on 9 August 2014
Just as it says on the cover – “everything you need to know about baby carriers and the benefits of babywearing” Well, maybe ‘everything’ is a bit of an overstatement, but certainly, this book gives a pretty good guide to why and how you should carry your baby – or babywear as it is referred to.
It begins with a nice, easy to read introduction, including a table to help the babywearing beginner understand the different types of carrier explained later in the book. It moves on with the theory behind why you should carry your baby and not just pop your precious newborn into the latest state-of-the-art pram or baby bouncy chair when you’re not busy feeding or changing them.
The author explains how not only is wearing your baby very convenient in this hectic modern day, but also why a baby does indeed want (and need) to be carried - if a baby didn't want to be carried, it would be nigh on impossible to actually do so comfortably! In addition she offers a few tutorial pages on how to choose your carrier or sling and then how to go about carrying.
Kirkilonis untwists the myths from the facts about the worries of hip dysplasia, oxygen supply and will you spoil your baby by carrying him. She brings us referenced medical evidence about the physiology and anatomy of the newborn and young baby, and explains why they are suited to being carried and the benefits of this, along with how carry your baby in a comfortable and ergonomical way. She gently explains why we should be carrying baby facing towards us and not facing out, using a wide seat as opposed to a narrow one (which many of the readily available carriers on the High Street are)
There are only a few points which don’t seem to have been looked into very well. For example, when explaining the length of woven wrap a parent may need, Ms Kirkilonis states that the average size of a woman in the UK is a dress size 10 – 12. ‘If only!’ many women will cry! This size may have been true some 40 years ago, however the average woman in late 2013, according to The Guardian, is 5’3” tall, weighs 11stone and is a dress size 16. The BBC backed this up in an article back in January 2014. So a wrap that would work for a size 10 mother, is going to be too short for today’s average woman.
A dubious section is that of carrying baby in the ‘Cradle Carry’. There has been some negative reporting of babies suffocating in slings and most of these have been when baby is lying crossways across the body in a cradle position (often in a ‘bag sling’) as it is all too easy for baby’s chin to drop onto their chest and close off the airway if the parent isn’t hyper-vigilant. For this reason, the cradle carry is not recommended. She also makes no mention of the TICKS guidelines – an important set of easy to understand guidelines to help the babywearer know if baby is well positioned and safely carried.
While this book offers a plethora of photographs of babies being worn, we could have benefited from more photographs of good examples of confident and experienced babywearing, there are only a few pics of babies/toddler in a back carry, and in many the baby is not well supported (especially in the ringslings) they seem to be hastily wrapped by models rather than experienced babywearing folk.
Overall, as long as the reader is not expecting this book to be a babywearing Bible, it is a very good and easy to understand guide to why your baby does indeed want to be carried and how to go about doing so. Great for dipping into, or giving as a baby shower gift or present for new parents. I would heartily recommend giving it a read!
on 19 July 2014
There is a wealth of information on the benefits and techniques of babywearing online now which is great, but it is so lovely to have everything you need to know all in one beautiful book to curl up with and read. At first glance it doesn't look like a huge book, but when you open it you see it is absolutely packed with information and the most gorgeous photographs!
The first section of the book tells you all about the theory behind babywearing, its history and benefits, and goes into great detail on the physiology and anatomy of infants but in a highly readable way. It covers such important subjects as attachment theory and bonding, skin to skin contact, hip dysplasia and a lovely chapter on babywearing in special situations for example with babies in special care or with additional needs.
The second part of the book focuses on the practicalities of babywearing. This includes chapters on which type of carrier to choose from (there are many!) and which way to carry your child. It tells you about soft structured carriers (SSCs) which are the buckled variety, woven wraps, ring slings, mei tais and more. The section on woven wraps is excellent, showing you exactly how to do different carries using fabulous photographs and instructions which make it crystal clear what you need to do. I've watched many videos and read many things about getting my baby on my back with a woven and it's never quite clicked, but after reading this book it all became clear! It's also helped me master a Robin's hip carry. Each section tells you what length of wrap you're likely to need and what situations it is best used for, as well as the pros and cons of each carry. In short, this is a lovely book for fans of babywearing old and new, written in a gentle and respectful manner with a wealth of knowledge and experience. You'll love it just for the beautiful photographs alone!
on 16 October 2014
At a glance at the cover and index to start with it looks like it’s going to be a fairly relaxed book just by some of the title names on certain parts of the chapters like ‘Please no stereotypes!’ for example, but judging by what some of the other chapters are called it looks like it is going to go into a fair bit of depth about babywearing.
It starts off with the introduction talking about how convenient babywearing is opposed to pushing a pram, with having experienced both myself I would have to definitely agree, it talks about how it’s become a common thing to see a baby in a sling of some sort now a days and how midwives and health professionals emphasise about close physical contact and wearing baby on the front (although with having two children I’ve never had anyone from the medical profession tell me anything about babywearing.)
The introduction also goes on to say that the book will talk about the emotional relationship between parents and baby, how babywearing isn’t just a form of transport, which I have to agree with also, babywearing for us as a family is a huge way of bonding, a fantastic way to keep our children really close when they are ill, needing just the extra bit of attention and I also found it helped my milk supply when I was breast feeding, there are so many more benefits to babywearing than just simple transportation.
There is then a small table explaining all the different types of carriers and slings, which actually surprised me as I’ve been babywearing for two years now and I wasn’t always overly sure on what the different names were of carriers and slings.
The book then starts with chapter one and talks about closeness and security.
It starts by talking about how yes as adults we need peace and quiet to rest and sleep easily, but babies don’t so much as they can fall asleep almost anywhere, like on a parents lap or in the sling, the book says it’s not the peace and quiet it’s the calmness around the baby the baby needs, which I fully agree with, our daughter Eppy who is now 1 rarely ever falls asleep on her own, she usually needs to be cuddled to sleep which is downstairs on the sofa and almost 9 times out of 10 she falls asleep in her carrier, though I do find as she’s getting older she’s more interested in looking around now, so she doesn’t sleep as much as she used to in her carrier. Though she rarely naps anyway!
It continues to talk about how babies are not aware they are safe when they are on their own as they still have the same instincts from 10,000 years ago when bears and tigers were prowling the earth looking for food, as much as those animals are still very much prowling for food, the chances of them randomly being in your children’s nurseries are pretty much zilch.
It says quite simply that ‘according to baby’s biological programming to stay anywhere alone means only one thing - not only being left behind by the person caring for him, but also being abandoned, or in other words finding himself in mortal danger’ which to me is why our family is against CIO (cry it out) because a baby is left to cry alone in their room and you’re just sitting outside the door, doing nothing, letting your baby fall asleep stressed and probably thinking they have been abandoned.
I like how this chapter mentions how security is very important, that how when baby is in the sling they have instant peace when being in physical contact with the parent.
One section of the chapter talks about ‘the clinging young’ it goes on about the ‘behavioural dispositions, our evolutionary history and comparisons with our closest relatives, the apes, clearly show that human newborns belong to the biological offspring type of clinging people.’
It talks about how the young of apes clung onto their mothers fur when moving around but times have changed now, we don’t have fur as human beings, so our young can’t do this, I sort of didn’t really understand this part of the chapter much, I don’t think it needed to go on as long as it did, I get that we are probably part of the ape family, but I don’t think a whole chapter dedicated to that was needed. Although the pictures were cute, like the comparison picture between a baby gorilla and the eleven week old baby and how they both hold the same posture when being put down. But I guess the chapter makes sense in a way because evolution has taught us that carrying has been going on for millions of years, whether in humans or animals.
I really like the sub chapter called ‘The Innate Behavioral Patterns of Modern Human Offspring’ because it talks more about the posture that the gorilla and eleven week old were pictured, it talks about the spread out squat position, saying as adults if we had to do it, it would be uncomfortable and tiring and would require a lot of willpower to hold for a long time, but babies can hold this posture quite well for a good amount of time, some even sleep in this posture and the child as they get older are more accustomed to the position and expect it and want it and know they are about to be carried.
This sub chapter also shows and tells you how amazing a baby can really be by ‘preparing themselves for the hip carry position with the spread squat reaction and even take part in the stabilization of the position themselves’ which I didn’t know and I’ve worn Eppy since she was born, though I didn’t ever carry her on my hip, she was in a stretchy on my front so maybe that’s why I didn’t overly notice.
Next chapter talks about hip dysplasia, it was an interesting read, mainly because I’ve always known about it because many people say not to use the narrow based carriers because they can potentially cause the problem, but i’ve never known the ways on how they treat the problem, the chapter mentions how babywearing can help prevent and fix hip dysplasia, which sort of doesn’t surprise me in some ways because I remember Eppy having an ultrasound scan on her hip at the hospital a few weeks when she was born as she was breech (standard procedure for any child born breech now a days) and they noticed I was babywearing and mentioned how good that is for her hips.
I liked the myths and facts chapter, it actually made me giggle a bit, the two myths that were focused on were the myth of spinal damage whilst babywearing and facts and fiction the supply of oxygen.
The supply of oxygen made me a giggle, I nodded my head at a few parts because I’ve had several comments when Eppy was younger of people saying ‘can she breathe?’ when she was nestled inbetween my breasts, my answer always used to be something similar that was mentioned in the book ‘she would move if she wasn’t.’
I found the chapter titled ‘The Importance of Parent - Child Relationship’ quite an obvious chapter, most of the things mentioned in the chapter were common sense really, the fact that the parent has their hands free whilst babywearing they can get on with daily tasks makes the parent less stressed and can happily comfort their child in seconds makes things so much easier. I’ve many times had to wear Eppy just to get some simple washing up done, she was happy, I was happy, happy home.
There is a lot more to the first part of this book, so much that I couldn’t sit here and go into full detail because it would take the joy out of your experience of reading it, it goes into so much depth of many different subjects all linked together, you learn something new on every page, some of it feels a little dragged out, but I guess if you want to be completely knowledgeable on babywearing and the history of it you need to know certain things.
Let’s get onto the second half.
It begins by talking about that babywearing isn’t just about carrying, it refers to the first part of the book which explains how it isn’t. It then starts talking about what sort of carrier/sling you should use, it talks about how it ‘must be suitable for the anatomical and physiological characteristics of a baby at any age, size and weight.’ It talks about what wraps you should use and how some tying methods are not suitable for certain ages, it also talks about how you should do your research just as you would a car seat.
From my personal opinion I would suggest visiting your local sling library to help you make your choice of carrier/sling.
There is talk in this chapter about the head support, leg positioning and support for your childs back, it gives good advice on how each of these important parts of wearing your child are achieved.
I have enjoyed reading about each different type of carrier you can use, from soft structured, to wovens to stretchy wraps for newborns, they give pointers for each one for you to consider and talk about their special features.
There’s a lot of talk about wovens in this book and how to tie different knots, it actually makes me want to buy a woven because it’s so informative and the diagrams on how to do different ties are really good and look fairly easy to follow!
I have really enjoyed this very informative book, especially all the beautiful photographs! I love how the men are playing their part in this book as it’s not just the mothers who babywear!
Like I said before, I could go into much much more detail but that would take the point away from you reading it, but I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about babywearing or anyone currently doing so, because it’s taught me a lot and I am glad to have it on my bookshelf.
on 11 September 2014
When I received the book, my first impression was that it is a lovely object – it is glossy, a nice size, and flicking through, I could see that the content was presented in quite an accessible way. I would describe it as a coffee table book – something you could dip in and out of, rather than feeling you need to read it all in one go. It seemed like a good reference guide, and (being a bit of a printing geek) I liked the typeface, line spacing, and inclusion of lots of glossy images and diagrams.
What I liked
The book covers a lot of content, but it is presented in an easy-to-digest format. Each chapter/section is relatively short and text is broken up with images and diagrams. At the end of each section is a ‘bubble’ summary, which I found really useful as it meant I could flick through the book and still pick up the important points.
The first part is about the background to baby carrying and why a baby wants to be carried. This was my favourite part and I read it avidly, and found it really interesting. It covers various academic theories including the ‘clinging young’, drawing parallels with other mammals, and looking at anthropological reasons for carrying and carrying in non-Western cultures. I think my husband got a bit fed up with my exclamations and reading aloud the parts I found most interesting! I definitely learned a lot from this part and I know it will help me in my role as a sling librarian and babywearing educator.
This part also discusses the ‘fourth trimester’ and why a newborn baby needs to be close to its carers. I thought this made a lot of sense and I think a lot of new parents will relate to this. The book talks about when your baby ‘won’t be put down’, which is what drives a lot of new parents to use a sling in my experience. I think this information will be useful and accessible to new parents, and help them to realise it is normal for their baby to want to be close to them.
Throughout the book there are glossy photos showing different types of carriers. I loved how happy the babies and adults looked in these photos, and that there were male and female carers. I thought this was indicative of the approach of the book – normalising carrying and dispelling the idea that it’s something ‘hippy’ or ‘weird’.
The second part of the book provides a good overview of various types of carriers, and some wrapping instructions with clear written and photographic instructions. I’ve not seen another book that covers reasons for carrying as well as an overview of carriers and instructions for wrapping. I liked that the book included pros and cons of the various types of carriers, and that it included less well-known slings such as onbuhimos and podaegis.
What I didn’t like
Quite a few of the photos in the book illustrate carries that are, in my opinion, not optimal. Some look uncomfortable or even unsafe, e.g. ring sling photos. In the wrapping section, some of the models look a bit unsure of what they are doing, and some key points are skimmed over, for example how to create a good ‘seat’ for the baby. It is always difficult to cover all the salient points but in an instructional section I would expect to see more detail (perhaps covering fewer wrapping methods).
Throughout the book, quite a lot of the text is on coloured backgrounds, which makes it very hard to read in parts. One particular example is what looks like dark blue text on a light green background, which I found impossible to read although I do not have any issues with vision or colour blindness. I think this could be made more accessible.
In the first part of the book, there is an emphasis on hip carrying for newborns (although in the instructions part, it is suggested from around four months). In my opinion, carrying a newborn on the hip is not optimal as it could overstretch the hip and leg joints, although interesting anthropological evidence is given for this approach.
Although there is a ‘references’ and ‘glossary’ section, I think more information on where to go for more support would be useful – for example, web links, sling libraries, how to find local resources, instructional videos.
on 27 July 2014
This is a fascinating and insightful read, full of photos and illustrations; the first part explores in depth why babies want to be carried from a variety of angles. Evolutionary humans are now classified as actively clinging infants, demonstrated by the spread and squat position enabling them to grip their mothers’ hip with their whole legs and stabilise their own posture. Babies have an innate need for closeness and physical contact particularly during the first nine months of life. Thus babywearing provides security, promotes calmness and allows the parent to be extremely receptive to the baby’s’ needs.
Significantly the anatomical condition of hip dysplasia can be prevented by hip carrying as babies naturally adopt a leg position suitable for normal pelvic development. It is also striking that the cartilage within the hip is gradually replaced by bone by nine months, corresponding to the infants need for close physical contact. Babywearing supports early learning as almost all their senses are activated when carried, particularly advanced motor development and earlier head stabilisation. Regular carrying also promotes bonding and attachment between parent and infant, and has been shown to increase breastfeeding duration and frequency. Premature babies benefit immensely on many levels from kangaroo care and can often leave hospital earlier too.
The second part discusses various carriers, particularly woven wrap tying techniques, with step by step instructions. It explains pros and cons, and also carriers to avoid such as forward facing types due to lack of hip support. Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone interested in babywearing. It’s also reassuring to read I have a well-designed carrier and babywearing doesn’t spoil a baby it’s what they’ve evolved to do. The only aspect lacking was advice how to breastfeed a baby in a carrier, it’s one thing I never mastered and would have been so convenient, especially in those early days.