How I wear a toddler and a preschooler (yes you read that right, though not often at the same time)

As it’s International Babywearing Week, I thought I’d write some more about our experience of baby wearing – or these days I should say toddlerwearing and preschoolerwearing. I’ve written blog posts before on our babywearing experience – you can read them here and here if you’re interested. I’ll cover some of what I wrote there here too.

Like many parents who baby wear, we started out with a narrow-based high street carrier, the Baby Bjorn. I’m sure most parents have seen this or similar carriers in shops selling baby stuff. It was OK for the first few months, I liked being able to carry Andrew close to me, but it soon became uncomfortable for me and something about it just didn’t feel right. But I didn’t know of alternatives, that’s all I could see in shops and what was obvious online, so we left babywearing for a while.

Baby Bjorn narrow based carrier
IMG 2269
Rose and Rebellion wide based carrier

[There are interesting diagrams in this link showing the different positions of the baby’s hips in a narrow based carrier like we had Andrew in in the first photo and a wide based ergonomic carrier like we have Joel in in the second photo]

Then by the time I was pregnant with Joel, knowing there would be a 21 month age gap, and I really didn’t want to buy a double buggy, I decided to do some more research. I’d vaguely heard of the Cambridge sling meet, so looked it up and went along one morning. Well, I was amazed at just how many different types of slings there were. Everything from big long pieces of woven fabric (or wraps), to buckled carriers (which were far more ergonomic for baby to sit in than our BB as they had a wide base), and lots in between like mai teis with a panel like the buckled carriers but with big long straps to tie like the wraps. I knew straight away that these looked far more promising than what we’d previously used. When I know where to look online, and the right ‘key words’ – like ‘babywearing’, I hadn’t actually heard it called that before – I found much more information and a range of options, new and pre-loved, to buy.

Babywearing collage 1
Moby stretchy wrap

I ended up buying a stretchy wrap for when Joel was born. This was a fantastic starter wrap, for someone who had never wrapped before. Ours was a Moby, but there are other brands too. I just liked the pattern on the one I bought. At first tying the wrap seemed tricky, but after doing it several times a day I soon got used to it and it became automatic, like tying a shoelace. Joel went everywhere in that wrap as a baby, it was so useful being able to keep him close to me whilst also running around after a toddler. I don’t know how I would have coped with a newborn and toddler without it really.

Babywearing Collage 2
Moby stretchy wrap

By the time Joel was 6 months, the stretchy wrap wasn’t supportive enough. I tried a few woven wraps via the sling meet, but Joel has always been very fidgety and it just seemed to be getting more and more difficult to wrap him up quickly like I could when he was smaller. So I decided to buy an ergonomic buckle carrier – the Rose and Rebellion baby carrier – which was fantastic for getting him into quickly. I also needed to be able to do this outside, like in the muddy park, which I found difficult with a wrap because it trailed on the floor, whereas the buckled straps were much shorter.

R R Collage
Rose and Rebellion carrier

R R Collage 2

Then Joel’s long legs got too big for the R&R, so I bought a similar toddler carrier, one which had been made by a work at home mum, converted from the fabric of a long wrap. This has been so comfortable and we’ve used it almost daily until now, when it’s getting a little on the small side again. Our buckled carrier is what we use when we’re out for longer periods, walking to a group, going into town or out on a walk.

KKD Collage
Kokadi wrap conversion toddler buckle carrier

Another type of sling that I hadn’t really thought about until I found out more about them was a ring sling. This is a fantastic way to carry Joel (or Andrew) on my hip while still having my hands free. We use this around the house if he’s being clingy, and most often if we’re doing quick ups and downs when out and about, for example if we drive somewhere and then walk a bit here and there at the other end, and also if walking 10 minutes to the very local shops, which Joel will mostly walk now, but if he gets tired I can quickly give him a more comfortable carry than without the sling just in my arms. Or if I have both boys on my own and it’s safer to have one attached to me and the other on the reins when we walk along a busy road, then the ring sling is very handy. I’m so glad I bought a couple of these slings, these really do make daily life easier.

RS Collage
Kokadi Erna im Wunderland and Girasol rainbow ring slings

Since owning a toddler carrier, I’ve realised that it really is comfortable, something I was sceptical of when I first started wearing Joel, and that I can carry a child of quite some weight extremely comfortably, more comfortably than if I carried them in my arms, which all parents of toddlers must find themselves doing from time to time. When I started wearing Joel in the stretchy wrap, I never imagined that I would still be carrying him now. I thought it would be hard and only ‘supermums’ or strong dads do that kind of thing. But I think because his weight has built up slowly over time, my own muscles have adapted to that and with a good fitting carrier, I don’t feel his weight pulling down on me.

Bw coat Collage
Homemade babywearing coat which fits over our toddler buckle carriers

With this realisation came the realisation that it would also be practical to have a sling for Andrew, a preschool carrier designed for a child with legs as long as his, to keep their hips in an ergonomic position. So I bought one from a popular work at home mum in Poland who makes excellent quality slings – Madame Googoo. It got to a point a few months ago that I found Andrew far too heavy to push in the buggy, and when he was too tired to walk, I preferred to carry him and push Joel, so my default way of transporting the two boys has changed: when they were younger I tended to push Andrew and carry Joel. Having a preschool carrier has made getting out and about with them both on my own easier now that Andrew is so big. Of course he walks quite a bit, but we do a lot of walking and the kind of distances mean that he can’t always manage to whole journey without a rest.

Nuts collage
Madame Goo Goo preschooler carrier

My most recent purchase, to replace the wrap conversion toddler carrier that’s a little too small for Joel to keep his legs in a good spread position, is a Tula buckled carrier. I also love all the different designs on woven wraps, even though with the boys we never got to own any because wrapping got impractical just as we got to a stage of wanting to try woven as opposed to stretchy wraps. So my plan for this Tula is to cover the green bit (which isn’t my favourite colour) with a piece of woven wrap material that I love – it’s arriving later this week from Germany. This is my treat for me in International Babywearing Week 🙂 You see our slings aren’t just practical, they are beautiful and funky items of clothing too!

Tula Collage
Tula toddler carrier

You may be thinking that this is a lot of slings to own, and isn’t it expensive to buy this many?! A great thing about slings and wraps is that they usually have a fantastic resale value, so once I’ve sold them again (as I have already with our baby wrap and buckled carrier), I haven’t actually spent a lot of money at all on each one – around £15-20. In comparison, buggies don’t hold nearly as much value as this when sold second hand.

I’m not entirely sure when our baby/toddler/preschoolerwearing days will end, but I expect that both boys will still want to rest their legs a while from walking for quite a time to come. I get quite a few comments when out and about wearing them along the lines of “aren’t they too heavy/old for that?” or “doesn’t it hurt your back?”, which to be fair is what would have been going through my mind before we actually got into babywearing, but I usually reply with something along the lines of “I find it easier on my body than pushing a heavy buggy”. Everyone is different though, and I’m sure for some people pushing a buggy is easier than carrying, for all sorts of physical reasons.

This is just our experience, and one that I like to share, because like me a few years ago, I believe there are many parents out there who just don’t know of this as an option. If you have any more questions, I’m always happy to talk about slings and things, so drop me a line.

A walk around Rydal Water – #CountryKids

One thing that we were amazed about when we were on holiday in the Lake District recently was just how much Andrew was willing to walk. He can be a bit fussy when we’re at home, walking some of the way to places but not reliable enough for me not to take his sling to hop him up on my back if he gets tired. One day in the week away we decided to do a walk around Rydal water, up above the lake on Loughrigg terrace for most of the way, except at both ends when we came down to the waterside to cross the river. On the map this is about 3 miles, plus some climbs. Although we took his sling, Andrew walked pretty much the whole way, only being carried for a couple of 5 minute periods. He was our little mountain goat 🙂 I think his bargain walking boots for 99p off eBay might have helped spur him on, and the odd go-faster snack.

The walk was relatively easy, but with stunning views on the way round. We found all sorts of nature to look at and pick up. Andrew took a liking to a stick that was just the right size to be a walking stick for him, and Pop got out his pen knife to carve him a handle by stripping the bark off it at the top. At one point we spotted a tree with a hollow trunk, so Andrew hopped up inside it and thought this was hilarious. Joel was on my back for the first part of the walk until we stopped for a picnic lunch half way round, and then did some walking himself. High up on the terrace we got some amazing views down to Rydal Water on our way around.

Rydal 1 jpg

At the far end of the lake we came back down to the water level and had our picnic by the river that runs between Grasmere (lake) and Rydal Water. We then walked along this river towards Grasmere, and crossed over a bridge that was fantastic for Pooh sticks, just before the lake itself. We stopped on the shore of Grasmere for a little while, so the boys could have a play. Andrew was keen to try and learn stone skimming techniques from Grandad and Pop, and Joel was fascinated with a rather large rock that he could sit on and jump off! The weather was quite warm by this point, so we were happy to stand around for a bit. The view across Grasmere towards the village of the same name was lovely.

Rydal 2 jpg

As we carried on, we walked up again onto the terrace on the other side of Rydal Water, to continue our circular route around it. The views back across the lake were still fantastic, with fewer trees in the way on this side. Both boys were walking on this side for a while, until Joel got tired again and went back on my back, though as I said, Andrew was keen to carry on walking himself. As we neared the end of the lake, towards the car park where we had left the cars, the path came back down near the lake shore again. This was another great excuse to try some stone skimming, and Joel even went for a little paddle in his boots. Both of them clearly found this a lot of fun!

The walk was just the right length for a day out with toddlers, and we all enjoyed it with the views and the weather being particularly good to us.

Rydal 3 jpg

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Watendlath tarn walk – #CountryKids

A few days into our Lake District holiday and the weather looked lovely when we woke up. We looked at the forecast too, which said it would be nice all day so we decided to head off into the fells and do a family friendly walk. We drove the cars from Keswick to Rosthwaite along the side of Derwent Water through Borowdale. There’s a handy Ntaional Trust car park at the foot of the fell that we wanted to walk up, though it was pretty full and we only just got enough spaces. Once we’d togged up with walking boots (including Andrew’s absolute bargain Karrimor ones from eBay), various layers of jumpers/coats and the slings, we headed off up the path, saying hello to the sheep grazing in the field as we walked past them.

Watendlach 1 jpg

First there was quite a gentle, winding climb, and then it got steeper, but Andrew was amazing and walked most of it, except one carry in the sling from Daddy at the steepest part. We took our time and took in the breath-taking views. Behind us we could see the snowy summit of Scafell Pike, highest peak in England, and the very green valley floor around Rosthwaite and surrounding villages. There were plenty of sheep grazing in the lower pastures, and the odd few on higher, rockier ground.

Watendlach 3 jpg

We passed between two craggy hill tops on either side, and then we were at the highest point of our walk. There was a gently undulating walk over the top of the fells and then we had a short downwards walk towards Watendlath tarn and village/hamlet. The views of the tarn (small hilltop lake) were stunning as we came down, and Andrew was still keen to walk all of this, holding hands and taking it slowly over the rocky rubble path on the way down. Once we were down, we just had to nip over a quaint bridge and we were on the right side of the stream to find a nice picnic spot by the tarn.

Watendlach 4 jpg

The boys (and all of us) were ready for a break and some ‘go faster’ lunch. We even made a couple of doggy friends who came over to sniff at our picnic and lick up the crumbs. Joel was itching to walk/run around having been in the sling most of the way on the harder walk, so we were glad we had his backpack reins to keep him out of the tarn, though the shoreline was very shallow so he had a little paddle with his boots on.

All fuelled up, we headed to the tea room for a drink, though the boys and I were hoping for an ice cream because it was really quite warm by then, but their seasonal delivery was only due in the following day so we just missed it! Nevermind. It was a beautiful tea room to sit outside at – there were lots of little birds flying around and coming to pick up crumbs off the tables and the ground.

Watendlach 2 jpg

The return walk was back the way we came, so a bit of a climb to begin with, then a gentle undulation, then a steeper descent. This time the views over to Scafell were in front of us, when we could look up from watching where we were stepping down. Andrew wanted a bit of a carry towards the end, but he’d done incredibly well. Joel was so tired he had a nap in the sling near the end of the walk, and didn’t wake up when we transferred to the car – he must have been shattered from all the fresh air.

We had an excellent day out, and it was lovely to get fell walking with the boys so that they could experience this important part of holidaying in the Lake District.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Being creative and starting a challenge

A while ago I saw that Caroline over at Becoming a SAHM was starting a new linky called ‘Creative Challenge’. The idea is to post about any creative activity that you’ve been up to that you are trying to do better or more often or challenge yourself in some other way with it. When I saw this it was around the time that I was just setting up Sewn Down Purple Lane, and I thought this was particularly fitting for the Creative Challenge linky theme, because although I’ve been creative with my sewing for a while, I was now stepping up a notch and challenging myself to selling my creative wares. I’ve been meaning to write about this and join in with the linky with this post for a while, but as long as I have my sewing machine with me, the default is to sew rather than write about sewing, so it took until coming on holiday with no sewing machine to write this.

Rainbow medium wet bag 1 jpg

First I thought I’d write a bit about my background in being creative, before moving on to how I’m finding the new challenge now that it’s well underway. I’ve enjoyed sewing (as well as other crafts) for as long as I can remember. I took Textiles as a GCSE subject, which was some lovely creative relief from the more academic subjects. As a teenager I made some of my own clothes and bags, but as university and young adult life took over, I didn’t sew as much – though I did a lot of cross-stitch as a stress reliever during exam periods. Just before Andrew – now 3 years old — was born, I got my machine back out and altered a pair of curtains with some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric to make them long enough for his room-to-be; this gave me a taste for sewing again!

Bike print wrap 1

Fleece wrap

I also got into using cloth nappies on Andrew. When I was pregnant again and realised we would have a 21-month age gap and therefore two little ones in nappies, I bought some more to expand our nappy stash. The trouble was though, Andrew at nearly 2 years old was getting very big for standard ‘birth-to-potty’ nappies, especially his night nappies that needed to be boosted for heavy wetting. So I set to and sewed him some huge toddler nappies and fleece covers using fabrics upcycled from clothes and flat terry nappies. That’s where my upcycling journey really began. I tried various designs and types of nappy, making my own patterns as I went along. Now the majority of nappies and waterproof wraps that we use are mummy-made, mostly from fabric that used to be something else wearable, and I’ve sold many of our mass-produced cloth nappies.

Hybrid 2

Jeans  tshirt nappy

Fleece soaker

Sheep fleece soaker jpg

After I started making nappies, the need arose to do something about the dribble situation with Joel – now 17 months old – who wet through bibs spectacularly faster than Andrew ever did. The trouble was that the standard dribble bibs that we had been bought had just one layer of absorbent fabric. That’s when I thought to use fabrics with nappy absorbency levels in a bib, again upcycling from clothes and flat nappies that were no longer useful to us. I sewed some bibs with a funky front fabric (from patterned cotton clothes), a stay-dry backing fabric (fleece or synthetic knitted) next to his skin and other clothes, and a hidden layer of terry cotton for ultimate absorbency. I’m pleased to say that these super absorbent dribble bibs have been fantastic at keeping his chin and top dry despite his dribbling skills that rival those of a top footballer. I also like the bandana style — it looks more stylish than a classic round baby bib, and it flaps around less so doesn’t get in the way especially when he was in the crawling stage.

Erna wrap scrap bib 1

Cord bib

Animal alphabet bib

My latest fascination is sewing with the gorgeous woven fabrics that are used as baby/toddler slings – one long piece of fabric is wrapped around parent and child in a secure position – hence the name ‘wrap’. I got into babywearing in this way when Joel was born. It’s quite easy to come by so-called ‘wrap scraps’, smaller pieces of wrap that are left over when weavers make the wraps, or when one is chopped up and converted into a sling with buckles, or if one is damaged somehow. There are so many possibilities for upcycling this lovely fabric – so far I have made waterproof bags, purses, bibs, glove clips, nappies and (probably my favourite for the name) ‘wrap scrap nappy wraps’! Well done if you’ve followed all the wraps here.

Oscha scrap projects jpg

IMG 1840

Rainbow wrap scrap nappy

Wrap scrap nappy wrap without snaps

I’ve also figured out how to convert some of our adult clothes that are broken in part or too small into clothes for the boys – for example leggings from jumpers, small trousers from bigger trousers, slippers from jeans and a shirt, and a coat for babywearing that fits over both Joel and me when I’m carrying him on my back in the sling. I never throw any kind of fabric item away, even Daddy has learnt to give me his old stained shirts and worn through the knees trousers – there’s always something new I can make with them.

Slippers pencils uk 8


Babywearing coat

Pink leggings jpg

Having done all sorts of sewing for my boys, I eventually decided to set up shop. I say ‘eventually’ because I’d been thinking about it for a while but waited for a good time to do it. With our relocation to a new city, and the boys being at an age where it’s manageable to work around their routines, it seemed the right time. So I started sewing items to have in stock (mainly bibs, clothes and nappy accessories like waterproof bags and washable wipes), set up a Facebook page and Etsy shop, and offered custom slots for things other than the in stock items. And that’s about where I’m at now.

Washable wipes camper vans jpg

Washable wipes zebra fleece

Denim wet bag small 1 jpg

Purple stripey wetbag

My biggest challenge at the moment is marketing and advertising my creative products. I’m happy doing the creative stuff, but I have very little idea about the business side of things. I know it’s pretty easy these days to set up an online shop with little prior knowledge, but running that shop successfully isn’t as easy as you might think. Pricing is an interesting issue that I’ve had to tackle recently: I’ve read that it’s essential to hit a sweet spot — too cheap and people will wonder about your materials and doubt the ‘handmade’ nature of your stuff, and too expensive and they won’t think it’s worth buying. I’m also discovering that it’s all well and good getting likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and comments saying how lovely my sewn goodies are and how great my ideas are, but turning those into sales takes some work. I’m still learning how best to do this, so I don’t have a huge list of tips; in fact if anyone has any advice to offer me on this matter I’d be very keen to hear it.

Hybrid 3

The most important thing I need to remember in this challenge is that I’m doing this because I enjoy sewing a lot. I find it hugely satisfying to complete a project, especially something that is very practical and looks good at the same time. It’s also a good feeling to use fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away or into the recycling bank, and make new items from old, giving them a new lease of life. I might find the business side of my tasks more boring than the creative ones, but I know I need to work at these too if I want it to succeed. At the end of the day, though, I doubt being a WAHM will make us millions, but just to cover the cost of my materials and earn a bit of pocket money doing something I love would be brilliant. That’s the plan.

Creative Challenge

The baby-to-toddler-wearing experience

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I’ve even had some thoughts jotted down in my blog software for over a couple of months, but haven’t had time to sit down and write them into meaningful prose. Then recently a few friends have asked me about our slings, so I thought it was time I knuckled down and got this published!

I blogged about babywearing when Joel was still a baby, though he was showing ‘boddler’ tendencies at the time. I’d decided when pregnant, knowing that there was going to be just 21 months between Andrew and the baby, that I’d try baby wearing instead of going straight for a double buggy. I hadn’t known about ergonomic baby slings and wraps when Andrew was little, but as he got older, I came across the Sling Meet in Cambridge where I got to know more about the art of babywearing. I didn’t know how it would work out – I wasn’t convinced that I would be able to carry a larger baby and push a heavy toddler as they got older, but I was enthusiastic about giving it a go. And I’ve never looked back! Except to have a nosey at what the little one on my back is up to 😉

babywearing collage 1

We started off with a stretchy wrap – Moby was the brand I went for (amongst others available) because I loved the black and white lace design that I found when most stretchies on the market seemed to be plain. Looking back this was a fantastic way to get into babywearing. The first few times I tried to tie it were a little tricky, but I soon got the hang of it and could do it blindfolded whilst entertaining a toddler (well, maybe not quite, but you get the idea!) Whenever people commented on how hard it must be to wrap and how easy I made it look, my response would be along the lines of: “it’s like tying a shoelace – when you first learn as a kid it’s pretty hard, but once you repeat the task several times a day, it soon becomes automatic.” When wrapped around us both, it was comfortable and effortless to carry Joel. He would mostly fall asleep in it, and was most settled there compared to other places. I wished I’d known about these wraps when Andrew was a baby, but you can only do the best you can with the information you have at the time. Although it would have been handy, I guess it was even handier when I had two boys to look after – holding Joel handsfree was fundamental to our ability to get through the day with the three of us fed, watered and out in the fresh air. I honestly don’t know how mums cope with a second child and without a comfortable sling.

babywearing Collage 4

Once Joel hit 6 months, the stretchy wrap started to be less optimal. He was still comfy in it, but his increasing weight meant it stretched more and I would have to retie it more often to keep it snug. I’d been advised that stretchies don’t last much longer than 6 months (depending on baby’s weight/size), despite claims by the manufacturers. So I was on the look out for something to replace our faithful stretchy. Joel was (and still is!) tall for his age, so a front carry was becoming increasingly awkward when I also needed to push the buggy with Andrew in. He has always been an active little monkey, so by 6 months he was well on his way to crawling, and I found it increasingly difficult to wrap him quickly because he would wriggle all over the place. I thought it would be even harder to wrap him on my back whilst wriggling, and a stretchy wrap is no good for back carries anyway.

R&R Collage 2

I did lots of research online and chatted to other mums in Facebook baby wearing groups and in person at the sling meet. That’s when I came across the Rose and Rebellion (or R&R) soft structured carrier (SSC for short). Whereas a wrap is one long piece of fabric that you tie around you and baby/toddler, a SSC is shaped and has straps with buckles that you wear a bit like a rucksack on your front or back with baby inside. The slings that are available on the high street (the Baby Bjorn is probably the most well known) are in effect a SSC, but they are usually not ergonomic – they generally don’t keep baby’s hips supported in a healthy ‘frog-leg’ position, instead they allow them to dangle, and they offer little back support to the parent, making them uncomfy for carrying a baby heavier than a newborn – this is exactly what I had experienced with carrying Andrew. On the other hand, a good ergonomic SSC like the R&R keeps both baby and parent supported in the right places, plus it comes in all sorts of funky designs. I kept a look out for one on a Facebook group where you can buy and sell wraps and (ergonomic) slings, and within a couple of weeks I grabbed a bargain in a lovely flag design, nice and boyish, that had only been worn a few times but was cheaper than buying new. There are lots of other makes of SSC to choose from, but I went for the R&R at the time because it fitted us well, was reasonably priced for a good quality handmade product, and I loved the print on in.

R&R Collage

We used this all summer. It went everywhere with us, and both Tom and I wore Joel everyday, particularly because he would only settle to sleep when worn in the sling. I suspect this was because it’s all he’d ever known and was so at ease being carried close to us, more so than if we put him in a buggy or worse still his cot (he’s never napped in his cot!) We loved this SSC, and it was a sad day when we had to admit that he was getting too big for it. You see a sling that is structured (as opposed to a wrap that can be used to wear any size of baby/toddler), by its very nature must be a sized item that will only fit a baby/toddler within a certain range of weight/height. The straps that fit around the parent are adjustable, which is why the R&R fitted both Tom and I very well, plus it would go much larger and a bit smaller for other sized parents, but the width of the panel of fabric supporting Joel’s legs eventually got too narrow and it was no longer ‘knee to knee’ – the term used to describe a sling that goes from just under one knee to just under the other and keeps the hips in the healthy spread position.

KKD wrap conversion 2

At that point – Joel was around 10 months, but in 12-18 months clothes for height – I did some more looking online in the Facebook wrap and sling selling groups, to see what was available preloved in toddler sizes. There were some larger R&Rs that I liked, though not with a design as cool as the one we had. Then one day a very special sling came up for sale which grabbed my eye, and after sleeping on it overnight, I decided to buy. It’s another SSC, and it’s what is called a ‘wrap conversion full buckle’ – the ‘full buckle’ refers to the fact that the waist and shoulder straps have buckles rather than long ‘wrap-like’ straps that you would tie around your waist and shoulders (this would be called a ‘mai tei’ sling), and the ‘wrap conversion’ refers to the fact that the fabric of the SSC is a wrap that was once used to wear a baby but has been chopped up and sewn into a structured shape to make this new SSC. The lady who made it is a work at home mum (WAHM); many of the toddler-sized SSCs are made by small WAHM businesses – though all on sale in this country have to conform to British safety tests, just like the bigger brands.

KKD Collage

The wrap in my sling is from a German woven wrap company called KoKaDi, and the design is called ‘galaxy stars’. I love how comfortable this is on us – I think the wrap fabric really helps here, because it was designed to support a baby/toddler being worn. I hardly feel Joel’s weight on me and can wear him for hours perfectly comfortably. He loves being in there and still falls asleep most of the time when he’s being carried. I can even wear Andrew in this size of sling for short periods of time – again I don’t feel much of his weight when it’s evenly distributed in the sling, it’s a bit like a hands free piggy back. This sling is definitely here to stay for a while yet, until we need to get a preschooler size sling – which may be sooner rather than later at the rate that Joel is growing!

bw coat Collage

A little while after I bought the wrap conversion sling, I decided that another type of sling would be handy for us too. Although most of our daily trips out and about are on foot, so the sling on my back is perfect for these distances, we do sometimes use the car to get somewhere and of course then walk at our destination – for example to some shops or a group that’s too far away to walk to. I was finding that I’d carry Joel on my hip and Andrew would walk, but this was proving very difficult when Joel wanted to wriggle off me and I was carrying anything else like bags too. So I invested in a ring sling for carrying Joel on these short walks out from the car. This is a long(ish) piece of woven fabric, just like a long wrap, which has 2 metal rings threaded through that hold the fabric in place when carrying a baby/toddler on your hip. This now means that I can quickly nip Joel in the sling and have my hands free to carry bags and hold Andrew’s hand (or his reins) when walking. I’m really pleased with how easy this has made it to nip out in the car, and I love the design of it – I chose a wrap called Erna im Wunderland by KoKaDi because it has pink on it, one of my favourite colours, but the blue means it works well for carrying a boy too. Excuse the poor photography of the ring sling below – they were both taken at night, one with Joel wide awake, and the other when I’d swayed him back off to sleep in it when he was poorly.

ring sling Collage

It may seem a little extravagant to have bought 4 slings (though this is nothing compared to some of the mums I know in online groups who have declared themselves wrap/sling addicts!), but the great thing about good quality slings and wraps is that they retain their value and can be sold on in good condition for a fair amount of their retail price. The Moby and the R&R each cost me £15 when I calculate what I paid minus what I got back. I imagine it will be similar for the toddler sling and the ring sling.

So this is where we’re at in our baby-toddler-wearing journey. Some people ask how I can carry them now they are both pretty hefty, but actually it’s a lot easier to carry a toddler in a sling than in your arms, because the weight is more evenly distributed and you don’t feel the weight as much like this. Slings are more practical than buggies in many ways too, though that’s not to say that our buggy doesn’t have good use too with 2 toddlers to transport about. I’m planning on wearing both boys for as long as they would like – even at 3 Andrew loves the occasional ‘piggy back’ with the aid of the sling, and Joel is such a happy little boy on my back.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are my own, based on our positive experiences. I have received no incentive from any business that I have mentioned in this post.

52 photos – week 2












Here are my favourite photos of the boys from this week. Joel is all snuggled up in our joint fleece on a dry but cold day at the park, about to drop off to sleep at this point. Andrew is proudly ‘riding’ his new pedal bike – the one he was desperate for at Christmas, but took one ride and realised he couldn’t do the pedals straight away so is more reticent to use it now, so we’ve taken the pedals off and he’s riding it around like his balance bike, only it’s a little big for him so he sits on the cross bar – but I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it soon.








Babywearing out and about – #CountryKids

I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks as I put together my pictures for my Country Kids post that they are mainly of Andrew, with the odd one or two of Joel. This particularly hit home to me when Fiona (who hosts the linky over at the Coombe Mill blog) commented last week that it was nice to see a picture of Joel and me – I’d given my phone to Tom for a couple of minutes and he took one of the two of us. The reason I rarely get photos of Joel when we’re out and about is that I’m always wearing him in our wrap, so he is right next to me and it’s pretty difficult to get good pictures like that – I’m not very good at holding the camera at arms length and getting a good shot of myself.babywearing collage 1

When I was pregnant with Joel, knowing there would only be 21 months between Andrew and the baby, I wasn’t sure whether to get a double buggy (I blogged quite a bit about my thoughts back then) because they all seemed too big for our small flat, amongst other reasons. In the end I decided to buy a good sling and wear Joel in that whilst pushing the single buggy with Andrew in. And this has worked very well, even up to 7 months, and we’re still going strong, although I will need to switch to another style of sling or our framed back carrier fairly soon as he’s starting to outgrow the stretchy wrap.

I decided to buy a stretchy wrap because I’d heard that they are very comfortable, and I loved the idea of wrapping my baby snuggly next to me. I went for the Moby stretchy wrap in this lovely lace design, because I felt like it was another layer of my clothing which I would be wearing a lot and therefore it was worth getting something pretty that would look nice with my other clothes. I did consult Tom, because I wanted him to feel confident in wearing the baby in the wrap occasionally, and he said he wasn’t bothered what colour or pattern it was. He has generally concentrated on looking after Andrew whenever we’re together as a family, but he has been kind and taken Joel sometimes when I’ve been too tired, needed a bit of a break, or wanted to spend time just with Andrew.babywearing Collage 4

So whenever we are out and about, Joel mostly comes with me in the wrap. I love it because I have my hands free to play with Andrew, and it’s so comfortable that I can wear him for hours and not get any aches or discomfort. We do a lot of walking in our everyday lives in Cambridge, and it’s so easy to wear Joel for it all. He loves it because he can see what’s going on easily as he’s at a good height to survey the scene, and it’s also the only place he will reliably fall asleep with no fuss during the day when we’re out and about.

As well as out and about close to home, I’ve also worn him comfortably on holiday in the Lake District and on day trips such as those I’ve written about in previous Country Kids posts. The rain cover that I bought has been essential, and is a simple but ingenious solution to wearing a baby in wet and windy weather. Not that he’s ever cold in it, in fact we do get quite warm the two of us next to each other, so I find I have to adjust our layers accordingly when going out with the wrap.babywearing Collage 3

I recently came across and bought a cheap tandem (inline double) stroller that umbrella folds like the classic Maclaren stroller, which I hadn’t seen when pregnant, and this fits easily into our flat. There are some occasions when I prefer to take the double buggy: I realised that Joel was spending less time on playground equipment at the park than Andrew had been at his age, because whenever we went Joel was wrapped up and often asleep, so there was no way I’d go through the palaver of getting him out, so if he’s in the buggy, it’s easier to get him out and in again; as it gets warmer, I’m aware that we’re both getting very hot next to each other, and when I’m pushing the buggy too, I can work up quite a sweat, so I feel less comfortable wearing him if I know I’ll get sweaty and have to sit at a group for a while.

babywearing Collage 2

It’s all about having options – there are three different ones that I have for getting out and about on my own with the boys. The wrap and single buggy is one, the double buggy is another, and the single buggy plus buggy board is another (which I use when we’re not walking too far).

But overall my favourite option, the one I come back to most often, is the wrap plus single buggy. Joel is a wrapped up country kid and Andrew is a country kid on wheels (when he’s not walking next to the set of wheels!)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Pregnancy diary: week 30 – buggy and blood issues

Before I go any further, I should say that this post isn’t as horrific as it sounds! There’s no gore involved. Just a couple of things that happened at the end of last week that have been on my mind this week, as I think about what I can (or rather can’t) do about them.

First, I discovered last Friday that one of the back wheels on our buggy was dodgy. As I tried to push it to the supermarket, I saw that the wheel was wobbly and making the whole buggy wobble slightly as I pushed it. So I used our ‘spare’ buggy instead – a cheap secondhand stroller that we have for taking on car journeys because it folds up smaller than our usual buggy. There was no obvious reason why it should suddenly have a wobbly wheel, other than the fact that this is the third time in 18 months of use that we’ve had a problem with the back wheels. When we’ve heard back from the manufacturer about getting it fixed, I’m going to write a whole post on this, an honest review post from someone who’s used the buggy for more than a few weeks (that’s the trouble with most buggy reviews online – they are by people who’ve recently bought the product, so not much use for long-term durability experiences). So I won’t name (and shame) here.

When it’s working, I love our main buggy – it’s lightweight, easy to fold, easy to push, parent-facing or outward-facing, and fits in our small car boot (with not much room for much else). The secondhand stroller is pretty good too, but it has no parent-facing option and isn’t as easy to push as the other. But with the warrantee nearly up at 2 years after we bought the main buggy in October 2010, we’ve decided to sell it once the wheels are fixed, and get another buggy, one with more durable wheels, as the current one clearly wasn’t made to be used as often and for as long distances as we use it. I don’t see the point of a buggy that you can’t use as often as we do, but there you go; maybe living in Cambridge has warped my sense of how long is a normal distance to walk each day!

Throughout this pregnancy, our plan has been to continue using the (now read ‘a’) single buggy once the new baby is born, by carrying baby in a sling and Andrew in the buggy. I didn’t get on very well with the couple of different slings we were given when Andrew was little, for various reasons, so I didn’t use them much more than just around the house now and then, especially once he was quite heavy. But since then I’ve learned a lot more about babywearing, and I now know that there are many more slings available than the types we had, which are more comfortable to use. They’re not available in the chain high street shops selling baby products, so I’ve had to do quite a bit of internet research to come to the conclusion on what type of sling I’d like. Finally, about a month ago, I ordered the sling! However, it’s currently not available in the UK, so I have to wait until September for it to be shipped and arrive. That’s why I haven’t mentioned it on here yet – I was waiting until it arrived and could show me wearing it (potentially tricky with bump, but you’d get the idea). But as the topic has come up with the buggy issue, I’ll mention it here anyway. I’ve gone for a Moby wrap. It’s a long piece of stretchy fabric that you tie around you in a specific way that holds baby safely next to your chest. A stretchy wrap is great for newborns up to older babies, and is supposed to be a good starter wrap if you’ve never used a sling that you tie up yourself (rather than a structured one with clips) before. Below is a picture of someone else wearing it! When I saw this lace print design, I thought how pretty it looks, and so went for this design because it’s a bit more unusual than the plain colour ones and as I’m going to be wearing it a lot, I’m thinking of it like a piece of clothing.

Moby Lace wrap - worn by someone who looks like she doesn't have a baby the age of the one she's wearing! She looks far too awake and with it 😉

So the wrap for baby is sorted, but now I feel like we’re back to square one with the buggy for Andrew. By this time in pregnancy with him, we’d sorted the buggy, so I (usually so organised) feel a little uneasy about being 30 weeks pregnant and not knowing what our long-term plan about buggy is. For now I’m happy(-ish) to use the stroller with Andrew, but there will come a point at which we need to decide whether we’d like a double, or another single. I’m currently imagining two options: 1. I’m happy to carry baby in the wrap and push Andrew in the stroller until baby is big enough (about 10-12 months) to go in the stroller and Andrew is a good enough walker to use a buggy-board and walk some of the way (he’d be 2 1/2 years old by the time baby is that age, and is already a keen walker for his age); 2. I find that I’d prefer to push rather than wear baby once he/she gets to a certain weight, and by that time Andrew is not a good enough walker to reliably use a buggy-board and walk some of the way. There’s also the potential situation that I get fed up with the stroller and miss my easier to push single buggy, particularly when wearing baby in the wrap whilst pushing.

Option 1 means we wouldn’t need to get a new buggy, though possibly another single buggy (rather than stroller) if I miss the easier pushing action. Option 2 means we’d need to get a double buggy. As neither option is clear at the moment during pregnancy – because we need to wait until I actually have 2 children to walk around with to see how they develop – I can’t really do anything about this issue right now. As I said, this makes me feel a little uneasy, but we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better in the long run to wait. Of course I can do research into single and double buggies, and believe me I already have done lots, but we can’t make the final decision until later in the year or next year. My reasons for not just going for a double straight away are that I’d like to wear baby in the early months because this will be good for my milk supply (with which I had big issues with Andrew) and good for baby (with Andrew I missed out on knowing about the benefits of holding baby so close all the time), plus we don’t have loads of room in or around our flat and, as far as my research so far tells me, double buggies are pretty big contraptions, either wide or long, and heavy, which I’m happy to avoid if we don’t have to have one.

Bump looking bigger all the time. Not sure I'd say that I feel like I'm blooming, but certainly growing!

I think that’s enough on buggies for now! The second issue I’ve been dealing with this week has been my blood. More specifically – the platelets and cholesterol in my blood. The results of my glucose tolerance test last week came back fine in that I don’t have diabetes (yay!), but it was spotted that my platelets are ‘a little lower than normal’, to quote my GP, who has asked me to return for another blood test in 2 weeks to monitor them, in case they drop any further. After some googling, I’ve discovered that this is in fact pretty common in pregnancy, although I’d never heard of it before, and didn’t have this when pregnant with Andrew. Platelets are cells in the blood which help it to clot when necessary, like, for example, if you cut yourself and bleed, the platelets help clot the blood so it stops flowing and the wound starts to heal. As far as I can see from googling, it’s quite common for pregnant mums to have a slight drop in their platelet count during pregnancy, usually the 3rd trimester. Although it’s not certain exactly why this drop happens, there are a couple of factors that may be involved: the body naturally destroys platelets and replaces them with new ones, but in pregnancy this process is sped up, so you have fewer but younger platelets in the blood; the body produces more plasma (the liquid bit of blood) when pregnant, which means there are fewer platelets per millilitre of blood, though they can still perform just as well. As far as I can tell, if they drop a lot more, I’d probably have to have a hospital birth, as I would need treatment if I lost a lot of blood if the birth was complicated or I needed a c-section. So let’s hope it’s just a slight, normal drop, and that they won’t drop any more.

Completely unrelated to pregnancy, I also had a blood test a couple of days before my glucose test, because we’ve applied for life assurance for me. The reason is that I used to have a policy through work which would pay out a large sum based on my salary if I were to die (a policy which Tom also has), but of course with leaving work soon I’ll no longer have this. It’s not exactly a nice thing to think about, but now that we have children, our concern is for them if something were to happen to us. The insurance company wanted me to have a lipid test, although when the nurse came to do it, she wondered why they had asked for this, because it’s not routine for people as young as me. Anyway, it turns out from that my cholesterol is slightly higher than normal, according to the very undetailed letter that the insurance company sent me. So of course I googled again, and lo and behold, it’s pretty common in pregnancy to have slightly raised cholesterol, because my body is producing more of the various types of fat it needs to produce for baby, to build him/her up! Annoyingly though, the insurance company said in their letter that they can’t give me life assurance based on my cholesterol as it stands, so they need to reassess in 3 months – note that they don’t refer to pregnancy anywhere, but 3 months time is when I’ll no longer be pregnant. I’m pretty suspicious now as to why they wanted me to have the test in the first place, as they knew I was pregnant from the application form. So I tried to ring the company to say that this was unfair, because it’s normal to have slightly higher cholesterol in pregnancy and that I have no history of raised cholesterol. However, the call centre agents were unable to help, and said that I should speak to my GP, who would receive the results too (they were posted on the same day as my letter), and ask them whether in their opinion this higher than normal result was purely pregnancy-related, because that would hold more weight in an appeal to the insurance underwriters than my own googling.

So…… I made a GP appointment for three days after my letter had arrived, thinking that this would be enough time to ensure that the results had arrived at the surgery. The letter from the surgery about platelets was also pretty vague, with no info about what platelets are and why a slightly low count is a potential problem, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss both blood issues with a knowledgable health professional, and check that the info I was finding on websites was accurate and applicable to my personal situation. I managed to get an appointment for 11.50 – I thought I would be away from work for about half an hour or so, as the surgery is not far from my office. How wrong I was. When I turned up, the receptionist  warned me that the doctor was running ‘a little late’. It turns out she was running 45 minutes late! So I eventually went in at 12.35. I realised that she was a locum as she introduced herself. I explained about the blood tests, and asked whether it was normal to have slightly low platelets and slightly high cholesterol in pregnancy, and what the implications were in both cases.

First she tried to find the results on my profile on the system. It was clear that she had no idea how to use the system, and faffed around for a while before she decided to ring reception as she couldn’t see the ones from my insurance company. Reception talked her through where they should be on the system, but there was no trace of them there or in the post from that day. So that’s the fault of the insurance company, or Royal Mail. Sigh. Still I thought it was worth pursuing the questions of what low platelets and high cholesterol could mean for my pregnancy, because even without the exact numbers in front of her, she could still talk to me about these things, and offer me some reassurance for why I would be monitored. It was at that point that she brought up a web browser window on her computer, and typed the platelets question into Google! I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes!! I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or say anything. In the end I just kept quiet, and luckily the phone rang again – it was reception confirming that there were no results in the post that day. The GP then said it was probably best if I came back another day to see another doctor once the results were there, and she thought baby would be hungry, so I should go and have some lunch. By this point I was totally in agreement with her – I didn’t want to waste another minute of my day in her room!! I’d already been away from my office much longer than I intended, and ended up being away for nearly 1.5 hours. No lunch break for me then – sandwiches at the desk whilst doing stats instead. I could have just stayed there all morning and googled in my lunch break instead of waiting for the GP to google for me! Incidentally, I’ve written an email with ‘feedback’ to the practice manager about my experience.

As you can see, this week has been quite eventful in one way or another, and none of the issues are particularly enjoyable, though they could be worse – just frustrating more than anything else, not knowing what will happen about the buggy, my blood clotting ability or the life assurance. On top of (or maybe because of?) all this, I’ve been feeling quite tired this week, which I know is normal for later pregnancy, as I felt similar with Andrew and it does mention it in various books/websites that I’ve read. I’m hoping that a nice 3-day weekend with my boys will take my mind off these things and give me some rest. I’ll be back again next week with another instalment of pregnancy news, one week further on the countdown to 40!

Pregnancy diary: week 21 – bits and pieces

As I’ve come to sit down and write this post, quite early on in the week (although I’m posting later), there aren’t really one or two particular things that are happening or are on my mind that are specifically to do with pregnancy. So this week’s post is mix of a few bits and pieces…..

The reason I’m getting the bulk of writing done early in the week is because I’m going to the BritMumsLive 2012 bloggers conference on Friday and Saturday. This in itself is very exciting, and I’m definitely looking forward to going and meeting up with people I know mostly just from virtual conversations. But it’s not specifically to do with pregnancy. I have just found out, though, that a lovely blogger, Louise, whose blog I came across only recently, is organising an informal get-together for pregnant mums at the conference. She is only a few weeks behind me in pregnancy, so it’s great to read her posts too and know that someone else is going through similar thoughts/feelings/physical changes. From what I’ve seen on twitter, it looks like there’ll be quite a few other pregnant mums joining us. Pregnancy is generally something that inspires people to blog. I thought it would be a nice record of a journey for me, baby, Andrew and Tom. Although I didn’t think about doing this with the last pregnancy (probably because I hadn’t come across the world of blogging and what I could get out of it and what others could get out of me), I’m really enjoying writing down my thoughts each week so far. And it turns out I’m not alone – there are plenty of other pregnant mum bloggers to link up with. I’m sure I’ll post more about the conference at some point, and I’ll include a bit about the bump meet-up.

One thing that’s been on my mind from time to time this past week is breastfeeding, both weaning Andrew and preparing for baby, but I haven’t come to any real conclusions! It’s still something that I keep tossing around my head when I get time to think. I said that we’d get to 20 weeks, then reassess where Andrew was at in terms of showing signs of self-weaning, and think about what to do from there. Well, we’re now at 21 weeks and he’s not feeding less than he was before pregnancy. I explained in my previous post on thoughts about nursling (self-)weaning that he was generally feeding twice a day – once first thing in the morning and once last thing before bed, for about 20 minutes each time (I guess – I don’t clock-watch, but roughly). Ironically he then started feeding more in the early weeks of pregnancy! I’m not sure if it was because he was teething molars, or because he actually liked the ‘weaning’ milk that starts to be produced in early pregnancy (which tastes less sweet and more salty than before pregnancy), or because I was so sick and tired that all I would do in the afternoons is lie on the sofa and watch him play (in between running to the toilet) so he was more aware of milk just being there to drink with no distractions like going to the park like we usually do. Or quite possibly a combination of all these things. Whatever it was, this seems to have worn off again, and he’s back to the two main feeds a day (plus the odd short one if he’s upset and needs calming down).

On the one hand, I see the fact that he’s still feeding as a good thing. It means we’re maximising the chances of me developing more breast tissue and therefore producing more milk for baby than I did for him, and minimising the gap between him stopping feeding and baby starting feeding. On the other hand, I’m concerned that if he feeds into the third trimester, he’ll start drinking some of the milk (colostrum) that I’m producing in preparation for baby. If I didn’t have hypoplasia, this wouldn’t be a bad thing because my breasts would produce plenty; but given that my milk supply is not necessarily going to be enough for this baby either, even with all the knowledge and support I have this time round, I really want the newborn to have everything that I can produce. The one (kind of) conclusion that I’ve come to is that I need to talk to some experts about this, because we’re a special case and I can’t decide what’s best to do based on books and online reading.

Bump getting bigger....

Another thing that’s been on my mind (and therefore Tom’s given how much I’ve brought it up in conversation) is what we might need to buy for baby. Of course as Andrew is only 16 months, we have most things already. But the two things that I’ve been researching are nappies and a sling.

I posted a while ago about cloth nappies, and told of their greatness! As we only have enough for one, we’ll need to expand our stash. Recently Andrew has been becoming a heavier wetter than he was, because he’s suddenly discovered the taste of squash (thanks primarily to his childminder!) and drinks it like there’s no tomorrow. I’m generally happy that he does this, because I think he can’t really drink ‘too much’, but it is possible to drink too little, and this has always been at the back of my mind since he was a 6-day old baby in hospital with dehydration. The nappies have started to leak sometimes, because we haven’t put (m)any extra booster layers inside, since the style we have get quite bulky with extra layers. So we’re thinking that it could be a good plan to buy some more absorbent but slim-fitting ones for Andrew, and use the ones we already have for baby. I’ll write more about the specifics of what I’ve researched on nappies when we’ve bought them, as it’ll need a post in itself.

When Andrew was a baby, we were given two slings second hand from friends. One was the Baba Sling, and one was the Baby Bjorn. I used both of them a bit, but neither of them were very comfortable to use for more than quite short distances or short periods around the house. By the time I stumbled across the wonderful world of ‘babywearing’, Andrew was a toddler and it wasn’t long before I was pregnant again. I discovered that there are many types of sling different from the two we had, which looked far more comfortable and came with excellent reviews and recommendations from what I could see in all the online babywearing information. I’ve done some research on what would suit our needs, and we’ve decided that instead of buying a double buggy, we’ll buy a good quality, comfortable sling that I can carry baby in and Andrew can continue using the single buggy. We can then reassess when baby is older; by that time I think it’s likely that Andrew will be fine on a buggy-board and baby can go in the buggy. Given that people ‘wear’ their babies right through into toddlerhood, this initial arrangement could last us quite a while. One of the prizes in last week’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt posts was a Moby sling (or ‘wrap’). As this is one of the choices of sling that I have narrowed down to, I’m waiting until after the competition winner is announced before I go any further with going about buying a sling. Again, I’ll write another post specifically on this at some point.

I think that’s enough rambling for this week. Hopefully I’ll have some more decisions made on weaning, nappies and a sling over the next few weeks, so I can update you with what we’re doing.