Gideon’s Story

This piece is the third installment of our series looking at how babywearing and carrying is more than just being about the sling and how it can help families who have babies and children with additional needs. It is written by Rae, a Mum of Three. I have ‘known’ Rae for the majority of my own carrying journey as we are both members of the Natural Mamas forum and we shared our own pregnancy journey’s on its pregnancy sub forum. Here Rae will explain how using a sling helped her care for and bond with her third son. When Gideon was born he was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome or (PWS). 

At birth babies with PWS are usually very floppy (hypotonia) and this means they often cannot suck properly, have a weak cry and often do not have a full range of movement. It is a genetic disorder that is typically not diagnosed until baby has been born, although lack of movement in utero can be associated with the condition. There have been research studies undertaken to investigate if fetal ultrasound scanning can be used to help diagnose the condition but currently 99% of cases are diagnosed via genetic testing.

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Photo Tutorial – Short Cross Carry with a sling ring

The Short Cross Carry with a sling ring (sometimes referred to as a Front Cross Carry with a ring) was my go to carry with a shorter wrap with Isaac from around 3-8 months. I liked that it was a “poppable” carry and can be achieved with a shorter wrap. The sling ring acts as a lock so carry is a knotless one too. I wanted to write this blog as a photo tutorial. There are hundreds of wrapping videos but I know that videos do not work for everyone.

Stage One – Preparing the wrap

Thread the sling ring over one end of the wrap until it is in the middle of the wrap. When the sling ring is in the middle take time to pleat the fabric through the rings to neaten the fabric. This will help prevent the wrap from twisting and help ensure a neat looking carry.

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Next, loop the fabric over your shoulders so that the ring is placed in the centre of your back. Again, tidy the wrap by gathering and then cross tails.

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Holding the sling ring to keep it flat use the other hand to take first wrap pass and take it over the top of sling ring before going through and pull down towards the floor so that you have a 90o angle. Before repeating this with the second pass. This takes some practise to get the ring to stay flat. If you don’t achieve it the carry will not be knotless as wrap will move freely in ring.

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Once again tidy both passes so they are smooth and not twisted. Tighten your bottom rail. The bottom rail is the part of the sling which is in the middle as it comes out of rings.

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Find the positon where you are most comfortable in having the sling ring by lifting the fabric from shoulders and moving it up and down.

Create slack and space for baby by pulling fabric back through ring. Be careful not to introduce too much slack. You want just enough space to put baby in. Thread excess slack back over shoulders and through ring. Use praying hands to double check you have enough space for your baby.

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Stage Two – Putting baby in the wrap

Pick up your baby and place on the shoulder of the top pass so that first underneath pass is visible and accessible.

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From the bottom of underneath pass, reach up and find babies foot and bring this through the pass. Ensure the fabric is in their knee pit.

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Lean forward slightly and move baby to other shoulder and swap supporting hands. Then bring babies foot through as per last step. Let the wrap take babies weight with them sitting on the cross passes to allow their bottom to drop lower than their knees.

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Supporting baby underneath their bottom using the hand of the top pass, use free hand to spread the bottom pass until your supporting hand is covered. Place free hand on babies bottom and then slide covered hand out from under the fabric and complete pulling across babies back.

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Remove excess slack by supporting babies weight and working strand by strand across width of wrap. When slack has been gathered up feed this towards ring by leaning forwards (while supporting baby) to pull slack through the ring. As this is a carry with a cross pass the slack goes under the opposite leg to the shoulder it came over initially. Then pull the slack through ring by pulling on the tails.

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Supporting baby underneath their bottom using the hand of the bottom pass, use free hand to spread the top pass until your supporting hand is covered. Place free hand on babies bottom and then slide covered hand out from under the fabric and complete pulling across babies back.

Finally tighten strand by strand and work to rings. The carry is now completed.

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At this point our final checks are that their airway is clear (you can flip shoulder to keep them visible), that they hands are up near their mouth, fabric is in knee pits and their pelvis is tilted. Check that fabric is smooth on their spine and that you are comfortable too.

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Stage Three – Removing baby from the wrap

Remove shoulder flip if you have included one, then un peel the top pass and then the bottom pass so that baby is sat on (and still supported by) the cross pass. Supporting babies back when the wrap is not covering them gently lift them out of wrap.

Should we stop using the term ‘babywearing’?

I am extremely lucky. I have had two pregnancies and I have two babies. I know other are not so blessed. My boys are my world and even though they are 5 and 2 they will forever be my babies. I have carried them through pregnancy, in my arms and in a variety of slings and carriers. I have also used the term “babywearing” a lot but now I am thinking; should we really use it?
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The term Babywearing was first used by Dr Sears and is one of his 7B’s of Attachment Parenting. I never thought I would be an AP parent and until Henry was about 4 months old I had never heard of it or Dr Sears, let alone babywearing. As I come through the trials of new parenthood and we are now in the “big boy” categories of preschool and school age I looked back at how I choose to parent and I did what was natural and seemingly unconsciously based my parenting on what understanding of child development and psychology I learnt during my degree. Using a sling was just a) practical and b) what seemed like the best way of keeping my little one close while I carried on. I did not start carrying Henry because I wanted to be seen to be an AP parent, because I was a hippy or want to carry some form of fashion accessory.
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Yet my website states I am a babywearing consultant; by using it am I somehow making light of what I do? Or why we carry our babies? Does it create an us and them barrier? Does it make people think I won’t help them with their high street carrier? Does it make assumptions that I want everyone to use wraps? Does it make people think if they do x, y or z that I won’t help them? These questions bother me but it’s a term that is becoming more widely known and recognised. Do I stop using it because it upsets some groups and individuals or do I carry on, after all my babies will always be my babies? Or should we use something different? Baby carrying? Am I simply a Carrying Consultant?
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Finding an answer to these questions is not going to be easy. While I know some organisations refuse to use the term babywearing I am not sure where I sit. But life is not black and white. As an industry we may never find a solution either. So in the meantime I might just plod in as I am.