Measuring a Woven Wrap: Soft Tape Measure in Hand (STIH)

Woven cloth is ‘dynamic’- it can stretch and contract, grow and shrink depending on what is happening to it at the time, whether or not it has been washed or ironed recently (and even how it was washed).

Trying to measure something that can change length is pretty tricky! The babywearing community has created a general standard for measuring which is designed to create some consistency. This is important because different measuring methods can give very different length readings for the same wrap. By sticking to a single system we minimise discrepancies. Continue reading

Newborn wrapping

Looking after a newborn when you have had no sleep, and have been through a possibly traumatic physical experience is really tough. You feel shell shocked (I know I did), and can barely function, but you have this totally helpless other person to care for, and you somehow pull out that extra reserve and you just manage.

Safely using a sling or baby carrier can help. Babies find comfort in closeness, hearing the heartbeat of their parent is calming, body warmth soothing, natural movement rocking them to sleep, they are where they instinctively want to be so they cry less. (There are many many other benefits of babywearing).

Using a sling (Close Caboo) for the fist time with my firstborn, Natasha, at 2 days old

2 years later my 2nd born, Thomas, in the same carrier for the first time.

2 years later, Arthur’s first carry at a few hours old, in a Didymos ring sling conversion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as being one of the owners of Firespiral, I am also a trained babywearing consultant (Slingababy and Trageschule) and one of the directors of my local sling library (Morecambe Bay Slings CIC), where I am involved in the running of a busy weekly sling meet and undertaking one to one consultations. I did my first consultancy course when my third child was 11 weeks old, and my newborn carrying improved massively as a result! 

The majority of our sling library customers are parents of new babies as we receive lots of referrals from midwives and health visitors, so a large chunk of our time is spent helping parents of newborns with finding the right sling for them and teaching them how to use it. An essential part of this process is educating them about keeping their baby safe whilst babywearing.

Here are some of the important things that we cover:

  • Newborns are have low muscle strength and are unable to move themselves out of a potentially dangerous or life threatening position. You are responsible for placing and maintaining your baby in a position in the sling where they can breathe easily.
  • You are responsible for your baby’s temperature – overheating is more dangerous than being too cold. Treat each layer of cloth like a layer of clothing, and dress your baby appropriately. Find more information about warm weather wrapping here.
  • The activities that you take part in must take into consideration your baby’s safety (a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do it with your baby ‘in arms’ then it isn’t suitable to be done with your baby in a sling).
  • If you feel you need to hold your baby then your sling needs adjusting.
  • A position that mimics the position that you hold your baby ‘in arms’ is what you are trying to replicate with a sling.

Protecting baby’s airways:

  • Your sling needs to be tight enough to support your baby in a natural curve. They should not be able to slump down inside the wrap. You can check this by leaning forward (support their head with your hand). If baby comes away from you your wrap needs to be tightened.
  • Baby’s chin should be away from their chest, their neck extended.
  • You should be able to see their face (don’t ever cover them, flip shoulders of wrap if needed).
  • When front carried by a woman, baby’s head should be against the hard part of her chest, above the breasts.
  • If you are breastfeeding in your wrap, you must keep your eyes on your baby at all times, using one hand to support baby’s head. Once the feed is finished the carry should be adjusted so that baby is higher up, in a tight carry.
  • Check your baby regularly.

 

Which wrap and which carry?

A newborn can be wrapped in any wrap, but if you have a choice go for a soft, mouldable thin to medium weight wrap. The reasons for this are that thin and mouldable wraps are easier to tighten correctly, and the excess cloth will be less bulky.

Any 100% cotton, Alchemy weave wrap in our online shop meets this criteria, as do a few others (see the video below for a brief comparison of super suitable in-stock wraps).

 

The carry that I usually recommend for a newborn is a Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). A FWCC requires a long wrap (size 5 – size 8), most commonly a size 6 or 7 (the size needed is roughly  based on your circumference, the size of your baby, your wrapping skills, and your preference for where you tie off and for long or short tails).

In this video I am using a size 7 (my ‘base’ size with my 3 year old), but could easily have used a size 6, or perhaps even a 5 with my newborn demo doll.

We hope you have enjoyed this blog post –  we would love to hear your comments and about your newborn wrapping experiences.

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Short Wrap Carry Tutorials: Day 7. Traditional Sling Pass Back Carry

Welcome to the final day of our “size 2’s and 3’s are the bee’s knees!” celebration of short wraps. Each day we’ve suggested a different carry for you to try out. We’ve provided tutorials so that you can join in our ‘carry-along’ and share your pictures and thoughts about that carry on our Facebook page. Let us know which carry you enjoyed, what you found tricky, any technique tips that you’ve discovered that other people may find helpful etc. We’ll add that information to these blogs once the event is over so that they can become really useful resources.

TRADITIONAL SLING PASS BACK CARRY

 

The traditional sling pass back carry is the one that I do, by far, the most often. It is quick, very adjustable, and so comfortable. I am a huge fan of it with a nearly 3 year old that INSISTS on walking on the school run but only at her own pace, so often needs to be hurriedly carried to avoid us being late!!

  • The traditional sling pass back carry consists of one diagonal pass across baby, across your back. It comes over one shoulder and under another.
  • It is incredibly quick to tie.
  • It is incredibly adjustable.
  • It provides lots of support given how simple it is to do
  • You need to feel confident making a good seat (see day 2’s carry for thoughts on making a seat)

 

Here is a video Autumn made for us of how to do a Traditional Sling Pass back carry in a short wrap.

 

 

Here is a GIF tutorial for a Traditional Sling Pass Back Carry:

TSP Back Carry

 

 

Short Wrap Carry Tutorials: Day 6. Semi-Front Wrap Cross Carry

Welcome to the penultimate day of our “size 2’s and 3’s are the bee’s knees!” celebration of short wraps. Each day we’ll suggest a different carry for you to try out. We’ll provide tutorials so that you can join in our ‘carry-along’ and share your pictures and thoughts about that carry on our Facebook page. Let us know which carry you enjoyed, what you found tricky, any technique tips that you’ve discovered that other people may find helpful etc. We’ll add that information to these blogs once the event is over so that they can become really useful resources.

SEMI FRONT WRAP CROSS CARRY

  • The semi-front wrap cross carry (semi-fwcc) is very similar to the hip cross carry but has some fundamental differences.
  • The semi fwcc still has two passes over the baby for extra support, but whereas with the hip cross carry baby sits into the pouches with one leg through each pass, with the fabric going under their legs. In a semi fwcc both passes go over the top of baby’s legs.
  • It is relatively easy to breastfeed in.
  • In order to fully tighten you may have to ‘chase’ slack right round through the passes until it reaches the tails and you can pull it out of the knot. This can take a bit of practice to get right with a heavy child but worth the effort
  • You can finish this carry with a slipknot or some rings for extra final adjustment to the carry.
  • Unlike the Coolest hip cross carry it is not poppable ( you are not able to easily take your child in and out of the carry without having to do some major re-tying).
  • It is a front carry rather, rather than the coolest hip cross carry which can be worn towards the front but will always be a bit off centre. 

 

Semi FWCC

Below is the Semi-FWCC video that Noah’s Arc Sling Library made for us:

 

Using a Short Wrap as a New Babywearer

     Thanks to Dan Nisbet for sharing his experiences of being new to babywearing and using short wraps.

“I remember the turning point at which I jumped to ‘full time babywearing’. We had been carrying our first child, George, from being a newborn and I’d been doing carries with stretchies and longer sized wovens when we’d go for walks as a family into town or through the forest – under careful supervision from my other half! I wasn’t a very confident wrapper but it was OK because my wife was great at showing me when I needed her to. It was a great luxury really, I got all the positives from babywearing but had kind of neglected the learning how to wrap part – it took me ages to learn how to tie my laces as a child too! My wife and I have a shared joke where she shows me one of those tricks you do with your hand, ‘this is the church, this is the steeple’ kind of thing and I always, always get it wrong!

 

 

 

 

We were fairly well established in our babywearing when we went to the Glastonbury festival. George was around 15 months and wrapping was a key tool in our  parenting kit.  We weren’t sure how it was going to be, attending as a family, but had read up a little bit and knew that there was lots of great facilities for kids, a whole field of entertainment (with it’s own families-only toilets), the NCT tent was great too, providing baths for the kids and supplies of wet wipes.

Transportation wise, there was no debate really. He was fairly mobile at that age but we knew his little legs would never last (it’s a huge site after all, lots of walking, over 1100 acres and 8 miles around!) We also knew though that the mud potential was very high; wheels wouldn’t cope well, so babywearing it would be. Thankfully it turned out to be a beautifully sunny weekend though! Tamsin had lent us a beautiful size 3 wrap which she had dyed and off we went.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting into Glastonbury is quite an ordeal. It’s a long way from the carparks to the campsites and when you’ve got kids, you have to account for even more things to be carried in. So as we trudged in with the masses we ditched the traditional cases of beer, opting instead for nappies, tiny wellies and lots of snacks

 

We’d found our spot in the family camping. Had some food and went for an explore. If you’ve not been to the festival I can’t recommend it enough. Apart from the music there’s so much going on. So many experiences jam packed into a small space of time, it’s impossible to see everything but well worth a try. The site opens before all the music begins so you can spend a day or so looking through the extra exhibitors – Kate made a beeline for the moon cup stall to express her thanks to them.

 

Then we ran into a problem. On the second day Kate became unwell. She really needed to rest and lie-down and George and I being around wasn’t helping her rest but travelling any real distance was a little far for those little legs. He was getting heavy for front carries so he really need to go up on my back, which I felt fine doing when Kate was there to help, but I had never put him up on my back alone before, let alone used a size 3! Kate talked me through it and watched me practice. Having her there to ‘spot me’ was fine but what would I do after we had got to the stage to see Willy Mason to get our son to the next stage? I need to learn a carry, get confident with it, and fast.

 

I had carried George on my back a lot in the past, with help from Kate, so knew what I wanted it to feel like and decided that the ‘go to’ carry was to be a ruck. Plain, simple and speedy, which was a positive with a wriggly, sweaty-from-dancing, boisterous boy who was curious to see what was going on and anxious to get out and see it. As much as this was true he still needed naps and wasn’t able to get very far on his own little legs. As nervous as I was it turned out that having only a size 3 with me took the decision out of my hands and it turned out to be the perfect size for us!
After a day of rest Kate was feeling a bit better and was able to join us and enjoy the festival. I had built my confidence as a wrapper and as a parent too. We even managed to meet a couple of other babywearers via the Natural Mamas forum. Our son still loves Willy Mason and I was completely converted to short wraps from then onwards, we always make sure we have one with us, just in case!

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