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!
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.
MooMo Baby Legwarmers – or 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!
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!
Fiddlebeads – practical and pretty, these make such a lovely gift for any babywearing parent
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.
Suck Pads– give yourself the fit of washing your carrier less with our strap protecting suck pads
Wondering how to tidy up the long dangley straps on your baby carrier? Wishing those straps were shorter?
Find that little elastic loop right at the end of the webbing
Wind the strap up – folding from the end up to the length you would like the strap to be
Use the elastic to fasten
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
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.
The Ergobaby Embrace is a beautifully designed newborn specialist carrier. Made from super soft jersey, it combines the softness and cozy cuddles of a stretchy wrap with the ease and intuitiveness of a clip on, no tying involved buckle carrier. Suitable right from day 1, it is an ideal choice for a new baby and is available to purchase through the Sheen Slings webshop here.
But how do you use it?
Good question! Here are my video tutorials taking you through the different ways you can use this carrier as baby grows and develops
Front Carry with a Newborn
One of the things I love about the Ergobaby Embrace is that you can use it right from the beginning. Ergo suggest from 7lb (3.2 kg) and I have seen it give a great fit to several babies who were just shy of 6lb (2.7 kg). Provided baby is happy to open their legs enough to sit straddingly the material, this carrier will give a lovely cosy, snuggly fit to even a brand new baby.
To fit a brand new baby you do need to shorten the carrier. As shown in the video, you do this by rolling the waistband toward you. Please note that the “toward you” bit is important. If you roll the wrong way it doesn’t fit as well and it does trip parents up sometimes!
Front carry with a baby 2 months plus
As baby grows, the Embrace can grow with them – once they start to become too tall for the newborn position you can stop rolling the waist band and instead simply put it on directly. Note that the jump from rolled to unrolled is quite a big one, so you might need to pay attention to how you are popping baby in and where the waistband is on you to ensure you get a good fit. As explained in depth in the video above. Once in this position – generally from around 2 months (although maybe a little earlier or later depending on your baby!) they will stay with the unrolled waist band going forward and this typically lasts well until around 9 months or so when many babies start to grow out of the Embrace (again this might be a little earlier or later depending on the baby!).
High Shoulder Carry
You won’t find this position in a manual as this is a carry I invented for a client to solve a specific issue (you can read more about how it came about here). However, it works suprisingly well and can be great for those times when baby is just really unsettled – particularly if this is a way you find yourself holding baby in arms frequently.
This is another carry that isn’t in the manual, although I have no idea why not. It works really well with the soft spreadable shoulders of the Embrace and is great for those “nosy” baby’s who want to see everything but aren’t yet ready to face outwards. Or for those times where baby is too tired to face outwards and needs to sleep but is protesting about your attempts to get them to sleep! In the hip carry they can see everything just as they would facing out, but their head and neck are supported and they can turn away and filter out when they are ready to finally succumb to that nap.
The final position this carrier offers is the forward facing position. I beleive Ergo included it because market research showed at least 50% of parents won’t consider a carrier that doesn’t offer a forward facing position. But it is worth noting that of all the positions shown here with the Embrace this one is the least comfortable for the wearer. Facing your baby away puts baby’s center of gravity away from you, so puts more strain on your back in any carrier. But this is exacerbated in the Embrace because the stretchy material means baby pulls further way and thus puts proprotionally more strain on your back. Plus as baby’s are often starting to grow out of this carrier by the time they are ready to forward face – I can’t help thinking offering it is a bit of a gimmick. That said however, it can be fun for a short period and parents do find it helpful to try forward facing and see how baby gets on with it. Thus once they are ready to move onto another bigger/longer lasting option they know whether it is worth investing in a more robust carrier that offers forward facing or whether they can cast a wider net and purchase something that doesn’t offer this position safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t really use it anway.
You’ll note I don’t show a back carry here. Again there is no back carry in the manual and Ergobaby don’t recommend this position for the Embrace. I don’t either. Because the Embrace doesn’t have a chest strap and because it is made from stretchy material, it simply won’t feel as secure (nor be as secure) in a back carry compared to a carrier made from a non stretchy material and that has the chest strap for added security. Plus in general, most parents find their little one has outgrown the Embrace before they are ready to start exploring back carries anyway.
Front Double Hammock is a fabulous carry for newborns. It is one of my personal favourite carries because;
It is very snuggly and supportive carry for both the parent and baby. For the baby the two “hammock” layers over baby’s back really cocoons and gently holds them in their natural posture. For the parent the spread out straps over the shoulders and across the back really help spread the weight evenly and the band around the lower back really helps transfer most of the load onto the parents waist and hips.
There is no fabric dividing baby’s legs, which means they can be as curled up as they like and you don’t need to try and prise their legs open or change their natural newborn shape in anyway.
The twists at the shoulder help get the top part of the wrap nicely snug and secure providing ideal neck support without having any material in the way of baby’s face. Which means plenty of airflow around their face and lovely clear sightlines for them too!
You can pre-tie it and the pop baby in and tighten around them. Likewise you can loosen to take baby back out without untying. Making this a very practical carry because you don’t have to keep retying it every time and you can pre-tie before you leave the house or before you drive your car … avoiding the need to tie near muddy puddles when you reach your destination.
Here is how to do it;
And it’s not just for newborns either. While many people will move onto the closely related Front Cross Carry as baby gets older (particularly for more wriggly babies, or those prone to straightening their legs) – you don’t have to. I still used this carry regularly with each of my children right through to toddlerhood. Particularly at times they felt tired or overwhelmed because it is such a close contact carry and so snuggly that it really would calm them down at times like this. In fact I still remember vividly that the last time I carried my eldest in this carry was when he was 3 years old and he had Chicken Pox. Those first few days he felt really poorly (and itchy) and all he wanted to do was snuggle and sleep against me. And he defininitely didn’t want to go on my back… he needed the security and the closeness of being in my front and this wrap really helped me support his weight and give me use of my arms while meeting his needs!
If you are struggling with this or any other carry please do get in touch. I can go through it with you step by step and provide real time feedback (whether online via Zoom or in person) and really help flatten the learning curve and ensure your 100% confident going forward.
Self Confidence, or lack thereof, can be the biggest barrier to carrying. So often parents are worried. Worried they won’t do it right. Worried they will make a mistake. Worried because they are tired and exhausted and learning so many things and this is another thing to learn. Worried because the first time they tried it it didn’t feel right, or because baby cried and it wasn’t the instant magic calming device the picture on the box promised.
The marketing sections of the big brand carrier manufacturers KNOW this. So they produce carriers that promise to “be easier than….”, that promise they can just be slipped on with no tying, or no adjusting or whatever buzz word they think sounds easiest. They build whole campaigns around telling you how easy it is compared to everything else and feed into your fears that other products might be too hard for you. They give free ones to social media influencers who have probably never tried anything else so these social media influencers can tell you how easy and simple it is use. But what they don’t tell you in this big marketing campaign is the downsides. They don’t tell you what you’ve lost by not being able to adjust or being able to tie. They don’t tell you it won’t last as long, requiring you to buy another carrier (probably from them) in a few months time. Nor do they tell you it won’t fit your body if your this body shape or if your between sizes, or that it might fit you but not your partner so you’ll have to buy two. Because if they told you these things you wouldn’t buy it!
The fact is – you are amazing. You can learn whatever you want to. I have never met a parent who has wanted to learn a sling – like a stretchy wrap, a ring sling or a woven wrap or anything – that hasn’t been able too. But I have met many that have become convinced that they won’t be able to because of marketing campaigns that have fed into their insecurities that “they won’t be able to”. That they should spend more money to buy something “easier”. I have met parents who don’t want to learn, and that is fine. But this is rarer, most parents I met love the idea of a soft sling or carrier but are worried that they won’t manage. Normally all it takes is 10-20 minutes of going through it step by step and they are amazed at just how easy it is really and that they really can do it.
Another fact is there simply isn’t anything easier. ALL slings and carriers, ABSOLUTELY ALL OF THEM, have some kind of learning curve. All of them take a few goes to get the hang of getting completely right for you and baby. And that is OK. It is OK that you might not get the hang of it first time, and that baby might bawl the first time (usually for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the sling or carrier). Be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t expect a child learning to write to start by writing full sentances with perfect spelling and grammar! Likewise don’t expect yourself to nail this first time either!
The simple fact is that when it comes to babywearing it’s practise over product. It matters far more how you use something that what you have. If you have a carrier or sling and it’s not working, or your not sure how your using it, you don’t have to buy something new that markets itself as easier. I mean you can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Instead invest time, or better still reach out to me or a local babywearing consultant like me and ask for help.
I can take you step by step through your carrier and demystify it. An online consultation can be perfect for this. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen eureaka moments in my clients eyes as they realise actually the carrier they have is easy, and can be comfortable and safe… and that all it took was a different approach, or a small tweak. Or how many expectant parents have come to be expecting to buy something else because a wrap would be too hard for them and have left full of joy and confidence ready to snuggle their newborn in a stretchy wrap instead. I can help ensure you are confident in whatever you use, because truly you are amazing and you can do it. Babywearing has been around for centries, taught from person to person… far before the advent of manuals and social media campaign. Invest time in developing your skill and building your confidence – I promise it will be worth it.
Hires are completely contact-free. I can either post the sling or carrier of your choice directly to you or you can collect from my home. The carrier will be left in my front porch (space between inner and outer front doors) for you to collect at any time on the prearranged day so you can collect without coming into contact with me or any member of my family, and so you can time your collection around coinciding with shopping or exercise etc. To set up a hire simply get in touch through the contact page. If your not sure what would suit you best please feel free to ask or book an online consultation to go through your options in more detail.
All carriers and Slings are washed (by me) after each hire, so the carrier you hire will be freshly cleaned and ready to use. Then when you are ready to return you don’t need to worry about washing it as I will wash it again ready for the next family to hire.
Face to Face consultations in my home are temporarily suspended, but consultations in clients homes can go ahead for those whom face-to-face support is irreplaceable.
For some parents, online won’t be enough. Carriers are like jeans in that they need to fit your body and your baby’s body and so it is really important to try carriers on physically, compare them and ensure your confident using whatever you ultimately choose. This is particularly important for those with a history of back pain, post-cesarean section, parents of multiples, parents of babies suffering with reflux, parents of babies born early, parents or babies with additional needs and concerns and a whole host of other situations where face to face support is really needed.
For those that need it – guidelines are clear, direct face to face support can continue in clients homes. Interestingly, the guidelines state I can not continue to offer my home as a venue during Tier 4, but I can come to your home if you would like me to and you feel safe doing so. If you would like me to come but are unsure for whatever reason, do get in contact and we can risk assess this together. For my part I will;
arrive with freshly washed or quartineed slings and carriers for you to try and a seperate set for me to demo with so we will not be sharing. Likewise I will come with two freshly wiped demo dolls, one for me to demonstrate with and one for you to use in case you’d like to practise before trying with your own baby (or in case your own baby is not in the mood!)
I will wash my hands on arrival and santise as needed
I will wear my face mask throughout
I will maintain 2m distances throughout. My preferred teaching method is very hands off – where we explore each sling/carrier/technique together … mirroring each movement and each step. Which is very well suited to teaching while remaining socially distanced! On the rare occasions you might want me to adjust a strap or help, I will do so only with your expressed consent and any such close contact would last only a few seconds.
Our webshop will remain open, and I will continue my daily morning post depo runs throughout tier 4 and beyond for all your carrier and accessory needs! We have some awesome winter accessories online at the moment including cozy woolly winter babywearing socks, fleece lined babywearing covers and snuggly baby legwarmers. I offer discounts for anyone who hires a sling or carrier first – so trying before you buy can definitely be a winner… and I offer a free 20 minute fit check consultation on ALL carrier, wrap or sling purchases so you can have complete peace of mind that there is help available if you need it to ensure you get the most from your carrier.
So if you would like babywearing help of any kind – there definitely are options! Whatever the tier, I will remain open and responsive to the current guidelines to ensure any one who needs help can access it.
One of things that I love about being a carrying consultant is that I get to go off manual. I get to apply my knowledge of how carriers work, of infant positioning and development and I can use that to go off piste when needed.
A couple weeks ago I had a client come to me for help troubleshooting as her little one was really unsettled in their Ergobaby Embrace. She was following the manual to perfection, positioning was fab but baby was unhappy. So we put the carrier down and I asked her to show me how she held her little one when he was unsettled, how he liked being held in arms. She immediately popped him high on her shoulder.
This is such a common position for parents to hold their little ones when they are unsettled. I have so many photos of my husband and I carrying my son in this position when he was sad. We used to call it “the bouncy shoulder”. It pretty much never failed at calming him down and settling him!!
And so it got me thinking – there must be a way of facilitating this with her carrier. So while she calmed down her little one, I got a bit creative and worked out how to support a high shoulder, burp type position with an Ergobaby Embrace. And you know, it worked pretty well! Mum tried it and baby was instantly happier, instantly more settled.
Here is how to do it;
While I have shown it with the Ergo Embrace as this was the carrier my client had, this carry should work with any lightweight buckle. Particularly any that offers the option to wear the the carrier “apron style”. By this I mean that the panel hangs down from the waistband and then goes round baby’s bottom and back up (rather than one where the panel comes straight out the top of the waistband). Just because the apron style means you can sit babies bottom lower that the waistband, which is useful if like me you have boobs and thus are constrained in where you place the waistband to either above or below your boobs (for comfort reasons!). If you don’t have boobs and wouldn’t feel uncomfortable wearing the waistband slightly lower on your chest then essentially any carrier will work as you can simply place the waistband at the height you need to get baby where you want them on your shoulder. Other apron style lightweight carriers that do work well for this carry include theKahu Baby carrier, the Izmi baby carrier, the Marsupi, and Meh Dai carriers (like the Hop-Tye and Didy-Tye) work really well for this too.
Being brutally honest, while this carry was more comfortable than I expected it to be, it isn’t the worlds most supportive position for a long period of time. The carry is very high so the weight it all on your upper back, so this will start to feel heavy quicker than compared to wearing the waistband at your waist and transferring more of the weight onto your pelvis.
But, what it is good for is those moments when you need it. When baby is really unsettled and unhappy in another other position, but your arms are knackered from the holding or you need your arms to get something done. Then when baby is more settled or has fallen asleep it is actually a simple job to loosen the straps and slide the baby and whole carrier back down to a more normal and more supportive carrying position. Or likewise once you’ve finished the thing you needed to do you can go sit down and rest! Either with baby still in the carrier or slipping it off and cuddling them as needed.
For my client, I viewed this carrying position as a “circuit breaker”. I see this regularly with so many parents; what happens is baby cries in the carrier (maybe they are tired, hungry, unsettled etc) and parent is worried they’ve done the carrier wrong or that baby doesn’t like the carrier so parent quite naturally and quite understandably becomes tense. Babies are amazing at reading their parents emotions and picks up on their parents tension and worry, and they don’t like seeing their parent tense so they cry. And then parent is more worried because baby is crying more now, and baby senses parent is more worried….. and on and on. It very quickly becomes a viscous circle. Then next time parent picks up the carrier they start feeling tense and worried baby won’t like it before they even put it on…. and so the viscous circle continues. Until we find something to break the cycle. In this case this high shoulder position – one baby is used to and loves and parent feels confident baby will like – was able to break the cycle, and I very much hope will later open up all the other positions to them too.
So many of my consultations are about working with parents to find the circuit breaker, the thing that breaks the cycle. For many it is simply going through their carrier in detail, step by step, allowing them to gain confidence using the sling and knowing that their baby is comfortable and supported and safe. For others its something else – each consultation is different, because we are all different!
If you’re feeling stuck please do reach out as I honestly, finding the solution that works is my absolute favourite part of this job!
Hip carries can be so helpful one baby hits what I call “nosy baby phase” where they want to see everything and anything. Learning how to switch between front and hip carries can be a powerful tool in your parenting toolkit. Particularly when
Baby was sound asleep in the carrier on your front and has now woken up and is starting to cry because they want to see more or feel like they have more freedom. But you are out and about its its not convenient to take them out right now – instead switching to a hip carry will help you get to your destination while giving them more to see and the feeling of more freedom to stretch and kick as they wake up
Baby is fighting sleep and refuses to go into a front carry as they want to see everything and definitely not sleep. So you put them in a hip carry and 5 minutes later they are sound asleep on your hip. Being able to switch to the front will keep your back more comfortable for the duration of the nap
Fortunately, it’s actually really easy to switch between Front and Hip carries in a buckle carrier without taking the carrier of or the baby out. Here is how to do it
This method works for any buckle carrier that allows you to cross the straps at the back. The video shows the Beco Gemini but this method works just as well for the Ergobaby Omni, Adapt, Izmi Baby, Ergobaby Embrace, Beco 8, Lillebaby, Mamaruga, Kahu, Connecta, Manduca and a great many others besides. Provided you can cross the straps across your back you can do this.
You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review (or read on below):
Key Manduca XT facts;
Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 44lbs), this is one only a very small number of carriers that really will realistically fit for the whole of its weight range, fitting babies generally from about 4 weeks ish all the way through to approximately 4 years of age.
Adjustable width. The secret behind the Manduca XT’s longevity is how the width adjusts. Using sections designed to simply slide along the waistband it very simply and smoothly adjusts from just 20 cm all the way to 50 cm. Allowing you to adjust it tiny bit by tiny bit as your baby grows, giving a perfect fit all the way from newborn to older toddler. While there are other carriers offering similar adjustment systems, what I like about this one is how unbulky it is. The fabric thin enough that it neatly folds in on the smallest settings, barely adding any bulk at all. Most other carriers simply rouch and the rest always looks quite bulky on a newborn, on the Manduca the smooth strokable lines remain giving a perfect fit even for very small babies.
Bucket shaped panel and soft padding at the legs ensures baby sits in a comfortable, hip healthy position with the bum lower than the knees and the legs out padding moves with the width adjustment to ensure babies legs are comfortable and no “red pressures lines”, whatever their size.
Adjustable panel height also helps this carrier grow with your little one. The panel has 3 height settings which adjust via the zippers on the front. Completely zipped together the panel is just 30cm, then as baby grows you can choose between 35cm using the shaped zipped section and 42cm when completely unzipped. This adjustability in height is not only useful as baby grows but also as they change developmentally. Both my children went through phases of loving having their arms out when awake, so being able to make the panel smaller to allow them to do this made carriers so much more enjoyable for them. And then as they became tired and started to fall asleep… it is very easy to lengthen the panel and give them more upper back and neck support as they sleep.
Features a hood for supporting baby’s head as they sleep or as a cover in the rain, and cleverly when rolled away into the pouch at the top this hood doubles up as pillow to support baby’s head and neck.
Offers 3 carrying positions – a front carry, a hip carry and a back carry.
Panel is made from 100% Organic Cotton. One of the hallmarks of Manduca carriers is that all their carriers are made from Organic cotton. Only the webbing and plastic buckles are the exception, the rest of the carrier is soft durable cotton drill made from 100% Organic cotton.
Shaped waistband – The waistband is wider at the front where baby’s weight is, thus providing more support and counterbalance where you need it most without having unnecessary bulk at your sides.
safety buckle on the waistband requires two hands to open to ensure you don’t open this before you’ve taken baby out. Sounds like a silly or inconvenient thing, but often parents absentmindedly unclip the waistband first so this can be a helpful safety feature.
Shoulder straps can be tightened in 3 places! There are two adjusters where the strap meets the mid panel – each pulling in the opposite direction which means whether you are carrying baby on your front or back there will always be a strap that you can pull easily (and one that would be difficult). Additionally there is an adjuster at the top where the strap leaves the top of the panel and this one in particular changes the position of the padded part of the strap bringing it closer or further from the panel and thus easily adjusting between parents of differing torso lengths. This strap can also be useful for getting a higher tighter back carry or adjusting how much room baby has depending on whether they are awake and wanting to push out and see more things or fast asleep and needing to be held closer. The advantage of being able to adjust in 3 places is these straps can easily adjust to the fit the super petite to the super tall and broad, making this a great pick for couples of very different sizes. The adjustments give you a huge amount of flexibility in how the carrier fits and allow people of all different shapes and sizes to get an amazing fit. The disadvantage of 3 adjusters is that it does take a bit of time investment to really find the right set up for you and understand how each adjuster affects your carry. It is very easy in the beginning to get a bit confused and end up a bit lopsided and less comfortable as a consequence.
All in all the Manduca XT is extremely versatile carrier that fits almost all parent body shapes and sizes and fits babies all the way from just a few weeks old to 4 years. While not the simplist carrier on the market it is well worth the time investment to learn it and get it set up right because it once set up it is such a comfortable supportive carrier and it just lasts and lasts and lasts making it a truly fantastic investment. The Manduca XT costs £147.50 and can be purchased the Sheen Slings Shop (and all carrier purchases come with a free 15 minute online fit check appointment so I’ll help you get set up with it too!)
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