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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Easyfeel Toddler Size Soft Structured Carrier

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We’ve not posted for a while- sorry about that! Turns out summer is a funny old time for sling libraries- flipflopping between wonderfully busy and wonderfully quiet!

In the mean time we’ve acquired a few new things for the library, hosted a few travelling items (wraps and carriers) and moved some stock on, so please check out our library page  to see what we’ve got in.

This week we had some exciting post- which came from the wonderful Sling Sally!

It was a new toddler size buckle carrier for us to try out for a couple of weeks. Whilst I’m really a wrapper at heart I am always searching for soft structured carriers we like,  and in particular comfy toddler size buckles that myself and the husband can both use.

The carrier that arrived this week was a Toddler Size EasyFeel  Soft Structured Carrier in a funky cream and blue/grey pattern. Easyfeel are a company from India who specialise in cloth nappies and are also now producing slings including ringslings  and buckle carriers in both standard and toddler size.

 

The toddler size can be used from 11-22kg (24-48.5lb) and has a  generous panel size that’s 42cm (16.5inches) wide by 44cm (17.3 inches) high. It also has seat darts in the main panel which give more room in the panel, giving it a good seat.

My first impression was that the waistband was super padded- more like a Tula but the padding is also very tall- almost 16cm (6.25inches) at the widest part in the middle, giving good support. there’s a handy littler pocket in the side of the waistband for keys or similar too.

 

The padding on the straps is also nice and thick, making it a very comfy carry. The buckles move well on the webbing and the straps are easy to tighten and loosen- particularly due to the shaped release clips, which are ergonomic to get your thumb under.

 

The flat hood with side drawstrings packs away neatly into an invisible pocket at the top of the back panel, but still looks attractive if left hanging out when not in use as it’s in the same fabric as the rest of the carrier and has a double drawstring which is quite decorative.

 

We were testing the carrier with our 14.2kg tall  (98cm) not-quite-3 year-old, so well within the weight limit of the carrier. Both my husband and I tried the carrier on our backs and I also popped the toddler on my front too to try it.

 

For the back carries we used both the hip scoot method to get him onto our backs, the superman method, pulling the carrier up over us , and the Walk Like An Egyptian (Wrap You In Love) method.

We found the straps easy to adjust in front and back carries, we were able to get a high back carry and had no issues with anything digging in. Small person was arms out for daddy and arms in for me! Daddy took small to the park in the carrier and found it very comfortable. Small also said that he really liked it.

 

The padding is quite long on the shoulder straps and I had the webbing pulled right up as tight as it would go under my arms (luckily the buckles didn’t dig in), but thankfully the carrier also has the perfect fit adjusters where the panel joins the straps at the top, which made it easier to adjust in a front carry. This suggests that it might not be too suitable for very petite wearers as they might not be able to get it tight enough. All the webbing has elastic ‘strap tidies’ and there’s some nice thick legs-out padding to make the ride more comfortable for the child.

 

 

 

The EasyFeel buckle carriers are available from their website  https://easyfeelproducts.com/  and range from a very reasonable 5000 to 5800 INR (£57-£66 approx). They come in a range of wonderful colours and patterns including handwoven fabrics for the slightly more expensive IKAT range.

Q&A Guest post- Holly

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My name is Holly, I’m 33 years old and I live in Reading with my husband, 23 month old daughter and 4 cats. I am also a working mum so I juggle being a police officer with looking after my crazy toddler and running our local baby wearing group and the facebook pages ‘reading baby wearing UK’ and ‘reading babywearing walks & socials’

 

How did you get into babywearing and did you plan to wear your baby when you were pregnant?

I hadn’t thought much about baby wearing until I started going to homebirth groups when I was pregnant. A lovely lady called Zena who hosts the meetings (wife of the famous Slingdad Dom) showed me lots of varieties and the close caboo caught my eye. From then on it was something I thought I might do for convenience; little did I know how it would take over my life!

 

What’s your favourite wrap/carrier you’ve ever owned and why?

I don’t think I can choose a favorite carrier but my top 3 are:

1 – close caboo because it is so easy to use, super comfy for baby and wearer and also a reasonable price.

2 – lenny lamb ergonomic carrier, specifically the lace patterns but vanilla lace is by far my favourite. In my opinion they are the most well designed and manufactured SSC. They are extremely adjustable and gently padded and come in so many beautiful prints and colours.

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3 – my hand woven wraps. Honestly woven wraps tick all the boxes; versatility, comfort, appearance…. Yes they do take some mastering but once you get the knack they are simply addictive and can be used from birth to toddling and beyond. I still carry my BIG girl in my wovens and we both love it.

 

If money were no object, what wrap or sling would you own?

If money were no object I would get a custom hand woven wrap made by Little Fellows (based in UK) or Mad Hatter warped and woven. It would have pastel rainbows and sparkly thread in it.

 

What do you like about babywearing?

I love baby wearing for so many reasons; convenience (easy to throw in your bag/car/wrap round your neck as a scarf when not in use), space saving (no need for bulky buggies etc.), the huge variety of styles and patterns you can get, the closeness and bond you get with your baby and the magic of the carrier in calming a tired or teething or poorly baby.

I also love how, when they are little and just need cuddles all the time, it gives you the chance to clean/cook/have a pee whilst they stay just where they want to be. I am also in love with baby wearing because it can be a wonderful social activity; I have met so many friends at the local walks and the support they offer is priceless.

 

What do or did you find hardest about babywearing?

The only struggle I have had with baby wearing is the frustration when you are trying to master a new carry, especially in a woven, and you just can’t crack it. I also find it hard not to spend my whole wage on slings every month lol!

 

Does your partner join in with the babywearing?

My husband doesn’t babywear although he did when she was small enough to be in the caboo and he saw how cosy she was and wanted her to sleep on him. I wish in hindsight I had encouraged him more but because I was learning too and she is my first baby I wanted to do it all. He is now unsure his back would cope (he has back issues) so he leaves it up to me.

 

What kind of comments do you receive when you babywear out and about?

I can’t recall getting any direct comments about baby wearing for a long time now but when she was young I got lots of lovely comments and smiles; it really is magical because babies just don’t cry in slings like they often do it buggies.

 

Baby wearing is one of my favourite things about being  a Mum and I would encourage any carer to give it a try. I am so proud to be able to help other people to safely wear their children.

 

 

Thanks to Holly for her input to the local babywearing community- the Reading babywearing group and the Social & Walks groups that she runs are great social places to chat about slings, sling libraries, meet likeminded local friends and learn more about babywearing. She’s always supported local libraries like ours and we love having people like Holly locally to us!