Monthly Archives: September 2015

Benefits of Babywearing- A Dad’s Point of View

Ciaran McKenna, AKA The Babywearing Dad, talks about why he enjoys carrying his first son in a sling and why he would recommend other fathers  do the same. Ciaran will be this years Face of the Fair at Babywearing Irelands annual Wear a Hug Fair.
Ciaran also reviewed our Starry Night Midnight wrap recently (pictured below), read what he thought here.

Ciaran-Image

I am a first time dad, like all first time dads I had no idea how this was going to go. I didn’t know what kind of a father I would be. Without babywearing I think things would be very different. I didn’t wear him for the first 6 weeks, mainly because I thought I might break him! I know now that that’s nonsense, and the next time round in will do it as soon as the baby is handed to me! In the run up to the Wear a Hug Fair I’d like to talk about some benefits of babywearing for any dads out there that might have their doubts about it. Don’t forget you can always contact me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you’ve got any questions. I’m always more than happy to talk about my love of babywearing!

1. Bonding

Anyone who has read a few of my blog pieces or interviews knows that this is always a big one for me. It can seem to some dads that mom can bond faster than dad, and why wouldn’t they? They could have just carried the little one for 39ish weeks! The best way to bond, in my opinion, is babywearing. Having your baby so close to you, sleeping on you, getting used to your voice, your smell, your heartbeat. You can also do skin to skin, or kangaroo parenting while babywearing, which is a great way to bond too.

2.  Hands Free Parenting

I honestly don’t know how parents who don’t babywear get anything done! Feeding/walking the dogs, hanging out washing, stuffing nappies, making lunch, playing Xbox, all these and more are done in our house whilst babywearing. It’s so practical, and your baby is happy and contented the entire time (often asleep!)

3. Sharing Hobbies/Experiences

When babywearing you can really go pretty much anywhere. There’s no clunky buggy stopping you get in or up places and you are hands free. I’ve done some hillwalking, hiking, collecting plants for college work and changed the spark plugs on my bike with my little fella strapped to me. He was delighted and I got to continue doing things I like while still parenting and having my baby close to me. This also gives Mom a well deserved break which earns major brownie points; another benefit for dad!

4. Settles Babies Quickly

I have yet to find any way to soothe or calm my baby as quickly and easily as babywearing. Even my mom wears him now when she minds him! It’s unbelievable, and no matter what’s wrong it always helps, be it the position he’s in giving him relief from wind etc. or just the close cuddle giving him comfort, it has yet to fail. Every morning now for nap time he goes in a wrap for 10 minutes and he’s out like a light, and can be transferred to his cot (if I don’t want to just sit there cuddling him). Happy baby makes for a happy dad, and that time in the cot gets you a break for a cup of tea, or making bottles!

5. Impress Your Lady!

There isn’t a babywearing mom out there that doesn’t find their partner wearing their baby extremely attractive! I don’t know exactly what it is, but I haven’t met one woman who doesn’t love it!

Ciaran will be at the Wear a Hug Fair this weekend in Kildare, Ireland. Why not pop along to say hello if you’re near by.

Oscha Coorie – Review

We asked Dr Rosie Knowles to review our first Soft Structured Carrier. As a sling consultant and the wonderful woman behind Sheffield Sling Surgery, she has many years of experience carrying her own two children and helping others to carry theirs. Here is what she and the testers from Sheffield Sling Surgery had to say.

Top-Image-for-review

Oscha Slings needs no introduction; they are famous around the world for their high quality, beautiful and supportive wraps and ring slings. They pride themselves on their conscientious approach to their business, using only premium cottons and the finest, British & Italian yarns from ethical sources.

Over the last few years they have painstakingly applied this same rigorous attention to detail to developing a range of soft-structured carriers;  and sent me their new Coorie ring-tai toddler carrier for review.

“Coorie” is a Scottish word meaning to nestle or snuggle, often followed by the word “doun”. To “coorie doun” is a perfect description of what the testing children did when they tried the carrier out for me; they snuggled down!

The Coorie toddler carrier is made from Oscha wrap fabric, and is designed to be used for children between 25lb and 45lb.

What is a Ring-Tai?
A ring-tai is a mei-tai with a waistband that is secured by two rings – the rings are fixed onto one side of the waistband and the long end of the waistband tie is fed through both rings and then back again, like a belt, and pulled snug. 

Coorie-waist

The Coorie waist band being tightened. Made from Oscha Stewart tartan fabric.

The Coorie Ring-Tai
Oscha use their highland pleating technique in their ring sling shoulders and have used a similar fold with the Coorie waistband. It is very intricately designed and sewn from a full width of wrap fabric that has been pleated and then secured into place. This folding provides a high degree of mouldability and support without the need for foam padding in the central part of the waistband that attaches to the main back panel. The waistband stretches on the diagonal and is floppy and soft to touch with no rigidity. There is a little bit of gentle padding in the “tongue” of the waistband beneath the rings at the side to ensure no digging, and the full width of the wrap flares out from the other edge of the waistband. This width allows plenty of adjustment of the free half of the waistband, and can be tightened in increments, just like a ring sling, to ensure optimum fit across the wearer’s body. There’s a huge amount of work behind this design that seems so very obvious and simple! The rings are shiny, not matte, and smaller in size than the rings of the ring slings. 

Coorie-flat

An image of the Oscha Coorie laid out, showing the waist band and straps.

How does it feel?
The carrier is visually very appealing, being made with wrap fabric (my tester was made with the Zhuilin Dawn cotton wrap) and many of those who used it commented on how pretty it was.

The waistband is very comfortable indeed! It takes a little getting used to as I haven’t used many ring waists before; I found it easiest to do up on the front and then shift the carrier around to the correct place and then apply the finishing adjustments with one hand while holding the waistband flat against me to ensure a snug fit. It is worth taking a little effort to ensure an excellent fit by tightening in increments. The rings are smaller in size than those on ring slings, which makes the fabric a little harder to thread through than ring slings, but once done it is secure with no slip.

Sling library testers

Images from Sheffield Sling Surgery of the Oscha Coorie being tested.

I really appreciated the soft mould-ability of the pleated waistband. As it isn’t padded, it moves much more flexibly and doesn’t fold over in uncomfortable ways or dig in over the iliac crest. In front carries, I liked the feel of the wide soft wrap fabric in my lumbar region rather than a buckle, and in back carries it was lovely to be able to avoid muffin top by spreading the fabric widely! The rings do not dig in at all due to the little padded tongue.

I found it easy to put on for front carries, as the wrap fabric moves and glides nicely into place around my child. The straps weren’t too wide and were able to sit on the centre of my shoulders without riding up into my neck. Normally I prefer wrap straps on soft structured carriers to allow spread on my shoulders but these felt lovely and light and the grip of the wrap helped them to stay put. The padded part of the straps flared out early enough in their length so that I (a size 10-12) could spread them across my side and over baby’s body. In back carries with a small toddler, the padded part of the shoulder wasn’t too long; I was able to spread the fabric over the knee pits nicely. The half width straps are light and easy to manoeuvre, and the knot is quick and simple to make with no stiffness (this is partly due to the softness of the wrap used to make this tester, but all wraps will break in with use!)

Sling library testers.2

Images from Sheffield Sling Surgery of the Oscha Coorie being tested.

Back carries were very comfy, as the waistband works very well. The carrier is quite tall so some smaller toddlers felt they weren’t quite able to get their arms out; but we rectified this by allowing the panel to fold down over the waistband slightly to reduce its height. This also had the effect of reducing the width knee to knee a little (due to the trapezium shape) which meant a better fit for them too!

The soft fabric with the leg padding meant it felt comfy for the children who tried it, many fell asleep; and it fitted a wide range of ages due to the spreadable part of the straps. It feels airy yet strong when it is on, and the spine is well supported. The panel, being double thickness, doesn’t sag, even though it feels light and soft.

The adjustable hood is simple to use in front carries; it only has two length settings. Getting the hood up in back carries is harder! It rolls away easily into a supportive neck cushion if required, the fabric-covered buttons are easy to slip into the buttonholes. The buttons are sewn into the panel and feel secure rather than flimsy, but I’ll watch with interest to see how they hold up with repeated use (so far so good).

A few of my library visitors tried it out and feedback was great, the waistband was a hit, and everyone enjoyed the straps too, even the die-hard wrap-strap fans. People liked the idea of being able to buy a very beautiful ring-tai off the peg; especially considering how very comfortable they found it.

The technical aspects of the Oscha Coorie Toddler
The fitted waistband measures 13.5cm deep by 63cm long (to the end of the rings), and the free waistband is 95 cm long, allowing for a wide range of wearer sizes. The narrowest width is probably about 56cm in circumference (closed to the snuggest) and the widest with enough length (10cm beyond the rings) for easy securing is probably 120cm. I think this could be a little longer; a size 14/16 woman has about 20cm left. For future runs I’d suggest having the option of a longer waist-strap. -Depending on demand, we are happy to develop a longer waist strap in the future.

The body panel is made of two layers of wrap fabric and shaped. There are seams at the base of the panel but these aren’t seat darts as they don’t form a “bucket” like some other carriers, so the panel is flat. There is some soft leg padding. The panel is a trapezium shape, being 47.5 cm wide at the base and narrows to 32 cm at the top between the shoulder straps, with the length of the panel being 41 cm. The hood is adjustable (by runners of fabric at the two sides), it rolls up and can be secured with cute little buttons. It has little poppered loops that feed through corresponding loops on the shoulder straps.Most models do not have poppers.

The shoulder straps are also carefully pleated with a small amount of padding inside the strap, to add to their cushy feel. The padded section is medium width – 8.5 cm wide and the padded part before the straps flare out into half the width of the wrap is 40 cm. The total length of the straps is about 220 cm.

It has been carefully and thoughtfully handmade with very neat stitching and hemming. There is appropriate sinkage at the shoulders with sturdy stitching visible on the outside, and the panel feels well sunk into the waistband. I have not seen the internal structure of the carrier but it has passed all the relevant safety standards.

Effects of washing
I must admit to a certain trepidation when washing the Coorie; would I need to spend a lot of time rearranging the pleats? I was very pleased to find that everything kept its shape very well; the pleats remained sharply folded and snapped back into perfect placement with simply holding the waistband or straps with a little tension to smooth out any slack. 

Summary
I and the families who have been trying out this carrier have all thoroughly enjoyed using it. Everyone has found it easy to use, and very comfortable. Even those who love wrap strapped carriers found the straps sat nicely on their shoulders and were more comfy than typical thicker padded straps; this is due to the angling from the body panel and the mould-ability. Everyone loved the waistband, how soft it felt, how little it dug in and how supportive it felt. I am sure this will be a popular option for those who would love to have an Oscha wrap in a soft-structured-carrier format!

Coorie-Kaumi-Pic

An official Oscha photo of the Coorie in action made from Kasumi Kaua’i fabric.

Oscha Carrier Design & Development

It’s exciting times here at Oscha as our carrier development reaches it’s final stages and we prepare for the launch! In the pipeline for nearly 3 years, here Zoe talks about the inspiration and development behind our three bespoke carrier designs, beginning with the Coorie.

Andrea-top-image

Andrea working on the finishing touches of the Coorie design.

I began my baby carrying days mostly using soft structured carriers, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to wrap when it seemed like so much more hassle! However, eventually, after I had twins, I really got into wraps. I appreciated the perfectly snug, tailored fit you could achieve as well as the support; both of which were essential for my little premature babies with low muscle tone. I loved how there was nothing stiff to dig in and all parts of the wrap looked pretty, elegant even, front or back, with swishy tails hanging off to the side. I also loved the fact that, even in a simple ruck, there was no digging into my abdomen. These issues were something I’d just taken for granted with SSCs and didn’t know that there could be alternatives.

There’s no denying that SSCs can be very handy and wrapping isn’t for everyone, there were lots of times when I would opt to use one. So I started to think about how to solve the issues I was finding: combining the ease and function of an SSC with the beauty and softness of a wrap, and especially preventing digging in at the waist.

Design-Image

It’s been a long journey, with lots of very helpful testers along the way! Susan Ansell, of Show Me Slings was the first to spend a lot of time with me, talking through her experiences as a Sling Consultant in Edinburgh, the pros and cons of the different carriers she offered. I visited our local sling meet and a few of lovely ladies there tried carriers on and took them away for further testing. Rosie of Sheffield Sling Surgery has been absolutely invaluable, with a pool of slinging parents visiting every week, she’s provided masses of feedback on our various prototypes.

There’s been a number of sleepless nights whilst I tried to puzzle out how to make the features work and I’ve worked closely with our in-house tailor and designer, Andrea, over the last 2 and a half years, with countless prototypes! We’ve ended up with 3 different carriers, each of them with slightly different features, but each offering the beauty of a wrap, the ease of a carrier and an elegant waist band.

The Oscha Coorie
The first to launch is the ‘Coorie’. We began with the idea that we wanted to form a waistband without any padding, using only the width of the fabric so that it would mould like a wrap and have elegant swishy tails. We re-purposed our Highland Pleat ring sling shoulder style to gather in the waist at the back but still allow for adjustability and moulding to the wearers waist. The pleats then flare out to form a broad band that is threaded through the rings. This means that the waist is encircled by a wide, mouldable, naturally padded band of fabric, ensuring that the child’s weight is distributed broadly and any digging or discomfort from narrow waistband areas are prevented.

Waist.colour

“I LOVE the waist, best waist ever. It looks beautiful in this width and with the pleating. I love the sling ring finish as it really works well with the whole elegant aesthetic. I thought it was very figure flattering too.” – Nicola K

The sling ring closing system means that the waist is also highly adjustable, not just along the length, but also across the width. We did concede to one small area of padding! Just under the rings, to make sure there was no pressure.

“The waist was also really comfortable and took a lot of the weight of my carryee’s. I love how the width meant that I could start with the waist band right around the top of my hips and have it really stay there. The width of the wrap material with the sling rings felt very secure. I carried Ted who is a very solid, dense 1yr old but also carried my long 3.5 year old in it too. Jazzy told me that she was very comfortable.” Nicola K

Padding-and-ButtonsThe carrier body is shaped to provide an excellent seat for your child and comes with leg padding to prevent digging. The hood rolls away and is secured by two cute fabric covered buttons. The rolled hood also offers extra padding and neck support.

“I really love the ring waist, it is wide but not bulky and this makes it very supportive.  It moulds around my hips and waist really well, and I like that the padding extends under the rings so they don’t dig in at all.  I find the carrier comfortable and supportive for my toddler and preschooler, and I like that the straps are long enough to Tie Tibetan, or bring back around to the back to tie under the child’s bum when used in a back carry  .  It is also a very attractive carrier which is always a bonus!”Leigh E

The Oscha Highland Pleat Shoulder Straps mirror the elegant pleatwork of the waistband, and we have added a small amount of padding to offer extra cushioning for carrying heavier children. The straps then flare out so they can be spread to give enhanced support where it is needed most.

Straps Manufacturing

“The Coorie is very comfortable … In terms of comfort and style it is a true success!” – Virginie M

Coorie

The Coorie will be available on our website later this week in baby and toddler sizes. We’ll share more information about our other 2 carriers soon.