With our impending first birthday coming up, it’s time that the co-owners of the sling library wrote their own Q&A Guest posts!
I’m Clare, one half of the Bracknell Sling Library! I’ve got one little boy who is coming up to two and a half now and live in Bracknell with my perfect family of three, an embarassingly large pile of wraps and our crazy British Shorthair kitten, Magnus. My many hobbies include running the sling library, photography and volunteer work with Bracknell Lions Club.
How did you get into babywearing and did you plan to wear your baby when you were pregnant?
I had a friend who used slings for a couple of her children, but I knew very little about it all. I knew that my general parenting ideals were quite closely aligned with “Attachment Parenting” and so the more I began to learn about babywearing and the range of slings available, the more I wanted to know. I wish I’d known more sooner, which is one reason that we set the library up. I wanted to help people get into slings and carriers as soon as possible to enjoy all the benefits!
What’s your favourite wrap/carrier you’ve ever owned and why?
I find this question impossible to answer (and I wrote it!). I have a neat stash of six wraps, plus a Mexican Rebozo shawl and a custom half buckle with wrap straps. The wraps are all different lengths and blends of fibres- I have a size 2, 3, two size 4’s, 5 and a 6 in a range of blends including hemp, linen, pima cotton, wool and tussah silk. I also own a few different brands (Oscha, Natibaby and Firespiral) and between the brands, weaves, blends and sizes they all have very different wrapping properies.
In reality though I suppose our favourite has to be our Oscha Okinami Noir. It’s our “legacy” wrap, which (in this case) means that it was released on my little boy’s birth date. It’s a pattern I’d admired for a while and when I realised that “oki” was our legacy wrap, I had to have it! It took a while to track down as it’s a Boutique wrap with a small release, and as a size 3 it was my first short wrap. Being wool it’s also a big thick beast and was a bit daunting to start with, but it’s soft and beautiful now, and definitely “permastash”- i.e will never be sold! But having said that all my wraps have meaning to me, and anything that’s not special enough has been sold on to fund something more special!
If money were no object, what wrap or sling would you own?
There are some really really beautiful wraps out there. Handwoven wraps, custom handwovens- you could literally buy a wrap to match every outfit! I’d love to have more money to support wonderful social enterprises like Bebe Sachi who made the first wrap strap mei tai I ever owned and made me love woven wraps.
I’d probably grow my stash of wrap conversion mei tai’s (wrap straps) because they’re a little easier out and about, but also because my husband likes them too. In addition though I also love the Pellicano Baby Niyaha Sapa (black and white feathered eagle wings), Wrapahula have some beautiful new patterns and I’ve been sniffing around some of my friends’ Woven Wings they’ve recently bought too! At a recently woven wrap meet in Bracknell between us most our wraps were Oscha, Firespiral, Nati and Woven Wings.
What do you like about babywearing?
I didn’t start babywearing straight away which I regret now. I wish someone had shown me a stretchy wrap as I would have lived in it the first few months and it would have made everything much easier. I love the connection I get with R when he’s up in the wrap with me- I walk him to the childminders in the morning with the wrap and sometimes if he’s tired and doesn’t want to walk home he comes up too. We can chatter about the day in a way not really possible in a buggy. He’s at my level so we see things from the same perspective so we can share experiences together. We can visit places that just aren’t possible with a buggy- whether it’s a beach, a mountain or just up some steps. As a family we recently visited London for the day without the buggy which was a revelation and much easier to navigate crowds and tubes. Babywearing a great workout too- up and down hills with 13kg of toddler on my back carried in a good ergonomic and comfortable way is like an Army workout! There are too many positives to list.
Oh and I’ve got to say- the wonderful new friends I’ve made along the way! You know who you are and you’re all brilliant!
What do or did you find hardest about babywearing?
Mastering lots of new and complicated carries is always a struggle. As R is now almost 2 and a half, I usually carry him on my back. There are about a zillion different carries that you can do and I am desperate to master all of them. Once I remember one, I tend to forget one that I did know! Getting R onto my back for the first time was the hardest thing ever, and I still regularly get it a bit wrong! Sweaty practice after sweaty practice and I nail it more often than not now.
I also find it a challenge carrying him and all the kit I seem to need for a toddler- books, snacks, toys, nappy change kit (esp when in cloth nappies), warm layers in case he’s not in the wrap all gets very bulky! I’ve been known to take the buggy just to carry the shopping or similar.
Does your partner join in with the babywearing?
Yes, although wraps themselves haven’t really taken off, my other half loves to carry R in our mei tai. If I ever go out in the evenings it’s a great opportunity for R and daddy to bond, and the only guaranteed method to get him to sleep is usually a quick walk with the sling. Steve has also mastered the art of the “dismount”- getting R out of the sling and into bed without waking him, something I have never mastered properly myself.
What kind of comments do you receive when you babywear out and about?
Some people do have some very funny and unfounded ideas about babywearing. The number of times I have heard people say “He’ll never learn to walk/be independent whilst you carry him everywhere”- which of course is ludicrous- he walked before 11 months and hasn’t stopped since. He’s also a very well socialised little boy who will happily barrel into new situations without looking back once. I’m also surprised when people say “Oh you wouldn’t catch me ruining my back carrying a heavy toddler”- yet they end up regularly picking their child up and carrying them on one hip rather than in a comfy carrier with the weight spread evenly. Mostly though I get smiles and nice comments about how cosy he looks, especially if he’s conked out asleep or yelling at me about squirrels.