Cross Straps or Rucksack Straps? What is the difference?

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

What is the difference

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

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

Which one is better?

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

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

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

Which one is easier?

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

-Madeleine

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

Melliapis Simple Ring Sling Review

20200114_100837What I love about the Melliapis Simple Sling is the material it is made from.  Its a 100% cotton, super soft, lightweight muslin material.  Which results in a wonderfully soft, very light weight compact sling that is perfect against newborn skin.

But what is really magic about this material is that it is deceptively strong.  Made by weaving 2 layers of material together to give a subtle waffley texture, this material is a lot stronger than you’d think from first glance.  So while it is soft and light enough for the tiniest newborn, it is also more than capable of carrying older babies and even toddlers as well.

 

20190621_094126This is definitely one of my top choices for summer, as the material is so thin it really won’t make you or baby hot.  And not just summer, but wearing around the home or and out and about too.  Even in the winter this is a great option for travelling or generally for anyone who wants an option that packs down small enough to fit into the change bag and can be put on quickly when needed.

For me this is the unique selling point of this sling – just how lightweight it is.  The real beauty of ring slings is how quick they are to put on and how well they work as a “just in case” sling.  So it’s always irked me that so many ring slings on the market are made of quite heavy, hot material!  I’ve spent the last 5 years trying various ones that market themselves as “lightweight” – from other thin cotton ones that made from 2 seperate layers and are difficult to use as the 2 layers get into a mess while you try to tighten the sling, to linen ones that are often diggy and rough feeling, to silk ones that again feel difficult to tighten and many more besides – and invariably I have been left disappointed.  However, the Melliapis Ring Sling is totally different to these.  The double weave means the layers move together and not separately.  And the material is super soft and really malleable.  All of which means this ring sling tightens with the greatest of ease.  It is soft, light, cool AND easy to use!  Finally the holy grail of my ring sling search!!

You can see just how easy it is to use in my video review here;

 

20200131_104000Another thing I love about this Sling is that it comes with Eco-friendly packaging.  Not a plastic sleeve or plasticated cardboard box in sight!  And the Eco packaging is matched by a truly budget friendly price!  At just £40-£42 this is easily one of the cheapest slings I sell, and in terms of how long you can use it – right from newborn (even preemie) all the way through to toddler hood it definitely offers really good value for money.  While really powerful for hip carries, this sling like all ring slings can be used for front and back carries too and can be awesome for breastfeeding on the go, quick pops out and sleepy transfers!

 

20190309_181246Shoulder wise, the Melliapis Simple ring Sling features a simple gathered shoulder.  This means that the rings are sewn in by simply “gathering” the fabric width into the rings.  This allows the fabric to fan out the maximum amount over the shoulder immediately after the rings.  Why is this important?  Well there are various methods for sewing rings into a piece of fabric – involving gathering, pleating or combinations of the two.  And each different method yields a different shoulder style, and in turn different shoulder styles suit different shaped shoulders and personal preferences.  The pro of a gathered shoulder is that it can really be spread out to cup the shoulder to the max, while the con is some people really don’t like the fabric spreading out that much.  Particularly with thicker wraps this can feel untidy or even bulky.  But again this is where this fabric comes into its own, it is so thin it doesn’t feel obtrusive spread out and if you prefer a neater shoulder the fabric is thin enough you can easily fold it upwards on your shoulder to get a neater feel.

The one thing to be aware of with this sling is that from end to end it is only 1.87m long.  This is a little on the short side for a ring sling (most are 2m or 2.2m in length).  The advantage of the shorter length is less fabric left dangling and less fabric to roll up so packs down smaller etc.  The downside is if you are plus sized this the fabric might be on the short side – leaving you with only a relatively short tail to tighten with.  This sling does fit well upto at least a size 20 or 22, but I haven’t tried it over this.  So if you are a larger size or would like a longer length sling for another reason I’d definitely try this sling before you buy and check it is long enough for you.

All in all the Melliapis Simple Ring Sling is a very versatile, very lightweight sling with a tiny price tag.  It’s a great option for newborns and anyone looking for a quick, easy, packs down small option for any age baby or even toddler.  Thin enough to keep you cool in summer, but snuggly enough you’ll happily wear it all year round.  Cost is £40-£42 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings directly at sling library meets, consults, workshops, doorstep collection or post directly to you (just get in touch to arrange!).

-Madeleine

FAQ – Help my carrier is too big for my baby: Fit tips for fitting a newborn baby into a Buckle carrier (shown with the Ergo Omni 360)

Many carriers are sold as fitting from newborn all the way through to toddlerhood.  However, some of the adjustments required to truly get this amount of flexibility out of a carrier aren’t always obvious or well explained in manuals.

In this video I demonstrate how to “shorten” the back panel on a carrier by simply sitting baby deeper into the carrier.  This is one of the easiest adjustments to make and one that often makes a huge difference to how well a carrier fits a smaller baby.

 

I demonstrate using the Ergo Omni 360 because a) this is a very popular carrier, but also because b) it has a very long back panel so does often need shortening using this method!!  But the same method will work with essentially any buckle carrier.

-Madeleine

 

Knots or Buckles?

Something I hear over and over again from parents when investigating slings and carriers is that they feel safer with a buckle than tying a knot.  They are worried with a knot that they might do it wrong while a buckle just clicks in and then its safe and nothing can go wrong.

I totally understand this.  I hear this a lot and I genuinely understand this because I remember when I was starting out I felt exactly the same.

But 7 years of carrying my own children, 6 years of running a sling library and 5 years as a carrying consultant teaching and supporting over 1000 families has taught me that this one of those fallacies that gets repeated over and over again until it is so much in social consciousness that everyone just assumes its true.

So let me bust some myths;
  1. A knot can not be tied “wrong”.  If you’ve tied a double knot, it is secure.  There is no secret way special technique.  Even the sloppiest knot in the word, so long as its a double knot, can not undo spontaneously.  In fact, I actually dare you to try…. wiggle, pull on it, do your worst… it will not untie unless you actually purposefully look at it and untie it.  The only other way to get out of a double knot is to actually cut or tear the wrap.
  2. You can do a buckle up wrong.  A buckle requires you to line bits up, on some buckles its possible to get these misaligned and not immediately notice. If the buckle isn’t securely fastened it can undo.  It’s rare, and most people will notice but it can happen.
  3. The worst offenders are safety buckles.  Generally safety buckles require an extra bit to click in as well … a button and or specific prong… if the buckle is not all the way pushed in the safety bit won’t be down and actually the buckle is probably easier to now open than if it wasn’t a safety buckle at all.
  4. Buckles can break.  They are generally made from plastic and accidents involving stepping on them, slamming in car doors do happen.  This can render your carrier unusable until your are able to get a replacement buckle.  Again the safety buckles are often more sensitive to being stood on or other accidents than regular buckles. In the last 6 years I have had only 2 buckles break and both have been safety buckles.
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It is important to understand I am not saying that knots are necessarily better.  Buckle carriers can be hugely convenient.  And hugely comfortable.  And if you have tried both a buckle carrier and a tie on carrier (i.e stretchy wrap, woven, meh dai or half buckle) and you feel more comfortable and confident in the buckle carrier and it has the features you want … please please do go for it.  With my total and complete blessing.
I write this blog, really for the people with tiny newborns who want to use a stretchy, but are worried.  Are worried because they are worried they won’t do it right or because a relative has expressed doubts, because they’ve only seen buckle carriers.  So often I meet parents who have a buckle carrier for their baby but it doesn’t fit yet, and want something for the newborn period but knots scare them.  If this is you, please please do check out your local sling consultant or sling library and give it a go.  I hear over and over again, from parents once they have tried a wrap or tie on carrier “oh this isn’t difficult, oh it feels so secure” this is nothing like what I thought”.
It is always worth trying, because ultimately there is not “best” or “safest” sling… only what you personally find easy to use and are confident using.  And tying a knot and clicking a buckle in correctly both require the same amount of concentration!!!
-Madeleine.
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How to thread a Close Parent Caboo

While the Caboo comes already threaded, you may need to re-thread following washing or if it becomes very twisted.

Here is how to do it:

  • Start by finding the cross and placing this on your back with the two rings hanging down behind your back and the long straps coming up over your shoulders on either side
  • Locate one ring and bring it to your side, then take the strap coming over your opposite shoulder across your body to meet it
  • Bring the strap through both rings from underneath to over, then open the rings and bring the strap back through the other way dividing the two rings.
  • This side should now be securely threaded, repeat on the second side
  • Adjust tightness through the rings and then your ready to carry baby!

 

Further inspiration on how to carry baby and photo tutorials for 9 different ways you can use the Close Caboo can be found here.

-Madeleine