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babywearing

Babycarrying around the world

Babycarrying around the world

As a Doula I always take my new mums a stretchy wrap to try out once they've had their baby. It makes so much sense but only when they've given birth and have their little ones in their arms can they truly see why - and they almost always say it becomes their no.1 baby item for a million reasons. 

Since arriving in Thailand I've noticed there aren't many babies being pushed around in prams or buggies. I've been chatting to locals about babies a lot and I see them riding on scooters and motorbikes, sandwiched between two adults and hammering down the highway so, it seems they're the only wheels infants tend to use in Thailand.

Babycarring, or babywearing has been a way of keeping our babies safe and content while we got on with our days, since the beginning of time.  

It is especially necessary for the parental generation of the human species to fully understand what the immaturity of its infants really signifies: that the infant is still continuing its gestation period, passing from uterogestation to exterogestation. Among the most important of the newborn infant’s needs are the signals it receives through the skin, the first medium of communication with the outside world.
— Ashley Montagu
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Why did we stop?

In fact, in 1733, William Kent invented the first 'wheeled baby transportation device'. In the 1830's, they were brought to America, but it wasn't until the mid 1800's that 'prams' became popular and we can thank Queen Victoria for this because she popularised the use of the 'Perambulator' and, as with medication for birth, formula milk and hospital births, it was soon seen as 'the thing' for newborns if you are an upstanding and affluent member of society.*Eye roll. So basically then, baby wearing, breastfeeding, home birth, and natural birth was considered something of the past - something for the lower income classes.

The comeback

In recent years, though, baby carrying, which never went out of fashion in other cultures, has been making a come-back in Western culture.

  • Ann Moore created a new carrier in 1969 after having seen African women carrying their babies.

  • In 1981, Rayner Gardner created the ring sling for his wife and their baby.
  • In 1985, William and Martha Sears began baby wearing their youngest and then babywearing began to truly gain recognition in the United States. Coincidentally, the Sears' also coined the term “babywearing”.

With research on our side, birthworkers and people in the baby community have been able to present baby wearing to the general public as beneficial for babies again. 

I wrote about why it makes sense here

See also:

Ring slings

How to wear and a review of the Aura Leaf

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Structured carriers

Like the ERGO 360...

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Stretchys

A review of the Solly Baby and a how to plus why to...

Wovens

For front carrying

Hybrid

A review of the Zarpar Bebe

Wovens

For Back carrying

No longer a ring sling virgin

No longer a ring sling virgin

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This Summer I've been enjoying carrying my little Bo around in a ring sling, and it's my first time EVER. Before this I was a total ring sling virgin (I'll explain why later) and without spoiling the gyst of this post, basically I now love them passionately.  

So I chose the Aura Leaf because I wanted my sling to be linen. I'm a bit obsessed with linen right now. It's a very breathable, lightweight and non-stretching natural fabric that's also anti-microbial so perfect for little ones' skin and even more perfect for life in a hot country. (In case you didn't know we are moving to Thailand in 7 days time... (August 2018)). I knew the linen would also get softer and softer with age but that the Aura Leaf slings arrive pre-softened so I could get wearing it with Bodhi right away. In addition, I wanted a vegan company, I love that Aura Leaf use zero animals in the making of their product. Last thing is, the colours that Leah has in her range of ring slings are unreal and I fell in love with the Serandite from the Light Collection and went for that one. So basically it was a no brainer.  
The main reason why I've never used a ring sling before was mainly because I felt like the actual ring would be uncomfortable for the baby. Ergonomically I have always gravitated towards carrying babies equally across both shoulders too and didn't like the idea of developing weaker muscles down one side of my body from lop-sided carrying. However, I've always thought a little hip carry round the house would be a quick and easy way to get my hands free for making lunch for example. Plus, unlike other wraps and carriers, a ring sling only covers you and your baby with a single layer of material so iI figured that it has to be in my collection for life in Thailand. 

My first attempt with getting Bodhi into the ring sling was a bit of a disaster that ended with a crying annoyed baby, twisted rails, seat too low, ring too low, cutting into my neck....just awful. I'm not gonna lie, I peeled it up over my head and hurled it into the corner in a proper strop. But then I got it together, deep some deep breathing and folded it carefully for a 2nd attempt another day when I had forgiven it. 

If this happens to you, or has happened to you with any sling for that matter, my advice is to get a spotter - someone to assist, be your mirror (even hold one for you) and generally just keep you calm and keep baby safe while you get them in and comfy. Our main priority when babycarrying is a happy, comfortable and SAFE baby after all. 

So in walks Fabs. He helped me to figure out how to wear my ring sling with ease. Side note: lately I feel that behind any of my small wins stands a patient, logical Fabs. #PDA. 

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Here are some of my tips: 

1) Do a "rail walk" - which is basically fingering through the fabric clasped in the ring to make sure no rails are twisted and nice and equally spaced. That way when you tug on the material to tighten it where you like it can actually pass through the ring and not just get stuck.

2) Through trial and error we also figured out that we need to start the ring quite high on my shoulder because it will always end up lower than you'd like once you get securing it. 

3) The seat. Like wearing a woven, it's really important to get the seat right so pull the material up between you and baby to about their belly button and sink them onto the seat to form the magic M shape, with bottom amd hips below knees.

4) If you find your bubs snuggling into the ring and you don't feel it's comfy enough (which can sometimes happen) just wrap your excess material round the ring for extra padding. It works a treat. 

5) The excess / tail of your sling can also be used as a breastfeeding cover up (I'm thinking mainly to shield bubs from wind, sun or sand or to keep him or her from being distracted when feeding as opposed to hiding the boob which I have never been bothered about.)

6) Once your ring sling is threaded there's no real need to undo it. Just pop it over your head and off again when getting baby in and out and it makes it even quicker and easier.

7) When you put the sling on before placing baby into the pouch, make sure the bottom rail is tighter than the top. This might sound obvious but that seat needs to be ready whereas you can easily tighten the too rail up around baby's back and nape of neck when they are sitting comfortably as opposed to try too hard to wriggle them into a small space. 

Once I'd got Bodhi in safe and sound that first time it just felt incredible, the linen is so soft and the colour makes me so happy! Bodhi really likes being able to see all around him when snuggled in and the slings suits him because he hates having his head too covered up. It doesn't stop him having lovely naps in there though and when he is asleep and floppy headed I'll just bring the material up a wee bit to support him, maybe even give the top rail a little tug to bring him in a little tighter. But to be fair when he's asleep I tend to have a hand on the back of his head just to make sure his head is protected. But that might be just me. 

Anyway here's a link to Leah's Aura Leaf slings and here are some links below to help if you fancy reading more about babycarrying or any of my other reviews. If there are any you'd like me to review give me shout in the comments or over on Instagram @lucydoula

More reading: 

A babycarrier for both my boys, a review of the Zarpar Bebe

Babycarrying: It just makes sense

Babywearing Around the World 

London Slings - a sling library run by Rachel and Katherine, two experts, mamas, a midwife and a teacher, who run workshops, 1:1 consultations and sling clinics in South London. They know their stuff.