Carry of the Week: Short Back Cross Carry

COTW for the week of August 12th is: Short Back Cross Carry (SBCC)

Our featured carry this week is Short Back Cross Carry (SBCC). As with Christina’s Ruckless last week, we are starting to work with some carries that will fall into the “advanced babywearing” category, so if a particular carry looks intimidating or you try it and quite get it right, don’t give up! It takes practice, and those of us who have successfully mastered this carry probably looked and felt just like you the first time we tried it!

SBCC is a back carry that can be done with a short wrap: size 2-4, depending on the size of the wearer and child, and what “finish” you choose (tied at shoulder or “candy cane” chest belt).

Safety: Stretchy/Knit Wraps (like the Moby) should not, under any circumstances, be used for back carries as their stretchy quality makes them unsafe for anything other than front and hip carries. Keep in mind that if this is your first time doing a back carry, or even this particular carry, you should have a spotter and/or practice over a soft surface such as a bed or a couch. You may even want to practice with a doll or stuffed animal first until you feel comfortable.

Short Back Cross Carry, Tied at Shoulder (TAS)

Short Back Cross Carry with a Candy Cane Chest Belt (CCCB)

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Carry Of The Week: Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry

COTW for the week of August 5th is: Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry

This week our carry of the week is Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry (CRBC). As we proceed with our Carry of the Week, we are starting to work with some carries that will fall into the “advanced babywearing” category, so if a particular carry looks intimidating or you try it and quite get it right, don’t give up! It takes practice, and those of us who have successfully mastered this carry probably looked and felt just like you the first time we tried it!

Christina’s Ruckless is a multi-layer back carry that can be an extremely comfortable carry for those who don’t like ruck straps. It is supportive and also a great solution for those leg-straightening babies and toddlers! It is fairly similar to Secure High Back Carry (SHBC), but doesn’t have a knot in the chest belt, so may be a little more comfortable for those bothered by that feature of SHBC.

Christina’s Ruckless can be completed using a size 4-6 wrap, depending on the size of the wearer and child. Please visit our Facebook Group Page for any questions or advice on this carry!

Safety: Stretchy/Knit Wraps (like the Moby) should not, under any circumstances, be used for back carries as their stretchy quality makes them unsafe for anything other than front and hip carries. Keep in mind that if this is your first time doing a back carry, or even this particular carry, you should have a spotter and/or practice over a soft surface such as a bed or a couch. You may even want to practice with a doll or stuffed animal first until you feel comfortable.

Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry

Christina’s Ruckless Back Carry

Part II of our WCRS Series: How does one get a Wrap Conversion Ring Sling?

Ok, so I am interested in a Wrap Conversion Ring Sling (WCRS), now where do I get one?!
There are essentially THREE ways to get a WCRS…

1. Buy a “Ready-Made” WCRS from an Online Retailer
Some “slingifiers” (seamstresses/small businesses that convert a woven wrap into a ring sling) sell ready-made wrap conversion ring slings directly on their websites in addition to their standard ring slings. There are also some online companies that carry ready-made WCRSs. A few to check out include Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP), Zanytoes, PAXbaby, and Sweetbottoms Baby.

Sleeping Baby Productions ready-made Easycare and Ellaroo WCRS (starting at $75 per WCRS): http://www.sleepingbaby.net/slingified.php

Zanytoes ready-made WCRS include Girasol and Storchenweige (from $95 per WCRS): http://zanytoes.net/category_19/Ready-Made-WCRS.htm

Sweetbottoms Baby carries ready-made Dolcino WCRS by Sleeping Baby Productions starting at $99 per WCRS): http://www.sweetbottomsbaby.com/Dolcino-Wrap-Conversion-Ring-Sling_p_2399.html

PAXBaby also carries a wide-variety of ready-made WCRS (starting at $98 per WCRS): http://shop.paxbaby.com/wrap-conversion-ring-sling/

2. Have a Woven Wrap “Converted” into a Custom-Made WCRS
Some babywearers will already have a woven wrap in their collection that they have selected for having made into a custom-made WCRS. Others will buy a short woven (size 2 or smaller) or “split” a wrap with another babywearer specifically for this purpose. Once you have the woven, you can then send it into the “slingifier” of your choice to have converted into a WCRS. Some of the more popular companies for having a wrap converted into a ring sling, including:

Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP): http://www.sleepingbaby.net
Zanytoes Ring Slings: http://www.zanytoes.net
Kalea Baby: http://www.kaleababy.com
Comfy Joey: http://www.comfyjoey.com
*each of the companies listed above meet the standards set forth by the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and have met the requirements necessary by the BCIA/ASTM to manufacture safe baby carriers.

What else do I need to know about having a custom WCRS made?
– It is important to know how long of a piece of woven wrap you need to have a WCRS made. SBP has a great calculator on their site for this purpose: http://www.sleepingbaby.net/wraps.php

– You will also want to consider what length of sling you are wanting…another great chart for sizing is available at SBP: http://www.sleepingbaby.net/size.php

– Another important consideration is what type of shoulder you will want your ring sling to have. Each conversion artist/slingifier has their own individual style or custom options. Some of the most popular shoulder styles are: pleated, gathered, and a hybrid pleated-gathered (which also includes SBP’s patented “Eesti” shoulder).

3. Buy a Used WCRS on an Online Buy/Sell/Trade Forum
A very popular way to obtain a WCRS is to buy a used one from another babywearer. Asking in your local babywearing group may turn up some options. Otherwise, there are a few online babywearing communities that have been created specifically for this purpose.

Facebook Groups
There are a few groups on Facebook for buying/selling and trading used baby carriers, including WCRSs (please be sure to closely review and abide by group rules upon joining!):
The Babywearing Swap: https://www.facebook.com/groups/177004382426666/#!/groups/thebabywearingswap/
Babywearing on a Budget: https://www.facebook.com/groups/177004382426666/#!/groups/156002947911287/

TheBabywearer.comA long-standing online babywearing community, TheBabywearer.com , also features a “For Sale or Trade” (FSOT) forum for individuals interested in buying and selling used baby carriers, including WCRSs. Upon registering/requesting membership at http://www.TheBabywearer.com, you will have access to these FSOT forums and can begin your search!

A WCRS is an excellent investment for your babywearing collection, however, please remember that if it does not fit into your budget (custom conversions average $30 to $75 (including shipping both ways) per sling), many of the “slingifiers” also offer affordable standard options that are a little more budget-friendly.

If a WCRS is simply outside your budget, please rest assured the standard fabrics available from most ring sling makers are more than adequate for babywearing; a slingified wrap is hardly a necessity for comfortable, safe babywearing!

Part I of our WCRS Series: What IS a WCRS / Wrap Conversion Ring Sling, anyhow??

RING SLING

A Wrap Conversion Ring Sling (WCRS) is a piece of woven wrap that has been cut and made into a ring sling. It combines the best of both worlds utilizing the amazing carrying qualities of a woven wrap with the ease and simplicity of a ring sling. They are appropriate for long-term wearing, from newborns through preschoolers, and many wearers find them more supportive than standard fabrics.

Woven wraps are popular for converting into ring slings because they are both beautiful and tend to be more supportive than cotton or linen typically would be. Because wraps are woven specifically for babywearing, with thick threads and a wide, open weave, they are very comfortable. Due to the way they’re woven, wraps also have a “give” to them that is harder to find in standard fabrics. Woven wraps vary greatly in thickness and support depending on the maker and colorway (the pattern or style of the wrap); there are a variety of fabric blends as well, including cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool, and bamboo blends. These qualities make for a wonderfully comfortable (and beautiful!) ring sling.

Although a WCRS is an ideal staple for all babywearing collections, if woven wraps/WCRS are outside your budget, please rest assured the standard fabrics available from most ring sling makers are more than adequate for babywearing; a slingified wrap is hardly a necessity for comfortable, safe babywearing!

Please watch for our upcoming post in this series about how to buy a WCRS and/or have a wrap converted into a WCRS, including different shoulder options, conversion artists, etc!

All About Mei Tais and Other Asian-Inspired Baby Carriers

Mei Tais, Podaegis (“Pod”), and Onbuhimos (“Onbu”)…these are all types of Asian-inspired baby carriers and offer babywearers some really amazing options for carrying their children on their front or back! They are perfect for newborns and are ideal for toddlerhood for back carries. In their simplest form, each of these carriers are essentially a rectangular cloth body with three different strap options depending on whether you will be using a Mei Tai, a Pod, or an Onbu.

Mei Tais are the most popular (and widely available) of the Asian-inspired carriers, so we will mostly discuss those. Information on Pods and Onbus can be found at the bottom of this post!

What is a Mei Tai?
“Mei Tais are a traditional Chinese baby carrier. In its very simplest form, a Mei Tai is a rectangular cloth body with straps coming off of each corner. Modern manufacturers have each developed their own take on this traditional design, so there is a wide variety of designs available…from wider panels, to padded straps, to custom creations made using woven wraps…the possibilities are endless for these amazingly functional and versatile baby carriers.
Mei Tais are most easily used for front and back carries (although they can be used for hip carries as well). Back carries can be done at varying heights (younger babies need a high back carry). They are easily transferred between wearers and provide a “custom” fit as they are tied onto the wearer and just live a woven wrap, adjust without buckles based on the wearer’s size.

Mei Tais are a good middle ground for someone who likes the custom fit that using a wrap offers but wants the speed and ease of a soft structured carrier.

MT

Types of Mei Tais
Mei tais can be loosely categorized by strap style, waist style, and body type:

Strap Styles:
• Wrap Style Straps: These straps are un-padded and are worn on the shoulders much like a wrap would be.
• Padded Straps: These straps have some amount of padding on the part of the strap that goes over the shoulder. The rest of the strap is the same width but without padding.
• Padded to Wrap Straps: Found primarily on wrap conversions, padded to wrap straps start with padded shoulders but fan out to wrap width. Bamberoo’s “Hybrid” straps, Ocah’s “Duo” and “Harmony” straps, and ObiMama’s “Kombi” and “Zen” straps fall into this category.
Waist Styles:
• Un-padded: No padding on the waist.
• Padded: Some level of padding on the waist; padding may only be as wide as the body or may extend somewhat around the curve of the waist.
• Structured: Some mei tai makers offer a more structured waist like those found on soft structured carriers. These often have buckles; carriers with a buckle waist and tie straps are often referred to as half buckles.

Body Types and Other Features:
• Material: Most wraps are made from natural fiber materials; straps and inner bodies are generally heavy material like canvas. Most have coverings of print fabric. Some manufactures offer Solarveil carriers and others offer Wrap Conversions (either the body or the entire mei tai made from a woven wrap).
• Size: Some manufacturers offer different body sizes such as infant, standard, or toddler – check the measurements provided by the maker or ask if you are unsure about sizing. Other brands come in one size that is intended for all age babies/toddlers (although no Mei Tai offers a perfect fit from newborn to preschooler). Mei Tai width measurements are taken across the top of the waist band; height is measured from the top of the waistband to the top of the center of the carrier (usually it is specified if this measurement does or doesn’t include the headrest).
• Hoods and Headrests: Many Mei Tais offer hoods and/or headrests that can be used to support a baby’s head as she sleeps. Some hoods can be tucked into the Mei Tai or removed when not in use. Some are flat style and others designed like a sweatshirt hood.
• Body Styles: Some Mei Tais have a flat, rectangular body. Others offer seat darts and/or contoured bodies. Seat darts allow for a deeper seat and will accommodate a larger child than a non-darted body of the same width. Some wearers find that a non-darted body provides a more snug fit than one with darts.”
– Mei Tai information from “Becoming Mamas”, http://www.becomingmamas.com/babywearing/mei-tais/

What is an Onbuhimo?
An Onbuimo or “Onbu” is very similar to a Mai Tai, but instead of both shoulder and waist straps, it has shoulder straps and a pair of rings at the waist. The straps go over the wearer’s shoulders, then through the rings.
Onbuhimo

What is a Podaegi?
A Podeagi, or “Pod”is a traditional Korean-inspired Asian baby carrier that is also similar to a Mei Tai. Unlike a Mei Tai, a Podaegi only has two straps, located at the top of the carrier. It can have either a large, blanket like body, or a narrower body similar to a Mei Tai in size. As a back carrier, the Pod is ideal for use with pregnant moms or moms who are still recovering from a c-section as there is not a waist strap and can be safely secured using the shoulder straps.
Podaegi

Stop by our Pinterest Boards for information on some brands of Mei Tais that are widely available:

…and for videos on how to use Mei Tais and other Asian-inspired baby carriers!!

Buying WAHM / Handmade Carriers: General Guidelines on What to Look For

Tucson Babywearers loves that you are choosing to keep your baby close, and understand that some carriers seem out of reach due to cost and attainability (for those on a budget), or want of a custom carrier (when many of the more popular custom carrier makers are booked solid!). Many babywearers turn to local, micro-businesses for these options (otherwise known as WAHMs (work-at-home-moms), and we just want to take a moment and provide you with some general guidelines on what to look for when considering a WAHM-made and/or handmade carrier.

From the highly-experienced admin team at Babywearing 102:
“There are many fantastic work at home moms (WAHMs) who make quality baby carriers, both on a small scale and a large scale. There are, however, certain things to look for from both a safety and a legal standpoint.

First and foremost, the maker should be completely transparent about the materials and construction used and be happy to answer all your questions. Please see Jan from Sleeping Baby Production’s site on what materials are safe (and unsafe) for use in carrier: http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/fabric.html

There are legal requirements a business owner must meet, whether he or she sells one ring sling or a thousand mei tais. The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) breaks down the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) requirements every carrier maker must meet here: http://www.babycarrierindustryalliance.org/content.php?r=174-Baby-Carrier-Manufacturing-101

Questions to Ask:
■ What materials do you use? What kind of rings do you use (if it is a ring sling/carrier with a ring waist)? How many rows of stitching do you use? Be aware that phrases like “100% cotton” are vague. Quilter’s cotton, for example, is not a recommended material to use in baby carriers. Fabric comes in various weights and quality– some may be safe, some may not. Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics. Ask how many layers are used. Ask what thread is used. Check the link above to Jan’s site to make sure the materials used are safe.

■ How is it constructed? In the case of mei tais and soft structured carriers, ask if the carrier is made with reinforced stitching/x-boxes and how much seam allowance they use. Ideally a carrier will have 1/2″ to 3/4″ minimum seam allowance on all seams with the body sunk into the waist 2″ and the shoulders sunk into the body 4-5″. Find out more about safe carrier construction and why x-boxes are important here: http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-to-choose-a-safe-mei-tai/10000000008833948/g.html

■ How long have you been making carriers? Please note that just because someone is new doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing. However, some WAHMs have been doing this for 15+ years and completely adhere to the highest level of safety and quality. Even an experienced seamstress might not take into consideration some safety aspects that are specific to baby carriers. A baby carrier must hold up to a lot of weight and use. It’s quite different than making a dress.

■ Are you CPSIA compliant? Do your products come with tags and registration cards with all the necessary information? Please see the link above to the BCIA site to find out specifics on the current requirements. Please note that just because someone is part of the BCIA does not necessarily mean their products are safe or compliant.

■ What is your return policy if I am not happy with the product? Look for a business that stands by their product and will accept returns within a reasonable time frame if you are not satisfied with the construction of the carrier.

Read reviews! We have reviews here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/doc/488323047922545/ but also check reviews on the Babywearing Retailer/WAHM group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BabywearingRetailerWAHMReview/) as well as on TheBabywearer.com (Product Reviews here: http://www.thebabywearer.com/cgi-bin/reviews/review.pl?product and Vendor Reviews here: http://www.thebabywearer.com/cgi-bin/reviews/review.pl?vendor.All). Don’t forget to leave an honest review once you receive a product!

Final Notes: We all want a good deal. There are many reputable WAHMs out there who make safe, quality products. While there are currently no regulations on materials or construction, it’s important to make an informed decision on what carrier you use. It is not a handbag carrying your cell phone, it’s carrying your child a few feet off the ground. We are not suggesting that you have to spend $200+ to get a safe carrier. There are many inexpensive, safe options out there that abide by the legal requirements and general safety guidelines. Never be afraid to ask us if something looks safe. If we don’t know, we’ll track down people who will know!”

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us on the Tucson Babywearers Facebook page with any questions or concerns about WAHM-made carriers!!

COTW: Double Hammock (DH)

DH1 DH4 DH3 DH2

COTW for the week of July 15th is: Double Hammock (DH)

This week’s carry is one of the most popular (and supportive) back carries. The Double Hammock (DH) – also called a Chunei Back Carry – is a great back carry that keeps both toddlers and babies nice and secure, and most woven wrap babywearers will tell you how much they love a Double Hammock! This carry uses a longer wrap and includes two rebozo passes across baby’s back, a horizontal chest pass, and ruck-style shoulder straps.

Why we like it…the Double Hammock centers the weight to your chest so you aren’t using just your shoulders for support. It’s multilayered, making it fabulous to support a heavier child or carry for lengthy periods of time. The DH is also great for those wiggle worms and ideal for small babies and bigger ones alike.

Generally considered one of the most comfortable carries, the Double Hammock has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s one back carry definitely worth learning! The key to a good Double Hammock is a nice snug chest pass. It may take a few tries, but once you get this carry down, you’ll love the support it gives!

We have featured not only the classic carry to learn and review, but also a few interesting variations and finishes. A different finish or chest belt can redistribute weight and change the feel of the entire carry. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Check back in next week to see what wrap carry we’ll feature next!

Safety: Stretchy/Knit Wraps must not be used for Back Carries. Please keep in mind that if this is your first time doing a back carry, or even this particular carry, you should have a spotter and/or practice over a soft surface such as a bed or a couch. You can even practice with a doll or stuffed animal first until you feel comfortable.

Double Hammock with a Woven Wrap

Double Hammock with Tips for a Snug Chest Pass

Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder (DH TAS)

Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder (DH TAS)

Double Hammock with a Toddler

Double Hammock: Alternate Finishes
Double Hammock: Tied Tibetan and Sternum Strap Chestbelt

Double Hammock Double Rings (DH-DR)

Double Hammock Rebozo

Double Hammock Rebozo with Sling Ring Finish