Win a KangaWrap baby sling

I am one of those crazy babywearing mamas who gets all emotional when I see babies in slings. Learning to carry a newborn in a sling is one of the most freeing, empowering and connected experiences out there. I tentatively grew to love it the first time around but the second time was no slow burn love. I was utterly, heart-soaringly hooked.

A stretchy wrap is a wonderful way to get started. It doesn’t matter what body shape you are or how “technical” you are, with a bit of practice just about anyone can get on with this type of sling. So, I am thrilled to be giving away a soft, lightweight, organic cotton KangaWrap on the blog.

KangaWrap is a product of not-for-profit organisation Trade4Life. Profits from baby wrap sales fund maternity healthcare workers in Delhi’s slums through Asha India and a specific Christian Aid project “Nurturing Change in Kenya” to improve Maternal and Child Healthcare services in Kenya’s Narok County. Do read more about their charity work here.

Kanga Wrap

I wanted to take a look at it for myself before giving one away but since Ophelia is way too big to be carried in a stretchy wrap, my beautiful friend Tash allowed me to take pictures of her with her newborn and toddler. Gosh, you know how to rock a wrap, Tash.

Something Tash noted was that the Kanga Wrap felt a bit firmer and less stretchy than some other stretchy wraps which she felt was a good thing as it was potentially more supportive. The material seemed lovely and soft to me. Certainly her baby had no complaints as she fell asleep while being wrapped!

Kanga Wrap-2

To enter to win a KangaWrap, please tell me one thing you love about babywearing or look forward to with babywearing and enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway closes at midnight on Wednesday 22nd April 2015.
Winners will be chosen at random.
UK entrants only.
Entrants’ email addresses will be added to the Circus Queen mailing list. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Listed on Loquax, The Prize Finder and Super Lucky.


Podaegi – an Asian-style baby carrier

I’ve been wanting to share this carrier with you for ages (about a year now, in fact!) but am only getting to it now. It’s a podaegi, a carrier style that originated in Korea. Basically, it’s a blanket with two straps attached – a lot like a mei tai but without the waist strap.

It was originally a much-loved Storchenwiege Leo wrap my parents gave me for my birthday when I was seven months pregnant with Talitha. I then had it converted into a podaegi so I could carry two-year-old Talitha while I was pregnant with Ophelia.

The podaegi wrap conversion was done by Pouchlings and I’m so pleased with it. I opted for padded straps and have been impressed with the quality of the entire conversion.

Podaegi Asian style baby carrier-2

Podaegis, or “pods” as they’re often called, allow for relatively quick wrapping. I needed speed when wearing Talitha while I was pregnant as I found I got flustered very quickly otherwise. I’ve enjoyed it now when I want to get Ophelia on my back as quickly as possible so I can do something with Talitha. The advantage of using a podaegi during pregnancy is that, as there’s not waist band, you’ve nothing to keep out of your bump’s way.

Podaegi Asian style baby carrier-3

Also, the absence of a waistband makes the wrap versatile enough to tailor to the size of your baby. Hence I was able to carry Talitha in it when she was two years old (and I still could but she and I prefer to use our Wompat on the very odd occasion she’s carried) and I’ve been able to use it with Ophelia since she was a newborn. That said, I found it a real faff to use when she was floppy, so I mainly used a stretchy wrap and ring sling until she was around three or four months.

Podaegi Asian style baby carrier-4

There is a learning curve involved in using a podaegi and care needs to be taken to tie it well. I realise I actually haven’t tied it as well I should here, now that I’ve seen the photographs! Yet, we walked around Westonbirt Arboretum for hours on Saturday and I was happily comfortable as was she.

Using a podaegi is less complicated than wrapping. For instance, you don’t have to worry about tucking the fabric under the bum and getting it to stay there to make the “seat”. So for those interested in woven wraps but a bit daunted by them, or for wrappers who sometimes need speed, a wrap conversion podaegi could well be a good option.


Rockin’ Baby Reversible Sling – review and giveaway

I do love trying a new sling, especially if there’s a funky print involved. Rockin’ Baby® sent me one of their reversible print ring slings and the timing could not have been better. Ring slings are my preferred choice for hot weather since they’re single layered and easy to pop on and off. This beauty arrived the day before our flight to Trinidad.

rockin' baby ring sling

It’s a well-made carrier with a vibrant print and comfy fabric that washes well. There’s a little pocket sewn in that could fit your keys and a nappy. I must admit I carry far too much stuff with me to ever make use of this but the minimalists among you might find it handy.

Being completely honest, I prefer woven material for one-shouldered carries but this Rockin’ Baby ring sling will do just fine for a smaller baby, particularly if you’re not carrying them for hours on end. But then, maybe I’m being picky there. Slings are such an individual thing.

It’s extremely simple to use once you’ve sorted where the rings should sit and made a good “seat” for your baby. It’s worth having a look on YouTube or going along to a sling meet if you need help.

I liked it enough to pass it on to a friend of mine who lives in Trinidad and has very recently had her first baby, hoping it would make the adjustment to motherhood a bit smoother for her as babywearing has done for me.

rockin' baby ring sling-3

Actually,Rockin’ Baby® has a mission to give slings away to mothers in need. They partner with charities in Haiti and Kenya giving away a sling for every sling bought to free mothers’ hands while holding babies close.

Rockin’ Baby® Reversible Slings are now exclusively available from Mothercare and at £49.99, they’re a pretty reasonably babywearing option, especially since each sling is handmade in the US.

To win a Rockin’ Baby® Reversible Sling, tell me why you love holding babies close and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway ends 12.00am on October 7th 2014. Open to UK residents only. Entrants’ email addresses will be passed on to the Circus Queen newsletter – you can opt out at any time.

“SuperLucky


Ergobaby 360 – a babywearing review

Ergobaby sent me their 360 to try and I’ve been wearing it pretty much solidly for the past month. Laurence has been using it in the evenings too. It was in time for all this hot weather we’ve been having, where reaching for a wrap just hasn’t appealed.

ergobaby360

I’ve put together a brief video to give you the quick and dirty on what I think of the Ergobaby 360. It’s only two minutes and is the first video I’ve edited in a long time.

Although I’m leaving the Circus Queen channel up (mainly because people continue to find the supplemental nursing system video useful), I’m going to publish all my videos through my personal channel now as I’m finally bending the knee to Google integration. If you’d like to see more from me, do subscribe.

Back to the Ergobaby 360…

ergobaby360-4

Pros:

Comfortable, even for long carries. I wear Ophelia almost all day so we’re talking about LONG carries.
Easy to put on. I think this is why I reach for buckles in general. In a rush, which I often am, they’re quick and require little work to get right. I have tried a few different soft structured carriers and I find the Ergo’s side straps particularly easy to adjust.
Good looking. I like its sleek style and it’s something both Laurence and I are happy to wear.

Extendable. The issue I had with other Ergo carriers is that they seemed quite short in the backs. The Ergobaby 360 has buttons which allow you to extend the carrier up the baby’s back. Ignore me saying in the video that it extends across the body too, it doesn’t. So I’d say it’ll probably be comfortable until 18 months or two years but I know other people who’ve used them with their three-year-olds so maybe it’s a personal thing. I’ll do a back carrying post in a month or so and try it with Talitha too to let you know what I think.
Breastfeeding-friendly. Loosen the side straps to lower the baby. Tighten back up when you’re done. I find this works once your baby is reliably able to stay latched on. Didn’t work for me in the newborn phase but is a lifesaver now if I really need/want to breastfeed on the go.

ergobaby360-3

Cons:

Not so adjustable. The straps are pretty big. I have them on the tightest setting, as does Laurence! This doesn’t affect the comfort for me but the straps do slip a little from time to time as I’m narrow-framed.
No funky print. It means that it goes with everything, I suppose but I do love my patterns.

ergobaby360-6

All in all, I love it and would recommend anyone looking for a buckled carrier to try it. Let me know what you think of the video too. Is there anything you’d have liked to have seen there?

PS: I spy the Ergobaby 360 available in Born for £139.90, for other authorised retailers see the Ergobaby UK Facebook page.


One Month Old

I can scarcely believe that today will make it four whole weeks since Ophelia’s birth. In one sense, I think: “It can’t have been that long ago?” but it’s also already beginning to feel like she’s always been with us. I wonder whether Talitha remembers much about life before her. She probably does. Though we’ve had the beginnings of a routine with Laurence going back to work, things aren’t exactly settled yet. It still feels like we’re in transition and I’m sure she feels it too.

As for little Ophelia! She has changed so much in this short time. For a start, she is just piling on the weight. Though the scales reassure (she’s gaining very well), I could tell just from looking at her and, more importantly, from how much she’s pooing (!) that she’s absolutely thriving. It’s such a relief not to be repeating the last breastfeeding journey. She’s out of the newborn clothes, which reminds me how important it is to slow down and enjoy this fleeting time.

At times, it’s difficult not to look longingly into the future, though. This has been particularly true between about 4pm and 7pm every day this week. From the middle of her second week, it became clear that that was Ophelia’s fussy time. I’ve been happy to go with the cluster feeding, knowing how normal it is. I’m grateful that it hasn’t caught me off-guard as it would have done on my first baby.

one-month

It’s hard work, though, because she spends quite a lot of this time also fussing at the breast. So, it feels like not much I do helps. Meanwhile, my two-and-a-half-year-old needs me. Talitha mostly copes well with the crying, wandering off and finding things to do, but she does get a bit frustrated that I can’t give her the attention she wants (mainly because I can’t hear myself think!). So, this is a learning curve. I’m bolstered by knowing that this fussy period will pass and that I need to not get hung up on wondering when.

The rest of the time, Ophelia is so unbelievably chilled out. I even asked the health visitor if she thought she was jaundiced because I couldn’t believe a child would sleep this much and be OK. That’s been the theme for this month, a sleeping baby. If we’re at home, she spends the morning in the Moses basket and if we’re out, she’ll be zonked in the sling.

I also feel like a fraud when people ask how nights are because I should be sleep-deprived but actually she sleeps between five and seven hours most nights (for now – I’m under no illusion that this will likely last). I was waking her every two hours at first but when it became apparent that she was gaining well and it was becoming near impossible to wake her and keep her awake long enough to feed, I gave up and enjoyed this blessing I’ve been handed, even if it is just for a bit.

Cosyplay

Gradually, she’s starting to spend slightly longer periods awake. When she’s awake, she studies your face like she’s memorising it. This past week there’ve been a couple of what appear to be social smiles, only for Talitha. She already loves looking at Talitha, which is great because Talitha loves to chat with her. At the moment, she’ll ask me to put Ophelia in the bouncy chair, then she pulls up her little chair to face her little sister, showing her how to play with the toys that hang above, having random little conversations with her and gently patting her.

The other thing she loves is to be placed on her tummy. This is so strange for me to see as Talitha always hated it, so her tummy time was always in the sling. Ophelia is so strong she’s already trying to push herself up and she’s quite content to spend time doing that for a few minutes on the Cosyplay (pictured above) we were sent to trial. It’s a memory foam change and play mat which is extremely soft, features bright, friendly colours and seems very well-made. It’s been through the wash once so far (post-poosplosion) and has fared fine. I wasn’t sure how much “play” use we’d get out of it but it looks like we have a baby who’s up for that.

I met a couple of mums with babies a few weeks older recently and it still amazes me how much change happens in this time. They really aren’t tiny for very long.

——
Circus Queen is a finalist in The MAD Blog Awards. Please vote for me to win “Best Pregnancy Blog”.


Babywearing with a Newborn – Having a Sling Consultation

We started wearing Talitha in a stretchy wrap when she was four-weeks-old. Ophelia was in it at fourteen hours.

We knew that babywearing would play a big part in our parenting style this time around. It made life much easier with Talitha and it does such good things for babies to be held closely and carried – a lot!

I’d had a free consultation off Katie from Carry Me Slings on toddler wearingover a year ago, back when she was finishing her babywearing consultant training. I was keen to have a paid session with her to explore all our options for wearing our newborn.

Katie from Carry Me Slings - Bristol babywearing consultant.jpg

First off, we talked about the question that so often comes up with newborn babywearing – legs in or out? I’ve heard the case argued both ways.

Talitha always seemed uncomfortable with legs in so it was obvious that she needed them out. I’d been trying both with Ophelia and just couldn’t get both of us happy with her legs out. It seemed instinctive to have them in.

Katie reassured me that every baby is different and that it would become apparent to me when it was time to get her feet out. That makes sense to me. Ophelia does tend to curl right up when asleep on you, whereas Talitha was always kind of sprawled.

We then went through the different types of slings. We started with the stretchy wrap (the Close carrier is an easy alternative for those who want a stretchy wrap without having to wrap but I didn’t look at it because I knew I wouldn’t be buying one).

Stretchy wrap

I’d been wearing my Moby but not finding it as comfortable as I remembered. As it turned out, I wasn’t tying it nearly tight enough, which is funny because I’m always telling other people that they need to tie it tighter than they think! I still think it’s such a lovely, snug option for a newborn.

We also looked at a wrap conversion ring sling (my current favourite for ease though I’d have struggled with it as a first-timer, I think), a Podaegi (we agreed that I might find this more useful later on when I’m ready to put her on my back), a Kenyan khanga (I’m leaning towards leaving this one for later on too) and a woven wrap.

All of those are in my current tiny stash. I downsized to fund Christmas and am trying to convince Laurence that I need to buy a baby-sized soft structured carrier….and maybe a few other slings…

He asked about soft structured carriers as he loves the ease of buckles and finds them the most comfortable option. Katie actually explained how we might adapt our toddler carrier for a newborn. I’m intrigued and well up for giving it a go soon. I doubt Talitha will be much impressed though!

Toddler babywearing.jpg

It’s so lovely to be carrying a sleeping newborn again. I think I forgot how much good it does a mama too.


Becoming a big sister

The night a pregnancy test confirmed that the exhaustion I was suffering was down to a new baby and I wasn’t in fact dying, we had to make a quick decision about whether to tell Talitha right away. I seriously considered Googling “tell two year old about new baby” to see what other parents had done but in the end we decided to just go with our gut instinct. It just seemed right to tell her.

“Mummy has a baby in her tummy,” we said. She smiled and cheekily replied: “Talitha has a baby in her tummy.” Ah, so she didn’t get it – as expected. Yet if we were telling others about the new baby (we hadn’t kept it a secret with her so didn’t this time either) then she needed to hear it first, really.

I pointed out new babies to her when they arrived in church or came to our breastfeeding groups. When she saw heavily pregnant women, I explained that they had babies in their tummies just as mummy does. She’s even now met a newborn, having seen her mother pregnant. I explained to her the “big sister, little sister” dynamics of the families we met.

However, I think the thing that’s had the biggest impact on her is seeing tiny baby clothes. A few weeks ago, Laurence was moving stuff around in the loft when the bag with Talitha’s 0-3 months clothes burst open. So he had to bring it down. Talitha was intrigued. As we sorted them through, I explained that she wore these clothes and so would the new baby (she’d worn clothes of both genders). She announced that she would dress the baby and change its nappy. Hopefully that means that she won’t be in nappies herself by then!

She now insists that she’s not a baby anymore. She’s a girl. Maybe this would have happened anyway but I feel like it’s connected with the new baby. When I ask her if she’s a baby, she tells me: “Talitha not a baby. Mummy has a baby in Mummy’s tummy!”
View Post