Why do you still need a carrier for your 2 (or 3, or 4) year old?

I get asked this quite a lot. And I don’t mind being asked 🙂 When I was first pregnant the idea of carrying or needing to carry such a large (and surely walking) child seemed rather silly and unnecessary. But then I got a baby of my own, who grew into a toddler, who turned 2…..

….and then I got it.  At 2 my son (and now my daughter) could happily walk, but not for longer than about an hour. And even then he needed to be in a good mood to not be constantly trying to run off into the road or to look at an interesting stick or to get back to playgroup. Or to actually move anywhere without having a tantrum.

And then there’s the times when we’d be out all day and he just couldn’t keep up, or he needed to sleep, or needed lifting to see the exhibits/animals at the museum/farm/aquarium. Or when he was a bit ill and feeling snuggly. Or had just fallen over and grazed a knee, or bumped his head or got his finger trodden on or got barked at by a scarey dog. These things can all prevent the ability to walk when you’re 2.

And some children just need more reassurance than others at the end of a long day of learning and socialising at nursery or playgroup or with friends.  I know I like a hug when I’ve had a big day at work.  And I’d definitely love to be carried home!

So all in all it’s not really surprising that people find they end up carrying their 2 (and 3 and sometimes 4) year olds more than they ever imagined. Luckily there are lots of slings and carriers that will help you do this in a way that’s comfortable and supportive for you both 😀

So here’s a list of some of my reasons for still needing carriers and slings for my 2 year old, and why I expect I’ll still be occasionally using carriers with her for the next year or so.  Feel free to comment to add your own!  And if you’ve got a picture to email, then so much the better! (Please send any photos to southlondonslings@hotmail.co.uk)

Reason Number 1: Naps when out for the day

Number 2: To get from A to B whilst going in the right direction and at a reasonable pace

Number 3: To get an extra hand free (that would otherwise be holding hands/reins)

Number 4: For snuggles at the end of a long, tiring day of running, climbing and learning

Number 5: For that great view you get from Mum/Dad’s back

Number 6: Because when you’re 2 you shouldn’t be expected walk when you have a scratch on your arm

Number 7: To keep them out of puddles and mud when you’ve forgotten wellies, raincoats or any way of protecting the car.

Number 8: Because otherwise it’s not easy to appreciate all those lovely walks and sights on holiday when you’re dragging a reluctant small person

Number 9: Because a sling is much easier to carry about ‘just in case’ than a buggy is

Number 10: Because they don’t want to feel left out

Number 11: Because carrying a 2 year old in your arms or on your shoulders for a long time without support can really hurt!

Number 12: So she can carry HER ‘babies’!

Number 13: Because toddlers don’t walk fast enough when you’re running late for school

Number 14: Because there’s some things you want to do that they just can’t manage…

Number 15: …but they always want to be able to do what you can do, however small

Number 16: Because today they didn’t ever want to leave the house/playgroup/sand pit

Number 17: Because you can also use a sling as an indoor swing

Number 18: …. and as a snuggly blanket

Number 19: Because sometimes it’s just lovely to bask in how much they love you (for the short moments they want to show you)

Number 20: It’s easier to have a conversation when they’re facing you and at your level

Number 21: Because however much SHE’D like to, you really don’t want her running off in here….

Number 22: …or here…

Number 23: …. or here!

Number 24: At the end of a long day for everyone, sometimes it’s the only way for everyone to stay happy get fed without a melt down

© 2012 South London Sling Library

Woven Wrap is a Traditional English Baby Sling…

Almost 15 years ago I studied an anthology of poetry past and present for my English Literature GCSE exam.  One of the poems was written in the 17th Century by the English poet William King (who was pleasingly born in London!) I loved it at the time because of the humour and how a poor woman turns the tables of control on a rich gentleman. And so when I started using long woven wraps to carry my daughter I remembered how poem refers to using fabric in a cross to bind a baby to the adult….. sounds familiar?

It fascinates me that long lengths of fabric were used in this country as baby carriers and that carrying or being close to an adult’s body was known to soothe the baby so that it did not cry. And that this was so widespread that even an educated male poet (who we might expect to have had very little to do with child-rearing) knew about them and why and how they worked, but that in a few generations our culture managed to completely loose this knowledge and skill. Luckily it’s coming back again!

Anyway, here’s the poem – enjoy!

The Beggar Woman

by William King (1663-1712)

A Gentleman in Hunting rode astray,
More out of choice, then that he lost his way,
He let his Company the Hare pursue,
For he himself had other Game in view.
A Beggar by her Trade; yet not so mean,
But that her Cheeks were fresh and Linen clean.
‘Mistress’, qouoth he, ‘and what if we two shou’d
Retire a little way into the Wood.’
She needed not much Courtship to be kind,
He ambles on before, she trots behind;
For little Boby to her Shoulders bound,
Hinders the gentle Dame from ridding Ground,
He often ask’d her to expose, but she
Still fear’d the coming of his Company.
Says she ‘I know an unfrequented place,
To the left Hand, where we our time may pass,
And the mean while your Horse may find some Grass.’
Thither they come and both the Horse secure,
Then thinks the Squire I have the matter sure.
She’s ask’d to sit, but then Excuse is made,
Sitting, says she ”s not usual in my Trade;
Should you be rude, and then should throw me down,
I might perhaps break more Backs than my own.’
He smiling cries; ‘come, I’ll the Knot untie,
And if you mean the Child’s we’ll lay it by.’
Says she, ‘that can’t be done, for then ’twill cry.
I’d not have us, but chiefly for your sake,
Discover’d by the hideous Noise ‘twou’d make.
Use is another Nature, and ‘twou’d lack
More then the Breast, its Custom to the Back.’
Then says the Gentleman, ‘I shou’d be loth
To come so far and disoblige ye both:
Were the Child ty’d to me d’ye think ‘twou’d do?’
‘Mighty well, Sir! Oh, Lord! if ty’d to you!’
With Speed incredible to work she goes,
And from her Shoulders soon the Burthen throws.
Then mounts the Infant with a gentle Toss
Upon her generous Friend, and like a Cross,
The Sheet she with a dextrous Motion winds,
Till a firm Knot the wand’ring Fabrick binds.
The Gentleman had scarce got time to know
What she was doing; she about to go,
Cries, ‘Sir, good buy ben’t angry that we part,
I trust the Child to ye with all my Heart,
But e’er you get another ‘ti’n’t amiss
To try a Year or two how you’ll keep this.’

Oh, and I’ve found a great image that would really fit this page, if I can get the rights to use it!  It’s here: http://www.heritage-images.com/Preview/PreviewPage.aspx?id=1239265


© 2012 South London Sling Library

Washing Slings and Baby Carriers

After a short intermission of failing to wash, our washing machine is once again operational (more or less). This weekend I’ll be churning through all of the library slings to give them a freshen up and I thought I’d post with some general slingy washing and cleaning info.

If you only have one sling, you’ll find you’ll need to plan in when to wash it as most will need to be hung dry and so will be out of action for a day at least.  I’d always recommend having at least 1 cheap spare sling for emergencies if possible.

Soft Slings and Carriers; Wraps, Pouches, Ring Slings and Mei Tais

   

When and how to wash: Wash your soft slings whenever they need it.  For mei tais you may find that the main areas to get soiled are the straps – to avoid getting the whole thing wet you could always sponge clean the straps using warm water and liquid detergent.

All cotton, linen and hemp slings (whether woven, stretchy, ring, mei tai, etc.) should be absolutely safe to wash on a normal cotton cycle at 30 or 40 degrees using non-bio liquid detergent (I use Ecover Delicate).  Some cotton and linen slings can be washed at hotter temperatures, though do check the label. Avoid powder detergents and those with optical brighteners as these are more harsh on the fibres of your sling’s fabric and will reduce the life-span of your sling.

To prepare your sling: For ring slings (and others with rings such as the Close/Caboo Carrier), unthread the sling from the rings and pop a sock over the rings to stop them clanking about inside your machine. You could secure this with a rubber band.  Alternatively you could pop the sling into a pillowcase or cloth bag. I’d also recommend bagging mei tais to prevent the long straps from tying temselves up in knots during the wash. Most wraps are fine to just bung in, though the thinner long ones (like 5.2m Ellaroo wraps) do have more tendency to spaghetti tangles than others.

  

After the wash: All slings can be hung to dry on the line and some can be tumbled on a cool cycle. For cotton, linen and hemp woven wraps, cool tumbling with dryer balls can be a great way to soften them up, especially when new. For soft slings with padding, make sure the padding is not twisted or folded while drying – you may wish to hang the sling on a hanger to dry to help it hang nicely.  You may find that padded mei tai straps and pleated styles of ring sling shoulder can take a couple of days to dry completely.

Most non-stretchy slings can be cool ironed (while slightly damp for the best results). Cotton and linen slings should be able to withstand hotter temperatures and steam ironing, though again do check the label. I would never bother to iron a stretchy carrier!

Notes: The longer you use your sling without washing, the softer and more mouldable you’ll find it gets (imagine jeans after a few day’s wear). If your soft sling is starting to feel saggy or less supportive, then you may find that washing it helps to tighten it all up again – this is most noticeable with stretchy slings.

Even if you’re in a hard water area and washing tends to initially leave your sling feeling a bit ‘crunchy’, it’ll soon soften up again with more use. Older woven slings that have been well used and appropriately washed tend to be the most comfortable and easy to use!

Some slings, particularly woven wraps and more premium ring slings may be made from special fabrics like silk, wool, bamboo, merino, alpaca….. Follow washing instructions for these slings very carefully as you can spoil the wrapping qualities of the sling if it is washed incorrectly. Not all slings made from special fabrics will be hard to wash and most manufacturers will have washing information on their websites so check the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing if this is a worry for you.

Soft Structured Carriers

Soft structured carriers are usually safe to wash on a cool gentle cycle using liquid detergent.  Many instructions advise you to avoid washing your more structured carrier regularly as, over time, washing can affect the integrity of the padding, webbing and buckles.  I’d always recommend popping your structured carrier into a cloth bag or pillow case to offer it and your machine some protection during washing.

Do not tumble a soft structured carrier – these should be air dried on a line or rack. Make sure that the straps are straight and not twisted for drying – you may find that it’s best to hang on a hanger to help preserve the shape of padded areas. Soft structured carriers can take 2 or 3 days to dry completely due to the padding and more reinforced areas holding water. I try to only wash mine completely when the weather is warm and breezy and perfect for quick drying 🙂

I usually recommend that you avoid machine washing structured carriers unless completely necessary (so in a nappy failure or complete-jam/juice/ice-cream-coverage-type situation). As with mei tais, you’ll find that the parts that get most grubby are the shoulder straps and the top edge of the carrier. Sponge clean these areas and other spots as necessary using warm water and liquid detergent (washing up liquid is fine).

You can get removable strap protectors and even slip covers for some structured carriers that will protect the carrier itself from spills, stains and dribbles and that you can more easily wash in the machine.

Framed Carriers

Obviously carriers with metal framework cannot go in the washing machine, though some have covers or components that are partly removable for washing. Sponge clean other areas as necessary using warm water and liquid detergent and air dry.

If you have any doubts at all about whether a particular detergent or cleaning method is sutiable for your sling, then get in touch with the manufacturer to ask – they should be more than happy to help 🙂


© 2012 South London Sling Library

Slinging in the Sun

It’s a weekend for slinging in the sun! Slings and carriers are great for getting out and about to enjoy the gorgeous weather, so I’ve put together a few thoughts on how to make the most of them for hot weather carrying.

You’re always going to feel warmer when carrying a baby or toddler and to some extent you’ll just have to acclimatise to the heat, like you do without baby or when going to a hotter climate.  Some adults and babies will always manage better in hot weather than others, but there are a few things that can make you both more comfy…

Carriers that are made from natural, lighter fabrics will be more breathable and help wick away moisture.  Linen is naturally cooler against the skin than other fabrics, and bamboo slings tend to be lighter than cotton equivalents. You can also get carriers with special mesh, or solarweave fabrics that are specially designed for hot weather use, offer increased UV protection or will not hold moisture.  These tend to be synthetic fabrics which, while lighter in weight than many natural fibre alternatives may not feel as breathable or comfortable against the skin for some users.

Carriers that that have less fabric can also improve air circulation.  Those that are easy to wash will also be a life-saver when you want to remove traces of sun-cream, sand, drinks and snacks at the end of a long day out.

If your baby is old enough (from around 6 months), and the carrier is suitable, then carrying them on your back will be much cooler than carrying them on your front. Woven wraps, mei tais and most of our soft structured carriers are suitable for back carries from 6 months. If you’re already a confident sling user, then you can back carry a younger baby in a woven wrap and some mei tais from an earlier age.

Ensuring that baby isn’t over-dressed is important, especially when using multiple-layer carries in wraparound slings. Most slings will be the equivalent of least one clothing layer (and wraparound carries up to 3 layers), though do be aware of parts sticking out of the sling and cover/sun-protect legs, arms and heads if necessary. Some mei tais and buckles carriers have hoods that can be used as a sun shade, and you can use the tail of a ring sling to protect baby’s head from the sun too.

We find it most comfy if there is a thin cotton layer between parent and baby to avoid sticky skin rubbing. And adding an extra layer (such as a folded muslin cloth) between your body and baby’s head can help you both to feel cooler, especially when they fall asleep.

Popular Sling Library carriers for hot weather use include lighter weight woven wraps (especially the Ellaroo, Wrapsody and Calin Bleu gauze wraps and the Fil’Up mesh wrap) as well as shorter woven wraps (3-4m long rather than 4-5m long), mei tais (such as the ByKay Mei Tai or Babyhawk) and lightweight ring slings (like our Comfy Joey Linen or Mesh Water Slings).  If you prefer buckled carriers you could try the Library’s Solarweave Connecta or ErgoBaby Performance, which are made from light fabrics that don’t hold moisture.  Or you could think about buckled carriers with mesh panels such as the Pognae or Lillebaby Airflow.  For smaller babies, the lightweight and stretchy bamboo Hana Baby Wrap is a great option too.

The safety and comfort of your baby is important! 

Babies and small children can get hot or cold much more easily than adults do and the smaller the baby the more careful we need to be with extremes of temperature.

Check if your baby is getting too warm: The best way to check (without a thermometer) is to pop a couple of fingers down the back of their neck – they should feel warm and comfortable, not hot, sweaty or clammy.  A baby with a sweaty back is a good sign that they don’t need so many layers!

You can also check their face, hands and feet for colour and touch temperature. And their behaviour may also give you a clue – babies that are too hot often fuss or get agitated more easily.

Keep your baby hydrated!  Make sure that your baby is drinking plenty of water (or milk as appropriate) to replace lost fluids when it’s warm.  And keep yourself hydrated too!

And finally, if you find you can’t keep your baby at a comfortable temperature in a sling during hot weather then consider limiting sling use in the middle or the day.  Remember that in many countries people tend to stay in the shade and rest during the hottest part of the day – if it’s too hot to be out comfortably then you may find it too hot to use a carrier, so have a sling siesta until it’s cool enough to go out again!

If you’ve got any questions about getting the most out of slings and carriers in different weather conditions, get in touch by emailing info@southlondonslings.co.uk or pop along to a drop-in Open Session and we’ll be happy to help!

Enjoy the lovely weather; I know we will! 😀 xx


© 2012 South London Sling Library

Terminology for Parts of Wrap Carries

There are so many different ways to tie a woven wrap and the phrases and terminology can be extremely bewildering so I was thinking that it’d be great to have a list of all the components of wrap carries. This would hopefully help to explain the names of carries and the differences between different woven wrap carries better.  I’ll aim to add pictures and/or links to different parts later on – this is a work in progress so please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong and feel free to ask questions!

So, as I understand it, here are the different features and components of wrap carries….

Positions of the child in wrap carries:

Obvious, but here for completeness as they’re included in some wrap carry names – front, back or hip.

For front carries, tummy-to-tummy is when baby is in a more upright position (this is the best position for a small baby), and cradle is when baby is lying in a more diagonal position (a baby should not be held horizontal in a carrier unless it’s been deliberately loosened for breastfeeding and baby is supported by the parent). You can also have a sideways seated position, where the baby isn’t directly face-on to the parent.

Small babies may also be legs in (have their feet and legs tucked inside the wrap a foetal or froggy position with knees above hips and feet close to their body); in most wrap carries most children will be legs out (feet and legs sticking out of the wrap in a spread squat or ‘M’ position with legs to the sides of their body and knees above bottom – legs should be supported kneepit to kneepit).

All babies may like to be carried arms in (with their arms tucked into the wrap) and from around 4 months babies and toddlers may be carried arms out (with their arms over the top of the wrap passes – make sure that when arms out a baby has sufficient head and upper back strength and is supported by the wrap right up to their shoulder blades/armpits).

Main types of wrap pass:

Rebozo/Hammock pass – over both legs of child and only one shoulder of adult.
Ruck/Kangaroo pass – over both legs of child and both shoulders of parent (ruck is on back and kangaroo is on front)
Torso/Straight pass – over both legs of child and under both arms of adult
Cross pass – anything going between child’s legs (so a pass that goes over one leg, and then under the other). Can go under one of both of the parent’s shoulders.

Other variations/types of passes:

Spread – the fabric is spread knee pit to knee pit, and/or kneepit to armpits/neck + uses as much of the width of the wrap as possible.
Unspread/bunched/gathered/sandwiched – the wrap is bunched up or folded rather than spread out. You’d find sandwiched passes in ruck straps to help them to stay on the shoulders, and gathered wrap cross passes in things like a kangaroo carry or basic ruck tied in front (these last will usually go around child’s bottom and tuck into one or both kneepits).
Reinforcing – anything that goes over the first basic passes of a carry to reinforce and add security and support to the carry. Reinforcing passes are usually spread passes.
Ruck Straps – the two wrap ends each go straight over one shoulder and back under the same shoulder to look like rucksack straps. Ruck straps can also pass from under the shoulder, going over the same shoulder (as in a BWCC with ruck straps). They can be spread, gathered, flipped, twisted or folded.

Other wrap carry components/terminology:

Pocket – any part of a wrap carry where you’re making a pocket/pouch/seat for your child to sit into. This could be any type of spread pass (ruck, rebozo, torso or cross) and is usually used to emphasise that you need to spread the wrap rail-to-rail from kneepit-to-kneepit and ensure that child’s knees are positioned above their hips with their bottom sinking into the middle part of the wrap width.
Top Rail – whichever long edge of the wrap is highest up (this one will often be spreading up the child’s back to their armpit or neck).
Bottom Rail – whichever long, hemmed edge of the wrap is lowest (this one will often be tucked under child’s bottom into their kneepits).
Note that in some carries the rails change position (e.g. in some reinforcing passes, the bottom rail is twisted to the top for the reinforcement to help with tension along both rails). Many wraps have different coloured top and bottom rails to help you keep track.
Chest Belt – in back carries where the tails of the wrap are knotted or twisted around each other on the parent’s chest. This can be done at different points in the carry (e.g. you can tie a chest belt in the middle of the carry after a straight/torso pass; or you could tie a chest belt between two ruck straps after tying off at the shoulder) and adds extra support to help take the weight of the carry off the shoulders and distribute it more evenly around parent’s torso.
Lexi Twist – where the two tails of wrap are twisted around each other behind the child (usually at their bum/seat, but can be at their back), to add extra support for the child’s weight or pull them closer into the parent. Can be used in back, front or hip carries.
Flipped shoulder – the wrap fabric is spread, but twisted once before passing over the shoulders. This is usually to add better tension to the rails and tighten the carry, and also enables the wrap to comfortabley ‘cup’ the shoulder.
Crossed – both ends of the wrap cross over each other at the chest (for back carries) or at the back (for front or hip carries) to more evenly distribute the weight around the parent’s torso. I hope this isn’t confusing with the Cross Pass above.
Robins/Poppins twist – usually in a hip carry where the wrap ends are twisted around each other, usually in front of the parent’s shoulder (rather than over the child as with a Lexi twist), and taken back from the direction they came from. This helps to get tension and security at the beginning of the carry.
Sling Rings – wrap carries can be done using 1 or two sling rings. Sling rings can be used with any length wrap, and have the benefit of being flatter and often more easily ajusted than knots or twists. 2 rings may be used at the end of the carry instead of knotting to allow easy adjustment and tightening; 1 ring may be used in the middle of a carry (e.g. instead of a robbins/poppins twist) to help anchor a part of the carry so that the wrap can be taken back over itself.

Ways to tie off:

In Front (TIF) – generally in back carries, when the wrap tails are tied at the stomach.
At Back – generally in front (or sometimes hip) carries, where tails are tied behind parent’t back.
At Hip – for front or back carries when tails are tied at hip
At Shoulder – for any carry where tails are tied in front of one shoulder – often a slip knot will be used when tying at shoulder for easier adjusting/tightening of the wrap carry.
Under Bum (TUB) – tails pass over both of child’s legs (so sit in both kneepits) and are tied under the child’s bum.
Tibetan – in back carries with ruck straps, both ends of the wrap come under the arm, across the body and loop through the ruck strap on the opposite side to make a cross on the chest. The wrap ends can then be tucked around or into their nearest ruck strap of tied on the chest like a chest belt.
Knotless – in back carries that would otherwise be tied at the shoulder, the wrap ends are twisted around each other and one is threaded through the shoulder strap on the other side. This creates a bunched chest pass for added support and avoids awkward knotting at the shoulder.
Candy Cane – a variation on the knotless finish where the wrap ends are twisted together across the chest from one shoulder strap to another.

Types of carry:

Cross Carry (CC) – any carry that is primarily two spread cross passes in opposite directions so that the child sits with their bottom in the centre of the cross and with both wrap passes giong between their legs. Can be front, back or hip.
Wrap cross carry (WCC) – as above, but with an additional straight/torso pass over or under the cross passes.
Ruck – back carry, usually starts with a ruck pass
Kangaroo – front carry, starts with a kangaroo pass
Double Hammock – usually has two rebozo/hammock passes
Mixed Pass or Wiggle Proof – both of these tend to include a combination of cross, hammock and/or ruck passes to gain the best bits of different types.
(I know there could be more here, but hope that the idea makes sense + will add more later.)

So in my head you can combine these to explain how to do any wrap carry….

So a Rebozo Hip carry is a single rebozo pass with the child at your hip. A Ruck Tied in Front (RTIF) is a ruck pass with ruck straps and bunched cross passes and tied in front. A reinforced ruck is a ruck pass with ruck straps and two spread reinforcing cross passes and tied in front. A Rear Reinforced Rebozo Ruck is basically a rear rebozo carry with another reinforcing rebozo pass + is presumably called ‘Ruck’ because it ends up with ruck straps (rather than an actual ruck pass iyswim?). A Double Hammock (DH) has two rebozo/hammock passes to make the double hammock (and can then end in various ways). A Back Wrap Cross Carry (BWCC) with Chestbelt is a back carry that starts with a torso pass, then you tie a chest belt, then go over the shoulders to make two spread cross passes and tie in front…..etc. etc.

So that’s how I think about it all….I hope it’s all at least vaguely clear!

*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*”*~,~*

This is largely copied from a blog post I wrote on a different site last year, and which can be found here: Terminology for Parts of Wrap Carries

© 2012 South London Sling Library

Baby Carriers Around the World and in the Past

I’m collecting links to interesting articles and films about baby carriers and slings around the world, both modern and in the past.

Things to Watch:

Things to Read:

Things to See and Feel:

  • At the Sling Library we have a range of traditional carriers from around the world, including an Ethiopian Leather carrier, a South American Rebozo, a model of a Native American Papoose, and hemmed fabric in a size commonly used all over the world.
  • You can also often spot examples of babywearing in objects in museums – there’s a fab bronze statue of women working with babies tied to their backs in the African Exhibit at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill!

© 2012 South London Sling Library

I think Pouches and Ring Slings are great!

It may be true that Wraps, Mei Tais and Soft Structured carriers are better at distributing a child’s weight evenly across both shoulders, as well as to your hips.  But well-designed one shouldered carriers can be just as comfortable for shorter periods of wearing (up to about an hour or more, depending on size of child), and with no buckles or tying to fiddle with are often much quicker and easier to use!  For us, our Rings Slings and Pouches are invaluable to use a busy and stressful times of day when we don’t want or need to fuss with back carries or fastenings, and are small enough to keep at the bottom of your bag or buggy for when you need them.

Ring Slings and Pouches for Small Babies:

Your brand new baby can be held from birth in an upright position (Rings Sling only), or in a cradle position (Ring Sling or Pouch) on your front. Most babies will start with their feet tucked into the carrier, but when they’re ready will want to have their feet out. From about 3-4 months babies with good head control can be held in an upright position on your hip so that they can look around themselves more easily.  All of these are positions that parents instinctively hold their babies and children in their arms, and that most find both natural and comfortable.  Both Ring Slings and Pouches are great and easy to use when you need to carry your baby without fussing with ties and buckles (like when you’re up in the middle of the night needing to comfort a colicky baby or rushing for school drop off).  They’re also excellent to use for convenient and discrete breastfeeding!

Safety note for using pouches and ring slings with newborns in a cradle position: When using a pouch or ring sling with very young babies, always make sure that baby’s head is nice and high (‘close enough to kiss’), that their back is fully supported with their weight held snugly against your body, and that no fabric is covering their face. This photo shows what your view of your baby in a pouch should be:

For more information, see this great document: Correct Positioning for the Safety and Comfort of your Newborn

Rings Slings and Pouches for Older Babies and Toddlers:

As your baby grows and their back straightens and strengthens, you’ll find that you naturally carry them sitting on one hip.  A Ring Sling or Pouch supports them in this position, spreading the weight across your back and shoulder so that you have both hands free and you don’t get one very tired arm!  They’re great for school runs to pick up older children, or to pop to the shops from home or to/from the car.  As your Baby grows into a Toddler, they may well want to be carried less, but with all their adventurous running around will still get tired or fall over and hurt themselves.  All they’ll want then is to be held in your arms, and having a Ring Sling or Pouch handy can be a life saver when you’ve got a tired, grumpy toddler and other things to carry too!  I find that my 24 month old loves to snuggle into me in our favourite Ring Sling at home when she’s ill or teething too :D

 

What’s the difference between a Ring Sling and a Pouch?

The main difference between a ring sling and a pouch is that a ring sling will be much more adjustable to fit a wide range of adult and child shapes and sizes.  Some pouches will be adjustable, but the range of fit is often more limited than a ring sling.  Other pouches are fitted or sized and so you’ll need to make sure you buy the right size for the carrying adult otherwise it won’t feel supportive.

There’s lots more about Ring Slings and Pouches on our information pages so click on the links to read on…..

About Ring Slings

About Pouches


© 2012 South London Sling Library

Carrying Tips: Using a Lexi Twist with tie-on carriers

I’m going to start adding tips for using various carriers to the website blog – if there’s anything you’d like me to cover, then please do get in touch by emailing southlondonslings@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll try to add it in!

Today I’m waving a flag for the Lexi Twist!

This is a technique you can use when tying a mei tai or woven wrap as an alternative to simply crossing the straps when tying.  Using a Lexi Twist can add support for a heavier baby, and help to distribute their weight better for a more comfortable carrying experience.

Here’s what a Lexi Twist looks like when used for a Mei Tai front carry:

Instead of simply crossing or knotting the carrier straps on/under baby’s bottom, you twist the straps around each other (once or twice is fine, though some people prefer even more!) so that the twist supports their bottom. This helps to lift baby’s weight and pull them more closely into to you so that the weight is held against your body and not hanging from your shoulders as much. Lots of people find that this can really help to make a carrier feel more supportive when their baby’s started to feel  a bit heavy in it 😀

Links to online instructions:

This video shows how a Lexi Twist works in a mei tai back carry, but it can also be used with woven wrap carries, and with front and hip positions too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTgibbhYNyo

And it’s also shown as a variation for a front carry in the instructions here (it’s the carry at the bottom of the page): http://www.babyhawk.com/Instructions/#ncvid

And here’s a woven wrap tied in a Rucksack back carry with a lexi twist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtOUR6EJuNA

Search for ‘Lexi Twist’ online for more videos and instruction links, and please post any questions about this technique below so that I can try to answer them. Happy twisting! 😀


© 2012 South London Sling Library

The Disadvantages of Not Carrying Your Baby

I’m wondering whether I’ve been looking at everything from the wrong angle. It’s always interesting to re-look at something from a different point of view, and so that’s what I’m going to try to do now.

I have a well-read page on this site about the ‘Benefits of Babywearing‘; but have recently realised that this whole page was written starting from the assumption that the ‘normal’ baseline for how to move around with your baby is to put them into a buggy or other container.  So, when compared to those being pushed around in a buggy, babies who are carried regularly cry less, sleep better etc. etc. But is ‘using a buggy’ really normal? It may be the most prevelant baby transport solution in the UK, but it certainly isn’t so in many other cultures. And even if it wasn’t, is ‘culturally most prevelant’ necessarily the same thing as what should be considered ‘normal’ for a baby?

What is ‘normal’ for a baby?

So, to work out what might be considered ‘normal’ for a human baby, I’m going to try to look at a baby’s needs without assuming the presence of any particular cultural approach or solution to meeting those needs. Since I also find myself spending a lot of time telling people that the range of ‘normal’ for a baby is very broad and to not worry if they feel their baby isn’t what books or other parents might lead them to expect, I’m going to try not to assume any particular level of need for a baby and just assume the very basics.

Human babies need feeding at least every few hours, and often much more regularly, and so must remain reasonably close to their food source at all times. Since the normal food source for a human baby is it’s mother, I’m going to assume that this implies that a baby needs to stay close to it’s mother.

Babies are also not very well suited to being left on their own – as well as being unable to protect themselves from various harms, they need help regulating their own body temperature and must be kept warm.  The easiest way to keep a baby at the right temperature is to to hold it against the body of a nearby adult.  Caring physical contact, especially by a known person like it’s mother, also meets baby’s needs for comfort, familiarity and reassurance, promoting healthy brain development and a baby’s ability to learn from it’s surroundings. We’ve already assumed that the baby’s mother will need to stay close to it for feeding, and will be one of the adults most motivated to ensure the baby gets everything it needs so lets assume that the person most likely to hold the baby is it’s mother.

Compared to other animals, human babies are clearly not adapted for getting themselves about very easily (though actually many newborn babies are capable of wriggling themselves up to the breast to latch on), so now if the mother wants to go anywhere, the easiest and safest option is for her to just carry the baby with her. This assumes no particular cultural object or bias, and also allows many of baby’s immediate and most pressing needs to be easily met.

Using ‘being carried’ as the normal baseline for a baby

So, if ‘carrying your baby’ is the normal standard for human infants, anything else that replaces (or attmepts to replace) this should be compared to it. So, taking ‘carrying your baby regularly’ to be the normal situation, what are the effects for baby and mother (or other primary carer) of not doing this?  Taking some of the items from my ‘Benefits of Babywearing’ page, lets see what happens.

When NOT carried regularly a baby:

– will find it harder to regulate their body temperature, heart rate and breathing.

– will be less settled, more agitated and cry up to 50% more than a regularly carried baby. When crying or stressed, a baby’s brain is flooded with stress hormones, which impedes healthy brain development and their ability to learn.  They will be less alert to their surroundings, find it harder to take in and deal with new experiences.

– will not sleep as much, and will take longer to settle into a regular long sleep at night-time.

– is more likely to suffer from physical problems caused by the pressure from lying on or hanging from flat/rigid/unsuitable surfaces (such as lower blood oxygen and flat head).

– will take longer to develop good muscle tone and balance.

– will find it harder to digest as comfortabley and effectively.

– will find it harder to form a close, bonding attachment with it’s care givers, which would provide a secure base from which the baby can learn to be independent.

When not regularly carrying their baby a mother:

– will find it harder to establish sucessful breastfeeding

– will be more anxious and at more risk of post natal depression

– will find the task of learning to be a parent harder because she will not be meeting as many of her baby’s needs and so her baby is likely to be more fussy and demanding.

And, assuming that, in many situations, it is easier, more comfortable and more practical for a mother to use a well-fitting sling than to carry her baby in her arms, let’s take using the sling as the ‘most normal’ position and compare it to another common baby transport solution.

When a buggy is used rather than a sling, baby:

– talks and communicates less

– is held out of eye-line of those around him/her

– is held at traffic fume level

– is held in an unnatural posture and at risk of physical problems caused by this

And for a mum, using a buggy rather than a well fitted sling:

– will increase risk of damage to her vulnerable pelvic floor, back and abdominal muscles

– be bulky and difficult to store and to fit into a home, car, shop, up stairs etc.

– will be inconvenient when on holiday, on public transport or anywhere not designed with buggies in mind

Oh dear, I don’t use a sling much – is it really that bad if I don’t carry my baby all the time?

The good thing is that, even if they’ve never seen a baby carrier, most parents will find themselves carrying their baby in their arms a lot of the time, especially when at home. You carry your baby from room to room, from car seat/buggy to cot/play mat/bouncer, you carry them when they need feeding or winding or changing, and you often carrying them around in desperation to see if that will calm them when nothing else works! And even when a baby gets big enough to be more physically independent; to be better at regulating their own body and to be able to move around more by themselves, they’ll still want the reassurance and convenience of being hugged, held and lifted at least some of the time.

But what about out of the house? Assuming that carrying your baby (in arms or in a suitable sling) is still the ‘normal’ position, why might a parent choose to not carry their baby in a certain sitution?  I can come up with a few reasons that are very compelling in some situations:

Safety?  A car is not designed to be a safe place for an infant; and infant car seat is specially designed protect baby in the car environment in the case of an accident. Though your baby may protest that the car seat isn’t suitable to meet their instinctive needs for reassurance and human contact, using a suitable infant car seat when travelling in a car is safer (and less illegal) than holding your baby. As far as I’m aware, there is no evidence that buggy use is more or less safe for baby than carrying them.

Convenience? In some situations, it may be more convenient to have a buggy in which to put baby if the parent wishes to be able to do something without baby. For example, when shopping for clothes, it’s not very convenient attempting to try something on when you’re carrying a baby and there is nowhere suitable to put them. If baby prefers to nap alone rather than in their parent’s arms, then a buggy would allow a parent to go out for the day without having to plan to be home for nap times.

Culturally Expected? I suspect that this is actually the most compelling reason for most parents choosing not to carry their babies in many situations. In the UK using a buggy is the more culturally expected option, and because of this, good information about other options may not be as easy to access.  Where there is a strong cultural bias towards one particular solution, it is often very difficult to find and to use an alternative without feeling that you are having to justify and fight for what you’ve chosen to do.

Which is why it’s very interesting looking at this from a different angle.  Normally you might look at buying a buggy. You might ask whether you really need one, and find that most information available suggests that you do. Or you might think that it’s a choice between a buggy or a particular sling and weigh up the advantages of those. But to instead compare all options to a completely culturally unbiased position of just ‘carrying your baby in your arms’ really helps to put all of the so called ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ of each choice in perspective.

When looking at all of the disadvantages of not carrying your baby regularly, and comparing them to the few advantages, I can easily see why I found that I chose to use a sling for more and more of the time until our buggy ended up abandonded in the shed! Without knowing any of the background research, I simply found that, if I carried my baby whenever possible, my job as a mother was much easier. Thst doesn’t mean that I carried her all all day every day; I carried her whenever it was practical and I could fit it in with whatever else I was doing. Using a sling allowed me to fit carrying my baby into many more parts of my life than I could have done otherwise.

Finally, and I hope reasurringly, no single solution is going to be perfect for all babies and all parents in all situations. A solution can be the ‘most suitable’ or ‘best’ given a wide range of different factors that vary from individual to individual and from circumstance to circumstance. I’ve just tried to put forward a particular view that the baseline should always be the most simple, needs-appropriate solution, and that anything else (when taken as an over-arching baseline) is going to be more artificial and less suitable in various ways. This doesn’t mean that any particular choice is necessarily ‘bad’, or that you shouldn’t pick and choose your solutions to best meet the individual needs of you and your baby in each particular situation you’re in. Each parent must choose what they feel meets their family’s needs best, and I’m just trying to provide different ways of thinking about it all.

*~*~*~*~*~*

This article was written by Emily Williamson for the www.southlondonslings.com website on 20th February 2012. If you have any comments or questions, please either post below, or email southlondonslings@hotmail.co.uk

References:

Significant inspiration for this article was taken from the approach in the following excellent article about breastfeeding: http://www.infantfeeding.info/IsBreastBest.htm

I’m aiming to add proper references for many of the claims made here in due course, but some may be found on the Research Articles page.


© 2012 South London Sling Library

Dads Carrying

A couple of weeks ago, the family borrowing the Sling Library’s Lenny Lamb Mei Tai were kind enough to email me a lovely photo of it in good use. I love that it’s Dad doing the carrying as there’s sometimes an assumption that Mums do most of the carrying and that simply isn’t true. So I’ve added in a few more great pictures of Dads using some of the Sling Library carriers 😀

 

  

   

If you’ve got any photos of any of the Sling Library carriers being used, and you wouldn’t mind them being posted on the website or Facebook page, then we’d really love to have them!  Please email your photos to southlondonslings@hotmail.co.uk. Thank you! 😀


© 2012 South London Sling Library