What the flip? Part Two: How to create a close shoulder flip.

In my recent What the flip? article I discussed the reasons why shoulder flips can be useful when using a number of different slings. It considered the reasons for and against closed and open shoulder flips. In this piece I am going to look at two different methods of achieving a closed shoulder flip. A closed shoulder flip is a secure flip. It helps create a clear space around baby, can make a sling more comfortable by spreading weight over a wider area, help support knee by creating a vertical line and supporting the back with a horizontal line. Learning how to achieve them is a skill that can add an extra set of tools to a sling users toolkit.

There are two methods to achieving a closed shoulder flip. There is a large level of personal preference in which method will choose to use. Neither is the right way. It is up to you. The first involves allowing the fabric to fall from your shoulder before lifting the bottom rail up to your neck. The second requires you to guide the top rail underneath the sling until it has taken the place of the bottom rail. Both work equally well, both are secure closed flips.

 Method 1 – fall and fold.

Decide which carry you wish to do and why you need to achieve a shoulder flip. I am doing a front double hammock. I have switched which wrap I use for teaching purposes during the slide show.

In this method you allow the wrap to fall gently from your shoulder slightly, creating enough space for you to fold the bottom rail up so that it is closest to your neck, creating the vertical line to support the babies knee. When you have completed this, gently gather the slack on your shoulder so you are left with a small capped sleeve, rather than the full width of wrap down your arm.

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 Method 2 – up and under.

Here you can see the method  of reaching underneath and working top rail out. Choose which carry you are wishing to create. I was opting for a Front Double Hammock here. Supporting babies weight with one hand reach up and underneath the fabric to grab the top rail. With this wrap this is the pink stripe. Gentle work this underneath the fabric until it is out in the place of the bottom rail. As you can see here the purple bottom rail is now closest to my neck and the pink stripe is now on outside furthest away from me. This pink top rail is helping to support babies back and provide tension to the carry. The purple stripe is creating a vertical line from babies knee and helping to support this it.

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Once achieved closed shoulder flips are extremely comfortable and secure. Why not have a go too? Why do you like a shoulder flip? Do you opt for open or closed?




Do I need to be a great wrapper?

Something I have been pondering recently is should I, as a carrying consultant, be able to wrap perfectly, in every situation, with what ever wrap I am given. Should I know how to do every single variation of a front, back, hip or tandem carry there is? Should I be expert at each “finish”?

I regularly teach wrapping and I enjoy doing so. I am a wrapper at heart. I love fabric, the feel of different threads, woven seamlessly together. When I am teaching wrapping I am often teaching the same carries. These carries form the stock of any wrappers toolkit. They can be replicated easily and I  can troubleshoot them without  difficulty. These carries are the basics which I feel need to be mastered before sending my clients off into the big world of babywearing. We spend time discussing tightening methods, benefits of bunched or sandwiched shoulders and the types of passes which are the building blocks of any carry. Occasionally I have a client who wants to focus on a carry I do not do regularly or I may have never done.  Then I revise, I ask colleagues and most importantly I practise. Before a workshop or consult I practice. One of the benefits of being a Slingababy consultant, for example, is the twice yearly CPD we can attend, the opportunity to revise with others for our collective benefit.

Since I started wrapping there are now a plethora of new wrap companies and a seemingly endless list of “new carries” with weird and wonderful names. Over the last few days I have found myself revisiting a range of different back carries to revise my skills, watching lots of videos and flicking through Pinterest. My wrappee is now 3 years old, so wrapping on a personal level it is not something I do daily.  Although Isaac is wrapped infrequently these days,   until he was around 2 it was almost all we did.  Now when I am wrapping him I do panic and say to myself “what will people say”, I feel as if every time I wrap it must be perfect.

When I am teaching I use dolls. There is quite a difference between  wrapping a dead weight to a wriggly 3 year old. With the dolls I learn and teach the steps and passes for each carry, the dolls let me and my clients master the techniques.   Does it matter that sometimes I struggle to do them with Isaac when historically I have always found it easier with a live model?

I am internally wrestling these thoughts. Does not being able to do certain carries matter? I sometimes feel that we need to step back, not keep reinventing the wheel. For a new wrapper the array of different carries can be daunting, does it need to be that way? Is teaching wrapping all about being an expert wrapper? I have far more knowledge of wrapping now than when I was wrapping several times a day. What are your thoughts? I don’t think I have the answer?

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?

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.

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?

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.