Tutorial; How to use the Mini Monkey Mini Sling

Quick and easy to use, the Mini Monkey Mini Sling is one of the absolutely smallest and lightest carriers out there.  Made from soft, breathable, ultra cool mesh it is an absolutely wonderful option for summer.  Perfect for around the house, quick trips out, on the beach or even as a just in case sling hiding in your back pocket!

But how do you use it?  Watch my video tutorial here;

The keys to sucess with this carrier are;

  • Don’t give yourself too much to do! Start with the carrier reasonably tight… don’t be tempted to have it really loose before putting baby in. Yes having it really loose will make getting them in really easy but it will give you so much tightening to do.
  • When tightening always support under baby’s bum. Lift their bum up in one hand while you tighten with the other. This way your not fighting gravity and the sling is much easier to tighten and the end result much more supportive.
  • Spread the shoulder as feels comfortable. The strongest part of your shoulder is the outer part so often it feels most comfortable to have the middle part of the fabric sat on thie outer part of your shouler.
  • Remember that the strap at the back controls the size of the pocket. If baby is sitting too low, it is this strap that needs to be tightened (by supporting baby’s weight in 1 hand while pulling the strap back toward baby with the other. If they are sitting too high, then it is this strap that needs to be loosened (by supporting baby’s weight in 1 hand while working your fingers under the buckle and pushing upwards with the other).
  • The strap at the front tightens the top part of the carrier only.
  • Bring the top of the fabric right upto the top of baby’s neck for a newborn or infant without head control, but for an holder baby you can leave the fabric behind the back of baby’s shoulders or even directly under their arm pits. Ensure the top strap is tight enough that baby is snug against you and doesn’t feel like their weight is pulling away.

Any questions or worries please do get in touch! If you are thinking of purchasing one of these you can find them in my webshop here, or find my full review here.

Happy Carrying!

-Madeleine

Brilliant Babywearing Businesses Guide to the Best Baby Carriers and Slings for 2022

Choosing a baby carrier or a sling can feel like a complete minefield. There are so many different types, with so many different features. Consequently, it can be really easy get completely overwhelmed.

Ultimately the best one for your family will be the one that fits you best – both physically and fitting your needs and how you want to use it.   Which is why I highly encourage trying a few on before you invest.  Finding your local sling library or babywearing consultant and trying a few with their help will really help take all the effort and guesswork out of finding that perfect fit for your family.

But sometimes it is helpful to have a starting point. It can be helpful to have an idea of what to try and what might suit you. Which is where this list comes in!

I asked 36 Babywearing Consultants from all over the UK (and a couple from Europe too) to tell me their top 5 picks across 8 different categories – best for newborns, best multi position carrier, best lightweight carrier, best for longevity, best value for money, best toddler and preschool carriers, top Eco-conscious brands and best babywearing accessories.  And then I compiled all this data to produce the lists for each category below.

What makes this guide different to others is the sample number and experience behind it. Each of these 36 consultants runs a busy sling library and consultancy, has experience of 100s of different slings and carrier brands and models, and between us we see literally thousands and thousands of families a year. These picks are based on that combined knowledge and the experience that comes with working with families directly and seeing what works in particular circumstances and not in others. None of us received free carriers or any donations in exchange for our opinions, and entry into this list doesn’t rely on the brand providing free samples – something that often excludes smaller and often more affordable brands from being considered in other lists and awards, simply because it costs too much to enter. So all in all making the Brilliant Babywearing Business Guide to the Best Slings and Carriers for 2022 a list that you can really trust as a starting point for your research and what carriers and slings to try.

So without any further delay here are the Top Picks for each category:

Best For Newborns

  1. Two-Way Stretchy Wrap
  2. Mamaruga Zen Sling
  3. Ring Sling
  4. Close Parent Caboo
  5. Ergobaby Embrace

Many carriers are marketed as “from newborn”, or “newborn to toddler”.  But the simple truth is few actually do the newborn period really very well.  Or at least few genuinely do both newborns and toddlers. This makes sense as newborns have different needs to older babies.  During the 4th trimester period they sleep more, they crave the closeness and sound of their caregiver’s heartbeat – just as they had in the womb.  So the slings and carriers that work the best are the ones that are soft, flexible and can really fit down for a smaller form to give a lovely cocooning, snuggly, safe carry.  

So it is no surprise that all the 5 top picks on this list are ultra soft.  Only two buckle carriers make it into the top 5 and both of these – the Mamaruga Zen Sling and the Ergobaby Embrace are made of soft jersey and so emulate the soft feel of a wrap or a ring sling.  

The Stretchy wrap was far and away the winner, topping almost every consultant’s list.  But there are so many stretchy brands!  One common theme was that parents find two-way stretchies so much easier than one way (you can read more about the differences between the two here).  

The Top 5 Two-way Stretchy Brands were;

  1. Izmi Baby
  2. Lifft
  3. Boba
  4. Joy and Joe
  5. Hana Baby

Notable mention also goes to Calin Bleu which came in 6th – but retails at just £25 (which is a good £10-20 cheaper than the brands above) so is a great budget friendly choice.

Best Multi Position Carrier

  1. Tula Explore
  2. Ergobaby Omni (360, Breeze and Dream)
  3. Beco Gemini
  4. Beco 8
  5. Kahu Baby

These are the “does it all” carriers, offering multiple carrying positions including outward facing, inward facing and back carries. These are all great choices if you’d like to have the option to carry your baby forward facing when developmentally ready and have the piece of mind that they can be also used on your back once the baby gets heavier too.  All bar the Tula also offer the option to hip carry too.  

I think it might be a surprise to many that Ergobaby didn’t win this category, however, they did come in a very close second behind Tula.  It is worth knowing that Ergobaby do own Tula, and the Tula Explore is quite similar to the Omni but with some key differences including being a little cheaper and having very beautiful patterns so this maybe why they just pipped Ergobaby to the top spot.  

And maybe even more of a surprise the Baby Bjorn didn’t make the top 5 at all.  While Baby Bjorn do make a number of Multi-position carriers they did not feature in any of our 36 consultants top 5 list in this category.  Likely because these carriers have a narrower fit range than others, fitting some parents well while not fitting others.  As a result, while many parents do come to our libraries asking to try a Baby Bjorn most discover they don’t fit them as well as one of the 5 choices above and so don’t go onto buy a Bjorn afterall.

Best Lightweight Carrier

  1. Kahu Baby Carrier (Sunshine)
  2. Integra Baby Carrier (Solarweave)
  3. Ring Sling – in particular the Melliapis Simple Ring Sling
  4. Mini Monkey Mini Sling
  5. Izmi Baby Carrier (Breeze)

These are the carriers that really pack down small, that are made of ultra-light breathable material making them perfect for summer, travel and anyone who wants an option that can fold down small to fit under the buggy or in the change bag.  

Absolutely all of these are not only fantastic lightweight options but also great carriers.  You’ll notice that some of these appear in other categories too, such as the Kahu Baby Carrier which not only far and away won this category but also came in at #5 in Best Multi Position and Best Value for Money too.  Likewise you’ll find ring slings mentioned in Best for Newborns and Best Value for Money as well. 

Best For Longevity

  1. Woven Wrap
  2. Boba X
  3. Manduca XT
  4. Isara the One
  5. Tula FTG

This category focused on the carriers that last the absolute longest, that grow with your child from tiny baby all the way through to toddlerhood and beyond.  The far and away winner was the Woven Wrap.  Of all the different types of carriers and slings this is the one that will truly go from newborn or even preemie all the way through to preschooler or as old as you need it to.  I have a friend who once carried her husband in a woven wrap for a dare.  So it is not a surprise that wovens won this category as they are absolutely unbeatable on longevity.  But for those that prefer a buckle carrier the 4 listed here are the ones that go the absolute longest, all working well from just a few weeks old into toddlerhood and beyond. 

Best Value for Money

  1. Woven Wrap
  2. Integra
  3. Boba X
  4. Ring Sling
  5. Kahu Baby

The idea behind this category was two fold.  To represent the carriers that offer great value in terms of how not only how much they cost to buy but also how long they actually last.  So it’s unsurprising that alot of the same carriers that featured in the Longevity category, reappear here – with Woven Wraps winning again.  Because anything that lasts a long time will have a lower “pence per day” cost than anything that doesn’t last long.  And while woven wraps can vary hugely in price, there are many really great cost effective brands and a really thriving second hand market too.  

It is worth noting that many of the budget options such as Infantino, Red Kite and many others don’t make the shortlist.  The reason for this is that while these are cheap to buy, they generally don’t last very long (months rather than years), meaning that they often end up as a false economy and you will end up needing to replace them before too long and paying more per use versus a carrier that is designed to last longer. 

It’s also worth noticing that Ergobaby and Baby Bjorn are completely absent from this category. While they are very well known (because they have relatively big advertising budgets!), they are quite a bit more expensive than other brands, both in terms of actual cost (likely to pay for that big advertising budget) and the cost per use when you factor in that they often don’t last quite as long as some others.  So if you are looking at Ergobaby or Bjorn and feeling a bit priced out – please don’t despair.  This is definitely something that your local Sling Library or Babywearing Consultant can help you with – finding a carrier that fits your budget, your needs and physically fits you and baby well.

Best Toddler carrier

  1. Tula Toddler Carrier
  2. Integra Size 2
  3. Beco Toddler Carrier
  4. Isara Trendsetter Toddler Carrier
  5. Lenny Lamb LennyPreschool Carrier

Most toddler carriers work well from around 18 months through to 3.5 years of age and can be a great option for anyone who is finding their existing carrier is becoming heavy and their little one is no longer fitting as well.  While many baby carriers do last well until around 2 years of age, if you are still carrying regularly at this point it can be well worth sizing upto a Toddler sized carrier for more support.  You can find many of these carriers compared and contrasted here.

Many sling libraries also offer the options to hire these carriers for holidays and trips away, so even if you don’t carry regularly but are thinking a carrier might come in handy for an upcoming trip it can be well worth contacting your local sling library to hire (and/or I offer postal hires too!).

Best Preschool carriers

  1. Lenny Lamb LennyPreschool Carrier
  2. Tula Preschool Carrier
  3. Integra Size 3
  4. Easy Feel Extend Plus
  5. Woven Wrap

While Toddler carriers generally last upto 3.5 years of age, Preschool carriers generally work from around 2.5 years of age until at least 5.  They are a great option for any family where extended carrying is helpful, maybe due to additional needs or so many other reasons.  Just as for toddler carriers, many sling libraries do loan out preschool carriers for trips or a specific purpose.  I personally used the Easy Feel Extend quite a bit over the first few weeks of my daughter starting school, simply because she was so exhausted mentally and physically in those first weeks carrying her really helped ease her through that transition.  I often have parents hiring for a month or two for similar reasons. 

Top Eco-conscious brands

  1. Firespiral
  2. Oscha
  3. Kahu Baby
  4. Mamaruga

This category focuses on the brands that are really committed to sustainability and making the smallest environmental impact possible.  Each of these companies are really careful about sourcing, packaging and every single step in their production line to ensure the smallest environmental footprint.  You’ll notice there are only 4, and I hope this is something that will continue to grow as we all start to focus more on making sustainable choices. 

Best Babywearing Accessories

  1. MooMo Baby Leg Warmers
  2. Suck Pads
  3. Bundlebean Babywearing Cover
  4. Wrap a Hug Baby Wearing Socks
  5. Mamalila Softshell Coat

In our final category, we move away from carriers and slings and look instead at accessories.  There are so many amazing small businesses making beautiful accessories to enhance your baby carrying experience – that it almost sems cruel to limit it to just 5 but here are our top 5!

The Best Carrier for you personally…

Ultimately the best baby carrier or sling for you personally will be the one that fits your family the best and this will depend on your needs, baby’s age and stage, your body, the body of your partner or anyone else who might be sharing the carrier with you and what each of you personally find comfortable.  

This can be so hard to tell from reviews!  But hopefully these lists have given you a starting point for your research and a starting point for working out what you’d like to try on.  If you’re reading this and feeling more overwhelmed than ever.  Please do reach out – either to me or to your local sling library or consultant as we will be able to help you find the best fit for you.

-Madeleine

Mini Monkey TWIN Mesh Carrier review

Since I originally reviewed the Mini Monkey TWIN carrier back in 2018, Mini Monkey have updated it to replace the soft denim chambray panel with an even softer, airy mesh fabric. So I thought it was high time for a fresh review!

The first thing to say is much of the carrier remains the same. In terms of how long it fits, how it can be used, who it fits etc….. is all unchanged and still covered in great depth by my orginal review (which you can find here). So I won’t repeat this in the text here, and instead I will focus on the differences and what make this newer version, quite frankly better, than the older model.

But first, for those who prefer a video review, you can see and hear my full thoughts on the Mini Monkey Twin Mesh and see it in action here;

So what has changed?

First and foremost the main change is the fabric.  I did actually really love the old denim chambray.  It was so soft – like a really soft denim shirt.  And it coordinated with everything.  But it was kind of hot.  And let’s face it – carrying twins is a hot affair. Even in the winter!  So switching this panel over to mesh is a really welcome change.  And not only is it mesh, but it is really ultra soft, ultra breathable, ultra lightweight mesh.  It is the same Mesh they use on the Mini Sling, which always absolutely flies off the shelves come summer because it is unbeatable in terms of how thin, cool and light it is. Making this a fabulous option for sprint, summer and actually all year round.  Plus this mesh fabric is extremely fast drying, which is great because slings do get dirty (sick, spit, nappy explosions) and something that can be washed and dried quickly is a big big pro!

The second main change is that Mini Monkey have redesigned the back part of the carrier.  On the older denim version the back part moved and would annoyingly sometimes get stuck in the plastic clips when attempting to loosen or tighten the carrier and as a result I have got stuck in this sling more than once!  On the newer Mesh version this has been completely redesigned.  Now the back part is sewn into place and the buckles for loosening and tightening are lower down on your back which makes them easier to reach than before.  Additionally they’ve added a sizing thing that allows you to adjust where this crossover is on your back to allow for different parent shapes and sizes.  It is definitely an improvement.  However, it is still a bit of a source of frustration because;

  1. While the buckles are much easier to loosen off than before, they are still not that easy to reach!  And it’s still a bit tricky to do!
  2. Likewise while it is much easier to tighten than before, it’s still quite stiff and really can be quite hard to firstly find the right angle to pull the strap at and actually get it to move!  This is something that you get better at over time but it is a bit of a knack and still not super easy.
  3. While it does adjust to fit different size backs – I am finding it doesn’t go small enough for very petite parents.  There are 3 settings and Mini Monkey have labelled them suggesting they fit XXS, S and M-XXL respectively.  I am size 12 and 5ft7/170cm and definitely wouldn’t describe myself as an XXS and yet I am using it on the XXS setting.  On anyone significantly smaller than me, say UK8 and below (or in mens sizes shirt collar size of 14)… I am really struggling to get the straps anywhere near tight enough.  Particularly when babies are smaller.   Consequently, I don’t think this carrier works well on more petite parents.  For everyone else, including plus sized parents, broad shouldered parents and everyone in between there is loads of adjustability – it’s just the very petite that its not work for.  

However, those niggles aside, I do think this back panel panel is vastly improved and combined with the new mesh fabric I really do think that the Mini Monkey TWIN mesh carrier is one of the best dedicated Twin carriers out there.  It is fairly intuitive to use, it folds down really very small and works really well for babies aged between 8 weeks and 8 months (ish!) – so really plugs the gap before babies are ready for the one front one back options like the TwinGo.   

The Mini Monkey Twin carrier currently costs £115 and can be purchased through Sheen Slings here.  I also have 2 available to hire and offer discounts to those who hire first to ensure you can try before you buy and be completely sure it will work for you before you invest.  Or if you’d like to talk through your options and whether this verses something else (like 2 singleton carriers or a woven wrap) might work better for your family feel free to get in touch!

-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-£45 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings directly via the webshop

-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

 

 

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

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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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

 

What’s the difference between a One-way and a Two-way Stretchy Wrap?

While all stretchy wrap are long pieces of stretchy material, individual brands can be quite different to one another.  And one of the most striking differences can be in HOW these wraps stretch.  In particular there are two main flavours – One-way and Two-way stretchy wrap.  But what does this mean?  What is the difference?

Simply put, a one-way stretchy wrap is one that stretches in ONE direction only (or stretches much much more in one direction than the other).  Generally these wraps stretch only in the vertical direction (along the width of the wrap).  While a two-way stretchy wrap stretches in two directions – both along the width and the length of the wrap.

You can see this for yourself here;

So what are the pros and cons of each type?   

Two-way stretchy wraps are easier to pre-tie and then pop your baby in because they are stretchier and because they stretch evenly, which means they stretch in a way that feels more intuitive – easier for your brain to understand and predict.  So it’s very easy to put the sling on and get it tight enough that it will support baby once they are in but still have enough space to stretch it out to put baby in easily.  Conversely, One-way stretchy wraps are much harder to pre-tie because they don’t stretch evenly. That uneven stretch means it is often quite hard to tie them tight enough that they will support baby once in and still have space to get them in easily.  The window between too tight and too loose is just much smaller.  Consequently, I often think of pre-tying a one way stretchy wrap as being a bit like finding the right setting on a tempermental old toaster where there is just about 2mm between still bread and completely burnt. The window on a two way stretchy wrap is simply much wider and so it is much easier for a new sleep deprived parent to learn.  

It is worth noting that you can tie using methods other than the pre-tie method, and this can work a lot better for one-ways.  But often the manuals only show the pre-tied method so parents don’t realise this is possible and often the whole reason they bought a stretchy wrap in the first place was because they wanted the convenience and ease of being able to pre-tie first and then pop baby in and out as needed.

On the flip side in general one way stretchy wraps are more supportive of bigger babies.  The reason for this simply being because they are less stretchy they don’t get stretched out as much as baby grows, while a more stretchy two way will definitely start to feel more “bouncy” and less supportive as baby gets heavier between 4-6 months.  But often parents are moving on around this point anyway as babies tend to grow out of either type stretchy wrap developmentally rather than physically as they go through the huge developmental leap that happens somewhere between 3 and 4 months.  So being less supportive isn’t a huge con, but it is worth noting if you have reason to believe your more likely to be using a stretchy wrap for longer (i.e. developmental delay or other special consideration).

Which brands are one-ways or two-ways?

Well known one-way stretchy brands include; Moby, Ama, Liberty, Funki Flamingo, Free-Rider, Manduca, ByKay and most the cheap stretchy wrap brands found on Amazon

Well known two way stretchy brands include; Izmi Baby, Hana Baby, Calin Bleu, Boba, JPMBB Original and Basic, Lifft, and Joy and Joe

For more ways in which stretchy wraps differ and a huge table comparing 16 different brands please do check out this article.  

-Madeleine

Legs in or Legs out when carrying a baby in a Stretchy wrap?

20200102_150105_0000I almost always teach legs out when supporting parents wrapping their baby in a stretchy wrap.

Many stretchy wrap manuals show legs in positioning for newborns and then suggest legs out as baby gets older.  But I normally encourage parents to skip this for three main reasons

  1. Legs in can place weight on ankles and feet.  While unlikely to be dangerous, if you imagine sleeping in this position yourself you can easily picture getting pins and needles or inadvertently ending up a in calf stretch for a long period.  While if legs are out of the sling, legs and feet a free to wiggle unfettered and aren’t bearing any weight.
  2. Legs in can make it easier for baby to slump to one side in the sling or even result in baby trying to stand up in the sling when they wake which can feel less secure and a bit alarming
  3. Most babies are born developmentally ready to sit in the cross with a leg out on either side, so it’s simply not necessary to have their feet in.

How can you tell if your baby is ready to sit with one leg either side of the cross?  Firstly look at your baby when not in the sling – i.e when you hold them, when in the bassinet or cot… do they hold their legs all squished up together with knees together or are they starting to open their legs out (knees apart)?  If starting to open out then they should be able to sit comfortably in the cross.  The material is soft so you simply spread the wrap just enough to fit your child and where they most comfortably hold their legs.

If they are still really squished up it might not feel right putting them in the wrap with legs out on either side.  But there are other options!  The same wrap can be used to carry baby in a different position that allows legs to be together but feet still out of the wrap.  Examples include Pre-tied Front Double Hammock, Kangaroo Carry or Seated Sideways (video tutorials of each of these can be found here).

Or if you prefer to wrap with feet in, if this feels more natural to you can do so knowing that ideally we want the feet and ankles in particular to be free of weight and restriction, so once baby is in sling you can run your hands inside to check that they are sitting squarely on their bottom with legs tucked towards your tummy and not under their bottom.  That way you know baby is sitting comfortably!  Then once they do start to open their legs more and start to unfurl you can move to wrapping with legs out

-Madeleine

PS… Worried about cold legs?  Check out these wonderfully soft MooMo legwarmers or these super cozy wooly Babywearing Socks available in our webshop.