How can I give my baby the best start in life? Babywearing in the 4th trimester.

Have a happyCanada Day

20 weeks into my pregnancy, I have had the anomaly scan and I am given a reassuring result. Like many first time parents, I am ready to start hitting the shops and ticking off the gigantic list I have of things I have deemed necessary to purchase to give my baby the best start in life. We all want the best for our newborns and like myself, it is easy to walk into Mothercare or Mamas and Papas and mistake this for being at the bottom of our wallets. In fact, an average of nearly £2000 is spent by first time parents during pregnancy in preparation, and there are even huge events around the country to provide you with a platform to see everything on offer.

Is any of this really necessary? The answer is largely no.

Apart from nappies, a collection of second hand clothes, and a car seat, in the first 12 weeks of life, all a baby really needs is its primary caregivers. These first 3 months are termed the fourth trimester and the best way to describe the needs of your baby during this time is to understand that they have been born too early in their development, and their environment needs to mimic the womb in as many ways as possible.

They need to be able to;

  • Hear your heartbeat
  • Use your warmth to maintain their body temperature
  • Feel close to their food supply.

This is not going to be achieved in the latest pram, or indoor object designed so you can put your baby down for a swing or vibrating massage. How I regret the £600 and the time I spent choosing the perfect pram in the hopes of giving my baby the best, only for it never to be used.

Without books or the internet our ancestors have used their basic instincts to understand what their newborn babies wanted and needed. I can safely say they did not put them down in a corner of the cave. Instead they either carried their babies themselves or had help from a member of the group. Unfortunately, many of us in the Western world do not live with our extended families and of course we need to be able to put our babies down safely to wash and dress when there is nobody else around. For the rest of the day to enable you to carry your baby with ease and comfort a sling library will suggest you use a form of carrier.

How does carrying a baby through the 4th trimester benefit the wearer?

  • Gentle rocking motion of your breathing and walking encourages babies sleep
  • Helps to establish breastfeeding
  • Aids bonding
  • Reduces baby blues and postnatal depression
  • Able to go about your activities of normal daily living.

The most widely used in the first 3 to 4 months is a stretchy wrap. This is a long piece of stretchy material that can be wrapped around your body at the beginning of the day and your baby can be taken in and out. A two-way stretch stretches in two directions and is the easiest to use in the beginning in comparison to the one-way stretch. This is because it is easier to tighten and get the best fit. The stretchiness of the fabric allows your baby to be in the most natural position possible, mimicking the curled foetal position they have been in for the last 9 months. If you want the best start for your baby I suggest renting or purchasing a carrier from a sling library and attending the 4thtrimester talk and demonstration.

By Dr Sarah Spiteri, peer supporter at Salisbury Sling Library

 

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How Did You Get Into This?

I am often asked how I got into doing this-with the this being running a sling library and advising on babywearing- and I must admit I often ask myself the same question!

Being a retired, grandmother I am not your typical sling librarian. Yet my paths so far in my life seem to have led to this point.

Before I had my children I trained as a teacher.

When I had my first child I trained as an NCT teacher.

When we moved to Salisbury I set up a local NCT branch- a mere 50 years ago!

When I had my third child, I realised that I was going to need to carry full time as school and preschool were in opposite directions and the entrance to my house wasn’t buggy friendly, so he was one of the very few babies carried in Salisbury back in the day.

Carrying my son started from convenience but I very soon discovered so many more benefits. I became an advocate of babywearing back in the 80’s.

Life moved on my children grew up, I resumed my career and some 10 years ago retired from being a head teacher of a little village school.

When my daughter and her OH started the road to adoption I knew that the one piece of equipment they needed for sure was a carrier. If carrying promoted attachment and security then an adopted child was certainly going to need this. After much research I started on the slippery slope of buying carriers- how the market had exploded since my carrying days!

With my time freed up from giving up from giving up the day job and the advent of grandchildren I began meeting up socially with a group of parents who used carriers when I was on grandma duty.

When opening a sling library was mooted, I volunteered to help in the background………..I had some cash I could invest in a starter stock and I was prepared to write letters and manage the stock purchases……..……. It was just out of interest I did peer support training with SoB wasn’t it?

Then my co- founder’s maternity leave came to an end, and it dawned on me I was never going to be that background helper…….. so I trained as a consultant and have been Salisbury Sling Library now for almost 5 years.

I have maintained a big interest in helping adoptive families and have now had personal experience of how slings have helped us settle 2 children into our family. I love all the carriers, it is amazing just how many variations on a theme you can have…. but I especially love stroking lovely wraps and have a fairly impressive personal collection that I have acquired in the interest of research- as a needlewoman I have always had a love affair with fabric. My regret is I didn’t get to use wraps when I was younger, my old stiff shoulders mean back wrapping isn’t for me.

I have carried all four of my grandchildren. I have helped parents carry who I taught as a teacher. I have helped parents carry who were babies born from my NCT classes.

I do it because I can, I do it because I believe it is important, I do it because I believe in the need for generations to unite in helping to raise children.

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Why I Carry My Grandchildren

I carry you because I carried your mother:

And I want to pass on my parenting skills.  Each generation can help the next by sharing knowledge and giving encouragement

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I carry you because it helps your parents:

It gives them time together, time to rest, time to do jobs, time to look after your sibling whilst  knowing your needs are being met.

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I carry you because it helps you:

It helped you with that colicy tummy when you were first born, it helps you feel safe and secure, it helps you when you are tired and need to be able to relax and sleep. It has helped you when you grew and your legs were too tired for walking.

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I carry you because I can help you explore the world:

Being held and as one with me I can show you what there is to know from my perspective. Do you remember all the places we have explored together, the smells and sights we have experienced as one, the chats we have had as you have had experiences for the first time?

I loved our early morning trips around Waterloo J, seeing the world wake up and also when we have walked home from Nursery and you decided the game was that we had to study our reflections in each parked vehicle.

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I carry because it builds our connection and helps us reconnect after a time apart:

Coming up in the carrier when you visit is your coming home. We can look into each others eyes and instantly know one another and go forward in our relationship.

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But most of all I carry you as an expression of love.

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Wrapahula Win

Here at Salisbury Sling Library we have a soft spot for Wrapahula wraps and ring slings. The patterns are strong and exciting and the colours often vivid and striking. These are no ordinary wraps and have depth and texture that help to make wrapping easier. If you want to invest in something a little out of the ordinary then do go and take a look.

I was lucky enough to receive a Sui Generis Annie in a size 4 and it is just amazing.  This is a 100% cotton wrap  although Wrapahula do do different blends.  At 295gsm it is on the heavier but that makes it strong and certainly toddler worthy. It is mouldable with a lovely cush to it and feels good on the shoulders.

It had its first outing with our peer supporter Susie, who managed to find the Autumn sunshine which made the rainbow colours really sing out. Already it is beginning to soften down and is going to become even more of a delight to use.

Wrapahula is celebrating its 4th birthday  this week- if you haven’t discovered this small company yet then do take a look,  especially if you like statement pieces as I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Another New Carrier on the Block

FBcover-photo-BobaX-2The Boba X made a very quiet entry into the sling world this summer. It is one of the new breed of carriers that is designed to see you through from new baby to toddler hood. It comes in a stylish box and does exactly what the box says! Of all the adjustable carriers this one certainly does adapt and fit both ends of the spectrum without compromise.

The magic is acheived by a fully adjustable panel that  adjusts in width and length going from 8 to 21 inches in width and 12 to 16 inches in height.  A velcro arrangement within the waist band allows for fine tuning of size width wise and webbing straps to the side of the panel allow for length adjustments. The carrier is tested to be used from 7 to 45lbs. The soft fabric clinches down well to the smaller settings-  something I had found a problem with some other products in this category such as the Lenny Up.

It is often at the extremes that I feel for carriers like this that are a compromise. It is certainly not the case with the Boba X. I would happily use it for a babe of a few weeks or for a toddler who still needs to be held and carried at times.

In the Boba X the smallest of babies will fit comfortably. The hood is rolled inside the carrier rather like the Boba 4G and makes a good neck support for the little ones. The fabric moulds well to support the curve of a new baby’s body and supports them whilst holding them snugly. The leg opening is well padded and adds to the overall comfort for a tiny baby.

Once babe gets to toddler size there are zip in adjusters to add to widen the seat which gives the X that extra lease of life and lifts it from a standard size carrier to a toddler one. These neatly fit in place and the zips are fully concealed so  there is no nasty rubbing. Again they are well padded so making the carrier comfortable on the back of the legs. Your only problem will be remembering where you have stored them until they are needed!

The Boba X also has features to appeal to the care givers. A bag strap on the shoulder strap so that carrying a shoulder bag is made easier, and a small pocket in the waist band that is big enough for keys and a phone so that a bag isn’t always needed.

The shoulder straps are designed so that they can be worn ruck style or crossed. They are curved in similar fashion to the Boba 4G and therefore fit really well for ruck style carrying, I felt the crossed version was less successful and I couldn’t get them to sit as flat and be as supportive as I wished.

PFA[ perfect fit adjusters] make the carrier extra adjustable for the care giver.  The PFAs are great for getting a snug fit for back carries even on small frames. The waist belt fits from 25-58″ so making it super flexible and useful if the carers who use it are very different in size. The side straps are easy to adjust, these are dual adjust so enables one to find the sweet spot for placement – I personally hate straps that bite into my arm pit as I tighten them!

My initial disappointment was it came only in grey as I prefer interesting patterns or less monochrome colours. Boba have obviously responded to feedback as the range of options now has something to suit all tastes. The Mademoiselle gets my vote.

At £125 it isn’t the cheapest carrier around but as it will last for so long, I feel it makes a sound investment. If you want one carrier to see you through all your babywearing , a carrier that adjusts well for different care givers, then this carrier is certainly worth considering.

Salisbury Sling Library has Boba Xs that you can hire so you can try it yourself before buying.

 

 

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Sling Library Superheroes

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September was Sling Library Appreciation Month and it was a busy start for all our library volunteers after the Summer break.

We kicked off with attending Picnic In The Park- a great opportunity to meet and chat to babywearers and those interested in babywearing. It was a fantastic event, the weather was kind and there was a great buzz as parents and children enjoyed the free activities on offer.

Once home I needed to get my brain in gear and start the ball rolling for our first meet the following week. Return reminders were sent out, an event put on facebook and the conversation opened as to what people were planning to come to try. Then off to my sewing room[ yes sewing room!] and a lot of moving and sorting to bring out all the carriers that had been tucked away for the summer.

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Then on meet morning the car was packed and I was ready to go. Alas parking isn’t easy at this venue so I am grateful to my OH who drops me off and helps load and unload the bags.

There were lots of new parents to see at the meet, some who we had met the week before in the park, and our feet hardly touched the ground. Luckily we had a new admin helper  so Sarah, our volunteer peer supporter, was able to help me see parents. This time it was the Zen carrier that was the most wanted and by the end of the session we had run out. Odd how sling hires go in phases.

Back home again, all the carriers that had been returned needed to be washed and the missing ones chased up. Then paper work all had to be updated,  hire confirmations sent out along with sling instructions and new hire monies logged. As always I was glad when all that was done and I could relax until of course I started getting ready for the meet the following week!

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Behind the scenes between meets I have been sewing. We use scrap makes to help fund our activities. Being able to cover room hire and insurance costs from these really helps. The library is entirely self funded and so every little we can raise helps.

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Keeping up is a major challenge for the library. All the new carriers and changing needs is the stuff of nightmares, there are now so many brands and models on the market and parents obviously want to see and try the latest models. The latest trend is for adjustable carriers that will see you through from birth to toddlerhood and we have had to buy several of those. Then with the Summer being so fabulous this year we had to buy lots more lightweight carriers. There always seems to be something on the shopping list! We have some fab suppliers who help us but the money never stretchies as far as I would like.


I do love that the work the library has done over the last 5 years means that carrying your child has now become so much more the norm in Salisbury. It is great seeing babies in carriers at local events and hearing how slings have helped parents cope. It is wonderful the connections the library has helped to forge. 

 #slinglibraryappreciationmonth2018 #slinglibrary#parentshelpingparents

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Water Slings

Water slings are generally made from a soft-touch, breathable fabric that can be worn in the water.- some are mesh others a polyester fabric. The material  is non absorbent which means you can take your baby into the sea, pool or shower and it remains comfortable for you and your baby when wet ,as it doesn’t get any heavier. Some like the Kokadi also have UV protection.

If you dont have a bath or are visiting where there isn’t a bath, the sling is a great solution for showering. As your abby gets wet and slippery, they are still safe in your sling and arms. Water slings offer convenience, bonding and washing in one.

Brands to consider are Mam, Kokadi and Sukkiri.

Ceri and her family hired one this month for the Summer and here is her summary of it in use:

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In the water
It’s now been used both for swimming and showering afterwards, and I’ve found it very useful.

My daughter is quite cautious with water, so it holding her close when getting in a pool etc helped her gain confidence, and I only took it off once she started smiling. It also means you’ve got hands free to get in and out. I imagine it would be great when swimming with a young baby and a sibling, especially for getting in and out.

It’s easy to get a bit twisted, so I find I have to rethread it a lot, which is tricky in the water if by yourself, albeit not impossible.

It also made it a doddle to wash my daughters hair after getting out, and made her feel less scared of showering.

My husband was a bit less convinced by it for water use because of the twisting issue, but thinks its better to have it than not.

Out of water use
For just water use I might not be that convinced as it is a fairly niche use (though they are quite cheap which helps), but I’ve been using it a lot for regular use in this hot summer weather as it’s so thin.

Verdict
I wouldn’t want it as my only ring sling, but as an extra I think it’s well worth it, especially if you’ve got a water shy baby or are going somewhere hot.

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Summer Baby Wearing

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When the sun shines each and every day as it has of late,  then lighter weight carriers really come into their own. Whatever your preferred type of carrier there will be a cooler option that is worth trying, so that you can both stay comfortable in the warmer weather.

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Stretchy wraps that contain bamboo are cooler to use in warm weather, a woven wrap or ring sling that contains linen or even silk will help to keep you comfortable however high the mercury rises. If you are looking for a buckle carrier several have mesh or even UV fabric, so it is worth checking out the Beco Cool, Izmi Breeze, Tula Coast, Lillebaby Air and Integra Solar.

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And whatever is your new go to carrier ,don’t forget to add shady hats.

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If you follow basic sling safety in warm weather then carrying can enable you to make the most of the sunshine.

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Testing The Firespiral Obsidian Geode

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When volunteer libraries were requested to host a new Fispi wrap we weren’t slow off the mark in coming forward. We have always loved Firespiral slings in the library. We love that it is a UK company and that the … Continue reading

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New Role Play World Sessions

Find a Friend Sessions (1)

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