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

cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone

Sheen Sling Services under Tier 4

This week brought the news that London has now moved into Tier 4. How does this affect the services I can offer and how you access baby carrier help?

Online Consultations and Hires are continuing as normal and are completely unaffected.

Online consultations via Zoom or WhatsApp can be a great way of exploring your options or getting help with a sling or carrier you already own. You can read more about these here, and can set one up by simply dropping me a message through my contact page. I will be at home all through the Christmas period and into January so can accommodate pretty much any date and time needed!

Hires are completely contact-free. I can either post the sling or carrier of your choice directly to you or you can collect from my home. The carrier will be left in my front porch (space between inner and outer front doors) for you to collect at any time on the prearranged day so you can collect without coming into contact with me or any member of my family, and so you can time your collection around coinciding with shopping or exercise etc. To set up a hire simply get in touch through the contact page. If your not sure what would suit you best please feel free to ask or book an online consultation to go through your options in more detail.

All carriers and Slings are washed (by me) after each hire, so the carrier you hire will be freshly cleaned and ready to use. Then when you are ready to return you don’t need to worry about washing it as I will wash it again ready for the next family to hire.

Face to Face consultations in my home are temporarily suspended, but consultations in clients homes can go ahead for those whom face-to-face support is irreplaceable.

For some parents, online won’t be enough. Carriers are like jeans in that they need to fit your body and your baby’s body and so it is really important to try carriers on physically, compare them and ensure your confident using whatever you ultimately choose. This is particularly important for those with a history of back pain, post-cesarean section, parents of multiples, parents of babies suffering with reflux, parents of babies born early, parents or babies with additional needs and concerns and a whole host of other situations where face to face support is really needed.

For those that need it – guidelines are clear, direct face to face support can continue in clients homes. Interestingly, the guidelines state I can not continue to offer my home as a venue during Tier 4, but I can come to your home if you would like me to and you feel safe doing so. If you would like me to come but are unsure for whatever reason, do get in contact and we can risk assess this together. For my part I will;

  • arrive with freshly washed or quartineed slings and carriers for you to try and a seperate set for me to demo with so we will not be sharing. Likewise I will come with two freshly wiped demo dolls, one for me to demonstrate with and one for you to use in case you’d like to practise before trying with your own baby (or in case your own baby is not in the mood!)
  • I will wash my hands on arrival and santise as needed
  • I will wear my face mask throughout
  • I will maintain 2m distances throughout. My preferred teaching method is very hands off – where we explore each sling/carrier/technique together … mirroring each movement and each step. Which is very well suited to teaching while remaining socially distanced! On the rare occasions you might want me to adjust a strap or help, I will do so only with your expressed consent and any such close contact would last only a few seconds.
  • I maintain records for track and trace (as well as my professional insurance). You can read my privacy and data protection policy here.

So if you would like face to face help please do get in touch to set this up. You can find details on costs etc here.

The webshop will remain open!

Our webshop will remain open, and I will continue my daily morning post depo runs throughout tier 4 and beyond for all your carrier and accessory needs! We have some awesome winter accessories online at the moment including cozy woolly winter babywearing socks, fleece lined babywearing covers and snuggly baby legwarmers. I offer discounts for anyone who hires a sling or carrier first – so trying before you buy can definitely be a winner… and I offer a free 20 minute fit check consultation on ALL carrier, wrap or sling purchases so you can have complete peace of mind that there is help available if you need it to ensure you get the most from your carrier.

So if you would like babywearing help of any kind – there definitely are options! Whatever the tier, I will remain open and responsive to the current guidelines to ensure any one who needs help can access it.

-Madeleine

High Shoulder Carry with a Lightweight Buckle carrier

One of things that I love about being a carrying consultant is that I get to go off manual. I get to apply my knowledge of how carriers work, of infant positioning and development and I can use that to go off piste when needed.

A couple weeks ago I had a client come to me for help troubleshooting as her little one was really unsettled in their Ergobaby Embrace. She was following the manual to perfection, positioning was fab but baby was unhappy. So we put the carrier down and I asked her to show me how she held her little one when he was unsettled, how he liked being held in arms. She immediately popped him high on her shoulder.

This is such a common position for parents to hold their little ones when they are unsettled. I have so many photos of my husband and I carrying my son in this position when he was sad. We used to call it “the bouncy shoulder”. It pretty much never failed at calming him down and settling him!!

And so it got me thinking – there must be a way of facilitating this with her carrier. So while she calmed down her little one, I got a bit creative and worked out how to support a high shoulder, burp type position with an Ergobaby Embrace. And you know, it worked pretty well! Mum tried it and baby was instantly happier, instantly more settled.

Here is how to do it;

While I have shown it with the Ergo Embrace as this was the carrier my client had, this carry should work with any lightweight buckle. Particularly any that offers the option to wear the the carrier “apron style”. By this I mean that the panel hangs down from the waistband and then goes round baby’s bottom and back up (rather than one where the panel comes straight out the top of the waistband). Just because the apron style means you can sit babies bottom lower that the waistband, which is useful if like me you have boobs and thus are constrained in where you place the waistband to either above or below your boobs (for comfort reasons!). If you don’t have boobs and wouldn’t feel uncomfortable wearing the waistband slightly lower on your chest then essentially any carrier will work as you can simply place the waistband at the height you need to get baby where you want them on your shoulder. Other apron style lightweight carriers that do work well for this carry include the Kahu Baby carrier, the Izmi baby carrier, the Marsupi, and Meh Dai carriers (like the Hop-Tye and Didy-Tye) work really well for this too.

Being brutally honest, while this carry was more comfortable than I expected it to be, it isn’t the worlds most supportive position for a long period of time. The carry is very high so the weight it all on your upper back, so this will start to feel heavy quicker than compared to wearing the waistband at your waist and transferring more of the weight onto your pelvis.

But, what it is good for is those moments when you need it. When baby is really unsettled and unhappy in another other position, but your arms are knackered from the holding or you need your arms to get something done. Then when baby is more settled or has fallen asleep it is actually a simple job to loosen the straps and slide the baby and whole carrier back down to a more normal and more supportive carrying position. Or likewise once you’ve finished the thing you needed to do you can go sit down and rest! Either with baby still in the carrier or slipping it off and cuddling them as needed.

For my client, I viewed this carrying position as a “circuit breaker”. I see this regularly with so many parents; what happens is baby cries in the carrier (maybe they are tired, hungry, unsettled etc) and parent is worried they’ve done the carrier wrong or that baby doesn’t like the carrier so parent quite naturally and quite understandably becomes tense. Babies are amazing at reading their parents emotions and picks up on their parents tension and worry, and they don’t like seeing their parent tense so they cry. And then parent is more worried because baby is crying more now, and baby senses parent is more worried….. and on and on. It very quickly becomes a viscous circle. Then next time parent picks up the carrier they start feeling tense and worried baby won’t like it before they even put it on…. and so the viscous circle continues. Until we find something to break the cycle. In this case this high shoulder position – one baby is used to and loves and parent feels confident baby will like – was able to break the cycle, and I very much hope will later open up all the other positions to them too.

So many of my consultations are about working with parents to find the circuit breaker, the thing that breaks the cycle. For many it is simply going through their carrier in detail, step by step, allowing them to gain confidence using the sling and knowing that their baby is comfortable and supported and safe. For others its something else – each consultation is different, because we are all different!

If you’re feeling stuck please do reach out as I honestly, finding the solution that works is my absolute favourite part of this job!

-Madeleine

The Lowdown on Anti-Microbial Carriers

Two days before the second national Lockdown in the UK, Ergobaby announced the release of their first ever anti-microbial carrier. But what does this even mean? Should you get one? Is this something you need?

This is one of those rare moments where my past job collides with my current job. As many of you know before I had my son I was a scientist. Specifically, I have a MRes in Infection and Immunity and a PhD in Immunology. So it really is one of those moments where I am assessing this carrier not only with my Carrying Consultant hat on but also with my Immunologist hat on.

The first thing to consider is what does anti-microbial actually mean? Something that is anti-microbial is something that can kill or limit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Note kill or limit the growth of – not all anti-microbials kill bacteria and fungi, some simply stop or slow growth down. This means you can still get transmission or infection from something with this agent in it. You’re just less likely to because bacteria or yeast will grow much more slowly so there will be less present on that surface.

Anti-microbial IS NOT the same as anti-viral. Generally agents that are anti-microbial are not effective against viruses because viruses propagate in a totally different way to bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi grow on surfaces, whereas viruses can not grow with out a host. For them it’s just about surviving in a transmittable form on a surface and not about growth. This is one of the reasons that, generally, surface transmission is less of an issue with viruses, few viruses truly transmit via surfaces. And the quality of the surface has a huge impact with viruses – shiny surfaces that can hold droplets are far far more effective for viral transmission than something that droplets soak into like fabrics. Fabric generally has extremely low viral transmission. Even if a virus can survive on the fabric, because of the way water soaks in and dries out on fabric, it is extremely difficult to catch a virus from touching fabric. Any fabric, not just specially designed fabrics, ANY FABRIC. Which is great news for baby carriers in general.

The second thing to consider is what the anti-microbial agent is and the mechanism by which is works. So for the Ergobaby carrier released last week, the agent is Silver ions. Silver has long been known to have anti-microbial properties. Bacteria can’t grow on its surface and its non toxic for humans (two reasons it’s popular for jewellery). Specifically it is the silver ions that are toxic for, and kill bacteria by binding to some of their essential cellular components preventing the bacteria from performing basic reactions required to live. Hence silver is used a lot in hospitals, from silver coated tubes and catheters to antibiotic creams used to treat burns. Silver ions are even added to plasters and bandages.

So potentially adding them to a baby carrier, may have certain advantages. If your carrier is prone to getting very smelly. If you use it frequently while working out with Carifit or someone, frequently spill stuff on it and don’t wash it – then silver ions may help keep bacteria from having a field day on your carrier. Although, I should say, the effectiveness will depend a lot on the concentration of the silver ions added to the carrier and on how long they remain in the carrier with washing etc. It’s worth noting that silver infused bandages are not washed and reused (but generally incinerated) so I have my reservations about the longevity of this protection. Likewise the Ergobaby anti-microbial carrier is the same price as the regular carrier, so this makes me a little suspicious about the concentration and how much silver ions have been added. There is no information about this, so it is difficult to tell how this compares with the amount added to bandages and plasters etc.

However, while this may potentially be a pro if you do find your carrier gets smelly very fast, my experience over the last 7 years working with parents tells me most parents don’t find this. In fact, I find most parents will wash a carrier long before it starts to smell. Certainly if it gets dirty or they spilt something on it. And for the parts of the carrier that get chewed on and possetted on there are simple solutions like suck pads to protect the chewed on parts of the carrier. Allowing you to regularly wash these while keeping the carrier clean and dry.

So ultimately when it comes to keeping bacteria at bay, most parents actually don’t find this a problem.

And when it comes to keeping viruses at bay – something that is on all of our minds at the moment in the middle of this global pandemic – silver ions have absolutely no effect on CoV-Sars-2 (the virus that causes Covid19) or any other virus because, as I mentioned above viruses replicate by an entirely different method to bacteria. And surface transmission plays a much smaller role compared to transmissions via droplets in the air.

So do I think you need an anti-microbial carrier? No, no I do not. For all the reasons above. Fabric is a lousy transmission surface for viruses and the chances of you or baby catching a virus off any fabric baby carrier is extremely small. You don’t need a special fabric to keep you safe.

For bacteria – if you don’t like washing your carrier ever and are prone to getting it wet, damp and filthy then maybe you would see a benefit, but if you are like most people and wash your stuff if it’s dirty then I doubt you’ll notice any difference buying an anti-microbial carrier versus buying a normal one. I would simply recommend buying a pair of suck pads instead!

My personal opinion with my both my immunology and babywearing hats on, is that this is all an example of clever marketing. Getting you to think that you need something that actually, for most people, won’t make a noticable difference. I do sell the regular material Ergo Omni 360, but I won’t be buying into this gimmick and retailing any of the silver ion ones.

If you don’t have a carrier yet and think silver ions are cool and would like to own a carrier containing silver ions, then please do be my guest and buy one. Do so with my total, unreserved blessing. However, this article is for the people who maybe already own a carrier then started reading the marketing and thought “OH NO! Did I make a mistake? Should I have bought this instead? Will my baby be safe?” Or for the people who were about to buy something else that they wanted more but the marketing made them pause and now they aren’t sure.

For all these people – you don’t need an anti-microbial carrier to keep your beautiful baby safe. Just carrying them close to your body in your carrier, or whatever carrier you choose that fits you both well, is keeping them so safe and so nurtured and so loved. And that is all that matters.

-Madeleine, MRes Infection and Immunity and PhD in Immunology

BundleBean Babywearing Cover Review

The BundleBean babywearing cover is one of those rare products that truly are UNIVERSAL. Many things claim to work with everything else and then in reality are all a bit hit and miss. But not so for the BundleBean cover. It truly is 100% waterproof, and it truly fits every carrier and every sling I’ve ever tried with it. Which is well over 100 different brands and models at this point!

It will fit over stretchy wraps, ring sling, woven wraps, Meh Dai, buckle carriers and even over the big structured hiking style carriers. It will work on most buggies and pushchairs too.

The reason for this flexibility comes from the 4 elasticated velcro ties, which can attach to each other, themselves, to other tabs on the cover… offering you a huge number of different configurations to suit all different sling types and all different parent shapes and sizes. From the super petite to the plus sized, men and women alike. Likewise the elasticated panel and well placed poppers means that the panel will fit all the way from newborn to 4 years!! So lasting you as long as you could possibly need.

See the cover in action and hear me rave about it some more here:

It comes in 2 weights – a fleece lined all seasons version that will definitely keep baby cosy in the winter, and a lightweight rain cover that will keep baby dry without adding warmth (so great for warmer months or if you and baby are prone to overheating).

All in all the Bundlebean is a great accessory for any babywearing parent, perfect for getting out and about in the British wind/rain/drizzle!! At £29.95 for the lightweight rain cover and £39.95 for the fleece lined version these make perfect gifts for new parents too! Available from the Sheen Slings webshop here.

-Madeleine

wood bridge cute sitting

Three things I want you to feel when you access one of my services

When book a consultation with me – whether online or in person, whether in my home or yours or both via the magic of Zoom, there are 3 things that I want you to feel. I want you to feel them during your consultation, before it and afterwards. In fact these 3 things are the same things I want anyone accessing any of my services to feel – whether coming to a Sling Clinic, organising a contact free hire or just reaching out for help not sure what form of help they might need. Whatever help you need, when you are accessing any of my services I want you to feel:

1. Safe

I want you to feel safe. Learning to use a baby carrier is a skill and like learning any new skill making mistakes is a very important part of the learning process. But making mistakes in front of someone you’ve only just met is quite hard and can leave you feeling vulnerable, nervous or worried. Which is why I will do everything in my power to make you feel safe – to ensure the learning environment (whether at my home or yours, or at the children’s centre or online via Zoom) is as safe and as conducive to learning as possible. So you feel able to make all the mistakes you need to to acquire the skills you need to be confident and comfortable wearing your baby.

2. Empowered

Knowledge is power. I want to help you find the right option for you, help you make the right choices for you by giving you the knowledge and information and skills to do so.

So often parents ask me to “tell them which one is best”, but everyone is different and you know your body and your baby far far better than I do. I know baby carriers, I have an absolutely huge level of product knowledge and so I can work with you to help you find the right thing for you. I can quickly narrow down the field by listening to your needs, watching you as you try carriers on, watching and noticing what movements are easy for you and which ones are challenging, noticing what fits well and what doesn’t and knowing why it does or doesn’t fit well and thus what else might fit better. And in this way I can quickly hone in exactly what are the best options for you, but I can’t simply tell you. I need to do one better, I need to give you the knowledge so you can be empowered to decide what works for you best and feel confident and comfortable with that decision.

3. Accepted

I want you to feel accepted. For who you are, and wherever you are on your parenthood journey. Whether you are in your PJs because dressing today just didn’t happen, whether you are tear soaked, vom-soaked, whether your hair is unbrushed. Whether you are breast, chest or bottle feeding your baby. Whatever your gender, sexuality, race, whatever the shape or size of your family. Whether you or your child have additional needs that need me to adapt my service to meet those needs. Whether this is your 1st child or your 7th or any number. Whatever any of your parenting choices. Even if your baby screams all the way through the whole consultation. If you’d like to learn more about carrying your child or a child in your care, I want to help. There is zero judgement here, you are welcome, exactly as you are. I will meet you, welcome you exactly as you are. Even if that really is covered in sick and in PJs.

The big question, however, is how do you want to feel when you access my services? And if you have been, how did you feel? Please do leave comments below!

-Madeleine

How to do a Hip Carry with an Ergobaby Embrace

The Embrace is a lovely soft newborn suitable carrier. The manual demonstrates both a parent facing carry from newborn onward and a outward facing carry once baby is strong enough to be faced outward. But did you know you can use it in a hip carry too? The method isn’t shown in the manual but actually this carrier works really well in this position.

Here is how to do it;

The hip carry is a great option for when baby starts to enter what I call nosy phase – where they want to look round and see everything. Often babies start to want to see everything (and start to fuss when faced in toward their parents) before they are physically able to be carried forward facing in a carrier. Carrying them on the hip can be a great solution as it gives them the same view as forward facing while still offering neck support and stabilising their torso against the caregiver.

Even once baby is strong enough to be outward facing while awake, the hip carry can be really useful for times when they are getting tired and need to sleep. It can be particularly helpful at times when baby is sleep resisting!! As it will allow them to look around but as you walk they will be gently rocked to sleep. Once asleep it is easy to shift them to your front (if this is more comfortable for you) or you can keep them on your hip safe in the knowledge that they are adequately supported in this position.

As ever if you are unsure about how to do this position, if your baby is ready to forward face or anything else to do with this carrier or any other do feel free to message me and I can offer suggestions or set up an online consult to help you troubleshoot!

-Madeleine

What Entering Tier 2 means for Sheen Slings Services

As of Saturday London entered Tier 2 or “High” Covid Alert level. While this means all kinds of things for myself and my family in terms of who we can and can’t see socially, where and when. It actually doesn’t change much with respect to Sheen Slings and the services I can currently offer.

As I am already meeting all the covid secure guidelines laid out for businesses that operate from the home and mobile services that come into clients homes, one to one consults can continue. Whether you are coming to my home or you would like me to come to you, you can rest assured I am doing all in my power to ensure risks are as low as possible and every precaution is taken. You can read all about these measures and what to expect in my previous blog post here.

The main difference, is that the weather is rapidly turning a lot colder. So while I enjoyed many pleasantly warm consults in my back garden in July, August and September, these are definitely becoming more brisk. So please do wrap up warmly, if you do book in for a consult at my home! Because, if the weather is dry we will be outside and if it is wet we will be indoors but right next to the big doors into my garden with those doors wide open… so while we will remain dry it may well still be quite chilly! And please do bring a mask because if we are indoors we will be wearing masks. Either way, I am blessed that both my indoor and outdoor space are big enough that it is very easy for us to remain socially distant – at least 2m apart. I prefer to teach in a very hands off style anyway! I prefer to teach this way because it ensures you are confident using any sling or carrier you choose independently without my help by the time your session is over.

As such this means these sessions can continue in tier 2 and very likely even in tier 3 (under the current guidance, but of course I am continuing to review this continually as guidance is updated).

However, in the event these sessions need to be paused, or if you don’t feel comfortable face to face for any reason. I do have a number of contact-free services including online consultations, hire (either via post or collection from my front porch) and the online shop, which is filled with carriers and accessories that can be posted next day and I offer online support free of charge if you need help using anything you purchase. If you are not sure of what help you might need, or not sure of what you might want, you are welcome to simply email me and reach out.

So whatever happens, Sheen Slings will remain open and will be there (whether in person or online) to help you on your baby carrying journey.

-Madeleine

Manduca XT review

The Manduca XT is the new highly adjustable carrier from Manduca. It’s not a secret that I absolutely loved my Manduca First carrier with both my children, and honestly this carrier is even more amazing. Absolutely brilliantly designed, this ingenious carrier will work for babies all the way from 4 weeks to 4 years! Giving it unparalleled longevity compared to it’s competitors. Add in the fact that it has the magic ability to fit almost all parent shapes and sizes – from the super petite to the extra extra large and everything in between. This is a carrier that should be on everyone’s “to try list”.

You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review (or read on below):

Key Manduca XT facts;

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 44lbs), this is one only a very small number of carriers that really will realistically fit for the whole of its weight range, fitting babies generally from about 4 weeks ish all the way through to approximately 4 years of age.
  • Adjustable width. The secret behind the Manduca XT’s longevity is how the width adjusts. Using sections designed to simply slide along the waistband it very simply and smoothly adjusts from just 20 cm all the way to 50 cm. Allowing you to adjust it tiny bit by tiny bit as your baby grows, giving a perfect fit all the way from newborn to older toddler. While there are other carriers offering similar adjustment systems, what I like about this one is how unbulky it is. The fabric thin enough that it neatly folds in on the smallest settings, barely adding any bulk at all. Most other carriers simply rouch and the rest always looks quite bulky on a newborn, on the Manduca the smooth strokable lines remain giving a perfect fit even for very small babies.
  • Bucket shaped panel and soft padding at the legs ensures baby sits in a comfortable, hip healthy position with the bum lower than the knees and the legs out padding moves with the width adjustment to ensure babies legs are comfortable and no “red pressures lines”, whatever their size.
  • Adjustable panel height also helps this carrier grow with your little one. The panel has 3 height settings which adjust via the zippers on the front. Completely zipped together the panel is just 30cm, then as baby grows you can choose between 35cm using the shaped zipped section and 42cm when completely unzipped. This adjustability in height is not only useful as baby grows but also as they change developmentally. Both my children went through phases of loving having their arms out when awake, so being able to make the panel smaller to allow them to do this made carriers so much more enjoyable for them. And then as they became tired and started to fall asleep… it is very easy to lengthen the panel and give them more upper back and neck support as they sleep.
  • Features a hood for supporting baby’s head as they sleep or as a cover in the rain, and cleverly when rolled away into the pouch at the top this hood doubles up as pillow to support baby’s head and neck.
  • Offers 3 carrying positions – a front carry, a hip carry and a back carry.
  • Panel is made from 100% Organic Cotton. One of the hallmarks of Manduca carriers is that all their carriers are made from Organic cotton. Only the webbing and plastic buckles are the exception, the rest of the carrier is soft durable cotton drill made from 100% Organic cotton.
  • Shaped waistband – The waistband is wider at the front where baby’s weight is, thus providing more support and counterbalance where you need it most without having unnecessary bulk at your sides.
  • safety buckle on the waistband requires two hands to open to ensure you don’t open this before you’ve taken baby out. Sounds like a silly or inconvenient thing, but often parents absentmindedly unclip the waistband first so this can be a helpful safety feature.
  • Shoulder straps are thickly padded but very soft and moldable which means they can mold to fit a wide range of back shapes. Straps can be worn both crossed and rucksack style according to personal preference (you can read more about these two different styles here).
  • Shoulder straps can be tightened in 3 places! There are two adjusters where the strap meets the mid panel – each pulling in the opposite direction which means whether you are carrying baby on your front or back there will always be a strap that you can pull easily (and one that would be difficult). Additionally there is an adjuster at the top where the strap leaves the top of the panel and this one in particular changes the position of the padded part of the strap bringing it closer or further from the panel and thus easily adjusting between parents of differing torso lengths. This strap can also be useful for getting a higher tighter back carry or adjusting how much room baby has depending on whether they are awake and wanting to push out and see more things or fast asleep and needing to be held closer. The advantage of being able to adjust in 3 places is these straps can easily adjust to the fit the super petite to the super tall and broad, making this a great pick for couples of very different sizes. The adjustments give you a huge amount of flexibility in how the carrier fits and allow people of all different shapes and sizes to get an amazing fit. The disadvantage of 3 adjusters is that it does take a bit of time investment to really find the right set up for you and understand how each adjuster affects your carry. It is very easy in the beginning to get a bit confused and end up a bit lopsided and less comfortable as a consequence.

All in all the Manduca XT is extremely versatile carrier that fits almost all parent body shapes and sizes and fits babies all the way from just a few weeks old to 4 years. While not the simplist carrier on the market it is well worth the time investment to learn it and get it set up right because it once set up it is such a comfortable supportive carrier and it just lasts and lasts and lasts making it a truly fantastic investment. The Manduca XT costs £149 and can be purchased from Wear My Baby (if you’ve found this review helpful and you’d like a discount code for Wear My Baby do email me or use my contact form to let me know and ask for the code!)

-Madeleine

Rachel aged 3 in Manduca XT