Babywearing, Society and Soul Slings

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“Babywearing” is one of the best ways to carry your baby, in my opinion.

I knew I wanted to babywear even before I was pregnant. I loved the idea of being able to hold my baby so close to me without tiring myself out – and while keeping my arms free.

When I was pregnant, I also went shopping for a buggy, but couldn’t find a single buggy that felt small, light and comfortable enough. (I also couldn’t imagine making my dogs heel alongside a buggy. And as I walk dogs for a living, folding a buggy in and out of the car numerous times per day on my dog walks would have been really inconvenient).

Wearing Baby Ro

I wore baby Ro from week one of his life. He was very tiny at birth and so it was not easy to wear him without swallowing him up in fabric, but we started off with a kanga wrap, caboo, homemade saree wraps and finally moved onto full buckle slings.

Bonding

If mothers choose to breastfeed and co-sleep bonding’s not usually a problem. But babywearing is an added bonus – and also makes it extremely easy for fathers and grandparents to bond with the baby.

Magic Sleep Dust

Once you find the right kind of sling, you will know that some of them are blessed with a magic sleep dust. As soon as you pop your baby in, he/she will cosy up and go to sleep.

Skin-to-skin:

Babywearing makes getting skin-to-skin time so much easier. In summer, when Ro would get fussy, the only thing that would calm him down would be some skin-to-skin and with chores to do, I couldn’t just lock myself up in a bedroom topless giving Ro cuddles. That is when wraps came handy. I have answered the door topless with just a baby snuggled up in a wrap. No one ever realised!

Love Hormone:

Cuddles are good for us. It helps the babies to regulate their stress levels. Babywearing lowers the blood pressure, soothes the baby easily and releases the love hormone called Oxytocin. Oxytocin makes both baby and mama feel happy and connected, making motherhood an even better experience.

Hands – Free:

I have two bigger children and two dogs, plus my dog walking business to look after. I need my hands free. With a sling, I was able to go back to my school run routine as soon as my baby-mooning period was over and I started my work immediately after a 40 day long hiatus. I could take care of chores while the baby slept in the sling. And these days he looks around, chatters away, and even eats a snack whilst in the sling.

Breastfeeding on the go:

Yes, you can breastfeed on the go when you babywear. It takes a bit of practice but with the right sling and the correct technique, it is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Society

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Once seen as entirely natural, babywearing was pushed aside by the advent of the pram (alongside Victorian mores) and came to be seen as a preserve of the poor and the indigenous. It’s now come full circle,thankfully.

When I expressed my desire to wear my baby, I was mocked by some of my Indian friends because as a child we grew up seeing beggars or street vendors carrying their infants in a sling made out of scrap piece of cloth. Even though strollers weren’t such a big thing in India (partly due to the lack of space), babywearing wasn’t a go-to option either.

Detachment parenting, cry it out methods, supernanny and stroller companies all curbed babywearing. But attachment parenting and acceptance of instinctual parenting have paved the way for its return.

I think babywearing helps raise babies into secure and confident beings They say that babies who are raised with attachment parenting as an ethos, are less likely to succumb to substance abuse. I think that is amazing!

There are several myths about babywearing in our society that are genuinely untrue:

  1. Babies will get spoilt: Not true. Babies who are carried a lot, are less fussy, less needy and more confident. Babies who are carried have lesser reason to act out to get your attention.
  2. You will mess up your back: No you won’t. An ergonomically designed sling/wrap will help achieve a better posture if anything else and distribute baby weight across your torso and hips!
  3. Too big to be carried: Honestly, let the care-taker decide!
  4. You will delay crawling and walking: Not True! I carry my baby a lot. Probably 5 to 7 hours a day. Bonkers right? It has not prevented him from crawling at 10 months. His neck and trunk muscles developed strong enough to sit up at an appropriate age and crawl at the right time and at 12 months, he is already walking holding on to things.

 

Soul Slings Review:

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I have tried various slings and wraps to carry Baby Ro. It took me a while to find the right one and just when I found the one I thought I loved, Soul Slings sent me their Full Buckle SSC and I fell in love all over again.

Fabric:

Soul Slings full buckle carriers are made from woven cotton wraps. So they are very soft and they simply mould into your baby’s body perfectly.

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Light and Airy:

This was such a selling point for me. Most carriers available in the UK are very warming which is great for winter months but not so much during heat waves. As a dog walker, if the weather gets even slightly warm, it is easy to get hot. This is when a Soul full buckle feels perfectly breathable compared to the western makes, which can be slightly bulky.

Breastfeeding Friendly:

It is super simple to feed in Soul carriers. There’s an adjustment panel on both chest straps to lower the baby, to reach to an optimum position to feed without putting pressure on your shoulders and back. The hood helps in maintaining some privacy too.

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Back Carry:

In 11 months of babywearing Roshan, I truly never managed to carry him on my back. I always found it difficult for some reason with my other carriers. Maybe it was just that he was small and I was less confident or maybe it was the carrier. All I know is that Soul full buckles made it easy. The lightness of the carrier and the smooth glide of the adjustment buckles made it very easy to back carry Ro. It is super quick to do a back carry with this sling, which is essential because Ro starts fussing if I take too long to achieve the optimum position and comfort.

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Design:

The one I have is called the Topaz Jacquard Full Buckle. They have some amazing prints but I like their geometric patterns; the colour adds just the right amount of vibrancy and is nicely unisex.

The one they sent me is also quite versatile in terms of colour coding with your own outfit. It was one of the things we’d consider when spending on a carrier.

Ergonomics:

The soul carriers are made very ergonomically for both baby and the wearer. The babies achieve a good M-position in the carrier with their knees higher than their hips which is crucial for their optimum hip development.

The padded should straps provides comfort to the carrier and the waist belt helps distribute the weight across the body, thereby taking away pressure from the shoulders.

Sizing:

Soul Slings full buckles, in my experience, comes a bit bigger. They have a lot of give. The standard carrier is from 7kgs up. A lot of babies achieve 7kg by the age of 6 months but my Ro is a small baby. He was only 7.5 kgs, when he was 11 months old. So although he could only start using the standard Soul sling at 11 months, it has so much space for him to grow, I don’t think we would need the toddler size one (which is great).

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Easy to wash:

I found it super easy to wash the carrier. When you have a baby that enjoys his snacks on the go, your carrier ends up with all sort of sticky things on it. To wash it, I simply fastened all the buckles and popped it in a pillow case. I washed it on a gentle 30 degrees wash for an hour and air dried it. Ok, no I dried it on my electric dryer (as it rains a lot in England). But it was dry and ready to go overnight. Clean and fresh as a daisy.

Price: 

My sling costs Rs. 5,750 INR which is about £70 GBP. A standard full buckle costs anywhere from £60 to £120. So I think it is appropriately priced especially for me as I won’t need a toddler size at all. It is total value for money and a babywearing win!

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My only minor gripe is that the carrier doesn’t have a pocket – but I know that Soul Slings have started incorporating that into their latest design. 

All in all I love Soul Slings. It is my favourite so far. I highly recommend it. I think, Indian companies have nailed the art of making slings better than western countries in so many ways, it makes me proud.

 

Babywearing in Hot Weather

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For anyone who knows me and has been following me on instagram and what have you, I am rocking this babywearing thing like a pro! I might be addicted.

Babywearing is a really good way to bond with your baby. It makes them feel safe and hence keeps them calmer and best of all you can have your hands free to get on with some other things like laundry or blogging for that matter.

In winter it is a very good way to keeping yourself and the baby warm but what about summer time? Recently the weather has been very hot and humid. A lot of us have struggled babywearing. But my job involves walking dogs, there is no way I could push a pram and walk dogs. Sling is my only friend. So I came up with a few tricks to keep me and baby safe and cool in hot weather.

  1. Parasols: Shade is the best way to keep us from over-heating. But it isn’t always easy to find one. So make one!. Parasols are a great way to protect your scalp(easily forgotten) from the harsh sun light and UV rays. A normal parasol will do but then there are some special summer parasols available with UV protection too. You may appear a bit looney carrying an umbrella in summer but hey-ho it serves a purpose.
  2. Caps: My baby wears a cap all the time. I wear hats when not using parasols. We lose heat very easily from our head and we increase our chances of a sunstroke if we don’t protect our head from direct sunlight. So, use hats! They look cool too.
  3. Gel Ice Packs: My sling has a little pouch in it so I put a mini ice gel pack in it. It is a great way to keep the sling cool. And if you are using a wrap, there are so many layers in it, that you can hide an ice pack in there pretty easily. Having an ice pack is so nice in summer days, they are so multi-functional. You can use it to keep your picnic cool, apply them on your pressure points to cool down and also help soothe bruises when you kid fall off that slide at the park.
  4. Rose Water: I,personally find rose water very refreshing and cooling. I carry it everywhere with me for a quick spritz. I think it is also a good after-sun spritz. My 15 weeks old loves it when we apply rose water on his face.
  5. Water Wipes: Good old water wipes! They are so versatile in use. I give myself and my baby a quick wipe to cool ourselves down during our long walks on a sunny day.
  6. Less is more: For a babywearing mama and baby, less is more. Don’t layer up. Remember that the baby and the sling serves as an additional layer. Dress in natural fabrics like cotton, wear lighter shades and if you have a cloth nappy baby then don’t even bother with trousers for him. Just a vest or a t-shirt with cloth nappy would suffice.
  7. Sunscreen: Very important! Especially if you are applying, “less is more” in your dressing.
  8. Water: Stay hydrated! If you are breastfeeding, this is paramount. Your baby does not need water, your breastmilk is enough. But please make sure you stay hydrated. Your baby may have a lot of short drinks just like us they will get thirsty but NOT for water. Water is for mama, breastmilk is for the baba.

I hope the above tips are useful. Please stay safe and enjoy the sunshine.