Ever had it where you tied your stretchy, put your baby in, started walking and realised baby is slowly migrating down your chest, sinking lower and lower? Let’s be honest it’s happened to all of us! And you know that its a sign that you’ve tied the wrap too loosely and that next time you should tie it tighter BUT that doesn’t help you right now!! Because really taking the whole wrap off, putting baby down and re-tying would be a massive faff!
Here is how to tighten your wrap without taking baby out:
You’ll notice the key thing is to support baby’s weight while guiding the fabric under baby’s leg. Simply pulling on the straps won’t work, because the combination of baby’s weight pulling against the elastic material and the friction at baby’s legs will stop the fabric from being tightened… hence why you need actively lift baby and guide the fabric under their legs.
It is a faff! Although less of a faff than taking the whole wrap off and on again!! And of course the long term solution is to learn to get the tightness right at the start (you can see tips on how to do this is carry #1 here), but for those days when it has got loose… it is really useful to know how to fix it!
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?
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.
The Embrace is the newest carrier from Ergo Baby. Unlike their other carriers that work best from 2 or 3 months ish right through to 2.5 years… this carrier is designed to really fit that newborn and younger baby stage. It works really well right from birth and will last you till around 1 year ish give or take.
One of the reasons this carrier works so well for newborns is it’s made from very soft, slightly stretchy jersey material. The whole carrier is very lightweight and is designed to mold around both your and babies body… like a stretchy wrap or Caboo but with buckles. Because it is so lightweight it folds down into a really compact bundle, perfect for popping into a changing bag or under the pram.
The other reason it works so well right from the beginning is that this carrier has 2 height and width settings. This comes from simply rolling the waist band 2 turns towards you (as shown in the video below), which both shortens the carrier height and brings you to a narrower part of the panel. The adjustment isn’t smooth, just these 2 smaller or bigger settings but because the material is so soft this smaller setting does work really well on almost all newborns. Ergo recommend the Embrace can be used from 7lb (3.2kg) and I have certainly got a great fit on several babies who were just a few weeks old even as low as just shy of 6 lb (2.7 kg). Then as baby grows the waistband can be unrolled to the larger setting, typically around 2 months ish.
The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions. On the front facing inwards toward the parent, on the front facing outward toward the world and on the hip. Interestingly Ergo haven’t included the hip position in their manual, but it is actually a position this carrier does really well! The front facing inwards position can be used right from birth, and is really snuggly, a good position for a sleepy baby and comfortable enough for a long nap! The Hip position can be used from when baby has some head and neck control but it needn’t be as reliable as needed for the outwards position, this can be a really great position once baby goes through that big developmental leap around 4 months and transitions from being a baby who is quite sleepy interspersed with periods of ‘quiet alert’ to a full blown ‘nosy’ baby who wants to see anything and tries to resist sleep where possible!! Because it is a position that allows them to see more while still supporting them in a position where they can tuck in a sleep and support their neck as they start to tire! The front facing outwards position can be used once baby has really strong head and neck control. Which is typically anywhere between 4 and 5 months depending on the baby – you can read more about how to tell if your baby is ready for this position here.
While I think the hip and the front facing inward positions are really great, I can’t help feeling the facing out position on this carrier is more of a gimmick/marketing trick than anything else. It does work pretty well with a plastic doll, but I have my reservations about how well it works on live wiggly babies. The reason for my reservations is that facing away is a position that puts more strain on the parents back than any other position because babies centre of gravity is pulling away rather than toward parent… this is true of any carrier but this is likely to be exacerbated in the Embrace because its made from stretchy material… so as baby wiggles and bounces and strains to one side etc this additional strain is going to be magnified by the fact the material will stretch with baby. Personally, I wouldn’t buy this carrier to forward face. I would buy this carrier if I wanted an buckle option for a new newborn. Then as my baby grew I might use the forward facing position to see if baby liked being carried like that, then if they did I could buy a bigger carrier (something like the Ergo Omni or other such forward facing buckle carrier) that would offer me support, and if they didn’t when I came to upgrade to another carrier I could instead look at the huge range of amazing carriers that don’t offer forward facing safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t really use it anyway.
You can see these positions in action here:
The position this carrier doesn’t offer is the back carry. Sadly this carrier isn’t really designed to be used on the back as there isn’t a chest strap. Added to the fact that the weight limit is 11.3 kg (25 lb) and that the stretchy material won’t feel as supportive as the child gets heavier this carrier this is definitely a carrier that most parents will move on from within the first year. However, if you are looking for an buckle option to use right from the beginning this is a pretty good option.
So what are the cons? Firstly, the extra soft jersey material is prone to bobbling. I have two of these in the library and one has gone a little bobbly and slightly worn looking already after only 6 weeks worth of hires. Doesn’t affect use but might bother some people! The other thing worth considering is that because this carrier works best for newborns to the first 6 or so months, it doesn’t actually add a lot more longevity or functionality that a Caboo or a Stretchy wrap but is a bit more expensive than either of these options. At time of writing the Embrace costs £79.90 verses £40-45 for a good quality stretchy wrap or £55 for a Caboo Lite.
How does it compare to other carriers? The two carriers on the market that this is most similar to are the Izmi Baby Carrier and the Mamaruga Zen. The Izmi like the Embrace is really designed to support right from newborn, even the smallest babies. Like the Embrace it offers front inwards, front facing out, hip and it does offer back as well. In fact generally the Izmi will last a little longer than the Ergo Embrace as it offers a bit more flexibility. And with its infant seat pad it can be used earlier with smaller newborns even many babies born prematurely too. But it is made of a slightly sturdier cotton so some parents will prefer the softness of the Embrace and the slightly more padded waist band. The Zen Sling is made from a very similar ultra soft jersey as the Embrace, and has a very similar slightly padded waistband too, so is definitely one to consider if you are looking for a carrier like this. The Zen sling has the benefit that it works really well from a couple of weeks old all the way to 2 years of age! Offers front inwards, hip and back carries and has a brilliant system for adjusting the height and width of this carrier giving an absolutely perfect fit for the child as they grow. Unlike the Embrace however, the Zen doesn’t offer the forward facing position and while it does offer a more flexible fit this comes with more straps to adjust and some parents prefer to have less to adjust.
All in all, the Ergo Baby Embrace is a great option for newborns and little babies. It won’t last as long as many carriers on the market but what it does do well is that first bit. Very few buckle carriers truly do newborn well and so is a good option for those looking for a buckle carrier rather than stretchy wrap or Caboo for this first bit. Cost is £79.90 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings webshop here, or by arrangement at sling library meets, consults, workshops or doorstep collection.
Getting around with a newborn can be hard work. You spend months researching the best carry cot only to discover that your post-birth recovery means that using it is out of the question. Or maybe you live on the third floor and can’t get it up and down the stairs. Perhaps you’re just not confident enough at steering to risk your brand new little one rattling around inside. Whatever your reason, sometimes the carry cot isn’t your best option and that’s when carrying might come in to play.
There are so many options for baby carrying and so much confusing advice that knowing what to get can be a little overwhelming and that’s where sling libraries can be really helpful.
For the majority, sling libraries are run by enthusiastic individuals who have a passion for baby carrying and are keen to help and support parents in finding the best route for them and Sheen Sling Library is no exception.
We visited Madeleine at her home for a private one to one session when I was around 37 weeks pregnant. We knew that we both wanted to carry our little one, but we weren’t sure what the best option for us was going to be; we’d also been given a sling ring which we couldn’t quite get our head around so I sent over an email and off we went.
The first thing that Madeleine explained to us was that a lot of carriers claim to be for newborns, but most aren’t suitable for the first few weeks and if you want to get carrying right from the get go, you need to look at stretchy wraps, caboos and slings. She recommends coming back once your little one is three or four months old so that you can look at more rigid carriers and figure out what suits your lifestyle best. The idea is that by then, firstly your little one can hold their head up a bit and secondly, you’ll know how much you use your sling, which will help inform your choice of what to buy next.
The second thing we learned was that everyone is different and what suits one person might not suit another so you’re better off trying out lots of different ways of carrying to find what you’re most comfortable with. The joy of the sling library is that Madeleine has around 100 different carriers to try so there’s no shortage of ideas and she even offers short term loans so you can really get your head around what works.
Madeleine has a selection of ‘newborn’ dolls which weigh about the same as an actual baby so if you’re still pregnant you can at least get a feel for how the different carriers work – she recommends that for slings and wraps it’s fine to try them on while you’re still pregnant, but that it’s not worth trying on a rigid carrier until post birth as you need to find what fits your body best once you’ve lost the bump.
We brought along our sling ring to try out and agreed that, while it was a lovely idea, it didn’t really suit either of us so we quickly moved in to stretchy wraps and caboos. I have to admit that I thought we’d end up going with a caboo, especially as the stretchy wrap looked like some sort of origami torture, but we both fell in love with stretchy wraps on first try. There was something very special about the way the baby sat in the stretchy wrap and since neither of us struggled to get it on, we decided that would be the way forward. All credit to Madeleine who got us both to try several different textured wraps and made sure we were comfortable with tying it in before we left. My other half fell in love with a bright red Izmi wrap and we decided that since we’d only need it for the first three or four months, we might as well hire it from Madeleine rather than buying one that will sit in the drawer afterwards and never be used again. We were so grateful that hiring was an option and is well worth considering if you know you’ll only use it in the short term!
Our little one was born on 8th July and by 10th July his dad had already tied on the wrap and taken William to meet his aunty Jacky for lunch at the local pub; it was great for daddy and baby to have some skin to skin time so easily. It has been a lifesaver for us both – when my other half went back to work it gave me the freedom to get things done while he slept on me. When the baby has been inconsolable and I’ve not slept, his dad had been able to put him in the sling and get on with work while he and I both slept. In fact, I’m writing this post right now with William in the sling as I sit on the bench on Twickenham riverside. It’s safe to say we use our sling nearly every single day and I would definitely recommend looking into getting one.
It’s also been interesting for me as a number of the other mums & dads from my Bump & Baby course have since gone to the Sling Library and, while everyone is happy with their carriers, we’ve all formed different opinions and chosen different options. I can’t stress how valuable it is to try things on and see what suits you best.
After two months with our baby, we’re big carrying fans now and can’t wait to go back to try on some more rigid carriers so that we can decide what our next step in baby-carrying is going to look like. I will be sad to give up the sling, but I’m looking forward to having a quicker option for getting our baby strapped on and ready for adventures!