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Lockdown Services and how to access carrier help and advice over the next month

The thing that broke my heart during the first national lockdown was all the new parents who suddenly found themselves completely bereft of all the normal help and support services that would normally be available to help them. As restrictions eased in July I met so many parents who had really struggled.

As we enter this second lockdown the one thing that gives me hope is that this time the messaging from the Government is clear that services to new parents should continue following Covid secure guidelines.

As such one-to-one consultations in my home and clients homes will continued to be offered through out this second lockdown for those for whom need it.

What does that mean? For some parents – particularly those who already have a sling or carrier they’d like help with or expectant parents who would like to see and chat through their options – I can provide the same quality of support via a Video consultation. So in the interest of reducing social contacts if I can help you just effectively online I will do so.

However, for many this 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 and ensure your confident using them. Particularly for those with a history of back pain, post-cesarean section, parts of multiples, parents of babies suffering with reflux, parents of babies born early and a whole host of other situations where face to face support is really needed. And in these cases face to face support will continue to be offered.

Whether in my home or yours we will maintain 2m distances throughout. I will wear a mask and I ask that you do to if you are able. All slings and carriers you’ll try will be freshly washed or quarantined for 72 hours prior to you using them and handled only minimally by me and only with freshly washed hands. Dolls will be freshly wiped down, as will my card reader and anything you might need to handle. Hand hygiene will be observed. At my home we will either be in my garden or right next to my big open doors to the garden so we will have lots of ventilation. If in your home please do think about where would be best in terms of ensuring ventilation and 2m spacings (as well as where you will be most comfortable!).

Most importantly if you are at all worried or unsure if in person or online would be most useful, or worried about how we will keep risks to a minimum please do get in contact and we will discuss and agree the best plan together based on your needs and circumstances. Just as we will work together to find the right sling or carrier option for you!

And for those who don’t need face to face support – all our contact free services are running as normal. Online consultations via Zoom can be booked for any mutually agreeable time. Contact free hires can be arranged at short notice – and the carrier of your choice either posted out to you or popped into my front porch for you to collect at your leisure. And the webshop will remain open through out for all your carrier and babywearing accessory needs! I pass the post office daily on the way to nursery and school so whatever the next few weeks brings us the online shop and postal hires will continue.

So whatever help you need over the next month or so don’t hesitate to ask, Sheen Slings remains very much open.

-Madeleine

Private Consults are back! In my garden with new Safety measures…

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.

More info on costs, how to book etc can be found here. In general consults in my home can be offered any weekday or weekend at any mutually agreeable time – simply suggest a few dates and times that work for you and we will go from there.

Consult in your Home

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

-Madeleine

The Webshop is Here!

I am so excited to announce that the Sheen Slings webshop is here!

For a long time it has been possible to purchase through us, but only to those coming along to a session, for a consultation or following a hire. Now it is easier than ever! You can browse our full collection online, check out the colour-ways, read the descriptions and reviews and then when your ready purchase without needing to do so in person.

This is a step I put off for a long time, because I passionately believe that it is so important to try a sling or carrier on before purchasing. Just as you would a pair of shoes or a pair of jeans – fit is everything. Having a carrier that fits you well, that you are completely confident using and adjusting can make a huge difference! Saving your back, giving your hands back and allowing you snug baby on the move.

So, if you can please please do ensure you try any carrier or sling on before investing in it. Check out our services page to read more about how to go about trying and hiring.

Then when you are ready to purchase the webshop is there to make it as easy as possible for you. This is what I have learnt from you guys – offering the option to buy online doesn’t subtract from our service, it doesn’t prevent people from accessing and gaining help and advice. Instead is adds to the service by making it easier. Easier to go home and have a think first and not having to worry about coming back to collect. Easier to check out options while still mulling it over. Easier to buy something for a second baby that you tried out with the first baby but didn’t need at the time.

And those buying online can enjoy all the same benefits that those buying in person do;

  • Advice from an independent, highly trained babywearing consultant with over 6 years experience matching families up with the right options for them individually
  • Range of different carriers far wider than offered on the high street, and extensive product knowledge, making it far more likely we will have exactly the right thing for you
  • The teaching skills and knowledge base to ensure you can learn exactly how to get the most out of your carrier and get the best fit for you and your baby
  • Ongoing support, so if you ever lose confidence in the future or are worried about anything you know you can come back and we will sort it.

So here it is – the webshop! Happy Shopping!

-Madeleine

Cross Straps or Rucksack Straps? What is the difference?

Many carriers offer the option to wear the straps either crossed or rucksack style across the wearers back. However, parents often don’t realise what this means and aren’t sure which one to use.

What is the difference

The difference is best explained by looking at the graphic above. For crossed straps the straps cross over the parents back. This means the strap at the left shoulder plugs into the right side of the panel and visa versa. While for Rucksack style, the strap that the right shoulder plugs into the right hand side of the carrier and a chest strap connects the two straps. The same chest strap need not be used when crossing.

Both ways are very secure and safe, but they do give very different fits. As such

Which one is better?

I am always being asked which one is better. Both methods are safe and secure, but they do give very different fits. As such different shaped backs, shoulders and torsos will find one fits more comfortably than the other. There is no, this one is always better, but for an individual there will be one of the two that fits you personally better. I always encourage parents to try both ways before purchasing a carrier.

Why is it important to try both before you buy a carrier?

While most carriers that I sell offer both strap configurations, there are a great number of carriers that offer only rucksack or only crossed. It is always frustrating for parents to realise they have bought a carrier that only offers one but their body shape is better suited to the other. And even among carriers that do offer both, some are better at one than the other. For this reason, when working with clients I will always make them try both crossed and rucksack styled first and help them work out which one suits their individual body shape first and then suggest carriers that cater for this preference. And for couples where one prefers one and the other the other, I can ensure they try only carriers that offer both configurations equally well!

Which one is easier?

Again this this person dependent. Some people find crossing straps behind their back really hard, some find it an absolute piece of cake. Some people find doing up a strap behind their back easy, some its completely impossible! The key is to try and see! And once you find which one is most comfortable, take advice from a trained babywearing educator to find the easiest way for you personally. I recently had an online consultation with a couple who had decided not to purchase a particular carrier because the sales rep in John Lewis had told them the strap was difficult to do up without help. That couple were really surprised to learn that that particular carrier could also be crossed and that even if rucksack style was more comfortable that there were a total of 5 different methods for doing that strap up and they could easily do it up themselves without help using one of my alternative methods. All things that the sales rep did not know, but a trained babywearing educator can help you learn in just a few moments. So if your carrier is feeling too difficult, this is definitely a sign to look up your local babywearing consultant and see if they can help you find a method that is easier for you. Because I am willing to bet there is one!

-Madeleine

Carrier shown here is the Beco Gemini and is available here.

Why I don’t think you should buy a baby carrier before your baby is born…

IMG_1598I love that babywearing has grown in popularity over the last few years!  I see so many parents absolutely loving snuggling their little ones while getting stuff done… and it’s fabulous.  But one of the downsides of this growing popularity is baby carriers are now on almost all must have lists of things to buy before the baby arrives.  And here is a the catch: carriers (particularly buckle carriers) fit a bit like jeans – different brands and different styles fit different bodies.  In fact it’s worse than jeans because as well as needing to fit the parent it must also fit the baby, and fit how you want to use it, fit your lifestyle and fit the personal preferences of your little one!  All of which is almost impossible to tell before baby is born because it’s very difficult to try a carrier on when you have a bump in the way and how can you know how you are going to use it or what your baby’s preference is going to be before they’ve even entered the world?

You just can’t.  Fun fact – more than 60% of my clients are people who purchased a carrier before their baby was born and then were really dismayed to find that it didn’t work they way they thought it would.  Maybe it was a carrier that advertised from birth but in reality doesn’t work well until more like 8 weeks, maybe that it turned out not to fit them well, or holds baby only in x position but baby prefers y position or maybe its a case of the carrier is absolutely fine but the instructions and YouTube videos were so bad they couldn’t figure out how to get it comfortable but a few tweaks and a different method for putting it on has made all the difference.

The key here is to learn from this – babywearing is AWESOME but it needs to work for you.  The best way to see if a carrier works for you and avoid wasting your money is to try it with your baby and for that your baby needs to be here.

IMG_1852But “I want to wear my baby right from day 1” I hear you cry!  Yes! Yes I do want you to be able to do this too…  So here is my advice.  Don’t buy a buckle carrier yet, but do invest in a newborn specialist sling!  Or better still rent one.  Something like a Stretchy Wrap or a Caboo.  Or if you don’t like the idea of one of these a Ring Sling, a Woven wrap or a really specialist tiny buckle carrier like the Izmi Baby.  These are fab options that work right from day 1 and fit a huge range of people.  They can be tried on and learnt in advance as they offer a much more flexible fit.  And they don’t cost the earth to purchase, and in fact you needn’t buy one of these at all as Sheen Slings and many other Sling Libraries offer long term loans on Stretchies, Caboos and other newborn specialist slings which can save you from needing to buy something that you’ll only use for a few months.  So you can save your money for the big investment sling once your baby is a couple of months old and is here to try on with.

-Madeleine