Keep them close

Reviews and information about babywearing, slings, wraps and carriers for keeping your baby close and content


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A babywearing shop! In Sydney! Well, almost…

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a bricks and mortar store stocking a huge array of babywearing options. Not just a general baby goods store stocking an Ergo or a Baby Bjorn, but a dedicated store selling woven wraps, stretchy wraps, soft structured carriers, mei tais and ring slings. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, it is also run by a qualified babywearing consultant who can help you make the decision about the best carrier for you and your needs. And it is very nearly in my hometown of Sydney – it’s just 1.5 hours up the road in Ettalong Beach, on the Central Coast of NSW.

Babywearing store

Celeste in her store, AngelRock Baby ~ Babywearing Emporium & AngelRock Jewellers ~ Handmade Jewellery Boutique. Shop 15, 189 Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach, NSW, Australia.

Angelrock Baby is the passionate endeavour of mother-of-three, Celeste, who has run the business online since 2013 and has recently taken the plunge into running a bricks and mortar shop on weekends and public holidays at the Ettalong Beach marketplace (or weekdays by appointment). It’s an ambitious task. While many people ask where they can go to see, feel and try a wider range of babywearing options than the traditional baby goods stores offer, the vast majority of babywearing stores in Australia are online – the overhead costs of running a bricks and mortar store make it prohibitive for most vendors. But I for one am glad Celeste has taken up the challenge, because it really is a great opportunity to try a whole range of different options in once place, with a skilled salesperson who knows what she’s talking about!

Angelrock Baby stocks a huge range of brands including Manduca, AngelPack, ByKay, Wrapsody, Little Frog, Hug-a-bub, Comfy Joey, Didymos, Fidella, Baby Hawk, Lewlewbelle, Nunamoochie and TwinGo (a unique soft structured carrier designed to carry one baby on the front and one on the back – perfect for twins or two children close in age). There is also a range of other useful things such as breastfeeding tea, menstrual cups and soapnuts. But wait, there’s more! Celeste is also a jeweller and stocks a range of amber jewellery as well as providing custom jewellery services.

Amber jewellery and babywearing items

As well as wraps and carriers, AngelRock sells jewellery and supports selected charities.

Now, 1.5 hours from Sydney might sound a little far away, but Ettalong Beach is a lovely spot for a day trip, it’s right on a gorgeous, kid-friendly beach and the marketplace is open every weekend with a range of different stalls and sometimes a bit of live entertainment. There’s even a cinema in the complex. We had lunch at a nearby café called Coast 175, which served high-quality food and Campos coffee – and had a few toys for the kids to play with!

The AngelRock store makes it worth the trip, it is a babywearer’s paradise, and I was a little disappointed that I’m not really in the market for any new carriers given my ‘baby’ is now two years old! I would love to take a new baby there and try on the huge variety of gorgeous items available. Will you go take a look and tell me all about it so I can live gratuitously through you?

*Please note, this post is not sponsored in any way and I have no affiliation with AngelRock Baby, I just genuinely believe that it is such a great opportunity for babywearers in Sydney and surrounds to check out a huge range of products they might not otherwise get to try, so I wanted to let you know!


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Handwoven wraps

If you’ve been falling down the rabbit hole of woven wraps on your babywearing journey, you may have noticed there are generally two types of woven wraps, machine woven and handwoven. You may have also noticed that there can often be a significant price difference between machine woven and handwoven wraps, and wondered why. So follow me, and I’ll tell you all about the wonderland of handwovens.

I’m not going to geek out too much here, this is just a bit of an overview to whet your appetite to do some more research if you want to. A handwoven wrap is one that has been woven on a loom manually by the weaver. Check out this video of a wrap being woven by hand. With a machine woven, a machine powers the weaving process, as shown in this video.

At its most basic, the reason why handwoven wraps are generally more expensive than machine woven wraps is because it takes much longer to produce a handwoven wrap. There are other reasons though, including that handwoven wraps are often very popular, so there is far more demand than can be supplied, which pushes prices high in the second hand market.

So why are they so popular? Ask a bunch of people why they like handwoven wraps and you’ll probably get a bunch of different answers. But here are some of the main ones.

Exclusivity: Handwoven wraps are generally made in very low volumes, which means that only a few lucky people get to own them. Some weavers even offer full or semi-custom spots so you can design your very own wrap. This exclusivity contributes to the high price of some handwovens.

Wrapping qualities: While wraps all have different wrapping qualities depending on how they are woven and with what fibres, high quality handwovens have a tendency to have lovely wrapping qualities and serious supportiveness, particularly for bigger babies and toddlers. Some of this has to do with boutique weavers using higher quality thread with higher thread counts to produce denser wraps with loads of cush.

Aesthetics: the nature of hand weaving means that handwovens don’t have complex or picture patterns like many machine wovens do (jacquard weaves). Handwovens are limited to plain, striped or other continuous patterns (like these by Warped and Wonderful) with plain or twill weave. Luckily, these patterns create gorgeous wraps, and with the full breadth of colours available, handwoven wraps can be truly some of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen. With inspiration from sunsets, landscapes and even album covers (yes, album covers. Weaving Waves held a competition in 2014 to make a custom wrap based on someone’s favourite album cover – Bjork’s “Post” was the winner!), there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

Cloth of kin ring sling

I’m really loving this Cloth of Kin handwoven ring sling at the moment, it is perfectly supportive with my 14kg almost 2 year old.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, adding a handwoven to your stash can be a little harder than getting your average every day machine woven. Handwovens aren’t generally stocked by your regular online babywearing store, and your best bet may be the second hand market. Some of the Facebook groups to look at include Loom to Wrap (an international group) High End Babywearing FSOT (an international group) and Boutique Babywearers Down Under (an Australian/NZ group).

That said, there are a variety of different weavers, some more prolific than others, some more popular than others, so if you’re willing to start with a more accessible brand you may be able to pick one up this week!

I can’t name all the different brands/weavers out there, I honestly don’t know them all, and there are often newcomers to the market, or people shutting up shop – but here’s a few of the names to look out for as a starting point for your journey down the rabbit hole!

Uppymama – based in Canada, Uppymama is one of the best known and most highly regarded weavers. Wraps are sold via random draw.

Farideh – custom spots, semi-customs and sister wraps are advertised via the Farideh Wrap Chatter group on Facebook.

Etla Threadworks – another popular weaver selling via random draw, auction and fastest fingers through the Etla Threadworks group on Facebook.

Andalgo – a Hungarian weaver, she often has in stock wraps on her Hyena Cart store, which is rare for handwovens, so if you’re looking to pick something up brand new without worrying about having fastest fingers or being lucky enough to win a draw, this weaver is worth a look.

Heartiness – based in Belarus, Heartiness has custom slots as well as selling via Etsy and also providing some pre-order opportunities.

Warped and Wonderful – this weaver makes wraps and also towels, scarves, blankets and throws and often uses weaving patterns that were first published in the 16th and 17th centuries!

Cloth of Kin – Cloth of Kin takes custom orders for lengths of fabric, which can then be cut and hemmed to your preferred length and used as babywearing wraps. Cloth of Kin tends to be one of the more accessible brands, and sell for reasonable prices. I don’t think this is necessarily a reflection of their quality, I’ve had two Cloth of Kin wraps and the weaving work has been flawless and they have been lovely to wrap with and wear.

And in support of my fellow Aussies, here’s just a few of our talented Australian-based companies.

Weaving Waves – a one woman weaving company, selling in stock wraps and custom spots via random draw.

Loominous – based in Western Australia, you will need to join the Facebook chatter group to find out how to get your hands on one of these beauties.

Blue Wren – a relatively new weaver on the scene, selling mostly via auction.

Oonlamoon – an Aussie-owned business producing wraps woven in Thailand, Oonlamoon is committed to producing wraps from eco-friendly fibres.

Wrap collage

A few of the handwovens I’ve had the pleasure of owning or trying out – from top left: Cloth of Kin, Warped and Wonderful, Uppymama, Oonlamoon

As I said, this is by no means a comprehensive list, and if you want to learn more Loom to Wrap is probably one of the best resources for learning about handwoven wraps and finding out about all the different weavers. Keep in mind, the nature of hand weaving means quality and craftsmanship will vary from weaver to weaver, and handwoven wraps may have “flaws” that shouldn’t affect the safety of a wrap, but can have aesthetic impacts. If you find a wrap you love but you’re not familiar with the weaver, it is worth researching to make sure the weaver is producing high quality work before you buy or sign up for custom orders.

So, do you want to try a handwoven?

*Note: In case you were wondering, the well known woven wrap brand Girasol produces handwoven wraps, however they are not generally included in the same discussions as boutique handwovens (that I’ve outlined above), as they are produced in high volumes with comparatively cheaper quality yarn and tend to have more aesthetic weaving flaws – hence they sell for much cheaper prices than boutique handwovens. That’s not to say that Girasols are not good wraps, they are beautiful, very popular and affordable, but I thought it best to explain this to reduce any possible confusion!


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Custom conversions

The start of 2015 brings a much-anticipated new converter of custom babywearing carriers to the local Sydney market, by the name of Eridani, which has inspired me to write about custom conversions and how you can go about getting yourself one.

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, a custom conversion is where someone takes a woven wrap and converts it into a carrier like a mei tai, half buckle (buckle waist/wrap straps) or a full buckle (like a soft structured carrier) – there are also other carriers like reverse half buckles and ring tais, but I wont confuse you with that just yet!

And why would you want such a conversion? Well, it means you can get a one of a kind carrier just for you, you can get your absolute favourite wrap made into a carrier, and there is often a range of sizing and dimensions to choose from that you don’t get in an off the shelf carrier, which is great if you want to keep carrying your toddler or pre-schooler long after they’ve grown out of your Ergo or Manduca, or if your older child has special needs.

So where can you find one? That is the million-dollar question, as getting your hands on a custom carrier can be quite hard work – many of the converters have waiting lists, and some sell their slots by random draw, making your chances of nabbing one even harder. This is why the addition of Eridani to the market place is most welcome!

Here’s a bit of a run down on who you might like to consider for custom conversions, first in Australia, and then some overseas options.

Eridani: Eridani is based in Sydney, and has just started taking orders for full buckles, half buckles and mei tais. She has been doing ring slings for a while, and her attention to detail is amazing – I’ve had her make me a few ring slings in the last 12 months, and the quality is second to none, I wouldn’t go anywhere else. Her initial slots were snapped up, but stay tuned to her Facebook page for information on when she will be releasing more slots.

half buckle carrier

A handcrafted wrap conversion half buckle by Eridani

Maddimoo: Maddimoo is based in Perth, and has been one of the favourite convertors in the Australian market for a few years, generally offering her slots via random draw once a month. She is currently on maternity leave, but if you’re not in the market right now, she’s worth checking out in the future.

BelloBorn: Based in Bellingen, NSW, Heidi makes a full range of custom conversions including less well known carriers like reverse half buckles (tie waist, buckle shoulder straps) and ring tais (ring waist and shoulders). Heidi takes orders via a waiting list system and is booked up until August 2015 at this stage.

Sweetness: Sweetness makes mei tais, half and reverse half buckles, and full buckles from northern NSW and offers a variety of sizing options to suit the age of your baby and your size. Her waiting list is currently approximately 4-5 months long.

Chrysalis Tree: Amy is based in Adelaide and makes half buckles and mei tais. I was lucky enough to get a custom half buckle from Chrysalis Tree in 2013, and it is a fabulous carrier. Super comfortable, with fantastic attention to detail. After launching in 2013, Amy’s waiting list was full very quickly, and she has since been on maternity leave and then dealing with some health issues, but she is hopefully getting back to the sewing machine in the near future, so keep an eye on her Facebook page for updates if you have the time to wait.

half buckle carrier

My beloved Chrysalis Tree half buckle, converted from Natibaby Marine Ferns

Hipababy: Hipababy makes mei tais, full buckles, ring slings and podaegis (a baby carrier originally from Korea, with two long shoulder straps and a blanket panel). She releases slots via her Etsy store (fastest fingers) and also by random draw.

Under My Wing: Under My Wing is another recent addition to the market, launching in 2014. She offers mei tais, full buckles and half buckles in two sizes, as well as podaegis and ring slings. She also specialises in big kid carriers, for older children who may still need/want to be carried. Based in Adelaide, she sells slots via random draw on her Facebook page.

Now, if you’re in the USA or Canada, the sad news is that you can’t buy from Australian convertors – restrictions on insurance mean Australian vendors are not allowed to sell to US or Canadian customers (unless they pay exorbitant insurance premiums to have the US and Canada included, which most vendors wouldn’t do).

If you’re in Australia, and want to look further afield for a convertor, here are a few worth looking at overseas.

Bamberoo: Bamberoo is a very popular maker of carriers based in the USA, including canvas and solarveil carriers, as well as wrap conversions. Slots are sold via Etsy and Hyena Cart and sell out extremely quickly; not many Australians are lucky enough to have internet speeds fast enough to compete with US buyers, but it’s still worth a try if you’re up for a challenge!

Bamberoo OC: If your internet is slow or you’re not on the internet when Bamberoo releases slots, Bamberoo OC is a convertor in Europe who makes Bamberoos under licence. Slightly less popular than the US versions, it can be easier to get a slot. Making it even more achievable, Frangipani Baby, a vendor based in the Blue Mountains, NSW, offers Bamberoo OC slots via her website on a regular basis.

Madame Googoo: Based in Poland, Madame Goo Goo makes a range of canvas/fabric carriers as well as wrap conversions. She produces some very unique carriers with designs taken from animation and other eclectic inspirations, and includes options for special details on items like hoods and reach straps.

Obimama: Obimama has been in the market for a while and is known to be one of the best mei tai makers in the business. Based in the US, she offers a range of non-wrap mei tais as well as selling coveted, hard to win slots for custom wrap conversion mei tais. More expensive than most convertors, she offers her conversions in three price points depending on how much customisation you want.

Sling Betty: This UK convertor makes mei tais, half buckles and podaegis, with slots sold via random draw announced on her website, Facebook page and mailing list. With postage and exchange rate it can be a bit expensive to get a carrier made overseas, but Sling Betty’s prices are pretty good, so it may still work out at a reasonable price if you can pick up a slot.

Ocah: Also based in the UK, Ocah is a highly respected brand offering mei tais, full buckles, half buckles, reverse half buckles and podaegis. Slots are sold via random draw, but are more pricey than Sling Betty, so after exchange rate and postage costs they are relatively expensive conversions.

This is not an exhaustive list, and if you have a conversion by a vendor not listed here I’d love to hear what you think and where to find out more! And please keep in mind, this list includes reputable, insured convertors – but anyone with a sewing machine can try to sell you a conversion, so before you hand over your hard earned (and your wrap), make sure to check they have appropriate insurance and see some examples of their work.


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Review: Didymos Emerald Turquoise Hemp Indio

Indios are the bomb. One of the oldest styles of woven wrap, Didymos has been making indios of various colours and blends for yonks*. Indio is the name given to wraps with this particular weave or ‘pattern’; a series of squares and circles unique to indios. They hold a bit of a cult status in the babywearing world – despite their simplicity, they are held in high esteem by many and often remain highly sought after and collector’s items.

Didymos indio

The distinctive indio pattern

Emerald Turquoise Hemp Indio was released in May 2014 and is 60% cotton 40% hemp. While hemp can sometimes make a wrap quite beastly, this is a light to mid-weight wrap, around 220gsm. It was surprisingly soft after only one wash and a little bit of use. Certainly nothing to be worried about in terms of breaking in, this would be a fine wrap to purchase new and use straight away.

Being a thinner wrap, I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me, what with 13kg of nearly 2 year old to carry around. While hemp adds supportiveness to cotton, I thought it would be a bit diggy for my liking. I had briefly tried a slightly lighter hemp indio previously, and struggled with its thinness. To put my theory to the test, I tried this wrap in a simple ruck, which is my preferred carry these days. To my surprise it was pretty comfy. I didn’t get a chance to measure the width but it felt a bit wider than older Didys I’ve tried, which helped with my toddler. It was also quite soft on the shoulder, not overly cushy, but the hemp gives it enough bounce to avoid too much digginess with a heavy weight. Having said that, I think if this was a permanent part of my stash, I would use it in a multi-layer carry like a double hammock with a toddler for a bit of extra support.

double hammock in didymos indio

Comfy for a thin wrap with a toddler, particularly in double hammock

I thought I’d try this wrap out on a smaller baby, as I was sure it would shine, and luckily my friend lent me her 8 month old for his first adventure being back wrapped. This wrap was certainly quite perfect in a ruck with an 8 month old, and nice and light on a hot summer’s day. I think this wrap is a great example of one that can get you through from infancy into early toddlerhood with ease, and even with a nearly 2 year old it is certainly far from uncomfortable, particularly given how light it is.

Ruck with didymos indio

A perfect ruck wrap with a smaller baby, and nice and light for summer

Have you tried an indio? Do you agree with their cult status?

*Not a technical term. I did some quick research and couldn’t find a definitive answer to when the first indio was released. If you know, please tell me!


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Feeling the heat?

It’s not officially summer yet, but it is already very warm in many parts of Australia, and the questions about what carrier or wrap to use in hot weather are coming thick and fast.

Babywearing in the summer is hot. If you venture outside in plus 30 degrees Celsius weather with another human being attached to you, it’s going to be sweaty. There’s not really much you can do to stop this completely, I don’t think there is any such thing as a cool option in that kind of weather, just less hot options. Keep in mind that in some parts of Australia it is over 30 degrees nearly every day of the year, with high humidity, and people that live there still babywear – so it can be done!

So what should you look for? Thin and airy is the ideal – the more airflow you can get, the greater your chance of staying cool. In terms of soft structured carriers, there are a few brands that have a mesh panel instead of traditional canvas – look out for the Kinderpack, Pognae, Ergo Ventus and Connecta, to name a few.

The list of wraps that are best suited to hot weather is too long to list here, but you want to look for something thin, probably less than around 220-240gsm, and with an airy weave. The good news is that many of the all cotton entry-level wraps fit this bill – think brands like Girasol, Little Frog or Vatanai. The bad news is that if you’re carrying a toddler, a thin, lightweight wrap may not give you the support you need, or the comfort. If you’re carrying a bub over 10kg, you might need to look a bit harder to find a suitable hot weather wrap – perhaps something with hemp but with an airy weave like a Didymos Indio might fit the bill, or a lightweight cotton/linen blend (try Oscha), or it might even be worth looking into the world of handwoven wraps, where the comfort level and cush tends to be higher than machine wovens of a similar weight.

Jim Salvia woven wrap

Didymos Jim Salvia is a very thin cotton/linen blend woven wrap that is popular in hot climates

Wrapping in a single layer carry like front wrap cross carry (with passes bunched) or kangaroo carry, or a ruck on the back, is the best idea in the hot weather. A ring sling is also a great option in summer as it probably covers the least amount of your body of the babywearing options. Sakura Bloom and Comfy Joey make ring slings from 100% linen, which is a lightweight, breathable material.

For newborns, while I would nearly always suggest a stretchy wrap, if you’re having your baby in November or December, I’d suggest you try a woven wrap or even a gauze wrap like the Calin Bleu or Wrapsody Bali Breeze rather than a stretchy – the jersey material is quite warm and it needs to be worn in a three-layer carry. If it’s going to be hot the whole three to four months you can use it, you’ll probably not use it as much as you’d like. Alternatively, ring slings are also great for newborns, but look for something soft in all cotton, rather than linen, which can be a bit stiff to start with.

What else can you do? Stay indoors when you’re babywearing. If your home is air-conditioned or you’re going to the indoor shopping mall, you probably wont have to worry too much about what wrap or carrier you use in the summer. Obviously this is not always possible though, so be prepared for the fact that it will be hot babywearing outside and consider whether you really have to – could you take the pram? Could you go out first thing in the morning or later in the day? Allow more time to get wherever you’re going, so you don’t need to rush.

Dress appropriately. Try to wear natural fibres, and consider whether baby needs to be dressed at all, perhaps a nappy will be enough. Skin to skin contact with young babies actually helps to regulate their temperature.

Consider a cooling towel. There are a few different ones on the market (try frogg toggs or search on eBay), but you could also put a damp face washer in the fridge to help you cool down.

Stay hydrated. If you’re sweating a lot, make sure to drink enough water, and give baby some extra breastfeeds (or some cool boiled water if bottle feeding and you think bub could do with some more fluids).

How do you beat the heat with your baby?


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Review: Oscha 100% linen wrap

It’s been beach weather in Sydney recently, and word is we’re in for a bit of a heatwave in the lead up to summer. Babywearing in the summer time can be sweaty, particularly if you live somewhere humid, or you spend a lot of time outdoors. But you can do your best to beat the heat by choosing a wrap least likely to leave you and your little one sticky and wet.

Just like linen pants or shirts might be your outfit of choice during the summer months, linen can also make for a great lightweight wrap. While cotton/linen blend wraps come in a variety of densities, some far too dense to be comfortable in a hot summer, a wrap that is 100% linen is thin and cool, less than 200 gsm. Linen is also very supportive, which many people prefer for carrying bigger babies and toddlers.

I recently had the opportunity to try an Oscha 100% linen wrap, in the Amelia colourway. Oscha is a well-established and popular woven wrap company based in Scotland. Among their extensive collection, they produce wraps on natural and white 100% linen with a variety of grad dyes – the Amelia colourway is a gorgeous purple (anyone notice that all the wraps I’ve reviewed so far have been purple? I didn’t plan it that way, I promise!).

Oscha 100% linen grad dyed Amelia

Oscha 100% linen grad dyed Amelia

One thing that is pretty true of all wraps with a high linen content is that they are quite stiff when brand new – so 100% linen is really stiff, it takes a lot of breaking in to get it into a softer state suitable for comfortable everyday wearing. The wrap I tried was a fair bit softer than new, but was still a work in progress that could be broken in a bit more. This quality makes an all linen wrap a bit confronting; I wouldn’t recommend it for a brand new wrapper or a newborn baby in its unbroken state.

This wrap is also very grippy, which meant it required a bit of effort to make the second pass on a double hammock. Linen also has very little stretch, so it is unforgiving of a sloppy wrap job, and it was difficult to get the top rail as tight as I would have liked. A loose top rail with a thin wrap and a 13 kilogram toddler wasn’t very comfortable I have to say. Thin wraps have no cush on the shoulders; to get a comfortable wrap job with an all linen wrap you need to be very precise and careful. The third time I wrapped with it, I did a much better job. I got the double hammock chest pass tighter and therefore my top rail tighter – after my first failed attempt I was surprised to find it was actually reasonably comfortable. Linen is rock solid, which I do like in a wrap. After a 30 minute stroll my daughter had barely moved, and there was little if any sag. With a big toddler, the thinness of this wrap did mean it was a little diggy after 30 minutes however, though I think if I was to use this wrap regularly I would learn more about it and improve my technique for a more comfortable ride.

Solid as a rock with a toddler

Solid as a rock with a toddler

It is certainly lightweight and cool though in the warm weather, which is what you would buy this wrap for. I think if you’re looking for something very lightweight for carrying in a particularly warm part of the world and your baby is between about five and 11 kilograms then this would be perfect. For me, I don’t think it gets quite hot enough in Sydney for me to carry a 13 kilogram toddler in this given the loss of comfort compared with some of my cushier wraps. You would also want to be dedicated to giving the wrap the time and effort it needs to be broken in, if you can’t buy a second hand one already broken in for you that is! A broken in linen wrap will be a million times more comfortable and easier to wrap with than a brand new one. Patience, and perhaps a few babywearing friends to help you break it in, would be key.

If you want to give all linen a try, as well as Oscha, an Australian brand called Lewlewbelle also makes 100% linen wraps. Alternatively, you might like to consider purchasing linen from a fabric store and trying a DIY wrap – it will need a lot of breaking in, but if you have the energy, it might work out a cheaper option if you’re on a budget.

What’s your favourite warm weather wrap?


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Do you really need more than one carrier?

babywearing week quote

This graphic was doing the rounds of Facebook the other day, and it got me thinking. Do we really need to justify why we have more than one carrier (or wrap or sling)? I see some women with a sense of guilt that they want more than one carrier, feeling like they should make do with one, that it is greedy or materialistic to want more. But I think Jamie Owens is definitely right – nobody should have any regrets about their babywearing journey, it is such a short time that we get the opportunity to carry our babies, we should enjoy it as much as possible while we can. If you want more than one carrier, and you can afford it, then go for it!

If that’s not enough, consider some of these other reasons why you might need more than one carrier.

Function

While it is possible to use the one carrier (or wrap or sling) for all your babywearing needs, chances are, sometimes the carrier you have just isn’t quite right for what you need it for at that moment and it feels awkward or inconvenient. For example, using a stretchy or woven wrap is often super comfortable, but when it is raining outside and you’re trying to wrap 4 or 5 metres of fabric in a car park full of puddles you’ll be cursing yourself that you haven’t got something a bit shorter or quicker to put on. Having a ring sling or a buckle carrier in your stash for these times can be a great idea. On the other hand, if you only have a ring sling, as your baby gets older and heavier you may find you can’t carry them for long periods without some discomfort from the one-shouldered carry.

I love a soft structured carrier (Ergo, Tula, etc) for walking, at the shops or outings like the zoo, but I find at home I prefer a wrap where I can carry my daughter high on my back so she can see over my shoulder easily and stay involved in whatever I’m doing. A soft structured carrier just doesn’t provide that same feeling for me (not to mention my Tula generally lives in the car….hmmm, perhaps I need a second one for the house). And I love the convenience of a ring sling for popping into the shop or picking my older kids up from school.

The weather 

As much as I love a stretchy wrap for a newborn, if you’re having a baby at the end of December in Australia, it’s going to be pretty warm. Babywearing in the height of summer is hot no matter what you do, but there are definitely cooler options than a stretchy wrap. So perhaps you might like a stretchy wrap for when you’re home in the air conditioning or at a shopping centre, and a light cotton ring sling for wearing outdoors as well. As for woven wraps, it is perfectly legitimate to have some nice thick woolly wraps during the winter, and move to something thinner and lighter in the summer. You wouldn’t wear the same jumper all year round, and it shouldn’t be any different with wraps.

The environment

You’re probably not going to want to take your $250 silk blend wrap to the beach, but your baby still needs to be carried, right (have you ever tried pushing a pram on sand?). Learning to torso carry in a beach towel is one option, but if you’re not that ambitious, you’re probably going to want something cheap and cheerful that you can use in the water and on the sand. And if you own a bit of land or enjoy gardening, a plain black soft structured carrier that wont show the dirt is a great option, but you might also like to have something prettier (and cleaner) for when you go shopping.

Fashion

There’s really no reason why carriers, wraps and slings can’t be considered accessories in the same vein as handbags and shoes. Sure, they serve a function, but I don’t think anyone would question you for owning more than one handbag or more than one pair of shoes. I could get by with one pair of shoes and one handbag if I absolutely had to, but that pair of shoes and bag wouldn’t quite work for all of the different things I do in my life. So I have a few pairs of shoes (or 10) and a couple of handbags (ok, 5 or 6) to serve different purposes.

Same goes with babywearing. I could get by with one carrier, but I’d rather have a few different items to choose from. And in Imelda Marcos-like style, there are some people who have enormous collections of wraps, carriers and slings. Not because they think they need them all, but because they enjoy the collecting, the aesthetic, the fashion of babywearing. There is nothing wrong with wanting your carrier to match your outfit, just like your shoes and bag.

Ok, so I probably didn't need four ring slings at the same time, but they are all beautiful, and only one lives here now.

Ok, so I probably didn’t need four ring slings (on the left) at the same time, but they are all beautiful, and only one of these lives here now.

The fashion of babywearing means there are many talented artisans making amazing textiles and carriers for carrying babies, because carrying your baby doesn’t just have to be about getting from A to B, it can be a truly joyful experience and an important part of your growing relationship with your child, so why not make the most of it?

Whether you’ve got one carrier, 10 or 100, don’t feel like you need to justify yourself to anyone. And try not to feel jealous when you see huge stash shots on social media, not everyone can afford a carrier for every day of the week (or month!). Just enjoy your babywearing journey while it lasts – keep them close in whatever way YOU want!


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Babywearing Week 5 – 11 October 2014

October 5 to 11 is Australian and NZ Babywearing Week, coinciding with International Babwearing Week, and is a week where parents can come together and attend events with other like-minded people, with the opportunity to raise funds for charity as well.

Babywearing square

Events are held around Australia to raise awareness of babywearing and how babywearing can support an active lifestyle for parents. In Sydney, I’m hosting an event on Friday 10 October, starting with a photo opportunity in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House, followed by morning tea at the nearby Botanic Gardens.

There will be a raffle on the day, with a brand new Ergo, a $100 Babes in Arms voucher, a Hug a Bub dolly wrap and Pinky McKay boobie bikkies up for grabs. All money raised in the raffle will be donated to HeartKids, a registered Health Charity dedicated to providing support to families of children with heart disease, be it congenital (born with) or acquired. HeartKids also partners with leading cardiologists and researchers and works to provide funding for them to assist in reducing the incidence of Childhood Heart Disease and to reduce the mortality rates currently being experienced.

If you’re in Sydney and interested in attending this event, please join the Sydney Babywearers group on Facebook for more information and to RSVP.

Other events are also being held during Babywearing Week in Parramatta, Gladesville and Chatswood, as well as on the Central Coast and in the Blue Mountains. There are also events in most other capital cities and some regional areas. Check out the Australian and NZ Babywearing Week website for more details.

Happy babywearing!


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Babywearing dips – a word of caution

There has been some chitchat on a few Facebook babywearing pages about dips this week, and it is clear that a lot of people don’t really know much about them. While they say ignorance is bliss, on this topic I think being educated and informed is pretty important.

So what is a dip? A dip is like a raffle. In the babywearing community, Facebook pages are set up so people can offer their wrap or carrier as a “prize” and sell, for example, 100 tickets at $5 each, then randomly select a winner. So the seller gets $500 for their item, but the winner only pays the price of their ticket (or tickets if they buy more than one). Sounds great, right? I can’t afford a $500 carrier, but I can spend $5 and maybe win one! Sign me up!

feeling-lucky

Well, before you all run off to join as many dip pages as you can find, please read on. A raffle (or dip) is a form of gambling. Gambling can be very addictive and can often attract unscrupulous characters who’d like to get their hands on your money any way they can. For these reasons, amongst others, gambling is highly regulated (in Australia, and most western nations). A standard dip where the owner of the item up for grabs is the recipient of the money spent on tickets is illegal in Australia. This means that joining and participating in the many dip pages on Facebook is also questionable. That doesn’t stop some people, but you should make an informed and educated decision about what is right for you.

In NSW, a raffle is only legal if it is fundraising for a not-for-profit organisation, and the raffle is registered and approved by the organisation that will be receiving the funds. At least 40% of the proceeds of the raffle must go to the not-for-profit organisation. There are similar laws in place across Australia. There are other things to consider too. Only people over the age of 18 can participate in a raffle, and if a raffle is registered in a particular State of Australia it may only be legal to sell tickets to those who reside in that State.

On top of this, many dip pages ask you to pay for your tickets via PayPal. PayPal expressly prohibits using PayPal for this purpose, and can shut down your account if it chooses. Facebook also requires promotions and activities like raffles to meet a variety of requirements, which many dip pages don’t meet. Many of the dip pages are set to be “secret”, because when Facebook finds them they are often shut down for not meeting the terms of service.

Lastly, participating in a dip requires a great deal of trust in the person running it. How do you know that the person drawing the winning ticket is doing it randomly and not rigging it so that a certain person wins? How can you guarantee that you will get your prize if you do win? Certainly PayPal will not protect you like when you purchase an item legitimately. As I said, gambling attracts some shady characters, and scammers are not unheard of in babywearing dips, so please proceed with caution.

Problem gambling is no laughing matter. If you think that you may have a problem with gambling, even with something as seemingly innocent as babywearing dips, there are places you can call for support. In NSW, try Gambling Help on 1800 858 858. Gamble responsibly.


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Review: Beco Soleil soft structured carrier

My local babywearing group was fortunate to be given a Beco Soleil to try out, and while I am firmly a member of Team Tula, I thought I’d give the Beco a go and share the results with you.

To be honest, I haven’t really tried a lot of soft structured carriers. I’ve tried a few different versions of the Ergo, and the Tula. I find the Tula so comfortable I haven’t been inclined to try anything else. But the Beco Soleil pleasantly surprised me; it far exceeded my expectations.

Beco soleil baby carrier

The Beco Soleil with my 18 month old daughter

Here’s what I liked:

  • My daughter is 18 months old and above average height and weight (we’re using a Toddler Tula now), but she still fit in the Soleil quite well, better than she fits in an Ergo.
  • The waistband is slightly narrower than the Tula, which I liked because it didn’t push the waistband of my jeans down like my Tula can sometimes.
  • The top of the body panel has a padded, peaked design that provides nice firm coverage over baby’s upper back, which I also think is an improvement on the Tula design.
  • It has a removable hood, and also a large removable storage pocket (something the Tula is missing, and something many people like about the Ergo).
  • I could get a nice high back carry, much higher than the Ergo.
  • The straps felt a lot more comfortable than the Ergo, and didn’t feel too bulky or wide for my narrow shoulders. There are also perfect fit adjusters, similar to the Tula.
  • I liked the classic pattern; understated and subtle.

If I had to pick some downsides, I’d say:

  • The shoulder straps aren’t particularly padded, certainly less padded than the Tula, and with my almost 13kg big girl I could do with the extra padding. I did find this slightly less comfortable for me than the Tula.
  • At $179, it’s the same price as a standard canvas Tula. For the same money, I’d pick a Tula. But if you’ve found the Tula isn’t really for you, then this is a better option than an Ergo, in my opinion.
  • It has a similar buckle mechanism to the Manduca, which requires two hands to open. This irritates me, but that’s because I’ve only used Ergos and Tulas that have a one-handed buckle.

Some other things to know:

  • You can cross the straps for front carries.
  • It has a long waist belt, longer than a standard Ergo and Tula. A larger mum who uses the Ergo Xtra tried this on and found it much more comfortable than the Ergo Xtra.
  • It requires a separate infant insert to use from 3.5kg to approximately four months old.

If you’re in the market for a soft structured carrier and the Tula isn’t really for you, then I would definitely recommend the Beco Soleil. It can be purchased from a number of online vendors in Australia.