One of the most popular items on any baby registry is the baby carrier, and it’s no wonder why. Baby carriers provide parents with the freedom to move about while still being a nurturing presence for their baby. Mothers have been using some variation of a baby carrier for as long as time, and across all cultures, and today they’re still essential! It’s not rocket science that a baby is most content when in physical proximity to mom or dad, but that doesn’t change the reality that life needs to be lived and things need to get done! A carrier is great because it allows for both.
Simplicity and Mobility
Baby carriers are your best bet to keeping things simple on the go. While the average stroller weighs over 15lbs, a carrier is almost weightless can be stored anywhere. Getting out the door with a baby is hard enough, so parents will love the ease of setting baby in the carrier and having their hands free to grab the diaper bag as they head out.
If you’re ready to enjoy some hands-free parenting and start baby wearing, you’ve got several options. Here’s the low down:
Slings and wraps
These lightweight, fabric carriers are beautiful and simple. They weigh next to nothing and can fold into your purse or diaper bag when you’re not using it. I love how close baby can be to mom and dad and how truly perfect they fit a newborn’s body. They’re especially great for breastfeeding, and for newborns and preemies as they’re soft and snugly. These aren’t the carrier for babies over six months old, ideally, as they don’t provide a ton of back support for mom.
My favourite part about slings and wraps is the aesthetic – no buckles or plastic, just lovely fabric. The downside of slings is that they’re not great for mom’s back, so be prepared to upgrade to a more structured carrier when baby is around 20lbs or six months (whichever comes first). The downside here is that wraps aren’t quick and easy to put on – they require some time and work to get just right.
Front and back carriers
These carriers are the most popular for parents, and can be used up to 45lbs! They’re designed with the child’s safety and carrier’s back in mind and evenly distribute the weight of even the heaviest toddlers. My kids loved being carried, well into their toddler years, and a solid front and back carrier like the Beco Gemini or the ERGOBaby was our best friend.
The most popular carriers tend to be soft structured carriers like those by ERGObaby, Lillebaby, BabyBjorn, Beco and Tula for good reason – they are diverse, affordable, and long-lasting. Our favourite was definitely the Beco Gemini. Like other soft structured carriers, you can use the Beco Gemini carrier on your back, front, or side to side, but what we loved about this one was that the back straps criss-cross, giving more security and comfort, especially if you don’t have broad shoulders.
These are not everyday carriers as they’re rather large, but they are extremely supportive. If your family is active and regularly goes hiking, you’ll want a backpack carrier. These aren’t for newborns, but can accommodate a heavier weight so you’ll use it for many years.
Try them out!
As with all baby gear, it’s best if you can test a few brands and styles before you buy. And make sure both parents have tried on the carrier, as carriers will fit certain body types better than others. All of Snuggle Bugz’s stores have a selection to try on to make sure you are getting the perfect fit. If you aren’t close to a store, ask around and borrow a friend’s carrier to see if you like it. Don’t be shy! I’ve had moms at the park ask me if they can test out my baby carrier. It’s totally normal, and doesn’t it take a village? You want to make sure you’re comfortable taking the carrier off and putting baby in, so practice as much as you can before baby’s arrival. If you’re not comfortable with your carrier, you likely won’t use it often, and trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the glories of baby wearing!
Snuggle Bugz is proud to partner with BabyBjörn to exclusively launch the Watercolour Collection in Canada. Inspired by the fantasy world of children, a place where everything comes to life, the collection uses water colours and five friendly sea creatures. This three part blog series goes behind the scenes to discover how these products were created and how they stand up to parents and children using them.
We welcome collection creators, BabyBjörn, as our guests for Part One in this series to go behind the scenes of this undersea adventure!
Have you ever thought about the imagination of your child? Whimsical waves of creative ideas that make the simplest things come to life in the most colourful ways. When we become parents, we are quickly reminded of this. As we watch our child’s face brighten and their eyes smile with love when they see us, really see us, for the first time. They grow and begin to watch simple things like light dance across the wall and we stare at them with amazement, wondering what they see, what they think. We, ourselves, begin to imagine what they will embrace and grow to be.
At BabyBjörn, we try to capture the creativity and imagination that only childhood can bring. It was this idea that was the inspiration behind the latest Limited Edition collection, sold exclusively in Canada at Snuggle Bugz.
So, through the eyes of little ones and into the hearts of parents everywhere, join us on a little adventure into our Watercolour Collection.
Playful, inventive and full of color, the collection includes the beloved Bouncer Balance Soft, versatile Carrier One, and the indispensable Travel Crib Light.
The Bouncer Balance Soft is the first product introduced by BabyBjörn in 1961. Designed to safely support your growing baby’s head, neck and spine, this bouncer also helps baby to learn how to rock and calm down on their own. Gently, touch the bouncer to show baby how to bounce and as they grow, bouncing will become soothing and fun. Swim, little fishy, swim.
Two years ago, BabyBjörn introduced the Baby Carrier One. This carrier is the first from the company to offer four versatile carrying positions, include a back-carry option for toddlers. With a sturdy waist belt, padded shoulder straps and wide seat for baby, this carrier can support your little one from 8lbs up to 33lbs. This carrier has been reviewed by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and deemed a Hip-Healthy baby carrier. So, go on and plan your next adventure. We have you covered.
Did someone mention a vacation by the sea? Don’t forget to take the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light. Portable, secure, and lightweight, this crib is the best place for a traveling baby to sleep or play. Take it to the beach or leave it by your bedside, baby will be safe and oh, so comfy. Great blue ocean waves will lull you both to a peaceful dreamland.
Stay tuned for the next two parts of this exclusive three part series for a hands on review of some of these Watercolour products. What do you think about our Undersea Adventure? Which colour plays to your sense of childhood adventure?
We are so excited to launch one of our favourite new products to Snuggle Bugz, the SleepBelt. Invented and made in Canada by sister team Ashley Wade and Hayley Mullins, SleepBelt is an amazing skin-skin support system that is simple and effective. Given that this is a new product and differs from traditional babywearing, we asked founder and inventor, Hayley Mullins to give us some insight into the inspiration around creating the product as well as an overview of its many uses.
She was two weeks old at the time, and like most babies, was happiest when snuggled up on my chest. One morning while lying down with her, I took my hands off her back to text my sister. She (the baby, not my sister) startled and fell to the floor. She was fine; I was not. Determined that it would never happen again, I tried every product on the market – wraps, carriers, slings, babywearing shirts…. Nothing did what I wanted, which was to simply belt my sleeping baby to me. I approached my sister Ashley (the fall was kind of her fault if you think about it) to bring the SleepBelt product to life. We officially launched August 1st, 2013 and within 5 weeks we had our first NICU product request, and an email informing us that SleepBelt would be recommended in La Leche League International’s book “Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family.” What makes the SleepBelt product different from other products? Simplicity.
It’s NOT a carrier – if you stand, you need to support your baby – but because it’s not weight bearing, there are so many benefits:
- It’s simple to get on and off. No PhD in wrapping required – even the most sleep deprived, overwhelmed parent can figure this product out in less than 15 seconds.
- The unique 4-way stretch naturally mimics the womb – all carrying products require some stiffness to bear weight. It’s like wrapping your baby in yoga pants… who doesn’t love being wrapped in yoga pants?
- There are no knots, clips, buckles or ties digging into you. No strain on your neck, back or shoulders. SleepBelt is SUPER comfortable… like I said above – yoga pants.
- Baby can be in ANY position – legs tucked, straight, froggy-style, their arms can be in or out, their head can face either direction uncovered.
- It’s appropriate for preemies not yet cleared for traditional babywearing (it’s used in NICUs on teeny tiny babes), as well as twins.
- Want to put baby down once she falls asleep? Simply stretch the SleepBelt and pull it down. No one wants to wake a sleeping baby.
- With 12” of adjustable Velcro, it adjusts with your changing postpartum body and your growing baby.
Think of it as a unique hybrid between swaddling and babywearing, perfect for skin-to-skin cuddles. Most of us know some of the benefits of skin-to-skin, but did you know that just 3 hours of skin-to-skin a day can reduce crying by 43%? And that skin-to-skin contact helps babies fall asleep more easily and sleep for a longer period of time? This stuff is magic.
“Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to keep baby healthy & happy. Discussing the benefits of skin-to-skin contact including: brain development, temperature regulation, breathing regulation, blood sugar regulation, bonding etc. with parents helps them understand why it is physiologically and emotionally ideal for their baby. The SleepBelt is the perfect product to help parents maximize skin-to-skin contact and cuddle time with baby in the first few months.” ~Carolyn Sinclair Registered Midwife & Prenatal Educator
SleepBelt is proud to have the best of the best recommending our product – La Leche Leaque International, Lactation Consultants, Nurses, Doctors, Midwives, Doulas, Sleep Consultants, Prenatal Educators, and Babywearing Experts.It’s amazing for airline travel (holds baby in burping position and it’s not too hot!), and once baby outgrows skin-to-skin, you can use it to hold him forward-facing on your lap, or as added support on a chair (we’ve even seen it in use in a grocery cart and a sled!). As if that’s not good enough, we manufacture in CANADA.
We have spent the past two+ years working on getting SleepBelt into hospitals, and are so excited that moms and dads can now get their own SleepBelts at Snuggle Bugz in a variety of sizes and colours. Check it out here!
Co-Founder & Inventor
Krystal is back for the second installment 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!
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