Before we went to Greece last week we bought some travel gear that we found really useful and I thought I’d share… along with some fun stuff. I wish I’d known about some of these earlier for use out and about at home to be honest, particularly the travel high chair, so don’t discount them if you’re not traveling anywhere!
1. Totseat Kids Travel Highchair £23.99
There was no high chair in our apartment and to be honest we were only offered them at restaurants 50% of the time or less… and I won’t go into the standards of cleanliness of the ones we received. Nothing bugs me more than Bea eating on my knee, squirming and wiping her hands, face and food on my clothes so this was a godsend. It fits on multiple different seat backs (we didn’t find one it don’t fit,) is very secure, rolls up really small and is washable. Genius idea and we will be using it regularly back home too. The only thing is that it doesn’t add much height, but we tended to sit her on a rolled up towel or something which gave enough height and I suspect if your baby was a bit taller then Bea (not difficult!) it would be better. (Koo-Di do a much cheaper one but it’s not adjustable for all the different chair backs so I imagine wouldn’t always work.)
2. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot Around £40
You guessed it, no cot either… Maybe some other mums can explain to me how you travel with one of the usual travel cots – they seem so big and heavy for suitcases? We bought this months back for going to friends houses but it’s also great for holidays as it’s light, fits into a case when packed down and functions as a mosquito net too.
3. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot £9.99
For a bit of fun we bought this for Bea for the pool. It was great – after the initial terrified meltdown when we first put her in it! It was brilliant because of the sunshade, so even if it was midday, we could put her in there to cool off and she was covered from the heat of the sun
4. Summer Infant Tiny Diner – Green £9.99
Another brilliant find for baby lead weaners or any tot eating out, this was perfect for knowing that she was eating off a clean surface. Some of the places we ate were a bit grubby on the table tops or high chairs and while I’m not normally a clean freak, the last thing we needed in the heat was a dehydrating tummy bug! We sat this under her bottom on a seat (it’s quite big) or on the table and it worked really well – another one we will be using at home too.
5. Frostfire Popup Beach Shelter with UV protection (50+ UPF)
We were worried about keeping Bea shaded so bought this for the beach, knowing that the village we were visiting wasn’t the type where you pay for a lounger and parasol on the beach. In fact, it was too hot even for this as it got hotter in the tent and we ended up buying a cheap parasol, but if it wasn’t as warm this would have been great – it provided good shade, a wind break and decent space for playing away from the handfuls of sand and pebbles that Bea was intent on shoving in her mouth!
Have you got any amazing finds for travelling with a baby? we’ve only got one year left before we have to start paying for her seat so I intend to do a lot more travelling with her over the next 12 months!
Tomorrow Bea turns one, so expect all kinds of sentimental reflective writing coming up over the next couple of weeks. I have so much to share on a year of sleep, feeding, fun and love. But first, I need to squeeze this monthly update in before it seems old hat and irrelevant.
Developmentally, between 10 and 11 months was massive, in fact every month feels like that now! Lots of things she has been practising for a long time seem to have finally clicked into place. She can stack the wooden tower of rainbow rings we have and the way she looks so pleased with herself is priceless. Another favourite is zooming around pushing the walker we bought her, although she hasn’t quite mastered turning!
We had our first nights away from Daddy as I went on a work course in the Lake District and totally chickened on leaving Bea behind. I used the excuse that we are still feeding, but really I don’t think I could have left her! My mum came to help looking after her in the day while I went to the workshops and Bea joined us on a walk that was part of it too!
Bea is also becoming more and more sociable and interested in children. It started with getting excited when she went past the park in the pram with my mum and now if she is in a room with other children or passes them anywhere she is so desperate to interact – it’s so cute!
Lastly, we had a little staycation, which was so lovely. We had things to do during it but spending every day as a family together was so much fun. Our usual routine involves us switching off a lot in the week as Pete works late on Mondays and Fridays and I work late 2 of the other days so being together as a 3 is precious time. Bea chose that week to stand up by herself, (she had been cruising for a while but this was unaided,) which was pretty exciting too!
Whoa, ten months. Seriously, time is flying and it feels like she will be One already any minute. (Edit: I’m a little behind with these and in fact she will be One very soon, sob sob!)
As you can see from these photo’s, Bea’s mobility has gone to a whole other level. Gone are the days of me taking cute photos of her lying down in pretty outfits every week! Just before she reached 10 months Bea scaled the steps of our decking and she now climbs the stairs to bed every night (with us keeping a watchful eye and ready hand behind her!) She pulls up on everything and by the end of the month had started cruising too.
I won’t lie, it is tiring, but if it wasn’t for safety, I could leave her to entertain herself for hours. Toys aren’t getting a look in these days, now it’s all about radiators, wires, plug sockets, random bits of fluff or grit on the floor (cue crazy cleaning efforts daily from me,) the cats food bowl… you name it, if I don’t want her playing with it, she makes a Bea-line.
Bea is talking more now and expanding her range of sounds. I think Cat (or ‘Ca!’) is her first word, used accurately for our cats, but also for all animals in general. Of course Daddy thinks Dada is the first one, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s used in context yet
This months big achievement was clapping! I know lots of babies do it sooner but Bea just hadn’t tried at all, then one day I returned from work and it was the thing to be doing. She pretty much hasn’t stopped since! Mum has also taught her to put her hands in the air when we say ‘SO BIG!’ - so cute. Their days together are lovely – I think she has been tiring my mum out but Mum does things with her I wouldn’t think of and I love hearing them laughing (Bea gets quite hysterical,) over something I have no idea about when I’m in the other room.
I’ll be squeezing another of these posts in next week because the week after, Bea is 1! Expect lots of nostalgic reflective and mushy posts while I mourn my tiny baby and celebrate my cheeky toddler
We held Bea’s Naming Ceremony in our garden this last Sunday and as one of the reasons we chose a Naming Ceremony instead of a Christening was because we had no personal relationship with any of the local churches, it was important to us to hold it somewhere of significance. Our family home and newly finished garden seemed the perfect place to celebrate and start creating memories. Of course, I wanted to decorate too so I thought I’d share some of the inspiration behind the decor in case you are looking to decorate for any kind of garden party or celebration soon. It was all really simple and easy – mainly because I bought the decor in rather than making (most) of it and I’d recommend that approach for busy mums rather than aspiring towards unrealistic expectations!
I didn’t really have a theme but it is summer and I just wanted everything to look happy, fun and celebratory, so we went with bright colours.
Of course, I collected some Pinterest inspiration, then found all the necessary supplies. Our celebrant Janet Lopacki provided us with the tree for a thumbprint guest book but the same one is available to download below. As another memento I cut up coloured paper (from TK Maxx) into tag shapes and left a stack for people to write a message for Bea and we got some lovely ones to keep for her. My intention is to make a scrapbook with the wishes, fingerprint tree and copies of the readings. The flags were a last minute idea to give to the children to wave through the ceremony, also made with the co-ordinating paper. I spotted the decor in John Lewis and made a note of their brand. Theres a much more extensive selection on their own website and I ended up buying it from them via Amazon which was cheaper. I happened to find some in TK Maxx too, although not in the colours I wanted.
At the end of the ceremony we also arranged a balloon release. I’d do this differently in future, because the message got a bit lost while people removed the strings from the balloons, but the idea was explained by Janet like this:
I know that Beatrice will receive, and give, a lot of love to everyone she meets in life. Today you have been given balloons to release into the sky, the purpose of this in a symbolic sense, is that during the course of Beatrice’s lifetime, the thoughts, hopes and wishes you have for Beatrice today, will be carried through the wind and the weather systems, kept in by that ozone layer, and with each ray of sunshine and drop of rain, that love and those aspirations will steadily come back down to Beatrice.
We have had a few friends take photos that I’m just waiting to come back, but when they do, I’ll share a few here so you can see how it all turned out!
I’ve been back at work for almost 3 months now, my first day was 17th March and I didn’t write about it until now because I spent most of the first month doing a phased return. It wasn’t until after Easter that I was back to my usual 3 day week, so I’ve now done 2 months of that.
Some of you may recall that I was dreading my return to work. I cried the night before, partly because I felt like I was abandoning this little thing that had only ever known me being there almost 24/7. Partly it was purely selfish, I felt like I was missing out on watching her grow up and develop.
A video posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on
In actual fact, It’s been nowhere near as hard as I thought. Work is so busy (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a GP) that I didn’t get a moment to think about her all day. The first few times I left her she was with Pete, happy as larry, then later on with my mum, so that made things easier too. Coming home was amazing. When I started back at work, Bea wasn’t quite 8 months old so we weren’t quite at the stage where she was excited about seeing me again, but then as the weeks went on she started to get really excited when I came home, clapping and shouting and reaching for me. There have been crushing moments too though. The day I returned to work, Bea properly crawled, to the incentive of her expressed bottle that Daddy kindly put on the floor in front of her. Another day I came home and she had started clapping, (taught by my mum,) as lovely as it is for mum and her to have that experience and memory together, it still cut deep that it wasn’t me who taught her.
Being back at work has had it’s plus points though. I know after almost 8 months at home with Bea I was starting to take our time together for granted. There were times I needed to get some life admin task done or a bit of house work and she got plonked and shushed, inevitably towards the end of the day with a deadline looming and the witching hour underway. As she got more mobile that got harder and I got more frustrated. Now, as much as possible, the time I have with her I spend with her. When something needs doing, I plan to do it later… not much is getting done, but, whatever. I think I’m more patient with her too, being away makes me fresher, more ready to face the challenges a crawling, almost toddling, non-stop little minx brings with her.
Objectively, now I’ve done both, I’m not sure how I feel. We just did our garden with the money that I earn – we use my salary at the moment to plough into the house and live more carefully on Pete’s. I’m so happy with it, but I hate that that essentially represents putting material things ahead of my time with Bea. I have more than once considered what it would mean to give up work, financial cuts we would have to make. I know I’d be as happy in a smaller house, so we could still afford holidays and the like, but with Bea every day. I’m pretty sure that if had had the option I’d have taken a career break, but there’s very little information about it available in my line of work and I do know that if you are off for over 12 months, there are retraining consequences. I’m also a partner and have obligations to my practice and partners. To some extent I feel I’ve made my bed and have to lie in it. Unfortunately I don’t buy the working woman positive role model argument… my Mum didn’t work and it didn’t stop me forging a challenging career, however I also don’t feel it influenced me in how I feel about being wishing I was at home with Bea either; I want to be home with her because I want to spend more time with her, not because I feel children do better when they have a stay at home mum (or parent) as a constant.
All those things considered, a lot of this is selfish rather than considering Beas needs. She is a happy little thing, doesn’t seem at all bothered by me leaving and copes really well with our days apart. Her relationship with Pete has blossomed. Although he was great with her before, its really gone to the next level and he knows her routine and quirks (almost) as well as me now. She and my Mum also have a lovely little bond going on and its amazing seeing mum make her laugh or do things with her that I wouldn’t have thought to do.
Of course I know that there will be countless things she doesn’t learn from me, at nursery, at school, even at University (if she goes,) but its hard making the transition from being the lynchpin to all her new experiences. At times I have felt recently that she needs me less because she doesn’t see me as so central to her life now, she has had to reply on others as her touchstone throughout the day. And I know that its great that she has so many people around her, loving her, cheering her on and ready to catch her when she falls, but it doesn’t stop me wishing it was me. I also know I’m lucky to be able to work part time and I will say that 3 days is a reasonable balance but at the same time, more than enough for me.
I don’t think I’ve given any answers in this post, if you’re searching for them yourself, goodness knows I wish I had them myself, but I hope if you’re dreading returning to work it might help in some small way. I certainly found it was a bit like when I was pregnant and people would tell me that having a baby was ‘the best thing ever!’ – I used to think, ‘It might be for you…!’ and couldn’t comprehend how I would feel when she arrived. Similarly people told me the anticipation of returning to work was worse than the reality and it is, but I couldn’t see that at all when I was dreading my own return, until I had done it and it was fine.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, as always readers,
Bea is 10 months tomorrow so I’m a little behind with these posts – I must catch up before she gets to One! The last 2 months have been so much fun, despite my being back at work, as Bea is becoming more and more of an interactive little person.
We’ve been lucky enough to be getting around and meeting blog friends recently and made a trip up to Scotland to see Roz in Glasgow and met up with Kirsty too. Bea loved meeting the babies and her tour of the forever house then topped off the visit by waving for the very first time at Kirsty!
Since crawling, life has been all about moving for Bea. Toys are no longer of interest and instead she’s all about handles, plugs, wires, radiator valves and anything else inappropriate. She’s moved on really quickly from crawling to pulling up at 35 weeks; Only 2 weeks later and she was standing in her cot and we had to lower the cot base. We’ve covered all the plugs with child proof socket covers but theres still a lot to do to baby proof the house and we just try to make sure there’s nothing for her to hurt herself on around on the floor.
Bea has never been a babbly baby, and in fact when other babies were ba ba ba-ing Bea was still quiet, just doing occasional shouty noises. Around 36 weeks though everything changed and chattering was the order of the day. She started making ‘Bwa’ sounds over and over and over and chattering back to you if you repeated them back to her
It didn’t take long before her repertoire of noises was improved however, now we have Ca ca ca… too!
I’ll leave it there before I fall asleep or encroach on the next month, do share your stories of where you’re at with your little ones if you have them!
Whoa. Where is the time going? I went back to work days before Bea was 8 months and as I write, we are approaching 9 months. Fast. I want to just hit pause sometimes!
Somewhere around 7 months it seems like we entered a whole new phase with Bea. The one where she never. stays. still. The big news this month was the beginning of crawling… but even before that she was rolling, spinning and wriggling anywhere she wanted to go within one room. We were on the edge of crawling for so long and still I was always convinced she was about to do it, but we weren’t really sure when to say she had. So many developmental things she has done were instant, sudden smiles one day, suddenly sitting on another. Crawling has been much more of a gradual progression from rolling around, to spinning on her belly, all the yoga moves of getting some air and lifting herself up, commando crawling around, then suddenly she used her hands too and was off… she was 34 weeks or just short of 8 months.
It’s been another really rubbish month of sleep too. For the first time, the developmental leap surrounding her learning to crawl wreaked havoc and when she turned over at night she got straight up onto her knees then seemed to wake up disorientated and crying. Only feeding settled her back down. Bea came down with another horrible cold on Mothers day – by far her worst yet, she actually had her first temperature and was thick with snot for the best part of 2 weeks. That meant after 2 nights of sleeping through again after the crawling settled, we were back to being up several times a night. After having moved her out in to the nursery we set up the travel cot in our room again as I couldn’t cope with getting up so many times to the nursery and we fell into co-sleeping habits to allow for soothing feeding back to sleep and a bit more shut eye for me. At the end of month 8 and unfortunately with me now back at work, things were better but not massively and we’re still up 2-3 times a night. :/
Since then, Bea has got a whole lot busier. She is speeding around the room, following me out of the rooms and into other rooms, like a little shadow. She’s interested in everything except the toys you place in front of her, particularly wires, dirty shoes, ornaments and every hazardous item I fail to remove in advance of her roving crawl!
So how are things with you mama’s out there? Have a lovely weekend everyone!
*Warning, if you’re not a mother or not Breastfeeding, you may not enjoy this post! But it’s a normal thing to do, so I’m not holding back on talking about it here.
A few people have asked what I’m doing about feeding now I’m back at work. I’ll share my situation here but each situation when it comes to breastfeeding is as unique as the mother and child combination, so I would love if you would share your experiences and solutions in the comments if you can add to the conversation – I know many readers will be interested and grateful.
Bea is exclusively breastfed and has been since birth. She’s never had any formula as we have been lucky enough not to need it. I’ve not spent a lot of time apart from her and expressing doesn’t bother me that much, apart from it being a bit of faff. We have only infrequently given her bottles, (the bulk of my expressing here and there went in the freezer to bolster my back to work supplies,) mainly when I went to evening practice meetings each month for work. Apart from a brief period around the 4 month mark when she wouldn’t take a bottle, she has taken it when she wants milk, but not in the same enthusiastic way she would breastfeed. We initially started with a Medela calma teat (which is supposed to require the latch a baby needs to breastfeed, to get any milk out of it,) but switched to a slow flow normal teat when she was a bit fussier with a bottle, as I felt if she could taste the milk she might then take the bottle. It worked, but I don’t know if that was just the passage of time rather than the change of teat.
So back to my back to work plan… I’ve kept a close eye on Bea’s feeds since she was born, but continued to track them well after BF was established, mainly to see what I would need to provide for her once back at work. I’ve been asked how I tried to reduce her feeds and I didn’t really try, but two things probably had the greatest impact. Firstly, I didn’t push her to feed generally as she got older and so noticed that she went longer between feeds. That might sound like straight forward demand feeding, but I noticed myself that even though she was fed on demand, you do get into a routine of feeding when you expect they will need feeding rather than waiting for them to be hungry or cry. On occasions where it went a bit longer and I realised she didn’t need a feed until 2.5 or 3 hours after the last one, I tried to adjust things going forwards. Secondly, as she got older and consolidated her three short naps into 2 longer ones (around 6-7 months) that stretched out the feeds again (as she went down for a nap not long before she would normally feed and then I fed her on waking, after more time had elapsed.) Weaning also stretched things out a little more, but it hasn’t made a massive difference really, the meals have just had to be shoehorned in between the feeds.
On the expressing front, as I said, I have stockpiled quite a bit in the freezer (as you can see from my photo’s!) which should also give you an idea of how much milk varies – even on frozen portions you can see how the milk changes in consistency and amount day to day, which I thought might be useful to show if its something that worried you. I was very worried about expressing at work as I have always got the most milk, quickest, by expressing on one side when Bea feeds from the other, I think the let-down is stronger that way. When I have occasionally tried when Bea isn’t even around, its been much slower going and less productive, so I was worried if it would work when I was away from her and back at work. Having done it for the first time yesterday (I didn’t get time on my first day back!) I’m happy to report it was easy! I managed a full bottle easily which is great as I can then use that on friday when I’m back in work again. I’m also lucky that I have my own room at work so I have simply let the staff and my colleagues know I am still feeding Bea and will need to express at some point when I’m at work (so they know why there’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,) and lock the door for privacy.
At the moment, Bea is having 4 feeds a day; Morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap and before bed. (She’s 8 months but has done this since about 7 months.) Although when she is with me that varies – if she’s distracted at one feed and doesn’t have much she might have one or two more smaller feeds throughout the day, as and when she needs it. So I’m feeding her before work and before bed, and leaving 2 bottles. The only thing that is a bit hit and miss is how much she takes, or what I should be leaving her. Obviously I have no idea how much she takes from me, but I leave 2 full bottles and so far, it’s varied how much she has taken and how often. Sometimes she wolfs a whole bottle (we use the small 150ml ones) and other times she’ll have only a bit and want more later when she wouldn’t normally have a bottle. And there’s always more in the freezer, but obviously at this point, she is having 3 meals a day too.
I did a lot of asking around before getting to this point because feeding her back at work really worried me – mainly that I could get her feeds down to a level that I could keep up with to express enough for her. A lot of mums suggested just going to formula, and although I didn’t want to do that*, I knew if it was coming down to her nutritional needs and me not being able to meet them, then I’d have to do it. Others said their babies just didn’t take a bottle and some moved to giving small amounts in a sippy cup or doidy cup if the baby would take it. Other still said the baby jut waited for them to get back and fed more in the evening (and sometimes at night :/ ) and had just water in the day. So I guess there’s a solution for everyone.
And that’s it, our story. I’ll post a little update when I share more about being back to work, and see what Bea is doing then. I’m hoping as my freezer supply dwindles she may drop another feed and the expressing will take even less effort!
Please do chip in with your experiences readers!
*Just to clarify, I have NOTHING against formula, I just haven’t felt we’ve needed it so far and because BF is all about supply and demand, especially at this time when supply is naturally decreasing due to reduced feeds, I didn’t want to affect it further. I hope to keep feeding Bea at least until she is one and beyond if she wants it, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the chances of that happening at this early stage.
I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.
A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.
Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.
I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.
I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.
I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.
So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.
*Before reading on, please know I am not an expert on the subject my any means, but it can be confusing starting out ‘babywearing’ and having recently done a lot of research I simply wanted to share all my new found knowledge in one place here.
Before I had Bea, I had certain intentions – having a baby ‘wasn’t going to change my life’, where I went or what I did. I had decided I’d buy a baby carrier of sorts and our Ergo360 was an early purchase when she was 3 weeks old. Not long after I bought a stretchy wrap, so I could wear her around the house – keeping her close kept her happy and giving me my hands back. I heard a bit about ‘babywearing’ during my research into both of these but it’s become such a big part of our lives now and ignites so much curiosity among other parents and passers by when I have her wrapped that I thought I’d share a bit more of my experiences.
Firstly, what is ‘babywearing’? Well, it is what it says on the tin. Wearing your baby on your front, hip or back in a structured carrier, stretchy wrap or woven wrap (both sometimes called slings.) Why would you do it? Loads of reasons! I started wearing Bea in the stretchy at around 4-6 weeks (you can babywear from birth with the right carrier and knowledge,) when she went through a fussy phase and I needed to get my hands back to do things around the house. I found the Ergo too bulky around the house and couldn’t really sit in it, wheras the sling was just like hands free carrying. Fans of BW say wraps are ‘full of sleepy dust’ and mine rivals any other means of getting her to sleep, even the pram and car. I can also keep it on when we get back from a walk and she has just dropped off, or transfer her to the cot. Now she’s getting older and more mobile, it’s a lifesaver for that 5 o’clock meltdown period of tiredness pre-dinner. I can simply put her in the sling while I cook and she’s happy. Bea hasn’t got teeth yet but other babywearing mama’s say it’s a godsend for the fussy, clingy, teething baby or unwell child and you can even discreetly breastfeed in stretchy or woven wraps while you’re on the go. Going back even further, historically babies have been carried for thousands of years in many cultures, keeping them safe and secure and it’s now a big part of the attachment parenting movement to increase bonding between caregiver and child.
For me, going back to my original sentences in this post, it’s also given me a huge amount of freedom. I think few new parents think when they research that pram purchase endlessly that it can actually be really restrictive travelling anywhere with a pram. They’re huge, heavy, unweildy and often prevent you doing the most basic things like shopping between clothes rails or down jammed supermarket aisles, walking off pavemented paths, getting through doors and up steps, or on public transport. Even lugging our pram in and out of the boot is a hassle. With my wrap, I can take Bea anywhere my legs will carry me and keep her out of harms way in public places or give her a place to nap when we’re on the move. She’s interacting with me, seeing the world at my height and feels secure. I’m kind of evangelical about it.
I’m focusing here on wrapping with a woven wrap – essentially a long piece of fabric that you can wrap in different ways to carry your baby in. You can carry your baby on your front, hip or back, from birth (when you know how,) for as long as you feel able, though most people stop around 2-3 years. If you think baby wearing might be for you, or like me, you want to keep wearing but are outgrowing your stretchy wrap, read on!
A great first port of call if you’re interested in baby wearing is your local sling library or sling meet – just google one in your area or look for one on the Sling Library site. They all stock a range of different types (not just woven wraps) of carrier that you can try and hire, along with friendly advice from experienced baby wearers.
What to look for in a wrap
There are MANY different wraps available and I’ll direct you to some stockists and highlight some brands in a moment, but first there are a few factors common to all wraps that you should consider.
Firstly, the blend, or what the wrap is made of. Wraps can be made from 100% cotton (the most common,) or a combination of fibres, like linen, wool, silk or even mohair, alpaca and baby camel! Different fibres give different qualities like softness, warmth or affect how easy it is to use, making it grippy, or adding some stretch.
Wraps also come in a variety of sizes. What size you need depends on your size and the size of your wrapee too, and affects what you can do with it – some of the many possible carries need more length whereas others are better with a short wrap. An average sized person usually starts with a 6, then as you learn you can decide if a shorter one is right for you but there’s nothing to stop you starting with a short wrap, you’re just a bit more limited with what you can do with it. This is a great blog post on choosing your wrap size. Oscha also has a sizing table showing what you can do with each wrap size according to your size.
Care. Baby wraps are first and foremost practical items. Your baby might soil the wrap in a myriad of ways, you might drag it on the floor or want to put it on in a muddy car park. Cotton and/or linen wraps can usually be machine washed and tumble dried. This doesn’t apply to silk or wool and other blends, which need hand washing and may be more delicate. The weave can also affect the wraps susceptibility to getting pulls from jewellery or velcro. Think about how careful you can realistically be when you’re choosing your wrap. Another great blog post on how to choose your first woven wrap.
Style. I was determined after months of wearing a hideous beige stretchy (that I bought because it was cheap and I didn’t know if we would like or use it) that I wanted a beautiful wrap this time and set about looking for one. I’ve always associated woven wraps with being a bit hippyish in rainbow weaves or faded dyes but there’s loads more designs and patterns out there in fact, from stripes to stars to intricate ethnic inspired designs right through to modern geometric ones. Just make sure you have a think about the points above before choosing style over substance.
The most important thing is to buy something you love, as if you love it you will use it and that is what will make you get on well with BW – practise!
So where can you buy a woven wrap?
Obviously, online. Many of the brands are european and BW is big in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. UK stockists of several brands I sugesst as starters include Love to be Natural and Pour La Bebe (Yaro stockists.)
Great brands to look at for starting out include Didymos, Lenny Lamb, Elleville, Firespiral and Yaro – all well priced wraps. Other well known ones include Girasol, Kokadi, Hoppediz and many more!
Like anything, there’s also a high end market for woven wraps with stylish designs and luxury fabric blends. My favourites are Oscha, Woven Wings and Sling Studio, but there are also many more including Pavo, Uppymamma and one of the most highly sought after, Artipoppe. With all wraps, but more so the high end brands, many are limited edition. There is an obsessive baby wearing community and many releases are snapped up within seconds of them being stocked online so they can be very hard to come by. Yaro slings can be bought for around £40, average prices for middle market are around £70-100 and the high end wraps can cost from £120+ – of course, the blend also affects the price, 100% cotton is always cheapest.
Which leads me to the second way you can buy – preloved. Woven wraps if treated properly can last a very long time so are often sold on. Because wraps often sell out very quickly they can be very hard to get hold of and become highly sought after, priced way above retail value, which is a little bit crazy at times. If you do want to delve into this world, there are fan pages for many of the brands where people buy, sell and trade their used (or sometimes new) wraps. Look on ebay, Facebook fan pages, or there are a couple of dedicated marketplaces on Facebook – BabyWearing FSOT and High End Babywearing FSOT. As with any unregulated online transaction though, take care. Use paypal for some buyer protection and ask to see the wrap in the sellers hand to make sure they have it to sell. It pays to hang around the boards seeing how people do it for a while before taking the plunge. The upside of all this selling and trading means you can often sell a wrap on if you don’t get on with it and trade up or just try something else out.
Once you’ve got your wrap, what next?
First up, your wrap if it is new or has been washed before being sent to you preloved, will need breaking in. If you feel it’s stiff or difficult to wrap with, PERSIST! When I recieved my first woven wrap (a size 6 Oscha) I was completely overwhelmed by how much fabric there was. A lot of sweating and tugging fabric into place, fear I’d drop Bea or frustration that I couldn’t reach, drag it into place, or get it tight ensued. I’d say it only took a few attempts before I felt more more confident and I still get better every time I wrap her. The wrap was also fresh out of the wash and softened up brilliantly in a couple of weeks.
As I said above, sling libraries are great for advice although you won’t be able to get 1 to 1 wrapping demo’s as they’re often busy. You can often pay for a consultancy session 1 to 1 if you feel that would be good and I think if you plan to BW a lot it would be a worthwhile investment. However there are huge amounts of tutorials online and BW bloggers. Most people start with a FWCC (front wrap cross carry) and I’ve linked here to a tutorial on how to do that carry by my favourite three youtube baby wearers: Wrap You In Love (above), Baby Wearing Faith and Wrapping Rachel. These are just some of the very experienced baby wearing women out there and it’s worth watching lots of them as they all have little tricks that can help!
And practice! Practice at home, wear your baby round the house, use a mirror to see what you’re doing and pick a time when your baby isn’t grouchy or hungry. Giving them a toy to play with if they’re big enough helps distract them. I now have 3 wraps, a size 6, a 3 and a 4. An Oscha and 2 Woven Wings. 1 silk and cotton blend and 2 merino wool and cotton blend. I’m still getting to grips with different carries, putting Bea on my back and the different lengths and blends but it’s been liberating and fun and satisfying learning how to wrap and keeping her close. I’ll certainly be doing it for a long time yet
I hope if you were curious this has answered some of your questions – feel free to fire more at me and if you’ve thought of trying BW, don’t let anything stop you. I love it