Top 3 reasons why your baby carrier might be causing back pain

When it comes to baby carriers – fit is everything. How well your carrier fit you personally and how well it is fitted each time you use it. Parents often come to me with a carrier they’ve bought and is causing them pain and assume I will tell them they need to buy something new. But often they really don’t need to. A few tweaks to how it is fitted and how they are using it can be a total game changer. Suddenly that carrier they hated is now is now super comfy and their back feels supported and comfortable.

So here are my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain, and HOW to fix them! Watch the video of my instragram live showing all 3 or scroll down if you prefer to read!

#1 – The waistband isn’t high enough.

Getting the waist band right is the absolute foundation of any carry. Often the reason parents are struggling is simply that the waistband is positioned too low, or that it is not tight enough and the result is baby’s weight is causing the waist band to tip which consequently causes your pelvis to tip and your back to arch. The fix is to simply raise the waist band up and tighten it up!

You can see more about waist band positioning here:

Or read my full blog on this here.

#2 – The shoulder straps are too loose

This can be counter intituive because usually if something is rubbing or hurting we often think it must be too tight, so our instincts are to loosen up. But actually when it comes to baby carriers it is the reverse; when they are too loose baby pulls away from you and this downward drag causes that rubbing or pain or heaviness on your shoulders. The trick to it feeling lighter is to tighten those straps up until there is no slack. Or until it is tight enough that if you lean foward, baby doesn’t draw away from you.

Often parents are worried to tighten up because they fear squashing the baby, but actually babies enjoy that closeness. They enjoy the security that comes with have the straps snug because it feels more secure and more cozy for them.

#3 – How you tighten the shoulder straps

This is often the biggest culprit behind discomfort in carriers – HOW you tighten the straps. The fact is, that for most carriers this is not obvious. Just simply yanking on the strap to tighten it often doesn’t work. The combination of baby’s weight pulling downward int he sling and the friction across your back will prevent the strap from tightening effectively.

Instead it is key to

  1. Support baby’s weight as you tighten, so that you aren’t fighting gravity
  2. Move any looseness around you back, wiggling your shoulder as you go before you try to tighten the strap.
  3. Once the looseness is directly by the buckle, then and only then, tighten it!

You can see this in action fro a carrier with ruck sack straps here;

and for a carrier with Cross straps here;

So there you have it, my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain. Let me know if any of this helps. Or if you’d like me to fit check your carrier and suggest potential tweaks specific for you personally please do get in touch to book an online consultation (or in person if you are local to me). Or check out your local sling library.

-Madeleine

Carriers shown in this article are the Ergobaby Omni Breeze, Ergobaby Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini.

Christmas Gift Guide – Babywearing Edition

Wondering what to get the new parent in your life for Christmas? Well wonder no further – here are my top pick present ideas for expectant parents, new parents and seasoned babywearing officiandos alike!

  1. Gift Voucher – give the gift of learning a new skill with a voucher for a consultation. Or choose a money amount that they can use toward a consultation or a carrier as they prefer.
  2. Wrap a Hug Babywearing Socks – keep little toes warm with these nifty one size fits all socks
  3. MooMo Baby Legwarmersor choose legwarmers for mobile babies allowing them to go from sling to cruising seamlessly. Legwarmers make a perfect gift for a toilet training training toddlers too, keeping legs warm and fashionable while the bottom is bare for early potty training days!
  4. Bundlebean Babywearing cover help keep them snug and dry while wearing with these fleece lined covers that fit parents and babies of all shapes and sizes and work with all the different styles of slings and carriers too!
  5. Fiddlebeads – practical and pretty, these make such a lovely gift for any babywearing parent
  6. Hat Clips – tired of losing hats? Save winter hats from being thrown off and lost with our little clips that let you secure the hat to the carrier.
  7. Suck Pads – give yourself the fit of washing your carrier less with our strap protecting suck pads

Happy shopping!

-Madeleine

Tula Lite Review

Designed as an ultra-light compact travel carrier, the Tula Lite isn’t really designed to compete with Tula’s other carrier offerings but instead complement them. Offering Tula lovers a light-weight option perfect for hot days and travelling specifically. It’s ultra slimmed down design doesn’t offer the same level of support, flexibility of use and fit of the Tula Explore and Tula Free-to-Grow… but what it does do is fit into a tiny self contained bag, weighs almost nothing and has a frankly enormous pocket. All of which makes it perfect for travel and summer days out.

You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review or read on below for my key facts and considerations on this carrier:

What is the Tula Lite made from? How does it feel?

Made from a 100% Nylon outer patterned fabric combined with a 100% polyester mesh lining fabric, the Tula lite does indeed feel very very light. It is not the world’s softest carrier and it does feel a bit snythetic but none of it feels overly harsh. Against bare shoulders it didn’t chaffe and nor did it make me overly sweaty. Making it a great option for really hot days.

What ages and stages is it suitable for?

It is weight tested from 5.4kg (12lb) to 13.6kg (30lb) and I would say realistically it would work from roughly 3-4 months through to around 18 months. Maybe a little more or a little less depending on whether your baby is tracking the lower or higher percentiles respectively. Neither the width nor the height of this carrier adjust, which is why compared to other more adjustable carriers (such as the Tula Explore or the Tula Free-to-Grow) it doesn’t fit as early or last as long! I believe this was a conscious choice by Tula to keep this carrier really compact, lightweight and simple – as obviously adjustment systems would add bulk and weight. So this is a carrier that will work from when baby can sit in the panel without being over-extended. As the panel is very soft and squishy this can be as early as 3 months for babies with longer legs, and more like 4 or 5 months for smaller little ones. It will then continue fitting until the point where babies legs are much longer and the panel can no longer support to at least mid thigh – typically around 18 months. Because it is designed for babies who are 4 months plus, this carrier doesn’t feature any head or neck support as at this point most babies can support their own head. There is a removable hood, however, that can be helpful as a headrest if baby falls asleep in the carrier.

What carrying positions does it offer?

The Tula Lite offers 2 carrying positions – front facing inwards, and a back carry. Both work very well and with just 2 buckles total to do up and 1 point of tightening for each side this is definitely a very simple and intuitive carrier to use. When carrying on the front the straps pull forwards, which is a very easy motion to do. When wearing on the back they pull backwards, which I did find a bit of a challenge but again not too hard once I got used to the angle and direction of pull.

What it doesn’t offer is a hip carry or the front facing outward position.

How does it fit for the adult?

To keep this carrier compact, it features almost no padding. The waistband is wide, curved and only very lightly padded. It is, however, surprisingly supportive because it is really flexible and moulds around your body to get a really good fit. The padded section isn’t overly long which means it will tighten to fit a petite waist. The webbing, however, is very very long which means the waistband can comfortably and easily accommodate plus-sized parents too. A convenient elastic loop at the end of the webbing allows you to tidy the excess away and avoid having long dangly bits.

Where fit becomes more complicated however, is when we look at the shoulder straps. The straps are completely unpadded and relatively narrow. They feature a long section of mesh and nylon strap before moving into adjustable webbing. This section is so long that many very petite parents will find that they simply can’t get the straps tight enough. You can see in the video and pictures above that I have the straps almost at their tightest, and I am not by any means petite. At 170cm (5ft 7) and a UK size 12 or 14 there are many parents both male and female who are smaller than me and would need to get the straps significantly tighter. There is, however, absolutely oodles of webbing… so if you are a plus sized parent you can rest assured there is plenty of space.

Being unpadded, this carrier does mould nicely to fit over different shaped backs. And the narrow shoulder straps work well with narrow shoulders, and sloping shoulders. But the lack of padding can mean it can get a bit diggy on some parents depending on individual fit. As such this wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for a full time carrier, but for travel and summer I would happily sacrifice a litle bit of comfort for being cooler and less encumbered.

It is worth noting that the straps only do up in the rucksack or H configuration. It is not possible to cross the straps across the wearer’s back.  If you are someone who finds cross straps more comfortable, or someone who finds doing the strap up at the back hard with rucksack style straps then likely you’ll struggle with this carrier.  And would be better off with another lightweight carrier instead.   

What is special about this carrier?

The real unique selling point of this carrier is the frankly enormous pocket at the front.  The carrier features two zipped compartments.  One hidden inside the waistband which allows you to store the whole carrier neatly inside, allowing you to easily wear the carrier as a hip bag or over the shoulder bag when not in use.  And a second separate compartment accessed via a zip on the outside, at the front.  While the carrier is stored it does take up most of the space inside this pocket but there is still easily space for phone and keys and maybe a small purse or certainly a bank card and a bit of cash. 

However, when the carrier is in use/ or at least not folded away – this pocket is really capacious.  Loads of space for snacks or for a nappy and change of clothes for baby.  You probably won’t get a change mat in there but you will get a good few things in there, certainly anything you need on hand immediately while travelling.  

How does the Tula Lite compare with other options on the market?

The two closest competitors to the Tula Lite are the Boba Air and the KahuBaby Sunshine carrier.  

The Boba Air is really very very similar to the Tula, made from a very similar nylon material, it too offers rucksack straps only and the same 2 carrying positions.  The shoulder straps are more adjustable and tend to fit petite parents better than the Tula Lite.  The Boba Air also folds up even smaller and easily fits into a bag but doesn’t have the big front pocket space nor is designed to be worn empty as a hip bag.  

The KahuBaby Sunshine offers a lot more flexibility than either the Tula Lite or the Boba Air.  It offers 4 carrying positions, including both a hip carry and a forwards facing position.  It offers the parent the choice of either rucksack or crossed straps and the width of the panel is adjustable meaning this carrier works for both younger and older babies too.  Generally working well from around 8 weeks through to 2 years of age.  Additionally, the sunshine material is just as thin and breathable as the material used for the Tula Lite and the Boba X but feels a lot softer and a lot less “syntheticky” to the touch.  Plus it is UPF50+ rated which means it blocks 99% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, making it truly an exceptional summer and lightweight travel carrier.  My full review of the KahuBaby can be found here.

Another carrier to consider is the Mini Monkey Mini Sling.  This is actually quite a different style carrier to the Tula Lite, Boba Air and KahuBaby Sunshine, but as a pure lightweight travel carrier it is hard to beat.  It is honestly one of the smallest, lightest, most compact carriers going.  And at just £37.50 it has one of the tiniest price tags too.  You can read my full review of this carrier here.

Price tag and is it worth it?

At £79.90 the Tula Lite is significantly cheaper than other Tula carriers, but considering that this isn’t really designed as a full time, year round birth to toddler carrier like their other offerings it’s not necessarily as good a deal as it might seem.  It is significantly more expensive than the Boba Air which costs just £54.50 and only a little cheaper than the KahuBaby Sunshine which costs £95 and offers a whole lot more flexibility, comfort and longevity and actually is designed to be a year round birth to toddler carrier.

So is it worth it?  Well that depends entirely on how much you are going to use it and how much you need a lightweight travel carrier.  If you live somewhere very warm, or travel A LOT (several times a year) then it may well be worth it.  Although honestly, my vote would still be with either the Kahu Baby Sunshine for the additional flexibility or the Boba Air for the fact it is really very very similar but £25 cheaper.  If, however, you live in the UK and only go away once or twice a year it really might make better sense not to buy any of these but to hire one instead.  For £10 for 2 weeks or £20 for 1 month you can hire one of these, or better still a Kahu Sunshine for the whole time you’d be away and save the environment and your bank balance the stress of actually buying something you only need for a short period of time. 

-Madeleine

How to tidy up the long flappy straps on your baby carrier

Wondering how to tidy up the long dangley straps on your baby carrier? Wishing those straps were shorter?

  1. Find that little elastic loop right at the end of the webbing
  2. Wind the strap up – folding from the end up to the length you would like the strap to be
  3. Use the elastic to fasten

Viola!

Wondering how to tidy up the long dangley straps on your baby carrier?

Find that little elastic loop at the end, wind up the strap and use the elastic to fasten

Viola

Shown with an Ergobaby Embrace but this trick works for virtually all buckle carriers – including all Ergobaby, Tula, Manduca, Beco, KahuBaby carriers and many many more. To check if your carrier can be tidied in this way simply check for the loop of elastic at the end of the strap.

-Madeleine

How to secure your woven wrap – knots and other finishes.

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;

  1. Secure Double Knot
  2. Slip Knot
  3. Ring Finish
  4. Knotless Finish

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.

Knotless Finish

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!

Happy experimenting

-Madeleine

wood bridge cute sitting

Three things I want you to feel when you access one of my services

When book a consultation with me – whether online or in person, whether in my home or yours or both via the magic of Zoom, there are 3 things that I want you to feel. I want you to feel them during your consultation, before it and afterwards. In fact these 3 things are the same things I want anyone accessing any of my services to feel – whether coming to a Sling Clinic, organising a contact free hire or just reaching out for help not sure what form of help they might need. Whatever help you need, when you are accessing any of my services I want you to feel:

1. Safe

I want you to feel safe. Learning to use a baby carrier is a skill and like learning any new skill making mistakes is a very important part of the learning process. But making mistakes in front of someone you’ve only just met is quite hard and can leave you feeling vulnerable, nervous or worried. Which is why I will do everything in my power to make you feel safe – to ensure the learning environment (whether at my home or yours, or at the children’s centre or online via Zoom) is as safe and as conducive to learning as possible. So you feel able to make all the mistakes you need to to acquire the skills you need to be confident and comfortable wearing your baby.

2. Empowered

Knowledge is power. I want to help you find the right option for you, help you make the right choices for you by giving you the knowledge and information and skills to do so.

So often parents ask me to “tell them which one is best”, but everyone is different and you know your body and your baby far far better than I do. I know baby carriers, I have an absolutely huge level of product knowledge and so I can work with you to help you find the right thing for you. I can quickly narrow down the field by listening to your needs, watching you as you try carriers on, watching and noticing what movements are easy for you and which ones are challenging, noticing what fits well and what doesn’t and knowing why it does or doesn’t fit well and thus what else might fit better. And in this way I can quickly hone in exactly what are the best options for you, but I can’t simply tell you. I need to do one better, I need to give you the knowledge so you can be empowered to decide what works for you best and feel confident and comfortable with that decision.

3. Accepted

I want you to feel accepted. For who you are, and wherever you are on your parenthood journey. Whether you are in your PJs because dressing today just didn’t happen, whether you are tear soaked, vom-soaked, whether your hair is unbrushed. Whether you are breast, chest or bottle feeding your baby. Whatever your gender, sexuality, race, whatever the shape or size of your family. Whether you or your child have additional needs that need me to adapt my service to meet those needs. Whether this is your 1st child or your 7th or any number. Whatever any of your parenting choices. Even if your baby screams all the way through the whole consultation. If you’d like to learn more about carrying your child or a child in your care, I want to help. There is zero judgement here, you are welcome, exactly as you are. I will meet you, welcome you exactly as you are. Even if that really is covered in sick and in PJs.

The big question, however, is how do you want to feel when you access my services? And if you have been, how did you feel? Please do leave comments below!

-Madeleine

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.

If you don’t yet have a stretchy wrap, my top 3 recommended brands can be found in our webshop and I offer a free 20 minute online fit appointment with any carrier purchase!

If you already have a wrap find these tutorials helpful, please do consider supporting this website using the “buy me a cuppa” button on the left.  And if your struggling with any of it, please do reach out and get in contact!

#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

Carrier shown here is the Izmi Baby carrier and is available here.

 

Why I don’t think you should buy a baby to toddler 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, it’s a hugely popular option both in the library and the webshop.  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, and look at how you do each one step by step:

If you find these tutorials helpful, please do consider supporting this website using the “buy me a cuppa” button on the left.  And if your struggling with any of it, please do reach out and get in contact!

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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

PS if your interested in purchasing one, Caboo Lite cost £55 and can be purchased from Sheen Slings webshop here, (and a free 20 minute online video fitting appointment is included with your purchase).  We also hire them out ensuring you can try it before you buy, or even hire for the whole 4th trimester period saving you the expense of purchasing your own.

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