Which? What have I been up to this summer.

whichMany of you will have heard of Which? For many they are the first site they check before buying any product: from Cars and Credit Cards to Cots and Carriers. This is where we came in.

In March 2016 I was approached by representatives of Which? who saw the Top Ten Baby Carriers of 2016 research; they were intrigued to know more. It was during these conversations they asked me if I would help them to coordinate parent testing of 14 carriers easily accessible on the high street. This is in order for them to gather data to update their reviews on their website. I jumped at the chance and was excited to hear that Rosie of Sheffield Sling Surgery would be helping too.

At the start of July Rosie and I met with representatives from Which in Durham and they explained what they hope to achieve and explained to us the rationale behind all 14 of the slings we had to test. The main one being they are available on the high street. They want their reviews to be as up to date as possible. Each of the 14 slings would be factory tested for safety and ergonomics (wearer and baby) and be trialed by families.

This is where they needed us. We were tasked to find 14 families who would like to take part. Their babies had to be between 4 weeks and 18 months old, and weigh at least 8lb. We had over 40 emails of interest! They were then to be randomly given 4 carriers to test over a 2 week period (2 slings one week before swapping for 2 more). As part of this test they completed surveys with their feedback. Coordinating this with school holidays, family trips and holidays abroad took a little organisation but I think it will be definitely worth it. I can’t wait to read the results in when they are live. Here is Kirsty using two of the 4 slings she was given to try.

As a ‘thank you’ the 14 carriers will be joining the library shelves. The last 6 carriers are with families now. As soon as they are back I will be listing them on the website. Some will stay here and some will join the mini libraries of Durham City Sling Meet and our Birth and Baby Drop in meet. They include some we don’t have as well as several of our most popular.

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As well as helping them with the testing I was also asked if I could help them with providing details on counterfeit carriers. Fake slings are a topic I have written quite a lot about over the last 4 years and the number of fakes continues to grow. I was delighted to be able to help them and am looking forward to what other opportunities arise to assist Which? further.

 

 

The day I have been dreading arrived.

Yesterday was a day of celebration as we attended a family wedding. It also marked a milestone. It was the first major occasion where I didn’t sling. 


Despite Isaac getting up at 4.50am,  he never flagged. He sang, danced and partied the night away until 9.40pm when exhausted he did collapse. Henry was also tired, so it was time to go home. I did have a Ring Sling with me: a Woven Wings Leaf Gold conversion, chosen as it matched my outfit. It was also the sling Isaac had chosen from the two available. The other being a Pavo Coy Hearts ring sling conversion.



I was sad. My husband didn’t let me out Isaac in the sling at 9.40 as he said it was “for your benefit only”. Carrying Isaac has been part of my parenting toolkit. Slings are part of my fabric. I can honestly say I felt heartbroken. My baby is not a baby anymore. He starts school in September. Last night when he was exhausted I wanted to carry him. It is what I have always done. I did feel like part of me was missing. The carries we have had over the last 4 years have been a major part of our relationship. They are what got us through the difficult days, the lack of sleep, reflux, the sleep apnea, teething, countless chest infections and just those bad days. Now to embrace the in arms cuddles from the fiercely independent little boy.

How did you cope when your carrying journey came to an end? Yesterday my ring sling lived in my bag, until eventually it was used as a shawl.

Book Review: Why Babywearing Matters.

I have been looking forward to reading Why Babywearing Matters by Dr Rosie Knowles of the Sheffield Sling Surgery for as long as I have known she was going to write it. Babywearing and the reasons to do it, are an area which is lacking in ‘proper’ research. The books that currently exist leave a very large gap. They are either extremely anti-high street carrier or appear “too hippy” to warrant reading. I have many of them here.

rosie closed shoulderRosie’s extremely popular blog and article pieces for her own and other websites are frequently shared in the groups I am a member of. Rosie, like me, is keen to produce content that is educational, not sensationalist. We both pride ourselves on researching what we write. I was therefore not surprised when I found out that Pinter and Martin had asked her to contribute to their “Why it Matters” series. Rosie is a highly respected babywearing professional and I am honoured to call her a friend. Being friends, though, did not mean I would automatically agree with what she had written or enjoy the book; but do you know what. I loved it. I read it in just under 8 hours cover to cover, I could not put it down.

Why Babywearing Matters is 160 pages of well written, easy to read, perfection. The pocket friendly size and price are bonuses too. Rosie has written it in a way that as a sling consultant makes sense to my brain.  It addresses the common questions, queries and myths I spend my days answering. It is set out in such a way that each chapter flows from one to the other.

Even though as a babywearing professional I knew much of the content in places this book had my in tears. The ability to combine the research, practice and real life accounts eloquently explains why carrying, whether in arms or in a carrier matters. Babies want and need to be held. In Why Babywearing Matters, this simple fact is kept central. The reasons using a sling  helps are explained clearly in a way which is clear to understand. It is not preachy in the slightest. As Rosie explains on page seven; “responding to a child’s cry is an instinctive, natural activity”, by carrying our children we can respond almost instantly to that need and it can help make our life easier. There are number of real life experiences included. The one by Emma on page 24 describing the  way life changes after having a baby in a way no one can possible explain sums up why babywearing helps.

“I remember the complete bewilderment when my daughter arrived. I can only describe it as clawing at the root of your soul when she clings on to be held. There is something so completely basic and human about carrying”.

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The 11 chapters (including introduction and conclusion) include sufficient detail that babywearing educators like myself can learn something new, but also, it is written in a way that is completely accessible for new parents. There are a plethora of ‘parenting books’ on the market but none explain in so much clarity why that new baby doesn’t want putting down or why they are so happy in their mothers arms. Personally my understanding of how babies brains function, allowed me as a new parent, to ignore comments telling me I should or should not do something, it allowed me to trust my instincts and do what felt right. Society unfortunately does not have the same understanding and is all to often happy to accept: “well I did it this way and it did no harm”, or believe people when they say “you’re spoiling him”, “you’ll create a rod for your own back”. Why Babywearing Matters provides new parents (and wider society) with the clear explanations of why we aren’t spoiling them.

The chapters on Basics of Carrying and Getting Started provide new parents with a good understanding of types of slings. The linking to and referencing of the role Babywearing Consultants and sling libraries will help get the message about the skills we offer. I am a strong believer that if you give parents the skills to parent they will succeed. If you tell them they can’t do something, they will find it difficult. The day I was told ‘its ok, you don’t have too’ when I was sat sobbing because my eldest would not be put down was the day I became the mother I am today. I hope Why Babywearing Matters will give other parents the confidence to parent as they want to parent.

Rosie, you have written a truly wonderful book and you deserve the accolades it is getting. Well done. My only complaint, it wasn’t long enough. I am now planning on re-reading it again as it was over too quickly the first time.


11870676_10153666593231019_2233709127449151806_nDisclaimer: I was sent this book to review by Pinter&Martin but I was not paid to do so. The views are my own. My friendship with Rosie Knowles is well known and I have been lucky enough to know about this book from the beginning. However, I have not let this cloud my judgement. I have read Why Babywearing Matters in the same way I would read any book and would say if I did not agree or did not like it.

To My Second Child

This poem appeared on my Facebook newsfeed today. I read it just after the last guest left from Isaac’s birthday party. He is 4 on Wednesday. After reading this I was in floods of tears. Isaac will never be my first born, but he is my last. His firsts are my lasts. The heart strings they pull are never ending. Cherish every moment, they are only small for a short time.

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To my Second Child

You’re not my first; that much is true.
I loved another before loving you.
I’m a different mother this time around.
More calm and confident I’ve found.

With your brother, everything was new.
I was focused on his every move.
Each tiny smile was photographed.
I changed my ringtone to his laugh.

Since you came, there’s a new dimension.
Two children now want my attention.
And sometimes you’re left in your chair,
Whilst I play with your brother over there.

I cannot watch your every move.
Or, when you cry out, jump to soothe.
I don’t panic every time you sneeze,
And dash you off to A & E.

Your rattles and teds are hand-me-downs,
(And some toys may have lost their sounds.)
There’s less concern if your blanket’s scratchy,
And your baby book is a little patchy.

I know what the next months have in store.
And each phase you reach, I’ve seen before.
This doesn’t mean I love you less.
This time the feeling’s more complex.

I’m pleased to see you learn and grow,
But it also pulls my heartstrings so.
I was so excited first time ‘round.
This time I want to slow things down.

Your ‘firsts’ will all be ‘lasts’ for me.
Last crawl and last to ride my knee.
Last nappy, breastfeed, spoon of mush.
Last rock-to-sleep, last cry to hush.

You were not my firstborn this is true,
But the last child I will have is you.
You’re the last lullaby I’ll ever sing.
And ‘lasts’ are a special kind of thing.

Emma Robinson 2015