VOLUNTEERS!

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It’s week two of Sling Library Appreciation Month 2018, and this week the spotlight is on Volunteers.

Our Library is actually entirely run by volunteers- including the co-owners, so this week we’ve posting something from the volunteer point of view.

Here’s what a few of our wonderful selfless volunteers had to say……

~Jay~

How long have you been involved with Bracknell Sling Library?

Since the beginning. I had tried to make contact with the old Bracknell sling library that wasn’t in existence anymore. Then Gemma and Clare stepped up and created the new Bracknell sling meet.

What training have you received?

Peer support training.

What kind of jobs do you do for the Library?

Helping with fitting slings, talking to new praents, helping with events, baking cakes and biscuits for events and sharing social media posts created by others.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with the Library?

Trying all the new slings, helping mums and dads find the right slings for them and the friendships made over the years with other volunteers and parents who come along.

 

~Ruth~

How long have you been involved with Bracknell Sling Library?

About two years- although I’m rarely there these days due to having got a new job with the fab reference that the Sling Library gave me!

What training have you received?

I’ve had no formal training but ample opportunity to watch the rest of the team demonstrating stuff, and have a go with my children/ the dolls where it’s felt necessary.

What kind of jobs do you do for the Library?

Turn up to sling meet, set up, help parents choose/ practice with the slings, tidy up.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with the Library?

Being able to help new parents to access the world of slings which meant so much to me when my children were small- the freedom to go where and when I pleased regardless of steps and naptime, to hold your baby close when they are poorly, to hold your child close and still make tea, to be able to welcome a new baby and hold your toddler and new baby safely at the same time when needed, to offer my school child some close time after a difficult morning to make parting that bit easier.

 

~Gemma~

How long have you been involved with Bracknell Sling Library?

I have been involved since it’s inception, a crazy Facebook Messenger conversation in January 2015 resulted in a cup of tea with a complete stranger. What did happen was the creation of a local Sling meeting into a meagre Sling Library. That stranger Clare is one of my closest friends now and our library has grown so much, but only with the help and dedication of a lot of people along the way.

What training have you received?

From the start YouTube videos, and like-minded friends influenced my skills and abilities. Lots of getting things wrong myself. As the Sling Library grew, we identified that more formal training was beneficial. Peer support training was completed and I considered looking towards a consultancy course. With a full time day/night job and a growing toddler, I soon realised that both myself and our library wouldn’t benefit from this expensive addition.

What kind of jobs do you do for the Library?

All of them: setting up the room, assisting with customers, clean down of the room after a session… Social media- but Clare is the queen here. Finances but without Jenny our maths wouldn’t work despite my grade A GCSE- spreadsheets are not my cup of tea! Enforcement of “lost slings”, purchasing new slings and the sales of retired carriers. Also arranging social events with volunteers. I would highlight that none of the jobs are done by any one person, it’s very much a team game.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with the Library?

Easy answer- tiny baby cuddles. Oh and friends- my friendship group has always been very small. I think it’s doubled since being involved in Bracknell Sling Library and I wouldn’t be without a single one of our volunteers, and the people that have helped us along the way.

 

~Caroline~

How long have you been involved with Bracknell Sling Library?

Since 2015. I initially came to hang out when my little one was tiny, then eventually volunteered.

What training have you received?

I am a peer supporter which involved completing training on giving advice and using the common types of slings. I’ve also watched many a you tube tutorial for different carries with woven wraps if that counts!

What kind of jobs do you do for the Library?

At the moment, I do occasional behind the scenes support as I am now working on Fridays and unable to give face to face support.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with the Library?

My favourite thing about volunteering with the sling library is all the friends I have made along the way. I love to spread a bit of the slingy love and help other parents/carers either practically or by sharing the same friendship & support network.

~Clare~

How long have you been involved with Bracknell Sling Library?

From day one! Gemma and I had been talking in the previous social slingmeet up group on facebook and decided together it would be wonderful to have a go at setting up a library. Little did we know how much work would go in and what kind of success we might see over the years.

What training have you received?

We arrange regular peer support training for our volunteers, including ourselves and are currently looking at CPD. There are lots of new slings on the market, so in an addition, we make an effort to keep up to date with what’s available, what’s popular and so on. I’ve also undertaken a Futurelearn course “Babies in Mind” to look at attachment theory during the perinatal period.

What kind of jobs do you do for the Library?

I am involved in numerous aspects of the library- stock take, banking, laundry, paperwork, advice, fit and hire, emails, social media, design work, photography, event organisation, room booking, charity events, volunteer recruitment, booking training, volunteer welfare….. the list goes on! All the volunteers pitch in with whatever their skills are to ensure that the library runs smoothly.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with the Library?

Sometimes it’s exhausting running a library alongside raising a family and working part time… however, it’s completely worth it. The comments we get from customers about how much slings have changed their lives, how grateful they are and how affordable and accessible the service is… it makes it all worth while. It’s also great to work alongside such a wonderful bunch of likeminded people- I’ve made so many great friends.

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A day in the life of a Sling Librarian…. #2!

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Just under two years ago, I wrote this post about “A day in the life of a Sling Librarian”- to show you all what we get up to.

This month is Sling Library Appreciation Month– a new awareness raising and celebration month to promote what Sling Libraries do, how they work, how they help families and much more.

Week one happens to be “A day in the life of a Sling Librarian”, so I thought it might be time to write another blog post about what it is we do!

 

How we operate:

Bracknell Sling Library is co-owned by Clare & Gemma- here’s a photo of our best sides.

We’re local working parents who run the library in our “spare time” with the help of around 10 active volunteers who do a range of different jobs to assist us keeping the library running. We are an unincorporated association, with a constitution, a bank account and AGM meetings to make the bigger decisions about how we run.

Here’s a few of our super volunteers (some have sneakily avoided photos!):

 

We have a library session every fortnight for 90 mins (every other Friday 12:30-2 if you’re interested in popping along). Whilst 3 hours a month doesn’t sound like much, I’m sure you can imagine that a lot more work goes in than that!

 

Social Media:

Like many sling libraries, social media is our main tool to spread the word of what services we offer.

We have a facebook page which is public facing (which can be found here) and in addition we have a closed “chat” group (you can request membership here). Both these take some management from keeping on top of local, national and international campaigns and information, to moderating discussion, second hand sales, library session information and general chit chat about carriers. We also have this blog which we try to keep up to date with relevant information, and an email account where most our enquiries end up.

 

Library Stock:

We take regular stock takes to ensure that we know where all our slings are, to check for damage, cleaning needs, general wear and tear and alongside that we try to keep abreast of the market. New slings come onto the market regularly, and we always want our stock to accurately reflect what is currently available in the shops, and what is popular. As a consequence, last year we retired 14 of our carriers and purchased 21 new carriers. The stock currently stands at 106, which has fluctuated a lot over the past 3.5 years that the library has been running. It started with a very small selection and as the hire money came in, we were able to afford to buy a few more bits.

March 2015:

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September 2018:

 

Accounting:

Speaking of buying new stock- one of our very important jobs is keeping track of all our finances. We are very lucky that we have a super deal on our room hire and so our outgoings are very low: room hire, training, stock and insurance are our main outgoings. With the help of one of our brill volunteers Jenny, we have a great google docs system in place that the three of us can access. We keep a float for the library session and count everything in and out. Everything is accounted for- from donations, to sling purchases to out of hours returns fees. We try to keep things as simple as possible but accountable, so keeping track of our finances takes a significant amount of volunteer time.

After each sling meet we count up the cash and record it on our spreadsheet (ensuring that it adds up to what it should). We then prepare the float for the next session, check if we need change or to deposit some cash at the bank and carry out those tasks. We also have to pay the invoices for our room hire, check our paypal payments, follow up invoices for purchases etc.

 

Volunteer recruitment, training and management:

We are run entirely by volunteers, and the recruitment, training, CPD and management of staffing the library sessions is an ongoing task. We check regularly which volunteers are available for upcoming meets (bar illness etc), ensure they have appropriate training available to them and generally keep in communication.

We are always looking for new volunteers as many of ours move on when their children reach school age, or sometimes they up or change their work hours or even get a new job which means they can’t help any more. We couldn’t run without our volunteers, so we urge you to get in touch if you might be interested in helping out.

 

Promotional materials:

Whilst most of our promo and comms is done via social media, we also have to ensure we have a presence elsewhere. Recently we purchased a couple of pull up banners, and we have logo-ed material such as flyers for events we attend.

 

Paperwork:

The paperwork is a bit boring but also important. Before sling meet we need to ensure that we have enough hire forms, Terms and Conditions and TICKS safety guidelines. We also have a list of the slings due back (all the customers receive an email reminder too), and we’ll need a new cover sheet where we record all slings that go on hire that meet.

To comply with GDPR we try to not keep anyone’s personal details uneccessarily, and so we have a system where our paperwork is stored in a locked file store and only the three admins have access to any personal data.

 

After each sling meet we check the hire forms are complete and check the cover sheet is correct. Then we add any new names to our GDPR compliant database, and see if there’s any overdue slings. We contact each of the customers to let them know their sling is overdue and communicate the options (rehire/ our of hours return) and follow up over the proceeding week updating the paperwork to reflect the outcome. We also transfer all the new hires onto our “due back” sheets for the upcoming sling meets.

 

Out of Hours hires:

We try to be flexible to the modern working parent- turns out not everyone is free 12:30-2pm on a Friday- who would have thought! We do offer out of hours hires/ returns where we can facilitate, and whilst sometimes we go months without, we often find that just before the school holidays there’s a deluge of these and we can do 2-3 a week. It can be tricky to fit in around work and parenting but we find out customers are very understanding and it all tends to work out in the end!

 

Chasing lost slings:

I’ve slipped this in the middle as this is our least favourite job by far. Whilst we always send reminder emails that slings are due back, it’s not fun when we completely loose communication from a customer. Whether they’re embarrassed that they don’t have the rehire fee, forgot to bring it back, lost it or have something much more complex going on in their lives, all we ask from our customers is that they’re honest and stay in touch. We have only had to seriously follow up on two “lost” slings over the past 3.5 years and the hours of admin time and stress that caused was significant. We’re a very understanding and kind bunch, we just don’t take kindly to people lying. We run this out of the goodness of our hearts and are here to help.

 

Parties:

Back to a more positive note! We have run a number of parties over the years- notably birthday parties to celebrate another successful year of Bracknell Sling Library, and summer or Christmas parties. These are a HUGE job to organise- getting vendors along and creating floor plans, organising a photographer, collecting prizes for and then running a raffle, advertising the event and getting people to come along- through to organising the happy chaos on the day. We’ve raised over £680 for charity over the past two years- now THAT’S something we’re proud of!

 

OTHER:

Goodness what else? Sometimes it feels never ending!

Sometimes we attend events for other organisations- i.e Calmwaves Hynobirthing have invited us to their summer parties to have a stall. We need to arrange our insurance, field enquiries, think about how we manage our money (do we need a card reader, can we accept cheques etc), field emails from manufacturers, retailers and customers… the list goes on. We have quieter weeks and busier weeks. We all appreciate that volunteering is exactly that- home life & paid work come first, and the wonderful work all our volunteers do is in their own time and is much appreciated.

 

So what about this DAY IN THE LIFE OF?

Well- we may operate a bit differently to other libraries, some of whom also retail slings or run paid consultancy work alongside their library sessions so it’s possible our view is a little different. But sling library day looks like this:

  • Check over paperwork/ chase slings due back/ send emails/ check stock
  • Arrive at the venue, greet other volunteers & set up chairs and tables, plus toys for the children and get the stock, paperwork and pull up banners out.
  • Chat to volunteers about any special events coming up/ new slings training
  • Customers arrive- hurrah! Whirlwind 90 minutes of demonstrating, adjusting & fitting,  then filling out the relevant paperwork and taking payments.
  • Tidy up time! All hands to deck to get tidied up before the volunteers often have to go and pick their own children up from school or childcare.
  • Come home and count money (cross fingers it all adds up).
  • Check over all paperwork & chase up any non-returned items
  • Sort float, change & bank trips. Print out extra paperwork
  • Field enquiries, post on social media & chase up any overdue items. Arrange out of hours returns and collections.
  • Glass of wine and early bed!

purebabylovelilac

 

EUROPEAN BABYWEARING WEEK SPOTLIGHT ON……

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Following on from yesterdays post about the meh dai style carrier, today Library co-owner Clare talks about something a bit more unusual…..Apologies we don’t have any better photos of this carrier, but it is pretty brilliant!

Today our ‘try something different’ spotlight is on the Scootababy hip carrier.

The Scootababy carrier is suitable from around five months or 15lb up to around 37lb (around age three)- 6.8kg- 16.7kg. It’s a slightly unusual looking carrier which may put some people off, however it has lots of interesting features which make it a great alternative to a standard buckle carrier or a ring sling.

The carrier comprises of a waist belt attached to a fabric panel, and one strap which goes over one arm and under the other. The strap adjusts from both sides and it’s designed especially to be adjusted one handed. This is slightly different to other buckled carriers you may see on the market which tend to sit best as front or back carries and have two shoulder straps which either sit rucksack style or crossed over the back and buckled under the arm.

Scootababy instructions from their website

Why choose this carrier?
Many of our customers find that their babies start to get interested in looking at the world around them whilst in a sling, which cannot be satisfied in a standard stretchy, wrap or buckle carrier. This is often when we start to discuss with customers the possibility of a hip carry and the Scootababy is a great option to try.

The first time I tried this carrier I was surprised by how easy it was to put on (as per above instructions) and adjust. It is simple to move from a hip carry to a back carry, you just need to adapt the length of the strap at each end to ensure that the wider, slightly padded soft fleece part sits across the shoulder. It cups the shoulder well, and the strap ends roll up and are secured by elastic to keep them out the way.

Library Scootababy

I have personally found that the Scootababy is a more comfortable carry for me than a woven ring sling which is another popular option for hip carries. The bonus of the scootababy is the structured waistband, which helps distribute the weight so it is not solely sitting on one shoulder and across the back.

We have a black scootababy V3 in our library which despite being a fantastic and versatile carrier does sometimes get overlooked for some of the standard buckle carriers or those in fancy fabrics or pretty patterns. In addition because it fits from around 15lb, and many of our customers have much younger babies, it’s not an appropriate fit for them.

However those who do hire it often come back raving about how comfortable it is, and many go on to buy their own.

Stock image

In the UK, Slumber-Roo are the official retailers of the scootababy carrier and prices start at £69.50, with plain fabric, but they also come in patterns too.

You can buy one from: https://slumber-roo.co.uk/…/scootababy/buckle-amp-hip

Why don’t you pop along on 18th May for our European babywearing week ‘hire one get one free’ offer and try it out alongside any other carrier!

EUROPEAN BABYWEARING WEEK SPOTLIGHT ON……

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To celebrate European Babywearing Week 2018, we have decided to do “spotlight” post to focus on some of the underloved or overlooked carriers in our library. We’ve recently had a huge stock shakeup too, so these posts will hopefully tell you a bit more about the variety of slings we have in stock.

Today our ‘try something different’ spotlight is on Meh Dai carriers.

Meh dais comprise a rectangular fabric panel, with four long ties which can be used for front and back carries.  Some are made of woven wrap material, others are plain cotton and some traditional carriers are made from silk.  The ties can be fairly thin with or without padding, or thicker and made of woven wrap fabric (wrap strap meh dai).  The ties are wrapped around the parent and child and tied using simple knots for a secure carry.  One pair of ties makes the waistband, and the other pair of ties are the shoulder straps.  Some carriers called half buckles are similar to meh dais, but the waistband is buckled instead of tied with knots.

We have a number of meh dais in the library including a brightly coloured Bebe Sachi wrap strap in standard size, Mamaruga in standard size (which are made from a stretchy fabric and actually buckle rather than tie but fit similar to a meh dai), our new woven Luna meh dai and Storchenweige half buckle.  We also have a toddler sized Opitai which is a wrap conversion carrier.

I love meh dais because I find simple knots easier than buckles- I find buckled carriers often don’t quite fit me perfectly whereas meh dais are completely adjustable to my shape.  I also often find buckles difficult to tighten, requiring pulling at funny angles or some degree of contortion.  The fabric of meh dais tends to be very soft which I also really like.  With a little practice meh dais are very quick to use-  quicker than a woven wrap, but with similar levels of comfort, adjustability and mouldability.  Meh dais tend to have no or little padding which makes them very compact for travelling with.  Despite this, the Opitai wrap conversion meh dai remains hands down the comfiest sling that I have ever used.  And I’ve tried a few…

Meh dais originated in China many years ago.  My husband was carried by his grandmother or mother in a traditional Chinese meh dai until about 3 years old.  And his mother and father before that. As carrying your baby goes, meh dais are an important part of family heritage for my daughter.  My most used and loved sling of all time was my Babyhawk meh dai.  It was chosen by my mother in law when visiting the family for an extended period as most similar in style to a simple traditional Chinese meh dai that she knew how to use, though tied differently.  It was used by the whole family as our go to sling for well over a year.

Meh dais are often overlooked in the library.  Despite having a range of meh dais of different styles suitable for all ages, people tend to fall in love with buckles or wraps.

So this European Babywearing Week “hire one get one free” sling meet on 18th May, why not take a look at our meh dais?  Chat to a peer supporter to find out more out them and take one home.  You might just surprise yourself and find your new favourite sling.

Charity Party!

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In an effort to update this blog a bit more, I thought I’d tell you all a bit about the charity parties we’ve held over the last 7 months. As a not-for-profit group, we are in a fortunate position that we can help raise money for charities via our bi-annual sling parties.

The parties are like any normal sling meet, with sling hire, fit and advice, but with the addition of stalls, raffles, competitions, sling sales, photography, food & drink and interactive music sessions for the little ones.

At Christmas with the help of the wonderful Rainbright Photography (who donated all her proceeds from the event), we raised £445 for Lymphoma Association  (more info here on our facebook page).

Our summer party took place two weeks ago and we raised £240 for PANDAS Foundation (Pre and Post Natal Depression Advice and Support). In addition we raffled off a brand new  Little Frog ringsling that one of our librarians won and and raised £56 for Prostate Cancer Research . We have lots of fun at these events and hope we can continue them long into the future!

 

(Photos by ClareDowlingPhotography )

Review: Sycha Slings Prehistoric Spring Sky

Been a while since the last post- the hazard of a library staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers!

Today I wanted to find the time to sit down to talk about a local wrap brand that recently started up and the wonderful fun that we’ve had, as a library, getting involved with the brand. In addition a number of our volunteers have had the opportunity to host a travelling wrap, have been involved with a photoshoot for the brand or have tried the wrap we bought for the library, so they have all contributed to this review.

Sycha Slings launched at Carry on London, a sling show sponsored by Connecta which ran back in November 2016. However, we have been lucky enough to watch much of the process of setting up a new wrap brand from the sidelines due to the owner of the company being one of our local consultants who often kindly volunteers for our library too.

-Sycha Slings-

Sally Sycha (also known to many as Sling Sally) is a trained consultant, runs a postal sling library and is now the owner of Sycha Slings on top of all that. Her wealth of knowledge and experience in babywearing started her off on the journey of creating this brand. From there, her enthusiasm to enable as many people as possible to babywear, her strive to support UK business where possible and to donate 5% of all wrap sales to a range of different charities has her pegged as an ethical choice in the babywearing community.

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We love the 5% from wrap sales going to named charities!

Caroline, Library Volunteer

Sally’s wrap designs are fun and lighthearted, with careful colour choices to complement the patterns. There are two lines- the Main Line which starts at just £64 including UK postage, and which are woven in Turkey from 100% organic cotton. These are in three whimsical designs- Retrobots, Frogs and Prehistoic, all of which come in two colourways. Both are on a bright sky blue warp- the Autumn colourway has a deep shimmery copper weft and the Spring colourway has a majestic emerald green.

I think the colours of both [Spring and Autumn Sky) are unusual and beautiful. Lovely contrast between right side and wrong side which I love as I’m a sucker for a pretty carry that shows both sides of the wrap.

Caroline, Library Volunteer

The Studio Line are woven in the UK from 100% Egyptian Cotton, and are a little heavier than the Main Line (290gsm to 235gsm) and 10cm narrower at 65cm wide. This comes in a much loved “Space Bears” theme on a galactic purple warp in Sunlit Pulsar (gold) and Starlit Pulsar (silver) wefts. The Studio line feels denser and plusher, with a real cush on the shoulders.

It is very very easy to wrap with, very forgiving and comfortable.

Andrea, Library Volunteer.

Sycha slings also sell beautiful twiddle necklaces from Monkey Mama and Lilith Loves Henry which you can match to your wrap choice, plus scrap packs, cowls and clever branded tote bags that fold up into a little poppered pouch.

As a library, we purchased a size 6 Prehistoric Spring Sky to add to our woven wrap collection.

Size 6 are popular with parents and caregivers that are new to wrapping- despite their sometimes daunting length, they are an excellent introduction into the world of wraps. With the very budget friendly prices, we decided that this was a good way for parents to try wrapping and then have an affordable option if they were to want to buy in the future.

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Our Prehistoric Spring Sky is 235gsm, which is a great midweight wrap. It’s started a little stiff, but after a few wears and a wash it’s already showing signs of becoming a wonderfully  squish-worthy wrap. The colours stand out well against the other wraps in our library and really complement each other to create the vibrant design.

I really like both the two colourways that the mainline wraps come in, and I especially ❤ the ferns and dragon flies! So glad we have one in our library!

Jenny, Library Volunteer

Some of the features we’ve found really useful to use them for teaching wraps include:

  • Distinctive railsss1

All the Sycha Slings wraps have rails that are really easy to tell apart. On the Prehistoric, the bottom rail has the fern design along it and the top rail has dragon flies. This makes it great for teaching people who are new to wrapping, or learning a different carry, because it’s easy to see if you’ve accidentally flipped the rail somewhere.

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  • Distinctive sides

Due to the style of the weave, the pattern is equally clear on both the “right” and “wrong” sides of the wrap, plus the colours are really contrasting. This makes it great for any wrap jobs that show off both sides, or that have a simple shoulder flip- there is no wrap job that looks bad in this wrap!

 

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  • Two middle markers

This is quite a personal thing, but we LOVE wraps with a middle marker on each rail! It makes pretty much all wrap jobs easier and makes folding easier too!

  • Size on label

The wrap size (6 in this case) is included as a small extra label next to the main one. In the case of our library, it’s easy for all us volunteers to forget which of our (growing) stash of woven wraps is which size- so this is a great way for us to keep track, and we wish more brands would do it! It also stops people accidentally selling on a wrap as the wrong size.

I found it great for rucks when learning with having the easy middle marker. I liked that it was nice to wrap with and gripped quite nicely once tied off.

Jenny, Library Volunteer

Since purchasing the wrap back in November, it’s been used for numerous demonstrations and practices, and had a fair few hires too. We’d love to add a Space Bears wrap into the library too but we need to hold out for the next weave as there may be some blends in the future, which would suit out customers down to the ground!

 

The wrap didn’t feel like it needed breaking in at all as was soft from new. It is easy to wrap and glides easily over itself for multi-layer carries. It is also nice and wide, which I like.

Caroline, Library Volunteer   

So if you’re looking for a bargain price, ethical, beautiful wrap either for your library, consultancy business or your own collection, you’d be hard pressed to do better than supporting this fantastic family business.

And you can do so on their website here: https://sychaslings.com/

A day in the life of….. A Sling Librarian

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I’ve done this kind of post before but it’s quite interesting to document what goes into organising a sling library.

And realistically it’s not just one day or done by one person- there’s social media, sling washing, selling of old slings and buying of new ones, answering queries, and we even managed a volunteers social last week too!

First off there’s 6 bags of slings and a toddler to pack into the car. We arrive at the venue 30 minutes before the Library stats to get the toddler fed and set up the room.

 

Next we get out all the slings and display them from stretchy wraps to woven wraps to ring slings, to buckles and toddler size slings plus the demo dolls (not a real baby on the table!). Then we set out the mats and toys for the little ones (modelled here by baby T trying to escape!)

 

The wonderful volunteers arrive to help out, and then our customers start arriving throughout the two hour session.

 

We let customers watch demos of suitable options and try whatever carriers they think will suit them. Hopefully lots of happy parents/ caregivers go home with a sling to hire!

 

Then it’s time to pack up, tidy up and head home to do the paperwork and make sure the numbers add up!

 

Review: Olives and Applesauce buckles

As our lovely friend Sling Sally is poorly, she’s kindly sending over testers for us to review for her. Sally is a local consultant and good friend who regularly volunteers at Bracknell Sling Library. We’re sending lots of  good vibes her way as she’s been ill the past couple of months and having a hard time!

bty

The second carrier she sent our way is a buckled carrier from the South Vermont based Olives & Applesauce. When it arrivedfrom Nurture and Bliss  (UK retailers) we both (myself and the small person) said “oooh we like that”- it came in a gorgeous animals pattern with burnt orange colour straps and trim. The carriers come with an inbuilt infant insert, a cinchable hood which folds down  into the carrier when not in use, and claims to cover from newborn to pre-school age (8-50lb or around 3.6kg to 22.6kg) which is a huge plus point for many parents looking for a carrier to suit them for a long period of time, or to be used for more than one child. In fact they’re advertised as “One Carrier to Rule them All!”

 

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I’ve heard of but never before had a chance to use an Olives & Applesauce carrier before
and my first impression was that it was a well made, sturdy and reasonably self explanatory to use. The company do have a number of handy videos on their website to help with putting the carrier on/off and how to use the infant  insert.

 

I tried it first with a demo doll to see how the infant insert worked- it looks similar to that of a Manduca carrier, but clips in rather than using poppers. The clips were a little stiff, but felt very secure once done up, plus you can adjust the straps on this part. It’s worth watching the specific video for this as usually I’d do the waistband first on this style of carrier with a newborn insert and the method used in the video is a bit different.

The carrier was comfy with a smaller baby, and the insert felt secure and ensured that the weight was on baby’s bottom rather than their feet.

 

I’ll admit that we had a couple of attempts to get my toddler into the carrier comfortably and securely. He’s a tall almost-three-year-old (98cm at last measurement), and the pannel on this carrier is 15inches wide by 19 inches tall so not quite as big as many toddler/ pre-school carriers on the market.

When getting him into the back carry I supermanned him up, and pulled the carrier up over his back. It didn’t go particularly far up this time around, even with a good jiggle down into the carrier. The second time I tried, I loosened off the baby insert to ensure that it wasn’t bunching the fabric under his bottom, as the insert stays in the main panel rather than folding or rolling down inside, and this seemed to work a bit better.

The straps tighten in both directions which made it a bit easier for the back carry as I could loosen the female part of the buckle on the body of the carrier and make it easier to reach, plus it meant that the buckle didn’t sit just on my boy’s thigh as they do in some buckled carriers. The buckles slid well on the webbing and were easy to tighten and loosen off. The chest strap was similar as it was very easy to move up and down to find the position that suited us. The only issue with this was that a few times when I was putting the carrier on, the chest strap on it’s webbing fell off the end of the main strap and onto the floor so I was a bit worried I’d loose it. The straps can be crossed at the back, which many parents find easier and more comfortable than just being able to do rucksack style straps with the chest clip.

The hood is a nice feature as you can ruche the sides up to get the correct shape, and the straps were also easy to reach in a back carry. In a back carry with a taller child like my R, I put the hood up which gave a little more support across his back.

The carrier features a loop of elastic just above the waistband on the inside which we had to look up for instructions- but it’s to go around the carrier to make it all neat and tidy when packed away which is handy. In addition it has all the useful strap-tidies to keep the carrier looking neat during a carry too. the waist padding is a bit thinner than some carriers which means it packs away quite neat and small.

These are all in all a pretty,  sturdy and comfortable carrier that can be used from birth right through to at least toddler-hood if not beyond! They retail for $149.99 from Olives and Applesauce  from America, and there are some UK retailers too. You can also buy suck pads (or “strap wraps” as they are called on the site)  in matching print to your carrier for $19.99.

You can buy in Europe directly from Nurture and Bliss for €130, which is around £109 at the current exchange rate, and they sell the strap wraps too.Nurture and Bliss also have a great range of natural parenting related items in their shop- from cloth nappies to amber jewellery and gorgeous bibs, swaddles and changing mats.

Thanks to Sling SallyNurture and Bliss and Olives & Applesauce for sending this one over for us to try! 🙂