tone or is currently on oxygen and we need to accomodate for this. By contrast the other two will work once baby is able to spread their legs at least a little and will work right from birth for most babies born at term.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers with a newborn or 6 week ish sized weighted doll

Then at the other end of the spectrum, the Bjorn Mini is the smallest of the 3 or rather has the least capacity to get wider and so this is the one that babies grow out of the fastest. Usually by 4 months or so baby is starting to outgrow this carrier on width and the lack of waist support means this carrier quickly becomes less comfortable for the wearer too. The Embrace lasts a bit longer and will often work to around 9 months give or take. The panel does become a little wider and longer but by 9 months baby will be starting to out grow it and also the stretchy fabric will start feeling less supportive and there will be more pull on parents back. Again the Izmi can out perform the other two – the panel goes much wider than the other two so it can continue fitting babies to around a year and often beyond. However, how long the wearer can continue wearing it comfortably depends alot on fit! If it fits you well and the unpadded lightweight straps sit nicely and flush on your body you’ll be happy wearing this to a year or beyond… if the straps don’t sit well on you and they ride or rouche then very likely this carrier will start getting heavy from 6 to 9 months ish too.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers in a inward facing carry with a 6 month equivalent sized weighted doll

Carrying Positions

In terms of what you can do with it – again the Izmi offers the most options! Offering 4 carrying positions – front inwards, front outwards, hip and back carry. While the Ergo Embrace offers 3 of these. Officially 2 – only the front inwards and front outwards are shown in the manual, but it works just as well in a hip carry as well. The Bjorn offers just the front inwards and front outwards and can not be used on the hip or back. For the parent, the Izmi offers both crossed straps and ruck sack straps (you can read more about these here), while the Bjorn Mini and Ergo Embrace offers just the crossed configuration. It is worth stating that the Izmi works much better in the crossed than the ruck sack but it does offer both.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers in a forward facing carry with a 6 month equivalent sized weighted doll

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use – the Ergo Embrace and the Izmi baby are similar in terms of how you use them. You pop the waistband on, pop baby in and then bring the panel up over them and fasten the straps around both of you. Its very simple. The Bjorn Mini is a little different… instead you fasten the carrier to you first and then pop baby in and all the clips to secure baby are on the front where you can easily see them. It is fab for anyone who is really nervous, or has difficulty doing up buckles at their sides. I hestitate to say the Bjorn Mini is easier though, I hestitate because experience has taught me that some parents definitely find it easier, while others find it more faffy and much harder. The clips are quite different and they are a bit marmite… some people find them really inutitive and others can’t fathom them!! So it can be easier but also it can be harder… it really depends on how your hands work, what feels easier to you personally. I very much recommend trying and seeing! I have to say I have had a good number of parents who have been worried about how to fasten the straps on the Embrace or the Izmi and assumed the Bjorn will be easier and thought they should just go for that and then when they’ve tried found that actually the Embrace and Izmi are way easier than they were anticipating and preferred the more flexible and comfortable fit they offered. So it is defintely worth trying each on if you are unsure.

Fabric

Here the Bjorn Mini offers the most choice. It comes in 3 different fabrics – a super soft polyester jersey, a mesh jersery fabric (also polyester) and a cotton. The cotton does feel a bit robust compared to the other two, but the other two are strokably soft and the mesh really breathable too. The Ergo Embrace comes in a polyester jersery that feels quite similar to the Bjorn Mini jersery fabric. It is very soft and molds around baby beautifully. The Izmi comes in a light weight cotton – it is a much softer, less robust cotton than the Bjorn Mini cotton finish, it definitely moulds nicely around baby. It isn’t quite a soft as the jersey fabric of the other two, but it also doesn’t have the give of the other two either so can feel a little more secure. The Izmi is also availible in a mesh where the central portion of the panel has been replaced with mesh. Again not quite as soft as the Bjorn mesh but this is both a plus and a minus as it has less give too.

Price

When it comes to price they are all much of a muchness at £80. However, when you factor in how long they will last and options offered, it is hard to see the Bjorn Mini as good value compared to the other two. Consequently I choose to sell both the Izmi Baby carrier and the Ergobaby Embrace, as I know parents will get good value for money with either of these (and anyone purchasing a carrier through the Sheen Slings webshop is offered a free 20 minute online video fitting appointment, so I know you’ll feel confident using whichever you chose).

It is worth noting that whichever you opt for, many parents do ultimately end up moving onto a bigger more robust buckle carrier around 4 -6 months or so anyway. So, really none of them offer quite as good value compared to something like the Close Parent Caboo or a Stretchy wrap that costs between £40-55 and last for the same period. Or the Calin bleu stretchy wrap that costs just £25! Another option can be simply to rent for the period you need it. I offer 3 month long term hires, so you could hire an Izmi Baby Carrier, an Ergo Embrace or a Baby Bjorn Mini for the whole 4th trimester period for just £40 and save yourself needing to purchase your own and save the rest of the money for the next step purchase that should hopefully last baby from a few months all the way into toddlerhood.

-Madeleine

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) with a newborn doll

How do I use an Ergobaby Embrace? Video tutorials for front, hip and forward facing carries with the Embrace carrier

The Ergobaby Embrace is a beautifully designed newborn specialist carrier.  Made from super soft jersey, it combines the softness and cozy cuddles of a stretchy wrap with the ease and intuitiveness of a clip on, no tying involved buckle carrier.  Suitable right from day 1, it is an ideal choice for a new baby and is available to purchase through the Sheen Slings webshop here.

But how do you use it?

Good question! Here are my video tutorials taking you through the different ways you can use this carrier as baby grows and develops

Front Carry with a Newborn

One of the things I love about the Ergobaby Embrace is that you can use it right from the beginning. Ergo suggest from 7lb (3.2 kg) and I have seen it give a great fit to several babies who were just shy of 6lb (2.7 kg). Provided baby is happy to open their legs enough to sit straddingly the material, this carrier will give a lovely cosy, snuggly fit to even a brand new baby.

To fit a brand new baby you do need to shorten the carrier. As shown in the video, you do this by rolling the waistband toward you. Please note that the “toward you” bit is important. If you roll the wrong way it doesn’t fit as well and it does trip parents up sometimes!

Front carry with a baby 2 months plus

As baby grows, the Embrace can grow with them – once they start to become too tall for the newborn position you can stop rolling the waist band and instead simply put it on directly. Note that the jump from rolled to unrolled is quite a big one, so you might need to pay attention to how you are popping baby in and where the waistband is on you to ensure you get a good fit. As explained in depth in the video above. Once in this position – generally from around 2 months (although maybe a little earlier or later depending on your baby!) they will stay with the unrolled waist band going forward and this typically lasts well until around 9 months or so when many babies start to grow out of the Embrace (again this might be a little earlier or later depending on the baby!).

High Shoulder Carry

You won’t find this position in a manual as this is a carry I invented for a client to solve a specific issue (you can read more about how it came about here). However, it works suprisingly well and can be great for those times when baby is just really unsettled – particularly if this is a way you find yourself holding baby in arms frequently.

Hip Carry

This is another carry that isn’t in the manual, although I have no idea why not. It works really well with the soft spreadable shoulders of the Embrace and is great for those “nosy” baby’s who want to see everything but aren’t yet ready to face outwards. Or for those times where baby is too tired to face outwards and needs to sleep but is protesting about your attempts to get them to sleep! In the hip carry they can see everything just as they would facing out, but their head and neck are supported and they can turn away and filter out when they are ready to finally succumb to that nap.

Facing Outward

The final position this carrier offers is the forward facing position. I beleive Ergo included it because market research showed at least 50% of parents won’t consider a carrier that doesn’t offer a forward facing position. But it is worth noting that of all the positions shown here with the Embrace this one is the least comfortable for the wearer. Facing your baby away puts baby’s center of gravity away from you, so puts more strain on your back in any carrier. But this is exacerbated in the Embrace because the stretchy material means baby pulls further way and thus puts proprotionally more strain on your back. Plus as baby’s are often starting to grow out of this carrier by the time they are ready to forward face – I can’t help thinking offering it is a bit of a gimmick. That said however, it can be fun for a short period and parents do find it helpful to try forward facing and see how baby gets on with it. Thus once they are ready to move onto another bigger/longer lasting option they know whether it is worth investing in a more robust carrier that offers forward facing or whether they can cast a wider net and purchase something that doesn’t offer this position safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t really use it anway.

You’ll note I don’t show a back carry here. Again there is no back carry in the manual and Ergobaby don’t recommend this position for the Embrace. I don’t either. Because the Embrace doesn’t have a chest strap and because it is made from stretchy material, it simply won’t feel as secure (nor be as secure) in a back carry compared to a carrier made from a non stretchy material and that has the chest strap for added security. Plus in general, most parents find their little one has outgrown the Embrace before they are ready to start exploring back carries anyway.

I hope this helps! Remember if you are struggling at all with this carrier (or any other) please do reach out! I offer both online consultations and consultations in person… often all it takes is a few simple tweaks and a consultation can be the perfect way of troubleshooting and gaining confidence. Or if you don’t have one yet but are thinking of purchasing one you can read my full review here and purchase through the Sheen Slings webshop here. Plus I do hire these out as well – allowing you to try before you buy or even rent one for the full 4th trimester period and save yourself needing to buy one at all.

-Madeleine

How to perform a ‘Pelvic Tilt’ to ensure your baby is sitting comfortably in their baby carrier

Worried about how baby is sitting in their carrier? Worried about their hips? Or worried about red lines appearing on their legs after being in the carrier?

The easiest way to ensure baby is sitting comfortably is to do a ‘Pelvic Tilt’. This is where you slip your hands into the carrier and gently tilt their pelvis and lift their legs to ensure they are sitting square on their bottom rather than on their inner thighs. Here is how to do it:

Why is this important? Simply – sitting with their weight squarely on their bottom rather than being on their inner thighs is more comfortable. I often liken this to the difference between sitting in a nice deep soft verses perching on a bar stool. Neither is dangerous, or even uncomfortable in the short term but I know where I’d rather be for a snooze or a longer period!

When do to do a Pelvic tilt? Ideally I do a pelvic tilt or check each time I put a carrier or sling on. Babies often have a wiggle and whinge when going into a carrier and it’s really common for them to straighten up as part of this wiggle. So once I’ve popped the carrier on and started walking or bouncing/dancing on the spot to calm baby, I then slide my hands in and do this, then finish tightening the carrier as needed. I normally find that once done I don’t need to keep repeating, once in this position the carrier will support baby here (provided the carrier still fits them well – if not you might need a scarf as shown here, or a bigger carrier). However, if something changes like you’ve sat down and got back up again and/or baby has become unsettled… you might find you occassionally need to repeat the move.

Does it look different for different age babies? Yes it does! I love this graphic showing how this “spread squat” position with the weight on the bum looks for different age babies

But baby bounces up and down in the carrier, straightening and bending their legs? How do I keep them in this position? The answer to this question does depend a little on the age and stage of baby – and is part of the whole carrying will look different as baby grows and matures. Often babies will go through phases of this bouncing in a carrier when they are older … 6 months plus. It is fab!! Maybe not for you – who might find this is an extra work out for your core and your carrying muscles (-my children went through big phases of this around 18 months to 2 years… particuarly throwing their weight side to side while bouncing and I’d have to work quite hard not to fall over!!). But for baby is it fab, it means they are getting active time, they are strengthening their muscles and importantly having fun. Don’t feel like you need to stop them or that they need to be sitting squarely on their bum the whole time. As baby gets older the importance of the spread squat position for protecting their hips becomes less and less (as their pelvis matures toward walking). It is fine for them to crane upwards and outwards for a better view and have their weight on their inner thighs instead for short bursts. It’s all part of strengthening and development for them. Then if they start to get drowsy and fall asleep then do a quick pelvic tilt to ensure they are sat comfortably while they sleep.

If you are at all unsure about how baby is sitting in your carrier or if your carrier still fits them well or any other related question please do get in touch. A online consult can be a perfect way to troubleshoot and check your carrier and go through all your babywearing questions.

-Madeleine

Carrier shown is the Beco Gemini, which is one of our most popular carriers and can be bought here and full review found here.

Kangaroo Front Carry with a woven wrap tutorial

The Kangaroo Carry has always been my absolute favourite woven wrap carry. It was the first front carry I really mastered and the one that won me over to the comfort of woven wraps. I loved the comfort across the shoulders and the closeness with baby. I loved how he’d always sleep on me in this position and how comforting it was for him when he was teething or unwell. I loved that I didn’t have to put him down if he was already in my arms. I loved that I could use a mid-length or a long length wrap with this carry. I loved that a mid-length packed up small in my bag or even could be worn as a scarf while I wasn’t using it.

Mostly I loved how this particular carry sat on my body. I talk a lot about different brand carriers offering different fits and the importance of finding the right fit for you. Well, while woven wraps will fit literally anyone…. different carries and methods of tying with that woven wrap will definitely suit different people and it really is worth experiementing with a few different tying styles to find your favourites.

Most parents start by learning the Front Wrap Cross Carry but please don’t be discouraged if you don’t love it. I remember so vividly trying to love this when I became a Sling Librarian and later a Consultant but it took me a while to love it and it still just doesn’t fit my body in quite the way Front Double Hammock and Kangaroo Carry do. While other parents I have worked with love Front Wrap Cross Carry immediately and don’t find they need to try anything else. It is so personal!

But if your looking for a very snuggly, super close front carry you can use with a newborn or a toddler (and everything inbetween), with a midlength or a long woven wrap – Kangaroo is definitely worth a try.

There are two methods of tying this carry, and here I show both! The first is the pre-tied method. By which I mean you tie the carry first and then pop baby in and tighten up around them. Many parents find this method easier because there is less fabric flapping around to cope with at any given time. Here is how to do it

The second method is helpful if baby is already in your arms and you don’t want to put them down first. You simply tie the sling around them. I loved this for those times when baby has fallen asleep on you on the sofa and you really need to get up. I used it a lot with my second when she would fall asleep on me after a feed just before I needed to pick up her older brother from nursery! I also once used once when my son fell asleep on me on the tube after a day at the Natural History museum. I simply stood up and calmly wrapped him on the moving train while it rumbled along between Earl’s Court and Barons Court and was ready to leave the train by Barons Court!! I got a round of appalaus from the other people in the carriage too because I managed it without waking him or falling over which did feel like a massive acheivement. Here is how to do it;

If you are struggling with this or any other carry please do get in touch. I can go through it with you step by step and provide real time feedback (whether online via Zoom or in person) and really help flatten the learning curve and ensure your 100% confident going forward.

-Madeleine

How to use a scarf to extend the width of a Baby Bjorn or other narrow based baby carrier.

One of the downsides of a narrow based carrier such as a Baby Bjorn Mini, Original, Move, Miracle or other high street brand carriers is that baby very rapidly out grows the carrier in terms of how much support there is for their legs. As their legs get longer and they start to over spill the carrier, their legs pull downward and this is less comfortable for them because their weight rest on their inner thighs and they feel more of the weight of their legs. It is also less comfortable for you, because more weight pulling away from the carrier equals more strain on your body.

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix. All it takes is widening the base of the carrier to better support their legs. For this you will need a scarf. Ideally a woven scarf (i.e. not a stretchy knitted one), but it doesn’t need to be anything special. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry your baby – because your carrier will be doing this… simply any non stretchy material will do. Pashminas or rather market stall cheap pashmina knock offs are perfect!

Then you can use your scarf in one of two ways. The simplest is to pop your baby in as normal, and then tie the scarf around the outside of the carrier as shown here;

I love this method because not only does it support baby’s legs making the carrier more comfortable for them, it also helps redistribute more of the weight onto your waist and hips and thus really can improve your comfort a lot too.

An alternative method involves putting the scarf first inside of the carrier, as shown here:

I will confess I don’t find this method quite as comfortable as it doesn’t give the same feeling of waist support for the wearer. But it also doesn’t put a knot behind your back which is helpful if you want to sit down while wearing the carrier and also helpful if you struggle mobility-wise tying a knot behind your back.

Either method will give you a little bit more time with your carrier. It will still feel heavier than a carrier with a wider base and a proper waistband, but it will give you a bit more support and a bit more time. Often parents coming to one of my sessions who have a narrow based carrier find the scarf trick gives them another month or two before it starts to become too heavy again. But importantly this month or two gives them time to try a few different options – whether that is hiring a couple of different things or attending a session to try a few options – and ensure whatever they invest in next really works for them and last for as long as they need it too.

If you are hunting for the right next option please do get in touch and I’ll be happy to help. In the meantime I hope this trick helps!

– Madeleine

How to support your baby’s head and neck in a Stretchy Wrap

Stretchy wraps are amazing. They are super soft, snuggly and one of the best options for a newborn. However, often parents are worried that they don’t give baby enough head support or are worried about how they are ment to support baby’s head and neck. Instead parents often find themselves needing to hold baby’s head, or worse get so worried they lose confidence and stop using the stretchy.

But actually stretchies do have more than enough support built in! A couple of simple tweaks in how you are using the wrap can make all the difference in how much support baby’s neck has. There are 3 things to check, you can see talk through each of the 3 in the video or scroll down for each of the 3 described in detail below:

  1. Check how baby is sat in the sling. Ideally we want baby sat comfortably on their bottom, with their knees higher than their bum and their spine gentle curving bring their head to a gentle rest on your chest. However, babies can often end up a bit straightened up (with their knees lower than their bum and straighted spine) – particularly if they grumble and wiggle when going in. This isn’t dangerous but it is less comfortable for them (as their weight is on their inner thighs rather than their bottom) and more importantly because of the way the pelvis, spine and skull connect means that their head is much more likely to roll backwards away from you. If this happens its an easy fix – simply slip your hands into the wrap and gently tuck their bum towards you gently lifting the legs and allowing baby to settle onto their bottom. Finally readjust the fabric so both layers support baby all the way to the backs of the knee. Viola! Now, due to the way the pelvis, spine and skull attach and how the verterbra stack… baby’s head should gently rest on your chest and not be able to roll backwards dramatically.
  2. Pull the outer 3rd layer of the wrap up – right up to the back of babies neck. In fact ideally you want actually roll that top bit of the wrap so you have a couple of rolls sitting behind the back of baby’s neck to support their head and neck. Often parents simply don’t pull this layer up high enough. Often they leave most of the fabric near baby’s bottom to support their weight and “stop them falling out”, but actually it is the two straps crossing under baby’s bottom that supports their weight and stops them falling out. The outer/3rd layer is there to hold the top part of the crossing straps in place and to support the upper torso and head. And to do this is needs to be pulled up – all the way to the top of baby’s neck or base of their ear!
  3. Use a muslin to create a neck pillow for more support. In theory, provided your wrap is tight enough 1 and 2 should be enough to support baby’s head and neck and you shouldn’t need any other support. However, sometimes parents don’t feel it is enough and if that is the case then you can build in more support in one of two ways. The first way is to use one of the cross passes to cover the back of baby’s head. This is the way shown in most manuals. However, most baby’s hate this and certainly won’t tolerate it while awake (many won’t tollerate it while asleep either). Instead the second way is my preferred method – roll up a muslin and tuck it into the top of the outer/3rd layer to create a neck pillow. Providing lovely soft but robust head and neck support … and having the added side benefit of ensuring you have a muslin ready should you need one!

Voila! Nice, soft but securely supported neck!

As ever if you are struggling with your stretchy wrap, please do get in contact. A quick online consultation (or in person mini consult lockdown/tiers allowing) where you can receive real-time input and we can work together to get the root of the issue can make a huge difference! Clients are always suprised and releived to discover what difference just 20 minutes talking it through step by step can make! So please do get in touch if you’d like help with this or anything else.

-Madeleine

PS the wrap shown in the video is the Hana Baby Wrap and you can purchase your own here or do get in touch if you’d like to hire one – either to try before you buy or to hire for the whole fourth trimester period.

Calin Bleu Stretchy Wrap Review

The Calin Bleu Stretchy wrap is hands down the best budget stretchy wrap on the market.  It is quite simply a truly lovely lightweight option availible at a tiny price.  If your looking for an excellent quality wrap that won’t break the bank, the Calin Bleu is simply a brilliant option.  

At this point I have tried well over 50 different brands of stretchy wrap.  I have many favourites (the Hana Baby and the Izmi Baby in particular) but until now all my favourites have been in the £40-50 price range.  And I am painfully aware that not all parents want to or can afford to spend this much on a stretchy.  Especially when there are so many brands listed on Amazon for £30 and under.  These “Amazon Cheapie” wraps vary loads brand to brand, but without fail every single one I have tried has felt like a false economy.  Almost all of them have uneven stretch, which makes them hard to tie.  They are often badly finished, and many don’t come with any kind of safety testing or even guarantees that baby safe dyes have been used.  I am contacted by several parents every month who bought an Amazon Cheapie wrap and are finding their sling difficult to use.  And while I am normally able to help them get to grips with their wrap in the end, most do express buyers remorse for not spending that bit extra on a easier to use wrap in the first place. 

Which is why I am so relieved to have discovered the Calin Bleu Stretchy wrap.  At a recommended retail price of £25 for the Medium and £28 for the Long, it is very budget friendly and costs no more than an internet cheapy!  But crucially it is:

  • Super easy to use.  The Calin Bleu is a two way stretchy wrap – this means it stretches both in the vertical and horizontal directions.  This even stretch means this wrap is so much easier to pre-tie and pop baby in and out of than a wrap that stretches only in one direction.  You can read more about one-way verses two-way stretch and why it is important here.  
  • Safety tested to PD CEN/TR 16512:2015 standard ensuring material is safe for use as a baby carrier.

You can see it in action (and hear my full thoughts on this wrap) in my video review here, or read on below for more in depth discussion.

It is also exceptionally lightweight.  Made from 95% viscose and 5% elastane it is very much lighter and thinner than an equivalent cotton wrap, while remaining strong and supportive.  Meaning that the Calin Bleu is a fabulous choice for spring and summer babies, or anyone who is prone to over heating as its genuinely one of the coolest wraps on the market.  

It shorter than many other stretchy wraps on the market too.  Most wraps are between 5 and 6m in length.  The Calin Bleu comes in two lengths – a medium, which is just 4m and a long which is 5m.  So even the long is shorter than most other brands, and the medium is quite a lot shorter.  Less length means less fabric to make you hot.  It also gives you less fabric to deal with.  Parents often feel intimidated by how long stretchy wraps are, and I often find simply offering them a shorter wrap helps them feel more confidient.  Making the Calin Bleu a great choice for beginners! 

Both sizes fit a wide range of parent shapes and sizes.  In general I find anyone below a dress size 14 will suit a medium, while anyone dress size 16 and up will get on better with the long size.  I am somewhere between a size 14 and 16 and in the photos I am using a medium – as you can see it fits me but I don’t have tonnes of fabric left over for making a knot!  If you’re sharing the wrap with your partner and you’re both different sizes it is worth noting that if the wrap was too short for one of you, that parent could simply tie it behind their back rather than in front of them.  Likewise, if the wrap was too long, that wearer could simply tie a bow or wrap the fabric around their waist/hips again to use up more fabric.  In this way, either size can fit an absolutely huge range of parent shapes and sizes.    

It is perfect for newborns, a fab option to use right from day 1. And it is strong enough to carry older babies if you want to. Most babies will grow out of stretchy wraps developmentally around 3-4 months rather than physically, but may still enjoy taking a nap in the stretchy wrap. The Calin Bleu is suprisingly strong for how thin it is, and the 5% elastane gives it great “ping back” and hold! So this is definitely a wrap you can use for as long as you and baby still enjoy it. In fact you can see just how strong it is in the photo below with my then 2 year old!

So why is the Calin Bleu so cheap if its such a great wrap?  If your anything like me, you are probably wondering at this point why the Calin Bleu is so cheap compared to other two-way, good quality stretchy wraps.  What is the catch?!?!  Well there are two main reasons this wrap is cheaper:

  • It is unhemmed.  Most stretchy wraps are hemmed along the edges.  The pros to hemming is it gives the wrap more finished, neater look.  Hemming also often stops the edgest rolling as much.  The con is sewing along the edges takes time and so adds quite a lot of cost.  Jersey knit fabric doesn’t fray so hemming isn’t required, it is simply an aesthetic choice.  Calin Bleu have chosen keep costs low by leaving the edges unhemmed.  
  • The fabric used.  The Calin Bleu wrap is made from 95% viscose and 5% elastane.  The Izmi Baby wrap is made from bamboo viscose, while the Hana Baby wrap is made from a blend of organic cotton and bamboo viscose.  Viscose made from cellulose extracted from bamboo is more generally considered a more ecologically sustainable choise and is more costly to make, compared to run of the mill man made viscose.  Likewise, organic cotton is a more expensive fibre too.  In terms of how the fabric performs – its all viscose so it performs just the same.  It’s just as strong, washes just as well etc.  Calin Bleu have opted for the cheaper fibre to keep costs as low as possible.  And while not quite as soft and sumptutious as the bamboo viscose of the Izmi and Hana wrap, the Calin Bleu fabric is still beautifully soft and you probably wouldn’t notice the difference between them unless you were stroking all 3 wraps at the same time.  

All in all the Calin Bleu is a really fantastic super lightweight, easy peasy to use stretchy wrap that is perfect for newborns and perfect for anyone looking for a great value sling. It retails as just £25 for the medium and £28 for the long and can be bought from the Sheen Slings webshop here.

-Madeleine