Who is babywearing for?
Is it for the natural mummies?
The hippy daddies? The ones who love rainbows? The attachment parents? The gentle parents? The strict parents? The routine parents? The just barely-coping parents? The totally-rocking-it-babies-are-a-breeze parents?
The trendy parents? Older parents, younger parents? Working parents or stay at home parents?
For second or third (or fourth or more) time parents who desperately need their hands free? And first time parents?
Parents who walk the dog, who like days out, who like to travel, and explore the countryside or new places? For lazy parents (as I was once accused of!)?
I imagine you get the idea!
Carrying babies is for every family whatever that family believes about babies, however they raise their children, whatever you look like or however you live your life.
We all carry our babies, whether in arms or in a sling.
However you identify what kind of person or parent you are, if carrying your child in a baby carrier appeals to you, for whatever reason, then you're doing something rather special that supports your baby's physical and mental health, and their emotional and social development. It helps to build a secure attachment, building bonds and connections.
I've witnessed the sudden increase of sling libraries and consultants across the UK, as well as being aware of communities all over the world. Babywearing is an ancient and modern worldwide human practice.
The world has moved on but our fundamental needs haven't. Babies are born with the same ancient human expectations, seeking a certain kind of experience of proximity and responsiveness. How whole and at ease do we feel as adults?
I discovered the idea of using slings before I was first pregnant and then planned to use them for at least the 'in arms phase' to meet my baby's needs. I'd heard about, then read The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff.
It looked very freeing, not just of your hands, but to feel relaxed and confident as a parent. To walk hand in hand with someone at your side, to be able to move around and go with your baby wherever we pleased.
For most of our first baby's first year we had regular lunchtime pizza dates while our son slept in the sling, until one day he woke up earlier than usual from his nap and discovered our secret.
We had a solution to many problems. Just carry them and will that help calm him?
When my second and third children came along I discovered also the joy of pushchairs. It was a new necessity after carrying had served me for so long. I love both my strollers and my slings. They do different things. Just thought I'd get this straight that any tool as a parent is fantastic if it helps make life work for you. I'm not only about slings. Just mostly.
Not everyone can or fancies the idea of carrying in a sling. And sometimes our babies have different ideas to us! There are other ways to enable contact, touch and responsiveness, though carrying in a sling aids this. It's the carrying that matters and has all the positive effects, not how you do so as long as it is safe and comfortable for you both.
I accept and value all parents who love their children and are building a trusting and loving relationship with them, however that might be. Babywearing isn't the be all and end all, but it really can be enjoyable, very helpful, rather transformational and really incredible in all kinds of families and situations.
This year's International Babywearing Week 2nd-8th October is all about being 'threaded together'. It is a week of celebrating, promoting and advocating for baby carrying, which I do nearly every moment of the day when I'm not sleeping. It's my life! And maybe it could be yours too.
The motto for Carry My Baby is Love. Carry. Live.
Inspired by the concept of minimalism (and being fairly successful at applying this to my personal sling stash!), my ethos is that through carrying we can love and care for our child easily, joyfully, and just get on with living our lives as families. Once you've found the right sling for that moment, then the rest will follow.
I've been on a bit of a nostalgia trip looking at photos of us carrying our first two children.
Here is Mr CarryMyBaby with a 1yr old biggest boy who is 6 soon.
His favourite carry was the hip cross carry with a woven wrap. He could pre-tie it then pop him in when he was tired and it was time to go home, and they could both enjoy the cuddles and closeness. You can do this in arms but you can hold them comfortably for longer in a wrap, they feel lighter, and there's something about sitting in the fabric that feels secure and comforting.
As his daddy is tall he gets a higher vantage point than on me too!
Wraps really are a sling that you can figure out some of your preferred ways to tie, to make it personal to you in what you want to get out of it.
What does it mean to carry your baby in a sling ergonomically?
For a new mother, carrying her baby in arms while she tries to make a cup of tea, eat lunch, carry dirty laundry, and to rock her baby to sleep, can be hard work physically and make normal daily tasks challenging.
More and more parents are turning to baby slings to make their lives easier and to nurture a close relationship with their baby, who invariably wants to be held close to them.
A comfortable baby carrier will make light work of carrying and be physically good for you both. But not all baby slings are equal in terms of comfort for the baby or parent.
Firstly, what do we mean by ergonomic?
Ergonomics is all about designing things so they can be used easily and safely. When that is applied to something that is worn on the human body it covers physiology, fit and biomechanics. When applied to baby carrying it is more specifically related to whether carrying is healthy for the body, working in harmony with the baby's physiology and preventing risk of injury to the parent's body.
If it hurts or is uncomfortable then it can be improved on in the way that is used, or an alternative can be tried.
What makes a carrier ergonomic for the parents?
A carrier is comfortable for the parent, with minimal strain on muscles and effect on posture, if it has the adjustability to ensure the load of their infant can be held close to their body. A baby carrier should ideally allow the infant to be carried high on the body, so they are close enough to kiss their head, and hold them snugly. A baby is then carried close to the parent's centre of gravity making the load much easier to bear, so they feel lighter and putting less strain on your body.
If a carrier is not tight enough and/or your baby is sitting low on your body, or your baby's legs are dangling and not well supported, then your child's weight will be dragging down on you, feeling heavy and could lead to back strain or injury.
As I said, not all slings are equal. The better carriers are those that are fully adjustable or at least fit well, and have a wider base so a baby is in a physiologically healthy position (more on this below). In short, it is more comfortable to carry your child with their legs supported straddling your body.
What makes a carrier ergonomic for the baby?
There are many aspects of a baby's physiology that need to be considered if we are concerned with carrying our baby in a way that is optimal for their physical development. We can let our baby be our guide. How do they like to be held, how do they position themselves?
There are other positions we can carry in, but from birth we will carry our baby in an upright position with their chest to our chest.
Most often babies bring their knees up to their chest, so they are higher than their bottom, with their weight tilted into their pelvis. Their hips are very slightly spread from birth, but very little, becoming naturally wider as they develop over the first 3-4 months. This positioning and a sling tightened snugly for back support, protects their spine and the muscles.Until a baby can sit unaided they need back support up to their neck, and the sling must be tight to hold them snug to their parent's chest.
The 'spread squat' position with knees higher than bottom, and a rounded bottom so they are seated in the carrier, is the most comfortable and healthy for normal hip development.
Baby is our guide: whatever our baby naturally is like in arms, the sling should follow as a natural extension of being in arms.
Physiological benefits in the baby
These aren't related to ergonomics but in a piece about the physicality of carrying I thought it would be remiss of me to omit the positive physical effects of carrying besides whether a carrier is ergonomic.
These include the gentle movement being toning for their muscles and stimulating the vestibular system in the brain, which is all about balance and coordination. Being carried helps to strengthen their chest and neck muscles which is what tummy time aims to achieve, and the closeness where they can feel your warmth, heartbeat and breathing, helps to regulate their own temperature, heart rate and breathing.
It is of the utmost importance that a baby is safe when carried. This comes down to maintaining their airway, ensuring they are securely in the sling and our ability to monitor that.
They must not be slumped in the sling, and their back must be supported so they are held as sturdily as if they were being held in arms. The parent must always be able to see their baby's face, see their nose, mouth and check their chin is not tucked into their chest. Being high up makes it easy to keep an eye on our baby.
Besides these safety precautions, being on your chest in a sling is one of the safest places to be.
Physiological factors in the parent
There is an element of building up your muscles and strength to carry your baby. For the mother recovering from birth and with her body going back to normal, while she is regaining her core strength, she cannot expect to be able to carry for hours straight away. A sling may also work different muscles that you haven't used before.
During pregnancy a mother's posture has changed considerably, so an ergonomic carrier used well can enable her to stand normally again and regain her pre-pregnancy posture.
Carrying your baby in a sling avoids constant holding or lifting your baby from one surface to another, or a heavy carseat, or lifting a pram out the boot, even more so if recovering from a caesarean section. Pushing a load like a pram can be physically demanding compared to wearing your baby in a sling, at a time when you are most vulnerable to injury, especially while the hormone relaxin still remains in the body for the first few to several months after birth.
Some parents already suffer from physical conditions or may have current or historic back problems so the way your baby's weight is distributed throughout your body in a sling should be carefully considered if there is to be an option that is most comfortable and not exacerbate any issues.
How will I know if the sling is right for us?
It is a great idea to try before you buy, which you can do through the sling library hire service at Carry My Baby in Leicester, because a carrier might be comfortable after a few minutes, but you won't know for sure until an hour later. Expert hands on advice in helping to fit it well to you and your baby and learning to adjust it correctly can make a real difference too, with Joanna Mockford, a trained Baby Carrying Consultant. You can have a carrier that is ergonomic but not use it in the most optimal way. Carry My Baby also offers a consultancy service and workshops so you can learn more about the positive effects of baby carrying, physiology, safety and how to use different types.
Whether you have particular physical needs or not, seeking out local support at a Sling Meet, Sling Library or a Baby Carrying Consultant will help ensure you and your baby are comfortable when carrying.
Transferring a sleeping baby out of your arms and into a sling
My top sleepy sling transferal tips include keeping a stretchy wrap pre-tied and slipping them back in when asleep. Or having a woven wrap partly tied in beginnings of front wrap cross carry, in a cross carry, or a kangaroo carry can be tied around a sleeping baby. A ring sling can be slipped over you both when baby asleep, or on ready to slip in. You could even buckle up or tie on the waist band of your carrier when you sit down and feed your baby, then position bottom in place holding baby upright, and secure the sling around them. There are very possibly unlimited possibilities. Us parents can be very resourceful when the occasion arises.
As your baby's sleep matures you can use the sling to get them to sleep, and then transfer them safely to another sleep surface. I loved this so I could cuddle up with them and have a snooze too! Do not sleep yourself while carrying your baby in a sling.
Where can I find this sleepy dust?
Sleepy sling transferals are sometime tricky without putting your baby down, so even easier is taking advantage of the built in sleepy dust often contained in slings and carriers. It won't say so on the box but rest assured it is a vital component in most. If your baby has a full tummy, clean nappy and they are not so full of smiles anymore, get them in a sling and potter, and nine times out of ten they will drift off. You might need to keep moving, pacing, walking up and down stairs, if your baby is particularly fickle. Or going for a walk in the garden or around near where you live. Mums, dads, grandparents and other family members can also make use of this sleepy dust, therefore giving you a much needed break if you are the main baby carer.
Finding your rhythm
Using a sling daily as part of your nap routine for your baby can be very reassuring and reliable for you both, with baby sleeping more soundly and for longer than if they were without physical contact. They have your physical touch and may even be able to be rocked back into a second sleep cycle when they tend to stir after the first 40 minutes or so. Being put in the sling is an opportunity for a tired or overstimulated baby to rest or nap wherever you are. Often if a baby sleeps well in the day, once they've found their rhythm, and have been held in arms for as long as they need, they often settle for evening sleep more easily and sleep better at night. They have had their carrying needs met, and sleep breeds sleep.
Baby can sleep anywhere
This is my favourite part. As long as you have a sling your baby has a consistent place for naps, not just when at home, but when you go out to groups, for days out, when travelling, or staying somewhere new. When staying away somewhere unfamiliar you can go for an evening stroll with baby in pyjamas before you transfer them to their bed. In fact somewhere to sleep is one of the things we most love about babywearing. A place that is warm and safe, and baby can be close to our hearts.
Sleepy dust is the best!
Pop along to a sling library drop in, a workshop, or book a consultation to find your sleepy dust
Above from left: Storchenwiege Baby Carrier Turquoise stock image; 3 month old demo doll in back carry on narrowest setting
I will start this review by being totally honest.
I have been in business three years and stocked the Storchenwiege Baby Carrier early on. My motto is to stock beautiful, comfortable baby slings from brands we love. I always loved the concept of the carrier but I found myself that the toggles slipped a little when I pulled on the straps to tighten, and the straps hovered a bit where they met my body so that much of the weight pulled on my shoulders. I was confused about whether I should keep the hood out or zipped away.
It was a popular, loved carrier, and those that tried one often bought one, but I ceased stocking it eventually because I personally did not find it as comfortable as I'd hoped. I wanted to be a strong advocate and truly LOVE it myself.
When I heard about the new improved model I eagerly bought myself a demo version to replace my earlier version in my sling library. I then bought myself a second.
How well does it fit a newborn?
Very well. There is not only the adjustment at the bottom of the panel to make it really narrow to accommodate a newborn (see photo 2), but there are toggles at the top to be narrower to support little shoulders, and it goes shorter than it did before (see photo 3). The earlier version was often too tall for a newborn initially, so this is a fantastic improvement! Photo 5 shows the carrier on it's smallest settings with my newborn doll.
In photo 4 you will also see that the angle of the straps is a bit wider than before, and there are ties around the straps that cinch them in. This helps the straps to sit flatter to your body and keeps the straps away from your baby's face which was often an issue before.
How well does it fit a toddler?
I tested it with my nearly two year old and he is over 30lb so fairly big for his age. It did not quite go up to each of his kneepits, but I was able to use the straps to bring to the back to the knees to offer additional support. The panel came up to his shoulders.
There has been some compromise in the longevity of the carrier into toddlerhood to allow for the smaller dimensions now possible for newborn, but back when there wasn't 'toddler size' anything we just adapted carriers with the straps as our babies grew up into bigger children.
Photos 7, 8 and 9 below show the carrier with my toddler doll in front and back carries so you can see the contrast of how they fit in compared to newborn.
What I love
The depth and cut of the panel gives a wonderful rounded lower back shape for your baby, when at its widest for a toddler, down to its narrowest for a newborn. It allows a deep seat where baby's pelvis is tilted and their knees are raised higher than their bottom. The legs out padding is a wonderful addition on this new model to offer more comfort for the baby.
It goes smaller for a small baby and the extra adjustability
When carrying a toddler the fabric now extends below the waistband to help to offer more support with it spread across the lumbar region for back carries
Far more visibility for baby and a closer fit to the body for the parent
Photo 10 below shows the new addition of the chest belt for use in back carries.
The hood is far easier to use and keep clipped up, and it can also be tightened at the edges
Minimum waist is 28" when using the carrier at it's full width (smaller with a newborn) so it will not fit the most petite of wearers as your baby grows bigger. This can be remedied by having the waistband longer and round your waist twice, which some find works well. It is disappointing that this was not addressed in it's redesign, but all carriers do have a lower limit.
The waist adjustment webbing takes a little time to learn how to adjust, but the payoff is a very secure waistband that is not going to come loose.
Does not seem as large as the previous model, so the lifespan may be shorter. The straps can be used to widen the seat and support a toddler from knee to knee.
In summary, this is a carrier I now find very comfortable, with some well thought out improvements for a better fit, comfort and visibility for the baby.
If you like the sound of it take a look at our current range here
From bottom left clockwise: Photo 7, 8, 9, 10
Our Hoppediz order has arrived, with a much larger range of Bondolino and Hop-Tye colourways in stock here than before, and a restocking of the popular Los Angeles Star ring slings. These are so soft to wear straight away!
Above is a photo of me modelling the new Bondolino Timbuktu in our sling library! How do I look?
Los Angeles Cappuccino is a new colour to the range, now available as a Hop-Tye and Ring Sling, as well as the woven wrap these originate from.
What's the difference between a Hop-Tye and a Bondolino?
We love both carriers, with each being very comfortable in different ways.
They are both adjustable at the base, suitable from newborn, and have tie on shoulder straps for easy adjustment and fit.
The Bondolino has a flat, tube like waistband that is secured with velcro and has padded straps on the shoulders. It is one of the most comfortable carriers I have tried, as it loads the weight really well through your body. The Hop-Tye has slight padding at the waist, and has wide, flat, wrap straps to distribute the weight widely across your back.
If you are after padding and more structure then the Bondolino may suit you, and if you would like the softness of a wrap in a lightweight carrier then you may like the Hop-Tye.
We have Hop-Tyes and Bondolinos in our sling library, and you can browse the full range in our shop.
Which colourway do you like best?
It's a busy busy month here at Carry My Baby in many ways!
We've had a great birthday week here so thank you everyone for joining in the good cheer with us!
We had a busy sling library session on the Friday, with a gift of a necklace to our first visitor, free sling hire vouchers given out with each loan, and all the cakes went!
Our giveaway had a big response and I am thrilled to be sending the Didymos box off today to the lucky winner, who will use it when their new baby is born.
And yesterday afternoon I very much enjoyed the company of five women and their babies in a Carry My Baby Workshop while we explored different slings together, how to breastfeed in a stretchy wrap, which buckle carrier is comfiest and simplest, and finding a ring sling was just what a newborn wanted to be snuggled into mummy.
I feel so blessed in what I do and long may it continue!
Shelves have been emptying so in this month alone we have just received a box from Storchenwiege , and our Hoppediz order is arriving this week with more Hop-Tyes and Bondolino.
Later in the month we expect a fresh shipment of Wrapsody: The Wraparound Baby Carrier hybrid wraps with a new colourway, more Connecta Baby Carriers. We may also be due a new Liinalapsi - Wearababy order for Wompats and MySols, and a new soft structured carrier from Je Porte Mon Bébé (jpmbb) will be on its way at the end of June/early July!
Argh it's crazy!
The sling library is getting busier too and will be expanding to accommodate! I hope to grow my workshop offering too.
How can we best meet your carrying needs?
Fresh from the loom in Germany, Storchenwiege Leo Orange has landed, adding a new shade to their beautiful, colourful range of Leo wraps. The two tone diamond weave not only looks stunning and elegant, but is also naturally very supportive, comfortable and forgiving to wrap with, due to the stability and flexibility of the weave.
Above pictured from left to right: Leo Red, Leo Orange, Leo Turquoise and Leo Marine. Below is Leo Bordeaux, and Baby Carriers in Turquoise and Bordeaux.
We have a range of 3.6m (size 4), 4.1m (size 5), 4.6m (size 6) and 5.2m (size 7) so you can choose a length depending on your size and what carries you would like to tie.
Browse all Storchenwiege woven wraps, ring slings and baby carriers
That moment when your child is on your back, and they relax in their place of rightness.
Close to the body they know best, getting their fill until they need you less and less.
When they enter that state of quiet alertness, they are at ease and serene.
Do you too adore these moments when the world feels right, ever shorter moments as they grow