{babywearing} in the summer, summer, summertime....

Oh Happy Day!! Yesterday was the first day of summer and Mother Nature was a kind mama to us here in Edmonton and she let the beautiful sun come out to play (it had been raining almost 24/7 here for the four days prior!!) Now that summer is officially here, I thought I would go over a few tips and recommendations for summertime babywearing. Because along with summer, come trips to the lake and/or mountains, camping, city festivals, outdoor farmer's markets and multiple playdates at the playground, splashpark, outdoor pool, etc.... And what better way for your little one to experience all of this summer fabulousness then right up there with you on your tummy or your back in a great baby carrier!

You want to make sure that first and foremost on hot and sunny days, that your baby (and ideally you too) is kept out of direct sunlight for long periods of time. Find a nice shady tree at the park, or walk on the shady side of the street, get them a wide-brimmed hat to wear and use a non-chemical, mineral-based, natural sunscreen to protect their delicate skin (Health Canada does not recommend sunscreen for babies less than 6 months old).

You will also want to make sure that both you and baby are appropriately dressed for the weather. For baby that usually means just a diaper, a diaper shirt or t-shirt (and the wide-brimmed hat) and maybe a pair of the super cute BabyLegs Cool, UV and sun protection leg warmers. For you an easy-to-access nursing tank top or simple tank top or t-shirt is your best bet.

As for what kind of carrier to use, well it is really quite simple.

If you love your wrap, but are finding the stretchy cotton jersey one that you have too hot, then switch to a gauze or a thin woven wrap. Not only is the fabric of a gauze wrap, like the Babyette Gauze Wraps that I have at Natural Urban Mamas, light and airy, it is also considered a non-stretchy wrap and can be used for back carrying as well as tummy-to-tummy carrying.  Also, tying baby in the Front Wrap Cross Carry hold gives you the option of having just one layer of the carrier covering baby or adding the other two layers if needed.

A nice light cotton or gauze ring sling is also another option and perfect for those days and times when your baby or toddler is going to want to be up and down multiple times throughout the day (think festivals, going to and from the car to the pool, park, etc....). Another option for ring slings is a mesh sling that can also be used for water fun! The Babyette WaterBaby Mesh Ring Slings are sturdy enough for everyday use and perfect for heading to the pool with baby or to the splash park where you have to keep an eye on older siblings splashing around and still keep baby close (and trust me you are all going to get wet)!!

Another great option for summertime (and anytime) babywearing is the Chimparoo Mei Tai baby carrier. I love this mei tai for its great design, as well as the fact that it is made with such beautiful woven cotton fabrics that make it a nice light and breathable carrier that is so, so easy to use. The newest version of this carrier, the Mei Tai Plus, has a few very cool design additions that make this a truly versatile baby carrier that can be used from newborn to ~35lbs. It also happens to be one of the only soft-structured baby carriers that I like for a hip carry and I think it has to do with just the right amount of strap and waist padding and the width of the straps.

And if your summer holidays are taking you camping and hiking and hitting the mountain trails, you will want to make sure you have a baby carrier that can keep both you and baby comfortable for longer walks and hikes over rugged terrain. The Pipa Pack soft-structured baby carrier is a great option for babies who are at least 3 months old (for front carrying) and ~5 to 6 months old for back carries. The ingenious inner panel design on the Pipa Pack also makes it super easy to transfer the carrier (with baby/toddler still strapped in) from one wearer to another, so your little one can have a piggy back ride on both mommy and daddy and whomever else is with you!

I will not lie and tell you that you are not going to get a little sweaty while you are wearing your baby this summer, just know that it can be done comfortably with a few slight adjustments or a new carrier. Just remember to take breaks when you need them to cool down, make sure you keep both you and baby well hydrated (nurse and babywear at the same time!!) and get out there and soak up all the amazing and fun times that summer has to offer.  Just don't forget your baby carrier!!

Happy {Summertime} Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

 

 

 

Natasha's Pick of the Week: Ring Slings!

I love my ring slings!! The first baby carrier I ever bought was a ring sling and I still have it and still use it.

Ring slings are one of the three kinds of baby carriers that I think all parents should own (the other two being a wrap carrier and a soft-structured carrier).

And here are the reasons why I love ring slings:

  1. You can use a ring sling from day one of your baby's life! And because it is a one-size fits most kind of baby carrier, you do not have to get a specific size for either you or your child. (I carried my 4 lb premature son in ours almost everyday at home!)
  2. Kind of repeating myself here, but ring slings are adjustable. And that means that they can easily work for a 5' 2" Mama as well as the corresponding 6' 2" Daddy, as well as all sizes of babies!
  3. When babies start to move around more, ie, rolling, crawling, walking, they are usually in a constant state of what I call "the ups and downs". As in, please pick me up for a bit....Okay, now I want down....AND now I want up again....and down.... and I think you get the picture. A ring sling can be the perfect solution in this situation-it is easy to slip baby in and out of the sling to suit their ever-changing little minds!
  4. A ring sling is the perfect 'leave in the car' carrier. And this is where at least one of mine is at all times. I use it for when I have those days of multiple quick errands to run and I have to be in and out of the car. It is an easy carrier to use and get baby in and out of and in my opinion is a better alternative to carrying around the bulky and often very heavy baby + car seat.
  5. You can use a ring sling for your toddler. My daughter is two and a half years old and weighs about 30 pounds. Last weekend she fell down one step and twisted her ankle and has refused to walk on it now for about a week. And I don't know what I would have done with out my ring slings for both at home and when we have had to go out. I am also finding that at this age and weight, of all of my carriers (and I have over 20 of them) the ring slings and my woven wraps are proving to be the most comfortable to use with her.

We have a few different brands of ring slings at Natural Urban Mamas and I have used them all and personally think they are all fantastic. You really can't go wrong with any one of these great baby slings:

  • The gurumama Ring Slings are very nice because they have that little bit of designer fabric pizzazz on the 'tail' part of the sling, as well as a built-in zippered pocket.
  • The Ollie Golightly 100% Linen Ring Slings are at this point a very limited item. We only have three more of these and once they are gone, that is it (the creator of these has moved on to other career endeavors). I love these because the hand screen printed images on the tail part of the slings are gorgeous and the different colored bias ribbon to help with tightening makes these very user-friendly.
  • NEW Waterbaby Ring Slings from Babyette just arrived last week and this is the perfect carrier for your beach holiday, summer time at the splash park or pool or even just taking a shower with baby at home. They are made with a breathable, fast-drying, super-soft mesh material and they come in four different colors.
  • NEW 100% Cotton Batik Rings Slings from Babyette also arrived last week and we are so excited about these. The patterns were chosen specifically for Natural Urban Mamas, which makes these an exclusive item to us! Babyette Ring Slings are nice wide ring slings (read-plenty of fabric to support the shoulders of any size baby) and they have the most gorgeous and comfortable pleated shoulder detailing on them.

So go ahead Mamas, get yourself a ring sling and enjoy all there is about them and your babywearing time with your little baby!

And if you are local to the Greater Edmonton Area and need more information or hands-on instruction, be sure to check out our upcoming Basics of Babywearing Workshops and/or book a Private Babywearing Consultation with me.

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

P.S. Remember that proper positioning applies to all baby carriers, ring slings included and I do not recommend a cradle position or forward facing out position in these or any baby carrier.

 

My TOP 5 Tips for Safe Babywearing.

It’s a fact mamas:  babies who are held cry less, are more calm and content, sleep more peacefully, nurse and gain weight better, they enjoy better digestion and physically and mentally develop better. (1, 2, 3) The reality is, that holding your baby all day long can get cumbersome and tiring, UNLESS you are doing it with the help of a baby carrier. "Babywearing" simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a baby carrier. Holding babies close is natural and universal; baby carriers just make it easier and more comfortable. "Babywearing" is the art of wearing your baby in a variety of different carriers, wraps, Mei Tais, or soft-structured carriers (SSC).

With all the recent news regarding consumer recalls of certain kinds of slings and carriers (4), it is more important than ever to understand how to choose the right carrier for you and your baby and how to use it properly.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Safe and Comfortable Babywearing.

1.  Choose a carrier that is right for YOU, your baby and your lifestyle. Different carriers have different feature and benefits and are more appropriate for different ages and stages of your child. A carrier that is two-shouldered and has a waist tie or strap will allow you to carry your baby comfortably for a lot longer than a ring sling or pouch sling.  On the other hand, if you need something for shorter periods, quick trips in and out of the car to run errands or for a special occasion, then a ring sling may be just the thing.  Seek advice and education about different carriers and if you can, try out a few before you make your decision (your mama friends, natural parenting stores and your local La Leche League meetings are good places to start).

2.  Consider who else will be wearing the baby--daddy, grandparents, older siblings, caregivers.  An adjustable carrier (a wrap, a ring sling, Mei Tai or a SSC) may be a better idea than a sized carrier such as a pouch sling.

3.  Positioning of the baby in ANY carrier is of the utmost importance and ensures the safety of your baby and your comfort. The following criteria should be met at all times in ALL carriers(5):

    • Baby should be facing inwards (or on the back in a back carry)
    • Baby is in an upright position and has a rounded spine**
    • Knees are higher than the bum or hips in a frog-like position
    • Legs are out of the carrier and splayed in an 'M' position (30-45' angle from hips)
    • Baby is HIGH on the wearer’s body (baby's bum should never be lower than your belly button)
    • The fabric of the carrier is carefully tightened around baby, spread from one knee to the other
    • Baby’s head is tilted back, face uncovered, to ensure that there is no risk of the  airway becoming blocked. You should be able to get two finger widths between baby’s chin and chest, if not-REPOSITION!

**The upright position is a safer choice for several reasons: Baby’s neck is in a straight line with the body and his face rests on the wearer’s chest, with free airflow on both sides. Babies rely on the rounded spine to properly support and distribute the weight of their head and upper body and when a wrap or sling is tightened properly, the immature rounded spine gets maximum support and the natural “frog-leg”-position promotes the development of baby’s cartilaginous hip joints.

4. Practice Makes Perfect. Babywearing is a learned skill and does take some practice.  Use a doll or a stuffy to practice with your carrier before you put your child in it.  When starting to use the carrier with the baby, always do so on a soft surface like a bed or a sofa (or better yet, on the floor) and if possible have a spotter (someone who will accept the responsibility of keeping your baby from falling).

5. Use common sense when wearing your baby and do not engage in activities that you would not do without the carrier. Avoid activities with risk of falling, like climbing a ladder, horseback riding, cycling or skating.  Don't lean over a hot stove when you're babywearing. Be careful when drinking hot coffee or tea. Don't handle knives or other sharp objects. Don't lean out a window or over the stairs. The list could go on and on... in the end it is up to you to ensure that you are protecting your baby AND enjoying the joys of babywearing.

With all that being said--go out and find the right carrier for you and your baby and enjoy all the benefits of babywearing for both you and your precious cargo!!

Happy Babywearing Everyone! Natasha~

References.
1.Hunziker, U. A. and Barr, R, G. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77, 641-8
2.Anisfeld, E., Casper, V., Nozyce, M. and Cunningham, N. (1990). Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child Development, 61, 1617-1627.
3.Ludington-Hoe SM, Swinth JY. (1996). Developmental aspects of kangaroo care. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 25, 691-703.
4. Health Canada Consumer Product Safety.  http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1001
5. Courtesy of Arie Brentnal-Compton, Certified Babywearing Educator