This has come up a couple of times at Sling Sessions lately, so I wanted to address it. There’s a popular group, on a very popular social media platform that advises parents to cut the toes off their child’s babygros to avoid “toe crunch”. Now I understand “toe crunch” – we’ve all experienced trouser rise, right? When you sit down & the bottom of your trouser legs is swinging in the breeze around the top of your ankle. Well, now imagine that your socks are sewn onto the bottoms of your trousers & pulled up at the same time that your trousers are… that’s toe crunch. I just don’t think we need to go to such drastic measures as cutting up our kids’ clothes to solve it.
As many of us are having to pinch the pennies and may be buying and selling our kids’ clothes (and stuff for ourselves) on the second-hand market, which is going to be much harder if we have to butcher their clothes to be able to use our slings/carriers. There are MUCH simpler options. Either use footless babygro’s or, once you pop your baby into the sling/carrier, simply find their feet & pull the toes of their babygro forward to make sure they have enough space for their toes.
Every few weeks I get an email from someone who’s pregnant, wanting to know whether they should come to visit the Sling Library before their baby is born so that they have a sling ready or wait until afterwards, so they can try some slings/carriers on with their baby.
The truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer.
Some people feel like they need as much information as possible before their baby arrives. They come along while they are still pregnant, to investigate their options, knowing that they can try on some options, using our weighted demo dolls, whilst others (things with big structured waistbands) may be tricky if their body is a very different shape to usual. In this situation, we can usually find something that will work for the first few weeks/months & they can then try other options later, as their baby grows, to find something that will continue to work as their baby moves beyond the fourth trimester.
Other people prefer to wait until their baby has arrived, manage the first few weeks without a sling/carrier & then come along to try some options, first with our weighted demo dolls & then with their baby.
Alternatively, you can do both! Allow me to introduce you to my Bump To Baby Package! The package consists of two separate appointments, one before your baby arrives, to have a first look at some options that can work early in your baby’s life, so that you can use a sling/carrier as soon as you want to. We can also look at some options that may work as your baby grows. You can try suitable options with our weighted demo dolls. You may choose to hire a sling or carrier during this appointment, although you are certainly under absolutely no obligation. You can then come back, during your baby’s first 8 weeks, to get reassurance that you are safe using your “early” sling/carrier (if that’s what you chose) &/or try alternative options that can work as your baby grows, trying these options first with our demo dolls & then with your baby. The aim is to leave you confident & comfortable in using a sling/carrier with your baby. Any sling/carrier hire is an additional £10-£15 per item. If that sounds like it might be for you – have a look here!
Sometimes parenting is tough. Instagram tells you that you should be happy and grateful for everything. Your baby should be milk drunk and snoozing in the Moses basket (& debunking that is A-WHOLE-NOTHER blog post!), you should have a full face of make-up on & a clean house, but life is not like that. Some days suck. You might have sore stitches, or an abdominal wound, sore nipples, or a combination of these. Some days make you cry. And that’s okay. Social media often sucks. The thing to remember is people post their best days. They rarely post the “I haven’t showered, I’ve got baby sick in my bra and it’s five o’clock” photos. They rarely post the “my baby has screamed for 6 hours and I don’t know what else to do to comfort them” photos. Do not compare yourself to other people.
I remember going to visit my workplace with my eldest when they were a couple of months old, and somebody asked me how things were going. My reply was “this is the hardest thing I’ve EVER done in my life” and my colleague looked at me in total disbelief. I left there thinking I was doing something wrong because I was finding parenting tough. With hindsight, I know now that it’s just that my experience of parenting was different to their experience of parenting, and rather than beating myself up for weeks over it, I just needed to accept that I needed a different level of support than they did. I needed to find my tribe. To find the people who were thinking and feeling the same things as me. I needed to find people that I could talk to who didn’t look at me like I was mad. I needed to find people who were saying the things that I felt that I could take on board, rather than things I needed to smile and nod at.
The thing is, babies don’t come with instruction manuals. I’m a great believer in trusting your instincts, but we spend so long being told what to do and how to act, and the way things should be by different people, that we learn not to trust our own instincts. By all means, listen to the expert. Listen to your friend. Listen to your sister. Listen to your mum. Listen to your cousin. Listen to the little old lady on the bus, but THEY have never parented YOUR baby! Smile and nod, and take what works for you.
To learn how to parent my eldest, I needed to find examples of parenting so that I could work out what would work for us. I talked to lots of people and I did a lot of smiling and nodding. I heard things from people that made me really sad. I heard things from people that most definitely did not fit with what I was thinking or feeling. But I was eventually lucky enough to find parents who were thinking and feeling the same as me and I could ask them what they were doing to support this brand new human in their lives. I found lots of strategies that worked for me and I found lots of strategies that most definitely did not work for me. Some of them we tried and then ditched them, some of them we didn’t even try, some we tried, loved & kept.
I have a friend called Lucy, she is a wonderful person – that I don’t always feel like I deserve! Everyone needs a friend like Lucy. We met when we were pregnant with our firstborns & when my youngest came along, Lucy used to drop her preschool aged daughter off at Nursery & come to my house to hold my baby, so that I could shower! Plus she bakes amazing cakes. She didn’t ask for anything, she didn’t tell me what to do or give her opinion on what she thought my baby needed – she just turned up! With Cake!
Sometimes life with a Bubba is A-MAZE-ING! Just wait for that first smile or when they say your name or tell you they love you! But when it’s tough – that’s ok too! Have a good cry, then chuck some clothes on (it doesn’t matter if you’ve washed or not) & go find your Tribe! You may even find your own Lucy!
LOCAL PARENTING SUPPORT:
Sling Library Drop-In: (1st/3rd Thursday’s of the month, 10.30-12.30 – Crystal Palace) You can come to a drop-in session with or without a sling/carrier! If you just want to hang out with some like-minded parents, come along – grab yourself a tea/coffee and a bit of cake & have a chat! (If you’d like help with a sling/carrier, make sure to book in beforehand – but if you just want to come for the social aspect then, do please just rock up! Details/booking here.
The Village London: (Catford) At The Village there are lots of different ways to meet other parents. You can join a Walk & Talk Group, pop along to the Sling Library and Carrier support, come for the Breast/Chest Feeding Support Group, join the Vocalise Choir, or many more options. You can also just pop in for a cuppa and a chat – there’s always someone around. More Info & Booking Here!
Catford Postnatal Group: This welcoming group runs every Friday 11am-1pm, at Abbotshall Healthy Lifestyle Centre, Abbotshall Rd, London, SE6 1SQ. They welcome parents antenatally too so that you can meet people who are just ahead of you in the parenting journey. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, or join the Facebook Group.
Waaah CIC: (Crystal Palace) This parenting hub is brand new (June 2022) & offers a variety of classes & clubs, such as stay & play. Details here.
This is a common question for lots of parents and is often a very individual decision. The question actually, often isn’t about safety. Lots of people are worried about allowing their baby to sleep in a sling or carrier because someone has told them that they’re “making a rod for their own back”, that their baby “will be clingy” or that “they’ll never learn to sleep alone”! The thing to remember here is that this is YOUR baby! You know YOUR baby best. If allowing them to nap in a sling means that you get 30mins (or more) to eat lunch in peace, drink an actual warm drink, chat to a friend/scroll Facebook, or even (shock horror – don’t overdo it) get some laundry on – then GO FOR IT! What works for you and YOUR baby, may not be the same as what works for your friend/sister/cousin/auntie. It may not be the same as what works for your partner & the baby, or even the same as what works for you and your last/next baby. Each adult/baby relationship is different – even between twins and their parents. You are absolutely welcome to ask people, both inside and outside of your support network, about what worked for them – it may give you some great ideas! Listen to their opinions, ideas and information, and then, smile and nod, and DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU and YOUR BABY! Research around attachment actually shows the opposite to a lot of the concerns that people often have about keeping your baby close to you. Studies show, the more you meet your baby’s needs now, the more independent they become later. They are more willing to move away from you and explore their surroundings when they know they can return to you, as their safe space, when they need to. Having your baby nap on you, may mean they get more sleep, as when they rouse, they recognise you as their safety zone and can drift off again, compared to waking fully, because you are not there.
Studies have shown that having your baby in the same room as you when they sleep (night AND day), can reduce the risk of SIDS &, with this in mind, BASIS (Baby Sleep Info Source) suggest that if your options for baby’s daytime naps are a separate room, alone, or in a sling on you, then the sling may be safer. More details here.
If you decide you would like to try allowing your baby to nap in your sling/carrier, there are a couple of factors to consider: *Are you comfortable in your sling for long periods? Let’s face it if the answer to this one is no – the rest of the consideration points are pretty irrelevant! Most slings and carriers can be made more comfortable with a very slight adjustment or two. If you would like help to feel more comfortable in your sling/carrier, then please book a consultation and I can help you. Using your sling/carrier should never feel heavy or uncomfortable – if it does give me a shout! *Is your baby safe in your sling? What this boils down to, is are you aware of the TICKS Safety Guidelines & are you happy that you are ticking all of your safety boxes when you are carrying your baby. If you are happy that you are both safe and secure, then you are good to go. If you would like help to adjust your sling/carrier so that you are ticking all your safety boxes, then please do book a consultation. *Should my baby sleep on my front or my back? Either really – or even on your hip/side, although do avoid allowing them to sleep in the “facing away/facing out/world facing” position as sleeping in this position can pose a risk to baby’s airway. Most standard soft structured carriers (ErgoBaby, Tula Baby, BabyBjorn One, Isara, Beco, Izmi, etc) can be used in a back carrying position from around 6m or sitting unaided. If your baby is younger than that, but you’d like to get them on your back (perhaps you’d like to bake/use a sewing machine/wash the car/play playdough with your toddler and it would be handy to have baby “out of the way”), then you may want to consider a MehDai or Woven Wrap that will enable you to get a nice high back carry, to make it easier to monitor your baby while they sleep in that position. Generally, stretchy wraps are not suitable for use in a back carrying position, due to the stretchy nature of the fabric. *What can you do while your baby naps? Right, so your baby’s asleep, you’re handsfree – now what? As I said earlier, it’s a great time to maybe grab a cuppa, or some lunch, scroll Facebook, get some laundry on, or lots of other things! Is this the right time to climb a ladder and change that pesky blown lightbulb/wash the windows/get some stuff down from the loft? Probably not – those jobs might be best left for another time/person. Is it a good time to jump in the car/on your bike and head to the supermarket? No! Where there should be safety equipment involved (car/bike seat) you should use that and NOT your sling – if you can walk/get a bus/train to the supermarket – yes, absolutely. Can you sleep? Well, the “I” from the TICKS Safety Guidelines is “In View”, so probably not, as you cannot keep your baby in view if you are asleep. If you need to sleep while your baby naps, you may want to settle them in their cot/crib/Moses basket or consider whether bed-sharingmay work for you.
I hope that helps! If you have any other questions about this or any other carrying or reflux related subject, do please get in touch!
First up, let me tell you what Reflux IS NOT – Infant Reflux IS NOT NORMAL! It’s COMMON, but that’s absolutely NOT the same as NORMAL! Reflux occurs in 40% of babies in the UK & 50% of babies in the US, so it’s certainly common, but that does not make it normal. Unfortunately, the medical establishment is not taught enough about infant reflux or given enough time to look at things holistically & instead are told to reassure parents that vomiting & crying is normal for newborns. Now to a point, crying IS normal in newborns – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about it, & occasional episodes of vomiting ARE normal for newborns, but repeatedly vomiting, needing several changes of clothes every day, or being horribly uncomfortable IS NOT normal. I’m guessing that one of the reasons you’re here is because you already know that & you’re looking for solutions. Let’s look at what Reflux IS & then we can look at what to do about it.
SO, what is reflux? Reflux (or Gastro-oesophageal Reflux to give it it’s full name) is the involuntary movement (reflux) of stomach contents (gastro) into the oesophagus (oesophageal). Now, don’t get me wrong – it is VITAL that, as human beings, we are able to regurgitate things from our stomachs. The primary reason for this is to rid ourselves of excess air (burping) so that this air does not go further down into our digestive system where it may get trapped & cause discomfort. The other reason regurgitation is essential is that our stomach needs to be capable of rejecting food stuffs that are unsuitable. Perhaps we have an allergy, or something is wrong with the food – in this case, getting it out of our bodies is imperative. However, the difficulty with reflux is that as the stomach contents move up into the oesophagus, so does stomach acid, which causes pain & can damage the lining of the oesophagus, & this most definitely IS NOT normal.
The good news is that Reflux is a symptom, not a disease & as a result, we can find the cause & resolve it, which then gets rid of the reflux.
The most common cause of reflux is aerophagia (excess air in the digestive system) & finding out why your baby is taking on air, either when they feed or through crying, etc, means that you can take steps towards preventing it. Reflux can also be caused by allergies or intolerances, or simply due to the baby’s immature gut not being able to handle the complex ingredients in their milk. As a Certified Infant Reflux Specialist, my job is to help you look at over 80 different signs & behaviours that your baby may be showing, to help us narrow down the cause of your baby’s reflux. You are the expert on your Baby, I’m a Reflux expert – together we can figure it out! If you would like to work with me, to find the cause of your baby’s reflux, so that you can take steps toward resolving it, you can make an online appointment here.
If you’re looking at getting a new baby carrier for your newborn, how do you know whether or not it’s going to fit them?
When you’ve already got a carrier – how do you know it fits?
The “standard” weight limits for Baby Carriers are 7-35lbs/3-16kgs, or 7-45lbs/3-20kgs. Most people assume that this means the carrier fits babies from 7-35lbs or 3-16kgs. If you’ve been to the Sling Library before, you may have heard me rant about the fact that sling & carrier manufacturers print weight limits on their packaging. The truth behind these limits is that they are testing guidelines. The manufacturers send their products to a testing laboratory who do force profile testing at the lower & upper weight limits, & if the carrier remains intact (hasn’t broken/torn) then it is judged to have passed. These weight limits can then be printed on the packaging. HOWEVER, these weight limits DO NOT mean that the sling/carrier FITS a baby at the lower weight limit, or will remain comfortable up to the upper weight limit. (My daughter was still within the weight limits for an ErgoBaby Omni 360 when she was 7 yrs old! There’s NO WAY that would have been comfortable. She was much easier to carry in a preschool sized carrier, or a woven wrap.)
So, If Not By Weight, Then How?
There are a couple of hints that your Carrier fits.
*It fits your baby without forcing them into a position they are not ready for.
Some structured carriers have wide bases, which is good – it helps to support your baby from knee to knee – but some babies like to stay in a very curled up position for a few weeks which can mean they don’t fit your carrier until they “uncurl”. If your carrier fits comfortably between your baby’s legs without forcing them to open their knees more than they want to, then you’re good to go.
*The body panel of the carrier comes no higher than the nape of your baby’s neck.
If you put your carrier on & the panel comes higher up on your baby’s head, try moving the waistband up your body. In the left-hand picture below you can see that the body panel comes up over the demo doll’s head. This makes it difficult to monitor your baby & ensure that their airways are open. In the right-hand picture, the waistband is up on the base of the ribs & the panel sits comfortably in the nape of the baby’s neck. You can see how the carrier has to come down between the wearer & the baby, before it goes up the baby’s back. This shortens the body panel & makes it safer, as it’s easier to monitor the baby.
But What About Head Support?
Sometimes people worry that if the carrier only comes to the back of the neck, then their baby won’t have enough head support. The truth is that lots of head support actually comes from getting the baby’s base right. When babies are fully supported, from the back of one knee to the back of the other, then the natural, physiological curve of their spine allows them to rest their head on your chest. Sometimes, particularly if they are very alert, you will find that your baby will hang their head backwards & look at you. That’s fine! Perhaps pop a hand behind their head & support them while you make eye contact together & you talk to them. Newborn babies are very social. They are programmed to look at faces over other shapes – it’s how they learn about communication, relationships & more. Once they’ve had that chance to look at you & take in details of your face & the way you look at them, they will relax & you can put their head back on your chest.
If you find your baby’s head often flops backwards, then check that your carrier is supporting your baby all the way across their thighs & into the backs of both knees. Also check that they are sitting on the fleshy bit of their bottom (think lounging in a deckchair, rather than perching on a barstool) with their knees higher than their bottom, as this supports the natural curve in their spine.
If you find you need additional head support, perhaps when your baby is asleep, or if you need to bend down & pick something up with both your hands (meaning you don’t have a hand to support baby’s head), most carriers have a headrest/pillow or sleep hood that you can use, just to support the back of your baby’s head – keeping their face clear.
Safety Above All Else
When you use any sling or baby carrier the safety guidelines are exactly the same, regardless of the type. Make sure you can TICK all off your safety boxes.
If you would like help using your carrier, or reassurance that you are using your carrier safely you are welcome to book an appointment! I offer both online & in person (when permitted) consultations with sessions available from just £15. You can find details on the “Getting Carrying Help” page of my website.
I am thrilled to announce that from Monday 6th July, I will be offering outdoor, socially distanced, consultations. These Consultations will be held in my front garden, here at SLSL HQ, to allow us to keep a 2m distance.
We will have hand sanitiser available, although you are welcome to bring your own. Please bring either a second adult, or a car seat with you, to hold your baby as I will not be able to offer to hold them for you.
When you book one of these appointments, I will call you to discuss your sling/carrier requirements. This will enable me to ensure that any suitable slings/carriers are laundered & available for you to try. Any carriers that you try on, will then be laundered again before adding them back to the Library. If you would like to hire a carrier, you are more than welcome to borrow anything you try on. You are also welcome to bring your own carrier if you would like assistance with something you already own. I will also have an appropriately sized demo doll available, plastic parts (head, arms/hands, feet/legs) pre-cleaned with alcohol wipes.
I will keep an eye on the weather forecast, if rain is due at or around your appointment time, we can reschedule. Rescheduling rather than refunds will be offered if the weather is inappropriate. Our regular 48 Cancellation policy applies, unless we are reschuling for weather reasons.
If the easing of restrictions continues, I may look to offer Private Consultations indoors, from September.
If you would like to book an outdoor In Person Consultation or one of our continuing Online appointments, you can find them here.
It can be really frustrating, can’t it? You heard that a sling or baby carrier can help babies to cry up to 40% less, but whenever you try to use your sling/carrier, your baby turns into a raging ball of fury, while you get all hot, flustered & panicked & then burst into tears yourself – at least I know I did in those very early days! So, let’s look at why – & how we can help!
Babies Don’t Like Change
Ok, let’s face it – who amongst us likes it when stuff randomly changes around us, but most newborns *really* don’t like it when things change. It could be something that we think is relatively harmless, like a nappy change, getting dressed/undressed or, (one of the worst) getting in or out of the car seat, but our babies get really unsettled by it. So, when they’re snug & warm, settled in someone’s arms & suddenly you pick them up & start trying to put them into a new sling or carrier, they can protest about it.
The key here is, generally, movement. Make sure you’ve practiced using your sling/carrier with a teddy bear or (once we’re allowed to be “in-person” again) with one of our weighted Demo Dolls, then get baby into the carrier/sling, get them secure & then get moving. Babies love movement – it’s why you can’t stand still when you’re holding your baby. Babies are hard-wired to be soothed by movement & we are hard-wired to provide that movement for them.
Also, the change from “not in sling/carrier” to “in sling/carrier” – doesn’t have to be a single step. You can stop at various points during the process to soothe your baby & bounce or sway, or do what you need to, to allow your baby to relax before you move on to the next step with your sling/carrier. Take your time!
You’re Unsure or Uncomfortable
Babies are ridiculously clever individuals & if you are unsure about your carrier/sling for any reason – even just simply because you’re still learning how to use it – your baby may pick up on that. Your sling or carrier should always feel easy for you to use, otherwise, you won’t use it. Be strong, act confident & remember that you can always book a Consultation (online for now), where we can show you any tips or tricks we have to help. There’s always more than one way to get a sling/carrier on & we can help you find the method that works best for you.
Keep practicing! As you become more confident with your sling/carrier, your baby will feel more confident too.
Make sure that your sling/carrier fits you well by making sure that your baby feels lighter in the carrier than in your arms & the weight is so evenly distributed around your body that you can’t feel it in any one particular place. Your baby should be snugly held against you, to protect their airway & ensure that their weight isn’t pulling away & causing pressure on your neck, shoulders & back. They should be held high enough on your body, that you can kiss the top of their head.
They Are Uncomfortable
Try to make sure that your baby is well supported in your sling/carrier. They should have their knees higher than their bottom & their bottom tucked under (think sitting in a deck chair, rather than perching on a barstool). Baby’s back should be well supported in their natural curved position, like a soft J shape. Make sure your baby isn’t hungry, tired, in need of a nappy change, or any of the other more obvious things that they could be upset by.
Once you have a bigger baby, 3-4m & up, you may find they want to see a bit more of what is going on around them. Try adjusting your sling/carrier to open the area around their face, flipping the shoulders on your stretchy wrap, for example, to increase their field of vision. If they have good head & neck control & are beginning to work towards torso control, try allowing baby to have their arms out over the top edge of the sling/carrier. This allows them to turn their torso & look around them (they should still have support up to their armpits). At this stage, you may find a hip/side carry helpful too.
They Don’t Like The Sling
This is not a common one at all. Most babies do not care how they are held, they’d be happy to be in your arms 24 hours a day, as long as they have a warm body to rely on, but a very small minority* of babies have incredibly strong opinions about which sling/carrier they want to be carried in. These babies may need to try a different brand or type of sling/carrier – if you think your baby falls into this minority, do get in touch & we can help you look at alternatives. *I met approx 3 babies from the 400+ families we helped in 2019, that seemed happier in a different sling/carrier.
It’s more likely that you are uncomfortable/unsure, or not keen on your sling /carrier & your baby is picking up on this. If this rings true for you, get in touch! There are SO many options, & part of my job, is to help you narrow them down. If you want, or need, to carry your baby & would like to use a sling/carrier to do so, I can help you find one.
It’s Unrelated to The Sling/Carrier
Try to practice with your sling/baby carrier when your baby is calm & happy, they are not due for a feed, or a nappy change. Make sure that you are both as well rested as possible. As discussed above, babies don’t like change, but if all of their other needs have been recently dealt with, they should settle quickly, once you get them in the sling/carrier & get moving.
If You Need Help….
I would be more than happy, if needed, to help you identify or solve the issue. You can book a Consultation (Online/In-Person) or come to a Drop-In (once they’re back up & running).
To try & help you be comfortable & find the right sling/carrier for you, we have introduced FREE Online Fitting Appointments with any hire. When you hire a sling/carrier from South London Sling Library you will find, in your “check out” e-mail, a link to a special calendar on our booking system, where you can book a free ten minute appointment (via WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom) to help you wear your sling safely & as comfortably as possible. These appointments are not available to anyone else – only people who hire a sling or carrier during the lockdown period. We are also offering 3 weeks for the price of 2, on all hires.
All slings & carriers are being dispatched via courier, at no extra cost for where the hire charge is £10+. For slings/carriers with a hire charge under £5, you may be asked to pay the postal costs instead of the hire charge. (Postal costs are averaging £8.)
If you are having trouble deciding which sling/carrier to choose you are always welcome tocall me (Sarah), at no cost, to discuss the options available & get suggestions as to what to try.
For the next week (offer ends 15th May 2020), anyone who hires more than one carrier/sling at the same time, will receive a coupon code to enable them to book a FREE 30 minute online consultation (via WhatsApp FaceTime or Zoom), worth £10. Hiring more than one sling/carrier at a time gives you the opportunity to compare & contrast them, & really experience the differences between them to work out which you prefer. Don’t forget, it’s three weeks for the price of two, with free postage too!
Our Covid19 Precautions.
All slings & carriers hired during these times, are being dispatched with an envelope containing a dose of Eco Detergent (no fragrances or optical brighteners) so that you can wash them on arrival. Please only use this detergent & no fabric conditioner, at 30c & line/air dry the slings/carriers. You do not also need to wash before you return them, as when they get back, all parcels are being quarantined for 3 days, then washed before being checked back into the Library.
Getting Help with Your OWN Sling/Carrier.
If you already have a sling or carrier that you would like help with, you are more than welcome tobook one of our Online Consultations. Consultations take the form of video calls, via WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom, whichever you prefer & last up to 30 or 60 minutes, according to your needs.
If you have any questions about any aspect of Sling Library life, or our current ways of working, do please get in touch.