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.
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.
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.
Stretchy wraps are amazing. They are super soft, snuggly and one of the best options for a newborn. However, often parents are worried that they don’t give baby enough head support or are worried about how they are ment to support baby’s head and neck. Instead parents often find themselves needing to hold baby’s head, or worse get so worried they lose confidence and stop using the stretchy.
But actually stretchies do have more than enough support built in! A couple of simple tweaks in how you are using the wrap can make all the difference in how much support baby’s neck has. There are 3 things to check, you can see talk through each of the 3 in the video or scroll down for each of the 3 described in detail below:
Check how baby is sat in the sling. Ideally we want baby sat comfortably on their bottom, with their knees higher than their bum and their spine gentle curving bring their head to a gentle rest on your chest. However, babies can often end up a bit straightened up (with their knees lower than their bum and straighted spine) – particularly if they grumble and wiggle when going in. This isn’t dangerous but it is less comfortable for them (as their weight is on their inner thighs rather than their bottom) and more importantly because of the way the pelvis, spine and skull connect means that their head is much more likely to roll backwards away from you. If this happens its an easy fix – simply slip your hands into the wrap and gently tuck their bum towards you gently lifting the legs and allowing baby to settle onto their bottom. Finally readjust the fabric so both layers support baby all the way to the backs of the knee. Viola! Now, due to the way the pelvis, spine and skull attach and how the verterbra stack… baby’s head should gently rest on your chest and not be able to roll backwards dramatically.
Pull the outer 3rd layer of the wrap up – right up to the back of babies neck. In fact ideally you want actually roll that top bit of the wrap so you have a couple of rolls sitting behind the back of baby’s neck to support their head and neck. Often parents simply don’t pull this layer up high enough. Often they leave most of the fabric near baby’s bottom to support their weight and “stop them falling out”, but actually it is the two straps crossing under baby’s bottom that supports their weight and stops them falling out. The outer/3rd layer is there to hold the top part of the crossing straps in place and to support the upper torso and head. And to do this is needs to be pulled up – all the way to the top of baby’s neck or base of their ear!
Use a muslin to create a neck pillow for more support. In theory, provided your wrap is tight enough 1 and 2 should be enough to support baby’s head and neck and you shouldn’t need any other support. However, sometimes parents don’t feel it is enough and if that is the case then you can build in more support in one of two ways. The first way is to use one of the cross passes to cover the back of baby’s head. This is the way shown in most manuals. However, most baby’s hate this and certainly won’t tolerate it while awake (many won’t tollerate it while asleep either). Instead the second way is my preferred method – roll up a muslin and tuck it into the top of the outer/3rd layer to create a neck pillow. Providing lovely soft but robust head and neck support … and having the added side benefit of ensuring you have a muslin ready should you need one!
Voila! Nice, soft but securely supported neck!
As ever if you are struggling with your stretchy wrap, please do get in contact. A quick online consultation (or in person mini consult lockdown/tiers allowing) where you can receive real-time input and we can work together to get the root of the issue can make a huge difference! Clients are always suprised and releived to discover what difference just 20 minutes talking it through step by step can make! So please do get in touch if you’d like help with this or anything else.
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:
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.
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.
The Isara Quick Full Buckle is a bit different to most other buckle carriers on the market. It’s mismatched straps are designed to snap together, rather than into the panel. That means how you do it up is a little different to the method you’d use for most other carriers.
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.
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.
New to the UK market, the Kavka Multi-Age baby carrier hails from Poland. The first thing to say about it is just how adjustable it is. Made from super soft woven wrap fabric it micro adjusts in both height and weight to fit babies right from just a few weeks old to at least 2.5/3 years of age. It is weight tested from 3.5 kg all the way to 20 kg and in fact my 18 kg almost 4 year old fitted in it remarkably well.
It is, however, relatively bulky. The panel is wonderfully soft and light and the fabric moulds and beautifully to support babies of all different shapes and sizes without excess bulky. But it is fairly bulky for parents. It has a thick, wide firmly padded waistband teamed with soft but thickly padded shoulder straps. Padding is a bit like marmite – some parents find more padding equates to more comfort and while others find the reverse. This is a carrier that definitely works for the former rather than the latter.
The other main source of bulk, and my main bug bear with this carrier, is that when adjusted to fit a newborn all the excess fabric is pushed between the wearer and the waistband. This fabric lumps into big folds that pushes the waistband out and the result is that it is really hard to really get the waistband tight enough when the carrier is on the narrowest settings. As anyone who’ve read my fit tips blog will know,getting the waistband snug is the absolutely foundation to getting a comfortable carry. So this bulk really does interfere with parent fit and undoubtedly comfort. At least while on the newborn setting. As baby grows and you let the panel out this becomes less and less of an issue.
So paradoxically the fit and parent comfort are likely to get better as baby grows! It is however a crying shame, because this carrier is packed with amazing modifications to ensure it gets a great fit for newborns. From all the adjustability to having fastening clips on the waistband as well as on the panel … allowing you to get a perfect newborn C shape in the carrier.
You can see how all this works and what it looks like in use here in my video review;
So this is definitely a carrier I am conflicted on, the adjustability, the softness and the options for fastening are all simply wonderful. I want to like it more, but the bulk at the waistband and the firmness of the straps slightly spoils it all for me. But it is worth saying that that is in part my bias based on how well it fits my body and it will fit other bodies differently. So it is really worth trying it on and I am excited to see it on clients and get to know what body types it fits best.
Because it has so much adjustability in the shoulder straps too – offering 3 points of tightening (see the video above for how they all work) and the option to wear with straps crossed across the back or ruck-sack style. The straps are extremely long too, so has the capacity to fit a huge range of different parent sizes from XS to XXXL. The long straps can be easily tided away with little elastics at the ends.
The carrier also offers 3 carrying positions for baby; front, hip and back carry.
So all in all the Kavka baby is an extremely flexible carrier offering a lot of adjustability. It’s closest competitors on the UK market are the Isara the One carrier, the Manduca XT and the Mamaruga Zen and Zebulo carriers. If you are looking for something like one of these carriers but with more padding then the Kavka is definitely worth you trying. However, if like me you er on the side of less bulk then I’d skip this one and focus on the Manduca XT or the Zebulo instead.
The Kavka baby retails at £119 for the standard cotton model or £125 for a linen or bamboo model. They also make a Multi-Age Plus which is bigger and weight tested from 6 kg to 25 kg and retails for £125 for the standard cotton models. We have one of these in the library collection so do get in contact if you’d like to give it a go.
They can be purchased from MamaZen, and thank you to MamaZen for providing us with this one to try.
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