Susie and I attended the Attachment Parenting conference in Bristol in September. It was a fascinating day and there was a lot to be learnt about babywearing.
It was lovely to see so many parents carrying their children, we spotted many different carriers from beautiful wraps, Connectas, buckles aplenty and some tiny babies in stretchies. Babywearing meant that parents could attend the day long conference whilst their babies were happily snuggled with Mum or Dad, which otherwise may have been a challenge. We hardly heard a peep from the babies all day!
During the day we were lucky enough to listen to a fascinating talk by Dr Rosie Knowles, author of “Why Babywearing Matters” http://www.sheffieldslingsurgery.co.uk/shop/babywearing-matters-book/
Rosie Knowles is a babywearing consultant at the Sheffield Sling Surgery, a GP and mother of two. She contracted meningitis as a baby and lost her hearing, she is profoundly deaf and relies of lip reading and hearing aids to be able to deliver such talks, which is inspiring in itself but she had so much knowledge to pass on.
She spoke about our early ancestors and how our anatomy was built around carrying our babies, we saw pictures of babywearing in different cultures and how this was the everyday norm. She explained the benefits of babywearing in terms of attachment and how this can counteract the effect of any early adverse traumatic experiences and shape the child’s brain. We left with the realisation of just how important carrying really is, and has always been in parenting.
She presented clear evidence that babywearing can influence the future generation in terms of the secure and positive attachment carrying provides, essential to physical and psychological health, which then impacts on adult relationships and life decisions in later life. Babywearing matters indeed!
Laura Cassidy- Peer Supporter
International Babywearing Week (IBW) is a week-long opportunity to celebrate and promote the many benefits of babywearing. The theme for this year’s celebration is Threaded Together. The inspiration for the theme comes from the many different threads that when combined through the weaving process form all of the carriers we use. All of these individual threads, once woven, create a material; in the same way individuals and groups worldwide come together to create a global babywearing community.
We love the links that babywearing enables us to make and are looking forward to bringing lots of special activities to the library during the week as part of our celebration. Do join our Facebook Group and share what babywearing means to you and your stories of friendships forged through babywearing.
It has been a long time since I’ve written anything so I hope my attempts of trying to write about our experiences will help others on deciding on their next carrier…
Going on holiday with a toddler is hard enough, now add in all the paraphernalia needed for a newborn = argh! I knew that having a carrier/sling was the way to go for us since we would be using public transport whilst out there. We took the Mamaruga Zen sling (hired) and Moby Aria (bought from the library) for baby girl who is 8 weeks old and the Toddler Beco Cool (hired) for our toddler (2 and half years old).
The newest addition to the library is the Mamaruga Zen sling and I’m in love with it. It’s got the best of both worlds in my opinion incorporating stretchy fabrics and wait for it…buckles! This means it easy to put on and fits comfortably. I’m one of those people who can’t be dealing with faffing around, stretching this bit, or pulling that bit into place. Ease and rapidness is what I need. Once you have this on, there is no need to adjust again. I love that the fabric is soft and supportive and the colour means that anyone can wear it. I’m wearing baby girl in it right now as I type this review out – that’s how comfortable it is for me. Since baby girl is quite small, I was able to make the seat fabric area smaller by easily scrunching the fabric together at the waist, and then by pulling up on the two toggles on either side, I could lift her higher up and get her really snug against me to fulfill those important T.I.C.K.S advice. Having had a caesarean I was keen to not have a waist band touch my scar. With this, I had the waist band quite high up, so as my scar heals and baby girl gets bigger, I would still be able to use it by lowering the waist band and widening the seat fabric. My favourite thing about the Mamaruga is that I can pull out the shoulder fabric to make it wider and hence spread the weight better. The fact that the hood is secured in place by threading through the hood straps – no clips or buckles – just slide in, pull, and you’re done! This
carrier is just so “no nonsense” that this would be the carrier I would grab and take with me wherever. The downside is that during the heat wave we had, the material in my opinion made us a bit sweaty but it wasn’t too uncomfortable. The other bad thing for me was that having the waist band high up meant it would push down on my belly flab, causing a pouch underneath my clothes, whereas the Moby Aria with the wider padded band helped to keep it all in – if you know what I mean
We also hired the toddler Beco Cool which my husband loved as he was able to back carry our toddler and still have hands free to carry all our baby and beach paraphernalia. Being tall meant that he had to have the waist strap quite high but found the padded straps were still comfortable for him. The stretchy hood was a real bonus as it kept toddler’s head from lolling about when he fell asleep. Toddler loved being carried so much on his dad’s back that he often asked for it. What’s great is that it folds compact too and the mesh panel really helped in the heat. If we didn’t have this carrier, we wouldn’t have been able to travel so easily using public transport. My husband who’s not used to back carrying, meant that this was a 2 person job to get toddler in correctly but again once it was on, it didn’t require many adjustments for the next time.
Finally the Moby Aria, this was the first carrier I bought when I knew baby girl was on her way. After having and loving the Beco Gemini, I knew I wanted something similar but something that would be good for the hot weather. I saw the Moby Aria and loved the design instantly, as it had a removable cover revealing a mesh panel for summer and the cover for winter. This carrier has so many gadgets on it that I was hooked from the beginning. There’s a newborn seat pocket which can be stowed away within the carrier when baby is bigger, a detachable neck support, a detachable hood and even comes with its own suck pads so the straps are protected. It also has several D-rings on the waistband so I can hang things off of it – not done this and probably never will but it’s just so handy being there! Using the Moby Aria on holiday was great as the mesh panel meant that we both kept cool. What I really liked about this carrier is that it is very supportive and the padded waist band meant that I could carry for longer periods of time. I found it quick and easy to put on but to fold away and store was not as compact as the other two. Then again could just be my packing skills!
In summary then it’s a thumbs up for all 3 carriers! If there’s an essential accessory you need when you go travelling, it has to be a baby carrier. Baby girl still startles easily so having her close to me rather than being jostled about the cobbled streets in her pram really helped to soothe her. Being able to back carry our toddler meant that he was happy and content that he wasn’t missing out on the action of being carried. Happy family = happy holidays.
We are next on our travels to Thailand in October – I wonder what new carriers there will be for us to try!
With thanks to Nam- Taan Mestre and her husband Orlando for trying these carriers and writing this useful piece.
Arriving home with a newborn baby, parents often have huge expectations about how life will be. It can be daunting, confusing and frustrating for new parents to find that this longed for baby doesn’t conform to either their ideas, or what the books say a baby does. But the truth of the matter is that babies are often only happy when they are in their carer’s arms. They will cry when you try to put them down, and will often only sleep if they are in physical contact with their parents. They have made a huge transition from living in the womb to being in the world, if we appreciate and accept this it can help us to meet our baby’s needs appropriately.
Pregnancy is composed of three trimesters, but after birth a baby is still very immature and more suited to still being in the womb than out. Our babies are the most vulnerable infants born to any mammal. They need to spend the first three months after birth adjusting to their new world, hence this period is referred to as the ‘fourth trimester’.
Understanding the thinking behind the fourth trimester idea can really help new parents to understand the transition a newborn makes in their first 3 months. It also enables us to help the baby to adjust to life in the world as seamlessly as possible.
- The womb is always moving, from womb contractions to the baby being jiggled as the mother moves around. Babies love movement and don’t like being motionless so it is important to incorporate movement into your baby’s day.
- Being held close can help babies to feel snug. This is what they have been used to- the womb is a tight fit towards the end of pregnancy!
- Being in contact with warm skin is perfect for a baby, it helps to stabilise their body temperature, heart rate and stress hormones and stimulates the release of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone.
- Life before birth is noisy! They can hear their mother’s body noises and even recognise her voice. These familiar noises will help them settle.
Babywearing during this time is a great way to keep new babies calm and happy. It increases the time a baby spends in a state of “quiet alertness” – a time of contentment when they learn the most. When a baby is in the womb they spend 100% of their time in physical contact with us – yet the moment they are born this can drop by over 40%. Instead of trying to regulate a new baby’s needs if we embrace them in the way we care for our babies they will be happier and we will be calmer parents.
Many parents do come to see us as soon as their baby is born so that they can start babywearing early, but we would love more babies to benefit from early babywearing. The library is therefore planning to launch a new 4th Trimester scheme in the Autumn. We hope that this will enable more babies and parents locally to benefit from babywearing. Follow our Facebook chat group to be the first to hear details of the new programme.
As we start our 4th year of operating it is useful to reflect, but also to appraise our work. It has been quite a journey and involved much learning, but the big positive is that we have not just survived, but have grown over time and become a service used and valued by many.
Three years ago we started with one meet a month, some enthusiastic volunteers and a handful of carriers. As of this month we will be having 5 meets a month, including one dedicated to wrappers. We have a trained consultant and trained peer supporters to help at meetings, and we have approaching a hundred carriers. We can offer one to one services for parents and have hosted a range of workshops. We have made regular visits to a number of local baby groups and attend antenatal classes run by the local midwives.
One difficult area has been finding rooms to use for our drop ins. We started in the attics of a local coffee house and new from the start we needed to find something more suitable. As we are unfunded many rooms are just too expensive for us to hire and alas the local children’s Centres were unwilling to allow us to use their facilities.. We have been made welcome at the Art Centre Cafe each month, it is great that they have embraced us being there on the first Tuesday of each month. We are grateful for the use of the Forest School of Dance studio in Morgans Vale, this has enabled us to spread our services to the south and east of Salisbury. The community room at Old Sarum has been our only paid venue to date, and generally donations have covered much of this expense. This month we are trialling hiring a more expensive room at the Leisure Centre for meets, we will need these to be well attended if they are to become a regular fixture.
We have very much fine tuned the carriers we have for hire, moving on those that have proved less popular and investing more in those that are frequently hired. We have donated stretch wraps to the breast feeding support groups and to the coordinator at the hospital. I think all our original carriers have now been replaced, as we strive to keep our stock fresh and up to date. We have more than one of all our most popular carriers and so far have been able to meet all hire requests for these. We have also branched out into offering extras, such as ear defenders and Bundlebeans for hire.
Our hire fees have remained the same, or as we now promote a meet to meet hire, have actually reduced. Hire fees are important as they pay for all our purchases and running costs, but we aim to make them affordable for parents and carers. We have introduced short term specials such as holiday hires and extended hires over school holidays in order to tap into different markets. We also offer a free stretchy wrap hire to new parents, carriers can be borrowed for a month for free by leaving a £20 deposit.
Over the 3 years we have run a number of fund raising appeals and we appreciate the support we have received for these. Fund raising is an essential part of what we need to do to operate. Money for advertising materials, storage, insurance, room costs and training comes from these contributions.
Library personnel has changed and I am now the only remaining original helper. Inevitably peoples’ lives and commitments change and we see an ebb and flow of helpers. We are very grateful to all the volunteers who have invested time and energy into the library over the last 3 years. Without these contributions we wouldn’t have developed and grown.
There has also been a change by stealth. l no longer ask for deposits from those paying to hire slings at meets. I have found taking deposits firstly inconvenient for parents, many of us now operate without cheque books, and secondly involves quite a significant amount of admin for me. We are also fortunate in that the vast majority of library users really value our service and completely understand that not returning their sling means both the library misses out on much needed income, and other parents have limited carriers to try at meets. Our only two missing slings over 3 years came from hiring at a public event, so going forward I have decided to not collect deposits and simply trust the people who come to our meets.
I am not sure where the next 3 years will take us, but I hope that in 3 years time the library will be in an even stronger position, offering support to all who want to find out more about babywearing.
We tried the Connecta toddler carrier with petite straps. There is also a standard and pre school size available. All can be bough with either standard or petite straps.
From their website: ‘We make the best baby carrier in the world. A baby carrier for BOTH parent and baby. A carrier that makes life easier.’
The best baby carrier in the world is quite a statement to live up to.Here’s what we thought.
This month we have tried toddler connecta, for which the suggested age is from 18 months. We had the Petite straps which have 1 inch less padding in the shoulder straps. This enables them to be tightened a little bit more, which is good for back carries when you are smaller framed.. This carrier comes in a multitude of different colours, designs and fabrics with both liberty print and Harris tweed available in addition to the usual variety of cotton fabrics. We had one of the limited edition wrap fabric carriers to put through its paces.
This carrier drew admiring glances and compliments from strangers while we were using it. The connecta folds down to hardly anything when not in use and will easily be stashed away into most changing bags. Although it’s lightweight with no extra padding in the panel or the seat this doesn’t seem to detract from its comfort for the both baby and the baby wearer. The sleep hood is simple and works buy clipping the corners of the hood to clips on the straps. It’s large and provides plenty of protection from sunshine and showers.
A brilliant feature of this sling is its adjustable seat – the lack of rigid waist band means the seat created for baby can be easily adjusted with the accessory strap to provide a perfect fit each time. The Connecta is suitable from birth (3.5kg/7.5lb) without the need for additional inserts or complex adjustments until 24lb so you can carry your child right through until toddlerhood. This accessory strap can also be used a chest strap. If like myself, you are used to an integrated chest strap it will come as no surprise to you that you will spend several minutes of the day trying to locate the thing! If you do loose the chest strap replacements are available from the Connecta website and in the meantime you could avoid needing to use it as the straps are crossable, ideal for weight distribution.
Pros: Beautiful fabrics Ergonomic shape Compact User friendly Comfortable for baby wearer and baby.
Cons: The chest strap not being attached to the sling. Now I’m being picky – but, could it be more comfortable under babies’ knees with a smidgen of padding?
Summary: Yes. It’s a contender for the best sling in the world.