Mei Tei Back Carry Knotless Sternum Strap

I love wrap conversion mei teis. I really need to do more posts about them. They are especially a great option for hiking while pregnant in your third trimester. They are great to contain a wiggly toddler quickly without much pressure on your bump.

A knotless finish is great way to keep pressure off your bump, and it can make you feel pretty! I like to spread the straps out wide over my toddler’s bottom for more support. Also, my breast are pretty sensitive right now, so I like chose a knotless finish that does not cover them.

Check out the video to see how it’s done!

Can You Hike In It? Soul Tai

I am a huge fan of wrap conversion mei teis. I really don’t know why I don’t use them more or talk about them more. Seat is already made and you get to do a lot of the fun wrap finishes. Easy to adapt from newborn to preschool as well. And they come is all the fun patterns that wraps do. What’s not to love? I was so excited to have the opportunity to Soul Sling’s linen Soul Tai. I have only touched a few Soul wraps but heard great things about them.

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Manufacturer: Soul Slings

Colorway: Cerulean on Black Chambray 
Color(s): Greyish black, dark blue 
Pattern: Solid color panel with different colored solid straps 
Size: Standard 
Materials: 100% linen chambray 
Weave: Plain 
Strap Style: Hybrid padded IMG_5409The day it arrived, I was babysitting a friend’s child so of course I had to try a tandem. I put my son on the back and my friend’s son on the front. I was worried that my back was going to kill me because I had to put the waistband higher than normal to go over my bump. But it was surprisingly very comfortable! Toddlers didn’t want to be both up for very long, but I had no issues for the 5 minutes they did. Jack felt weightless on my back.

IMG_5455A few days later I took it to the BWI of Portland monthly meeting—and I am so glad I did. Jack started his meltdown before the meeting even started. By the end of meeting Jack reached full meltdown status. And he refused to go on my back, so on the front he went. He was out within minutes. I spread the straps out over his bum for more support. I ran around teaching most of the meeting so the other VBEs let me sit down and rest while we cleaned up. I was very comfortable even sitting down. This was the moment I decided this carrier was amazing.

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The next weekend we took a one-night camping trip to my favorite State Park in Oregon, Fort Stevens. It is a form military fort used from the Civil War to World War II. It’s an amazing piece of American military history that many have no idea even exists. The park has everything you need to make a great vacation. It’s located on the beach (which has shipwreck on it too), a lake, hiking trails, bike trails, the former fort, and a cool little museum. I took my boys right to my favorite part of the park for a hike, Battery Russell.

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Location: Fort Stevens State Park, Battery Russell Trail to Ranger Station
Distance:  1.53
Trail Type:  Concrete at the Battery, sand to the Fire Control Hill, forest trail to campground, and paved to Ranger Station
Weather: Sunny and warm with a bit of a breeze
Trail Conditions: Some overgrowth at spots, a few muddy spots, and very few other hikers. 

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I want to stress that is is a former military base. It was not designed to be kid friendly. And it has been out of of commission for about 70 years. There are some pitfalls, jagged edges, and other hazards. The Park Service has done their best to close up any truly dangerous areas, but please keep a very close eye on your children. This place is amazing to explore as a family, but please keep your littles safe. Keep small babies and new walkers in a carrier. And hold hands with walking toddlers and preschoolers at all times.

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Jack had no interest in going up when we got to the battery. He was eagerly trying to break free from my hand to go explore. He kept asking what everything was and I happily told him everything I could remember. The canons, how they got the shells up from storage, the powder room…and yes the little grates on the floor for toilets (how do kids notice things like that). I loved this spot as a kid and I had to fight back tears of happiness that I got to share it with my son. Did you know this was the only place on the continental United States to be hit by enemy fire? During World War II, a Japanese sub actually shelled Battery Russell! Learn about it here.

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Then we headed up to favorite part of the Battery Russel area, Fire Control Hill.  The trail was pretty much all sand, which fascinated Jack. Took us 15 minutes to walk 500 yards, and of course he still refused an uppy.

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After we let him explore for a bit, I decided it was uppy time.

IMG_5559I did a back carry with the straps spread over his bum for support with a Knotless Sternum Strap Finish.

Check out my Tutorial video! Please turn on closed Captioning for detailed instructions.

IMG_5612Then we headed off down the trail for some adult-paced hiking. It was a lovely walk through a coastal forest…with a toddler trying to eat my hair and steal my sunglasses.

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However, the carrier was beyond comfortable. No pressure points and Jack felt weightless, even with him wiggling and kicking.

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Then I decided to try something I saw on the Soul Sling love group, Soul Family, a waistless finish. I would like to preface this was this is an advanced carry. As a babywearing educator, I really cannot recommend normally undoing any waistband while baby is the carrier. You run the risk of baby falling straight out the bottom. However, if you are an experienced wearer and know how to keep baby secure for sure, it’s a choice you can make. I decided to a Double Sternum Strap. It was sooooo comfortable on my bump. I liked the straps not spread over my breasts because they are already sore. This made the carry so cool, Jack and I hardly got sweaty even with some decent hills on the trail. Once we got to the paved path to the park, Jack wanted down. We were meeting my parents at the Ranger Station shortly and he was too excited to see them. I was sad to take him down, this carrier is so awesome.

IMG_5656The next day Michael gave the carrier a try at batteries at the Historical Area (the main part of the old fort). The batteries are spread out over a larger area and have more stairs and pitfalls, so Jack was worn most of the time.

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Michael really liked how light and airy the it was. No complaints it was hurting his back or digging into. He is a man few words, but if he doesn’t like a carrier he will tug and fussy with it. Once I tied it on him, he didn’t mess with it once. I’ll take that as an approval.

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Can you hike in a linen Soul Sling Soul Tai? Oh, yes! I really can’t recommend this carrier enough. Easy to use and does a variety of finishes to suit your needs. Lightweight but just enough shoulder padding to keep the pressure off your upper back. This is wonderful for warmer weather, but light enough to easily go over layers in the winter. The simple patterns available are very stylish and dad-friendly too.

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This carrier is so fabulous for hiking, I am giving it my second ever Favorite Hiking Carrier Badge. Great job Soul Slings!

 

 

Carrier Types

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There are countless way to carry your baby. I could dedicate an entire blog just to the subject of babywearing over the ages and in different cultures. But who has time for all that?  Since I get asked about babywearing and carriers a lot, I thought I would make a simple post on the most common types of carriers and provide some resources on them. Not every type of carrier is right for everyone. I LOVE wraps, but maybe you will hate how long they can to learn. So a ring sling may be your jam. Or maybe you want to skip all that fabric because it makes you hot, and go straight for a SSC. So check out the common options and think about what would work for you….

Soft Structured Carriers

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Standard Tula Prisms.

Soft Structure Carriers:  Think baby backpack. Most are pretty easy to use—just a few snaps and buckles. Most are pretty easy to put on alone and most an be shared between wearers easily. Most can do front, hip, and back carries.  Also, most are very economic and can be worn for a long time. Note I said most….not all SSC are created equal. If you buy a $35 off eBay or at Walmart, it probably won’t be that comfortable for you or the baby. Also watch on for cheap, poorly made ones from China, they can actually break and hurt your baby. But a good SSC is amazing and pay for itself overtime. And just because you hated one brand, don’t give up!

Loved this Action Baby we borrowed.
Loved this Action Baby we borrowed.

Everyone is different and there are so many brands nowadays that odds are you can find the perfect on for your needs. Common brands are Ergo, Tula, and Beco. I personally love Action Baby, but we own a Tula since that’s my husband’s favorite.

Woven Wraps

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Woven Wraps: A long piece of woven fabric that you use to secure your baby onto you. Can easily be shared between wearers, great for nursing, and can be tied in many different ways to suit your needs. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. When tied properly, very ergonomic and comfy. However, there is a huge learning curve. It’s takes time and patience to learn how to wrap. But once you get it, it’s magic!  Once you get a carry down, it is very easy to do alone (even back carries!). Then there is the whole addiction issue….you might become a total wrap junkie and own more than you can count. There are so many brands, sizes, patterns, materials, weaves, and so on. You find one you love and suddenly want to try another. Then another. And another. Soon you’ve spent a small fortune!

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My dream wrap, Kokadi Kurma. It will be buried with me!
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My first and true love, Girasol Tahoe.

It doesn’t have to be this way though, I do know responsible people who only own one or two wraps. But it’s a fun world to get into if you can afford it. Common brands are Diddymos, Girasol, and Lenny Lamb (honestly this list could go on and on). I am a wrap girl, my two personal favorites wraps are my Girasol Tahoe and my Kokadi Kurma (both size 4).

Bei Dai/Meh Dai

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BabyHawk Copper Glow on Olive

Bei Dai/Meh Dai: An Asian-style carrier, sort of a mix between a SSC and wrap. Your baby sits in a like SSC, but you tie/wrap the straps like a wrap. Easy to use and much easier to learn than wrapping. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. You can do some of fancier finishes like a wrap, but have the simplicity of SSC while putting your baby in. However, since the straps do not adjust like a SSC, it can be harder to share between wearers. And they can be harder to fit as your baby grows and might be too big for a newborn.  And they come in as much variety as a wraps.

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Fidella Fly Meh Dai Outer Space Blue, it’s heaven.

You can even convert a wrap into one. Common brands are Infantino Sash, and BabyHawk. I love Meh Dais for hiking, especially my Fidella Fly Meh Dai. The body panel adjusts so it can fit from newborn to toddler. And it’s sooooo cushy and soft.

Stretchy Wraps

Stretchy Wraps: A wrap made from stretchy jersey-knit fabric that you use to tie your baby onto you. Similar to a woven wrap, but with one big difference—they are NOT suitable for back carries. They should only be used for front and hip carries. Can be easily shared between wearers and very easy to put on alone. A much smaller learning curve than a woven wrap because you can pre-tie the wrap on then insert the baby. Perfect for newborns, so snuggly! And most can support a baby into toddlerhood, but it will probably be uncomfortable. The stretch makes it harder for heavier babies to stay high and the straps might dig into you.  But they are a great way to start babywearing and see if you like wrapping. And they tend to be cheaper than woven wraps. Common brands are Boba and Moby. My first baby carrier was a Boba and I loved it. So snuggly and saved my sanity with a newborn.

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Boba Wrap in Orange, the first time I ever wrapped Jack up at one week old!

*There is an exceptions to the back carry rule. A few brands make hybrid stretchy wraps ones that can be used for back carries, such as the Wrapsody Hybrid wrap .

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Back carry in our Hybrid Stretch!

With a Hybrid, you can pretty much do everything you can with a stretchy wrap (like the snuggly Pocket Wrap Cross Carry) and most of the stuff you can do with a woven (like the supportive Double Hammock). 

Ring Slings

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Lenny Lamb Heavenly Lace Large Ring Sling

Ring Slings: A piece of woven fabric with two rings attached to one end that you use to make a sling for your baby. Can be used for front, hip, and back carries. They are fairly easy to share between wearers, but since they are sized, they may not share well between two people with a big difference in size. For example, a petite wife will probably buy a small and her body-builder husband probably would want a large. They come in many colors, patterns, weaves and fabrics like woven wraps so the possibilities are endless. When picking one, watch for the quality and strength of the rings. Cheap rings run the risk of breaking and dropping your baby to the ground. Ring slings are easy to nurse in and are wonderful for newborns. Also very easy to put on alone and perfect for quick ups. There is a much smaller learning curve than woven wraps—pretty much learn how to thread the sling, place your baby correctly, and tighten. But it can get uncomfortable with a larger baby or toddler for long periods in a front or hip carry, since the weight is distributed over one side of your body. And back carries are a a bit tricky to learn, similar to woven wraps.

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Sigh, the oh so beautiful Natibaby Nebula Ring Sling. I miss it.

Common brands are Maya, Sakura Bloom, and most wrap brands make them as well. To be honest, I am not that big a ring sling fan. My favorite was my Natibaby Nebula, it was so beautiful. But like I said, not all carriers are for everyone. Ring slings and I just don’t get along well, so I sold it.

Here are some wonderful links and resources for some experts:

This is a wonderful chart Wrapsody made comparing different types of carriers. Yes, it’s a biased towards their product (and it honestly is a darn good wrap).  And it goes into more detail on carrier types than I do. But it shows you all the potential options in a carrier.

Wrap You In Love is a totally awesome babywearing Consultant in Germany. Her website is a wealth of knowledge. She explains different types of carriers here in great detail. And here she lists pretty much every brand of carrier I’ve ever heard.

Babywearing 102 is another wealth of knowledge. It started as a Tumblr and now is mainly a Facebook page. Both are a great resource. This babywearing glossary was SO helpful when I started started out.

And lastly, the ever wonderful Babywearing International. I recommend you find your local chapter and attend a meeting. You can borrow carriers until you find the right one for you and get advice on how to use them properly. The website is very helpful if you cannot attend a meeting.

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And regardless of the type of carrier you use, please remember to follow proper babywearing procedures at all times! This nifty poster can help you remember.

And just for fun, here is montage of all these carriers!