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.

Case Study 5: Katharine and Annabella

Background

Katherine and Annabella have enjoyed Babywearing since Annabella was a small baby. They have used both a stretchy wrap and a baby bjorn carrier.  Katherine found that despite liking the idea of the stretchy wrap, it was not very practical for meeting their needs and ended up reaching for the baby bjorn much more.

Both Katharine and Annabella have enjoyed using the Baby Bjorn, however, at the age of 8 months, Annabella has grown considerably and it has become progressively less comfortable.

Katharine contacted The Sling Doctor asking for advice on finding the right sling or carrier to help them continue their Babywearing journey.  She did not have a strong preference for a type of carrier and was happy to visit me at my home address which was ideal as we needed access to all of my slings.

The Consultation

We discussed the problems Katharine was having with her existing slings:

The Baby Bjorn

Katharine was finding that although they both liked  a front, chest to chest carry in this carrier, after about 10 minutes it began to hurt her lower back and was no longer a sustainable option.  I explained that the Baby Bjorn does not support the hip tilt (bottom tucked in, tailbone pointing down) in the way many other slings do.  This causes the child to have a straight back which means that their weight is carried further away from their wearer.  In more ergonomically designed carriers the child’s pelvis is tilted which allows their back to curve around the parent (see diagram below).

This positioning means that the child’s head automatically falls towards the parent and their weight is carried closely. This is similar to the difference between carrying a load with outstretched arms or hugging it close to you. When a sling or carrier is correctly fitted it should not feel like you are carrying your child, rather, that your weights are combined and you are heavier.

While babies are still relatively light the weight distribution provided by the Baby Bjorn may not be a problem for the wearer, however, as the baby gets heavier a different carrier, designed to hold the baby as seen above, will be more comfortable.

The Stretchy Wrap

Katharine and Annabella had not got on very well with this sling when Annabella was a newborn, finding the length of fabric overwhelming and too time consuming to be used regularly.  While stretchy wraps can be used beyond six months, if the child is heavy, and/or the stretchy wrap very stretchy, they would need to have additional passes added to the traditional three layer carry.  Given that Katharine and Annabella had not got on well with the three layer carries it seemed unlikely that more layers would be an attractive proposition.

Katharine was keen for Annabella to be able to look around but still wanted to be able to make eye contact while she was in the sling. We agreed hip carries would be ideal for this but that any carrier should also have the option of a chest to chest carry to minimise back strain.

We explored the following options:

1) Woven wrap (such as a Kokadi) tied in a Coolest Hip Cross Carry.

2) Ring Sling (e.g. Amazonas) worn on the hip or the front.

3) Mei Tai (e.g. Hoppediz) tied on the hip or the front.

4) A Buckle Carrier (e.g. Ergo 360) worn on the front or the hip.

I demonstrated each of the options then Katharine chose to practice the woven wrap and buckle carrier option.  She was drawn to the beautiful fabric options of the woven wrap and was able to tie the Coolest Hip Cross Carry effectively but decided it was not fast enough to meet her and Annabella’s needs.

We explored buckle carriers in more detail.  I had a Manducca, Ergo, Boba 4g and Beco Gemini available for exploration.  We quickly worked out that having the option of crossing the straps on her back was going to make using the carrier more comfortable for Katharine.  This is not an option with the Boba 4g so we ruled it out. The remaining carriers all had detachable straps but different parts of the straps were adjustable.  Katharine was naturally drawn to the Beco Gemini as its padding made it more closely resemble the Baby Bjorn Carrier. Once confident with the demonstration doll Katharine was able to put Annabella in the carrier and cross the straps on her back.  She was surprised by how little she could feel of Annabella’s weight and was able to get her into an ergonomic position, with her knees higher than her bottom and her pelvis tilted as below.


Annabella seemed to like being in the sling, but it was apparent that she would soon outgrow it, her knees sticking out a couple of inches on both sides.  We agreed it would be sensible for Katharine to buy the next size up. I would recommend the carrier which is most similar most similar to the Beco Gemini, this is the Beco Toddler which is available from Slumber-Roo with a 10% discount when you quote the code SL10-SLINGDOCTOR.


Katharine and Annabella took advantage of my Model deal which also entitles them to a reduced price follow up consultation.  I would be happy to provide further consultation on the use of the new carrier and perhaps, later,  how to back carry in it.  I wish them both all the best in their Babywearing adventures.

Case Study 3: Amalia and Molly

I had the pleasure of consulting for Amalia and Molly over the weekend. They have been kind enough to let me share the details of their consultation.  

Background

Amalia has worn Molly in a stretchy wrap and an Ergo since she was a few weeks old.  She reported finding the Ergo tricky to do up without help from another person and found the panel went too high up Molly’s back.  Amalia wanted to try to improve the usability of the ergo by optimising the front carry .  She also wanted to try a hip carry with the Ergo and a woven wrap to see which she preferred.  

Molly is a healthy 6 month old baby who can roll and sit with a little support. She enjoys being carried on Amalias hip and is keen to interact with the people around her.

Ergo Optimisation

Using a demo doll we experimented with placing the ergo waistband higher on Amalias waist. We allowed the panel to fall down from the waist band and placed the doll so that its bottom sat level with the bottom of the waistband in a seat of fabric made from the main panel of the ergo.  This tweak made the panel sit lower on the dolls back which Amalia found preferable.  Next, we experimented with different ways of doing up the carrier across Amalia’s back during a front carry.  She had been reaching over her shoulders and attempting to connect the chest strap (the small connecter between the two shoulder straps) this way but finding she wasn’t flexible enough to achieve this. We tried moving the strap lower on the arm straps and doing it up by reaching behind, under her arms. Amalia also found this difficult.  Finally we tried pre-fastening the chest strap but loosening the arm straps so that she could pass the chest strap over her head, then secure the carry by tightening the arm straps.  Amalia found this to be the easiest option so we practiced it a couple of times. 

Ergo Hip Carry

We experimented with the ergo in a hip carry as per the manufacturers instructions.  Again we found this required a higher degree of mobility than Amalia found comfortable.  So we tried a hip carry on a woven wrap.

Hip Carry in a Woven Wrap 

I demonstrated and walked Amalia through both a Single Hammock Hip Carry and a Coolest Hip Cross Carry(CHCC). For my Single Hammock tutorials please click here, and for my Coolest Hip Cross Carry tutorial please click here. Amalia tried both out with the doll and, although she liked the single pass of fabric, and therefore, how cool the single hammock was, she preferred the added security of two (cross) passes in the CHCC. We practiced this a few times with the demonstration doll before trying with Molly herself (see photo above) who seemed very happy in this position.  Amalia is going to practice this carry and come back to me with any issues.  We will either optimise her CHCC or look at other options for hip carries, or maybe, when Molly is a little bit older,  back carries.  

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.