Soft Structured Carrier Sizing

Purchasing a carrier is a huge investment and there are many things to take into consideration. Soft Structured Carriers (SSC) offer convenience, support and are easily accessible. Many SSC brands offer different sizes, some offer Infant, while most offer Standard and Toddler, which provide appropriate sized panel width and height.

Sizing is incredibly important with SSC’s, a carrier that is too large for the child can over-extend baby’s knees, not allowing for the “M” position. (knees above bum and carrier only going to the back of the knee) Hyper extending a child’s knees in a carrier that is too large can be incredibly painful for the child, as their weight is resting on their legs instead of their bottom.

Often we are asked “what is the best SSC”, or “I was told I NEED a such and such SSC carrier” SSC’s fit different body styles differently, what one person finds comfortable, another may not. There is a large number of SSC brands and we highly recommend trying on several carriers to see which is the most comfortable for you. There are several stores where you can try on carriers, or you can attend one of our ten monthly meetings. We would be happy to help you find a soft structured carrier that fit both individual carrying and the individual being carried appropriately.
Below we have placed a large toddler in each different soft structured carrier. The toddler’s stats are 31lbs, 38” and wears 4T clothing comfortably, she has both a long torso and long legs.

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New Beco Carriers for BWI Chicagoland

Recently, we accepted a generous donation from Beco Carriers to our library. This carrier brand is one of our most popular choices among checkouts, and we are thrilled to have the latest designs represented by our members for this spring.  Becos are a fantastic newborn through toddler carrying option that can be readily purchased at a number of retailers nationwide.

The Beco Gemini is a extremely versatile, ergonomic 4-way carry option for caregivers.  It allows for seat adjustment based on size of the child and carry. It is one of the few soft structured carrier options that does not require an infant insert to fit a baby from birth, and is a great option for caregivers who want a one piece carrier solution to carry their child.  It also gives the ability to cross straps while using a front carry, and this can help more evenly distribute the weight and aid in comfort for the wearer.

Beco Gemini with an almost 4-year old wearee.

Beco Gemini with an 3-year old wearee.

Beco Gemini with an almost 4 year old wearee

Beco Gemini with an 3- year old wearee

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Beco Gemini with an 8-month old wearee

Beco Gemini with an 8- month old wearee

Beco Gemini with an 8- month old wearee

The Beco Soleil is a 3-way carrier that boasts a wider panel and a hood option for sleeping and nursing.  This carrier also allows for crossed straps to more evenly distribute weight.  There is a handy front pocket and easy-to-use tri-lock safety buckles to ensure that the carrier is safe from losing a buckle attachment while being worn. Keyring and toy ring features help caregivers to keep all the important things close at hand.

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Beco Soleil with a 2.5-year old wearee

Beco Soliel with a 2.5-year old wearee

Beco Soleil with a 2.5-year old wearee

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Beco Soleil with a 8 month old wearee

Beco Soliel with 8- month old wearee

Beco Soleil with 8- month old wearee

We look forward to sharing these latest additions with you, and please do let us know if we can assist you with any questions concerning them.

Natibaby Windy City Steel

The Windy City wraps from Natibaby are making their appearance in Chicago fans’ homes everywhere, and we are so excited with the final product. The wrap was a combined working effort of leaders Nina Naus, Melinda Ciaccia, and Abigail Gratcyk of BWICL, Old Fashioned Girl Modern Mama, and Natibaby. The wrap owned by the library will be touring through all of the meeting locations over the next two months.  After this time, it will be available for check out by our members.

To give a brief overview, Windy City has plenty of support and good looks.  This steely gray hemp blend is gorgeous in multiple carries, and this wrap is definitely a great option for anyone who want to use one wrap from birth to toddlerhood without losing a bit of support.  These photos are a quick snip of our family getting to try it out as our beautiful city is slowly starting to leave the icy clutches of winter for the beautiful, breezy days of a Chicago spring. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Note: If you are a proud owner of this wrap and in need of tips for washing and breaking it in, Melinda Ciaccia will be adding several blog posts to help you in your journey. You can search the hashtag “wrapcare” to bring up these posts as the topic continues to be discussed over the coming days. Also, congratulations on you new addition.

I decided to wrap a Reinforced Ruck carry with my thirty-six pound almost three-year old.  The wrap was flawlessly supportive, and it carried him without digging a bit.  Considering the newness of the wrap, a bit more breaking in is necessary.  I have no doubt that the love it will be given over the next few weeks will render it extra soft and easier to wrap with each carry. After a single wash and a handful of “ups”, it is already feeling great to wrap and wear.

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My husband, who loves the look and design of this wrap, decided to Front Wrap Cross Carry our nineteen pound nine-month old.  He really enjoyed the grippy texture and “easy to maneuver” weight of this wrap.

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Meet the Fibers

As part of a special series in wrap care, Melinda Ciaccia (BWICL Librarian), has authored posts for our blog to help new and seasoned wrappers care for, break in, and maintain the wraps in their personal collections. Proper wrap maintenance ensures the cosmetic and structural integrity of your wraps for many years of use.

Cotton

Cotton is a natural, plant-based fiber harvested from cotton plants. It is the most widely used natural fiber in the world and the United States is currently the world’s largest exporter of cotton. Since cotton is highly preyed on by pests and disease, many pesticides and herbicides are used. Organic cotton, which some wrap companies boast using, is not genetically modified, and pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are not used in its production. On a funny note, you’ll see the word “baumwolle” come up a lot on German wrap tags. In medieval Europe, when cotton was imported from other countries, they had never seen the plant so imagined trees bearing tiny lambs. Baum means tree, wolle means wool, so it literally translates to “tree wool”.

100% Cotton Tula Elsa

100% Cotton Tula Elsa

Cotton wovens make wonderful carriers. Cotton is very breathable, especially in airy weaves, and makes a good summer wrap. It’s the perfect wrap for new wrappers since it is easy to break in, easy to care for, and easy to wrap. It’s not as durable as linen, hemp, or silk but can still be used with toddlers using multiple layered carries. It has a high elasticity, which is what gives linen, hemp, and silk blends their “cush”.Thicker cottons also tend to have a lot of cush and are supportive enough for any age ranges. Cotton is the most widely used fiber for woven wraps because it is soft, universally liked, and the least likely to irritate skin.

Cotton is very easy to care for. It can be washed in warm or cool water, dried in the dryer on low, and steam ironed. It is known to shrink slightly after the first wash so make sure it is washed if you plan on having a wrap converted.

Linen

Linen is a plant-based fiber made from flax plants. To obtain longer fibers, flax is harvested by hand, by pulling up the entire plant from the ground (one reason why it’s more expensive than cotton!).

Linen is another strong, durable fabric, similar to hemp. It is lighter weight than cotton, absorbs up to 20% moisture without feeling damp, and feels smooth and cool to the touch (making it a wonderful fabric for summer wearing), and not to mention linen has a nice lustre, giving it a gorgeous shimmer.

Natibaby Linen Blend Fiber Detail

Natibaby Linen Blend Fiber Detail

As a blend or in its pure form, linen is commonly used in both ring slings and woven wraps. Pure linen ring slings and wraps make great newborn carriers and/or great summer carriers. While linen itself is strong and supportive, it has poor elasticity so can sometimes feel diggy if not wrapped carefully while carrying a heavier child. When blended with other fibers—commonly cotton or bamboo—it often makes a wonderful supportive, cushy, and moldable wrap.

Linen blends do not need any special care. They can be thrown in the washing machine in cold or warm temperatures with an approved liquid laundry detergent, tossed in the dryer, and steam ironed. Like hemp, pure linen and its blends are subject to extensive wrinkling and perma-creasing so should be stored folded (never braided) and ironed every now and then.

Hemp

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Natibaby Windy City Hemp Blend

Hemp is a plant-based fiber and is naturally one of the oldest, most ecologically friendly fabrics; it grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. It is one of the strongest and most durable natural textile fibers. It has superior insulation properties, with one of the best ratios of heat capacity of all fibers. In a woven wrap with hemp, it will be a soft, snuggly, supportive, and very durable carrier. Due to its heat retaining properties, hemp may not be the best choice in multi-layered carries in a hot summer.

When blended with other fibers such as cotton, silk, or bamboo, you get the best of both worlds in terms of durability and softness. Hemp wraps are extremely easy to care for; they are not particularly sensitive to heat so can be washed in any temperature water, tumble dried on low, and steam ironed with no issues. Keep in mind that, if hemp is combined with a more delicate fiber such as bamboo or silk, the washing instructions should err on the side of the more delicate fiber. As with linen, hemp can crease easily. Hemp can take a little while to break in, they often feel pretty rough when brand new. Since it can easily be washed in warm (even hot) water and tossed in the dryer, it’s pretty easy to break in. High heat in the dryer should be avoided because hemp can shrink easily. In general, if you’re looking for a true “workhorse” wrap, a hemp/cotton blend is the way to go.

Wool

Obviously, wool is obtained from animals, usually sheep. Three common types of wool found in the babywearing world are sheep’s wool, merino, and cashmere. Other types of wool such as alpaca and even qiviut are used, but they are more rare.

Woven Wings Leaf Gold Geo Merino Blend

Woven Wings Leaf Gold Geo Merino Blend

Wool is surprinsingly breathable and has the highest elasticity of the fibers used for woven wraps, making it the cushiest fiber. While most people think wool can only be used in cold weather, it is a temperature regulating fabric that insulates in the winter, wicks moisture, and keeps cool in the summer.

It’s a good wrap for newborns and toddlers alike. Many people avoid wool because they are afraid of ruining it. While it is the most delicate of fibers in the wrap world, it’s not that difficult to care for once the fear of washing it is overcome. Wool should always be handwashed in a detergent free of optical brighteners, softeners, and most importantly, enzymes. Some machines have a “handwash” feature but even the handwash setting has been known to cause felting.

It is very sensitive to temperature changes, which can lead to felting, so tepid water should be used throughout both the wash and rinse. It should be laid flat to dry and can be ironed on a wool setting.

Silk

Silk is a natural protein fiber produced by moth caterpillars. There are two types of silk used for woven wraps: Wild silk (known as Tussah silk), and commercial silk. Wild silk is gathered from cocoons in the wild after the moth has already emerged. Since the cocoons are already broken open when the silk is collected, it is more labor intensive to turn the silk into a suitable textile. Commercial silk is produced from the cocoons of the silkworm pupae. Silkworms are specially bred to produce a smoother, whiter silk. The worms are killed before they emerge from the cocoon, which allows the thread to be unraveled in continuous strands. Silk is a wonderfully soft, silky, and strong fiber. However, it can be weakened and/or damaged by deodorants, heavy perspiration, and sunlight. In woven wraps, silk is often blended with cotton, though there are some 100% silk ring slings. Since silk is one of the strongest natural fibers, it is very supportive and many silk blends work well for newborns and toddlers. It’s great for both warm and cold weather wrapping. Care should be taken when washing silk because the fibers become weaker when wet. Spin cycles in washing machines can break the fibers or cause thread shifting, so silk should be hand washed or washed on a delicate cycle with no spin. It should be line dried or laid flat to dry out of sunlight, as sunlight can weaken the fiber.

Bamboo

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Oscha Rei Romeo Bamboo Blend

Bamboo is a plant-based fiber made from, you guessed it, bamboo plants. Two types of bamboo fibers used in woven wraps: natural bamboo and bamboo viscose. Natural bamboo is derived directly from the bamboo stalk and is the more expensive fiber of the two; it is stronger than viscose bamboo and has a similar structure and performance to linen. Bamboo viscose has been reconstituted from the original bamboo plant so smaller amounts of original bamboo remain. Viscose is the more popular of the two for woven wraps and is less expensive; it looks similar to commercial silk but performs completely differently. Bamboo is a sustainable fiber and doesn’t require pesticides or large amounts of water. It’s also hypoallergenic and has antibacterial qualities so it’s good for people with allergies, sensitive skin, and also reduces odors. It makes a great summer wrap since it can absorb up to three times its weight in water, meaning it wicks moisture from the skin to keep you cool. Bamboo fibers are the epitome of “kitten-belly soft”, you’ll want to rub your face on the wrap all day. Due to the soft, silky feel of the fiber, bamboo blends can either be easy or difficult to wrap with, depending on how you look at it. Passes glide easily into place and are easy to tighten, which is a big pro. A big con is that, since the fabric is slippery, a good wrap job is required to make sure the passes stay in place. Cotton/bamboo wraps are the perfect wraps for newborns and smaller babies but, due to the slippery feel of the fabric, can begin to sag with heavier children. If you want the softness of bamboo with more support, you can find hemp/bamboo and linen/bamboo blends. It is one of the more delicate fibers. Bamboo is extremely frail when wet so should never be actively wet for more than 40 minutes at a time. Hand washing is highly recommended in cold water, as heat can damage the fibers. Since it’s very sensitive to heat, it should never be put in the dryer and should, instead, be dried flat. It can be ironed on low temperatures.

Sources

“Hemp: Facts on the Fiber”. OrganicClothing.blogs.com.

http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/12/hemp_facts_on_t.html. Accessed March 2,

2015

Susoeff, Rachel. “Wrap Fibre Focus” Super Awesome Babywearing Collective.

http://www.sabcollective.com. Accessed March 2, 2015

“Tips on Silk.” Drycleaning & Laundry Institute International. http://www.dlionline.org/Silk. Accessed

March 2, 2015.

“Cotton vs. Linen: What’s the Difference?” Brahms Mount. http://www.brahmsmount.com/blog/cotton-

vs-linen-whats-the-difference/. Accessed March 2, 2015

“Fabrics FAQ: eco-fabrics with bamboo.” Brentano.

http://www.brentanofabrics.com/fabrics_FAQ/eco_bamboo.aspx Accessed March 3, 2015

Babywearing While Pregnant

As Babywearing Educators, we are frequently asked about the safety of babywearing while pregnant, and the answer usually comes with a bit of followup about the wearer. In short, it is safe to wear your child if you feel comfortable to do so and you have checked with your doctor or midwife about being able to carry an older child during your pregnancy. Many of our leaders and members have carried their older children throughout their pregnancies safely and easily in a variety of different carriers, but a few modifications can help to make the process a little easier for you if you find that you are having specific fit and comfort issues.

Firstly, make sure your body is physically able to wear your older child. This is only a question that can be answered by your doctor or midwife. Each pregnancy is different. With certain issues or complications, it may not be considered safe to carry or lift loads above certain weights during your pregnancy. Your medical professional will be able to identify any issues that may restrict you in this way, so it is important to ask them if you plan to wear an older child before trying to do so.

Secondly, pay careful attention to your body’s signals. Babywearing can feel very different in each stage of pregnancy, and what was once very comfortable, may need adjustment later into your pregnancy. With building a new life, you may find that you are more prone to fatigue and new aches. If you feel that babywearing an older child is putting additional stress on your body, it may be best to discontinue wearing for the duration. You are the best judge of your body’s cues, so keep them in mind at all times while wearing.

Thirdly, explore your options. Carriers that were once comfortable may fit differently during pregnancy. There are a few simple adjustments that may help you be more comfortable with babywearing in your changing frame. We will cover a few of these adjustments below for you to personally try.

Sometimes, you may find that even with adjustments, the carrier you own is not a good fit for you during the pregnancy. We always invite you to come to a meeting to try on different types of carriers to see what could be a better fit for you and your children during this time.

Babywearing While Pregnant in a Soft Structured Carrier (Buckle Carrier) 

When using a soft structured carrier during pregnancy, you may find that a waistband adjustment or different carrying position may help your comfort in carrying.

Tip 1: Front wearing can get to be a little too difficult in this type of carrier as your pregnancy progresses. You can try a hip carry or a back carry given the older child is of a suitable age for these types of carries. Many caregivers find that a back carry is very comfortable while pregnant, and they can continue to wear this way through their entire pregnancy.

Tip 2: You can wear the waistband above or below your bump while back carrying to minimize discomfort. Where you wear it, is just based on personal preference. Sara (pictured below) has found that at different time in her pregnancy, she has preferred it to be above the bump and at other times below. Try both to see what works best for you.

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Below Bump Waistband Placement in Late Pregnancy

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Above Bump Waistband Placement in Mid Pregnancy

Babywearing While Pregnant in a Mei Tai

Tip 1: The waistband can be worn tied under or over your bump per your comfort, in a back carry. This is very similar to how you would wear a SSC in the photos above.

Tip 2:  Consider a hip carry or back carry with a child of suitable age, if front carry has become uncomfortable.

Tip 3: The shoulder straps can be tied in a variety of different finishes to keep the carrier more comfortable for you, and the weight of the child being carried away from your bump.

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Mei Tai Tied Tibetan with Waistband Over Bump

Babywearing While Pregnant in a Ring Sling

Tip 1:  Wearing your child higher, in an off-centered, or hip carry may help to distribute the weight of the chid to be a little more comfortable for you.

Tip 2:  Make sure to spread the back and shoulder of the sling as wide as you can to distribute your older child’s weight on your new frame.

Tip 3:  If you feel unbalanced at any point in wearing a one-shouldered carry, consider a two-shouldered carrier to help with evening the load of the child being carried.

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Toddler Wearing in Mid Pregnancy

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Toddler Wearing in Late Pregnancy (new baby is on its way here!)

Babywearing in a Woven Wrap

Tip 1:  When adjusting and making the seat for your older child, make sure to do so very carefully while leaning over.  Keeping a steady balance and even footing are essential with your changing body.

Tip 2:  Select carries that allow for a comfortable waistband over or under your bump and are high, away front the belly to prevent pressure on the bump while carrying.

Tip 3:  Select two-shouldered carries if you are not comfortable with one-shouldered weight barring.

Tip 4:  If front carries are becoming uncomfortable, consider an off-centered or hip carry as long as baby is of appropriate age to do so.

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Back Carry at 16 Weeks Pregnant with a 18 Month Old

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Off-centered Carry at 20 Weeks Pregnant

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Month by Month Woven Wrap Carries with a Toddler

Babywearing while pregnant is an option for most people.  If you are approved to do so by a medical professional and you are physically comfortable wearing your older child, please do consider it an option for helping you in your everyday life.  If ever specific wearing questions arise, please feel free to ask at a meeting or on our online Facebook board. Many women in our group have worn in all stages of their pregnancies, and we are here to support and help you with your wearing journey.  Many congratulations on your upcoming arrival, and we are excited to share in your growing family as BWICL leaders.

2014 blog in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cancelled – Mundelein Meeting 10/28/2014

Attention everyone!

The Mundelein Meeting tomorrow, on 10/28, has to be cancelled. Something came up and the leader is no longer able to attend. We apologize profusely for this. If you have a carrier you would like to return or exchange, you can contact any of the leaders to work something out. Thank you for being understanding.