A voyage of discovery…

As a parent, especially a new parent, I found that one of my favourite things was (& still is!) snuggles with G. I quickly realised that I would do anything to keep him close & be able to have snuggles as often as possible. So, I decided to look into getting ‘one of those carriers’ so I could carry him instead of use the pushchair when we went out for the day as I figured it’d be nice to be able to keep him close to me, enjoy snuggles & not have to worry about our trips out being pushchair friendly all the time! I didn’t do much research to be honest & on 27th April we went to an NCT Nearly New Sale where we found a Mothercare 3-position carrier which appeared like most of the other carriers I’d seen & was a bargain in comparison, or so we thought.

That weekend we went for a walk at a local country park so I decided to use the carrier we’d bought to save messing with the pram & getting it all muddy. I was so proud that I was carrying G & it felt nice not to have to think about the pushchair, especially when we watched some people really struggling around with prams! The biggest downside was how much it hurt my neck, shoulders & back. Now G has always been quite big for his age (almost 11wks at this point) & was probably about 14-15lbs at the time but these carriers are marketed as being suitable for birth to around 18mths or up to 12kg (26.5lb roughly according to google) so I hadn’t expected it to cause me as much pain as it did. We’ve never used the carrier since that day, other than for my other half to try it on to see quite how uncomfortable it was!

G in his Mothercare 3-position carrier on our walk in the woods :)

G in his Mothercare 3-position carrier on our walk in the woods 🙂

My next discovery was on a local Facebook group where people sell their baby items once they’ve finished with them. It was a Mamas & Papas Flex, it was completely different to the Mothercare carrier & I thought it looked like it would be more comfortable as the shoulders appeared much more spread out. It basically consists of 2 jersey loops & a short, straight piece of jersey fabric which are able to be used in a variety of positions & this carrier is marketed as being suitable for up to 15mths or 15kg (33lbs). The mum who was selling it explained that she also suffered with her neck & shoulders but found this really comfortable, SOLD! I collected it from her & the minute I got it home I decided to take it on its first outing to see what we thought to it. It was really easy to use & soooo much more comfortable than the first carrier we tried, I thought it was much more attractive too & less like a bulletproof vest!

G in the Mamas & Papas Flex :)

G in the Mamas & Papas Flex 🙂

All that being said, I still couldn’t see me being able to use it up to 15mths old or the weight given so I explored a little further which led me to discover a Facebook page called Sheffield Slings (they also have a website you can visit or a Facebook group you can request to join). The group were so friendly & they helped me arrange a meet at a local garden centre, with a cafe that sells amazing cream scones, where someone would bring along a stash of different slings & carriers. My very first meet was on 14th May 2013 & I don’t think I’ve ever met a more friendly, wonderful bunch of parents than I met that day, the people of Sheffield slings are amazing! A couple of lovely members introduced me to woven wraps & ring slings, amongst other things, but I completely fell in love with wrapping as I found it so amazingly comfortable.

George & I with our first attempt at using a woven wrap :)

George & I with our first attempt at using a woven wrap 🙂

So, the hunt was on for our first woven wrap. That is where it gets dangerous. There are so many different fabrics, patterns, colours, the choice is near enough endless & it can very quickly turn into a complete addiction! Our very first woven arrived in the form of a beautiful orange & purple wrap (our wedding colours!), made by Kokadi, called ‘Ela im sonnenland’ & it came via a lovely mama from a facebook group called Babywearing FSOT which is a closed group on which people buy, sell & trade wraps with each other, although it is much more than that in that it is its own little community & has a fabulous resource of a website called Rucking Marvellous which is an amazing place to learn all sorts about the wonderful world of babywearing! We tried it out the minute it arrived & it was just as comfortable as I remembered from that very first meet back at the garden centre.

Our very first woven wrap of our own. We had to try it out the minute it arrived!

Our very first woven wrap of our own.

Some people may think that wrapping or even babywearing in general is a very ‘girly’ thing to do but Daddy is also a wrapper in this house 🙂 It’s wonderful to see him carrying G & I think he really enjoys it too, it’s a fab way for him to bond with G & get snuggles. I would encourage any Daddy to get involved in the action, there’s even a facebook group called Sling Dads UK!

Daddy wearing!

Daddy wearing!

Wrapping isn’t the only option & isn’t for everyone but its what we’ve both found works best for us, that & ring slings. There are buckles, half-buckles, mei-tai, onbu, the list goes on & on but here’s a link explaining more about different types of carrier. You might notice near the bottom here is a section referring to ‘narrow seated carriers’ which aren’t advised. There is a variety of articles & research out there into this type of carrier, here is an article written by a UK babywearing consultant who is also a GP explaining a bit more about babywearing & ‘healthy hips’. Its all about finding what works for you & bubba, there’s something out there for everyone! One of the best ways to find out what works for you, without having to buy every different carrier going, is to find something like a sling meet or a sling library in your area so you can try them out & even hire them so you can give them a test run, some will even do postal loans! The UK Sling Libraries Network has a great list of libraries in different areas.

Daddy trying out the Manduca (full-buckle) carrier & me taking the Sheffield Sling Surgery Onbu for a test drive.

Daddy trying out the Manduca (full-buckle) carrier & me taking the Sheffield Sling Surgery Onbu for a test drive.

Sheffield Sling Surgery is another amazing local resource I have discovered via Sheffield Slings. I say local, its about 20 miles from home but well worth the travel! Rosie can often be found at the Sheffield Slings Playtime meets as well as running workshops & personalised consultations. She also has an extensive catalogue of slings & carriers that can be hired out, such as the Onbu in the picture above & has been host to a number of travelling wraps such as a Warped & Wonderful wrap & a Firespiral Slings wrap. She is a wealth of knowledge & is considered a yoda of babywearing in our household, having helped both myself, Rob & many others! If the Sling Surgery is too far out of your area, you can find a list of babywearing instructors on  the BABI website.

Since my first meet with the Sheffield Slings parents, I’ve met so many wonderful people who will all have their own reasons for babywearing & will all find different benefits they gain from it. Whether it’s the new found friendships, the ability to make a drink or some lunch whilst your child remains settled (this can be priceless on those days where little one just wants to snuggle!), a different way to bond or simply the ability to not have to worry about whether you can get places with the pushchair, everyone who has tried it will be able to give you at least one reason why they love babywearing & if babies could speak then I have no doubt they’d be able to tell you why they love it too! Here’s just a few of my reasons;

  • The amazing people we’ve met & have the pleasure of calling our friends.
  • How happy & contented G is, even on those days where he’s having a bad day we can wrap up & it makes everything better.
  • We can snuggle & make/eat lunch at the same time.
  • If I need to get things done at home, things like the dreaded washing or the dishes, then I can do them even when G won’t settle without cuddles or movement.
  • G gets to see the world from our level & we can tell him all about it.
  • No waiting for lifts, I can use the escalator or even the stairs.
  • We can go on the beach without getting my pram stuck in the sand.
  • We can do almost anything & G gets to come along too 🙂

And if you need anymore convincing as to why babywearing is so wonderful & why you should give it a go, my lovely friend Rosie from the Sheffield Sling Surgery has written a wonderful article called ‘Why Carry?‘ & it talks about the benefits of carrying not only to your little one but you as parents as well.

Some of my favourite babywearing pics :)

Some of my favourite babywearing pics 🙂

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