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Real Nappy Week 2019 – Cloth Bum South Brum Dad

This Real Nappy Week 2019 we are so excited to share James’s story. Cloth Bum South Brum is relaunching this month as Birmingham’s Cloth Nappy Library. You can find their meets detailed on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ClothBumSouthBrum/ and on instagram @clothbumsouthbrum.

During RNW you can find all sorts of bargains and offers on real nappes and accessories so it’s a great opportunity to dip your toes in or grow your collection.This great blog from local mum Kathryn is filled with plenty of tips to get you started. Read on to hear from a father’s perspective.

I’m James, Daddy to two wonderful boys aged 7 months and 22 months, and I’m married to Laura who has recently taken over running Cloth Bum South Brum (our local “nappy library”). We’ve used cloth nappies since our oldest was a couple of months old.

Why did we choose reusable nappies?
1. The environment. Laura and I had just started trying to live in a more eco-friendly way (things like cutting out plastic-wrapped items on our weekly food shop; using our reusable coffee cups, water bottle, and straws; composting our food waste in “Bokashi bins”) and when we were expecting our baby we decided we didn’t want to be responsible for a huge amount of disposable nappies piling up on a landfill site somewhere! The thought that all my pooey nappies were still around somewhere was also a bit disgusting…
2. Our finances! In this decision-making stage I still wasn’t 100% convinced as it seemed like it was expensive, and considering all the other things we had to buy ready for our baby I kind of hoped it was something Laura would agree to not bother with in the end! However, once we got our calculator out we discovered that the chunk of money at the start was well worth it as it worked out cheaper in the end than using disposables: it was something like it would cost £250 to buy the 18 nappies we liked and also the reusable wipes, whereas if we bought disposables til our child was 3 it would eventually cost something like £1000-2000 depending on which brand of disposable it was. So for me that sealed the deal – saving money and reducing our negative impact on our planet!

How do you start?
We then did our research into what was the best kind of nappy to buy. This part felt overwhelming, so to be honest I just let Laura take the lead here. This is where a nappy library’s hire kits come into their own: if we had known that for just £15 you could try a whole box full of different styles of nappies for a whole month I would have bitten their arm off!

If you’ve searched online and can’t find a nappy library near you though, I would see if any friends have any you could borrow instead, or if not just go for it and buy a couple of the same one and see what you think – you can always use disposables if you don’t have enough, especially to start with, and you can buy more if you like them afterwards. We chose to only have one style for daytime and another for night time which makes things really simple; although there is a lot of choice out there, your nappy system doesn’t have to be complicated and confusing.

So anyway, we bought 18 nappies (partly based on what looked the most stylish!) and once we had our baby and the craziness of new parenthood had subsided a little we started using them. My wife was a little keener than me when it came to beginning as I felt like it was a big thing to get my head around, but actually I just needed to get stuck in and learn along the way! I soon picked up how to fit them (Cloth Brum South Brum’s Facebook and instagram pages have a great pictorial guide to doing this really well) and washing them was much easier than I thought. We wash every couple of days, and as both our babies were exclusively breastfed there was no need to scrape off the poo as it is water soluble, and turning the chaotic pile of inserts and covers back into neat piles of ready-to-use nappies afterwards is very therapeutic and not a difficult extra job.

Would I recommend it to others?
Yes! It’s environmentally responsible, saves money in the long-term, and can be quite fun! We also like that we’re already starting our children on a journey of trying to positively impact our planet, so it should be more natural for them to make environmentally sensitive decisions themselves in future. One thing Laura is great at recommending is that not everyone feels they can go 100% reusable and that’s okay, it’s about doing what you can and being kind to yourself: even using some reusable nappies means less disposables going to landfill. Using cloth nappies was well worth the initial effort and has become a natural, easy part of our everyday rhythm (the opposite of what I expected) – I’m so glad we chose to use them.

Adapted from Real Nappy Stories, Cloth Bum South Brum 22.4.19

Twin Caesarean birth: a positive experience

April is International Caesarean Awareness month. an event organised by ICAN – The International Caesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).

This guest blog from Ruth, mum of four children aged 8 years, 6 years, and 21 months (x2) shares her positive c-section birth with her twins.


When I found out I was pregnant with twins, in amongst the multitude of thoughts whizzing around my head was the question: will I get to have a positive birth experience? Also amongst those thoughts was whether I’d be able to tandem carry in slings. As it turns out, both were entirely possible. 

I’d had two extremely positive births with my singletons before. They were spontaneous and fast labours, no pain relief and no interventions, delivering in a beautiful midwife led birth centre (well the second one was almost in the car, but we just about made it inside!) I really enjoyed giving birth. I feared that I wouldn’t get this again with twins inside. Throughout the pregnancy I really hoped that I’d at least get to give birth vaginally, even if it was in a hospital surrounded by doctors, monitors and medication. But this wasn’t meant to be, and I ended up with an elective caesarean birth. 

The problem was the twins’ positioning relative to each other and to my cervix. At our final growth scan at 36 weeks, twin 1 had been breech, which meant the consultant wouldn’t consider induction, though was happy to support a breech birth if all happened spontaneously, quickly and without complications. They often help deliver a breech twin 2 once twin 1 has paved the way so to speak. Initially a 37 week elective caesarean date was suggested (as the hospital policy is that DCDA twins should be delivered by 37+6), but I chose to give the twins another week to arrive spontaneously, having done my research on risks and knowing that the pregnancy had been uncomplicated. I agreed to go in for a pre-op appointment at 38+3 and to give birth via elective caesarean at 38+4 if the positioning was still risky.

The agreed date came around and I wasn’t feeling very positive about the prospect of a caesarean, I was terrified of surgery. I honestly thought that labour would have started by now and I wouldn’t be in the position of having to make such a big decision about how the twins would be born. So we arrived at the hospital at 7:30am. We were called in first (I’d been told that twin mums get priority on the elective list for the day). A midwife did some obs on me and strapped two foetal heart rate monitors to my bump – all was fine. 

Then an obstetric registrar came in with an ultrasound machine to check the positions, as I had requested. She looked closely at which twin was nearer the cervix. She said it was very close, but that the breech one was probably just slightly closer. Both were presenting very low in my pelvis, which doesn’t always happen with twins – often one is higher than the other. Without me asking, she then went on to have the conversation I was hoping to have about whether a caesarean was necessary. She was of the opinion that it depended how much I was keen to have a vaginal birth, to which I replied very keen! She talked about the possibility of a gentle induction – no hormone drip, just an internal examination with membrane sweep to see how far off labour I was, and possible breaking of waters if I was dilated enough. This sounded positive to me, and I was glad that she was open to the possibility of not just ploughing ahead with a caesarean regardless. However, she said she needed to run this all past a consultant, who then picked up on something that she hadn’t thought of – the risk of “interlocking heads” in a vaginal birth. This is when the breech twin comes out first, with its bottom presenting first, but as the head comes past twin two, the chin of twin one locks onto the chin of twin two, which is near the cervix as it is presenting head down. As our twins were both so low, the risk of this head lock occurring was higher than if one twin was sitting higher up than the other in the uterus. If this head lock situation were to happen, it would mean a very fast emergency caesarean, and even then the outcome statistics aren’t good at all. I looked this up myself from respectable sources I found online whilst we were still being monitored.

With this information, I decided that I didn’t want to take this risk, and that a caesarean was the best option for us in this circumstance. I felt that it was meant to be that I hadn’t gone into spontaneous fast labour with them in this position, because if we had have found ourselves accidentally staying at home, or worse still in the car, the consequences of head lock could have been far worse than at the hospital with an operating theatre down the corridor.

Once the decision was made, it was time to get prepped. I got changed into a gown and compression stockings and my husband into scrubs. A midwife showed us down the corridor and into theatre. Everyone in there introduced themselves. There were lots of people, mainly because with twins they need two of some types of staff! But it was a bigger room than I was imagining, so it didn’t feel overcrowded. 

Everyone started to get their bit ready, and soon the anaesthetist asked me to sit up on the operating table and curl forwards over a pillow so my spine was rounded. She sprayed a cold local anaesthetic on me, then apparently put the spinal block needle in, though I didn’t feel a thing. Pretty soon my feet started to feel warm and fuzzy. They then pulled my legs up onto the table and I lay down. The obstetricians set up the screen in front of me, whilst the anaesthetist talked through what she was doing with me – attaching a drip and blood pressure cuff. She then got a cold water spray, and sprayed some on my arm, then down on my abdomen, and asked me if it felt cold like on my arm. It didn’t feel as cold, which showed that the spinal block was starting to work. She also checked that I couldn’t move my legs, which was really weird – like my brain was trying to do it as I thought about it, but I couldn’t actually make them move! At the same time, one of the theatre staff put a catheter in, which I couldn’t feel. After a few minutes, the anaesthetist did more of the spray tests, until I could feel no cold right up to my chest, and also some pinching tests on my abdomen – I couldn’t feel a thing. We were good to go, as she put it.

It wasn’t long before I could feel the doctors rooting around inside me. A very odd sensation, I could tell they were in there, but felt no pain at all. The next thing I knew, there was a loud cry from a baby! We had made sure they knew that we wanted to discover the sex of each baby ourselves, and the midwives were brilliant in this respect. The baby was passed to them, and within a minute was brought around naked, still attached by cord to the placenta, to our side of the screen. A boy! He was taken back over to the baby table, and my husband was asked if he wanted to cut the cord when it had stopped pulsating, then baby was weighed.

Meanwhile I could still feel the doctors rooting around inside me, and pushing quite firmly on my bump. Then, two minutes after the first cry started, we heard the second cry. Again the baby was quickly brought naked to us – a girl! I couldn’t quite believe it when we were told her weight. It was in metric – 3.3kg, and although this doesn’t mean much to me, I did remember that my singletons had weighed roughly 3.4kg and 3.5kg, so I knew she must be about 7 and a half pounds! I was not expecting a girl twin to be almost the size of my boy singletons. But then I thought maybe in my anaesthetised state I wasn’t computing that properly. The midwives confirmed though that she was big for a twin.

Whilst the doctors stitched me up, the babies were brought to us to hold, wrapped in towels. My husband held the boy whilst I had the girl across my shoulder in my arms, supported by the anaesthetist who had remained by my head throughout and was great at explaining what was going on. Once I was ready, it only took a few minutes to transfer me to a bed. Meanwhile Tom went with the babies and midwives to the recovery room first, followed shortly afterwards by me. Within 10 minutes of birth, we unwrapped the babies and got them skin to skin, which the midwives actively encouraged. They both latched on brilliantly straight away. I was expecting this to be an issue if they’d been born smaller or earlier, so I was so happy that they were able to do this as quickly after birth as my singletons had done.

We were monitored for about an hour in the recovery room. I was losing quite a lot of blood, which is pretty normal for twins because the uterus has a long way to contract back down. But as a precaution the doctor who reviewed me wanted to keep me down on the delivery suite in a room so that I could have one to one midwife care for a few hours. I felt fine in myself, and was enjoying a constant tandem skin to skin cuddle.

We spent the afternoon just the four of us with occasional midwife visits to check all was well. It was a really lovely time to be able to chat about names and enjoy those first hours uninterrupted. We didn’t think that we’d get to have this in a busy hospital. And we hadn’t had this time after our singletons were born because it was the middle of the night and we were both tired so tried to rest in the birth centre. When we were moved up onto the postnatal ward, we had our first glimpse of what it’s like to have twins in public, as the midwives wheeled me on the bed holding the twins in my arms through the reception area to the lift, and we turned lots of heads and got several “ah twins” comments.

All in all it was a very positive experience, and one that I can look back on and feel that the twins were born in the best possible way for them given the circumstances. I still would have preferred a vaginal birth like my previous experiences, and I can’t deny that the unavoidable positions of the twins means I was a little disappointed at this, but I’m glad that modern medical techniques like the caesarean exist to help in cases where natural birth may lead to seriously poor outcomes. Also I was glad that I’d been through the surgery in a calm and planned manner rather than in an emergency. My  recovery was neither longer nor more painful than after my previous births, just a different part of my body was affected.

I was especially pleased with the amount of uninterrupted skin to skin time we got, which is important for babies born via caesarean in terms of seeding their microbiome – vaginally born babies get their seeding of “good bacteria” as they pass through the birth canal, whereas caesarean born babies don’t, so we should try to make up for it in other ways such as being skin to skin with mum and breastfeeding.

The twins are now active, thriving 21 month olds. I can still remember their birth like it was yesterday, for all the right reasons.

When she’s not running around with her children, Ruth runs a business sewing reusables and babywearing accessories. These reflect two big interests of hers – keeping our impact on the environment as low as possible and carrying her children in slings. She occasionally finds time to write on her blog and go swimming.  You can find her blog here: http://www.mixedbagofallsorts.co.uk/ and her online shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/sewndownpurplelane She is also on instagram @twinslingingadventures

Carrying in the Inbetween

There are plenty of articles about carrying in the cold (particular favourite of mine is this excellent piece from Carrying Matters), but what about in this awkward in between time? When rain is more likely than snow, walking at any pace with a tiny radiator attached becomes somewhat sweaty and you may be running in and out of shops?

1. Ditch the snowsuit and layer up!

It’s really hard to get a snowsuit off a baby in a sling, a bit easier to whip off a cardigan and super easy to take off a hat or blanket. Same goes for you – a scarf or hat is easier to remove than trying to take off a jumper from under a carrier. Using a snowsuit with a baby in a carrier can lead to overheating, straps sliding and discomfort for both of you. Remember that layers of carrier over a baby can count as clothing, and the heat from both of your bodies will contribute to your overall warmth.

2. Bring an umbrella

A great benefit of being hands free means you have a hand to hold an umbrella – perfect for in and out of places, or when it’s just a bit too warm to wear your raincoat around you both. You can also put a rain mac over the arms of your carrier to protect a baby on your front- this video from Worthing Sling Library shows you how.

3. Tie your wrap before you leave the house

If you’re going somewhere in the car, pre-tie your wrap. Then you can hop in the back, pop baby in, put up the aforementioned umbrella and be away.

4. Don’t forget extremities can be colder than your body

Chuck a pair of your socks in your changing bag to put on your baby’s legs – they’ll likely reach right up their thighs and will add an extra layer to those bits not covered by the sling.

How are you coping with this inbetween weather? Is there anything I’ve missed?

 

 

How did I get into babywearing?

How did I get into babywearing? I suppose it boils down to be being a planner, a reader, an obsessive researcher – while pregnant I devoured books, articles, hungry for “the answer” (or any answer) to perfect parenting. Most things I read mentioned that the baby wouldn’t want to be put down, and so a carrier seemed like a practical investment.

I checked online, having already decided that carrying was something we would do – I knew it would help facilitate breastfeeding, support my mental health, enable me to get stuff done and provide our new arrival with the closeness they would need. At that point I didn’t look in too many places, we’d just got an Amazon Prime subscription and I wanted to make the most of it so headed there and chose a stretchy wrap with great reviews and stuck it on my “baby wishlist”, where my mum bought it for me. I’m wearing it in this picture, just 2 days postpartum. What you don’t see is the frustrated mess I got myself in to trying to tie this incredibly wide and fantastically long piece of fabric in a way that I felt neither my baby, nor my insides (remember, 2 days post partum!) would fall out.

We carried on using this wrap for several weeks, until as part of the endless night feeds I fell into a rabbit hole of Facebook groups. I’d never really been a part of one before, but all of a sudden there was this whole world that opened up to me, of people that had just had babies, were carrying, were breastfeeding, were up at ridiculous-o-clock – and wanted to talk about it! From local parenting group to May 2015 babies, from breastfeeding friendly fashion to a slings sale and trade group.

I’d browse these overnight, and in the morning blearily look at what the links I’d saved or what I’d purchased. We were going on a long European road trip and couldn’t face the prospect of tying the wrap around me in 30 degree plus weather, so I’d seen a meh dai listed for £10 and bought it. Again, I’d had a Google and it had quite good reviews so combining that with what I thought was an irresistible bargain, that’s what we used for the next few months.

It was not an easy time, being a mother to this new tiny human that never slept and fed all the time in a world where no-one I knew had children, everyone was at work all day and I was frustrated that no-one else’s life seemed to have change at all. “But I made a person!”, I’d often cry at my husband who would come in from work and endlessly bounce on a gym ball with the baby in the wrap, “I made a person and he’s not even happy to be here!”. I can’t say that using a sling solved all our problems – he still cried, he still struggled with overnight sleep, he still fed all the time. What the carrier did do was enable me to go places and feel a bit more like myself, just with a baby attached and enabled my husband to do much more of the soothing and naptimes.

What I wished I had had at the time was just a tiny bit more in person guidance, someone who could listen to what I wanted and make suggestions. I also with I had thought more closely about ethics of production, safety and environmental impact (although secondhand works for that!). I feel like although the carriers we had somewhat suited our needs, there were much better, longer lasting and more value for money options out there. It’s why when I saw the opportunity to be able to support and provide information for families in Birmingham, I took it. It’s why sling libraries are for everyone, whether they need sling help or not. Because being a parent is hard, being a new parent is overwhelming and every tool we can add to our kit can be a lifesaver.

[Image description: image shows me a white woman with red hair and glasses on top of my head carrying my newborn son in a black stretchy wrap. I’m sitting on the sofa, smiling at the camera and eating a jacket potato on a plate on a cushion in my lap]

Real Nappy Week – Guest Blog

Today’s guest blog for #RNW2018 comes from Kathryn, mum to Alexander and cloth nappy advocate!  Read on for details of Kathryn’s recommendations for a newborn nappy kit and her experiences with reusable.  For more information about Real Nappy Week and local resources, please click here. Thanks Kathryn!

Until I was trying to get pregnant, it never even occurred to me that cloth nappies were an option for parents nowadays. I had never seen them in shops or advertised, and I had never come across anyone who used them. They were something from a previous generation.

When staying with a friend who had recently had a baby, she went to change her little one at a café, and showed me that she was using real nappies. I was surprised to see how practical the new designs were. Nothing like the terry squares and pins I pictured- in fact they went on just like a disposable, but with poppers or Velcro. I asked her how she managed when out and about, and she showed me a wetbag- explaining that the nappies were kept in there until they could be added to the wash at home.

Back at the house, she showed me her nappy station- and a dry pail with a lid, rather than the soaking bucket our parents would have used. The poo is water-soluble until weaning, so it all just goes straight in the pail. Nothing smelled, nothing was messy, and it seemed so easy! The prints and colours were also really cute, and when she explained that her baby had never had nappy rash I thought it was definitely worth looking into.

The more I researched, the more certain I was that using cloth was the right decision for us. Anecdotally I could see that cloth-bummed babies tended to potty train earlier than their disposable-wearing counterparts. They also tended to have less nappy rash, and fewer poo explosions.

Although the initial outlay is expensive, real nappies can save you around £500 per child in the long run, and even more when subsequent children use the same nappies. The environmental impact of disposable nappies is also staggering- they take up 3% of all household waste in this country. That is approximately 8 million nappies going into landfill every day, and they take hundreds of years to degrade. Each child uses between 4000 and 6000 nappies until toilet trained, and I could picture the mountain of thousands of nappies that my family would be contributing to the waste on the planet.

I was convinced!

I got sucked down the rabbit hole of adorable fabric prints, wetbags, cloth baby wipes and accessories. I found brightly coloured and hard-wearing clothing brands which are ‘cut for cloth’ to fit around big fluffy bottoms… I joined Facebook groups and found a wealth of advice and ideas. There is actually a big community of real nappy users, and most are very keen to support new parents on their journey. You can buy new if you like, or pre-loved if you want to save pennies and extend the environmental impact by continuing to use nappies that other parents have no use for now. You can also recoup some of the cost of your stash by selling it on once your family is complete!

We have loved our real nappies. Alexander get a sore bum so very rarely, and he has extra cushioning for landings whilst learning to walk!  Our bins are no fuller now than they were before he arrived, and the chemical smell of ‘sposies’ is not an issue in our house. I now do a nappy wash every 5 days or so, and we have never had a poo explosion- so the extra nappy washes are offset with fewer clothes washes. Plus he looks so cute toddling around in his little campervans, rainbows or monkey prints J  I warn you- the print collecting can be addictive!

My husband took a little convincing, but once he saw the set-up at our friend’s house he relaxed a bit. He was happy to go with whatever I wanted to do- since it was me at home and me handling the washing, but whatever apprehension he had disappeared very quickly once we began to use them. My mum and my in-laws have got on board too. They admit to thinking this all sounded like too much hassle, and quietly expecting us to switch to disposables quite soon after the realities of parenthood set in. They have told me they are so impressed with the system we have, and they can’t believe how easy it actually is in practice! My sister has also been talking about using cloth once she starts her family; and she just thought I was mad when I told her our cloth-nappying decision. I think all you need is to know someone it is working for, and the whole thing suddenly seems like a good idea.

The amount of options can seem overwhelming, but once you find a system that works for you it’s a piece of cake.

I did a questionnaire on the Nappy Lady website, and Wendy sent me a recommendation based on the features I considered most important- eg. Drying speed, containment, type of fastening. After considering these, and also taking advice from the Facebook group community, I collected my initial newborn kit. Another option is to access your local nappy library (yes, it’s a thing!), which will loan different types to try or entire starter kits, and give you lots of useful advice.

Hopefully some of this information will be useful to you when deciding if cloth nappies are for you. I cannot recommend them enough. They are great to use, and we also feel like we are making a contribution to the reduction of waste in the UK. With so much in the media currently about plastics and throwaway culture, it’s the perfect time to make some changes to what is considered normal, and this is certainly one significant action we can take.

Happy nappying!

Kathryn x

 

My Newborn Kit:

  • 1 lidded nappy bin
  • 3 Mesh bags (to line nappy bin and the whole bag goes into the wash- no need to touch the nappies)
  • 24 ‘Muslinz’ quality muslin cloths (to be folded in the ‘Jo fold’ and put on like a terry nappy. These are a good cheap option for newborns, as they can be fitted exactly to the size and shape of any baby. Newborns need so many changes per day, it’s helpful that these wash and dry very quickly too. We still often use this system now on my 11-month-old, with a bamboo booster added)
  • 3 ‘nappy nippas’ (a plastic grippy device that replaces the old style nappy pin)
  • 3 small milovia wraps (waterproof covers for over the folded muslins- lovely soft fleece around the waist and adorable prints)
  • 2 small motherease Rikki wraps
  • 2 wetbags (With two zipped compartments- one for clean damp cloth wipes, one for used nappies)
  • 3 vest extenders (cloth nappies are bulkier, so these make your vests last well)
  • 10 little lamb bamboo absorbancy boosters
  • 1 pack of fleece liners
  • 5 little lamb bamboo shaped nappies- size 1 (very absorbant for night times)
  • A starter kit of ‘Cheeky Wipes’ reusable terry wipes

I’ve moved on to a combination of Tots Bots easyfits, Close pop-ins and Bumgenius Elementals. These are all ‘birth to potty’ size, with poppers to make them smaller when needed. We use Little Lamb sized bamboo and Tots Bots Bamboozles at night or on longer trips out. I rinse cold, then wash at 60, and hang the nappies on an airing rack near the radiator in winter, or line dry when the weather allows.

 

 

Real Nappy Week – Guest Blog

It’s Real Nappy Week 2018!  Let’s #MakeClothMainstream #RNW2018

Every year in April, the reusable nappy industry celebrates Real Nappy Week. This year it will be happen across the UK from Monday 23rd April to Sunday 29th April 2018. It’s all about raising awareness of the benefits reusable nappies has on:

  • Our environment – by using reusable nappies, parents will reduce 8 million single-use plastic nappies ending up in landfill and incineration a day in England.
  • Your pocket – save up to £1,000 by switching to reusable nappies.
  • Your baby – breathable soft natural fabrics, which are comfortable and gentle on your baby’s skin.

If you’ve been considering using real nappies but been unsure for whatever reason, please read on for more information, local resources and a Birmingham dad’s story of using cloth with his children.

Did you know locally we are lucky to have Birmingham Cloth Nappy Network and Black Country Fluffy Bums nappy libraries? Both Dudley and Sandwell councils have cashback schemes for real nappy purchases. You may also find this week a great time to take the plunge and make a purchase as there are some great deals on a huge range of websites and across different brands.

Thank to Dr Sam George, father to 2 and passionate cloth nappy advocate for sharing his experience below. You can find him on Twitter @starrydude

Real nappies and us

Before our first child I was completely unaware of the huge range of cloth (or bamboo!) based nappies there are. In my mind it was disposable (which was not acceptable for waste) or the old school big towelling. I didn’t fancy the latter given I regularly mess up the folding in maps. Fortunately my wife and the NCT had better information. Since then we have had about 10 different makes/designs. We’ve handed on some of the ones we didn’t like. We must have had thousands of poos and for the most been absolutely contained by the designs. Of course there are some that are better and some that are worse. That said the ones that worked better for my son initially were not the ones that always did. His shape changed and so that altered the effectiveness of the nappies. It is the same for our daughter. We even mix and match components now. All works really well. Yes there is a bucket of washing to do. It can smell but so can one’s bin! The key is to swill out and wash fairly often, you’ll need to anyway as they get through them fast.

We’ve had moments with disposables. They have a place (planes and camping to name a few) but I’m so pleased we went the reusable way. I just think how much landfill we have avoided.

Dr Sam George @starrydude

 

Useful resources:

https://www.thenappylady.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/UKClothNappyLibraries/

https://www.facebook.com/GoRealNappyInfo/

 

 

Finally sunshine – warm weather babywearing

Hooray! It’s finally sunny – so what does that mean for using a sling/carrier with your little ones?

The most important things to consider apply to all hot weather, regardless of whether you are carrying your baby in a sling/carrier or not and matter for both you and your children.

  1. Keeping hydrated
  2. Dressing appropriately
  3. Staying in the shade where possible (especially important for babies under 6 months who should avoid direct sunlight)
  4. Avoiding being out in the sun between 11am and 3pm when it is at its strongest

When it comes to carriers, it’s important to consider all of the above in conjunction with the sling – are you able to provide drinks while using it? Some slings/carriers give lots of additional layers over the child or are a heavy weight – can you adjust clothing? Could you both use a parasol to provide shade? Are extremities protected from the sun (especially legs/feet and tops of heads)?

If you usually use a cotton or jersey stretchy wrap, you might be able to try a bamboo version (Hana, Boba, Izmi, Calin Bleu and Joy and Joe baby all produce bamboo stretchy wraps).  With woven wraps, a heavy blend could be swapped for something lighter, like a Calin Bleu gauze wrap. You could also consider a lightweight buckle carrier like an Izmi baby or Boba Air if you are looking for something that packs up small and is thin. Why not visit the library and have a try of some different ones, especially useful if you are off on holiday!

This is a great summary of babywearing in hot weather questions from Natural Parents Network:

  • Are you going to get hot if you wear your baby in the summer heat? Well, yes, but you were going to be hot anyway.
  • Will your baby be overheated next to you? In all but the rarest cases, no, if you’re both dressed appropriately (as in, less is more). Parents and caregivers in even the hottest of locations on earth wear their babies, so obviously it’s doable.
  • Will you be more comfortable not wearing your baby? I’m going to suggest no, because you’d be carrying him or her anyway. At least with a sling or wrap, you’ll have your hands free to fan yourself and keep your water bottle at the ready!

Here’s a great collection of links related to warm weather transportation of babies and children:

Summer Slings and Keeping Safe in The Sun – Carrying in the Heat by Carrying Matters 

Breastfeeding in Hot Weather – La Leche League

Babywearing in Hot Weather – Natural Parents Network

How can I keep my baby safe in hot weather? – NHS UK

“I don’t want a sling – have you got any carriers?” – language and the carrying world

When I trained as  a breastfeeding peer supporter I remember reading an editorial by Diane Wiessinger, IBCLC entitled “Watch Your Language” which completely changed my outlook on communication. I’ve linked the full article below, but the main idea I took away from it was the importance of choosing our language carefully, especially when talking to new parents who are experiencing a life change of such enormity.

Much more recently a post on Facebook by Sling School caught my eye:

We’ve been thinking a lot about language this year, and how little subtleties can make a huge difference. I’ve got a blog post brewing on the language around ‘putting a baby in a sling’. For some parents, when the stretchy wrap is tied and ready for baby, they switch from cuddling baby in a great position to suddenly looking like there’s a difficult challenge ahead, holding baby away from themselves and angling the legs towards the cross passes which are then tentatively lifted to allow legs in. A simple shift in the language, encouraging parents to cuddle baby in the position they’d like them to be in, then moulding the stretchy wrap around them can lead to a big lightbulb moment and make the process seem much easier

“Once your stretchy wrap is on, do you talk about ‘putting baby into sling’ or ‘cuddling baby and fitting the sling to them’? The language we use makes a huge difference to parents’ confidence in using slings and getting their baby comfy in new carriers. – Language Matters”

All that background aside, I wanted to write this blog post focusing on an interesting phenomenon that I’ve experienced recently – the difference between a sling and a carrier. A quick Google of “sling or carrier” brings me neatly to the BabyCentre “How to buy a baby carrier guide

“The #1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, BabyCenter reaches more than 45 million parents a month in every corner of the globe through its 11 owned and operated properties in 9 different languages.”

Despite this, their information in their how to guide bears very little resemblance to what I know from both personal experience as a parent in the world of carrying and as a carrying consultant. [If you are looking for a great resource for choosing a baby carrier I would definitely check out this from It’s A Sling Thing: Help Me Choose A Sling! ]

The information in the BabyCentre guide talks about front carriers, slings and wraps – (what I would call soft structured carriers, stretchy wraps and woven wraps) with some strange information!

One downside to front carriers is that some don’t lend themselves easily to breastfeeding while wearing your baby. Also, a front carrier may feel too big and bulky for your newborn.

Many parents would find that the majority of soft structured carriers are well-suited to breastfeeding, and there are lots of carriers (slings?) on the market that adjust easily to fit a newborn. For more on feeding in slings/carriers this is an excellent resource: Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding Safely in Slings by Carrying Matters

And like slings, they [wraps] aren’t as comfortable for carrying bigger kids because they don’t have the padding and support that front carriers offer.

Woven wraps are the most versatile carrier, lasting from newborn well into the preschool years and beyond – so this misconception could prevent a parent from accessing a tool that would be a great option for them. These are just two examples, from one website – but they have opened my eyes to the changed I need to make to my practice to be able to help parents.

Where can parents (and sling librarians, consultants, peer supporters, health professionals, birth workers…) find easy to understand, clear and useful guidance about the types of slings available?

Babywearing UK – Choosing a Sling or Carrier  is a comprehensive guide covering advantages and disadvantages of different types of sling/carrier and this wonderful image from Ecoroos gives a visual run down of each of the different types.

This huge difference between what major parenting resources say about slings (where most people look first) and what the carrying profession says about slings (the people parents are approaching for support) can lead to communication challenges for everyone involved.  Being called the Happy Sling Lady has made me wonder if people might think I can’t help them with a “carrier”, and I have been momentarily confused when showing someone a Connecta and they tell me that they don’t want one of those, they want a sling. Many people write to me saying that they are happily using a sling in the house but they want a carrier for outside. When asking a few more questions, I find they have a stretchy wrap that they don’t feel confident in using out of the home, and they are looking for something more structured like a high street carrier (e.g. Baby Bjorn, Ergo 360 etc.).  My primary goal is to support and empower parents to feel able to safely and confidently carry their baby and being more aware of language and terms can hopefully help me achieve this.

So to answer my question in my blog image: Sling or Carrier

  • Is there a difference? – depends who you ask! I use them interchangeably or say sling/carrier to avoid confusion.
  • What is it?  – people often think a sling is a piece of fabric wrapped around the body (stretchy or otherwise) and a carrier is more structured, usually with buckles. The reality is there are many more options than just these two, and sling/carrier can be used to mean any, all or none.
  • Why does it matter? – It matters because parents come to sling consultants or libraries looking for help and the words they choose may affect how we understand their needs, and how their needs get met.

What has your experience been? Did you learn anything new from this blog?

Links/resources:

Watch Your Language!  Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC 

It’s A Sling Thing: Help Me Choose A Sling! 

Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding Safely in Slings by Carrying Matters

What happens at a sling library?

You’ve found the Happy Sling Lady. You’ve seen the Sling Library events on the Facebook page. You have a baby (or a bump, or a toddler) and you’re wondering what we do.

When and where? 

Solihull, Magic Bean Coffee Shop

Cotteridge Milk Mates

Dudley Milk Mates

Sometimes these fall in school or bank  holidays and need to be re-arranged so please  check the most up to date time/date information on the events tab of our Facebook page

All sessions are drop in but you can book tickets online using the links above. We ask that you sign in when you arrive and we see people in that order (some sessions are very busy so it’s advisable to arrive as early as possible). As our venues are offered to us for free, and sell hot drinks and refreshments we do ask that no other food or drink is consumed while at the library.

All the venues we use are suitable for toddlers to come along to, with changing facilities and toys. They are wheelchair accessible and have accessible toilets.

Who can come?

Sling libraries are aimed at parents/carers/families and their children. Please be aware that space can sometimes be limited, and if you plan to bring toddlers or older children it might be a good idea to bring a friend/family member with you so you can focus on learning to use the sling you are planning to hire (but if you can’t don’t let this put you off – our volunteers are very experienced toddler entertainers!) Expectant families are welcome too! Solihull especially is limited on room for pushchairs, so please come without one if possible

So, what happens at a sling library and is it for you?

Sling libraries are what they say – like a book library, there are a range of different slings to browse, try on and borrow. I (Brianna) run them as a trained and insured sling consultant alongside incredible volunteers, and I hope to help as many families as possible start and continue their carrying journeys.

When you arrive, you’ll see a sign in sheet. You may not be greeted immediately (for which I can only apologise – we love to help as many families as possible and they get can get very busy). It will ask you for the name of you and your child (first names are fine), your child’s age (to help target which slings will be suitable) your email address (to keep you up to date with sling library information and send safety leaflets etc.), your reason for attending, a tickbox for if you don’t mind photos being taken (these would be used on the Happy Sling Lady social media) and the time you arrived. We work down the list, calling names/numbers, spending 5-10 minutes with each family, sometimes grouping families with similar needs together. You are welcome to watch and listen in to demonstrations.

I have weighted dolls for you to practise with – especially useful if you have a bump or a sleeping baby!

You can then hire a sling for the month, to be returned at the next meet for a cost of £10. You can see all available slings and make reservations here: https://happyslinglady.myturn.com

If you know that’s the sling for you, and you’d like to purchase, I am a retailer of many different styles and brands of carrier – just ask! I can also access discounts for library users on a huge number of brands so if you are wanting to buy please let me know. Despite this, we still just want to find the carrier that works for you whether we sell it or not so you may need to buy online or preloved once you’ve found it.

For some people, a group setting might not appeal. If you have considerations that may mean it would take longer than the 5-10 minute slot available at a library meet, you may want to think about booking a private consultation or onto one of my workshops (currently running newborn stretchy wrap, buckled carrier, back carrying and introduction to woven wrap workshops). These are bookable here: https://happyslinglady.as.me

Positioning

How can you tell your baby is well supported and comfortable in a sling? Mostly, they’ll let you know if they’re not! However, there are some key guidelines to follow in order to check fit and comfort for parent and baby. Remember that manufacturer guidelines for carriers (especially those purchased secondhand) can quickly become out of date, or can be incorrect, as can YouTube how to videos not made by professionals. Historically we would have had the support of our “village” and plenty of experienced family members to pass on their knowledge, but in our modern lives this can be lacking.  If you are unsure how to use a sling safely, try attending a sling meet or booking a consultation. 

For the wearer:

When the sling is on, it should not put any strain on your back, neck or shoulders and you should feel comfortable and secure. If you don’t feel this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the “wrong” sling for you, but it may just need some tweaks on positioning or adjustment.

For the baby:

Your baby’s back should be well supported in a C shape and their head should be clear of their chest. Their legs should be supported in the M or J shape as shown at the top of this article. This upright position mimics an in arms carry and as babies often spend their first few months all tucked up, supporting this position for them is the most comfortable. Once a baby is well positioned in a sling their airways are free, fabric should not be covering their face and they often drift peacefully to sleep. Check that the sling supports the baby’s bottom to be lower than their knees, and that the fabric does not extend past their knee pits forcing their legs straight. This can often be overcome by cinching the waistband, but check with your local meet or consultant to be sure.

As mentioned in the previous article about sling safety, babies should be high, tight, in view, close enough to kiss, with their chin off their chest and their back well supported. For this reason, lying down (sometimes called “cradle” position) in a carrier is not recommended. If you’d like to feed in a sling, try to keep baby upright and if this is not possible keep a close watch and return them to the upright position when the feed is finished.

Newborn-85x11-01.jpg

For older babies and toddlers:

Ask them! Make sure the carrier you use has been tested to support the weight of your child, and they still need to be well held across their back, bottom and legs. If they do fall asleep, ensure their head is well supported so they do not strain their neck. Many families carry comfortably through the pre-school years, it’s a case of finding the right carrier and fit.

Toddler-85x11-01.jpg

Other considerations:

If you are carrying on your back, make sure the sling you are using is age and weight appropriate. For example, many SSCs do not hold a smaller baby high enough to be visible and safe, conversely a stretchy wrap is not recommended for a back carry except by an experienced wearer or with the help of a professional as it is a tricky carry to get right safely.

A final thing to consider for safe and comfortable carrying is the weather! Here are two great links from Sheffield Sling Surgery about carrying in both heat and cold. The sling you use may add up to 3 extra layers on your baby and overheating can be a real risk.

Babywearing in summer weather

Babywearing in winter weather