I was reminded the other day of something that happened when my son was 2 years and 2 months old. Back then we lived in West Kensington close to the tube and my son and I been out for the day and we were coming back on the District line. As he was 2 he had been walking by himself for most of the day and was now sitting on his own seat on the tube. I had the changing bag and 2 bulky bags of shopping with me. We’d got on the tube with me carrying both big bags in one arm so I had a hand free to Tom’s hand. And it was all fine right upto the point, 2 stops away from West Ken Tom’s emotions and the long day over took him and a massive tantrum over took him.
One of those massive lie on the floor beating it with your fits while screaming at the top of your lungs tantrums. One of those tantrums where you are sure the entire world is looking at you and judging you accordingly screaming tantrums.
My first thought was fuck, we are getting off in 2 stops time, what am I going to do.
I think of this often when parents ask me how long a carrier might last and I say 2, 2.5 or 4 (depending on the carrier) and they look at me like that is crazy and say “oh well they will be walking long before then”.
And yes, yes they probably will be walking by then but that doesn’t mean they’ll be walking all the time, or in the direction you want. Or on the timescale you want.
You see, if I hadn’t had a baby carrier that fitted Tom in that moment on the tube 2 stops from home when tiredness and emotion had overwhelmed Tom…. really I’d have had 3 choices
Wait for him to calm down and was ready to walk off the train with me, even though that would certainly have involved missing our stop by some margin and finding ourselves in Hammersmith or Chiswick somewhere miles from home
Get off the train abandoning the shopping because I wouldn’t have been able to carry the shopping plus a boy in full tantrum
Ask for help and hope someone is will to help the woman the screaming toddler
But fortunately I did in fact have a carrier that did fit Tom and I was able to pop it on, and get him in and onto my back mid tantrum screaming and kicking me (using the secure hip scoot method!), then calmly pick up all my shopping and change back and walk off the train at the right stop.
And you know something miraculous happened, now securely on my back the sobs started to subside, Tom began to calm down, he was able to start to regulate his emotions again and by the time we were home he hopped happily out of the carrier like nothing had happened.
You see, that yes while children do generally start walking somewhere between 1 year and 18 months, and will be walking confidently by 2 ish, they do still have tiny legs. They do get tired. They do become overwhelmed. Sometimes they just simply want to walk in another direction. That direction might suddenly, inexplicably be into a busy road. Or maybe like in the photo above you want to walk over all the city walls in Dubrovnik pretending your in games of thrones and its simply too far for little legs! There are all kinds of reasons you might still want to carry beyond 2.If you do there are many baby carriers that will last to beyond 2 years of age, and many toddler and preschooler carriers that will go even further.
Half Buckles or Meh Dai style carriers are extremely versatile, offering a range of carrying positions and options for tying. Fitting tiny newborns and growing toddlers alike. Often parents don’t realise that these can be used for back carries, when in reality it is often easier to get a baby onto your back in a half buckle or Meh Dai than it is in a full buckle carrier. The reason that they are easier is to do with the straps – you don’t have to worry about when to get your arms in or need to let go of anything to get your arms in, you simply tie the straps around once baby is on your back.
While there are various methods that will work, my favourite is the secure hip scoot method because
you can check baby is well positioned and comfortable in the panel before you bring baby onto your back
it feels secure at all times so you know baby is safe and securely held even if they wiggle or start to fight when you are bringing them onto your back
Here is my full video tutorial, including 2 ways of tying the straps at the end – a straight forward knot at the waist and a “tied Tibetan” style knotless chest band which is helpful if you find the shoulder straps are liable to fall off your shoulders or dig in:
This carry can be used once baby has good neck and trunk control, typically around 6 months. Although it is worth mentioning that many babies don’t enjoy this position until they can see over their parents shoulders, typically around a year. Placing the waistband higher on your waist can help give them a better view earlier, although many parents simply choose to wait until baby is taller.
It is worth noting that generally most parents will find baby feels lighter on their back, because as a species we generally load bare better on our backs than our fronts. So mastering the back carry can be a really good option if your starting to find baby is feeling heavy on your front. Back carrying is a skill and does take practise, so if you are finding it hard it is well worth looking up your local babywearing consultant for a face to face consultation or booking an online consultation as often one to one real time help can really flatten the learning curve.
The carrier shown in this video is the Limas Baby Plus carrier, but this same method will work with many if not all half buckles and Meh Dai including the Didymos DidyKlick, DidyTai, Hoppediz Hop-tye and many many others.
Designed with newborns in mind, the Baby Bjorn Mini carrier is a super soft, supremely intuitive, lightweight carrier that does indeed fit newborns well. But on the flip side, it simply doesn’t last well. As baby grows they will very rapidly grow out of this carrier.
Read on below for more, or you can see this carrier in action and hear my full thoughts on this carrier in this video.
The Mini really has 2 main pros and 2 main cons. The pros are;
It is really soft and really moldable and gives a lovely fit to a newborn baby. The manufacturer states from 3.2kg and this is realistic, most babies will fit right from their first days. And the soft jersey material will gently hug and snuggle their tiny form
All the fastenings are at the front. Which is brilliant for parents with limited mobility who maybe struggle with straps that fasten at the sides. Also being able to see all the fastening makes this carrier supremely intuitive. They’ve even printed left and right on the tabs that attach to the panel, and colour coded where the panel slots into the straps so you can’t get it wrong. And as you fit the parent separately to the child, this can be a great advantage if you are feeling very nervous about using a carrier.
The cons are;
The panel doesn’t adjust in width. It does adjust in height so you can easily lengthen the panel as baby’s torso grows to ensure the head support is correctly positioned for them as they grow. But you can not adjust the width, which means as their legs grow the carrier can not continue supporting them in a comfortable “deep squat” seated position. Why does this matter? Well it is more comfortable for them to have the weight on their bottom and have their legs supported so they are not carrying the weight of their legs (verses having their weight resting on their inner thighs and the weight of their legs pulling down). The deep squat position gives a great alignment between the ball and socket joint of the hips, which means there is no pressure on their hips from their legs. And it is more comfortable for you, as when their legs are fully supported more of babies weight is aligned with your load bearing centre so baby feels lighter and easier to carry than when more of their legs are spilling out pulling away from you.
There is no waist support. Which means all the weight is resting on your shoulders and upper and mid back. Rather than around your waist and transferring onto your hips. This is fine for when baby is younger and thus smaller, but as they grow this will rapidly feel heavier for the parent compared to a carrier with a waistband.
In terms of weight testing, the Mini is tested up to 11 kg, but for the reasons above it actually won’t last anywhere near this long. In reality most babies will start to grow out of it around 3 to 4 months and by 6 months it will feel disportionately heavy to use.
The Mini offers 2 different carrying positions. Front inwards and Front outwards. However, it worth noting that most babies aren’t ready to be carried outwards in a carrier until about 4 months (you can read more about how to tell when they are ready here). Yet, but 4 months most babies are growing out of this carrier. Parents are often drawn to this carrier over others because it offers forward facing and don’t realise that in all likelihood their baby will have grown out of the carrier before they can do it. And even if they haven’t, without a waistband, the forward facing position is very heavy for the parent because the baby’s weight pulls forward and puts a lot more strain on the shoulders and upper back.
All in all the Baby Bjorn Mini is a lovely soft, very very easy to use carrier for a newborn baby. But what really puts me off is the lack of longevity. The lack of longer term support for both baby and the parent. This carrier costs £75 to buy, but when you compare it to its closest comparables on the market – the Ergo Embrace (£79.90) and the Izmi Baby Carrier (£80), both of which last a lot longer and offer more carrying positions and much much more flexibility and support to both baby and parent, it just doesn’t seem like a good deal. While most babies will grow out of the Mini around 3 to 4 months the Embrace generally lasts to around 9 months and the Izmi will often last at least 1 year. The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions and the Izmi 4. Both have waist bands and adjust in both width and height. So while the Bjorn Mini does have things going for it, it’s just hard to recommended it over these two carriers when they offer so much more for practically the same price.
Intuitive and easy to use, buckle carriers are definitely the most popular type of baby carrier. They are fast and convenient and they can be super comfortable.
They can also be really uncomfortable. The key with any baby carrier is fit and getting that fit right. Small changes and adjustments in how you are wearing a carrier can make an absolutely huge effects on how well baby’s weight is distributed and thus how it feels to wear them. Small tweaks can take a carrier from “gives me back pain within 10 minutes” to “baby felt weightless and I comfortably wore for over an hour”.
There definitely is a knack and it can take a few goes to get the hang of optimally adjusting your carrier everytime. This is where face to face help with a consultant (online or in person one to one or at a sling library session) can really make a huge difference and take all the trial and error out of learning to get it right for you – for your individual shape, needs and circumstance. But for those who can’t make it to a library, or who have been to mine and appreciate the reminder – here are the main things to consider… the main adjustments you can make to ensure a comfortable carry.
Getting the waistband well positioned and snug is the FOUNDATION for getting the whole rest of the carrier set up well – ensuring baby is safe and comfortable and that your are well supported and the weight evenly distributed. And yet most manuals don’t tell you how to work out where to put it, nor give any sense of how tight it needs to be. I talk through this in depth in this video:
Where you waistband goes depends on two things – the size of your baby and your body and it how bears weight most effectively.
Size of your baby is the more obvious of the two and is easiest to see by simply holding your baby in arms. Hold them in arms at the height you’d like to carry them, at the height that ensures their head is at a level you are happy you can see them, kiss them, chat to them, monitor them etc easily. Then observe where their bum is! The waistband needs to go there. So for a newborn or very young baby you will need to wear the waistband a lot higher than you will for a 6 month old or a 1 year old etc. Likewise, when you move to back carrying, again, you may find you need to wear the waistband higher to carry baby at a height they can see over your shoulder. As they grow you maybe able to move this down again.
In terms of your body and your ability to weight bear, most people have a distinct “biting point”. A part of their body where if you put the waistband there you will get maximum transfer onto their pelvis and thus optimal weight distribution. Where exactly this biting point is, however, is very individual. And in particular it differs quite a lot between men and women. Men have a lower centre of gravity compared to women, so it’s not a surprise that they will naturally carry weight lower too. The trick is to find exactly the right place for you, whatever your gender or body shape is. Best way to do this is to take your hands and press down at different points and feel where you feel the best weight transference onto your hips (watch from 3.42 minutes for this). This is where your waist band should go for maximum comfort for you.
Once you’ve found where to put your waistband it is also key to get it tightened correctly. It needs to be parallel to the ground and it needs to be SNUG! Too tight and it will dig and be uncomfortable. But too loose and it will dig and be uncomfortable too because baby’s weight in the sling exploit the looseness and cause the waistband at the front to sink. Twisting the waistband and causing the digging (watch from 6.06 minutes above for visual of this). It will also be uncomfortable because there will be less weight transference onto the pelvis which will mean the shoulders will carry more weight and the baby will feel heavier. As a general rule of thumb, the snugger the waistband the better weight transference you’ll get.
The Shoulder Straps
Once the waistband is set, next thing to check is the shoulder straps. How they are positioned and how they are tightened.
Many carriers will allow you to wear the straps either crossed across your back or in “rucksack” configuration. It is well worth trying both and finding which one suits you best, because most people will find one of the two will suit them much better than the other (you can read more about this here).
Once you’ve found which one suits you best, then it’s all about learning how to tighten your straps effectively.
This might seem obvious but actually it’s often not. Inutitively, most parents will simply tug on the strap to tighten it, but as the two videos below show, this doesn’t lead to effective tightening. Instead the key is to;
support baby’s weight – so you are not fighting gravity
move any looseness over your shoulder and across your back to the buckles before tightening it out
wiggle your shoulder to release friction
As shown in the two video’s below.
How to tighten cross straps;
How to tighten rucksack straps
Hopefully these general rules will help act as reminders to anyone who is getting the hang of adjusting their carrier correctly. For more individual personalised help do reach out to your local carrying consultant (or I offer online consultations country wide as well as local face to face consultations), as there is really is a wealth of different ways carriers can be optimised and tweaked to get a really great fit.
PS – Carriers shown in the videos are the Ergo Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini, both available to purchase through the Sheen Slings shop and both available to hire to try before you invest.
When they physically big enough to fit facing forward in the carrier you have for them
This can vary a lot from child to child so I will discuss both in depth below to enable you to judge for yourself when your baby is ready. Parents often ask me for an age, but because babies develop and grow at different rates there isn’t a magical age where all babies all suddenly overnight become ready to face outwards! For most babies this is somewhere between 4-5 months, but equally some babies won’t be ready until nearer 6 months. Better to know what we are looking for developmentally and in terms of physical fit and be led by your baby.
In terms of developmental readiness, what we are looking for here is primarily neck strength – they need to have excellent head control and upper body strength. The reason for this is simply because when forward facing the carrier is unable to provide any head support. And because they are facing outwards their head and uppermost torso isn’t even supported by your body either. So they must be able to hold their heads up themselves for the full duration you will be wearing them outwards.
I often encourage parents to think about how they naturally hold babies in arms, and then see if a baby carrier can be used to emulate and replace their arms. But it worth realising that you can hold your baby in arms looking outward much earlier than you can use a sling. This is because you naturally will hold your arms in a way that supports their head if they need it. And your arms are responsive, so if baby starts to tire or starts to slump – your arms will automatically respond to this and adjust the support for baby or automatically turn them inwards. Next time you are holding baby like this, do think about how long you hold them facing outward. How long can they hold their own head for? How steady is their head? Do you use your arms or body to help stabilise?
It is important to realise that carrier can not be used to support their head while forward facing without risking impinging on their airway. So developmentally they need to have rock solid head control. I remember my daughter went through a distinct ‘nodding dog’ stage where she could mostly hold her own head but she looked a little bit like one of those nodding dogs. I could quite happily hold her looking outwards in arms but she wasn’t strong enough to do this in a carrier. It was a few more weeks until she reached rock solid.
The other developmental sign to look for is time spent awake. As I mentioned this position relies on baby supporting their own head – which is something they need to be awake to do (even fully grown adults will lose tone and their head will loll if they fall asleep sitting up!). So if you are planning to go out for 30 minutes wearing your baby outward facing, you need to know that they will be happy to remain to stay awake that whole 30 minutes. Or be prepared to stop and change them to inward facing long before they start to get sleepy. Hence, ideally we are looking for babies who have reached an awake cycle of at least 2 hours to give you a decent 30 minutes or so within that awake cycle where they are the most awake and inquisitive to forward face.
Typically babies will reach these developmental considerations somewhere between 4 and 5 months. It is extremely rare a baby is genuinely ready before 4 months.
As well as being developmentally ready, baby also needs to physically be large enough to fit forward facing in the carrier you have for them. Their head needs to be able to clear the top of the carrier (so they can breathe!) and they need to be able to do this without over extending their back. They need to be able to sit comfortably in the carrier, with their weight on their bottom, legs comfortably supported and not overly splayed out. When they are able to do this will depend on their size (primarily their torso height and inner leg length) and the carrier you have.
There is a HUGE variation between different carrier brands. Some like the Lillebaby Complete and Beco 8 are huge. Great if you have a child tracking on the upper centiles for weight and height because it will continue fitting them longer, but frustrating if you have a smaller framed baby as it could be at least 6 months (maybe more) before baby fits. Others, like the Izmi Baby carrier will fit much much sooner, even for babies who are right on the lowest centiles (I once got a great facing outward carrying on a 6 month old who was born early so while 6 months old and developmentally ready, was still the size of an average 2.5 month old!). The Beco Gemini is another good one for fitting babies slightly earlier if they are ready. Carriers like the Ergo Omni 360 and the Tula Explore are much more in the middle, most children will start fit well in these somewhere between 4-5 months.
But my baby really hates being held inward and wants to forward face already!!!
This the the really hard bit. The fact that most babies will hit what I call “nosy baby phase” long before they are ready to be carried outwards in a carrier. Generally, nosy baby phase starts right around the time the huge developmental leap that happens at the end of the fourth trimester. As baby transitions from a sleepy newborn into a much more awake, more alert and far more interested in the world baby. And as baby become more interested they will start to strain to see more and might start fighting a carrier if it is impairing their view. Typically this starts happening around 12 weeks or so.
And parents will start finding they hold baby looking outward in their arms and/or on their hip more and more. But for all the reasons above discussed above, baby is not yet ready to be carried forward facing in a baby carrier. I honestly understand why parents feel frustrated! So what are the options?
The first is to see if you can tweak the fit on your current baby carrier to give them a better view. For a stretchy wrap this might be twisting the straps near the shoulder to safely move the fabric further from baby’s face, giving them clearer sight lines. For a buckle carrier or meh dai this might be fitting it slightly differently so the panel doesn’t come up as high, or so a strap isn’t sitting across baby’s field of view.
The second, and arguably more successful thing to try is a Hip Carry. Hip carries can be a fantastic solution as they give exactly the same view outwards as carrying forward facing, but without any of the cons. Baby can safely fall asleep or get tired in this position because their head can be supported in this position – both by the carrier and because baby’s head will naturally rest against their parents body in this position. It also overcomes worries of overstimulation, as baby can turn their head away as they are starting to become tired. Even once baby is ready to forward face – this is a hugely useful position to know for those times when baby is tired but fighting sleep! And many of the carriers that offer forward facing, offer a hip carry too so you can use either depending on which one works for you and baby on any given day!
I am so excited that I can finally announce that face to face help is back! I have taken a few weeks to digest all guidelines and advice and find the best path to offer these again in way that reduces risk while still allowing parents to access crucial face to face help and the ability to try carriers and slings on before they invest.
Starting this Sunday (28th June), I will be offering private consults in my back garden.
I am lucky for a Londoner that my garden is easily big enough for 2m distances to be maintained! And I have large bifold doors so if the weather is looking a bit wet, we can stay inside but with the doors open so that it is a well ventilated space and again easy to maintain at least a 2 m distance. Here is what you need to know;
When you arrive it is a straight walk from my front door out to the back garden, you can easily do it without coming into contact with any surfaces etc. I do have rear access but it is very hard to find, however, you will be welcome to leave via back gate which comes out onto Rutland Close, which means you don’t need to walk back through the house.
When you arrive you will be welcome to wash your hands in my kitchen sink which is located close to the back door.
We will set up in the garden on the patio. Please do bring something to put your baby onto while you are putting carriers on/preparing them ready for baby. I won’t be able to offer hold your baby (sadly!) so please do bring a blanket, car seat, pram or pushchair as appropriate.
I will ask you a number of questions in advance of your session to help me determine which carriers will be most useful for you to try. These will be clean (either freshly laundered or quarantined for 72 since last tried on or demoed with) and handled by no one other than me (and I will handle only very minimally, only as absolutely necessary and only following washing or sanitizing my hands).
These carriers will be set out ready for you to try and I will have separate carriers to demo and teach with so that we are not sharing carriers. When you have tried something on there will be a second bag or area for you to place them and then these will be either quarantined for 72 hours or washed ready for the next client.
There will also be a doll for you to use if required (just in case baby doesn’t cooperate, or if baby hasn’t arrived yet!), and this will be freshly wiped down for your use prior to your arrival.
All teaching will be done at a distance of at least 2 m. It can help to have another member of your family with you as a spotter if your feeling nervous or if you are learning back carries for the first time. If you would prefer if I came closer to spot you myself, I will wear a mask and freshly sanitize my hands and I ask that you do the same. However, I am very confident at teaching at a 2 m distance and find most parents like the space to help them learn and assimilate the new information without feeling crowded or hurried!
At the end of the session you will be welcome to hire or buy if you’d like to, although there is no pressure to do either. I will simply ask you to dictate details for the hire form so you need not touch anything.
Payment for the session at the end can be done via contactless card reader, bank transfer or PayPal so there is no need for cash.
From next week I will also be offering consults in clients homes.
As with a consult in my home, I will ask you questions in advance to determine which carriers will be most useful for you to try. These carriers will be clean (as described above) and I will be bring separate carriers for me to demonstrate with so that we are not sharing the same carriers.
Likewise I will bring a doll for myself and a second doll for you to use if required, both of which will be freshly wiped down prior to my arrival.
When I arrive at your home I will be directed by you as to where you would like me to go. If you have an outdoor space this would be ideal, but if not I am happy to be led by you and teach in whichever space you are most comfortable in. If indoors I will wear a mask unless you specifically ask me not to (i.e. if this would make communication difficult for you).
When I arrive I will wash my hands or sanitize if washing is not possible.
I will teach throughout at a distance of 2m, unless this is impossible, in which case I will wear a mask and re-sanitize my hands as needed.
After your consult you’ll be welcome to hire or buy if you’d like to, although there is no pressure to do either.
Payment for the session at the end can be done via contactless card reader, bank transfer or PayPal so there is no need for cash.
More info on costs, how to book etc can be found here. For the moment, as my son’s year has not gone back to school I can only offer consults in clients homes at weekends. However, can usually do either Saturdays and Sundays (and occasionally will be able to accomodate a mid morning appointment Monday-Wednesday). Simply get in contact and suggest a few dates and times that work for you and we will go from there.
I am really looking forward to finally supporting parents directly again. If you are worried about anything, have any questions or there is anything I can do differently to help you access my service at this extraordinary time, please do get in contact and let me know
While carrying in warm weather is more about common sense than anything else, there definitely are some carriers that are cooler to wear and fare better as temperatures rise. If you are prone to overheating, live in a warm climate or want a summer friendly baby carrier (or want to hire one from Sheen Slings for an upcoming holiday or just for the summer) – here are my top picks:
1. Kahu Baby Sunshine Carrier
There are two reasons this carrier tops the list. The first is its genius lightweight design. The Kahu Baby is ultralight, packs down small and does not compromise on comfort or fit. Part of the genius of this carrier is how simple it is. Designed to be really intuitive to use, without any added bells or whistles or fiddly extra bits. Just really clever minimal design that ensures it fits a huge range of sizes and shapes of parents, men and women and is supportive enough for long walks while remaining light and soft enough to happily wear all day around the house too. Likewise it fits a huge range of babies ages and stages, from just a few weeks old through to 4 years. Offering 4 carrying positions and loads of versatility without adding loads of bulk and thus without adding any extra warmth.
The second reason is the Sunshine fabric. Kahu Baby carriers come in a few different fabric options, and while the are all lightweight and perform well in warmer weather, the Sunshine fabric absolutely excels as temperatures rise. Made from a woven polyester that is rated UPF50+, this fabric blocks 99% of the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays. The fabric feels soft, breathable, silky and actually cool to the touch! It’s also a wicking fabric, meaning you won’t feel sweaty in this carrier and that it dries extremely quickly (either after getting wet or washing). Making the Sunshine the ultimate warm weather sling.
The Izmi Baby is another absolutely genius incrediably lightweight carrier. It offers 4 carrying position and is one of those very rare buckle carriers that really really works brilliantly for newborns. In fact, it is a carrier I have had success over and over again with babies who are born prematurely because with its optional booster and ability to adjust the width – it is possible to make this carrier really very small to ensure a great fit even on tiny babies. The adjustable width and flexible neck support panel means this carrier can also grow with baby, continuing to fit all the way from teeny tiny to at least 12 months and often further. The flexibility doesn’t end here – this carrier also offers 4 carrying positions (front inwards, Front outwards, hip and back) and fits a absolutely huge range of different parent shapes and sizes. Particularly fitting petite parents well. Many carriers will fit a huge range but won’t go small enough for the very petite – but the Izmi will go so small my 3 year old can use it to carry the demo doll!!
As well as its all round brilliance, the Izmi Baby is one of my top summer picks because it’s lightweight design paired with thin breathable cotton means that it is genuinely one of the coolest baby carriers on the market. And if you are particularly prone to overheating or live in a very warm climate, they sell a mesh version too, where the centre portion of the main panel is replaced entirely with an airy breathable mesh.
If your looking for a bit more padding than offered by the Kahu or the Izmi, then the Beco Gemini Cool is definitely worth considering.
You will note that there are no heavily padded carriers on this list at all – and the reason for this is padding can be a bit of a double edge sword when it comes to summer babywearing as that extra bulk can really suddenly feel very warm as the temperature rises. So while you might find heavily padded carriers comfortable the rest of the year round, you may well find your sweltering come summer. Even with a supposedly cooler mesh version.
The Gemini Cool is a great option if you do prefer a bit of padding because it has a really sturdy supportive waist band, but the wide shoulder straps are very thin and very softly padded. It is often the bulk at the shoulders and across the back that causes a lot of this hot and sweaty feeling and so by having very softly padded shoulders the Gemini feels a lot cooler. The Cool mesh version also feels a lot cooler than the standard cotton counterpart because of the materials it is made from. The panel features a center portion made entirely out of breathable soft, supple yet really strong and supportive mesh. The rest of the carrier is made from this same mesh combined with a really soft, thin, cool to the touch fabric. The result is a supportive carrier that performs really well in the warmer months and year round! It fits an absolutely huge range of parents shapes and sizes, and fits babies from just 2-3 weeks old through to at least 18 months, offering 4 carrying positions (front inward, front outward, hip and back).
Ring Slings are fantastic options for summer. Made from just a loop of fabric these are as a general rule cooler to wear than any buckle style carrier (even the super light ones outlined above). And of all the ring slings I have ever tried, the Melliapis basic ring sling is my absolute top pick for warm weather. Made from two layers of muslin woven together to create a material that is surprisingly strong, the Melliapis Ring Sling is one of the most lightweight slings on the market. Super soft on newborn skin but easily strong enough to carry an up down toddler too. It folds up absolutely tiny to easily fit inside a bag, or even to be worn as a light scarf while your not using it! It feels light and airy to wear – making it an excellent option for summer.
At just 187g the Mini Sling is the lightest and smallest carrier on our list. Made from a silky soft smooth mesh and covering only 1 shoulder, it is definitely the sling that will keep you and baby the coolest too. Similar in style to a ring sling, the Mini sling is a loop of fabric with strap to tighten at the back and a fine adjustment strap for supporting the neck and upper back at the front. It is one of the absolutely simplest carriers to use, but not nesicarly the most comfortable to use. Rather this carrier has been designed for speed and lightness in mind, so excels best as a “just in case” sling that slips into your bag (or even a large pocket) or a “just while I quickly do x” sling. Great for holidays too as the thin mesh drys quickly and so is a great beach or poolside choice.
The JPMBB Physio carrier zips open to reveal the best mesh panel I have ever seen. The top layer rolls up to expose a huge section of light and airy yet strong mesh. Making this carrier one of the absolutely coolest of the padded buckle style carriers. Even the padding is cooler than on most carriers due to clever combination of mesh and breathable cool fabrics. The Physio fits babies best from about 7 or 8 months through to 3 or even 4 years of age. You can use it with a younger baby too – you’ll just need the infant booster pack that includes a booster pillow and a neck pillow. And as such this carrier is always popular for summer holiday hires.
What’s not on this list….
There are a great many other carriers that feature mesh panels and advertise being great for summer. Carriers like the Ergo Omni 360, the Tula, the Lillebaby Complete, the Baby Bjorn Air Mesh, the Beco 8 and many many more besides. When it comes to these carriers, ultimately how warm you and baby will feel is more about the padding and the bulk and much less about the presence and absence of mesh. Yes it can be nice to get the mesh version of one of these carriers for a bit more breathability but these are all a good step warmer compared to anything on this list. Great all year round carriers but just don’t make the grade if you live in a warm climate, looking to borrow something for holiday or particularly prone to overheating in the summer months.
Another type of carrier missing from this list are the stretchy wraps and Caboo type carriers. Again there are options amoung these that are cooler, but with three layers over baby – none of them would be my first choice on a truly boiling day! Plus there are really quite a few options when it comes to stretchy wraps so I will save summer stretchy recommendations for a future blog post.
As the weather warms up, understandably parents start to worry about whether their baby will be too hot in their baby carrier or sling. Undoubtedly the closeness does mean that it is warmer for both of you, however, there are some simple things you can think about to ensure you both stay safe and as cool as possible:
Think about layers! Depending on the thickness – most carriers count as 1-2 layers (some like Caboo or stretchy wrap will even count at 3), so do think about the layers you and baby are wearing. Can you take any off? Thin loose layers – that cover and protect from the sun are ideal, or even just naked save for a nappy can work too.
Protect extremities from the sun. Sun hats – particularly those with wide brims covering face and neck are great. Hoods on carriers can be a bit of a mixed blessing, as while most do protect from UV – covering the head and face can restrict airflow and actually make baby hotter so a hat can be a really ideal option for ensuring baby’s head is protected from the sun. You can check out our very own hat savers hereto prevent the inevitable lost hat issues! Also think about arms and legs. Suncream if appropriate, or long loose clothing that covers arms and legs or even loosely tie a large muslin to provide some light coverage and sun protection.
Stick to the shade were possible and try to avoid direct sun, and/or think about time of day and try to avoid the hottest parts of the day. And when it’s not possible to stay in the shade consider bringing your own shade with you – in the form of a large wide brimmed hat for yourself (wide enough to shade baby too) or even a parasol! Toddlers in particular love ‘helping’ hold a parasol… and they can be very helpful if you have a baby who refuses to wear a hat!
Cooling aids such as a damp muslin between you and baby can be helpful in keeping you both cool. Likewise little fans for helping circulate air around you both. One trick I used to use a lot with my son was to dampen his hat. The damp cool hat on his head used to really help cool him down and allow him to settle! Likewise carrying water in a spray bottle so you and spritz you and baby can really help keep both of you cool.
Stay hydrated – seems obvious but drinking plenty of water can really help your body’s ability to temperature regulate, which in turn will help your body regulate your baby’s temperature too. Likewise, your baby will need to feed/drink very regularly too – whether this is via more frequent breastfeeds (making it doubly important for you to stay hydrated) or ensuring you have extra feeds/ extra water in an appropriate bottle/cup for them to drink.
Hip or back carries can feel cooler than tummy to tummy front carries. Even seated sideways or off centre can reduce the skin contact and feel cooler. So do think about if there is another way you can use your carrier that may help keep you cooler. This will of course dependent on the carrier or sling you have and dependent on the age and stage of your baby – but this is definitely something I can help advise on so please do get in contact if you’d like suggestions.
Take regular breaks – if you and baby are starting to feel too warm, do take a break. Build in time to allow for getting baby out of the carrier in the shade and giving them time to kick around/wiggle, have a drink/feed and give both of you a break. There is a reason most humans feel lethargic on a hot day – it’s your body’s way of telling you to go slow and take breaks!
There are of course some carriers that are cooler than others, or some that naturally lend themselves better to being used in a cooler way than others (stay tuned for future blog post on this!). But in general, the hottest part of babywearing in the summer months is actually the baby (and for the baby – you!). And really while having a cooler carrier can help by not adding further warmth, it won’t magically make holding your baby any cooler! Not to mention that some of the carriers with mesh that claim to be cool yet have reams of heavy padding aren’t as cool as they claim to be! So if you have a carrier already, definitely consider all the advice above and see if any of it helps before investing in a new cooler carrier (unless you want to of course!). Because after-all the British Summer never lasts that long!!
If you’ve never used a woven wrap before, Front Wrap Cross Carry is a great place to start. This carry is a true all rounder, it is supportive and easily adaptable so it works really well whether you are carrying a tiny newborn or a much older child. Once you’ve mastered this carry it is a quick and easy and you will happily use it over and over again as baby grows. Plus it is a great carry for introducing you to how to use a woven wrap and makes learning different carries easier (if you want to, you can just stick with this one if you prefer!).
While the basic method of how to do this carry never changes, I have included 2 videos. The first with a few tweaks and optimizations for a brand new newborn and the second with a few tweaks and optimizations for a much older child! And of course you can carry every age in between and mix and match between some of the tweaks and none, as feels right for you and your little one.
Front Wrap Cross Carry with a newborn;
Front Wrap Cross Carry with spread passes for an older child;
For this carry you need a long woven wrap. Size will depend on your size, and you can read more about wrap sizes here, but generally most people will need anything from a size 5 to a size 7. In the first video I am using a size 6 while in the second I am using a 7. I am a UK dress size 16 and 170 cm and find that I can just about comfortably use and tie off a size 6 with a smaller baby, with an older baby I need a bit of extra length to comfortably get a good double knot.
Want to try a new sling or carrier but would to have the piece of mind of being shown how to use it and how it set it up correctly? Or buying a new carrier and want help setting it up that first time?
These are services that I normally provide at all Sling Clinic sessions and all private consultations, in person. But with lockdown continuing I appreciate it is really hard for parents to simply try on first or gain that confidence that comes with getting all the straps correctly adjusted from the get-go. So for the month of June I will be offering a free online 10 minute sling fitting (via Zoom video call) with every hire and every purchase through the website.
This is additive – so if you choose to hire 2 or 3 carriers you will get 20 or 30 minutes accordingly. If you later buy your favourite you will get an additional 10 minutes if you’d like on the one you choose.
How it works – if you’d like to hire a sling simply get in touch by email to email@example.com or via our contact page, and let me know what you’d like to try. Or what your needs are, age of baby etc, and I’ll make suggestions accordingly. Once we’ve agreed what you’ll be hiring, I’ll send you a hire form and then either post the carrier out to you, or your welcome to collect from my doorstep. Then once you have the sling we will set up a day and time within the next day or two to go through your sling together online (via Zoom) and ensure your 100% confident using it and that its giving you a good fit. If it doesn’t give you a good fit we can talk about alternatives and arrange to swap to something that works better. Sometime finding the perfect carrier is an iterative process and you might need to try a couple of different things to work out what does and doesn’t work for you. Then at the end of your hire you simply return and if you’d like to buy your own I offer discounts to all my hire customers – both on the webshopand with other retailers (if your chosen sling is something I don’t currently retail).
If your purchasing a sling through the webshop, simply purchase as normal and I will be in contact offering you your free fitting call! We will agree a mutually agreeable time that works for you for once your carrier has arrived and your ready. If your buying for a baby who isn’t here yet just let me know and we can roll this over (even if baby doesn’t arrive in June!).
Easy Peasy! I really hope this offer helps more people find the right option for them and be completely confident using whatever they choose while we all await the reopening of the children’s centres and being able to offer in person support once again