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 Support Baby’s Head in a Buckle carrier

Quite understandably, how to support baby’s head is one of the most frequent worries parents express when they get in touch with me. Particularly parents who have a carrier already, and have tried using it but are just not sure if it is providing enough head support, how to adjust it to ensure baby is supported, comfortable and most importantly safe.

Here I talk through what you need to know in terms of how to position baby and where to offer them support and where not to…

The important key points are;

  • Support the neck, NOT the back of the head.
  • Check how baby is sat – check they are sat on their bottom in a deep squat. You can see how to perform a pelvic tilt to check here.
  • Check where they are sat in the carrier – adjust where in the panel they sit to bring the height of the carrier up or down so the padded top section rests nicely in the back of the neck.

As baby does grow you may well find you do need to use the flap to extend the panel. This is it’s true purpose – rather than being a head support for a young baby, it is designed to extend the panel as baby grows to support and older baby or toddler as needed.

The carrier shown in the video is the Beco 8 (which you can purchase here), however, everything I discuss also applies to pretty much all buckle carriers and in particular the Ergobaby Omni 360, Tula Explore, Lillebaby All Seasons, Beco Gemini, Baby Bjorn Mini, Bjorn One and a great many others.

-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 secure your woven wrap – knots and other finishes.

Woven wraps are hard to beat when it comes to closeness, snuggliness and flexibility of use. However, despite all these pros many parents are very worried about the knotting part. They are worried it will be difficult, or they will get it wrong and their wrap won’t be secure.

There are actually 4 different ways you can secure a woven wrap. They are;

  1. Secure Double Knot
  2. Slip Knot
  3. Ring Finish
  4. Knotless Finish

Each has different pros and cons, but importantly, none of them are difficult to do and all 4 are completely secure. Here I will show you how to do each one and discuss their advantanges and disadvanges in turn.

The Secure Double Knot

Of all the four, the secure double knot is the easiest. I promise you, you already know how to do it. You simply tie a knot and then tie it again. Sure you’ll see some people on the internet go on about Granny Knots vs Flat Reef knots and blah blah blah… but it really doesn’t matter. ANY double knot will be completely secure. It won’t loosen over time, it won’t undo unless you actually undo it. In fact if someone pulls on the end of your wrap, or you snag on something, the knot will get tighter and more secure – not looser. So the main pros of this knot is that is super simple to do, it won’t slip or move so feels really secure.

It’s main disadvantage is that it isn’t adjustable, so it isn’t possible to loosen or tighten your wrap without untying the knot. So if you need to lower to feed your baby, or if the wrap has become loose and you need to tighten – you will need to untie this knot first, adjust and then re-tie.

Here is how to do it;

Note – I said this knot won’t spontaneously loosen. I often have clients who tell me that as they were walking their wrap got looser, and they are worried that their knot loosened over time and that maybe they did it “wrong”. If this is happening to you – you haven’t done anything wrong with your knot – and it is not the knot that loosened. It simply means that when you tied the wrap there were pockets of hidden “slack” (hidden loose parts), and as you walked your gentle rocking motion combined with gravity moved that slack around toward baby resulting in the wrap now feeling unsupportive. The trick is to now raise baby back to where you want them and retighten… and over time as you hone your skills you will start to notice that hidden slack and learn to tighten it out right from the start. If your struggling with this – this is definitely something I can help with and something that an online consultation is perfect for.

The Slip Knot

By constrast, the Slip Knot is adjustable. So it is a great choice if you want to raise or lower your sling for feeding, or if you’d like to be able to pretie the wrap and pop baby in or out. Or you would like to easily be able to adjust the tightness as you walk without first untying the knot. It is also a double knot so it is completely secure and is not going to loosen or untie overtime (unless you actually loosen or untie it on purpose!).

It is, however, a knot you will likely need to learn. By this I mean likely you will need to memorise the steps … I still repeat the steps under my breath every time I tie this knot!! But it really does open up a whole load of options and flexibility by learning it. And fun fact – for anyone who (like me) had to wear a tie for secondary school – this is actually the same knot as you use for a tie. So actually you may in fact already know this knot. And if teenagers all over the country can learn to do this knot and manage it in the morning when they are late for school – it really can’t be that hard! Here is how to do it;

The Ring Finish

For this we use a ring instead of a knot to fasten the two ends of the wrap together. Like the Slip Knot, the ring finish is adjustable. In fact it is more adjustable as you can tighten or loosen either end of the wrap through the ring (unlike the slip knot where only the “passive” or straight end can be adjusted). Plus it is physically easier to adjust through – it requires less hand and wrist strength to adjust through than the slip knot. So the ring finish is really useful if you want to be able to raise or lower your carry for feeding or to adjust while you are out and about without needing to undo a knot. Or you like the adjustability of a slipknot but find it too much strain on your wrists.

However, the flipside is because both ends adjust and do so very easily… it doesn’t feel quite as secure as a slip knot or the secure double knot. It won’t spontaneously undo but it may well loosen through the ring a little over time and so you may well find that you do need to adjust it and retighten from time to time as you walk.

Another advantage of the ring finish is it needs less length than a knot. So it can be really helpful if you find your wrap is a little short and your struggling to get a good knot. It also looks really pretty! I will openly confess I have used this finish on many an occasion just because I liked how it looked! Particularly, when wearing a woven at an event like a friends wedding! Here is how to do it.

It is worth noting that the ring you use matters. Because the ring needs to be strong and durable enough to take the weight – it needs to be a “sling ring” rather than any old ring. It needs to be solid metal with no breaks or obvious welding or joins. I purchase mine from here. The ring also needs to be the right size for your wrap – which depends both on how thick your wrap is and how “grippy” verses “slippery” it is. If the ring is too large then it will be more likely to slip and loosen over time. Too small and you may have difficulty tightening through it. In the video I am using a medium sling ring with a fairly thin woven wrap. For a very thick or very grippy wrap I might find I need a larger ring, while for a very thin or very slippery wrap I might find I need a smaller ring instead.

Knotless Finish

The final way you can secure a woven wrap is not to tie a knot at all, but to use friction to hold your wrap instead. I appreciate this initially sounds crazy, but actually what stops a knot from untying is friction between the two ends of the wrap. What holds the wrap in a ring finish is friction created by the ring between the two ends of the wrap. It is possible to create the same friction without actually creating a knot.

The advantage of a knotless finish is it is much less bulky than a knot. So if you find a knot uncomfortable or prone to digging in, a knotless finish might be more comfortable. Likewise a Ring Finish is alot less bulky – but again the ring can be quite hard and can be prone to digging in – so a knotless finish can be a great alternative. Another advantage is they are often easier to untie than a knot, which can be helpful if you find untying knots difficult or stressful on your wrists. There are actually a number of ways to do knotless finish depending on the carry your are going for but here is one of the most common and how to do it;

While it sounds less secure – I am continually suprised by just how secure a good knotless finish actually does feel. Once tightened there should be no slippage and it should be just as secure as a knot. Plus you can tighten through it. Of all the finishes this is probably the one I use the most for the simple reason that I prefer not to have the bulk. Mastering this finish does require understanding how friction is generated and remembering to go over the strap first rather than directly under it… but once you’ve remembered that then you can merrily apply this finish to any carry you’d like!

Have you tried any of these different methods for securing a woven wrap? Which is your favourite? Have I inspired you to try a different method for tying? You can use any of these four methods with any carry …. so feel free to get creative!

Happy experimenting

-Madeleine

Front Double Hammock with a Long Woven Wrap Tutorial

Front Double Hammock is a fabulous carry for newborns. It is one of my personal favourite carries because;

  • It is very snuggly and supportive carry for both the parent and baby. For the baby the two “hammock” layers over baby’s back really cocoons and gently holds them in their natural posture. For the parent the spread out straps over the shoulders and across the back really help spread the weight evenly and the band around the lower back really helps transfer most of the load onto the parents waist and hips.
  • There is no fabric dividing baby’s legs, which means they can be as curled up as they like and you don’t need to try and prise their legs open or change their natural newborn shape in anyway.
  • The twists at the shoulder help get the top part of the wrap nicely snug and secure providing ideal neck support without having any material in the way of baby’s face. Which means plenty of airflow around their face and lovely clear sightlines for them too!
  • You can pre-tie it and the pop baby in and tighten around them. Likewise you can loosen to take baby back out without untying. Making this a very practical carry because you don’t have to keep retying it every time and you can pre-tie before you leave the house or before you drive your car … avoiding the need to tie near muddy puddles when you reach your destination.

Here is how to do it;

And it’s not just for newborns either. While many people will move onto the closely related Front Cross Carry as baby gets older (particularly for more wriggly babies, or those prone to straightening their legs) – you don’t have to. I still used this carry regularly with each of my children right through to toddlerhood. Particularly at times they felt tired or overwhelmed because it is such a close contact carry and so snuggly that it really would calm them down at times like this. In fact I still remember vividly that the last time I carried my eldest in this carry was when he was 3 years old and he had Chicken Pox. Those first few days he felt really poorly (and itchy) and all he wanted to do was snuggle and sleep against me. And he defininitely didn’t want to go on my back… he needed the security and the closeness of being in my front and this wrap really helped me support his weight and give me use of my arms while meeting his needs!

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

Self Confidence and Baby Carriers and why “easier” isn’t always best

Self Confidence, or lack thereof, can be the biggest barrier to carrying.  So often parents are worried.  Worried they won’t do it right.  Worried they will make a mistake.  Worried because they are tired and exhausted and learning so many things and this is another thing to learn.  Worried because the first time they tried it it didn’t feel right, or because baby cried and it wasn’t the instant magic calming device the picture on the box promised. 


The marketing sections of the big brand carrier manufacturers KNOW this. So they produce carriers that promise to “be easier than….”, that promise they can just be slipped on with no tying, or no adjusting or whatever buzz word they think sounds easiest.  They build whole campaigns around telling you how easy it is compared to everything else and feed into your fears that other products might be too hard for you. They give free ones to social media influencers who have probably never tried anything else so these social media influencers can tell you how easy and simple it is use. But what they don’t tell you in this big marketing campaign is the downsides. They don’t tell you what you’ve lost by not being able to adjust or being able to tie. They don’t tell you it won’t last as long, requiring you to buy another carrier (probably from them) in a few months time. Nor do they tell you it won’t fit your body if your this body shape or if your between sizes, or that it might fit you but not your partner so you’ll have to buy two. Because if they told you these things you wouldn’t buy it!

The fact is – you are amazing.  You can learn whatever you want to.  I have never met a parent who has wanted to learn a sling – like a stretchy wrap, a ring sling or a woven wrap or anything – that hasn’t been able too.  But I have met many that have become convinced that they won’t be able to because of marketing campaigns that have fed into their insecurities that “they won’t be able to”.  That they should spend more money to buy something “easier”. I have met parents who don’t want to learn, and that is fine. But this is rarer, most parents I met love the idea of a soft sling or carrier but are worried that they won’t manage. Normally all it takes is 10-20 minutes of going through it step by step and they are amazed at just how easy it is really and that they really can do it.

Another fact is there simply isn’t anything easier.  ALL slings and carriers, ABSOLUTELY ALL OF THEM, have some kind of learning curve.  All of them take a few goes to get the hang of getting completely right for you and baby.  And that is OK.  It is OK that you might not get the hang of it first time, and that baby might bawl the first time (usually for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the sling or carrier).  Be kind to yourself.  You wouldn’t expect a child learning to write to start by writing full sentances with perfect spelling and grammar!  Likewise don’t expect yourself to nail this first time either!

The simple fact is that when it comes to babywearing it’s practise over product.  It matters far more how you use something that what you have.  If you have a carrier or sling and it’s not working, or your not sure how your using it, you don’t have to buy something new that markets itself as easier.  I mean you can if you want to, but you don’t have to.  Instead invest time, or better still reach out to me or a local babywearing consultant like me and ask for help. 


I can take you step by step through your carrier and demystify it.  An online consultation can be perfect for this. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen eureaka moments in my clients eyes as they realise actually the carrier they have is easy, and can be comfortable and safe… and that all it took was a different approach, or a small tweak.  Or how many expectant parents have come to be expecting to buy something else because a wrap would be too hard for them and have left full of joy and confidence ready to snuggle their newborn in a stretchy wrap instead. I can help ensure you are confident in whatever you use, because truly you are amazing and you can do it. Babywearing has been around for centries, taught from person to person… far before the advent of manuals and social media campaign. Invest time in developing your skill and building your confidence – I promise it will be worth it.

-Madeleine

Half Price Woven Wrap Hires for February

With lockdown continuing at least until the 8th of March (and very likely beyond), I’ve seen a rise in the number of parents considering woven wraps. Wovens are hugely verstile. Soft and snuggly, they are brilliant for wearing around the home and out and about. They can be super supportive but often parents are nervous about learning to tie.

But they are a lot easier than they look, all it takes is a bit of practise. And not even as much practise as you might think… just a few goes and you’ll rapidly find that you’re building up muscle memory and finding it easier and easier. Hence, why right now, when we are all spending more time at home and finding ourselves carrying more at home is a perfect time to give it a go!

To aid this for the whole month of February I am offering half price hires on woven wraps. Hire a wrap of your choice for £10 for 1 month (instead of the usual £20 for 1 month).

Want to really hit the ground running and flatten the learning curve? Add on a online consultation with me for £15 for upto 1 hour (instead of the normal £25 for upto 1 hour), and we will go through each stage step by step and ensure you are completely confident using a woven.

If your not local, you can still take advantage! The offer is valid on postal hires too (postage costs an additional £4 for Royal Mail second class signed for.

Either way, simply drop me a message to arrange!

-Madeleine

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

Top 10 Hired Slings in 2020! And 2020 in numbers.

2020 has be one weird year. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that I hired less slings, saw less families, ran less consults, workshops and sling clinics than in previous years. BUT, as I reflect back on the year I was still able to

All of which feel like massive wins. I am hugely grateful that despite all the restrictions I was still able to support those 116 families.

Each year I also total up which slings and carriers hired out. Here are 2020 and 2019 compared!

The order has changed a bit, but many of the same names have been popular again this year!! Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that the most popular ones hired out just as much as in the previous year. Despite the fact hires were down by just over 40%, the Ergo Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini hired out as many or more times than the did in the previous years. What really suffered were the lesser known brands. You can see the Connecta fell right off the list and the Kahu baby was much lower. In fact very many simply brilliant brands like the Sleepy Nico, Manduca XT, Didy Klick, Mamaruga Zen barely hired out at all.

The reason for this is simple. So often the lesser known brands are the ones people discover when they come along to a Sling Library session or come along to a consultation. They will try on the brands they’ve heard of and expect to like then, based on what was and wasn’t working about those I would suggest other carriers to try. So often this would then lead them to discovering something they’d have never found otherwise. Without Sling Clinic sessions … the only way to try a range and discover less well heard of slings has been a one-to-one session. The alternative has been postal or doorstep hires and quite understandably people taking this option have been more inclinded to stick with what they know best. Its not a bad thing – everyone has ended up with carriers that fit them and their families well. But I do look forward to a time when Sling Clinic sessions and workshops can come back as they really do facilitate more families experiencing more different types of slings and carriers.

Fingers crossed Sling Clinic sessions will be able to come back soon. Before Christmas and the Tier 4 annoucement I had the green light from 2 venues – Kingston Town Children’s Centre and a brand new venue in Putney! Kingston Town will still be able to go ahead even under tier 4 so is looking hopeful for late Jan onwards (although unsure if further announcements may change things over the next few weeks). The Putney venue won’t be able to go ahead under tier 4 but should be able to under tier 3 or definitely tier 2. So it’s simply a case of crossing my fingers, watching the news and hoping for the best, but hopefully Sling Clinics will be back soon.

And in the meantime online consultations, in person consultations in clients homes and contact free hires are still going ahead (full info on all my Tier 4 friendly services here).

-Madeleine