Monday, 21 October 2013

I want to carry my little one, but which sling? Where do I start?

Dear Friend,

You have asked your friends who wish to give you a new baby gift to rather make a gift, whether it be crafted, cooked or simply a story. The gift I would love to give you is that of Babywearing, so in honour of that I would like to dedicate this series of blogs to you. From my heart I wish you many hours of cuddles with your little one, embraced by your sling of choice, close to your heart.

With love xxx

How to choose which sling?

Snugly stretchy wraps?
Alas there is no simple one answer- although this is a good thing as we and our babies are all individual, so should our carrier choice be. Why is this? Our needs are different, our parenting choices are different, our life styles are different, our personalities are different, our bodies/shapes are different and our babies are different and on top of that our needs, our parenting approach, our life style, our babies change as our little one(s) grows- it is an ever evolving thing. 

Pretty, versatile woven wraps?

So my question back to anyone asking this question is ‘how do you envisage you will use a sling? How do you want it to help your day to day life with your little one? For example will you use it for walking the dogs, to free up your arms round the house or walking the older children to school? What is it important that it does for you: that it is quick to use, enables you to back carry or that it simply looks pretty? Who will be using it: just yourself, you and your partner/an older sibling/grandparent? How are their requirements different?’ The answers do not necessarily conjure up a simple answer and of course our answers and requirements can change but it is a good starting point to focus the mind and maybe narrow the choices.                                                                                                   
Quick to use ring sling?
The Babywearing world can be overwhelming, especially when- whether you are pregnant, have a newborn or are chasing after a toddler- there is so much else going on. It can be hard to get to grips with the terminology, the wealth of information and variety of carriers and slings out there. So where do you start? The internet is always a great resource, but always be aware of ‘not best practice’ videos/pictures and conflicting advice and opinions. Next there are local sling meets and sling libraries, offering you the chance to talk to other mums and get your hands on/try the carriers available to see what starts to inspire you. If you want something more comprehensive and personal then you can arrange to see a Babywearing Consultant, who will offer professional, impartial information in the form of workshops or one to ones. This will be in an environment conducive to learning, where you will be taught how to use the carriers safely and with best practice.  

The lovely mei tai?
Bare in mind that slings are a little like shoes, one pair of shoes is not necessarily the best option for every given occasion or situation, sometimes we need different shoes for different activities, so do remember not every sling will necessarily meet your every need from newborn to toddler and beyond, so you might want to be open to the possibility of needing more than one in your babywearing journey. Budget of course is always a consideration and there are ways to be economical (although be aware of cheap fakes and remember in some cases cheaper carriers will not be as padded, supportive or comfortable). And never forget that most carriers can be sold on – there is a huge pre-loved market out there so it is possible your carrier will have a resale value.

Overall though I recommend that you enjoy researching, trying, playing and finding the carrier/sling(s) for you. Your one(s) are out there. 

To help get you started, or just for your interest, I will be posting a blog for each type of carrier over the next couple of months to give you a little more information of what they are, some of the terminology to note and the pros and cons whilst trying to keep it simple and informative.

Practical, man friendly buckles?

Further resources:
Starting points for internet research click here and here
Online (babywearing) advice and information by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
To find your local sling library click here
To find your local babywearing consultatnt click here
Babywearing on a budget by Anne McEwan from WrapMyBaby
Natural Mamas: amongst other useful information and forums have a FSOT Slings and Carriers forum
An Important Note on Safety

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Embrace Sling Library- What is it all about? Why have I set it up?

Firstly why have I started a sling library?
Ultimately because I am completely and utterly passionate about Babywearing and I want to share and pass on the gift of Babywearing to parents and little ones.

What is this funny, hippy sounding term ‘Babywearing’?
It refers to carrying your little one in a sling or carrier; it does not refer to a particular style of parenting as it is often misinterpreted to. Carrying your little one in a carrier is relevant to any parent, whatever your parenting approach- it is a parenting tool which can be used as little or as much as you want, depending on your family life.

Why am I passionate about it?
My daughter and I have gained so much from it in these first precious years together. I have loved simply getting to share my world with her, having cuddles and chats as we go about our daily lives, enjoying walks over the hills and fields as well as having help with the trying times, for example when I have an overtired little girl who needs that extra reassurance.

Reassurance and cuddles

In addition to being practical, cuddly and special it is beneficial from an emotional, physical and cognitive developmental perspective. As parents we want to give our children the best possible start to life, I am a firm believer that these early informative years are vital for providing our little ones with firm foundations so that they can head off into the world confidently. Carrying your little one is one of the many ways we can help make those foundations as secure and strong as possible.

So how does a sling library fit into all of this?
Our Babywearing journey was not all smooth running, whilst I thought I knew what I was doing and had it sussed, unknown to me at the time I was missing out on so much more that I could have gained from it in the first year of my daughter’s life, plus I was often not carrying my daughter as safely, securely or optimally as I could have. I want to be able to provide the information I did not access to parents, hopefully early on in their parenting journey so they can gain all they want to from this amazing parenting tool.

Which sling?? Often overwhelming for a parent to know where to start

There is a wide range of carriers out there and it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose. From experience there are carriers which are not as comfortable for one person as for the next as well as simply uncomfortable carriers that do not carry our little ones as optimally as they could be. An uncomfortable, not supportive carrier can easily put a parent off from carrying their little one in a sling- I want to try to reduce the chances of this happening for parents.

What is a sling library all about?
The sling library enables parents to try before they buy, helping them find the right carrier for them and their family life, or it could be that they simply want to borrow a carrier for a short term need, such as a holiday or family occasion. The library currently has a basic range of carriers that I hope to increase by reinvesting all proceeds from loans so that I can build up a comprehensive service for the local community.

It also gives them access to correct information about optimal positioning and safety guidelines when hiring a carrier and in addition to the library I run a consultancy service which includes an ‘Introduction to Babywearing’ workshop as well as consultations which can be tailored to the individual’s needs for if they want more in depth information or one to one time to learn how to use the carrier of their choice. Consultations can range from half an hour long for as little as £10 to a full comprehensive 2 hours.  

As I have said, Babywearing can be interpreted differently for each family, from simply having a quick and easy carrier to use for carrying little one when walking the dog to ditching the pram altogether in favour of learning the art of wrapping your little one. I am here for all Babywearing needs and wanting to ultimately ensure that babies are carried safely, securely and supported optimally by parents who are comfortable and confident using their carrier.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Versatile Must Have Sling

Slings can be so much more then simply getting your little one from A to B- a must have when out and about for many reasons. Here are just a few of the ways my slings came in handy whilst on holiday:

Keeping comfortable whilst having a 5 minute power nap following a 3 hour morning run and hike up to a waterfall, featuring Emeibaby carrier as pillow and Bara Barn shorty as blanket

Bara Barn in action- Piggy back with Uncle- very special

Emeibaby in action- Cuddles with Daddy

Emergency skirt- I will not go into details as to why this was required! Featuring tonga ready to go, which was particularly useful for carrying nervous toddler whilst paddling

Not just a handy carrying tool for little ones but great for carrying supplies (featuring apple juice here)

Great for collecting shells on the beach

My didymos shorty keeping me warm and snug

Didymos in action- tired girl requiring a carry- when she got down she said 'I am better now'- the magical, healing power of the wrap

and finally more cuddles with Daddy- a cosy break from being on Daddy's shoulders

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow Painting/Playing

Daddy came up with the brilliant afternoon activity of 'Snow Painting'- what could be better to do when there are increasing drifts of snow outside the door.

Our 'ingredients' included:

One plastic tray
A piece of paper to fit tray- watercolour paper a good option
Colour- daughter choose poster paints, I choose food colouring and Daddy choose some beetroot paint we'd made the other day

The Plan was to:
Place the piece of paper in the tray

Get a bucket full of snow and tip on to the tray

Start adding colour

And see what happened.

What did happened:

We started by adding our colour

A little mixing

Getting hands in

More colour and mixing

A request for paint direct on hands

Rub together


More mixing

Now for some scrapping out of the tray and back into the bucket

A request for a spoon

Feet in!

Quick wait plain paper will be better

Now for some foot painting

Results after standing up and having a really good twist in the paint with feet

A little later to return to snow having melted a little

Some painting with snow paint

Then back to pouring from bucket to tray- sadly I missed a photo of the paper after the first pouring into the bucket as the snow paint had made some lovely marks- but busy toddler needed next pouring to be supervised (I am fairly relaxed but did not fancy snow/water/paint all over the kitchen!).

The pouring and spooning continued for quite a while as we watched the snow melt more and more and become less crunchy and mushy. Baby was also enlisted to help with the activities.

End result

So whilst the end result was not exciting (although I think can be taken forward to our next painting fun- more interesting to have a coloured/textured piece of paper to paint on), this was not what it was about. My daughter and I got to spend time together experimenting, playing, being creative and simply being together. My daughter, in addition, learnt a little more about snow, melting, colour, mixing, pouring, instructing baby what to do and generally just got to play!