Top 10 Hired Slings in 2020! And 2020 in numbers.

2020 has be one weird year. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that I hired less slings, saw less families, ran less consults, workshops and sling clinics than in previous years. BUT, as I reflect back on the year I was still able to

All of which feel like massive wins. I am hugely grateful that despite all the restrictions I was still able to support those 116 families.

Each year I also total up which slings and carriers hired out. Here are 2020 and 2019 compared!

The order has changed a bit, but many of the same names have been popular again this year!! Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that the most popular ones hired out just as much as in the previous year. Despite the fact hires were down by just over 40%, the Ergo Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini hired out as many or more times than the did in the previous years. What really suffered were the lesser known brands. You can see the Connecta fell right off the list and the Kahu baby was much lower. In fact very many simply brilliant brands like the Sleepy Nico, Manduca XT, Didy Klick, Mamaruga Zen barely hired out at all.

The reason for this is simple. So often the lesser known brands are the ones people discover when they come along to a Sling Library session or come along to a consultation. They will try on the brands they’ve heard of and expect to like then, based on what was and wasn’t working about those I would suggest other carriers to try. So often this would then lead them to discovering something they’d have never found otherwise. Without Sling Clinic sessions … the only way to try a range and discover less well heard of slings has been a one-to-one session. The alternative has been postal or doorstep hires and quite understandably people taking this option have been more inclinded to stick with what they know best. Its not a bad thing – everyone has ended up with carriers that fit them and their families well. But I do look forward to a time when Sling Clinic sessions and workshops can come back as they really do facilitate more families experiencing more different types of slings and carriers.

Fingers crossed Sling Clinic sessions will be able to come back soon. Before Christmas and the Tier 4 annoucement I had the green light from 2 venues – Kingston Town Children’s Centre and a brand new venue in Putney! Kingston Town will still be able to go ahead even under tier 4 so is looking hopeful for late Jan onwards (although unsure if further announcements may change things over the next few weeks). The Putney venue won’t be able to go ahead under tier 4 but should be able to under tier 3 or definitely tier 2. So it’s simply a case of crossing my fingers, watching the news and hoping for the best, but hopefully Sling Clinics will be back soon.

And in the meantime online consultations, in person consultations in clients homes and contact free hires are still going ahead (full info on all my Tier 4 friendly services here).

-Madeleine

cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone

Sheen Sling Services under Tier 4

This week brought the news that London has now moved into Tier 4. How does this affect the services I can offer and how you access baby carrier help?

Online Consultations and Hires are continuing as normal and are completely unaffected.

Online consultations via Zoom or WhatsApp can be a great way of exploring your options or getting help with a sling or carrier you already own. You can read more about these here, and can set one up by simply dropping me a message through my contact page. I will be at home all through the Christmas period and into January so can accommodate pretty much any date and time needed!

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.
  • I maintain records for track and trace (as well as my professional insurance). You can read my privacy and data protection policy here.

So if you would like face to face help please do get in touch to set this up. You can find details on costs etc here.

The webshop will remain open!

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.

-Madeleine

woman in white orange and green floral sleeveless dress holding black smartphone

Lockdown Services and how to access carrier help and advice over the next month

The thing that broke my heart during the first national lockdown was all the new parents who suddenly found themselves completely bereft of all the normal help and support services that would normally be available to help them. As restrictions eased in July I met so many parents who had really struggled.

As we enter this second lockdown the one thing that gives me hope is that this time the messaging from the Government is clear that services to new parents should continue following Covid secure guidelines.

As such one-to-one consultations in my home and clients homes will continued to be offered through out this second lockdown for those for whom need it.

What does that mean? For some parents – particularly those who already have a sling or carrier they’d like help with or expectant parents who would like to see and chat through their options – I can provide the same quality of support via a Video consultation. So in the interest of reducing social contacts if I can help you just effectively online I will do so.

However, for many this 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 and ensure your confident using them. Particularly for those with a history of back pain, post-cesarean section, parts of multiples, parents of babies suffering with reflux, parents of babies born early and a whole host of other situations where face to face support is really needed. And in these cases face to face support will continue to be offered.

Whether in my home or yours we will maintain 2m distances throughout. I will wear a mask and I ask that you do to if you are able. All slings and carriers you’ll try will be freshly washed or quarantined for 72 hours prior to you using them and handled only minimally by me and only with freshly washed hands. Dolls will be freshly wiped down, as will my card reader and anything you might need to handle. Hand hygiene will be observed. At my home we will either be in my garden or right next to my big open doors to the garden so we will have lots of ventilation. If in your home please do think about where would be best in terms of ensuring ventilation and 2m spacings (as well as where you will be most comfortable!).

Most importantly if you are at all worried or unsure if in person or online would be most useful, or worried about how we will keep risks to a minimum please do get in contact and we will discuss and agree the best plan together based on your needs and circumstances. Just as we will work together to find the right sling or carrier option for you!

And for those who don’t need face to face support – all our contact free services are running as normal. Online consultations via Zoom can be booked for any mutually agreeable time. Contact free hires can be arranged at short notice – and the carrier of your choice either posted out to you or popped into my front porch for you to collect at your leisure. And the webshop will remain open through out for all your carrier and babywearing accessory needs! I pass the post office daily on the way to nursery and school so whatever the next few weeks brings us the online shop and postal hires will continue.

So whatever help you need over the next month or so don’t hesitate to ask, Sheen Slings remains very much open.

-Madeleine

What Entering Tier 2 means for Sheen Slings Services

As of Saturday London entered Tier 2 or “High” Covid Alert level. While this means all kinds of things for myself and my family in terms of who we can and can’t see socially, where and when. It actually doesn’t change much with respect to Sheen Slings and the services I can currently offer.

As I am already meeting all the covid secure guidelines laid out for businesses that operate from the home and mobile services that come into clients homes, one to one consults can continue. Whether you are coming to my home or you would like me to come to you, you can rest assured I am doing all in my power to ensure risks are as low as possible and every precaution is taken. You can read all about these measures and what to expect in my previous blog post here.

The main difference, is that the weather is rapidly turning a lot colder. So while I enjoyed many pleasantly warm consults in my back garden in July, August and September, these are definitely becoming more brisk. So please do wrap up warmly, if you do book in for a consult at my home! Because, if the weather is dry we will be outside and if it is wet we will be indoors but right next to the big doors into my garden with those doors wide open… so while we will remain dry it may well still be quite chilly! And please do bring a mask because if we are indoors we will be wearing masks. Either way, I am blessed that both my indoor and outdoor space are big enough that it is very easy for us to remain socially distant – at least 2m apart. I prefer to teach in a very hands off style anyway! I prefer to teach this way because it ensures you are confident using any sling or carrier you choose independently without my help by the time your session is over.

As such this means these sessions can continue in tier 2 and very likely even in tier 3 (under the current guidance, but of course I am continuing to review this continually as guidance is updated).

However, in the event these sessions need to be paused, or if you don’t feel comfortable face to face for any reason. I do have a number of contact-free services including online consultations, hire (either via post or collection from my front porch) and the online shop, which is filled with carriers and accessories that can be posted next day and I offer online support free of charge if you need help using anything you purchase. If you are not sure of what help you might need, or not sure of what you might want, you are welcome to simply email me and reach out.

So whatever happens, Sheen Slings will remain open and will be there (whether in person or online) to help you on your baby carrying journey.

-Madeleine

The Webshop is Here!

I am so excited to announce that the Sheen Slings webshop is here!

For a long time it has been possible to purchase through us, but only to those coming along to a session, for a consultation or following a hire. Now it is easier than ever! You can browse our full collection online, check out the colour-ways, read the descriptions and reviews and then when your ready purchase without needing to do so in person.

This is a step I put off for a long time, because I passionately believe that it is so important to try a sling or carrier on before purchasing. Just as you would a pair of shoes or a pair of jeans – fit is everything. Having a carrier that fits you well, that you are completely confident using and adjusting can make a huge difference! Saving your back, giving your hands back and allowing you snug baby on the move.

So, if you can please please do ensure you try any carrier or sling on before investing in it. Check out our services page to read more about how to go about trying and hiring.

Then when you are ready to purchase the webshop is there to make it as easy as possible for you. This is what I have learnt from you guys – offering the option to buy online doesn’t subtract from our service, it doesn’t prevent people from accessing and gaining help and advice. Instead is adds to the service by making it easier. Easier to go home and have a think first and not having to worry about coming back to collect. Easier to check out options while still mulling it over. Easier to buy something for a second baby that you tried out with the first baby but didn’t need at the time.

And those buying online can enjoy all the same benefits that those buying in person do;

  • Advice from an independent, highly trained babywearing consultant with over 6 years experience matching families up with the right options for them individually
  • Range of different carriers far wider than offered on the high street, and extensive product knowledge, making it far more likely we will have exactly the right thing for you
  • The teaching skills and knowledge base to ensure you can learn exactly how to get the most out of your carrier and get the best fit for you and your baby
  • Ongoing support, so if you ever lose confidence in the future or are worried about anything you know you can come back and we will sort it.

So here it is – the webshop! Happy Shopping!

-Madeleine

New Social Distancing Friendly Services and how to get Sling Help over the next few weeks…

When I was studying viruses and what would happen if a new virus spread through a naive population as part of my MRes in Infection and Immunity I have to say I never really imagined actually being in a pandemic in my lifetime.  It feels surreal.  The scale and the daily changes to the guidelines and feelings of uncertainty about what’s best has felt hugely overwhelming.

But now is not the time for wallowing!  I have been so struck by how amazingly well my local community has pulled together, ensuring everyone is supported while remaining distant and following the guidelines.

Likewise I want to ensure everyone in my local community still has access to sling help if they need it.  While Sling Library sessions, One to One consults and all direct face to face contact is suspended for the time being, I will still be offering help in the following ways:

  1. Door-step Hires and Sales
  2. Postal or Hand-delivered Hires and Sales
  3. Video Consults

This is how each of these will work:

Door-step Hires and Sales

If you know what sling or carrier you’d like to borrow and know how to use it, simply get in contact.  Tell me what day you’d like to come and collect and I’ll firstly ensure it is freshly laundered and then popped out into my front porch for you to collect.  I’ll pop it out there just before your due so it doesn’t come into contact with anyone else.  You won’t need to see me or any other member of my family.  Likewise if you wish to purchase a sling or carrier, your new in box carrier will be placed in my porch for you to simply grab.  We’ll organise payment online so no need to handle cash.

Postal or Hand-delivered Hires and Sale

I can also come to you!  While we are still allowed outside for exercise, I can cycle over to you and drop carriers for hire or sale off with you at your doorstep.  Again we’ll organise payment online so no need for contact on the day, just drop me a message to set this up.

Video consults

All our consults are moving online via Zoom!  If you’d like some help – discovering new slings or carriers that might be right for you, or help with something you already own we can set up a mutually agreeable time to video chat on Zoom.  I can also use WhatsApp video or Facebook messenger.  Cost depends on your needs – a full consult costs £25 for 1 hour, but I can also do mini consults (perfect if you just want a quick fit check and a couple of tips) and these cost £5 per 10 minutes and you simply pay for the time you need (i.e. £5 for 10 minutes or £15 for 30 minutes etc etc you get the idea!)

These can also be perfect if you need a sling and are not sure what to hire or buy, we can have an initial video conversation where I demo and show you the options.  Then I can get whatever you choose over to you and we can have a follow up second video chat where I can help you ensure your completely confident fitting and using the sling you’ve borrowed or bought.

 

-Madeleine

FAQ – How do Doorstep Hires work?

While I strongly believe in how much difference face to face help and support when trying out new slings and carriers can make.  Sometimes, just occasionally, it’s not needed.  Sometimes you know exactly what you’d like to borrow and just want to hire directly.

Maybe you’ve already been to the library and didn’t hire something you tried at the time and would like to now.  Maybe you’re already an experienced babywearer who is going on holiday and want to hire a lighter weight carrier or a toddler carrier for that trip.  Or maybe you are really struggling to make a session, and want to try something a friend has recommended first before committing the time to come to a session or schedule a consultation.  There are many reasons you might want to hire a sling without coming to a Library session or booking a consult first.

For this, I offer “doorstep hires”!

To arrange a doorstep hire you simply get in touch with me (by email, via the form on my contact page, WhatsApp, text, Facebook or Instagram message) and let me know what you want to hire and what day you’d like to collect it.

I then confirm whether your chosen carrier is available for your desired collection date, and if it I will ask you to fill out the following hire form (although, please only fill out if I have confirmed the carrier is in stock!), as well as confirming costs and how best to pay.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSehvYpCGcd2O6LniSMVJkQa7yLw4tIwUweWM5eCXo2jq5bl7Q/viewform?usp=sf_link

Then on the day I pop your chosen sling in my front porch for you to collect at anytime at all that day.  For payment, I accept cash on collection (posted through my main front door), or bank transfer or paypal in advance.

It’s that easy!

Then you simply enjoy your hire and return to my front porch at the end of your hire period!

Things to note, if your are considering if a doorstep collection;

  • There is no additional charge for organising a door step collection, you pay only for your hire period.
  • There is no opportunity to be shown how to use the carrier or to try it first.  The sling will be in my front porch and I am often not present when doorstep hires are collected.
  • If you would like to be shown how to use the carrier, or would like to try one or two different options and compare them before deciding which to hire please do consider booking a mini-consultation (£15 for upto 30 minutes one to one help and advice) or coming along to a sling library session instead.
  • You are welcome to ask a couple of questions about suitability of a particular carrier for you personally and what else I might suggest when arranging your doorstep hire but please bear in mind that this is no subsitute for face to face help. Without seeing you and your little one in the carrier I have I can not be sure it will work for you, so I can only offer fairly generic advice and not truly tailored information.  As such the doorstep hires works best for those who already have tried or know well what they are intending to hire.

 

-Madeleine

 

 

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Summer at Sheen Slings!

Summer is definitely well and truly finally here!   And I simply can’t wait for the holidays and getting to spend more time with my big boy in particular.  School is such a huge part of our lives now and I know both of us are looking forward all the fun we have planned for the summer break!

But fear not, Sheen Slings will still be continuing over the summer!  Albeit to a different slightly reduced schedule…

Drop In sessions:

There will be 2 drop in sessions over the summer, one in Kingston and one in my home (please see here for full details on what to expect at these sessions).

  • Tuesday 16th July, 11am-12pm @Kingston Town Children’s Centre, 40 Villiers Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 3AR
  • Friday 9th August, 10am-11.30 @Madeleine’s home, 79 Lower Richmond Road, Mortlake, SW14 7HU

 

Private Consults:

Private Consults in my home can be booked for any mutually agreeable time during any of the following dates during the summer break:

  • Monday 15th to Sunday 20th July
  • Wednesday 31st July to Tuesday 20th August
  • Friday 30th August onwards into September and the rest of the year.

I will also be offering consults in client’s homes too but for child care reasons these will be limited to the following weekends:

  • 20th July,
  • 3rd/4th, 10th/11th, 17th/18th August
  • 31st/1st September.

Full details of costs and how consults work can be found here.

 

Door Step Hires:

Know exactly what you’d like to hire and how to use it?  You are welcome to book a doorstep hire – simply drop me an email or social media direct message, let me know what you’d like to hire and when you would like to collect it and then I’ll pop it out in my front porch for you to come and collect anytime on the specified day.  Easy peasy!  While usually I only require 24 hours notice to arrange a doorstep hire (and sometimes possible with less notice!), I will be away 21st July through to 30th, and 21st August to 29th.  So if you require a doorstep hire between these dates, please ensure you contact me before I leave so that I can ensure the sling is ready for you (and/or husband is suitably briefed about what sling to put out and when!!!)

 

Then of course we will be back to normal with a full schedule of Sling Library sessions (both in Mortlake and Kingston), consults and workshops from September!   Additionally, Weekend Library sessions will be back from September onwards and hopefully some new venues might start popping up toward the end of the year or early next year!  As well as something new that I can’t wait to share with you all (for a clue head here!

 

-Madeleine