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. It is also worth noting that whichever you opt for, many parents do ultimately end up moving onto a bigger more robust buckle carrier around 4 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

Kavka Baby Carrier Review

New to the UK market, the Kavka Multi-Age baby carrier hails from Poland. The first thing to say about it is just how adjustable it is. Made from super soft woven wrap fabric it micro adjusts in both height and weight to fit babies right from just a few weeks old to at least 2.5/3 years of age. It is weight tested from 3.5 kg all the way to 20 kg and in fact my 18 kg almost 4 year old fitted in it remarkably well.

It is, however, relatively bulky. The panel is wonderfully soft and light and the fabric moulds and beautifully to support babies of all different shapes and sizes without excess bulky. But it is fairly bulky for parents. It has a thick, wide firmly padded waistband teamed with soft but thickly padded shoulder straps. Padding is a bit like marmite – some parents find more padding equates to more comfort and while others find the reverse. This is a carrier that definitely works for the former rather than the latter.

The other main source of bulk, and my main bug bear with this carrier, is that when adjusted to fit a newborn all the excess fabric is pushed between the wearer and the waistband. This fabric lumps into big folds that pushes the waistband out and the result is that it is really hard to really get the waistband tight enough when the carrier is on the narrowest settings. As anyone who’ve read my fit tips blog will know, getting the waistband snug is the absolutely foundation to getting a comfortable carry. So this bulk really does interfere with parent fit and undoubtedly comfort. At least while on the newborn setting. As baby grows and you let the panel out this becomes less and less of an issue.

So paradoxically the fit and parent comfort are likely to get better as baby grows! It is however a crying shame, because this carrier is packed with amazing modifications to ensure it gets a great fit for newborns. From all the adjustability to having fastening clips on the waistband as well as on the panel … allowing you to get a perfect newborn C shape in the carrier.

You can see how all this works and what it looks like in use here in my video review;

So this is definitely a carrier I am conflicted on, the adjustability, the softness and the options for fastening are all simply wonderful. I want to like it more, but the bulk at the waistband and the firmness of the straps slightly spoils it all for me. But it is worth saying that that is in part my bias based on how well it fits my body and it will fit other bodies differently. So it is really worth trying it on and I am excited to see it on clients and get to know what body types it fits best.

Because it has so much adjustability in the shoulder straps too – offering 3 points of tightening (see the video above for how they all work) and the option to wear with straps crossed across the back or ruck-sack style. The straps are extremely long too, so has the capacity to fit a huge range of different parent sizes from XS to XXXL. The long straps can be easily tided away with little elastics at the ends.

The carrier also offers 3 carrying positions for baby; front, hip and back carry.

So all in all the Kavka baby is an extremely flexible carrier offering a lot of adjustability. It’s closest competitors on the UK market are the Isara the One carrier, the Manduca XT and the Mamaruga Zen and Zebulo carriers. If you are looking for something like one of these carriers but with more padding then the Kavka is definitely worth you trying. However, if like me you er on the side of less bulk then I’d skip this one and focus on the Manduca XT or the Zebulo instead.

The Kavka baby retails at £119 for the standard cotton model or £125 for a linen or bamboo model. They also make a Multi-Age Plus which is bigger and weight tested from 6 kg to 25 kg and retails for £125 for the standard cotton models. We have one of these in the library collection so do get in contact if you’d like to give it a go.

They can be purchased from MamaZen, and thank you to MamaZen for providing us with this one to try.

-Madeleine

Isara Quick Full Buckle Front Carry Tutorial

The Isara Quick Full Buckle is a bit different to most other buckle carriers on the market. It’s mismatched straps are designed to snap together, rather than into the panel.

That means how you do it up is a little different to the method you’d use for most other carriers. Here is how I do it;

The video shows first how I do cross straps and then how I do ruck sack straps too.

If you have this carrier or are thinking about purchasing one – I hope this helps! Any questions please do comment below or get in touch! My full review of this carrier can be found here.

-Madeleine