Category Archives: Babywearing

Choosing a Baby Carrier – Things to Keep in Mind

Discussions about certain styles of baby carriers and the possible harm they could do to the baby and the back of the person wearing it are hot topics at the moment. With this in mind, what should parents pay attention towhen choosing a carrier?

M-position baby carriers

A big advantage of an ergonomic baby sling or carrier is that the child can always be carried in the healthy M position. What makes this position so important for the baby’s health? In the M position, the baby ‘s knees are up higher than its bottom. Thus the spine of the baby is not burdened and, moreover, a good development of the hips is fostered. The fabric of a good baby sling can be spread from knee to knee. Whether the baby is small or somewhat bigger, the baby is always in a right M position.

Carrying Newborns.

Obviously a baby carrier can be used right away from birth (depending on the actual carrier), however the hips of the baby are not quite sufficiently developed for the M position straightaway. In the womb the baby lies in the foetal position with both hips bent in a flexed position (see image below). After birth, it takes a while before the joints are stretched. When children are born breech this can take a little longer.

Babies are naturally very flexible. Using a baby carrier can help prevent hip dysplasia and sometimes even helps the healing of it. For newborn babies though, we recommend using the foetal position, known as the frog posture with legs are lifted in the carrier. Even then though, the legs are still in the M position, just held slightly differently by the carrier.

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Carrying facing outwards

It is intended that a child, when carried in a baby carrier, is in the most natural position. If you carry the baby facing outwards, its back assumes an unnatural posture as well as the hips. The back isn’t nicely curved, but instead has a hollow curve facing the other way which is neither comfortable or healthy. Your child may also be over-stimulated and this is also unnecessarily tiring for the back muscles. When carrying your child on the back the same applies, the back of your child should be in its natural position. So, for carrying both on the back and belly the best option is having the baby facing the person that is carrying.

Safe ergonomic carriers

Some baby carrying systems don’t provide a facility to support the legs from knee to knee. Something to be aware of when purchasing a baby carrier, particularly those in high street shops The pressure on the hips should be minimal with a good support, because the legs are spread and are also supported by the wide straps. In addition, the hips are in a stable position.

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Have a look at the picture on the right above for an example of a good carrying position. On the left you can see the position of the hips that we do not recommend.

Comfort for the Carrier

Let’s not forget the father or mother. We wouldn’t want a baby sling or carrier causing any discomfort for the person carrying. When a carrier has narrow shoulder straps people can still sometimes experience shoulder and back problems because of the weight that burdens these narrow straps, and the minimal distribution of the weight over the shoulders and torso. A good baby carrier distributes the pressure over the body thanks to the wide straps. When wearing a good baby carrier you burden your back and abdominal muscles in an ergonomic way, affording stronger muscles. Back problems are often caused by the lack of strong back muscles, or by an incorrect burdening of weight. When using a baby carrier or sling you train your abdominal and back muscles in an ergonomic way, making your back stronger.

With the right baby carrier it is a pleasure to carry for both baby and parent. Carry your love, anyway you want!

 By Kay Poelen, found of ByKay Baby Carriers www.bykay.com

Soft Structured Carrier Babywearing Comparison and Reviews

We love babywearing at BabyCalm.

We understand though that for many parents wrap slings can be daunting, we also understand that many (especially dads!) are keen on the idea of a more structured buckled carrier – one that they can simply “click and go” and one that looks a little more mainstream and a little more like the baby carriers sold in most high street shops. Enter the ‘Soft structured Carrier’ – a baby carrier that carries baby in an ergonomically/physiologically correct position and one that is comfortable for the wearer. A carrier that can be used on the front and back (and often hip) and can often be used well into the toddler and even preschool years.

There is one problem though – the huge choice – what one should you buy? We would always recommend trying one of first, but if that isn’t possible for whatever reason there are a few points to bear in mind:

  1. Who will be using the carrier? Are they petite? plus size? very tall? Will the waistband fit? Do the straps cross to provide a better fit?
  2. How long do you want the carrier to last? From birth? Well into toddlerhood? Consider the weight capacity and height and width of the carrier and whether you need to purchase a seperate invoice to use the carrier from birth?
  3. Do you want to back carry or hip carry as well as carry baby on your front?
  4. Does the carrier have a sleep hood? To support your baby’s head if he or she falls asleep in the carrier?
  5. Will you be using the carrier in very hot weather? Does it need to fold up small to pop in your bag?
  6. Finally – what sort of budget do you have?

We have created the table below as a good starting point (by no means does this cover all SSCs on the market) – read on for detailed reviews of some of the most popular carriers:

comparison

Boba 3G  – £89.99 from Slumber Roo

Review by Gwen – her son is 3yrs old in this picture.

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I bought the Boba 3G as I wanted a semi-structured carrier that I would be able to do a back carry in when I was on my own.  After trying out a few I fell in love with the Boba 3G.  I couldn’t believe just how it easy it is get my toddler on my back; it is just like putting a ruck sack on.

The wide padded straps are extremely comfortable, other carriers started to pull on my shoulders after a while but the 3G stayed comfortable.  The wide hip belt sits comfortably on both me and my husband and both the 15 month old and the 3 year old love it.  The straps are very easily adjusted for each parent and child combination. There are a few extras that make it even better, the rain/sleep hood is very useful and folds into a pocket when not in use. There is a pocket for money and keys and even better there is a loop to secure a light bag in place with a popper rather than having it fall off your shoulders.

All in all I would highly recommend it.

 

 

Connecta Solarweave – £56.99 from Connecta

Review by Claire – her daughter is 16mths old in this picture.

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For me a Solarweave Connecta is an indispensable addition to my luggage for any sort of holiday and wonderful at home too!

Not only is the fabric cool and highly breathable, while being extremely soft and supportive, but it also offers sun protection as the fabric blocks out most of the harmful UVA and UVB rays. All factors that make it the perfect carrier for any warmer weather babywearing.
It also dries extremely quickly and folds up tiny to shove in your bag, not only fantastic for the beach or pool but also for active, rainy-day activities – I’ve often scooped up a damp toddler who’s been puddle jumping onto my back in ours!
They’re comfortable and extremely easy to use, making them a great beginners choice, and with very little adjustment the standard size can fit from newborn to around two years or more.
All in all a Solarweave Connecta is very versatile choice with lots to offer – but in my opinion a holiday must-have whether it’s sun or snow!
Ergobaby  – around £95

Review by Alexandra – her son is 20 mths old in this picture

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The ergobaby carrier can be found in almost any childcare shop. You can carry your baby on your front and on your back (and on your hip according to the instructions but clearly I would not recommend it as it is quite uncomfortable!) up to 18kg.

It is made in 100% cotton in lovely colours or designs. There is an extendable waist belt in option so any parents can use it (It can fit sizes 4 to 26.).  The body of the Ergobaby is not adjustable and quite small so it will be quickly overgrown by your LO. However, its dimensions are well suited from 6 month old to about 18mths old.

I didn’t like the pocket on the panel as it is on your baby’s back…. but I must admit it is quite spacious and could be useful.

The Ergobaby seems to be the least flexible SSC compared to the Boba and Manduca: you have to buy a newborn insert, the body of the carrier is not adjustable and the simplistic settings do not allow optimum adjustment. I know many parents who had invested in the newborn insert and found it inconvenient and difficult to install correctly. On the other hand it is perhaps the simplest SSC: no accessory to the basic version, no zips (except for the two pockets/pouches on the panel), no safety button on the buckle belt (which makes it easier to un-clip with one hand), a single point of control for the belt and suspenders. The adjustments are thus simplified but less accurate. A strong point in the settings is that the straps can be unbuckled, allowing a hip carry or to cross the straps in the back.

It was our 1st SSC and I found the Ergo rather limited with our 20mth old boy. A large part of the  belt is not padded and “dug” into my, rather not flat, stomach (when use for a back carry) and I didn’t really appreciated the shape of the belt on my lower back. I also found difficult to use it higher on my back. My husband who is quite thin didn’t find it uncomfortable though. I have since tried out the Manduca with my son and found it more comfortable and more flexible. The Ergobaby still is compact, lightweight and the fabric is nice.

 

 

Manduca  – from £99.99 from Cheeky Rascals

Review by Kate – her son is 7mths old in this picture

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I initially wanted to upgrade from wraps to half or full buckles mainly for ease of use for my husband.  One of the first full buckles I tried on was a Manduca and immediately I liked the structure to it and how versatile the padded buckle straps were, being able to wear them in a ruck sack style, crossways and use the sling for front, back and hip carrying.  What also immediately appealed to me was the fact that it has a zip feature to extend the body length and so would be suitable for toddlers and small children – a sling you would definitely get extended use from. It really is so comfortable and easy to use.

The Manduca is structured without being too hard and inflexible, it has a lovely deep seat for larger babies and toddlers whilst also having an insert for newborns – (handy for the next one!).  One of my favourite features is the deep, padded waistband as this takes some of the weight of the baby off your back and shoulders onto your hips.  I myself have a little extra padding in the waist department and found tie wraps have a tendency to dig in and slip after a long wearing session.  Not so with the Manduca.  It’s incredibly comfortable and the push and click locking buckle at the waist gives that extra peace of mind that its not going to pull or pop open if strained.  I also really like the thick padding on the shoulders which feel much more comfortable than some of the other lesser padded slings.

I prefer the cross over front carry at the moment as my baby is only 7 months old and I like to keep him “close enough to kiss”.  However, I can see the back carry becoming a favourite once he’s a toddler and we can play “piggy back” comfortably.
My husband is very happy with the Manduca as not only is it stylish and modern (and doesn’t make him look like a hippy!) but it feels secure, is easy to adjust and he loves the “click and go”aspect which is perfect when you’re rushing about and the weather is not so great – the last thing you need is trailing straps of fabric dangling in puddles while you’re trying to tie it in a downpour!

I can’t recommend the Manduca highly enough especially those who are new to Babywearing and perhaps a bit intimated by the huge varieties of fabrics and ways of tying fabric wraps. It’s been an interesting and educational journey for us so far and I’m really glad we’ve found a sling that suits all our requirements –  I’m especially  looking forward to snuggly winter walks in the snow.

 

 

Tula Toddler Carrier £103.99 Tula

Review by Emma – her son is 4yrs in this picture

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I was so excited to get a Tula Toddler last year –  which in my opinion is more preschool sized than toddler sized – because I was not ready to give up carrying my 3 and a half year old yet. Also he was born with bilateral talipes which meant his legs often got tired especially walking on uneven ground and up and down hills.

As we go to at least 2 festivals over the summer a carrier is an essential part of our kit, the Tula Toddler is great because both myself and my husband can use it. (I also use wraps but he is purely a buckles man) I am 5’1″ and a size 18/20, he is 6’1″ and of stocky build so finding a carrier that suited us both had proven tricky in the past.
The Tula Toddler is very adjustable giving both of us a comfortable fit. We used it quite a lot this summer – even though Alfie turned 4 in February and is above average height and weighs 19kg – carnivals and festivals are a regular occurrence on the Isle of Wight where we live. We use the optional leg extenders with it now Alfie is so big and it has meant that this carrier has lasted us a long time.
I recommend this carrier for larger toddlers and into preschool years.

Why You Should Celebrate International Babywearing Week – Guest Post by Babywearing UK

Many thanks to Victoria Ward from Babywearing UK for this guest blog post:

 

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Celebrate International Babywearing Week Oct 8-14th, 2012

Every year, families around the world get together to celebrate ‘International Babywearing Week‘. What is it, you might ask? And why the need to celebrate what is actually something simple: carrying your child? Is there anything novel about that?

For thousands of years, women carried their babies everywhere: in the house, at work, outside… It was the best – and possibly the only way – to keep them safe and warm. Then it became usual to place babies in various contraptions away from their mothers – from buggies to car seats, rocking chairs, cots, even walkers. As usual with these things, you might have noticed that the tide is turning. More and more parents (re)-discover that it is practical and convenient to carry their baby. And it is actually a good thing.

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Above image Copyright Calin Bleu

Parents can be at a loss to understand their newborn. Why is he fussing? Is he hungry, tired, does he need a clean nappy? Carrying your baby close helps you understand his signs much quicker, establishing the early foundations of communication and satisfying his needs before he gets to the full-on cries. A much nicer experience for the whole family.

The extra cuddles and closeness give the baby just the reassurance he needs to transition from the womb to the outside world. It can be bright and noisy out there but snuggled up against mummy or daddy’s chest, it’s alright. The closeness allows baby to sense his parents’ reactions much better and gradually makes sense of his experiences.

If you have to be separated from your baby for work or other reasons, carrying him closely in a baby sling while you are with him – perhaps on the way to nursery – is a good way to catch up on closeness. It is also true for working fathers who might not be able to see their little one as much as they want during the week. A baby sling is not just for parents: try lending a baby carrier to your childminder and show her how you use it. She will be able to comfort your baby throughout the day even if she has other children to care for.

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Above image copyright Moby Wrap

‘Babywearing’ is not just for newborns and babies. There are numerous child carriers who have been designed to fit toddlers. They allow you to carry your child right up to about 20kg (45lb). You can help him catch a nap on your back in the middle of a busy day, or encourage him to walk independently knowing that if he gets too tired, you can pop him on your back. A baby sling is a good way to keep young children safe in busy surroundings – at the market or when you’re travelling on public transport for example. Perched on your back, they have a good view of their surroundings (probably less scary that if they were much lower on the ground, surrounded by what must surely seem like giants!).

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Above Image: Copyright. Connecta Baby Carrier.

So why celebrate International Babywearing Week? Because parents all around the world are choosing to parent their children a different way, a way that suits the whole family. Because carrying their baby or their toddler in a comfortable baby carrier allows parents to live the life they want to live with their child.

To find a babywearing event near you visit: www.babywearing.co.uk

 

A Guest blog by Victoria Ward from Babywearing UK.

“Why don’t you ever put that poor baby down?” and How to Deal with Babywearing Negativity.

A huge thanks to Anne McEwan from Natural Mamas for this guest post:

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Carrying your child in a sling has many well documented benefits yet it often seems that society is still playing catch up. Parents using slings report negative reactions from friends, family and even complete strangers. Being told that a choice you are making for your child is wrong can be hard, especially if it is a choice that feels so right for you.

Why the negativity? 

When deciding how to deal with negativity to your choice to carry your child in a sling – or any parenting choice- it can be useful to consider why they feel the need to express the negativity in the first place. The vast majority of comments fall into these two categories:

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1) That is not what I did/would do and I feel judged by you or think you are crazy 
Regardless of whether you intend to judge someone else for not carrying their child, some people will allow their own insecurities to coax them into putting down your choice. Remarks from these people are often phrased in a ‘I could never do that’ or ‘It never harmed mine to go in a buggy’ way.

2) Lack of understanding 
Just very simply a lack of understanding as to why you would want to carry your child. Sometimes people react with ridicule to something that they have not encountered before as a way to hide their lack of knowledge. ‘Look at that woman with two heads’ or ‘can you not afford a pushchair’ are ways in which this can be expressed.

What can you do? 

The first thing you can do when you are approached in a way which feels negative to you is to examine whether it was meant to cause upset, is a misunderstanding or someone suffering from a case of foot in mouth syndrome.

It is possible for someone to say something which was meant in a very innocent way but which comes across as negative to you. By taking a step back and asking yourself whether you are being over sensitive you can gain an extra insight into the situation rather than going into defensive mode straight away.

If you have established that it was not merely an innocent remark you can then decide whether and how you want to respond. A teenager passing in the street may not be worthy of any response since it does not matter what they think of you, whilst a negative remark from a family member can have a much bigger impact.

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Tried and tested responses
These are some tried and tested responses to negative remarks. Choose the one that suits you and your situation best or have fun making up your own!

‘I love carrying him it makes both of us happy.’ 
The truth and nothing but the truth. So many reasons to carry but this is the most important of all and really it is also one that people should just be able to accept.

‘Carrying her is so easy. I wish slings like this had been as easily accessible when you had your babies.’ 
This one is great for those who you feel may have wished they had carried their children. It works in two ways. One, it gives an excellent non emotive reason for carrying and two, it empathises with them and expresses a wish that they would have been able to do the same.

‘I am sure carrying him has made him so much more confident, just look at how he loves to play with his train. Do you mind looking after him while I go and make a drink.’ 
If you feel that the person expressing the negativity is worried that they will not get to interact with your child in the way they had imagined, this can be a good way to redirect their attention. Please note that using this technique with a child who will scream when you leave their sight is probably counter productive…

‘Do you know I burn a lot more calories carrying her. It is great exercise and my back has never been stronger.’ 
A concern for the carriers back is often borne from an inability to understand how a soft sling distributes the weight evenly over your body. They imagine themselves carrying a child as heavy as yours and simply cannot imagine being able to do so.

‘Have you seen his latest trick? He can blow bubbles.’
Sometimes it is not worth your breath arguing or trying to explain. Focusing the attention on your gorgeous baby can then be the least confrontational way to move forward. After all, regardless of what they think, you are doing what you believe is best for your baby and as his parent you are in the ultimate position to make those decisions.

For some great independent advice on slings and babywearing see www.slingguide.co.uk 

Anne McEwan – Babywearing consultant and educator.
www.naturalmamas.co.uk The home of natural parenting.