Reinforced Rucksack Tutorial

1. Find your middle marker

2.Place baby high on your upper back, with the middle marker centered on their back.

3.Secure top rail under your chin. Reach under your babes legs, grab the bottom rail.

4.Pull excess fabric taught from knee to knee.

5.Tuck excess fabric up as high as you can under your child. This forms the seat.

6.Start to gather wrap, bringing fabric evenly over your shoulders.

7.Tighten rails evenly over your shoulders. Focus on tightening strand by strand.

8.Secure one pass between your knees.

9.Send pass back over your babes leg, reach back with your “free” hand to receive pass.

10.Holding onto the top rail, spread fabric up and high over your babes back.

11.L-pull* the wrap up to your babes chin. Get that pass tight and high.

12.Gather the pass rail by rail evenly. Note that the bottom rail has formed a second seat.

13.Gently lift your babes leg, bringing the pass under.

14.Leaning forward, tuck the second seat under your little one.

15.Standing upright, pull the pass “out & up”. Focus on gathering any excess fabric.

16.Secure the “finished” pass between your knees. Repeat above steps with the “other” pass.

17.Spread pass tight and high across babes back.

18.L-pull.

(Repeat step 14 & 15)

19.With one pass in each hand, jump and tug to remove any remaining slack.

20.Tie in front to finish your Reinforced Ruck. Remember optimal positioning: knees higher than bottom.

Tips to remember:

1. Focus on tucking the seat. A good seat will ensure a solid, comfortable carry for you and your babe.

2. Stand reasonably upright during the wrapping process. Let gravity work on maintaining that perfect seat.

3. L-pull*- focus on getting a high, tight top rail for every pass.

*An L-pull refers to the L shape made by your elbow bend. It is a useful trick for getting the wrap high and snug. Grab the top rail and pull up and out, tightening any slack.

Babywearing- Not Just for Parents!

This post isn’t for parents. It’s not for parents-to-be. It’s for Grandmothers. And Grandmothers-to-be. Welcome to the golden age! Little people who adore you. Little people who can’t wait to be with you. Little people you can send home!

Becoming a grandparent can be fraught with more diplomatic stoushes than your average session of the United Nations. Everytime you offer some well-intentioned advice to your child or child-in-law, it turns out that everything is different “to what it was then”. As a grandparent who’s been around the baby-rearing block, this probably comes as a surprise. After all, as far as it’s possible to tell from the outside, the basic garden-variety baby hasn’t changed much over the last few decades.

Where does that leave you, the grandparent? Well, the good news is, if this article was shared with you then your child or their partner think you have a vital role in their child’s life, even if they do things radically differently to the way you did. One thing you both want is a strong and healthy relationship with your grandchild. That’s where babywearing might help.

What is babywearing? 

Luckily, it’s not the latest must-have fashion accessories for the hipster parents of the new generation. Put simply, it’s wearing a baby or young child in a sling. Comfortably.

Babywearing has several advantages for the grandchild/parent bond:

  • It lets you get close: while taking a walk, chasing older kids across the playground or getting the shopping done.
  • It can help settle an infant who hasn’t quite worked out that a half-hour’s babysitting whilst Mum is having vital dental work won’t end the world. It’s a great alternative to attempting to put an upset baby down for a much-needed nap outside their regular routine.
  • It will save your arms and your back! A lot of people are concerned about slings and carriers because they (rightly!) worry that carrying a heavy weight like a child for an extended distance may over-extend their capacities. The good news is that a well-designed carrier will make it easier to carry the baby, keeping him/her close to your centre of gravity and help avoid injury.
  • A baby cuddle is a wonderful experience: something many grandparents wait decades for. Enjoy it. You did all the hard-yards of parenting already. You deserve it!

What about spoiling a baby?

A lot of people are concerned that carrying a baby too much will “spoil” the child- making it impossible for the baby to settle themselves, play happily without constant attention or develop a healthy sense of independence. The good news on this front is that current thinking indicates that it is impossible to spoil a child by offering attention through touch and closeness. Babies who are carried a lot meet all their developmental milestones normally too. They will learn to walk. Probably too soon!

Want to try?

If this article was shared with you, it’s probably a not-very-subtle hint. If you think it’s something that you might like to try, pick up that sling or carrier the new parents in your life seem to drag around everywhere. They’ll be thrilled you’re willing to try.

Five Babywearing Tips for Birth Workers

Birthworkers can be the first advocates for babywearing: but when you’re trying to advocate for the mother, the baby, the partner, the family, breastfeeding, the birth of choice… it’s understandable it’s not priority #1! Here are five things to know about babywearing and how you can help a family:

  1. Babywearing is good for mothers and babies. It promotes bonding between parent and baby. It helps parents respond to baby’s cues and the skin-to-skin contact helps regulate baby’s temperature, heart rate and breathing. Whether the birth has been perfect as envisioned, or whether it has taken a different direction: babywearing can help promote the initial bonding between parent and child in the first weeks and months.
  2. Babywearing is good for breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin and helps the mother’s milk supply to establish. Keeping baby close to the breast also helps a baby who is having trouble getting started with breastfeeding learn that the breast is a great place to be. It can also help reduce a new mother’s anxiety about a breastfeeding relationship that is brand new!
  3. Babywearing increases a new parent’s confidence- both in their own abilities and in their new role. A parent who can settle her baby easily is a more confident parent. A parent who has a basic skill-set that also allows her to take care of her own needs will also make a transition into parenthood more gently. It’s a big change for all of us. Birth workers support the transition into parenthood and so does babywearing.
  4. Babywearing doesn’t have to be expensive. A great newborn baby carrier is a home-made stretchy wrap. They are cheap to make, require no sewing and are safe. These are a great tool for doulas and midwives to have on hand- and they’re probably within your (limited!!) budget. Here’s instructions on how to make some.
  5. Babywearing is safe for healthy, term newborns. Here is our link to basic babywearing safety and here is a downloadable pamphlet you can print or email to clients.

Interested in finding out more about babywearing? You may like to see our posts on babywearing the premature baby and the term newborn.

Happy Babywearing!

Make Your Own Stretch Wrap

It’s not hard :)

  1. Go to a fabric store
  2. Find the stretch fabrics. Look for one that stretches across the width *not* lengthways. Something not too thick- a little thicker than a t-shirt is great. Look for something that’s not too stretchy- you don’t want the baby at your knees! Think about whether or not you could carry a large bag of potatoes in it without it hitting the ground ;)
  3. Buy around 5 meters
  4. Cut in half to around 60-70cm wide.
  5. Congratulations. You now have two wraps.
Need more guidance? Check here.

Instructions on how to tie your wrap are here.

Links to our babywearing safety for newborns are here.

Soft Structured Carriers Available in Australia

There are now many brands of soft structured carriers (SSC) available in Australia. It can be hard to make sense of them all! What are the reputable brands? What are the features available on each? Where do you get them?

This post is a basic comparison of the ones currently available and a list of some reputable vendors. Please note that no money has been received for these reviews. No free carriers, no advertising fees. The community is encouraged to leave their feedback and reviews in the comments section of the relevant posts for the relevant brands.

Here is a very basic comparison of these brands. You can find a downloadable version of this chart on our resources page here along with vendors who stock these products in Australia.

Comparison chart SSCs

Which features are important to you?

• Body Height: A longer body keeps a taller baby or child closer to your center of gravity, especially when they fall asleep. On the other hand, a very tall body can swamp a small baby or a child that prefers to have their arms out. Some people prefer a shorter body height, others a larger one. Others like an adjustable carrier. Some people don’t like the feature!

• Body Width: A wider body provides support for a larger baby or child, but like height, a body that’s too wide can be difficult to use with a small baby without an insert.

• Waist Band Length: Particularly of concern for larger or smaller wearers: will this carrier fit around your waist and be comfortable? Be advised that many of these carriers also sell extension waist bands separately, so feel free to contact your vendor to find out if you think you need one.

• Infant Inserts: Some brands have them, some don’t. Some have them inbuilt, others sold separately: which one is best? None of them! It’s all down to personal preference. What suits you best as a parent?

• Crossed Straps: Some parents find being able to cross the straps of their carrier more comfortable than a chestbelt and like this feature. Others prefer the chestbelt: it’s up to you!

Other things we haven’t included but might be important to you: strap length, price of additional accessories such as waist extenders, inserts etc.; availability of accessories.

If you’re new to baby wearing and don’t know which features matter to you: ask your local babywearing community or sling group! At sling groups you can try on the different carriers before buying. There is one in every capital city and many in regional areas.

Remember to check reviews and ask your local community.

The following brands make SSCs available in Australia and are in the process of being reviewed by our community. Follow the links to check out the reviews, or add your own.

  • Action Baby Carrier
  • AngelPack
  • Babyhawk
  • Beco
  • Emeibaby
  • Ergo
  • Hoppediz
  • Manduca
  • Olives and Applesauce
  • Patapum
  • Storchenweige
  • Tula
  • Wompat
  • Yamo

What Does a Babywearer NEED? What do you WANT?

The answer to the second question is quite easy. For many of us, it’s “one of everything and a spare in a shorter size please!”.

But realistically, unless you have a secret door in your wardrobe to the land of the Far Away Cash Bonanza, it’s not realistic for most of us. Even those babywearers with impressively large stashes of carriers didn’t start out with a lot – it took a long time and often replaced a shoe or handbag obsession in the process.

What does a babywearer need? The answer to this one is actually quite simple: a fetching piece of fabric about the size of a tablecloth and some fantastic skills serves 90% of babywearers around the world for all their needs. Those of us downunder like a few options. Here’s my take: something to get on fast and something to wear for long periods.

Carriers you can get on fast: Ring slings, pouches, short wraps.

Carriers you can wear for long periods: Soft structured carriers, mei tais, long wraps and (depending) short wraps.

All of these carriers- with the exceptions of most stretch wraps and pouches- can be used from around 3-4 months old to beyond 2 years of age.

One from each of those lists, or even just one from the second list (because once you’re good with you’re carrier, you can get it on and off quickly no matter what it is) is everything you need.

To start with…

New to Second-Hand Trading? What does it all MEAN?

Are you looking to buy your first  baby carrier second hand? Are you looking to sell one for the first time? What does all the language mean, what do you need to disclose? Do you need to get a magnifying glass out and scan each item looking for nubs and then enumerate and photograph them minutely? Probably not- here’s some suggestions.

If you’re looking at a listing or looking to sell for the first time, there’s some language you’ll probably come across. This is my interpretation of it:

Brand New, In Box (BNIB): this means perfect condition unless otherwise specified. It hasn’t been worn, perhaps only to try on. There are no pulls, broken threads or anything of that sort- unless stated. There may be some slubs if this is normal for that item. If this terminology isn’t familiar to you, check here.

Excellent Used Condition (EUC): this means great condition, it has been worn. But there shouldn’t be any pulls or broken threads or marks unless stated.

Good Used Condition: a perfectly workable item, but not for those seeking a perfect item. There may be a few small pulls or a small mark.

Used Condition: it’s a workable item, but there may be a mark or two, perhaps broken threads. Straps may be faded, there may be pulls.

How do I list something accurately?

My suggestion is – list generally.

Rather than go over the item with a magnifying glass – state the item’s condition generally: “a few pulls”, “quite a few pulls”, “look, it’s been used, it’s not perfect!”. Any known flaws ought to be disclosed- pulls, broken threads, marks. If you are willing to sell for a little less with a lot less stress, simply state that the item has been used and may have a few small marks and pulled threads. Always err on the side of over-reporting rather than under-reporting problems.

What do I look for when buying?

Remember you’re buying a used baby item. Babies throw up. They explode out of their nappies in spectacular fashion. People use their wraps and carriers with keys in their hands and while they’re cooking! Be reasonable in your expectations- unless an item is stated to be in perfect condition, don’t expect it to be so. But neither should you accept that an item with 27 undisclosed pulls and a red cordial stain the size of your head is something in “excellent used condition”.

What do I do if I have a problem?

  1. Find out the difference between pulls, slubs and other small flaws. Some should be considered normal, depending on the item.
  2. Try and work it out with the other party. If a fault has not been disclosed and the buyer finds it on arrival, then usually a 10-15% discount is acceptable to both parties. If that isn’t acceptable, in the case of minor faults, the buyer usually pays postage back. If you’re the buyer, don’t wash the wrap- do photograph the problem.
  3. If that fails, contact admin who will try and help you.
  4. Have reasonable expectations: one or two undisclosed, otherwise unknown, small pulls in an entry-level used carrier is reasonable. It’s a used baby item. An undisclosed pull in an $800 wrap is worth discussing.

Babywearing Ages and Stages: Term Newborns (0-3 Months)

Welcome to our new series: Babywearing Ages and Stages. We’re working with Baby Carriers Downunder on this series. In it, we’ll take you through some of the ages and stages your little one will go through in your babywearing journey. BCD let you know some of the problems that come up, which carriers work well and what to look out for. We’ll talk about brands that work well, where to find them and how to get started.

What Brands Work for the Newborn Baby?

Wraps: You have a multiplicity of choices when it comes to wraps: woven wraps, stretch wraps, hybrid wraps! Which, what, where?

  • Woven Wraps: these are great. They will last you until you stop wearing, they are suitable for newborns all the way up to preschoolers if you wrap well. They can be a little hard to learn, but you can use them on your front, back and hip. They’ll change and adapt as your baby grows. At this age, just about any brand will do the job!
  • Stretch Wraps: lots of people start out with these. They include the moby, hugabub, boba wrap. They are similar to a woven wrap in the sense that they have a long piece of fabric wrapping around you, but they should only be used for front carries. Generally they will only work for a baby under 8kg so have a limited life span.
  • Hybrid wraps. These include things like the caboo which are a cross between a carrier and a wrap. It has a similar life-span and versatility to the stretch wraps. Other hybrid wraps like the Je Porte Mon Bebe and Wrapsody Stretch Wraps operate on a similar principle to the stretch wrap but can carry babies of considerably greater weight (14kg+) and are suitable for back carries. Be aware that with newborns, the Je Porte Mon Bebe should be pre-tied as there is the potential to over-tighten the wrap.

Ring Slings: Most ring slings will work well for a premature baby. Maya Wrap, Sakura Bloom, Wrap-Conversion ring slings like girasol, BB-slen, neobulle and hoppediz are all suitable.

Make sure you remember the basics of babywearing safety, see our post here.

How Do I Get Started?

Congratulations, you’ve made it home- and now you want to wear your baby! Our best advice is: take it slow. You have a lot of babywearing in front of you and it’s OK to just get by with the basics right now.

If you have a ring sling, look here for a great place to start.

If you have a wrap, there’s many ways you can tie it, but a good place to start out with a premature baby is the Front Wrap Cross Carry with bunched passes. Look here for information.

Take a look at our downloadable pamphlet on wearing newborns for lots of great pictures and information on how to wear your newborn.

Finding likeminded parents is also a great way to get help. Come check out Babywearing Buy Sell Swap or Baby Carriers Downunder for help and support. You’ll be able to find a local sling group who can give you hands out support and advice.

Babywearing Ages and Stages: The Premature Baby

Welcome to our new series: Babywearing Ages and Stages. We’re working with Baby Carriers Downunder on this series. In it, we’ll take you through some of the ages and stages your little one will go through in your babywearing journey. We’ll let you know some of the problems that come up, which carriers work well and what to look out for.

First up is the premature baby. These little ones need touch, but they are also some of the most delicate babies to wear.

Baby Carriers Downunder talked about what works well for the premature baby and things to watch out for. We’ll talk about what brands you can use and how to get started.

What Brands Work for the Premature Baby?

Wraps: Didymos and Hoppediz (available from Didymos Australia and Slinghub respectively) both have extra-narrow wraps available for premature babies. They do need to be ordered specially. Alternatively, thin wraps work quite well with very small babies: wraps like Wrapsody Gauze from Karri Tree Lane or Vatanai (from Karri Tree Lane and Woven Wraps Australia) are very thin making wrapping around a very small baby easier.

Ring Slings: Most ring slings will work well for a premature baby. Maya Wrap, Sakura Bloom, Wrap-Conversion ring slings like girasol, BB-slen, neobulle and hoppediz are all suitable.

Make sure you remember the basics of babywearing safety, see our post here.

How Do I Get Started?

Congratulations, you’ve made it home- and now you want to wear your baby! Our best advice is: take it slow. You and your baby may have expected to still be pregnant at this stage. There’s a lot to parenting a premature baby: don’t feel as though you need to master babywearing right this week. You have a lot of babywearing in front of you and it’s OK to just get by with the basics right now.

If you have a ring sling, look here for a great place to start.

If you have a wrap, there’s many ways you can tie it, but a good place to start out with a premature baby is the Front Wrap Cross Carry with bunched passes. Look here for information.

Take a look at our downloadable pamphlet on wearing newborns for lots of great pictures and information on how to wear your newborn.

Finding likeminded parents is also a great way to get help. Come check out Babywearing Buy Sell Swap or Baby Carriers Downunder for help and support. You’ll be able to find a local sling group who can give you hands out support and advice.