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.  

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