Case Study 6: Nikki & Lucie

Background

When Lucie was a small baby Nikki wore her in a Baby Bjorn Carrier and got on well with it.  As Lucie grew bigger Nikki found she preferred to use the pram and later the pushchair.  They do not have car so get about by walking a lot. Now Lucie is a two year old she sometimes wants to get in the pushchair, sometimes wants to walk and sometimes wants Nikki to carry her.  Nikki often ends up carrying Lucie while pushing the pushchair, which she finds very uncomfortable.

Nikki contacted The Sling Doctor asking for advice on which buckle carrier to buy. She felt overwhelmed by the options and was not able to travel to one of her local sling libraries.

The Consultation

We met at Nikki and Lucie’s home and discussed their options. We discussed basic sling safety and the safety features on buckle carriers. I explained that Lucie would need a ‘toddler sized’ carrier and that the way in which toddler buckle carriers vary in several ways including:

  • The amount of padding
  • Where the waist belt sits
  • Whether the shoulder straps disconnect and if so, where
  • How many adjustment points there are and which direction the adjust in.
  • Whether you can cross the shoulder straps on your back
  • Whether you can wear the shoulder straps uncrossed (like a rucksack)
  • Whether there is a chest belt between the shoulder straps

Most of these points come down to personal preference for both wearer and wearee; there isn’t a ‘best carrier’ for everyone.  There is, however, probably a set of carrier characteristics that each person prefers.  A detailed comparison of buckle carriers has been written by my colleague Zoe at The Sling Consultancy.

There are so many toddler buckle carriers available to buy that I am not able to stock them all.  For the purposes of consultation I try to demonstrate the individual features and provide samples of at least two very different carriers.  I hope that this will help the wearer to work out which options suit them best and to become familiar with how to achieve optimum positioning in different styles of carrier.  This information should enable them to identify the features they want on their carrier, or at least a shortlist to take to a sling library.

I took Nikki a Toddler sized Connecta and a Toddler Sized Lenny Lamb Buckle Carrier.

The Connecta

The Connecta has no padding,  this means it folds up really small. The waist belt sits high up and the fabric of the main panel decends from it creating a deep seat for your child.  It has detachable shoulder straps so it is possible to cross the shoulder straps.  There is no chest strap but there is an accessory strap which is seperate but can be used like a chest belt.  It is often recommended as a cool and lightweight option, available in a wide range of appealing fabrics.

The Lenny Lamb Toddler Buckle Carrier

The Lenny Lamb Toddler Buckle Carrier has a padded and structured waist belt and shoulder straps.  The shoulder straps detach and there is an integrated chest strap. The waist belt is worn lower than that on the Connecta.  I originally bought mine because it was a good low budget option, however,  they have since increased in price and are comparable with others on the market.

Outcome

Nikki tried on the Lenny Lamb Toddler Buckle Carrier with a demonstration doll first.  She seemed to like it immediately and was keen to try Lucie in it.  Lucie happily obliged and got into the carrier.  Nikki described feeling shocked by how light Lucie felt in the carrier.  They both seemed very comfortable.

Nikki and Lucie also tried the Connecta but didn’t find it as comfortable.


Nikki was so impressed with the Lenny Lamb that she decided to buy one.  They were both happy with a front carry for now but might like to explore back carries in the future.

I hope they enjoy their buckle carrier and will be happy to provide reduced price follow up consultations on other uses,  such as back carries in the future.

Video Tutorial: Inside Out Coolest Hip Cross Carry (CHCC)

  

Description

The Coolest Hip Cross Carry (CHCC) is a 2-cross-pass-hip-carry with a Slipknot finish. It gets its name because there is never more than one layer of fabric on the wearer at any time (and just 2 on the baby). This version is described as ‘inside out’ because the second pass is taken inside the outer pass, this is not necessary but I find it makes tightening easier and I like having the outermost pass closest to my back. 

Logistics

The CHCC can be achieved with a size 3 or 4 wrap depending on your size (I am using a size 3) you can do it with a longer wrap but you will need to tie up the tails to prevent them becoming a trip hazard.  

Uses

This carry is one my personal favorites.  It is easy to tie and you do most of the work before putting your child in. The Slipknot means you can adjust and tighten to suit you both.  It can be worn on your chest or your side and you can move between the two positions without re-tying.  

Crucially, for getting in and out of the car, or indecisive toddlers, it is poppable meaning that once tied, you can pop child in and out.

Safety

Hip carries are not suitable from birth.  Your child needs to be developmentally ready to have their hips ‘open’.  You can tell by looking at whether your baby is rolling or trying to roll and by how you are naturally carrying them without a wrap.  If you find that you and baby are naturally walking around with them on your hip, with their legs straddling your middle then they are ready.  

As always, make sure that baby’s airway is clear and you are able to monitor them by looking at their face, Check they have access to their hands, that the fabric is smooth on their back and they are not slumped in the sling. Make sure they are supported knee-to-knee and that their bottom is lower than their knees. If your child wants their arms out then make sure you have tightened the sling with them in this position.

Please let me know what you think of the video 

Video Tutorial: Single Hammock Hip and Back Carry with a Toddler


I use this carry frequently with my 32lb 23 month old.  It is great for days when she wants to get up and down a lot and I don’t want to carry lots of fabric around with me.  It is a very easy carry to transition between front, hip and back, which is great for indecisive toddlers.  

Elsie tends to like being on my back when we are walking about and looking at things, on my hip when we are chatting with friends and on my front to sleep (although she will mix it up!).  

This is not a wriggle proof, nor a particularly secure back carry.  So it’s safety depends on your technique but also, somewhat, on whether your child wants to be in it and picking up on their cues when they start to get bored or fed up with it. 

I have previously demonstrated how to set up a single hammock carry so I have not repeated that information in this tutorial.  

This video shows how to transition from hip to back with a toddler.  Please let me know what you think. 

Video Tutorial: Single Hammock Hip Carry with Slipknot

The Single Hammock with a Slipknot finish is a quick and versatile carry.  As it only involves one pass of fabric over you and your baby it is one of the coolest ways to carry your child.  It can be used to carry your child on your hip or on your chest (or somewhere in between the two) and can be used from birth right through to pre-school age with only minor adjustments. It is poppable meaning that you can take your child in and out without re-tying. 

Both videos below show the carry in the way appropriate for a baby who has head control and who is comfortable having their legs spread.  

The first video is long, and includes verbal explanations:

The second video is much shorter but doesn’t include explanations:

Please let me know which you prefer. 

Case Study 2: Mark and Elsie 


Background

Mark visited The Sling Doctor for a consult on how to get his granddaughter, Elsie, onto his back In a buckle carrier.  Elsie is 23 months old and has always used slings or carriers as her primary mode of transport. She also uses them to get to sleep, especially if she is away from her mother or is somewhere unfamiliar. 

Mark has babysat Elsie on a couple of occasions and found the sling helpful for getting Elsie to sleep.  He has also worn Elsie on his back for a short walk but relied on other family members to get Elsie on and off his back.  

In two weeks time Mark is going to look after Elsie while her mother and grandmother  run a 10k race. He wants to be able to walk several miles with Elsie and to feel confident getting her on and off his back. 

Using a demonstration doll, I showed Mark two methods of getting a toddler on to his back:

1. The Hip Scoot

  • Identify the hip you normally naturally carry your child on. This is your hip scoot side.
  • Put the carrier on as if you were going to do a front carry but do not put on the shoulder straps.  
  • Lengthen the shoulder strap closest to the hip scoot side.
  • Place your child on your chest and pull the body of the carrier up over their back so that the child is secure when you hold the two shoulder straps in one hand. 
  • Gently scoot the child and carrier around under your arm.
  • Reach around behind you for the extended strap and pull it onto your shoulder and tighten. 
  • Place your other arm in the shoulder strap. 
  • Check child’s positioning and adjust accordingly 

2. The Sofa Lift

  • Put the carrier’s waist belt on and move the body of the carrier around you so that it is laying behind you on the sofa or arm chair. 
  • Place child behind you and, with one hand each side, reach behind yourself and move the toddler onto the carrier until they have one leg either side of the carrier and are sitting as close to your back as possible.
  • Pull the carrier up over the back of the child and put the shoulder straps on as if you were putting on a back pack. 
  • Check the child’s positioning and adjust accordingly. 

Safety 
We agreed that it would only be safe for Mark to attempt to back-carry Elsie if she agreed to go on his back. 

When transferring a baby or toddler onto your back the child must have their weight supported, and something preventing them from falling at all times.  At each stage of the transfer it is worth asking yourself, what is holding the child’s weight? What is preventing the child from falling? The answer to both questions should be either a) me or b) the carrier.  If the answer is ‘nothing’ then the practice is unsafe. 

Until you are confident and experienced it is advisable to only put your child in your back when you are able to do so over a bed or sofa, or have someone available to intervene. 

Outcome 

Mark practiced both methods with the demonstration doll until he felt confident. He preferred the sofa lift and asked Elsie if she would mind trying it out.  Elsie agreed and they successfully achieved a back carry. Mark found he had to tighten the carrier significantly more than he had expected to stop Elsie being able to lean too far back.  Once this was done they both looked and felt comfortable and secure. I hope that their morning out together is a success and that Mark finds his newly learned skills helpful.