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The High Back Carry in a Buckle Carrier (with Video Tutorial)

19 Jun

Recently, there’s been a bit of a surge in popularity in the online babywearing community of wearing SSCs and buckle carriers in a “high back carry.”  To be honest, I’m in the camp of “Use the structured waist of the ssc the way it was intended to be used…to distribute weight to the wearers hips (on short torsoed people, this may be higher but still around the waist), with the weight of the baby being taken off the shoulders by loosening the shoulder straps enough to allow baby’s weight to really fall down into that supportive structure of the waist.” (whew! that was a mouthful!)

There are definitely those who prefer the feel of the high back carry, and many older babies and toddlers like it, as they can see over their caregivers’ shoulders.  However, often, when I see buckle carriers with structured waists used to achieve this carry, we run into a couple of issues…

1. You’re losing all of the support that the structured waist is supposed to give (and that you pay for!) in those types of buckle carriers.

2. Since you’re not using the structured waist to distribute baby’s weight, the weight should be distributed by pulling baby in close.  Since you may not be able to cinch the straps in tight enough to really get that nice high and tight fit, you may be distributing all of baby’s weight from your shoulders!

2. In some SSCs (or on some body types) buckling that structured waist so far up creates a giant pocket of fabric and baby doesn’t fill the entire body of the carrier from top to bottom, but rather sits in a fold of fabric at the middle of the carrier body.  This means that the body panel may be too low on baby’s back and too loose (allowing baby or toddler to lean back and definitely not supportive for the wearer).

Now for the good news…

If you DO like the feel of a high and tight back carry, there are carriers perfectly suited for that! They are wraps, mei tais, and even buckle mei tais like the Catbird Baby Pikkolo!

Check out my newest video tutorial to show how I get a high back carry with my toddler in the buckle carrier I believe is really SUPER at the high back carry!

 

 

Tweak of the Week: Buckle Carrier Back Carry

15 Feb

Getting your baby onto your back is one of the most freeing moments in babywearing!  Not only is a back carry most ergonomic for you, once baby approaches the 20 lb. mark and beyond, but this is when you truly get to be “hands free.”

Safety Note: Generally speaking, back carrying in a buckle carrier or SSC is recommended when baby is old enough to sit up unassisted.  Also, at first, practice in front of a mirror, if possible, over a SOFT surface and WITH a spotter!  This will ensure everyone stays safe and happy.  If baby is not into it and is bucking and fighting, try again at another time. 🙂

Your first back carry can be a bit daunting.  In this video below, I am using my Catbird Baby Pikkolo carrier (though the method is similar for any buckle/SSC carrier, except with others you would buckle the structured waist belt around you with the structured waist sitting on top of your hip area and the body of the carrier flopping down from the top of the structured waist belt).  First, I show a classic back carry with the carrier hanging down from your back, baby is scooted around (using the “hip scoot” method) and the carrier is brought up from between her legs and over her back.  After that carry, I demonstrate a carry in which you bring baby AND the carrier around with you.  This method is better for the beginner, because you can secure baby as you bring the carrier around and there is less to worry about…though it does tend to move your clothes around with you as you move baby in the carrier from your hip to your back.

Enjoy!

Catbird Baby Babywearing Essentials Mei Tai Review

16 Oct

Oh, Catbird Baby Mei Tai, where have you been all of my “wearing” life? LOL.  Everyone knows I’m a HUGE fan of the Pikkolo, but while I’ve used the Catbird Baby Babywearing Essentials Mei Tai every now and again, I never really gave it a good “wear”…until the other day.  Wow!  For such an affordable mei tai, this baby is comfy as all heck.  (as you can see by baby who fell asleep in less than 5 minutes of wearing…)

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First of all, though the canvas is sturdy and so supportive, the brushed nature gives the fabric a soft and squishy feel.  The wide straps are lightly padded and form so nicely on your shoulders (and allow you to fold them in a back carry if, like me, you have narrow shoulders and only prefer the wide straps in a front carry).

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The nice wide feeling of the straps and the fact that they are lightly padded but not overly-so means that they lay very comfortably as they cross on your back, as well, spreading generously and distributing baby’s weight with amazing comfort.

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Headrest? No headrest? It’s really a matter of personal opinion, but Catbird Baby Babywearing Essentials mei tais give you the best of both worlds with a small, supportive headrest piece that can be flipped up for down, depending on your and baby’s needs.  I tend to flip it down (as pictured) when baby is awake so that she can see around, and then flip up when she’s asleep ( as in the first picture).

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Another reason I’m loving the CBB mei tais (call me vain) is the wonderfully wide waist belt area that tends to cover up the post-pregnancy fluff/muffin-top without creating bulging areas from digging or rope-like straps.

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I don’t have a picture, but I’ve used it with my petite 4 year old in a back carry, and I’m still in love.  The long body means it can fit itty bitties all the way through the long and tall toddler years.  The wide body is also able to be squished for smaller leg spreads and even has an attached elastic band to help with narrowing the width if general “squishing” is too wide for your babe.

The Catbird Baby Babywearing Essentials Mei Tai was previously only available (and still is…) in 3 solid colors (Spring, Earth, and Sunset).  QuirkyBaby, however, now offers the same great design and structure of the Essentials Mei Tai in select prints, too!  Try one out today!  You won’t be sorry.

And next on the list for trying out with a newborn… the lillebaby COMPLETE!

2 Aug

Since having little Miss S., I’ve been primarily ring slinging or wrapping her.  My other go-to carrier (and my hubby’s fav!) has been our Catbird Baby Pikkolo (see previous blog for more about the Pikkolo with a newborn).  Now that she’s a bit bigger and has some head/trunk control, I’ve been trying out some other buckle carriers with the little lady.  We really enjoyed the lillebaby COMPLETE Airflow one hot afternoon.  Click the picture below for all of the reasons why!

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Catbird Baby Pikkolo – My top buckle carrier choice for newborns!

12 Jul

I have a lot of love for my Pikkolo!  It was my very first carrier purchase (from QuirkyBaby, no less) in 2009 when my first daughter was only 2 weeks old.

When my older daughter was tiny, I tried using it with the base wide, like a mei tai, and with her legs “froggied” inside, but she really didn’t like that!  (Some babies do, some don’t.  My kiddos have been those who “don’t” lol!) So, I ended up using one of the best features of the Pikkolo from the get go – the adjustable base!  Unlike other buckle carriers that can be snapped to a narrow base position, the Pikkolo allows you to adjust the base to custom fit your baby’s spread-squat position.  As baby grows, you can continue to widen it, as needed, until baby is ready for the full width of the carrier.

With my new little squish, I had the opportunity to really try every carrier designed to “snap down” for newborns, and I can honestly say that the Pikkolo is my favorite choice.  To be honest, I typically carry daughter #2 in wraps and ring slings, as you can adjust them to the exact size and shape of any size newborn, baby, or older child.  However, if I’m going to use something quick and easy and want to grab a buckle carrier, I’m grabbing my Pikkolo!

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What I found when trying out the other buckle carriers in the “newborn” position, was that, though her legs were “out” of the carrier, they did not fully support her knees in the position we’re really striving for – knees above bum (think of an M shape).  In fact, as she is so tiny and that M-shape position is so important, I found that I was more likely to widen the bases on the other carriers and try to achieve that position with her legs still in the carriers, rather than snap them to the narrow position and allow her legs to dangle.   The Pikkolo, however, allowed me to adjust the base of the carrier to her exact knee to knee width.  Also, since it does not need the structured support belt until later on, it buckles on and forms a nice deep pocket for baby’s bum.  The scoop of that pocket, along with the custom width supporting her knees, allowed me to really get her in that “knees bent and higher than bum” position. (For reference, dd is 4 weeks old and a little over 8 lbs. in picture.)

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Another reason I generally choose wraps and ring slings for newborns with no head control is because buckle carriers and mei tais often create a curved opening at the top where baby’s head is. As long as I’m vigilant and make sure that baby’s head is not slumping forward in a chin to chest position, it’s fine, but not ideal.  However, with the Pikkolo, because of the wide memory-foam straps, I’m able to spread the shoulder straps out toward my arms and mold to the curve of my shoulders, which brings the top of the carrier in and holds her head much better against my chest. (see picture above)

Some other features I really love about the Pikkolo are the lack of the waist belt (until you want or need it for more support), which allows me wear the carrier high on my body, as well as sit down comfortably with nothing digging into my lap; the crossable shoulder straps to distribute weight across my back and shoulders; and the VERY easy-to-adjust dual adjustable buckles that make lowering little one down to nurse a breeze!

For all of these reasons (and, yes, maybe with a little bias since it WAS my first carrier), the Catbird Baby Pikkolo is my top choice for a buckle carrier to use during the newborn days…and beyond!

Tweak of the Week #5 – Threading Your Pikkolo Support Belt

29 May

I’ve met up with a few mamas who had some trouble figuring out how to thread the separate waist support belt onto their Catbird Baby Pikkolo carriers. So… when my darling husband took my daughter grocery shopping last night so that I could get a little rest (baby #2 due in just a few weeks!), I decided to make a little video to try to help figure it out. Had to shoot the video one-handed, so please excuse the slight shakiness.

Tweak of the Week #3 – Mei Tais

3 Apr

Doing my best with the growing belly in the way (and pregnancy brain making me flub my words a bit!), but here are some tips to adjusting the length of your mei tai or buckle mei tai.

Enjoy!

Breastfeeding & Babywearing: About nursing in a carrier…

4 Mar

breastfeeding in a carrier

Can I nurse in this carrier? Which carrier is best for breastfeeding? Can I be hands-free while nursing? These are very common questions I hear, so let’s tackle them…

Can I nurse in this carrier?

For sure, most baby carriers are absolutely able to be used for nursing. There is a caveat I always share, though. Anyone who has ever been a new nursing mama will admit that those first few days, weeks, maybe even the first couple months of nursing were a learning process for both mama and baby. Likewise, any babywearer can try to remember back to her first times using a baby carrier with a floppy baby…and it was also a learning process! Both of these are skills that take time and patience to develop, so I ALWAYS recommend feeling confident in each skill separately before trying to combine them. In fact, nursing the newborn in a carrier can be extra tricky because they have no head control, which can complicate things in terms of your ease and comfort, as well as safety. When breastfeeding the newborn, as well as when wearing the newborn in a baby carrier, mamas should be completely aware of baby’s comfort and breathing. This can be especially difficult when trying to do both at the same time. However, if both skills are worked on separately, when it’s finally time to combine them, baby is usually a bit older, with more head control, and mama and baby are both usually a bit more comfortable with the ins and outs of their breastfeeding relationship. This is a great time to work on nursing in your carrier. Another important consideration in terms of ease of nursing in a carrier is the clothing you’re wearing. Nursing clothing, or clothing that allows you to access your breast without pulling up your shirt (so v-neck, scoop-necks, etc., where you can just access the breast from the top) will make life so much easier.

Which carrier is best for breastfeeding?

Which carrier is best for wearing and/or breastfeeding really is a matter of personal preference. There are so many factors like the physical build of the wearer, age/stage of baby, and just one’s own preference for a “feel” of a carrier. Most carriers can be used for nursing, with the exception being carriers that have a panel between mama and baby, which might make nursing difficult. Many of us who have nursed our children find that we “learned” to breastfeed with baby in a cradle position in our arms. Wraps and ring slings can support this semi-reclined position, if desired, though one has to be a bit more cautious in that cradle position, making sure that fabric behind baby’s head is not forcing baby into a chin-to-chest position (which can interfere with baby’s breathing, whether breastfeeding or not) or forcing baby into the breast , AND remember to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS monitor baby and return to an upright position when baby is done nursing. There has been so much development in the world of “baby” (specifically in Kangaroo Care and Breastfeeding) in the past few years, and we now know that most babies naturally orient themselves vertically, between the breasts…think biological nursing, laid back breastfeeding, the breast crawl, skin-to-skin kangaroo care, etc. So, MANY mamas (including myself) have found that we actually have more success breastfeeding baby in an upright position (added perk – it helps vary your nursing positions to work the less-used milk ducts in your breasts). This can be done in any carrier that allows upright, tummy-to-tummy positioning, and mei tais and buckle carriers can make it especially easy since you can just loosen up, lower baby down, and then re-tighten baby at breast level. When baby finishes, again, you need to return them to the higher, upright position.

I LIVED in my Catbird Baby Pikkolo when my daughter was a baby, because I loved how easy it was with the dual-adjusting buckles to lower her down and then tighten her back up again, not to mention the fact that I could use it without the structured waist belt meant that there was nothing digging into me if I were nursing in the Pikkolo while sitting down. Again, it’s still important to monitor baby while nursing him/her, and this position is best when baby has good head control. If you have particularly large breasts, any carrier might be tricky to nurse in, and you might prefer a stretchy or woven wrap where you can pop baby out for nursing, but use the “x” of the fabric to help with discretion, if that’s important to you.

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A Note on Discretion While Nursing

Ring slings are often recommended for nursing b/c the tail allows for “discreet breastfeeding.” Besides my own opinion that we need to make nursing in public more socially acceptable and you shouldn’t feel the “need” to cover up for others, some mamas prefer to be discreet for their own comfort. When baby is new and you’re both learning to breastfeed, it makes more sense to NOT try and cover up. You really need to see what you and baby’s mouth and airway are doing. If discretion is important to you, it’s probably better to practice at this point in a private place, rather than try to cover up. If you’re a more competent/confident nursing mama, nursing in a carrier can be discreet but you still should NOT attempt to cover baby’s face while he/she is nursing. Many babies actually hate being covered up, but it can also prohibit good airflow, make for a hot, uncomfortable experience for both mom and baby, or hinder breathing. I hear ring sling tails often being described as “wonderful for covering up while breastfeeding.” For your own peace of mind and for baby’s safety, please do not cover baby’s face (while breastfeeding, or while wearing).

Alternatives for nursing discreetly in a carrier:

  • Pull up the edges of the carrier to cover up a bit.
  • You can use the tail of the ring sling or fabric from a wrap to cover over the top of the breast, but, again, not covering baby’s face.
  • Carriers with head rests can allow you to have some privacy, but still be able to look down and monitor baby.
  • Hoods used for discretion while nursing can be attached in a diagonal position, which will make you both a little cooler and allow for some airflow, as well as letting you see baby’s face and nursing position.

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What about “hands-free” breastfeeding?

I don’t know about you… but, I was never able to be “hands-free” when nursing my daughter in my carrier. I always needed one hand to support the breast while she nursed. I’ve actually heard this from a lot of mamas, so I know I’m not alone. Being hands-free while nursing was a promise of baby carriers that was really appealing to mamas a few years back, but most people who have experience nursing in carriers and most babywearing educators will tell you that very few people are actually able to be completely hands-free. It’s completely normal if you are not able to magically breastfeed baby in the carrier and have both of your hands free for something else. One hand free is usually quite helpful, even if the other hand is helping to support breast or baby.  Also, again on a safety note, being “hands-free” or “one-hand-free” while nursing does not mean that you are free of monitoring baby while he/she nurses. It is always important to know how baby is doing and pay attention to his/her breathing and behavior when breastfeeding in the carrier.  If you’re still nursing your toddler in your carrier, you might actually get lucky and finally achieve “hands-free” nursing if he/she helps out a little by supporting the breast on his/her own!

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Remember: Being able to breastfeed in your carrier is a fabulous perk of wearing your baby, and wearing your baby PROMOTES breastfeeding!  I hope the information I’ve shared helps moms and their babes do this comfortably and safely.

For more information and individualized help with breastfeeding and babywearing, try reaching out to your local babywearing educator, consultant, or babywearing group.

How was your experience breastfeeding in a baby carrier? Any stories or suggestions to share? Leave a comment! 🙂

Introducing Tweak of the Week!

29 Jan

It’s been in the works for a while, and I finally got my new webcam to replace my broken one… so now here it is! The idea behind “tweak of the week” comes from the most common troubleshooting topics I encounter when helping parents with their carriers as well as my own experience finding ways to make my carriers work better for me. So, without further adieu, here’s my first tweak for buckle carriers/SSCs complete with baby bump:

YOU are a Baby Carrier!

4 Oct

You know, this past summer I attended the International Babywearing Conference in D.C. It was such a great experience to be among “my people”! In a session called “Practice, Not Product,” we were discussing different baby carriers, the tendency for those in the babywearing world to talk about one type being better than another, etc. For many of us, baby carriers are like pairs of jeans. Each type or brand will fit each person’s body and tastes differently. There is no one “best baby carrier.” There are so many! Some people prefer buckle carriers, some prefer the feel of fabric in a wrap or mei tai. Some people (like myself!) LOVE a ring sling, some have never been able to get the right feel. As a babywearing retailer and as a babywearing educator, my goal is to help you find the carrier that suits your individual needs best, or work with a carrier you have to get the best out of your babywearing experience.

It was in this session that I had an “Aha!” moment… Having studied human development, I believe in the importance of holding your baby. Maybe not all the time, but certainly a lot. I believe babies come into this world expecting to be held, soothed, nurtured, and kept close. It was only a recent development in the span of human existence (the Victorian era wasn’t that long ago, when you consider all time) that we decided children should be separate from us and independent from the get-go. Those wonderful scientists who devoted their lives to studying the development of the human mind and body (and who I had to read again and again in college!) found that children need be dependent before they can be independent. They need to feel comforted, before they can learn to comfort. We nurture them now, because we want them to grow into amazing human beings who will feel it’s important to care about others and the world around them. And then it hit me… WE are baby carriers!

We were given these fabulous things called hands and arms to take care of the child’s expectation to be touched and held. Without any device, you are a carrier. So, a baby carrier, as a product, is just a tool that allows us to use those other things called hands and arms to do the gazillion other things we need to do as parents these days, while still meeting that basic need. We know that when we fulfill the most basic needs on the pyramid, children are free to grow in every other area, cognitive (smarts!) and social-emotional (feelings). We come fully-equipped to carry our babies in our arms. Sometimes, we need some help…sometimes, we need our hands! Let QuirkyBaby help you find a carrier to match you and your baby’s needs.

I carried my daughter for 41 weeks…
Pre-Baby

We carried her from the moment she was born…
New Baby

Daddy Hugs

Found our “tools”…
Pikkolo

Daddy, Baby, and Boba

And are still carrying her today!
Maya snuggles