I'm a huge fan of babywearing and have used a baby carrier with all of my babies. It's so much easier for public transport or busy shops when pushchairs and prams would get in the way. It frees up your hands so that you can carry shopping bags, hold elder kids' hands to cross the road and get on with running errands. If it's cold, it keeps baby - and you - warm by sharing body heat. A babycarrier takes up much less space in the luggage when you're travelling. Baby is up out of the way of ground level car exhaust fumes and as he's at your face level, you can talk to him non stop and take advantage of all those gorgeous baby smiles that you'd miss if he was in a pram or pushchair. Hearing your heartbeat and feeling your movement will remind him of being in the womb and keep him calmer and happier. You can breastfeed on the move and totally discreetly. The list of advantages is endless.
When I bought my baby carrier back when Sophie was a baby (almost nine years ago), I opted for a structured, semi-rigid baby carrier because basically, that's all that existed back then. For anyone coming to babycarrying now, the choice is huge - and totally confusing because there are almost too many different types to choose from. Slings, pouches, mei-tais, wraps, ring slings, soft structured carriers ... stop already, where to begin ?!
I actually really liked the idea of a wraparound sling because it seemed to be getting back to basics and using traditional methods that have existed for centuries. How's that for some serious roadtesting ? Like other traditional methods, such as using cloth nappies, breastfeeding and even swaddling, many people seem to be agreeing now that our grandmothers had it right all along. I was totally stressed out about messing up the knots and having baby fall out though (in which case it would be totally my fault) so I stuck with my rigid carrier. Then a friend, who had recently become a babywearing consultant, told me that that wasn't the best option - mum and baby get back ache, it pulls apart babies legs too wide and puts pressure in the wrong places so it could cause hip problems and - now that I had a boy baby - I really should be worried about crushing his extra bits ! So I rose to the challenge and decided to try out a sleepywrap.
When it arrives, it's just a very long strip of material and my first thought was that it was going to be really difficult to master. I studied the little instruction booklet and decided to try the basic tying method - there are several different ways to tie the wrap depending on baby's age and how you want to position him/her. Following the instructions, I found the logo that marks the centre of the material, placed it at belly-button position, took it around my back, crossed over on my back and over each shoulder, both ends back down throgh the front part, wrapped around my tummy, and tied in a simple knot. Depending on the length of the ends, you can take it back around your back and tie it there, or come back round the front again and tie it at the front. My mum laughed and said I looked like a mummy but I was impressed at how easy it was. I also love the way that it really is one-size-fits-all and can be used by anyone, whatever shape or size - mum and dad can use the same one, you won't have to change sizes as your post-pregnancy shape changes or as baby gets bigger so it's great value.
The instructions with photos are really easy to follow but once the wrap was tied, I couldn't work out where to slot baby in ! It would be really useful to have one extra photo to show how to position baby. But youtube to the rescue - there are hundreds of videos on there showing you exactly how to tie it and use it so if you need extra guidance or reassurance, that's the place to go. Once you know how, it's also really easy. I grab both sides at boob level, pull them to the sides to the "wrong" sides of my boobs and the leg holes magically appear !
The first few times you use the wrap, you'll probably tie it either slightly too loose or slightly too tight but after a few tries, you'll get a feel for exactly how tight you want it. What amazed me is that, once baby is in the wrap, you can't feel it at all. With my old baby carrier, even if it wasn't painful, I could feel the weight tugging on my shoulders and I eventually always ended up with slight backache. Well, it's really weird but with the wrap, you can't feel any pressure points anywhere so it's so much more comfortable.
The disadvantage is that you need a little help to get it on. After just a few tries, I can now tie it myself in seconds, without even looking at the instructions, but I do need a little help to pass it over my shoulders (being careful not to trip over the ends that are pooling around my feet !) and above all, to safely slot baby inside. I know the people on youtube manage to do it all by themselves with one hand tied behind their back but I don't feel confident enough to do that yet. The other problem is, the ends drag on the floor when you're tying it so if it's rainy or muddy, it would be almost impossible to put on outside. If we're heading out in the car, I tie the wrap on without baby so that it's ready when we arrive and it stays on all day until we get back home, even when I'm not carrying baby, so that I don't have to keep retying it. Make sure you don't have a thick sweatshirt or coat on underneath or you'll be stuck wearing it for ages !
The advantages far outweigh these problems though. I absolutely love the fact that baby's feet and legs are up and covered by the wrap. With my old style baby carrier, baby's legs hang down and dangle around the fronts of your thighs. As baby gets bigger, this poses a problem when you're trying to climb upstairs or sit down - you have to open your legs wide (very unladylike !!) and lean forward so baby's legs are dangling between yours, back ache guaranteed. With the sleepywrap, I could sit down totally normally and his legs weren't in the way at all - we ate at McDonalds with him still in the wrap and - sorry if this is too much information ! - I could even go to the toilet without taking him out of the wrap. So more spending hours walking around the shops with my legs crossed like before !
Pierre (like the girls before him) always managed to nod off in the baby carrier but he'd be micro-napping, constantly waking up every few minutes and falling back to sleep. With the wrap, because he's all snuggled up, nice and warm and slightly in the dark if you pull the front bit up over his head (really handy if it's raining, windy or particularly cold - I never liked the fact that baby's arms and legs are exposed with the old baby carrier), Pierre will sleep for ages in a deep sleep then pop his head up, looking all sleepy and refreshed and crack a huge grin. So he definitely loves it ! And happy baby = happy mum !
star rating : 4.5/5 (5/5 once on !)
RRP : $39.95 for a classic sleepy wrap, $59.95 for an organic wrap (which I tested)
for more information : http://www.sleepywrap.com/
They ship worldwide and, despite coming from America, it arrived really quickly. You also have the option of paying by paypal which is great.