Saturday, December 27, 2014

What is a ring sling?

by Tressa Smith

It is a piece of fabric with 2 slingrings sewn on one end. Simple enough huh? Well, kind of.

To begin with, all ring slings (RS) should be made with slingrings. They are aluminum or nylon rings sold at in pairs. They are safety tested for use in babywearing and free of welds (which can break or catch on fabric and damage it). The fabric used for ring slings can be a strong cotton, mesh for water wearing, silk, or a woven wrap. Calico fabrics or quilting fabric is not suitable for RSs because it is not strong enough for weight bearing. Jan Heirtzler of Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP) is considered by most to be the expert on all things ring sling and there is a ton of information on her website

Ring Slings are offered in different sizes ranging from XS to XXL. SBP recommends using your shirt size to pick a size for a RS. The only difference between sizes is where the tail hits you and I have had no issues with using different sizes of RS. Sometimes a long flowy tail is fun while other time I just want the tail out of the way.

So you understand fabric with slingrings and size. Now what kind of shoulder on your ring sling? Shoulder?

The shoulder of a RS is the part where the rings are sewn to the fabric and it sits on your shoulder when worn. There are several types of shoulders for a RS and depending on the wearer some are more comfortable than others. If you can, try different shoulder styles to find the one that is the most comfortable for you.

We will discuss a few of the more popular shoulders for ring slings. Gathered, Eesti, SBP pleated, and a Wallypop pleated shoulder.
Four shoulder styles we will discuss in order from left to right:
Gathered, Eesti, SBP Pleated, Wallypop Pleated

Gathered shoulder

A gathered shoulder is just that, it is gathered and the slingrings are sewn on. No fancy pleats or folding. This shoulder provides a wide spread of the fabric at the shoulder. Because of the wide spread this shoulder may not be comfortable for petite wearers. It does allow the wearer to custom adjust how much fabric is on top of the shoulder or on the side of the shoulder. A gathered shoulder is also what you get when you add slingrings to a shorty to make a no sew ring sling.
Gathered shoulder

Eesti shoulder

An Eesti shoulder is a combination of gathers and pleats designed by Karen Hoppis. Sleeping Baby Productions is the only company licensed to produce this shoulder. It spreads less than a gathered shoulder because of the added pleats but more than a simple pleated shoulder. This can be a great option when a thicker wrap is used and pleats may be too thick.
Eesti shoulder

SBP Pleated Shoulder

A Pleated shoulder is simply several pleats sewn into the shoulder to control the spread of fabric. The Sleeping Baby Productions pleated is the most common type of RS shoulder. Pleated is also one of the narrower shoulders and many petite wearers find this shoulder very comfortable.
SBP Pleated Shoulder

Wallypop Pleated Shoulder

A Wallypop pleated shoulder is just a different form of pleated shoulder. Sarah of Wallypop uses a double inverse pleat for her shoulder. This is also a narrower shoulder. I find this shoulder most comfortable for me when I wear it inside out, but I have always been a little different.
Wallypop Pleated Shoulder (worn inside out)

There are other versions of shoulders out there. Shiny Star Designs has a Seraphina shoulder. Earthy Bliss has a Kenzie shoulder. Zanytoes has an exclusive shoulder in their Splash water RS and offers a full gathered shoulder or a symmetrical pleated shoulder for their other ring slings. Comfy Joey has a hybrid shoulder.

There are a lot of options out there for Ring Slings. Finding a shoulder that fits you well is just one part of finding a comfortable ring sling for you. We have many options of RS shoulder in our Lending Library. So, if you tried a ring sling which was not comfortable for you, try a different shoulder style because it may not be the ring sling that is the issue for you but rather the type of shoulder on the ring sling.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's that time of the year....

It's that time of the year!

The holiday season?


Flu season.

With that comes runny noses and high temperatures (not outside unfortunately) and possibly other yucky stuff. Well, I won't go into too much detail with all the yucky stuff but remember when attending our meetings to use common sense and don't bring a sick child or come if you are sick yourself.

That includes avoiding meetings if you or little one are:
*running a fever of 100.4 or higher within the last 24 hours
*any vomiting or diarrhea within the last 24 hours
*a common cold with discolored nasal mucus or a cough
*sore throat
*an undiagnosed rash or skin infection
*any symptoms of any childhood communicable diseases
*pinkeye or other contagious infections
*suspected mononucleosis

We have pregnant moms as well as very small infants and children at our meetings and we want to keep everyone healthy!

If you cannot make a meeting and have a carrier to return, simply contact one of the librarians and they can help to figure out an arrangement to get your carrier returned in a timely fashion so that you can avoid a late fee.

And here's some tips to make babywearing your little one who is sick a bit easier on both of you.

1. Pick one carrier (if you've got multiple) and stick with it. You don't really want to get more than one full of those yucky germs.

2. Make that one carrier you're using with your sick baby something that is easily washable. And when they're feeling better go ahead and wash it so they don't start sucking on their favorite spot and get themselves sick all over again. (If you have a carrier checked out from our lending library, just contact a librarian if you need to wash. We'll give you instructions on how to wash that specific carrier.)

3. Make sure you pick a carrier that's comfortable for you and your baby, not your one you use for quick up and downs. That sick baby may just go to sleep and take a long nap. You don't want to interrupt that just because you picked a carrier you use for short periods of time.

4. They may have a fever and want snuggles but make sure not to overheat your little one. Pay real close attention on how many layers (pajamas, wrap, favorite snuggle blanket they must cuddle) they really are covered with.

5. If you're both exhausted from being up all night and sickness, remember that it is not safe to wear your baby while you are sleeping. Not laying in bed, not sitting up in your favorite rocking chair, not anywhere. You need to be awake when babywearing to monitor your wearee at all times. If you need sleep, let someone else wear the baby who can be awake.

6. Babywearing is great for those babies who need a nap but are too congested to be laying down comfortably. But always remember tip number 4.

7. It is possible sometimes to transfer a sleeping little one to a crib or bed. Make sure you don't leave the carrier with them in such a way that they could inadvertently injure themselves by pulling the long wrap over themselves or getting caught in a carrier strap. Slide the carrier out from under them.

8. Enjoy all the cuddles, especially when your little one is sick and is more snuggly than usual, because they grow so fast and soon enough, these days will be just fond memories!

Monday, November 24, 2014

What's the Difference?

We often get questions about the differences between SSC (Soft Structured Carrier) Brands. The differences are often small but can make a big difference in comfort from person to person. People tend to want an easy answer to the question “which SSC is best for me?” The problem is that especially with SSC’s there tends to not be an easy answer to the question of which one is best. Just as each brand of SSC varies from another; every wearer’s body varies from another. This means that while one brand may be a perfect fit for one caregiver, it is not necessarily a perfect fit for the next.

There are a few main differences that can often be found between brands. For example, some brands place the waist buckle in the back and some place it on the side. Some brands only pull one direction to tighten waist and arm straps while others pull both directions. Those differences aren't the focus of this post though; here I want to concentrate on subtler things that can make a difference in how a carrier fits you. In order to demonstrate those differences I am going to compare two standard size Action Baby Carriers (ABC’s).

Action Baby Carrier changed ownership a little over a year ago and many people have noticed that since the ownership change there have been some changes in the carriers as well. This is not a bad thing. It happens. Carriers change and companies change. It is however an easy way to show how small differences in the same brand and size of carrier can change the way that carrier wears and feels for caregiver and baby. Below you will see pictures comparing an older ABC and a newer ABC(after ownership change) and I will point out some differences between the two carriers.

In the photos below both the Pink/Green wave and the Green/black carriers are older ABC’s. The Grey Carrier is a newer ABC. The waves carrier is exactly the same as the green one except for the fact that the green is one of their organic carriers. These are all standard sized carriers.
 Inside of the grey and green ABC’s
Outside of the grey and Pink/Green Waves ABC’s
Height comparison with hoods down.
Close up of Height comparison. (grey, Pink/green waves. Hoods up)

Height Comparison with hoods up. (Grey and Waves)
Height Comparison with hoods up. (Grey and Green)
You can see above that the padded portion of the waist band is very similar and approximately the same length.
The waist straps however are significantly different in length. The longer one on top is the newer grey carrier. This means it would fit a wider range of body sizes.
This photo shows the placement of the arm buckle from the front. You can see that the grey carrier(Far left) has a much different placement than the other 2.
Comparison of arm buckle placement from the inside of the carrier.

Grey Carrier.
Same child in green carrier.
Same child again in grey carrier

For me personally wearing an almost 2 year old and being short I found the older ABC's more comfortable than the newer one. One reason was height difference in the carriers. The advantage of the shorter body on the newer carrier is that it can be used sooner with a small baby. The disadvantage is that it doesn't provide as much support when wearing a toddler.

Height difference aside as that aspect would only be an issue if I was wearing for a long time, I did not like the placement of the arm buckle on the newer carrier. When tightened to where I needed it the difference in placement meant that the buckle on the older carriers hit me fine but on the newer carrier it dug into my armpit. Someone taller would not have the same issue, which demonstrates the point that every wearer and every SSC is different so what works for one may not work for another.

The 3 main things I pointed out here: Height difference, arm buckle placement and waist strap length, are not huge differences. They are however things that can make a difference in how the carrier fits both wearer and baby. They are also not necessarily things you would notice much unless you tried the carrier, which is why there is no easy answer to the question “which SSC is best for me?”.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

International Babywearing Week - a quick wrap up!

Hopefully I'm not the only one that sees the humor in the title of this post when it comes to babywearing. It seems that wraps do take a little while to learn but once you get the hang of it, a woven wrap has so much versatility. As does our BWI of NCIL group! Our 2014 International Babywearing Week had everything from workshops to yoga to walking around the zoo wearing our little ones. Just want to share a few of the great photos we got during International Babywearing Week in October. The theme for the week was "Share the Adventure" and we did just that!

We also want to give a shout out to our wonderful sponsors and donors! Thank you so much. We could not have had as successful a week without your support. Be sure to show these companies some love! Also, Babywearing International received many sponsors from a lot of companies that helped our IBW turn out as a great week!

The Big Event!

BWI of NCIL Leadership Team

Katy, Jen, Melissa, Tressa, Sarah, Justine, Christi, Jacquelyn, Tabitha, Rachel, Rashada, Alieta, Missy
Not pictured: Ali, Susan

Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora

More babywearing moments throughout IBW

Scarecrow Fest in St. Charles
We didn't win a prize this year but we sure had fun going and taking pictures with our scarecrows.

We had so much fun! If you missed out on any of our workshops or events from International Babywearing Week, you can always come to one of our meetings.