Krystal is back for the second instalment of our two part series on babywearing in celebration of International Babywearing Week. Today’s post explores the various carrying options available with wraps and ring slings.
One of my favourite things to introduce new parents to is a wrap carrier and then a ring sling. Both baby wearing options have a learning curve but, once you have the technique down, your life will be changed forever. There are a few different options on the market and the choices can be overwhelming when deciding what to try first, but I am going to try to offer a easy breakdown.
Before we start talking about the differences and uses, I am going to point out a few tips on safety and technique:
1. You always want your baby to be up high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head and monitor breathing, etc. I have seen many, well intentioned parents with their babies wrapped too loosely, too low, and incorrectly. As with most baby items, there is a risk of injury if you do not use proper instructions and care when using a product.
2. Stretchy wraps (i.e. a Moby wrap, or ones similar) are only meant for a front carry, with baby facing in towards you. They are NOT to be used for a back carry, or to have baby facing outwards, as they do not provide the support needed for that.
3. Baby’s legs should always be out, not bunched or ‘froggy-d’ up inside the fabric, even from newborn age.
4. Always ensure there is a lot of fabric tucked up between baby and yourself, making a proper ‘seat’. Baby should be in a seated in an “M” position (see graphic below), with their knees higher than their bottom, and their spine curved. There should be no weight on baby’s knees/legs, but only on their bum.
Since there is such a learning curve to wrapping and ring slings, I always recommend mom/dad watch a few tutorial videos to practice the wrapping technique with a doll or stuffed animal, getting the technique down pat, before adding their own baby into the equation. This allows you to become more comfortable with the process so you can make sure baby is situated safely and securely. I practiced with a doll for a few days, until I could do a front wrap, nice and tight, without the use of the video, and only then did I go ahead and try it with my daughter. Once you are ready to add a real baby, practice in front of a bed or couch, so you have a safe place to put baby down if you get overwhelmed and need a break. One really important thing to keep in mind is this: you will probably not get it perfect on your first few times, and you may get overwhelmed, and that is OK! If you need to take a break, come back and try again later. Many of us have been there and have gone on to lead happy wrap-loving lives.
With wraps you have two options:
Stretchy Wrap (i.e. a Moby Wrap) or a woven wrap (Tula Woven, Chiparoo, Girasol & Didymos, to name a few). The main difference between these is how they can be used.
Stretchy Wrap: These wraps are amazing to use with a newborn and smaller baby up until around 3 months. Most stretchy wraps say they are good up to 35lbs, but I personally find that much more than 15lbs and they do not have enough support to be comfortable or wrapped properly. Stretchy wraps are made out of a cotton/jersey material, which is super soft like a well loved t-shirt. These wraps come in one size and varying colours. I absolutely love giving these as a gift for a new parent (with the promise of teaching them how to correctly use it). Once again, the stretchy wraps are ONLY meant for a front carry, with baby facing in towards you. They are NOT to be used for back carries, or with baby facing out.
Woven Wrap: Woven wraps come in tons of different colours, patterns and fabric blends. They also come with varying price points, depending on the type of weave and fabric content. Woven wraps are also great to use for newborns, and will provide the support needed for almost any weight that you can carry, in fact, my 6 year old will ask to go up on my back for fun every once in a while and I can do it easily. Woven wraps have literally dozens of different ways you can wrap and carry your baby: front, hip and back carries, with many different variations. Again, it is not typically recommend to do a front carry with a woven wrap, as many find it hard to get a ergonomically correct positioning for both the baby and the wearer. When starting out with a woven wrap, there are many sizes to chose from, ranging with size 1 being the shortest at 2.2 meters and a size 8 being 5.6 meters. Most people start out with what is called your ‘base size’ and that is the size that you would be able to do the most of your basic starter carries with. I am very petite at 4’11 and around 110lbs, and I use a size 5 for my base, but the average base size is a 6.
Another carrying option available is a Ring Sling. Once again, there is a learning curve until you find the sweet spot and learn how to position baby properly in a ring sling. But as recommended above, watch videos and practice with a doll before adding your baby into the mix. A ring sling is my personal favourite with newborns and toddlers because of the ease of use (less fabric to fiddle with). Ring slings come in many different fabric choices and you can also get woven wrap slings (like the Tula Woven ones). There are lots of different colours and patterns to chose from!
Important pointers I was given and have learned when using a ring sling:
- Start with your ring sling properly threaded, with no twists in the fabric.
- Loosen the fabric only wide enough to get your elbow in, that way you have less to tighten and adjust.
- Start with the rings on top of your shoulder so when you tighten it slides down and ends up approximately where a corsage would be placed.
- Baby should be tummy to tummy with you until they are closer to a year old, sometimes older.
- Baby’s head should be high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head.
Hopefully this has been informative and not too overwhelming for you. As always, feel free to check out your local Snugglebugz store to try out a wrap or ring sling. Call ahead to see that they have the style you are looking for on hand. Take the time to search Facebook for local babywearing groups as these communities are usually happy to help with tips for beginners. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Happy babywearing!
In celebration of International Babywearing Week we have created a series of emails, videos and blog posts to educate and inform you on the various carrying options available, safety tips, comparisons of popular carriers, and tutorials for using them. Stay tuned all week as we take you through this series and feel free to leave us a comment with any babywearing topics you would love to see us tackle.
Part One of our Babywearing Series will be focused on soft structured carriers. We have invited Krystal, one of our favourite babywearing fanatics, to provide some tips on safety, fit and choosing the right carrier for you.
Hi! My name is Krystal, and I am a very passionate and enthusiastic babywearing Mum. I began baby wearing with my first child, 6 years ago, and although it was sporadic we loved it. When my second child was born and diagnosed with reflux, I needed something to keep him comfortable and happy, and to also keep my sanity. I quickly started wearing him daily, exploring ring slings, wraps and soft structured carriers. Babywearing was a complete game changer for us, making everyday life easier and happier. I attended many local baby wearing meetings, learned different ways to wrap my son, and formed some beautiful friendships throughout the community. At any given time, I have had anywhere from 2-20+ different kinds of wraps and carriers in my home, and have also been sent an array of them to be tested and reviewed for babywearing companies. At this time, I am expecting our 3rd child in February, and have continued to wear my son, and look forward to having a new baby to bond with through babywearing. At this time, I am not a licensed babywearing educator, but it is something I hope to accomplish in the near future.
With the booming popularity of baby wearing, and soft structured carriers, often referred to as a ‘buckle carrier’, we thought it would be helpful to give you a little breakdown on how they work, and what to look for in the search to find one that best suits you and your needs. A ‘soft structured carrier’ (I’ll shorten it to ‘SSC’ for the rest of this article), is a baby carrier which carries baby in an ergonomically/physiologically correct position for the baby, and the person wearing the baby as well. Most SSC carriers on the market offer the option to wear baby on the front (facing in and/or out), on the back and sometimes on the hip. I have found that many people, especially dads, love the simplicity of a SSC as opposed to the learning curve that comes with a wrap or ring sling. The lure of a simple ‘load, click and go’, with very little to fuss with, is very attractive and easy for almost anyone to learn and love.
Some of my favourite things about babywearing:
- Hands free! I can calm and soothe my baby, while still having my hands free to play with my other children, work or perform other daily tasks.
- Bonding. I have not found a better or easier way to bond with my children than having them close to me during busy and difficult times. A cranky, over tired, or overstimulated baby usually calms quite easily and quickly when supported right next to someone they find comfort in. Even on those hard days, when keeping my baby that close to me was the last thing I was feeling like, it would calm both of us down and bring us together for some quiet time. That is a powerful feeling.
- Crowded areas. Have you been to a summer festival or amusement park and tried to push a stroller through it? Not always very fun, especially if your child is feeling anxious or unsure of the surroundings. Being able to comfortably maneuver through crowded situations with your child kept close and secure is priceless and much better on the stress levels.
- Nursing and feeding on the go. This one takes a little bit of practice, but once you get the hang of nursing in an SSC, it’s a complete game changer. I have been able to walk through the mall with a happily nursing baby, while fully covered (or not, your choice), and no one was the wiser.
- Dad is in on it too! Dads are much less imitated by a SSC. My husband is much, much quicker to take the wearing responsibility over when I have a SSC with us vs a wrap or ring sling. Who doesn’t love seeing a big burly tattooed man wearing a happy baby in a carrier? LOVE.
Tips to keep in mind for safe and proper babywearing:
Do I have you convinced yet?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to narrow down your choices on brands and styles:
- Who will be wearing the baby? Take into consideration the size of those wearing it and the adjustability of the carriers you are looking at. For instance, I am 4’11 and 110lbs and my husband is 6’0 and 210lbs, so I was looking for something that would fit my very petite frame, but would also adjust comfortably so my husband could use it as well. I loved a carrier with straps that could cross in the back, as I found it most comfortable for myself, while my husband preferred them straight.
- How long will you use the carrier? Are you planning on only using it during the newborn/small baby stage, or is this something you would like to last all the way into 2+ years old? Take a look at the weight limits of the carrier, how high the panel comes up or adjusts as your child gets taller and the width of the seat of the carrier. A narrower seat and lower panel may fit an older child, but it may not always be as comfortable long term. It is not uncommon for someone to start out, thinking they will only wear baby for a few months, and then end up wearing them well into toddler age. There is also the option to size up in some carriers, from a baby stage, into a larger toddler carrier, so it’s not the end of the world if you have to upgrade your carrier later on.
- What kind of carrying options do you want? Are you wanting to face inwards AND outwards? Would you like to eventually be able to do a back carry? Do you like the idea of having a hip carry as an option? Keep in mind that it is NOT recommended to have your baby facing outwards in a carrier until they have full head control, typically 4-6 months, depending on the baby.
- What kind of accessories would you like with your carrier? Do you like the idea of a hood to support baby’s head while sleeping, or to use for privacy while nursing in your carrier? Would you like to add drool pads to the straps for when your baby is older and sucking on the fabric? There are also weather shields/covers and bags that attach to store keys/wallet etc. I love, love, love the sleep hood on my SSC carriers, both for nursing, to protect baby from the elements, and to help them sleep comfortably.
- What is your budget for purchasing a new carrier? Think about how much you are going to use it, and how much money you are comfortable investing in a product.
Now that you are armed with some info and tips on what to look for, I always suggest looking up your closest baby wearing Facebook group, as many have weekly meetings and are very helpful. I also suggest heading in to your closest store and trying the carriers on for yourself. Snuggle Bugz stores are equipped with a large variety of ‘demo models’ of popular carriers, and the staff are always happy to help show you how to use them and try them out. Make sure to call the store ahead of time if you have a specific one you are interested in to see if they have that one available to try. Sizing and fit varies greatly between each carrier so trying a few on really does help in deciding which one is right for you. To demonstrate the differences in fit and shape, here is a side by side comparison of some of the most popular SSC brands in a front and back carry.
While this is a high level overview, I hope you have found some of the information you need to choose the best carrier for you. If you are still unsure, please feel free to post any questions in the comments section. Happy babywearing!
Want to win a LILLEbaby All Season Black Carrier? Answer the question in the widget below for your chance to win! Contest ends Monday October 10th at 11:59PM EST. Rules and Regulations.
This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner Alena! Thank you to everyone who participated.
Our Clearance Center Sales are now held on the first Wednesday of EVERY month, so that means this Wednesday, October 5th from 10am-1pm, Snuggle Bugz will be hosting your favourite sale again! As always, we must stress that this is a CLEARANCE sale and not a warehouse sale. And as much as we would love to have you shop at one of our beautiful retail locations, the Clearance Sale will be taking place in our Clearance Centre at 1040 Sutton Drive, Unit #1 in Burlington.
Product inventory is limited – meaning once we are sold out, that’s it – and products are SOLD AS IS. ALL ITEMS PURCHASED AT THE CLEARANCE CENTRE ARE A FINAL SALE & CANNOT BE RETURNED TO ANY SNUGGLE BUGZ RETAIL LOCATION.
Here are some helpful hints so you know WHAT TO EXPECT at the sale:
1.Location. As mentioned above, the sale is at our Clearance Centre, not our store. 1040 Sutton Drive, Burlington. There is no street parking available for the sale.
2. Come On-Time. The doors open at 10am and will close promptly at 1pm.
3. Be prepared to wait. Come with a charged up phone, cool clothes and an expectation that there will be a line.
4. Dress for the weather. The line to get in is located outside, in our parking lot. With the sun out in full effect this week, be sure to wear clothes that will keep you cool but protected from the elements! And Sunscreen!
5. Food. Eat before you come, bring snacks and plenty of water.
6. Washrooms. We know we said bring water but we DO NOT have access to washrooms for public use. Please plan accordingly.
7. Strollers. This event is not particularly stroller friendly. Please leave any strollers in the car or at home and consider using a baby carrier if you are bringing your child with you.
8. Carrying your purchases. We do not have shopping carts, so come with free arms and hands.
9. Payment. We accept Visa, Master Card or debit only. Amex, Cash and Gift Cards are NOT accepted. All items are FINAL SALE.
10. Delivery. All items will need to be taken with you when you purchase. Please ensure you bring a vehicle that is capable of transporting what you hope to buy.
Please keep in mind that these products are sold AS IS. The inventory selection includes pieces that were floor models, discontinued items, items that have been opened or removed from their original packaging, etc. These are not items that you would find in one of our retail stores or online. All products are safe for use.
With expectations clearly set and helpful hints provided, your shopping experience at our October Clearance Sale should be that much better! We look forward to seeing you there!
Why Bedtime Routines Are So Important
Parenting magazines and blog posts are always touting the latest “parenting hack” to make life easier, but some things, like sleep, don’t require “hacks” to make life easier – all they need is consistency. A bedtime routine, practised consistently will help your little ones drift off to dreamland faster and without (much) fuss. Most adults practice bedtime routines themselves, even if they’re unaware that’s what they’re doing – washing your face, brushing your teeth, reading a little – all of these things are part of a bedtime routine, so it only makes sense that children would thrive with the familiarity that a bedtime routine brings.
If you haven’t been using a bedtime routine with your little one, the good news is that it’s never too late to start. Make sure you give yourself enough time – between 30 and 45 minutes – because rushing through a bedtime routine can make everyone involved feel stressed and that’s not what we want at bedtime. You want to give your child time to get ready for bed without it being a power struggle or a race against the clock. On nights where you’re running late, and are tempted to rush through it, remind yourself that taking the time to do the bedtime routine will save you time in the long run as your child will be more likely to go to sleep without a fuss.
Bedtime routines take many shapes depending on family priorities, but generally follow a similar pattern. For a toddler, a bedtime routine might look like this:
• Bath (You don’t need to bathe your toddler nightly so this step may slide in and out of the routine as needed)
• Potty time / Diaper change
• Brushing teeth
• Choosing a favourite stuffed toy or comfort item to bring to bed
• Story time
• Bedtime song(s)
• Cuddles and quiet time
• Saying good night
Of course these steps can be done in a different order, depending on personal preference. The last step is important though, as you want to leave your child’s room before she is fully asleep. That way, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she won’t be wondering where you went and she’s more likely to fall back asleep on her own. Bedtime routines allow you to have some one-on-one time with your child, reconnecting and unwinding at the end of a busy day. Not only will a bedtime routine help you bond with your little one, it will also help them fall asleep more easily. Now that’s a win-win!
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. She and her husband, Mike, live in Burlington, Ontario with their 3 children (1+twins!) and when she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she and her global team are working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Today’s Parent, Yummy Mummy Club, PBS Kids, and Canadian Living. Alanna strives in helping families and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and Good Night Sleep Site at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and you can join Alanna on the first Wednesday of every month at the Burlington location of Snuggle Bugz/Nestled for her in-person sleep clinic from 10-11am.
We are continuing our conversation today about car seat safety and when to transition to the next stage of seat as well as how to safely use each stage. Today we are talking about Stages 3 and 4- Booster seats and seat belts.
When transitioning to a booster seat, it is important to do your research as here is where children’s age, weight, and height have such a big impact on how you choose to restrain them in your car. Many people think that as soon as their child hits the 40lb minimum requirement of a booster seat that they should immediately make the switch from their forward-facing seats, however, there is so much more to this decision than just the minimum weight factor. As long as your child is within the weight and height ranges for his or her forward-facing seat and fits the car seat properly, it is safest to use that car seat as long as possible. Making the switch to a booster seat can be confusing so we are here to help you navigate when to make the switch and what to transition to.
What is a booster seat?
A booster seat is a device used to lift your child to the position that correctly fits the vehicle seat belt across their body. The shoulder belt should be across the centre of the chest, contacting the collar bone and not the neck. The lap belt should be low on hips and upper thighs, not across the soft tissue in the child’s midsection. This is the fit that offers the most protection in the event of a collision.
Types of Booster Seats:
There are two types of stage three seats- a combination seat or a belt positioning seat.
Harness to Booster Combination Seat: this type of seat starts out as a forward facing seat with a five point harness and can later be converted to a belt positioning booster once the height/weight requirements are met. The use of a five point restraint system is recommended for as long as you can as it offers more protection in the event of a collision and is more difficult for a child to get out of or use incorrectly.
Belt Positioning Booster Seat: this type of seat relies solely on the vehicle seat belt to position the child to adequately fit the seat belt. Both a lap and shoulder belt must be used with this type of seat and it is not safe to use with a lap belt only which is the type in some older cars and middle seat positions.
There are two types of Belt Positioning Booster Seats to choose from:
High Back Booster (HBB): Has side wings for torso and head to provide lateral support for a child in event of side impact collision. This also helps keep their torso and body in a vertical position while they are awake or sleeping so when the seatbelt locks up at point of impact, it contacts the strongest parts of their body, minimizing risk of injury.
Backless Booster: Just as it sounds- there is no back attached to the booster, it is just the seat portion. With a backless seat there is no lateral support, it provides only the lift to position to the right seatbelt hight but does not help support them when they are sleeping or leaning over. If a child is still and in upright position, they perform the same as a HBB, they just don’t have the support for when child is sleeping or moving out of vertical position.
- Refer to the height and weight requirements of your current forward facing seat as well as it’s expiry date to determine when you may need to transition to the next stage. If your child is well within the seat limits and fits the seat well, it is safest to keep him there until he outgrows it.
- When purchasing your stage three seat, consider your child’s age, weight,and height along with the new seat’s expiry date and cost. Sometimes a pricier seat gives you a longer length of use and is more cost effective in the end.
- Be sure that whatever seat you choose is compatible with your vehicle as not all seats fit in all cars.
- A child in a belt positioning booster has the same freedom an adult has to undo the seat belt and move/bend over within the belt so carefully consider their maturity before transitioning them out of a 5 pt harness into belt positioning.
- If you are purchasing or using a backless or low back booster, make sure the vehicle seat or headrest comes at least to the middle of the child’s ears to protect his head and neck in the event of a crash.
Important Tips for Proper Use:
- Always consult your vehicle owner’s manual and booster seat user guide prior to installation to ensure you have correctly installed it for optimal safety.
- Always use both a lap belt and a shoulder belt with a booster seat.
- Always buckle up an empty booster seat (or take it out of your vehicle) so it doesn’t become a projectile that could hurt someone in a crash or sudden stop.
- Do regular fit checks on your child to be sure that the belt is fitting them correctly and that it is not twisted or obstructed in any way that would prevent it from locking up in a collision.
Stage 4: When is your child ready for seat belt only?
Children must be at least 4’9″ tall and typically 8-12 years old before making the switch but there are many other fit factors to consider. Your child must be able to sit up straight, with his or her back against the back of your vehicle’s seat and feet touching the floor. Your child’s legs should be able to hang over the seat without slouching. Slouching makes the lap belt move up over the stomach when it should be over the hips. The shoulder belt should rest on your child’s shoulder, never on the neck or arm. If the seatbelt rubs their neck they will put it behind their head and won’t get the protection they need on their torso in a crash.
If your child can’t sit in the right position or the vehicle seat belt does not fit properly, he or she is still too short and should stay in a booster seat for a while longer. If your child grows out of their booster seat before they are ready to use only a seat belt, there may be another booster seat that fits your child.
Remember that once you do make the switch to a seat belt, the back seat is still the safest place for children in the event of a collision. A minimum age of 13 is recommended before sitting in the front seat and though they may feel they are missing out on “Shotgun” privileges, the back seat could save their life.
Still feeling car seat confused? Visit us at one of our store locations to further speak to an advisor with any questions you have. If you live in the GTA, you can also visit us at our exclusive Car Seat Day Event on Saturday, September 24th from 10am-4pm at our head office location 1040 Sutton Drive in Burlington, Ontario. We will have special bonus offers, gift bags and car seat brand reps on site to ensure you walk away with the knowledge you need to keep your child safe.
Posts You Might Like
- Baby Registry
- Behind the Bumps
- Brand Spotlight
- Car Seat Safety
- Car Seats
- Cloth Diapering
- Diaper Bags
- Double Strollers
- Get the Look
- Life With Baby
- Mom Talk
- Nursery Styles
- Potty Training
- Product Feature
- Product Recalls
- Product Reviews
- Save vs Splurge
- The Mom Files
- Winter Gear