Whether it is winter, spring, autumn or even a nippy summer morning – baby’s legs stick out of the sling or carrier and can get a bit chilly. Here are my top two products for keeping legs and feet toasty and layers in place while your out and about….
Mel’s socks are super warm and cosy. Perfect for the coldest days or those spring/autumn days where you don’t quite need a coat but there is a definite chill in the air. They are one sizes and fit from newborn all the way to preschooler and possibly beyond! They are footed so they keep toes very cozy in carriers, prams, car seats and the a like, but aren’t maybe the best for baby to walk in as they can be a bit slippery!
The legwarmers by contrast are perfect for walkers as the feet stick out and wearing in combo with shoes to keep legs warm and layers in place. They come in two sizes – baby and toddler and both have a wide fit range (baby fitting from newborn to 2 years, and toddler fitting from 1-4 years) – and two thicknesses. The lightweight ones are perfect for spring/autumn or even summer on chillier mornings or as UV protection. While the lined ones are warmer and perfect for cooler days. Neither are as warm as the socks nor as bulky so perfect for layering under trousers or over tights etc! They are also fabulous for potty training and it after my daughter insisted she no longer wanted to wear nappies in the middle of January that we discovered these awesome legwarmers. She still loves her pairs and still squeezes into them regularly 2 years on!
Worried about how baby is sitting in their carrier? Worried about their hips? Or worried about red lines appearing on their legs after being in the carrier?
The easiest way to ensure baby is sitting comfortably is to do a ‘Pelvic Tilt’. This is where you slip your hands into the carrier and gently tilt their pelvis and lift their legs to ensure they are sitting square on their bottom rather than on their inner thighs. Here is how to do it:
Why is this important? Simply – sitting with their weight squarely on their bottom rather than being on their inner thighs is more comfortable. I often liken this to the difference between sitting in a nice deep soft verses perching on a bar stool. Neither is dangerous, or even uncomfortable in the short term but I know where I’d rather be for a snooze or a longer period!
When do to do a Pelvic tilt? Ideally I do a pelvic tilt or check each time I put a carrier or sling on. Babies often have a wiggle and whinge when going into a carrier and it’s really common for them to straighten up as part of this wiggle. So once I’ve popped the carrier on and started walking or bouncing/dancing on the spot to calm baby, I then slide my hands in and do this, then finish tightening the carrier as needed. I normally find that once done I don’t need to keep repeating, once in this position the carrier will support baby here (provided the carrier still fits them well – if not you might need a scarf as shown here, or a bigger carrier). However, if something changes like you’ve sat down and got back up again and/or baby has become unsettled… you might find you occassionally need to repeat the move.
Does it look different for different age babies? Yes it does! I love this graphic showing how this “spread squat” position with the weight on the bum looks for different age babies
But baby bounces up and down in the carrier, straightening and bending their legs? How do I keep them in this position? The answer to this question does depend a little on the age and stage of baby – and is part of the whole carrying will look different as baby grows and matures. Often babies will go through phases of this bouncing in a carrier when they are older … 6 months plus. It is fab!! Maybe not for you – who might find this is an extra work out for your core and your carrying muscles (-my children went through big phases of this around 18 months to 2 years… particuarly throwing their weight side to side while bouncing and I’d have to work quite hard not to fall over!!). But for baby is it fab, it means they are getting active time, they are strengthening their muscles and importantly having fun. Don’t feel like you need to stop them or that they need to be sitting squarely on their bum the whole time. As baby gets older the importance of the spread squat position for protecting their hips becomes less and less (as their pelvis matures toward walking). It is fine for them to crane upwards and outwards for a better view and have their weight on their inner thighs instead for short bursts. It’s all part of strengthening and development for them. Then if they start to get drowsy and fall asleep then do a quick pelvic tilt to ensure they are sat comfortably while they sleep.
The Kangaroo Carry has always been my absolute favourite woven wrap carry. It was the first front carry I really mastered and the one that won me over to the comfort of woven wraps. I loved the comfort across the shoulders and the closeness with baby. I loved how he’d always sleep on me in this position and how comforting it was for him when he was teething or unwell. I loved that I didn’t have to put him down if he was already in my arms. I loved that I could use a mid-length or a long length wrap with this carry. I loved that a mid-length packed up small in my bag or even could be worn as a scarf while I wasn’t using it.
Mostly I loved how this particular carry sat on my body. I talk a lot about different brand carriers offering different fits and the importance of finding the right fit for you. Well, while woven wraps will fit literally anyone…. different carries and methods of tying with that woven wrap will definitely suit different people and it really is worth experiementing with a few different tying styles to find your favourites.
Most parents start by learning the Front Wrap Cross Carry but please don’t be discouraged if you don’t love it. I remember so vividly trying to love this when I became a Sling Librarian and later a Consultant but it took me a while to love it and it still just doesn’t fit my body in quite the way Front Double Hammock and Kangaroo Carry do. While other parents I have worked with love Front Wrap Cross Carry immediately and don’t find they need to try anything else. It is so personal!
But if your looking for a very snuggly, super close front carry you can use with a newborn or a toddler (and everything inbetween), with a midlength or a long woven wrap – Kangaroo is definitely worth a try.
There are two methods of tying this carry, and here I show both! The first is the pre-tied method. By which I mean you tie the carry first and then pop baby in and tighten up around them. Many parents find this method easier because there is less fabric flapping around to cope with at any given time. Here is how to do it
The second method is helpful if baby is already in your arms and you don’t want to put them down first. You simply tie the sling around them. I loved this for those times when baby has fallen asleep on you on the sofa and you really need to get up. I used it a lot with my second when she would fall asleep on me after a feed just before I needed to pick up her older brother from nursery! I also once used once when my son fell asleep on me on the tube after a day at the Natural History museum. I simply stood up and calmly wrapped him on the moving train while it rumbled along between Earl’s Court and Barons Court and was ready to leave the train by Barons Court!! I got a round of appalaus from the other people in the carriage too because I managed it without waking him or falling over which did feel like a massive acheivement. Here is how to do it;
If you are struggling with this or any other carry please do get in touch. I can go through it with you step by step and provide real time feedback (whether online via Zoom or in person) and really help flatten the learning curve and ensure your 100% confident going forward.
One of the downsides of a narrow based carrier such as a Baby Bjorn Mini, Original, Move, Miracle or other high street brand carriers is that baby very rapidly out grows the carrier in terms of how much support there is for their legs. As their legs get longer and they start to over spill the carrier, their legs pull downward and this is less comfortable for them because their weight rest on their inner thighs and they feel more of the weight of their legs. It is also less comfortable for you, because more weight pulling away from the carrier equals more strain on your body.
Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix. All it takes is widening the base of the carrier to better support their legs. For this you will need a scarf. Ideally a woven scarf (i.e. not a stretchy knitted one), but it doesn’t need to be anything special. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry your baby – because your carrier will be doing this… simply any non stretchy material will do. Pashminas or rather market stall cheap pashmina knock offs are perfect!
Then you can use your scarf in one of two ways. The simplest is to pop your baby in as normal, and then tie the scarf around the outside of the carrier as shown here;
I love this method because not only does it support baby’s legs making the carrier more comfortable for them, it also helps redistribute more of the weight onto your waist and hips and thus really can improve your comfort a lot too.
An alternative method involves putting the scarf first inside of the carrier, as shown here:
I will confess I don’t find this method quite as comfortable as it doesn’t give the same feeling of waist support for the wearer. But it also doesn’t put a knot behind your back which is helpful if you want to sit down while wearing the carrier and also helpful if you struggle mobility-wise tying a knot behind your back.
Either method will give you a little bit more time with your carrier. It will still feel heavier than a carrier with a wider base and a proper waistband, but it will give you a bit more support and a bit more time. Often parents coming to one of my sessions who have a narrow based carrier find the scarf trick gives them another month or two before it starts to become too heavy again. But importantly this month or two gives them time to try a few different options – whether that is hiring a couple of different things or attending a session to try a few options – and ensure whatever they invest in next really works for them and last for as long as they need it too.
If you are hunting for the right next option please do get in touch and I’ll be happy to help. In the meantime I hope this trick helps!
Woven wraps are hard to beat when it comes to closeness, snuggliness and flexibility of use. However, despite all these pros many parents are very worried about the knotting part. They are worried it will be difficult, or they will get it wrong and their wrap won’t be secure.
There are actually 4 different ways you can secure a woven wrap. They are;
Secure Double Knot
Each has different pros and cons, but importantly, none of them are difficult to do and all 4 are completely secure. Here I will show you how to do each one and discuss their advantanges and disadvanges in turn.
The Secure Double Knot
Of all the four, the secure double knot is the easiest. I promise you, you already know how to do it. You simply tie a knot and then tie it again. Sure you’ll see some people on the internet go on about Granny Knots vs Flat Reef knots and blah blah blah… but it really doesn’t matter. ANY double knot will be completely secure. It won’t loosen over time, it won’t undo unless you actually undo it. In fact if someone pulls on the end of your wrap, or you snag on something, the knot will get tighter and more secure – not looser. So the main pros of this knot is that is super simple to do, it won’t slip or move so feels really secure.
It’s main disadvantage is that it isn’t adjustable, so it isn’t possible to loosen or tighten your wrap without untying the knot. So if you need to lower to feed your baby, or if the wrap has become loose and you need to tighten – you will need to untie this knot first, adjust and then re-tie.
Here is how to do it;
Note – I said this knot won’t spontaneously loosen. I often have clients who tell me that as they were walking their wrap got looser, and they are worried that their knot loosened over time and that maybe they did it “wrong”. If this is happening to you – you haven’t done anything wrong with your knot – and it is not the knot that loosened. It simply means that when you tied the wrap there were pockets of hidden “slack” (hidden loose parts), and as you walked your gentle rocking motion combined with gravity moved that slack around toward baby resulting in the wrap now feeling unsupportive. The trick is to now raise baby back to where you want them and retighten… and over time as you hone your skills you will start to notice that hidden slack and learn to tighten it out right from the start. If your struggling with this – this is definitely something I can help with and something that an online consultation is perfect for.
The Slip Knot
By constrast, the Slip Knot is adjustable. So it is a great choice if you want to raise or lower your sling for feeding, or if you’d like to be able to pretie the wrap and pop baby in or out. Or you would like to easily be able to adjust the tightness as you walk without first untying the knot. It is also a double knot so it is completely secure and is not going to loosen or untie overtime (unless you actually loosen or untie it on purpose!).
It is, however, a knot you will likely need to learn. By this I mean likely you will need to memorise the steps … I still repeat the steps under my breath every time I tie this knot!! But it really does open up a whole load of options and flexibility by learning it. And fun fact – for anyone who (like me) had to wear a tie for secondary school – this is actually the same knot as you use for a tie. So actually you may in fact already know this knot. And if teenagers all over the country can learn to do this knot and manage it in the morning when they are late for school – it really can’t be that hard! Here is how to do it;
The Ring Finish
For this we use a ring instead of a knot to fasten the two ends of the wrap together. Like the Slip Knot, the ring finish is adjustable. In fact it is more adjustable as you can tighten or loosen either end of the wrap through the ring (unlike the slip knot where only the “passive” or straight end can be adjusted). Plus it is physically easier to adjust through – it requires less hand and wrist strength to adjust through than the slip knot. So the ring finish is really useful if you want to be able to raise or lower your carry for feeding or to adjust while you are out and about without needing to undo a knot. Or you like the adjustability of a slipknot but find it too much strain on your wrists.
However, the flipside is because both ends adjust and do so very easily… it doesn’t feel quite as secure as a slip knot or the secure double knot. It won’t spontaneously undo but it may well loosen through the ring a little over time and so you may well find that you do need to adjust it and retighten from time to time as you walk.
Another advantage of the ring finish is it needs less length than a knot. So it can be really helpful if you find your wrap is a little short and your struggling to get a good knot. It also looks really pretty! I will openly confess I have used this finish on many an occasion just because I liked how it looked! Particularly, when wearing a woven at an event like a friends wedding! Here is how to do it.
It is worth noting that the ring you use matters. Because the ring needs to be strong and durable enough to take the weight – it needs to be a “sling ring” rather than any old ring. It needs to be solid metal with no breaks or obvious welding or joins. I purchase mine from here. The ring also needs to be the right size for your wrap – which depends both on how thick your wrap is and how “grippy” verses “slippery” it is. If the ring is too large then it will be more likely to slip and loosen over time. Too small and you may have difficulty tightening through it. In the video I am using a medium sling ring with a fairly thin woven wrap. For a very thick or very grippy wrap I might find I need a larger ring, while for a very thin or very slippery wrap I might find I need a smaller ring instead.
The final way you can secure a woven wrap is not to tie a knot at all, but to use friction to hold your wrap instead. I appreciate this initially sounds crazy, but actually what stops a knot from untying is friction between the two ends of the wrap. What holds the wrap in a ring finish is friction created by the ring between the two ends of the wrap. It is possible to create the same friction without actually creating a knot.
The advantage of a knotless finish is it is much less bulky than a knot. So if you find a knot uncomfortable or prone to digging in, a knotless finish might be more comfortable. Likewise a Ring Finish is alot less bulky – but again the ring can be quite hard and can be prone to digging in – so a knotless finish can be a great alternative. Another advantage is they are often easier to untie than a knot, which can be helpful if you find untying knots difficult or stressful on your wrists. There are actually a number of ways to do knotless finish depending on the carry your are going for but here is one of the most common and how to do it;
While it sounds less secure – I am continually suprised by just how secure a good knotless finish actually does feel. Once tightened there should be no slippage and it should be just as secure as a knot. Plus you can tighten through it. Of all the finishes this is probably the one I use the most for the simple reason that I prefer not to have the bulk. Mastering this finish does require understanding how friction is generated and remembering to go over the strap first rather than directly under it… but once you’ve remembered that then you can merrily apply this finish to any carry you’d like!
Have you tried any of these different methods for securing a woven wrap? Which is your favourite? Have I inspired you to try a different method for tying? You can use any of these four methods with any carry …. so feel free to get creative!
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.