Abernathy Naturals ~ keeping babies close, comfortably

Babies and Babywearing

Long time no write! I am terrible about finding the time to get on my computer, aren't I? I should be doing this more often!

I had some customers here yesterday, and as I was talking to the lovely first time mom-to-be and grandma-to-be, it occurred to me that we don't always talk about learning and babies. In breastfeeding, whenever I talk to someone who is struggling or frustrated with it, especially during the early stages--and I have to remind myself this as well, even after nursing three newborns!--I like to gently remind them that it's not just you that is learning. Baby is learning too. And it's no doubt especially frustrating with them, having their sweet, noodly little bodies that probably don't always cooperate with what their mind really wants!

Well, the same holds true for babywearing. With our oldest daughter, babywearing was... an acquired taste. But once she learned about what being in the carrier meant (closeness, warmth, bonding), she became much happier about being in there! If I had given up on wrapping or using the mei tai after the first couple of months, I would never have experienced the joys and trials of a securely attached baby in a baby carrier. (Yes... there are trials. This one time, on a long bus ride, my toddler vomited down my cleavage in the wrap. That was fun.)

Felicity was completely different. The carrier was immediately awesome to her, and at 4 years old, she still goes in the Tula toddler as often as she can.

Jocelyn was another one that was slow to enjoy being in the carrier, and at two she tolerates it but generally doesn't love it. It's kind of okay in her books. But when she was only a few months old, her excitement when the carrier got pulled out was obvious. Chubby little flapping arms and kicking feet. Gosh, I do miss that.

So, if you're trying out babywearing for the first time, and your baby isn't thrilled with it, keep trying. They might just warm up to it! Tell me, did your baby love babywearing from the very start, or were they a little slower to warm to it?

Cozy Fall Babywearing!

Well, it's official--it's chilly out there! It's definitely time to crack out sweaters and jackets when you head outdoors. We're feeling it here in Victoria--the furnace is turning on, the fires are getting used, socks and slippers are being worn...

Having a nice piece of babywearing gear to help keep you and your little one cozy would be pretty nice, right?

You know what might make that even better? If it was free. Well, I'd like to make that happen for a couple of you!

Enter to win a lovely Boba Vest! All you have to do is leave a comment here and tell me where you're from and what keeps you babywearing all winter long.

You have to tell me where you're from, because this contest is open to both CANADIAN and AMERICAN customers. (I am very sorry I couldn't find a way to make this contest feasible internationally. I will try to host an international one soon!) Not only is it open to both countries, we will have two winners, one from each...

So tell me, where are you from? What keeps you babywearing all winter long?

I babywear all winter long because it's cozy, hands-free snuggles. I do wish I had a little squish to enjoy this winter... I miss soft wraps layered around us. Unfortunately, miss Jocelyn is not a fan of wrapping, but loves the TULA Toddler. Girl's got some real specific taste. Maybe next year I can have a squish.

Again, answer both questions here on our blog to enter to win a Boba Vest in YOUR SIZE!
Open to Canadian and American friends and fans.
Questions are:
Where are you from (country)?
What keeps you babywearing all winter long?

One entry per person. Contest closes November 30 at midnight PST.

Winner will be contacted via e-mail so use the e-mail you check the most (you MUST leave an e-mail when you comment!).

Winner will have 24 hours to contact us to claim their prize, if no contact is made we will select again using a random number generator.

Winter Wear for 2014/2015!

Yep, it's that time of year again. The fog rolls in to beautiful Victoria, the sky turns to grey and it's raining. But hey, at least it's not snowing! (Sorry, the rest of Canada. Really, I am. ;-))

We're rolling out pre-orders on winter wear already, and I thought I'd help the process of choosing (in a land full of choices!) a little less stressful for you. Any more questions? Use our contact us form, or even comment here on the blog. I'm only too happy to oblige.

The first of the many questions I get about winter wear come from people interested in the Suse's line of coats.

  • Do I want the regular, or the deluxe? Are you planning on doing hip carries in your jacket? If the answer is yes, you need the deluxe coat. If you have no desire to use your coat for hip carries, get the regular. It has fewer pieces to lose, and it costs less.
  • What's the difference? As noted above, the regular coat does not allow hip carries. It does, however, do front and back carries, and even tandem carries. In the past, the regular coat came in colours like red, teal, blue and yellow, but this year it is only available in black. Last year the deluxe coats got a revamp with nylon lining inside the water resistant shell, and changes to the sleeve length. This year, the deluxe will be available in size medium only in brown, yellow and red as well as black.
  • How do they fit? The deluxe coat fits very big as a general rule--at least one size. It is also bulkier because of the added zippers and openings for the inserts at the hips. The regular coat fits truer to usual ladies sizing. If you're on the cusp of a size, you might want to go down a size to prevent any excess bulk as well.

The Suse's coats are an amazingly versatile piece of babywearing equipment. I used one for years and while it wasn't the prettiest coat, it was easily the most functional one I found. I have personal and extensive experience with the Suse's coats, Mamalila trench, and M Coat. Between these three, the Mamalila trench and the M Coat command a hefty price compared to the Suse's. I found my M Coat, which I adore, don't get me wrong--just doesn't hold up as well to rain. And that's a bit of a problem here! It means taking an umbrella with you wherever you go if you think it might rain. (I don't stock M Coats yet, but I can get them. Please e-mail me if you are searching for one. I would be happy to help.)

The Mamalila trench is much more polished in terms of appearances, and uses far fewer zippers to get the job done. However, it does use a lot of snaps and the snaps don't always cooperate when it comes to staying together. If you prefer snaps to zippers, this is the coat for you. Even the inner shell, which is a lightweight sweatshirt-type material, does up with snaps. It's also not really particularly attractive for wear on its own, unlike the Suse's inner fleece which is not beautiful by any stretch but easily passes off as a regular fleece jacket.

New on the market this year is the Diva Milano line of jackets. They have a spring/fall edition and a winter edition. They look well suited to our climate! I have not had the opportunity to see or try one to suss out how it does against the rainy fall-through-spring we have here on the coast, but I do plan to put one through its paces when I get them. Like the M Coat, the Diva Milano jackets are for front carries. They're also suitable for maternity wear. (The M Coat is definitely the current winner, in my books, for maternity jacket. I loved mine for that, and for a newborn. They just require an umbrella in the rain, and they aren't really optimal for toddlers.) They look really nice, too--like the M Coat--like they're a regular down jacket when the insert(s) are not in.

Other things to consider when it comes to choosing a coat...

  • Where's it made? Does that matter to you? If you try to avoid buying anything made in China (and, indeed, we try to not stock anything made in China, for a lot of reasons), you don't want a Suse's coat. I'll temper this, though, with the fact that we'd prefer them if they were made in North America or Europe ... but they were not able to find a factory that would accommodate so darn many zippers! So, China was a necessary concession to have the coats made at all. On the other end of that, the M Coat is very fortunately made right here in Canada.
  • How long is the warranty? The M Coat isn't just made in Canada--it also boasts a lifetime warranty! This is a factor worth considering when it comes to the price point of an M Coat. A Suse's jacket includes your standard 1 year warranty comparatively.
  • How big is your baby? If you're wearing toddlers, or tandem wearing, or anything like that--you want a coat that will accommodate that. The M Coat isn't great for an older baby/toddler.
  • What kind of carries do you want to do? You can't do a back carry with an M Coat, or a Diva Milano coat. You can do back carries in a Suse's Deluxe Kinder Coat, a Suse's Kinder CoatSuse's Teton JacketMamaponcho, and a Mamalila trench coat.

My darling family is nearly back from school pickup, so I'd best wrap up here. Please comment, message me on FB or e-mail me if you have any questions whatsoever. I am happy to help. You can find more information about some of the available coats on their product pages, which are all visible here in the preorder/special order section of our store. Any of the coats mentioned here we can obtain for you, and then some, so please do check in.

A comprehensive list of what we are able to order for our customers:

  • Manduca by MaM (see here for details)
  • Boba Vest & Hoodie (these are regularly stocked)
  • Mamalila (see their full product line herethese are very hard to get in quickly
  • Suse's Deluxe & Suse's Kinder Coat, as well as Suse's Teton Jacket (in stock)
  • Mamaponcho
  • Diva Milano coats & cover
  • The M Coat

Happy babywearing!

SOME PICTURES...

 

Diva Milano's Winter Coat.

 

 

Mamaponcho, available in four beautiful colours--forest green, navy blue, charcoal and claret red.

 

 

Mamalila Trench Coat.

 

 

The Woven Wrap Experience

My story began some six years ago, when Hannah was first born. A friend of mine, who had been a shoulder for me through a difficult pregnancy and a very traumatic birth, came over to see us and brought her Storchenwiege Inka. Jason and I had already bought a BabyHawk mei tai, which we liked, but I fell in love with that wrap and ordered an Ulli for myself. At the time, I don't recall what my thoughts were about it when I cracked open the package and felt it for the first time. I didn't know anything about wrapping. I didn't know about breaking in, different lengths, fiber blends, anything. I did nothing special, beyond learning my staple Front Wrap Cross Carry... and wearing Hannah everywhere I could, once I was well enough to be on my feet again.

Now, I field questions about wraps every day--what length to get, what fiber blend, what manufacturer is best, which is easier to break in, etc.

Here's a basic rundown of wrapping information, with a focus on our three primary wrap manufacturers: Storchenwiege, KoKaDi and Natibaby.

Wrap Lengths:

2.7m (size 3)
3.6m (size 4) occasionally, you might see this one as 3.7m
4.2m (size 5) occasionally, you might see this one as 4.1m
4.6m (size 6)
5.2m (size 7)

What Size Do I Need?

The size you need is dependent on the way you would like to tie the wrap, who will wear it, and how old your child is.
A 2.7m wrap is suitable for a simple hip carry and cradle carry.
A 3.6m wrap is suitable for a simple hip carry, cradle carry, hip snuggle hold, snuggle hold, simple cross carry, and backpack carry (if the wearer is under a US size 10).
A 4.1m wrap is suitable for a simple hip carry, cradle carry, and hip snuggle hold. It is suitable for a snuggle hold, simple cross carry, and backpack carry if the wearer is under a US size 16. It can also be used for a double cross carry and a wrap across carry if the wearer is under a US size 8.
A 4.6m wrap is suitable for a simple hip carry, cradle carry, hip snuggle hold, snuggle hold, simple cross carry, and backpack carry. It can also be used for a double cross carry and a wrap cross carry if the wearer is under a US size 16.
A 5.2m wrap is suitable for all carries, and is recommended for those who are tall or above a US size 16.

Information about Abernathy Naturals' Wraps:

  • All have a middle marker to help you determine where the centre of your wrap is, to make tying simpler.
  • They all hail from Europe-- Storchenwiege and KoKaDi from Germany, Natibaby from Poland.
  • Storchenwiege come in cotton (or organic cotton) only. Natibaby and KoKaDi offer a diverse number of fiber types ranging from silk to bamboo and everything in between.
  • In order of softness out of the package, KoKaDi is your winner, followed by Natibaby and Storchenwiege Leo wraps. Storchenwiege stripes would be our hardest product to break in, but they are so worth it. My Ulli is a dream to wrap with. Easy to use, supple, wraps like iron. Well worth the effort and very budget friendly.
  • KoKaDi run a little bit long and have the longest tapers of our wraps. Storchenwiege have pretty average tapers, and Natibaby tapers are quite shallow/blunt in comparison.

Robbin's Recommendations for the New Wrapper:

  • Get a cotton wrap to start with. Blends, especially blends with silk or bamboo are more slippery and can be harder to tie. Certain blends can also be less supportive, meaning you have to tie them perfectly to avoid painful diggy spots. Cotton is the most forgiving, easiest to care for and a great foundation for your wrap stash.
  • Get a size 6 (or maybe a 5, or maybe a 7!) to start with. Why all the maybes? Well, this answer can hinge on a couple of things. If you're really petite, you might be able to get away with a size 5. If you're tall or you'll be sharing your wrap with someone who is, you might need to go up to a size 7. At the risk of confusing you more (!) some wrap manufacturers also run long, so a size 6 in a KoKaDi can fit like a size 7 for some people. In that case you may be able to go a bit smaller. I recommend you go with a minimum size 6, however, because too long is irritating to some (I don't mind it myself) but can still be dealt with. You can't fix a wrap that is too short.
  • How much breaking in do you want to do? I started with an Ulli and not a clue that wraps need breaking in. If you feel it now, it's buttery soft and almost silky to the touch. If you're like me, you'll buy whatever wrap you like and just break it in from using it. If you want it to be broken in before you start using it, you can either order early and use the wrap for other things to soften it up. I recommend braiding, using it to sit on, using it as a hammock, washing (but not machine drying), and there are loads of other ideas out there on the internet if you search for "breaking in a woven wrap". If you don't want to worry about breaking in a woven wrap at all, go with a KoKaDi. They're soft out of the package and just need a quick wash and a day to dry on the line before you use them.
  • Read your wrap manual. All of our manufacturers provide a manual for their wraps. Give them a quick run through to find some nice, basic carries. If they instructions are unclear to you, or difficult to understand, don't worry. There's so much out there, you will find instructions that you do understand.
  • Attend local meetups, if available, and/or join online babywearing support groups. Help in person, or at least on a personal level, can often be very productive when it comes to figure out what you need to make your wrapping relationship work.
  • Put YouTube to good use. Once you figure out what carries you want to do, look them up on YouTube. If one video is confusing or doesn't work for you, try another, and another, and...! Something will click.
  • E-mail me! I'm always here to help, lend a shoulder and I'll do my best to help you find what you need to be successful at wrapping or wearing your baby.

What is a Wrap Conversion Baby Carrier?

A wrap conversion is a baby carrier made from the fabric of a woven wrap. At Abernathy Naturals, wraps from popular, quality product lines such as Kokadi, Storchenwiege, Girasol or Natibaby are selected from to create beautiful buckle carriers. A wrap conversion is an excellent way to have the comfort and moldability of a woven wrap with the ease of a  soft structured carrier.

There are a lot of acronyms used in the babywearing community when it comes to wrap conversions. These acronyms can be confusing to decipher at first. WCRS is shorthand for Wrap Conversion Ring Sling. This does not include ring slings made by woven wrap manufacturers such as Storchenwiege and Kokadi.

This beautiful WCRS was made for us by Shannon at Metamorphosis. She's made a left shouldered version and a right shouldered version. People seem to be roughly 50/50 as to which size they like to wear.

WCMT is the acronym used to describe wrap conversion mei tais. Mei tais have straps at the waist and shoulders that must be tied to secure the carrier. At this time, we don't have any mei tais, but we are able to order some through Metamorphosis and Natibaby. A WCMT with "wrap straps" has straps as wide as the wrap it was made of, which are then gathered or spread when they are tied. The closest thing we have to a mei tai is a WCHB, a Wrap Conversion Half Buckle. A half buckle carrier is one where the waistband is secured using a buckle, while the shoulder straps are tied like a mei tai. You can get a WCMT or a WCHB with wrap straps.

This is a WCHB with wrap straps by Metamorphosis.

A WCFB is a Wrap Conversion Full Buckle, where the carrier has buckle closures for both waist and shoulder straps. These are the SSC (Soft Structured Carrier) type.

This is a WCFB carrier, made by Aloe Slings. This WCFB is made from Kokadi Erna im Wunderland and a coordinating canvas.

Just to add to the mess of acronyms, wrap conversions are also routinely described as full, half or semi conversions. A full conversion is made of 100% woven wrap material without any canvas. A half conversion has wrap material for the visible side of the carrier,  including on the waist and shoulder straps. A semi conversion has a canvas waist and straps with the outer portion of the panel is wrap material.

 

Right now, Metamorphosis from Edmonton, AB creates wonderful WCRS for us using wraps and rings provided by us. While wait times can be lengthy for wrap conversion requests, we can try to help make a dream carrier reality by request. Shannon at Metamorphosis also creates WCFB, WCHB and WCMT. We are thrilled to offer Canadian made product and support another WAHM!

Aloe Slings creates beautiful WCHB and WCFB carriers for us. The combination of their artistic flair with the beauty of a woven wrap results in some truly gorgeous and unique carriers. Aloe Slings WCs are always augmented with linen or cotton.

Tula Baby Carriers make beautiful and comfortable full, half and semi WCs of the full buckle variety. Supple wrap material paired with Tula comfort is hard to beat! These wrap conversions are few and far between and never stick around for long!

Hope this helps, and happy hunting!

That Aloe Sling Thing

I get a lot of questions about Aloe Slings. The most common one is whether or not they wear and feel as good as they look. The scary thing is... they do.

There are a few cool things about Aloes, not the least of which is the fact that they're so one of a kind. Very rarely is a specific pattern reproduced. They're functional art!

Here's the lowdown on the good and "bad" of Aloe Slings... followed by a picture guide of the Aloe Slings that we have in stock or on its way.

What About Aloe?

  • Criss cross straps. This is a feature a lot of people just can't live without in an SSC.
  • Front carry, back carry, even a hip carry is a possibility with an Aloe Slings SSC.
  • They include a removable, adjustable chest strap and a removable hood.
  • Two dangly toys are added to the hood to create more visual interest for baby while in the carrier.
  • Designed with a deep pocket to position baby properly in the "M" shape, knees elevated above hip level so that baby is not dangling or placing any strain on joints.
  • Reinforcement at the sides provide gentle support and structure as well as at the back.
  • Patented belt distributes weight properly across the hips/waist and reduces the burden on your back/shoulders.
  • Because I know I'm not the only one who has this little "issue" ... the waist is awesome at hiding post-baby muffin tops!
  • The belt is made of breathable fibres to reduce heat retention.

Other Notes

  • The Aloe Slings carriers sadly lack a pocket, though special ordering an accessory pocket is an option.
  • There are no infant inserts for Aloe Slings carriers and they are not intended for use with babies under 7kg. In Russia SSCs are not used with newborns, and this is reflected in the carriers they produce.
  • Shoulder straps are thinner than the TULA, but no less supportive. If you prefer something thick and cushy, you might not love the Aloe. If you aren't a fan of bulky straps, you'll love the Aloe.

Aloe Slings command a hefty price tag, but that reflects the hand crafted and attention to detail that Aloe Slings are known for. They are expensive and slow to import, so having one of these carriers here in North America is truly unique. They do not speak English, but they are exceptionally flexibile and willing to work with clients to make the carrier that is perfect just for you. That's a rare thing in a mass produced world. When you order or purchase an Aloe Sling through us, you're not just supporting our small business--you're supporting their small business, too, half a world away.

Happy Babywearing!

Robbin

See our full selection of Aloe Slings canvas and wrap conversion carriers here.

Aloe Slings wrap conversion carriers include the cost of shipping. Use aloewcshipfree during checkout!

Aloe Slings Measurements:

Waist:

  • (All Sizes) 135cm

Panel Size:

  • (Baby) 35cm by 35cm,
  • (Middle) 42cm by 42cm,
  • (Toddler) 45cm by 45cm.

Weight Requirements:

  • (Baby) 7kg and up,
  • (Middle) 9kg and up,
  • (Toddler) 11kg up to 25kg.

Aloe Slings Review by Masja

We've been generating some good buzz about the beautiful Aloe Slings baby carriers. With the gorgeous Erna semi and half wrap conversions on their way, and some of their gorgeous canvas carriers due to ship out any time, people are starting to take notice. Who doesn't love a baby carrier that doubles as a piece of art or fashion that comes hand in hand with convenience and comfort? It's babywearing in style, and it supports a wonderful home business based out of far off Russia. These carriers travel the world, truly, and it's a privilege to present them to the Canadian market.

The wonderful Masja of Sew What? Paint It! purchased the first Aloe Slings SSC we got. What a beauty it is. She was kind enough to write an in depth review, and I'm excited to present it to you here.

As an important side note, Aloe Slings don't speak any English, so you will have to be patient with me (and them) as we redo their instruction guide and compile all the information you need to make an informed choice about buying and using one of these SSCs--in English. ;-)

Now, to let Masja take over...

"So I recently had the opportunity to purchase an aloe slings carrier from Abernathy Naturals, as I was in the market for a different SSC, and this one had caught my eye. Upon arrival I was very surprised at how it felt. It didn't have that canvassy- mass produced, factory feel. You know the one, the typical SSC stuff canvas feel. It felt handmade, and I like that.

The strap padding is squishy and soft, unlike other SSC which have a tendency to feel quite stuff and dense. I laid out the aloe slings in front of me and took in all the features and details. I love the little toys hanging from the hood straps. This little "extra" really helps to show the attention to detail and the overall uniqueness of the brand. The hood is secured with 3 fabric covered buttons, and is removable and reversible, which I love, as my kiddo doesn't always fall asleep while being worn any more, so I can keep it off or put it on if she needs it.

The major feature of the carrier that really drew me in is the dual buckle waistband. I loved the look of it, and was very happy when I did eventually get to trying it on. No muffin top! Woot! Nothing worse than that overhang when back carrying, and this was tall enough that it kept the jiggly bits tucked in The other super cool feature is the waistband. It's my overly structured, but it's oversized and offers awesome lower back support in a back carry, and abdominal support in the front. This company really put a lot of thinking into their design.

The panel offers a deep seat, with seat darts, the padding is just enough that it's not too bulky, and yet I could comfortable wear my daughter in it for hours. The straps are adjustable and can cross in the back for front carrying, which I know is a feature many wearers love. Overall, I was very happy with the design, craftsmanship and overall comfort of the carrier. I only had one complaint, and that was the chest straps. It is attached to the carrier with a piece of matching canvas, which is not tight enough, so it has a habit of slipping down the straps, so when you put the carrier on, you have to adjust them before hand, or else it's a real pain when you finally wrangle your wiggly and uncooperative toddler on to you and pull up the straps, and have to undo everything to reach them."

Here is the beautiful Aloe Masja bought.

   

Some details for you about these carriers:

  • Aloe Slings SSCs can be used for back carries, front carries and even hip carries.
  • They feature a dual "bandage" belt, the broader waistband adds extra back support, hides unflattering muffin tops for post-baby bodies and is surprisingly comfortable in use.
  • Includes a removable hood, which has one of Aloe's signature toys for baby's enjoyment while in the carrier and a bit of visual interest.
  • Aloe canvas is linen for the smallest size, and canvas for the larger sizes. Aloe Slings SSCs come in 3 sizes normally, but we are also able to get a 4th larger size for special needs children.
  • The straps criss-cross at the back, much like the Manduca, or include a chest clip that you can use as well.
  • Aloe Slings SSCs will continue to be released in their signature artist fabrics, as well as in semi and half conversions with select cotton woven wraps. Reordering is possible, but no two Aloe Slings will ever be the same. These are truly the utmost of one of a kind, hand crafted carriers.
  • Retail price for wrap conversion carriers are $329 (semi conversion) to $359 (half conversion). Canvas Aloe Slings are expected to retail around $200.

Getting Warmed Up

It's been a while since I've done a blog entry. It's January and the weather in Victoria has been frosty but not too bad. I'm spending less time babywearing than I'd like right now--we spend so much time driving! My go to carrier for Jocelyn is the Tula toddler, we decided to keep a leaves batik for ourselves, and she is certainly big enough for it at 13 months. Our baby isn't such a baby now!

I'm looking forward to warmer weather for a lot of reasons, including more time spent outdoors and less in the car. We have big plans for the garden.

There are a number of things coming for the spring for us, including but not limited to:

♥ aloe slings half wrap conversions using kokadi erna im wunderland

♥ natural mother productions wrap conversion half/full buckle carriers made here in Canada! 

♥ a couple new product lines--stay tuned!

Comment here with the thing you're most excited for about spring and I'll select one person at random to receive 10% off coupon for an in stock baby carrier. (Closes January 25 at noon PST).