What Can I do with a Stretchy Wrap?

Stretchy wraps are amazing.  They are super soft, snuggly and one of the best options for a newborn.  They are amazingly versatile.  They fit all body shapes and sizes because you tie them to yourself and when you find the right carry will work for all newborns because you can adapt them to fit however baby most likes to be held.

But there is a catch…  most manuals only show one way to use them.  And consequently most parents only really feel confident using these really versatile carriers one way.  And sometimes that one way doesn’t work well for them, or baby or both.  Or more normally is fine sometimes but on some days baby won’t tolerate it.

In this article I will explore several different ways a Stretchy wrap can be used.  The videos demonstrate how the carry is done, while the descriptions of each carry discuss the pros and cons of each carry.  What that carry is best for and what its worst for.  It’s by no means meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting point to inspire you to explore further.  To empower you with a great grounding in what can be achieved so you can get much more out of your carrier, whether that’s finding some carries that suits your and baby better or simply adding in a couple to your repertoire that offer you more functionality and/or longevity from your sling.

 

#1 Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (AKA the normal one, Hug hold).

Pocket Wrap Cross Carry is the most commonly taught method for stretchy wraps.  It gives a lovely snuggly carry that is perfect for the 4th trimester period and is one of the easiest ties for a beginner because you tie it off first before putting baby in.  Once tied you can then can simply pop baby in and out as needed (without need to re-tie in between each time you take baby in and out).

This tie will works well for many babies right from day 1 and continues to be amazing until they start to go through the developmental leap at around 3-4 months.  Not all babies will be developmentally ready to sit astride the cross (particularly those born early, lower birth weight or ones that are just very curled up), and there are positions below that work better in this case for the first few weeks until baby is ready for this position.  After 3-4 months, you might still enjoy this position for nap times, but often during more awake periods baby might fuss for more freedom and a better less enclosed view.  This position can also become less supportive for the parents back around this time.  Again there are alternative positions below that can often be a better option for older babies.

Finally, because Pocket Wrap Cross Carry is pre-tied this is a tie that works much better with a 2 way stretchy wrap than a one way stretchy wrap.  This is because there is a much greater window between too tight and too loose on a 2 way wrap than a 1 way (more on the differences here).  If you have a 1 way stretchy wrap you might struggle to get this tie perfect reliably, and again there are other options below that work better for 1 way stretchy wraps.

 

#2 Front Double Hammock Variation

 

The Front Double Hammock Variation is tied exactly the same way as Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (#1), but baby is placed inside the sling differently.  Rather than sitting astride the cross baby sits on the cross with no fabric dividing between the legs.  Instead the fabric rests just in the back of the knee pit, similar to how you would sit in a hammock.

This makes this carry ideal for babies who are not yet opening out their knees and spreading their legs around their parents when they are held simply in arms.  Babies vary a lot in terms of when they are ready to do this.  Some are born already fairly opened out, while others remain much more curled up for a few weeks.  This is particularly true of babies born prematurely or babies born at a lower birth weight.  By sitting on the cross rather than astride it, their natural position is respected and maintained, allowing them to open up naturally once they are ready to do so.

This can also be important for babies who have hypermobility (such as commonly see in Downs Syndrome) or another medical reason to avoid material between their legs that might over spread them.

Another advantage of this position is that is is easier to breastfeed in because without material between baby’s legs it is easier to adjust baby’s position to bring them to the breast.  However, without the material between the legs this is a position that can feel less secure with a more wiggly older baby.

Finally it is worth noting that, again because this carry is pre-tied this is a tie that is easier to do with a two-way stretchy wrap where you have a wider window between too tight and too loose compared to stretchy wraps with only one-way stretch.

 

#3 Front Wrap Cross Carry

In contrast to the two carries above, the wrap is not pre-tied for Front wrap cross carry.  Instead baby goes in at a much earlier stage and then the wrap is tightened and tied around baby.  This means that you don’t have to guess or measure how much space to leave for baby as you simply fit the wrap to baby and yourself exactly.  This means this tie is a great option for one-way stretchy wraps or for anyone who is having difficulty getting the tightness correct using the pre-tied Pocket Wrap Cross Carry method.  In fact this tie works better for one-way stretchy wraps than two-way ones because in general one-way stretchies are less stretchy than 2 ways and thus require less tightening using this method!

The downside of this method is simply that you tie it from scratch each time, so lose the convenience of simply popping baby in and out.  Although you do quickly become very speedy at tying!

Front Wrap Cross Carry is also the same method that is most commonly used for woven wraps so if you are thinking about trying a woven and not sure if you could do it or not you can give this a go with your stretchy wrap and see how you find it!

 

#4  Adjustable Pocket Wrap Cross Carry

In this variation of the standard carry, the wrap is pre-tied but it is pre-tied using an adjustable knot at the shoulder.  The knot is placed at the shoulder to make it easy to get to and using a slip knot means the wrap can very easily be tightened and loosened, without untying or taking the wrap on and off.

This makes this tie particularly great for;

  • breastfeeding in the sling (as easy to lower baby ready for a feed, then raising them back up after the feed without waking them)
  • for older babies – where the sling needs to be tighter to support their weight but getting it tight enough doesn’t leave you with enough space to get them in!
  • for one way stretchy wraps for anyone having difficulty getting the tightness correct using carry #1.

This carry does work just as well with a two-way stretchy wrap too, it can be a great option to have in your tool box, well worth giving a go!

 

#5 Seated Sideways (Pocket wrap cross carry variation).

In this position the wrap is tied exactly as for pocket wrap cross carry (#1), but this time baby is loaded in completely differently.  Instead of going “tummy to tummy” with the adult, baby sits upright, side on to the parent.

The advantage of this is the baby has no pressure on their tummy, so this is an excellent position for babies with reflux or any baby who is have a painful digestion day or currently struggling with a poo.  Or for any baby who has had to undergo chest or abdominal surgery.  It’s also fabulous for communication as baby can stare up at your and you can see each others faces much more easily than in the standard tummy to tummy position.  Some babies simply prefer being held this way.  Or enjoy it as a change.

When I work with new parents I always watch how parents hold babies in arms and often parents hold baby naturally like this and so are really excited to find that is a position that the sling can replicate.

The one thing to be aware of when using this position is the important to having baby sat upright in the sling.  As long as baby is upright their head will nicely stack onto their spine and should be easy to support by either tucking their head or using a muslin roll in the 3rd layer.  If baby is not upright there is a danger baby can slump into the pocket and there is a danger the fabric could cover them or place pressure on the head resulting in a chin on chest position that can restrict airflow.  So when using this position it is key to ensure the sling is tight enough and baby is upright so that you know they are safe and comfortable.

 

#6 Simple Hip Carry (pocket wrap cross carry variation)

Hip carries can be great for babies who have reached “nosy baby” phase.  This typically starts in earnest around 3 to 4 months (although sometimes a little earlier or later) and around this time you will notice baby starting to fuss and craning for a better view when awake in the stretchy wrap on your front.  A hip carry gives them that better view while still giving them a snuggly carry they can relax and fall asleep in if they wish.

There are other ways you can use your stretchy on your hip but this method is the simplest because you start by tying it exactly as you would for carrying baby on your front using the pocket wrap cross carry method.  There is just one change – once you have tied you work out which hip you’d like to carry baby on and then drop the strap on that side off your shoulder and bring it under your arm.  The tightness of the wrap will then need to be adjusted and then your ready to simply load your baby into the wrap on your side!

Because this method is pre-tied again this is a method that works best for a two-way stretchy wrap.  It is important to ensure it is snug before you start because as this is a one shouldered carry you will find it will put more strain on your back if it is loose.

 

#7 Robin’s Hip Carry

Robin’s Hip carry is a carry I often teach with a woven wrap, but it does work just as well with a stretchy wrap.  For this carry you start by creating a pouch that you then tighten around baby and then reinforce with additional cross passes.

Because this carry is tightened around baby, this is a carry that works just as well for one-way and two way stretchy wraps.  It’s also great for bigger babies, as you can allow enough space to get them in easily and still get it tight enough to support their growing weight.

It’s a fabulous option for nosy babies, and can be a more comfortable option than the simple hip carry because of the double layer on the shoulder and how the straps spread out around parent.  It is a few more steps, but can be worth it for that extra comfort.

 

#8 Double Hammock Back Carry

Of all the carries shown here, this is the one that I would say is quite advanced and needs good deal of practise and confidence.  Again this is a carry that is commonly used with woven wraps, and is one that many babywearing consultants choose not to teach with a stretchy wrap because it is that bit harder (compared to a woven) to really get as tight as you need to.   

However, it is possible.  Not with all stretchy wraps, but ones that are wider and stronger like the one shown in the video (a JPMBB Original) it is possible with practise and understanding.  While often when it comes to back carries there are other easier options (like buckle carriers or a woven wrap) it is something that some parents do want to have in their repertoire and it is a fun snuggly bouncy carry for an older baby.  If you would like to learn how to do this, I would highly recommend face to face support with a consultant as there are many methods for getting baby onto your back and getting the passes into place behind you and having input can really help flatten the learning curve and help you gain confidence with tightening.

This is definitely a carry where tightness is really important – you can see this at the end of the video when I ask my daughter if she can break out.  Funnily enough in our practise 5 minutes before she couldn’t get her arms out at all, but when I filmed it was a tiny bit looser and you can see how much further she can get! 

 

#9 Pregnancy Support

Did you know you can actually use your stretchy wrap before baby arrives?  Wrapping your bump, back and hips with a stretchy wrap can provide some short term support to your growing body.  It is worth noting that this is something I’d advise for short time periods in the later months of pregnancy only, as its important for your body and muscles to strengthen up as your bump grows.  But in those final months, on longer days, this can provide some very welcome short term relief to your back and hips!

Any stretchy wrap 1 way or 2 way will work equally well as a pregnancy support and that time spent wrapping your bump will translate into muscle memory and confidence using your wrap when it comes to actually wrapping baby.

 

#10 Carrying Twins (Pocket Wrap Cross Carry variation)

A stretchy wrap can also be used to carry newborn twins!  The simplest way to do this is tie the wrap just like in carry #1 – Pocket Wrap Cross Carry but instead of loading one baby into both sides of the cross, you load one baby each into either side of the cross.

This carry works really well right from newborn, and can be a lovely way to carry newborn twins as it gives them the comfort of each other (just as they had in the womb) and the comfort of being on their parents chest!  When they grow out of it varies a lot between twin pairs, depending on size and how early they arrived etc, but typically somewhere around 8 weeks (give or take!) they will start to feel like they fit less comfortably.  You can use this carry for as long as you still feel comfortable – even if that is a lot longer than 8 weeks!  While there are dedicated Twin carriers available, none work as well for these first few weeks as a Stretchy Wrap.  It can be a really lovely option to start with, and then decide if you want to invest in a twin sling or other options later once babies start to grow out of this, and once you know more about how you will want to carry them (whether singly or together).

In terms of which stretchy wrap are best for this carry – generally wraps that have a bit more width can be helpful when wearing twins in this way.  As are wraps that are fairly supportive and not too stretchy.  Again two way wraps can be easier as it is a pre-tied method but many stretchy wraps are very stretchy and that can be less helpful!  In particular the JPMBB Original wrap, Izmi Baby and even Kari Me wrap are among my top picks for twins as they are all two-way wraps but have have less stretch than many other 2 way wraps and are wide and strong!  A good quality strong one-way stretchy wrap like the Moby can also be a good bet, because while they are harder to get the pre-tie right, the additional support and strength can make up for this when it comes to wrapping 2!

 

#11 Kangaroo Carry

The Kangaroo carry is another option where there is no material between babies legs.  You start by creating a pouch on your front, slip baby in and then tighten the wrap around them creating a snug pocket which is then reinforced with 2 further layers of wrap across babies back.  For older, stronger and more wiggly babies you can then pass fabric between the legs and tie under bum, but for smaller babies you don’t need to bring any material between their legs at all.

This means this is a great option for premature babies, low birth weight babies or babies who are simply not opening out their legs yet.  Likewise babies with hypermobility (such a Downs Syndrome) or other medical reason to avoid pressure on their legs.  It’s also the option that of all the carries shown here give the biggest surface area between parent and baby and so can be great for skin to skin cuddles.  Again great winner for premature babies! But also any baby that’s feeling a bit under the weather and needs the extra comfort and temperature regulation.

Because this carry is tied around baby it works really well with 1 way stretchy wraps, it works well with 2 way wraps too but can feel a bit easier with a 1 way.

Finally, while I have shown the tummy to tummy position here, this same carry can also be used with the Seated Sideways position.

A final note…

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that all the carries I have shown here show babies legs outside of the sling.  You can read more about why I generally only teach legs out here.  I am aware that this is in contrast to many manuals that suggest the legs in position should be used until baby is ready to sit astride across, however, legs in comes with its own challenges which are often not made clear in manuals.  Experience has taught me that alternatives such as the double hammock variation or even the Kangaroo carry can give the best of both worlds, allowing baby to sit comfortably on their bottom without being overspread while still having their legs and feet free to move naturally.

Hope these tutorials help inspire you!  Happy Wrapping!

-Madeleine

 

 

 

How to do a Hip Carry with a Buckle carrier

Many of us naturally will carry baby on our hips when carrying in arms, as doing so gives one arm free for making lunch and puts baby in a position where they can see what we are doing and and chat to us while we potter about.

Ever wondered if you can carry your baby on your hip in a buckle carrier?

Many baby carriers do offer this option (but its not always wonderfully clear or even in the manual).  Here is my method, shown with an Izmi Baby Carrier but this same method will work just as well with an Ergo Omni, Adapt orEmbrace, Connecta, Kahu Baby, Mamaruga Zen or Zebulo, Beco Gemini, Beco 8, Lillebaby, Manduca, JPMBB, Sleepy Nico and many others.

 

Developmentally, the hip position is one that works best once baby has “some” head control… so generally around 2-3 months onwards.  It is an absolutely great position for “nosy” babies who want to see everything while still getting a good view of their caregiver.  It’s a great position for communication and shared moments.  As such, hip carries can be a great alternative to forward facing, as it gives baby the same view but makes it easier for them to see you, for you to read their cues and also for them to tuck in and relax ready for a nap when needed.  It can also be less harsh on the parents back compared to forward facing.

Happy hip carrying!

-Madeleine

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

9 Ways to Wear a Close Caboo

The Close Caboo is an excellent and very popular newborn specialist baby carrier.  I have blogged before about its pros and cons and compared the different models available.  Here I wanted to focus on what you can do with it!  Most people only ever use the Caboo in one way.  The one and only carry that is shown in the manual that comes in the box.  This is a carry that works for most, but not all and even those it does work for sometimes another carry might be a nice option from time to time.  While the manual shows only one, there are more suggested on the box and more on their website and even more that are possible according to individual needs.

In fact I can do 9 different carries with a Close Caboo!  And I am sure this is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a comprehensive starting point for you to get creative and find options that work for you!  Let’s take a look at each in turn:

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#1 Double Cross Carry – aka the normal one, the one in the manual.  The key features of this carry are that the carrier goes on with logo upright on your back, rings and the side and baby’s legs straddle the cross at the front.  The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides and the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

This position is one that works for most adults and most newborns.  It works best for babies in the ‘fourth trimester’ (newborn to 12 weeks).  Babies older than this can often grow out of this position developmentally – often finding it too enclosing when they start to become more awake and more naturally inquisitive (at this point one of the hip positions below can work better).   Smaller, more curled up babies and those who are born prematurely may prefer not straddle the cross (if they do not yet open their legs this wide) and for these babies position #2 is usually a better option.  Likewise there are other positions that change the fit for the adult below.

 

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#2 Double Hammock Carry – Very similar to the first carry, this main difference with Double Hammock is simply that baby sits on the cross rather than straddling it.  Carrier goes on exactly the same way for the parent and feels broadly the same for them, but for the baby both legs go through both straps.  The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides, and twists at the shoulder helps keep the top of the carry snug and face clear of material.  Finally the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

 

This position can feel better for a very new baby.  Particularly smaller babies or those born early.  Or simply those that love to sleep really curled up.  Sometimes for these very tucked up babies it can feel wrong to try to tease them apart to get one leg either side… instead using the double hammock variation allows them to remain very tucked up and doesn’t change their position at all and doesn’t open their legs any wider than they would by themselves.  This is a position I teach regularly to parents of babies born early, or parents of babies who have low muscle tone.  Not every baby needs it, and some who are born at term just prefer it anyway.  Or at least for the first few weeks and then they might progress to using the Double Cross carry instead.  Again like the double cross carry this position works best for the 4th trimester/newborn position.

 

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#3 Seated sideways – In this position baby literally sits sideways in the sling.  The carrier goes on the same way, and distributes the weight the same way for the adult but again what has changed is how the baby sits within the carrier.  In seated sideways baby sits at a 90 degree angle to the adult within one layer of the sling with their legs together sticking out of the sling, and then the second layer comes up and over the legs to support baby’s back and to close the gap, and finally the 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

 

Because baby is not chest to chest with the parent and instead has no pressure on their chest or tummy at all this can be a great position for babies with reflux, or any baby where pressure on these areas might want to be avoided (i.e. post surgery or for any other reason).  It can also be a great position for babies who simply don’t seem to like the chest to chest position, or find the double cross or double hammock positions too confining.  Or for those babies who simply seem to just want to have a better view!  Seated sideways allows babies to see their care givers faces better and see outwards a little better – while still giving plenty of support – hence it can great option for babies who are starting to want to look out more but maybe aren’t ready for a hip position yet.

Or simply any baby who just needs a change of position (because lets face it we all like to change our position from time to time to stop us getting too stiff!).  This position is also one of the best options for a baby who is wearing a sleeping bag or sleep sac!  Generally it’s pretty difficult to put a baby in a sleeping bag in a sling but because the legs are together and stick out to one side, Seated Sideways is one of the few positions that does work well with a sleeping bag.

Seated Sideways can be used right from newborn for as long as it is still comfortable for you and baby – as long as care is taken to ensure baby is upright within the sling and that the sling is tight enough to keep them upright and to keep them from slumping.  I do like to stress that it is key to ensure baby is upright, because when upright their airway is protected by supporting their head and neck in a neutral position, while if more horizontal/cradle it is more difficult to ensure this neutral position and there is an increased risk of baby adopting a chin to chest position which can restrict airflow.  But as long as baby is seated up right and sling is well-adjusted this can be a fab position for any baby.

 

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#4 Upside Down – This position completely changes the fit for the adult. Turning the carrier upside down doesn’t alter baby’s positioning, but will feel very different for the parent.  Specifically, by putting the carrier on upside down the rings are now at the parents shoulders rather than under the arm at their sides.

 

So why might you want to wear the Caboo upside down?  A small number of parents find the rings dig into their sides.  I should stress that most parents don’t notice the feel of the rings at all but a small number of parents do.  It really depends on body shape and where those rings end up on you.  For most, the rings sit at the parent’s side over a relatively fleshy part of their torso and as such the parent doesn’t notice them at all.  But for a few parents, often those who are particularly petite the rings come more to the front of their body and maybe sit over the ribs or less fleshy part of their body and dig in.  For these parents the solution is simply to turn the Caboo upside down.  This gets the rings off the ribs and up onto their shoulders where they feel more comfortable. It is worth noting that while this position does tend to work really well for more petite frames, it doesn’t work as well on broader or longer torsos because having the rings at the shoulders constrains where the cross sits on your back.  On a more petite frame this will still be mid back whereas on a longer or stockier torso it will be higher up on your back and this maybe less comfortable.

Another advantage to wearing the Caboo upside down is it changes the direction in which the sling is tightened: loose material is moved upwards toward the rings and then pulled downwards through the ring. Compared to moving downwards and then pulling forward when wearing the Caboo the rightway up.  Many parents find moving loose material upwards more intuitive and thus find tightening easier in this position.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Caboo can be used upside down to acheive either a double cross carry (as shown in the photos) or a double hammock carry – depending on how you thread baby’s legs.  Either position for baby works equally well in combination with wearing the Caboo upside down.

 

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#5 Double Cross Carry Shifted to the Hip – as the name suggests this position is really similar to #1 Double cross carry the only difference is the fabric is simply shifted over towards the hip first and then baby placed in the fabric now off to one side near the hip.

This carry is good for fairly young babies who still need a fair amount of head and neck support but are starting to become more interested in the world and want to have a better view of what’s going on… or at least while they are awake! It can be a tricky age … where baby fusses to get a better view but they aren’t yet developmentally ready to go into a full hip carry carry or to forward face.  So this position, which still has all the same support for baby can be really useful for those couple of weeks while their neck strength plays catch up to their noseyness levels!!  It’s also a good option for adults with weaker backs because it is still is a two shouldered carry (most hip carry’s are one shouldered only) so it still spreads the weight across both shoulders and across the back evenly.  So the adult doesn’t usually feel more strain on one side than the other despite baby being on one side.

 

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#6 Hip Carry – More of a true hip carry than #5, the carrier goes on sideways across one shoulder with baby on the opposite hip.

This carry is a great option for slightly older babies who have reasonable head control and have gone through that developmental leap from a sleepy newborn into the “nosy, must see everything” baby phase!  This is often the age many parents move away from the Caboo as they start to find baby gets frustrated with too much material near their face and an obstructed view in the standard double cross carry.  The hip position usually solves all this frustration by giving baby a much better view while still feeling secure and supported.  In fact, assuming baby does have good head and upper torso control, they can even have their arms out, which again can make this carrier much more fun for them while they are awake and alert.  Generally this position works best from about 4 months (give or take) for as long as it is still comfortable for the parent.    

 

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#7 One Shouldered Front Carry – While most parents prefer a 2 shouldered carry, there are sometimes circumstances where this is non ideal – shoulder injury, weakness on one side, etc.  Or even temporary factors – maybe you slept funny last night and now have a massive crick in your neck and can’t stand having weight on that side…  or maybe you sat out in the garden and managed to sunburn on shoulder… either way you’ll be alright in a day or two but still need to use your carrier in the meantime.  In any of these circumstances it is useful to know that the Caboo can work just as well as a one shouldered carrier.

To do a one shouldered carry you simply slip one shoulder strap under your arm instead and then retighten the carrier as need.  For the baby the carry is much the same as positions #1 and #2.  And much like both of these positions, this carry works really well with newborns as it’s a really snuggly comfortable position for baby.

 

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#8 Torso Carry – Continuing on the theme from #7, it is also possible to do a “no shoulders” or Torso carry with a Caboo.  For most parents this is nowhere near as comfortable as the standard double cross or double hammock variations… BUT on just a handful of occasions I have met a parent with terrible neck pain or shoulder issues that mean any pressure at all on their shoulders is unbearable.  And on these very rare occasions a torso carry was the answer.

Additionally, without any fabric on the shoulders, the Torso carry is a lot cooler for the parent than other positions so great for those absolutely boiling days (or great if you’ve got absolutely terrible sunburn across your shoulders and/or back).  This is a position that can work well for newborns and older babies alike.  It works particularly well for babies who don’t like any fabric anywhere near their face!

 

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#9 Twin Carry – last but not at all least the Caboo can actually be used as a tandem carrier to carry newborn twins!  This carry works best for twins under about 8 weeks (give or take depending on their size), and gives them a lovely snuggly carry which helps ease their transition from the womb by providing closeness not only with their parent but also with their twin – with whom they are used to spending the last 9 months closely nestled to!

Babies are positioned similarly to how they are in carry #1 but instead of sitting astride the cross, each baby straddles one of the two straps only and then the final layer acts to close the gaps and provide overall support and stability to the carry.  You can also use the Caboo upside down to carry twins too, and some parents find this easier to tighten.

 

All in all the Caboo, like many baby carriers on the market, offers a huge range of flexibility and the possibilities go much farther than a manual ever does.  I hope this helps inspire you to have a play with your carrier and try new carrying positions and find the things that work for you.  Whether you have a Caboo or another carrier entirely, this is something a Sling Consultant can help you with – help you assess your needs and see if your carrier can meet them.  See if there is a way to use that carrier differently to get more out of it.

-Madeleine

 

Fornessi “Carry Me” stretchy wrap Review

I have been so excited to try the “Carry Me” stretchy wrap by Fornessi because its made from 100% modal.  While I have tried a great number stretchy wraps made from cotton, bamboo viscose and even one made from Tencel, I’d never even heard of Modal until a couple of weeks ago.  So I was really intrigued to learn more about it and what its like as a stretchy wrap.

IMG_20170930_132719_607It arrived in probably the most beautiful packaging I’ve ever opened, and inside was this absolutely gorgeous pink wrap.  I am not normally a pink fan but I will make an exception here – their “Piglet Pink” is absolutely beautiful and Rachel and I have had so many positive comments while wearing it out and about.  In fact in the 3 weeks its been here several clients have picked it out and asked to hire it…!  Its been a real shame to have to say, I am really sorry that one isn’t mine to hire out.  They come in a range of ultra-chic up to the minute shades, all of which are quite different to the normal blacks, greys, and dark blues that stretchy wraps most commonly come in.

Looks aside what does is it feel like?  It is very thin and very light.  It feels super soft and smooth but pretty strong considering how thin it is.  It feels cool to the touch.  That sounds a bit weird but think like a swimming costume or gymnastics leotard … cool to touch and won’t make you over warm while walking, getting on with jobs etc.  I have to say I really like this as I am very prone to over heating, especially while wearing my daughter.

IMG_20171019_110400_802How easy is it to wrap with? Like most stretchy wraps its pretty easy once you’ve got the hang of it and done it a few times. Ease of wrapping with a stretchy wrap all comes down to the stretch.  In general wraps that stretch in 2 directions (both vertically and horizontally) are much easier to get the hang of than wraps that only stretch in 1 direction (vertically only).  The Fornessi is a 2 way stretchy, however, it stretches more vertically than it does horizontally… so more like a 1.5 way!  Consequently, its a little stiffer than brands with true (equal) 2 way stretch such as the Hana Baby, Boba or JPMBB.  This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself but it also has very little “ping” back. A true 2 way stretchy wrap can be stretched outwards to give more space as your putting baby in and then “pings” back around baby and giving a characteristic bounce as your walk.  The Fornessi doesn’t have much elasticity, which means it is more supportive as baby grows but means the window between too tight and not tight enough is a little smaller.  And I mean only a little smaller … its still very easy to use and still a much much wider window than 1 way stretch brands (such as the Moby, Liberty, ByKay etc), and thus much much easier to use than these.  Plus the lack of ‘bounce’ compared to others is certainly something I appreciate while walking with my 9kg 10 month old! In fact considering how thin it is, I was pretty surprised by just how supportive this wrap is.  Deceptively strong!  While I would say stretchy wraps are best from birth to around 4-6 months, the Fornessi is certainly strong enough to continue used to around a year if you have a baby like Rachel who likes to take her daytime naps snuggled in!

IMG_20170930_220035_365The real selling point of this wrap, compared to others on the market is the fabric its made of.  Modal is a semi-synthetic fibre made by spinning cellulose extracted from beech trees into a fibre.  The resulting fibre is a type of rayon/viscose – an artificial silk like fibre.  Its a good choice for a stretchy wrap because like silk it is soft, thin, strong, has natural elasticity and heat regulating properties.  But better still it has serious ecological credentials… beech trees can be grown sustainably and the solvents used to extract the cellulose are used over and over and over in a closed loop system which means very little wastage and no disposal of potentially harmful solvents.  Which means this fabric has a much smaller ecological foot print compared to cotton or bamboo viscose.  Interestingly, Tencel is also produced from wood pulp via the same process, resulting in a very similar fibre that shares the same advantages.

So its not at all surprising that the wrap I’d say the Fornessi Carry Me is most similar to is one made from Tencel – the Lillebaby Tie the Knot.  When compared to cotton wraps, both are very light and thin (two of the lightest and thinnest wraps currently on the market), and very strong.  Both have this “1.5” directional stretch, but the Fornessi is more stretchy than the Lillebaby and consequently a good bit easier to tie.  And while both are soft, the Modal fabric of the Fornessi is not as slippery as the Tencel of the Lillebaby and thus is much easier to physically handle.

The one thing I don’t like about the Fornessi wrap is its width.  It is too narrow.  At 50 cm its one of the narrowest stretchy wraps I’ve ever encountered.  Added to this it rolls up at the edges which makes its functional width even narrower – you lose a cm or two at either side giving a functional width of only 46/47cm.  The advantage of a narrower wrap is there is less fabric to deal with when tying, which can make tying a little easier. But the disadvantage is there is less to spread out over baby and across the parents shoulders and backs.  I found while wearing the Fornessi, I kept unconsciously picking at the material in an absent minded attempt to spread the material out further.  Having tried wraps ranging in width from 50 to 70 cm, I find a functional width of 55-60cm to give the best of both worlds in this regard.

All in all the Fornessi Carry Wrap is a lovely thin, soft wrap that works brilliantly from newborn to 6 months and maybe even a year.  Its an great choice for anyone expecting a summer baby, anyone looking for a stretchy that may last a little longer and for the environmentally conscious.  Cost is at the higher end of the stretchy wrap market at £59, but this does include free next day delivery.  For more on how this wrap compares with other stretchy wraps see my full comparison article.

-Madeleine

Winter Babywearing! … the hows and whats of figuring out how to leave the house in the cold and the rain!

Autumn has definitely hit… so its not at all surprising that parents are starting to ask me about how to combine using their carrier with going out in increasingly cold and wet conditions!

When choosing how to dress baby the first thing to consider is that most carriers counts as 1 layer for your baby.  As a general rule the NHS and the NCT all recommend your baby wears one more layer than you – so its nice and easy to remember that when using a sling or carrier the extra layer is provided by the baby carrier itself.  I say ‘most’ carriers… if you have a particularly thick or warm carrier or are using a thick infant insert (such as the infant insert for an Ergo 360, Ergo Original or a Tula etc) then this maybe more like 2 layers.

IMG_20170910_191725_171The second thing to consider is where baby goes relative to your layers – under your coat or over your coat??  In general, unless you have a confidently walking toddler who will be alternating a lot between walking and being carried, it is better to have baby close to your skin and then put layers around you both.  By having baby close to your skin, you’ll intuitively know if the baby is too warm or too cold because you’ll feel it, and your body will subconsciously respond to raise or lower your skin temperature accordingly as well as consciously signalling you to adjust your own layers.  Amazing, huh?!!  Additionally, by having layers around you both, when you do come in out of the cold it is really very easy to remove layers from baby without waking them up.  Finally, by having baby close to your skin you are both able to more efficiently heat share, so efficiently in fact that you’ll most likely both need 1 less layer just from each others body heat!  I love babywearing in winter because its like walking around with your own personal hot water bottle tucked into your coat!

When putting layers around you and baby start with both you and baby in indoor clothing only.  They don’t need a big snowsuit or bulky jumpers and these will again make it harder for you to intuitively gauge their temperature and efficiently heat share with them.  Plus its harder to get a great position and fit in a sling while wearing bulky clothing.

IMG_20171003_104159_822Then protect their extremities – any parts not covered by the sling.  Think hat for their head and socks/tights/booties to keep feet and lower legs warm.  Slings can often cause trousers and leggings to ride up so its often worth thinking about tights under trousers, leg warmers or long socks to compensate. My personal favourites are MooMo Baby Leg warmers which we sell here at Sheen Sling (just ask what we have in stock!) and JoJo Maman Bebe’s slipper socks simply because they stay up and stay on the feet while keeping them warm (and because I am a sucker for a rainbow!).  For the crafty among you – my mother in law also made us some amazing knee high sling socks using this pattern.  She also adapted it to include a drawstring to help keep them on after we lost the first pair she made!

Next add layers around both you and baby.  There are so many options for this! Ranging from free, low cost all the way to specialist coats.  Here are some ideas to add warmth;

  • Raid your wardrobe – knit cardigans, larger coats, maternity coats can all work well.  Raid your partners wardrobe too!
  • A sling cover – waterproof and with ties designed to easily attach to a carrier or sling, these are an easy way of keep baby warm while working with your existing coats etc.  There are a number of brands but we really love the Bundlebean which folds up small and costs ~£30.
  • A coat extender – simply works with your existing coat to add a panel for baby.   We have a ZipUsIn and I love the joy on peoples faces when they test it out and find this simple low cost thing fits with their current coat!  They cost ~£30 and there’s a handy guide on their website to ensure you buy the right one for your coat.  Even better these are also available in Boots so if your anything like me and have boots points you’ve forgotten about it might be an even cheaper option!  Alternatively, if you are feeling crafty you can knit your own coat extender using this pattern.  Or even simply tuck a blanket around the baby carrier and then pop your coat on as normal leaving it open.  Not as waterproof but certainly cheap and cheerful!
  • The most elegant but of course most expensive solution is to purchase a specialist babywearing coat.  When my march born son came along I decided against this, as I felt it was a vast expense for something that I wouldn’t use much.  I mean he was a summer baby and I’d only carry him for a few months right?  Hmmmmmm… turned out I was so wrong, I carried him regularly for 3 years and went through 3 winters.  In particular, I really struggled keeping him and I warm while carrying on my back and I hated carrying over coats as it was so bulky and uncomfortable and I always worried he was cold.  Just before Rachel was born my normal coat was in dire need of replacing and so I caved and bought myself once of these wonderful coats as I now knew that I would get the use from it.  The other reason they appealed is that most also can be used as normal coats too, so hopefully can still be used for many years to come.  These coats come in a wide range of styles to suit all tastes and bodyshapes.  Brands I would recommend include Mamalila, Wombat&Co (review here), Angelwings, Lenny Lamb, and Lileputi.  These are all brands that either myself or a close friend have used, loved and offer good quality and flexible use.  There are also a number of cheaper more budget brands such as the Verbaudet coat or the Bonprix maternity coat but be aware that these coats don’t offer back carrying functionality, so while cheaper than those listed above won’t last as long and may prove to be a false economy in the end.

While not all of these ideas are waterproof, those that aren’t can always be used in combination with an umbrella.  In fact, given the unpredictability of the British weather, I highly recommend always having a small compact umbrella in your change bag just in case.

-Madeleine

Furry Snuggles Guaranteed – the Wombat&Co Wallaby v2 Babywearing Coat Review

20170920_142458First sign of Autumn always brings a flurry of questions about keeping warm while babywearing and so I was so excited when Wombat&co kindly offered to let me try out the new version of their Wallaby coat.  Even more excited when the box arrived on my birthday!

The first thing that stood out as I unpacked the coat – was just how soft the faux fur lining is.  It is lush.  Over the two weeks I had the coat, literally everyone I encountered ended up stroking it and commenting on just how soft and luxurious it is.  Really snuggly to have around you and baby.  And the outer doesn’t disappoint either.  Waterproof, sleek and everything you’d expect of a good quality well made coat.

IMG_20170923_230640_378The second thing that stood out, was just how warm it is.  This coat is WARM!  Super snuggly and extra warm.  In all honesty, it is too warm for London in September.  I did get out a few times with it but particularly while wearing my daughter I was roasting.  However, this isn’t a criticism at all because it is still pretty darn mild in London this year… so I took the Wallaby up to Derby with us for the weekend.  Here, several degrees cooler… the Wallaby was perfect – kept me nice a cosy while standing around waiting for fireworks on a brisk hillside!  So I’d say this coat is a great choice for the coldest months, or for late Autumn to early Spring if you live somewhere a bit cooler than London and its weird micro-climate that makes it 2-3’C hotter than anywhere else in the UK.  In fact I found myself wishing I’d had this coat back when I lived in New York and winter meant walking to work in temperatures of around -10’C!

I love that this coat presents the wearer with plenty of options – the Wallaby can be worn as a normal coat (with the panel zipped out) or as a maternity or babywearing coat with the panel inserted. The panel can be inserted in either the front the back thus accommodating both front and back carries.

20170920_173940Being able to use as a normal coat is a huge draw for me as it means it will still be useful when I am no longer carrying my children and, more immediately, that I don’t need to swap coats on a day out if I set out wearing our our daughter but my husband carries her home.  Nor do I need a separate coat for the rare baby free evening.

And when wearing the Wallaby as a normal coat, you’d have no idea it was designed with babywearing it mind.  It looks clean, simple and sleek and is well designed to keep you warm and dry.  From the soft ribbing at the sleeves, to the deep fur lined hood and huge amazingly soft snuggly fur collar.  Both the hood and the collar attach via poppers so you can wear one, both or neither depending on your own personal taste and how warm or dry you need to be.  Additionally, the coat can be cinched in at the waist to give a more fitted look if desired.  I love how these features all mean that you can personalise this coat to fit in with your own style and preferences.

For the other 3 modes, you add the panel into the mix.  Its great that the same panel can be used for maternity and babywearing – you simply alter the panel to the right shape using the drawstring toggles at the top or bottom.  The advantage of having just one panel that can accommodate either a bump or a baby means that you don’t risk losing the babywearing panel while using the coat as a maternity coat and visa versa you don’t risk losing the maternity panel before your next pregnancy while wearing your current baby.  The disadvantage, however, is that you only have 1 panel.

So if you do get pregnant again and want to still use this coat while back carrying this coat – as it comes – can’t accommodate both without a second panel.  Likewise tandem carries (for twins or siblings) require a second panel.  While not on their website, Wombat&Co state that additional panels can be purchased from them by emailing them directly and these cost £20.

 

20170921_162511While front carrying my daughter, I liked how high the panel reached on her and I liked that you can close the neck of the coat with poppers if you’d like to, or even employ the huge faux fur collar to keep extra warm.  Although as it was September and still fairly mild I mainly just work the neck completely open.  But I could see how this coat would really keep us both warm and the wind and rain out in the cooler and wetter months to come.  One thing I didn’t like as much was that this coat doesn’t come with a hood for baby.  There’s a lovely big hood for the adult, but nothing for the baby.  While the panel does reach up very high, Rachel’s head still got a little wet on the one day we went out in rain.  And I seriously regretted not thinking to pack a hat for her.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the pockets.  They are probably big enough but the main problem for me was that they fasten with a single popper.  This popper sits right over where Rachel’s feet were so I simply couldn’t do up the pockets without pressing down hard on her feet.  Without being able to do the pockets up I felt like my phone or wallet might fall out if I sat down (or be susceptible to pickpockets).  For me I’d either prefer deeper pockets so that my phone felt less likely to fall our or better still pockets of the same size but fasten with a zipper.

For back carries, I found this coat the easiest to get on and off of any I have ever tried.  They key to this is that you can undo the collar at the back of the coat … giving a very wide opening that allows you to put the coat on almost as normal without trapping babies head.  With other babywearing coats I have always found it pretty tricky to line up the head hole and the child without getting into a bit of a mess!  The Wallaby is so much easier!  And as the collar can be easily closed with poppers once the coat is on, you don’t get a cold back either.  Win.

 

20170923_115040Finally a word on the all important sizing.  I am a size 16.  Well my top half is probably a 14-16 but I usually err on the side of size 16 for coats in case I need to wear layers underneath.  They sent me a size 12 – it was a bit snug on me but by no means too snug.  I think their size 14 would be perfect for me. Based on this I would say their sizes run slightly on the bigger side.  Thus, if like me you are a bit between sizes err on the side of the smaller one.  Also if like me you allow a size up for wearing jumpers under coats…. this coat is soooooooooooo warm you’ll never need to wear a jumper under it, unless you are going to the Arctic Circle or somewhere similar, so you can feel free to size down!  Sadly though, Wombat&Co don’t currently offer these coats in a huge range of sizes – at the moment just UK size 6 through to 14.  I am told they do also offer a size 16 but this is currently sold out.  As someone who is a size 14-16, I find having to buy the biggest size available a bit disheartening, and considering that the average UK dress size is a 16 – there will be many who are simply not catered for in the current sizes offered.  I really hope this is something that Wombat&Co will look into further and offer a more realistic range of sizes in the future.

 

All in all the Wallaby is a really lovely, toasty warm coat that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone.  Currently priced at £156.90, it isn’t exactly cheap… but as this coat is well made and very flexible in its use, it should last you years and so I am sure would be worth the investment.  And men needn’t feel left out either – Wombat&Co also make a babywearing coat for men – the Bandicoot.

 

-Madeleine