How to tighten a stretchy wrap without taking it off.

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!

-Madeleine

Free 10 minute Online Sling Fitting with every Carrier hire or purchase!

Want to try a new sling or carrier but would to have the piece of mind of being shown how to use it and how it set it up correctly? Or buying a new carrier and want help setting it up that first time?

These are services that I normally provide at all Sling Clinic sessions and all private consultations, in person. But with lockdown continuing I appreciate it is really hard for parents to simply try on first or gain that confidence that comes with getting all the straps correctly adjusted from the get-go. So for the month of June I will be offering a free online 10 minute sling fitting (via Zoom video call) with every hire and every purchase through the website.

This is additive – so if you choose to hire 2 or 3 carriers you will get 20 or 30 minutes accordingly. If you later buy your favourite you will get an additional 10 minutes if you’d like on the one you choose.

How it works – if you’d like to hire a sling simply get in touch by email to sheenslings@gmail.com or via our contact page, and let me know what you’d like to try. Or what your needs are, age of baby etc, and I’ll make suggestions accordingly. Once we’ve agreed what you’ll be hiring, I’ll send you a hire form and then either post the carrier out to you, or your welcome to collect from my doorstep. Then once you have the sling we will set up a day and time within the next day or two to go through your sling together online (via Zoom) and ensure your 100% confident using it and that its giving you a good fit. If it doesn’t give you a good fit we can talk about alternatives and arrange to swap to something that works better. Sometime finding the perfect carrier is an iterative process and you might need to try a couple of different things to work out what does and doesn’t work for you. Then at the end of your hire you simply return and if you’d like to buy your own I offer discounts to all my hire customers – both on the webshop and with other retailers (if your chosen sling is something I don’t currently retail).

If your purchasing a sling through the webshop, simply purchase as normal and I will be in contact offering you your free fitting call! We will agree a mutually agreeable time that works for you for once your carrier has arrived and your ready. If your buying for a baby who isn’t here yet just let me know and we can roll this over (even if baby doesn’t arrive in June!).

If you already have a carrier or sling you’d like help with as well we can do that at the same time and you simply pay for the additional time you need for that at the same rate as normal online consultations (£5 per 10 minutes).

Easy Peasy! I really hope this offer helps more people find the right option for them and be completely confident using whatever they choose while we all await the reopening of the children’s centres and being able to offer in person support once again

-Madeleine

Newborn carry with an Ergobaby Embrace

The Ergobaby Embrace is their super soft, jersey, newborn specialised carrier. This is one of those rare buckle carriers on the market that really does work right from day 1 and will grow with baby for the 6-9 months.

These carriers are available buy through our webshop and we have 2 in the library selection available to try at one of our sessions or hire, enabling you to try before you buy.

But how do you do it? Here is my video of how to set this carrier up for a newborn, how to put your baby in and how to check they are safe and comfortable

-Madeleine

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

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.
20200222_090626_0000

Tula Explore Review

The Tula Explore is the first carrier from Tula that offers the option to forward face your baby!

See it explained in detail and in action here;

 

Key Features of the Tula Explore;

  • It’s width and height can be adjusted through poppers which means this carrier doesn’t need infant inserts.
  • Manufacturer recommends it for use for babies from just 3.2kg (7lb) all the way upto a fantastic 20kg (45lb).  More realistically, however, I’d say this carrier works well from around 4 weeks through to 2 years old.
  • For the baby it has very soft leg padding and a softly padded neck support pillow that can be placed in different positions for different ages and stages.
  • Offers 3 carrying positions – front inward, front facing outward and back carry position.  This carrier does not easily offer a hip carry position.
  • For the parent it has a fairly wide and firmly padded sturdy waistband, and it’s shoulder straps are bulky but soft and moldable.  The long webbing but short padded part means this carrier is one that can fit both women and men very well and both the petite and the plus sized.  Straps are designed to be worn “rucksack” or H style, and do not cross across the back.
  •  It also has a detachable hood and a pocket on the waistband for small things like phone and keys.

All in all this is a fab option for someone looking for a sling that will last into toddler hood, want to forward face and are most comfortable with straps in ruck sack style.  It is very similar to the Ergo Omni 360, in terms of shape and size.  The main differences being that this carrier is a little simpler to use with the absence of buckles to do up at the shoulder straps but offers a bit less flexibility than the Omni as it doesn’t offer a hip position or the ability to cross straps across the back.  The Tula Explore retails at £154.90

-Madeleine

 

Ergo Baby Embrace Review

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.

-Madeleine

Which Caboo? Lite, Blend or Organic (2019 updated version!)

Since I compared the Caboo Lite, Plus and Organic back in 2016, Close Parent has revamped all three models with slightly different fabrics.  Much of what I wrote in the original article (which you can read here), is still true!

But with a few very small changes!  So here is my new updated comparison, this time in video form!

Key Comparison Facts;

  •  The Caboo + Cotton Blend and Caboo + Organic are extremely similar, cut and constructed identically and differ only in fabrics used.
  • The Caboo + Cotton Blend is 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester.  The Caboo Organic is 100% Organic Cotton.
  • These two are the warmer models and work best for winter babies.
  • The Caboo lite is much slimmer and lighter than the Blend or the Organic, and is a great option for summer borns or for parents who are prone to feeling too warm!
  • The Caboo Lite is 70% cotton and 30% polyester, this is a change from the 2016 Lite models which were 60% cotton and 40% polyester.  This newer higher percentage cotton feels a lot softer.  The material is actually alittle thicker but is more loosely woven so remains very thin and breathable.
  • The straps on the Lite are narrower than the other two models.  This means you have less fabric to deal with and again helps this carrier feel cooler.
  • The Blend and the Organic both have an integrated soft head support/cushion and a small pocket.
  • The Lite costs £55, the Blend £65 and the Organic £70.

I hope this helps you work out which model is best for you! All three are available to hire through Sheen Slings (either from a session or via postal hire), and the Caboo Lite model can be bought from us here.

-Madeleine

Announcing Tea, Cake and Parenting!

I am so excited to share my news with you all – my wonderful friend Cat and I are launching “Tea, Cake and Parenting”, a new hub for parents, providing support, information and opportunity to meet others at the same stage and most importantly tea and cake!  We are kicking off Friday this week with our first social morning, with many more planned (full dates and times can be found here).

But before I explain all that I really wanted to share the story behind Tea, Cake and Parenting.

IMG-20190827-WA0029Cat and I have been friends for over 12 years, we met while rowing for Son’s of the Thames Rowing Club and became fast friends as we are both natural organisers!  We hate faffing around wasting time and so would organise our other rowing friends and just ensure whatever needed to get done got done.  Then over the years we’ve had children, and our friends have had children… and we’ve supported each other over and over again at different times.  When I moved to Mortlake Cat immediately sent me a list of playgroups and local activities, and introduced me to almost every local person who had a similar aged son to mine!  Through Sheen Slings I met many amazing people who support pregnant parents and new parents and I was able to pass these contacts onto Cat as and when she needed them.   And likewise Cat, made contacts and passed on to me…   And of course both of us found we are the ones our friends come to to ask if we know something or someone who can help with x because over the years we’ve both become “nexi” or “hubs” of information and contacts.

65839731_355329411843763_8089286966023028736_nBut the biggest thing Cat and I did for one another was simply to listen, to be there, to be present!  Present with a understanding listening ear, a cup of tea and a slice of cake.  Really this more than anything is the absolute key to thriving rather than just surviving parenthood!

This support – having somewhere to turn to if you have questions, somewhere you can be hear and simply be is so important as a new parent.  Over and over again through the sling library I have met parents who have felt overwhelmed and just not sure where to turn, who’ve needed more support than can be offered in during a Sling session and under the umbrella of a Sling consultant.  I’ve always wanted somewhere I can send them where they can ask ANY question, come with any problem and just be heard.  And really this is what Tea, Cake and Parenting is all about. 

This is our aim… to be a hub for new (and not so new second, third or more times around) parents.  To fulfil this aim we will be running 2 types of session – social mornings and topic mornings.  You can read more about both here, but in a nutshell the social mornings are informal fortnightly sessions we are running from our homes.  Come with your worries and concerns or just come for some company of other like minded adults and enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake in an environment where you don’t need to worry and apologize if your baby needs to feed, sleep, have a giant poo or just roll around throwing toys everywhere.  The topic mornings will be slightly more formal focused sessions (although babies obviously welcome to come and do all of the above and be as informal as they like), where we delve into a key parenting topic in detail as a group, looking at the evidence and different strategies.  They’ll be guest speakers as the topic demands and plenty of information on how to find out more and get more in depth support if needed.  We have literally tonnes of ideas for these and will be looking to start with one or two later this year before pushing on with a more full schedule early next year!

So do come along and find out how Tea, Cake and Parenting can support you!

Madeleine

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