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The Basics of Back Wrapping

So you’re ready to back wrap and looking for a place to start? That long piece of fabric does seem a bit scary at first, but don’t let that discourage you.  Here’s a guide I put together to help you as you begin your journey into back wrapping. There is no right or wrong carry to start with, but if you are just learning you may find it less intimidating if you progress through the back carries in the same order as detailed in this blog. I  have intentionally ordered the videos from least difficult to most difficult. They can all be done with your base size wrap as well. How convenient! I made the mistake of jumping into advanced carries way too soon and ended up beating myself up when I couldn’t get it just right. Many times I got so frustrated I threw my wrap across the room and swore I would never try again. I’m so glad that was just the anger talking because eventually we got it! Don’t be surprised if your baby is a little resistant at first. You are both learning something new so it may take some time to get used to it.

Before you begin back wrapping be sure your child is ready first. It’s best practice to begin putting your baby on your back when they are able to sit up unassisted. It’s true some parents out there will begin this journey sooner than this, but trying to wrap a newborn is very advanced and should not be done if you are just starting out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need assistance. Visit your local babywearing group or consult with a Certified Babywearing Educator. There are plenty of educators out there that love babywearing and would be happy to help you wrap. You might even learn a few helpful techniques.

COZY KANGAROO-1005imageThere’s more than one way to get your baby on your back.  The three most popular methods are: Santa Toss, Hip Scoot and Superman Toss. What does this all mean you ask? It means you have options. Yay! With that said; one isn’t better than the other, it’s all about what you like best and what makes sense for you and your baby. I find the Santa Toss to be beneficial for beginners who have smaller babies. The hip scoot is my favorite and what I do the most since that’s what we started with and what my kids are most used to. Once your kid is a bit older and able to sit or stand unassisted the Superman Toss really comes in handy. Occasionally we will do the Superman Toss but not every time.

Since you are just starting out don’t be afraid to ask for help from a loved one or friend. Also, back wrapping over a bed or sofa is a great start and keeps your sweet baby safe.

Now that you’re familiar with getting your baby on your back let’s talk carries. The Rucksack Back Carry holds a special place in my heart. It was the very first back carry I learned when I started wrapping and that’s why I think it’s important to start here when you and your baby are ready to back wrap. What makes this such a great beginner carry is the fact it does not require extra passes around your baby. It also gives you the chance to practice getting your baby on your back, making a deep seat and reaching behind you to tie off your carry.

I know I suggested starting with the Rucksack when you are starting out, but the Back Wrap Cross Carry is another beginner carry that is really easy to learn. What makes it so easy is you tie a half knot at your chest right away. This gives you time to adjust your seat, take a break and think about your next step while your baby is secure. Sure there are a couple of passes that go over your baby, but what a great way to start practicing!

If you liked the Back Wrap Cross Carry but you’re looking for another carry that lets you tie a half knot at the beginning you can try the Secure High Back Carry. Just like the BWCC you tie a half knot at the very beginning. It’s hard to think about all the steps when you have a wiggly baby on your back so this gives you a second to take a break and think about what your doing while keeping your baby secure. It’s also a great way to practice doing an over the shoulder flip which is tricky for a lot of people…even me.

Double Hammock is one of my personal favorites. It’s the most versatile carry in my opinion and you can do this with various size wraps. You will just need to get creative with how you tie off your carry. The original version finishes off just like the Rucksack which you should be familiar with anyway.

Back wrapping can be very difficult and frustrating and often ends up being the only way older children want to be worn. As your baby gets heavier this is also more comfortable for the babywearer. Wrapping is an art form so keep practicing and pretty soon you and your baby will become Picassos. As you become a seasoned babywearer you may find playing around with different size wraps fun. Some advanced carriers require longer wraps while others require shorter wraps. Have fun and happy babywearing!

If you have any questions on the wraps shown on the videos please feel free to comment below or send me an email. You can also visit The Cozy Kangaroo and browse around at the different wraps and slings.

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8 Reasons Why You Should Not Forward Face Your Baby in a Carrier

A parent’s job is to keep their children safe and make them feel secure. As a certified babywearing educator and store owner I get a lot of parents who ask if it’s safe to forward face their child in a carrier. While it’s well known that as babies grow up they become more interested in the world and want to face out parents must still understand the physiological and emotional needs of their baby. Here are 8 reasons why I never recommend forward facing a child in a baby carrier.

1. The Spread Squat Position is not Possible Facing Forward in a Narrow Based Carrier.

The ideal baby carrier will be able to support your child and keep him comfortable for long periods of time not just short spurts here and there. Supporting your baby’s natural spine development is crucial during the first year of  life. During the first year their spine is developing  and it’s important to understand the stages in which this happens. Kyphosis is described as the slightly rounded position babies take during the first several weeks following their birth. This continues until they reach stage one known as Neck Lordosis which consists of the top 7 vertebrae. This stage begins as soon as your baby starts to lift his head and it’s complete when baby can hold his head up unassisted and can lean on his forearms. This usually takes place around 4 months of age. During this time your baby’s neck needs to be fully supported and the fabric of your carrier should extend from the back of your baby’s neck all the way under his bum and behind the hollow of each knee.

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Stage two is known as Chest Kyphosis and consists of the 12 chest vertebrae. During this phase your child should be supported from his armpits all the way under his bum and behind the hollow of his knees. Normally kids going through this phase will naturally push their arms out of the carrier and want to look out. If you are thinking of forward facing your child, try moving him to your hip instead. This stage is complete when your child is able to sit up unassisted which is around 6 months of age for most babies.

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Last but definitely not least is stage three, Lumbar Lordosis. This stage begins when your child starts pulling up on furniture and is complete when he is able to walk unassisted. During this phase supporting the lower back is key. Back carries are a great alternative to forward facing during this stage. It takes practice and a good place to start is on the edge of a bed or sofa. That way you and your baby are able to practice in a safe area.

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“Because the human is a physiological premature birth, the skeleton of a newborn is mainly cartilage. The squatting spread position is most favorable. A clue for this is, for example, those populations where babies are carried in a wrap, close to the mother’s body, hip laxations are basically non existent. When the children sit in the wrap, the legs are 90º spread apart (45º from midline) and the knees are raised about 110º-120º. Thereby the pivotal muscles push above the hip ball into the socket, thereby creating a hydrostatic pressure, which in turn supports the hardening of the bone.” -Dr. Ewald Fettweis

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2. Child’s Back is not Supported Properly and Forced into an Unnatural Position.

Forward facing your child in a carrier pushes their back into an unnatural position. It is arched instead of rounded. This may not cause your baby problems right away but could lead to future back problems later in life.

3. Baby May Become Overstimulated.

Baby’s sense of direction starts to develop around 4 months of age. Before that happens they usually like to face their parent or caregiver. This gives them security from the outside world which can be very scary for a small baby. Once their sense of direction develops they start to get interested in how their parents see the world and may want to explore and see out with them. It may be tempting to face your child out at this point but try a hip or back carry instead. That way if they want to fall asleep or hide from the outside world they can easily turn in towards the parent. Problem soloved.

4. Breastfeeding is Impossible.

This one is pretty obvious and needs little explanation. Breastfeeding is impossible when your baby is facing away from you and you’re not able to ready your baby’s hunger cues either.

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5. The Center of Gravity is Too Far Removed From the Babywearer.

Carrying your baby while they are facing out can not only damage your baby’s back, it can also damage the babywearer’s back since your baby’s curved back pulls you forward. This position also negatively affects your pelvic floor.

6. Sleeping is Impossible and/or Uncomfortable.

A good carrier will provide the ideal spread squat position for hours at a time which leads to more restful sleep for your child. This also brings confidence to the new parent and allows them to be hands free to do what they want while their child naps without feeling guilty from leaving their child on the floor or in their crib alone. Did you also know babywearing also counts as “tummy time?”

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7. Baby is Unable to Straddle Their Legs Around Babywearer, Causing Circulation to be Cut Off in Their Legs.

Circulation in the legs can definitely suffer when a child is suspended in a harness carrier for long periods of time. It’s hard to tell how long it takes or a child to loose circulation but the first signs of suspension trauma can happen in as little as three minutes. On average it takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes for this to happen. Of course it’s not fatal or anything extreme but it can be extremely uncomfortable.

8. Unable to Read Your Baby’s Signs.

I love how easy it is to read my daughter’s signals and cues when I’m wearing her in a sling. When she was a small infant I would have her positioned where her fists were near her mouth. Whenever she wanted to nurse she would let me know by chewing on her knuckles. No crying, just simple mother daughter communication. I was able to feed her on demand without the use of a nursing pillow or cover either. Doing this made our lives so much easier.

Unfortunately not all manufacturers of baby carriers are up to speed on safety and baby spine and hip development. They will often advertise forward facing your child in a carrier and make it look very appealing so it’s up to you to make the safe decision for you and your baby. If you are ever unsure on the positioning of your baby in a carrier please see your local babywearing educator or find a babywearing group in your area.

Please browse The Cozy Kangaroo website for safe and ergonomically friendly carriers and email me if you have any questions. Happy babywearing!

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Breastfeeding in a Ring Sling

One of the many questions I get asked while doing a consultation is, “Can I nurse in a baby carrier?” My response is always, “Yes!” In fact nursing in a baby carrier is highly encouraged. There are so many benefits with babywearing and so many benefits of breastfeeding, why not put them together? I love babywearing and I love breastfeeding so this is something I’m always excited to talk about! You know that happy hormone called oxytocin that makes you feel warm and tingly after giving birth? Well, that hormone gets released when a mother nurses her child. It also gets released when babywearing, which helps grow the relationship and build and even stronger bond.

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Before diving in, get to know your baby and your baby carrier. Breastfeeding is very challenging by itself so there’s no need to rush and combine it with babywearing the day your baby is born. Take things slow in the beginning and get the hang of breastfeeding and babywearing separately. Once you’ve mastered them both, then it’s a good time to put them together. This is one of the most crucial pieces of breastfeeding while babywearing. I’ll never forget the day my ring sling came in the mail. I was so excited to start wearing my baby and even more excited to nurse her in my sling. I didn’t think about trying to learn to babywear first. Instead I jumped right in and was in for a big surprise. It wasn’t as easy as it looked and my baby was not very happy. In fact she protested every time I tried to nurse her in the sling. When I had my second daughter I decided to do things differently. I didn’t even attempt to nurse my little girl in the sling until she was around three weeks old. At that point we were confident in breastfeeding and I had plenty of practice with the ring sling to be comfortable putting the two together.
Most baby carriers are adjustable in order for you to nurse your baby comfortably. It’s always best practice to nurse upright when wearing a carrier but if you’re going to nurse in the cradle position be sure you follow a few basic safety rules. First, make sure you are able to see your baby’s face at all times and his head is not completely covered by any piece of loose fabric. Also, be aware of your baby’s airway. You want to be sure you can run two fingers between his chin and his chest to ensure he has a clear airway and good oxygen flow. Last but not least, when your baby is finished actively eating bring him back up to a kissable position and tighten all straps, buckles and/or belts. It’s never a good idea to allow your baby to fall asleep in the cradle position because that can block his airway making it difficult to breath.

We are all moms that want what’s best for our children and have the best intentions. If you’re not sure about something or need help, consult with your local certified babywearing educator. They are trained answer any questions you have about babywearing and can help you find the perfect carrier for you and your little one.

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Hip Carry in a Ring Sling

I remember getting my first ring sling and asking myself, “ok, now what?” I was so lost when it came to wearing my baby and eventually gave up after only a few tries. A couple months later I decided to give the ring sling another go. YouTube became my teacher, although I quickly learned that not all YouTube videos are created equal. Some are really good while others are really bad and you have a few in between. You see, there is a lot to think about when wearing your child in the sling. You have to position the rings so they aren’t too low or too high, make the pocket a perfect size and figure out how to adjust the sling while keeping your baby from squirming out of your arms. There was a point where I thought I mastered this thing. My husband and I were shopping at Menards one afternoon and everything suddenly seemed to click. I was so excited! A few moments later when I tried to wear my baby at Target, I couldn’t get her like I did before. What was I doing wrong?

After many hours of surfing YouTube videos and countless tantrums (from me not the baby) later, I finally got it! The reason I was having such a hard time was, I wasn’t supporting my baby’s little tushie while I was adjusting the sling. Also, her positioning was never quite right which meant we were both pretty miserable and that defeated the point of babywearing altogether. I figured out a few tricks over the next year and learned even more when I trained under Babywearing Institute.

I really hope this video helps if you are a parent struggling with your ring sling. Practice makes perfect so keep at it and don’t give up! You will eventually get it and become a pro! If you still find yourself stuck and not able to master this carry please contact me. I would love to help you in anyway I can! I also provide private one-on-one consultations. If you are outside Decatur, IL or not able to travel, I can connect with you via FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangout.

When you get the chance, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I have several other videos that I find very helpful. I hope you do too!

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How to Wear Your Baby in a Boba or Moby Wrap

Stretchy wraps are so great! They are even better when you figure out how to use them. So many parents I know struggle with this long piece of fabric but not to worry. I will show you step by step how to use your Boba Wrap or Moby Wrap so you can go about your life with your baby close to you and your hands free.

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Ergo vs Boba

Finding the perfect baby carrier can be a process. There are so many different types and brands on the market so it can be difficult to determine which one would fit you and your baby best. I get a lot of questions about which is better, the Ergo or the Boba. They are both soft structured carriers and are very similar in style and structure. So what’s the difference? Watch my video to find out!

The best advice I can give you is to try both and see which one you like most. Not all baby carriers are created equal and what works for one parent may not work for you. I am very short so I find the Boba 4G more comfortable than the Ergo but that’s because I have such a short torso. If you have a longer torso, you may find the Ergo more comfortable. I provided a side-by-side comparison of both to show you what sets them apart.

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Side-by-side comparison of the Boba Carrier 4G and the Original Ergo Carrier

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Back Carry with a Ring Sling

Did you know you are not limited to just front and hip carries with your ring sling? You can also wear your sling as a back carry. It’s really easy to learn and a lot of fun! This is perfect for kids that are able to sit up unassisted so keep your small babies chest-to-chest until they are developmentally ready to be on your back.

This is not the most ideal back carry but it is very helpful when you are needing to get stuff done around the house and would like to free up the front of your body. I resort to this carry when I’m cooking, doing laundry, hanging diapers, etc. You don’t want your child in this position for a long period of time because it will hurt your back. The ring sling is a one shoulder carry so listen to your body and take your baby off your back if you start to feel discomfort.