We love babywearing at BabyCalm.
We understand though that for many parents wrap slings can be daunting, we also understand that many (especially dads!) are keen on the idea of a more structured buckled carrier – one that they can simply “click and go” and one that looks a little more mainstream and a little more like the baby carriers sold in most high street shops. Enter the ‘Soft structured Carrier’ – a baby carrier that carries baby in an ergonomically/physiologically correct position and one that is comfortable for the wearer. A carrier that can be used on the front and back (and often hip) and can often be used well into the toddler and even preschool years.
There is one problem though – the huge choice – what one should you buy? We would always recommend trying one of first, but if that isn’t possible for whatever reason there are a few points to bear in mind:
Boba 3G – £89.99 from Slumber Roo
Review by Gwen – her son is 3yrs old in this picture
Connecta Solarweave – £56.99 from Connecta
Review by Claire – her daughter is 16mths old in this picture.
All in all a Solarweave Connecta is very versatile choice with lots to offer – but in my opinion a holiday must-have whether it’s sun or snow!
Ergobaby – around £95
Review by Alexandra – her son is 20 mths old in this picture
you have to buy a newborn insert, the body of the carrier is not adjustable and the simplistic settings do not allow optimum adjustment. I know many parents who had invested in the newborn insert and found it inconvenient and difficult to install correctly. On the other hand it is perhaps the simplest SSC: no accessory to the basic version, no zips (except for the two pockets/pouches on the panel), no safety button on the buckle belt (which makes it easier to un-clip with one hand), a single point of control for the belt and suspenders. The adjustments are thus simplified but less accurate. A strong point in the settings is that the straps can be unbuckled, allowing a hip carry or to cross the straps in the back.
It was our 1st SSC and I found the Ergo rather limited with our 20mth old boy. A large part of the belt is not padded and “dug” into my, rather not flat, stomach (when use for a back carry) and I didn’t really appreciated the shape of the belt on my lower back. I also found difficult to use it higher on my back. My husband who is quite thin didn’t find it uncomfortable though. I have since tried out the Manduca with my son and found it more comfortable and more flexible. The Ergobaby still is compact, lightweight and the fabric is nice.
Manduca – from £99.99 from Cheeky Rascals
Review by Kate – her son is 7mths old in this picture
padding in the waist department and found tie wraps have a tendency to dig in and slip after a long wearing session. Not so with the Manduca. It’s incredibly comfortable and the push and click locking buckle at the waist gives that extra peace of mind that its not going to pull or pop open if strained. I also really like the thick padding on the shoulders which feel much more comfortable than some of the other lesser padded slings.
I prefer the cross over front carry at the moment as my baby is only 7 months old and I like to keep him “close enough to kiss”. However, I can see the back carry becoming a favourite once he’s a toddler and we can play “piggy back” comfortably.
My husband is very happy with the Manduca as not only is it stylish and modern (and doesn’t make him look like a hippy!) but it feels secure, is easy to adjust and he loves the “click and go”aspect which is perfect when you’re rushing about and the weather is not so great – the last thing you need is trailing straps of fabric dangling in puddles while you’re trying to tie it in a downpour!
I can’t recommend the Manduca highly enough especially those who are new to Babywearing and perhaps a bit intimated by the huge varieties of fabrics and ways of tying fabric wraps. It’s been an interesting and educational journey for us so far and I’m really glad we’ve found a sling that suits all our requirements – I’m especially looking forward to snuggly winter walks in the snow.
Tula Toddler Carrier £103.99 Tula
Review by Emma – her son is 4yrs in this picture
weighs 19kg – carnivals and festivals are a regular occurrence on the Isle of Wight where we live. We use the optional leg extenders with it now Alfie is so big and it has meant that this carrier has lasted us a long time.
I recommend this carrier for larger toddlers and into preschool years.
Before children my life was totally unrecognisable from the life that I lead today. I met my husband in Australia and we spent a large chunk of our first 6 years together travelling the world and climbing the career ladder.
When I was 28, I had a cervical cancer scare and the “broody” feelings finally bubbled through and we decided it was time to start our family. We were fortunate that it only took a couple of months before I took a pregnancy test and a blue line revealed to me that my life was about to change forever.
I had a perfect pregnancy and birth experience and my husband and I soon found out that this parenting lark would be the hardest work we’d ever encounter but the most rewarding. My only exposure to parenting methods was that with which I was programmed with through my own childhood and what my peer group were using. I dabbled with a bit of Gina Ford but soon found that the routine was far too strict for my lifestyle. I was one of those mums who spent her whole pregnancy declaring that “this baby was not going to change me, it would just have to fit in around our lives” and to be fair she did. She was a very sociable. I cringe now as remember my attempts to get her onto a 3 hourly breast feeding routine at 6 weeks old because that was what Gina recommended! No wonder she cried. It took a good friend to point out that if I fed her she’d probably stop screaming! I gave up breast feeding at 10 weeks as I wanted “me” back again, I felt sacrificed.
I adored my little girl and was a very proud mummy but looked forward to returning to work when she was 7 months old to restore my ego and fill my days with hitting targets rather than changing nappies. She was happy, I was happy, I worked full time but ensured that I put in some long days so that a few times a week I could be at home with her in the afternoons to spend some time being a quality mummy. By her 1st birthday she was blossoming into a beautiful toddler and I started yearning for a newborn baby again. One flippant comment to my husband about expanding our family and low and behold there was that unmistakeable nauseous feeling and I didn’t even need to do a test this time…. I just knew that another baby was on its way.
In preparation for the arrival of baby no 2, we blindly sleep trained our daughter, using controlled crying. Horrific at the time and one of my biggest regrets, making an uninformed decision without ever considering that I may be damaging my relationship and brain development of my child. Note to self; if it feels wrong, it is wrong!
I sailed through my 2nd pregnancy again, a repeat performance from my last experience although this time a friend recommended I try HypnoBirthing as I’d been disappointed first time round to have quit my home birth dreams after hour 23 of labour at home with my daughter arriving 45 mins after getting blue lighted into hospital for no other reason than I lost my bottle.
This time round thanks to HypnoBirthing I had a quick, easy home water birth with hardly even breaking a sweat. Doors were opened in my mind due to my empowered experience. I started to believe in the mind and body connection and felt close to my 2nd daughter through the amount of time that I spent focussing on her, pre-birth. I trained to be a HypnoBirthing practitioner when she was 11 weeks old as I wanted to be able to share this knowledge with my local community. The more couples I taught coupled with the amazing feedback and positive birth experiences that were shared with me, the more and more I believed in the power of our minds. Freya was your typical HypnoBirthing baby, super well adjusted and super chilled. I couldn’t believe it when she only ever woke up in the night to feed and then went straight back off again. She was a little star. She made the transition into having a bigger family very easy as she wasn’t at all demanding. I could divide my time between the girls and give them both the attention they needed
So my maternity leave this time round was different. It wasn’t so easy to take two young children everywhere with you… My favourite pastimes of lunching, shopping & socialising were a distant memory and I spent a lot more time at home alone with the girls. My two girls were brimming with energy, ever so buoyant and cheerful but I felt pretty glum. I felt unfulfilled and undervalued. I missed my old life and its pay-packets.
This time going back to my full time work wasn’t a straight forward decision to make with two little ones. There was a lot of soul searching taken before I handed in my notice. Sobbing as I did so! I am a big believer in fate and honestly believe that that wasn’t the right choice for me at that time as a week later my boss was on the phone offering me a promotion. I was flattered and the pull of a monthly salary once again convinced me to go back. It was much tougher this time round, a new job role, much more responsibility and tons of travel with two demanding toddlers at home. I started to feel guilty about not being there for the girls as much as I’d like when that sicky feeling returned only 7 weeks after going back to work. It couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was. No way. But 7 days later… there was no denying that feeling. I was pregnant again!
Thankfully, I’d also been running HypnoBirthing lessons for many couples at weekends and evenings and was being pulled in a direction that I could never have predicted. I found the successes couples were having with the techniques and the fantastic feedback I received very rewarding. I felt like I was gaining momentum in raising awareness of HypnoBirthing and wondered if I could turn my hobby and passion into a part time business.
About half way through my pregnancy I became aware of BabyCalm and became a huge fan of Sarah’s blog. I was inspired by the information she presented and started to think very differently about my role as a parent. I loved the BabyCalm concepts which coupled with the Montessori education that I became exposed to via my girls preschool, I started to think differently and realise that this family wasn’t all about me and that by becoming more focussed on my children’s needs they could develop into their full potential. This was such news to me and I began to reassess what type of mother I was and wanted to be. This was such a change as I’d been very conscious of doing things “properly” with the girls. Setting strict boundaries and having strong discipline. I was so proud of my well behaved girls that everyone complimented me on their behaviour where ever we went obliviously to the perils of that “good” girl label making them eager to please whatever the cost.
And so my voyage of discovery continued and after my son’s birth I was a much more relaxed parent and started parenting the way that felt more instinctual to me much to my own mother’s disgust. My son breast feed to 18 months old, and has just chosen to leave mummy’s & daddy’s bed to sleep (mostly) in his own bed without any bribery.
I am far from perfect, and since training as a ToddlerCalm teacher I’ve realised how much more self-development I need to accomplish skills such as emotional intelligence and mindfulness so I can pass these valuable life skills down to my cherished tribe.
Being a mother is relentless. I do consider it to be an ongoing adventure with many highs and lows. I know that just doing what has been passed onto me isn’t enough. Simply loving, is a great foundation to start upon but there are many deeper life lessons I can expose my children to in the hope it will enable them to flourish into well rounded, contented, happy beings one day.
I’ve done things very differently with each of my children and I believe that has impacted upon their personalities. My eldest for example is still very needy at night time whereas the younger two settle and sleep really well.
Natural parenting didn’t come naturally to me, it’s an approach that has been drip fed to me via social media and many great books. When it is all backed up with all the science and brain benefits, it feels like the way forward for my unique family and I love sharing that wisdom & inspiration that BabyCalm & ToddlerCalm provides with new families.
By Naomi Newland, past BabyCalm & ToddleCalm teacher