When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was determined to try and use a sling as much as possible. We lived in a small flat and the cumbersome 3in1 buggy we had been bought was so huge it had to be stored in the boot of the car. I tired many different slings, but never quite got the hang of them. Either my back or shoulders began to ache or my baby would just wriggle so much it became a bit of a hassle. I even went to a local sling group where I met other new Mum’s and tried out different slings but the same issues kept happening so I just settled on using the pram. When I was pregnant with my second daughter I decided to give slings another try. I was disappointed that in 3 and a half the sling market hadn’t really improved and the one sling everyone seemed to still recommend was the Baby Bjorn. I used my Close Sling which did seem to help soothe my fractious baby in the early evenings but I never managed to breastfeed her in, and only carried her until she was 12 weeks old.
A good friend of mine and colleague Kate Thorman was one step ahead of the game, and was also really disappointed with what was available on the market so started making her own slings when her daughter was born. And just like that Oysterbaby was born. Here’s Kate’s story.
1. Why did you decide to start Oysterbaby?
As a practising midwife I am well-educated in the benefits of kangaroo care and baby wearing. When I had my daughter I wanted her to benefit from being carried in a sling, as well as the practical benefits for me. I tried so many but I couldn’t get on with them, they were either uncomfortable for me, or unsupported for her. I also found them bulky, hot and ugly. Determined to enjoy carrying her I decided to make my own! I imported Bamboo fabric as I knew the natural characteristics it had would be perfect for a sling, and I got sewing and Oysterbaby grew from that…. people started stopping me everywhere giving me wonderful compliments on my beautiful sling and asking me where I bought it from! I started making them for friends who all loved them and then I started selling them! The feedback is just brilliant, for both comfort and style everyone loves them
I hope Oysterbaby will encourage all Mums to wear their babies, to feel gorgeous, and enjoy their calmer, happier babies.
2. And why the name Oysterbaby?
I live in Brighton and spend a lot of my time walking along the beach, so a seaside theme was an obvious choice. An oyster makes me think of a beautiful peal which is safely protected by its shell and to me this is just like a baby in a sling! So Oysterbaby seemed like a perfect name.
3. How has your interest in travelling in Africa inspires this?
I worked in East and West Africa as a midwife and observed very vulnerable babies born into very tough living environments. These babies were strapped to their mothers in a sling and survived against all odds! This made me research into the benefits of kangaroo care and baby wearing… Being close to their mothers they were able to thrive and grow into healthy independent children. I was inspired to develop a sling that could be adapted to the western culture but which promote the same health and emotional benefits.
4. What are the benefits of baby wearing?
Keeping your baby close to you regulates your baby’s heart rate, breathing, and temperature. It promotes breastfeeding and weight gain. Evidence shows improvement in reflux, colic and other discomfort caused by digestive problems such as wind. Oysterbaby allows you to be completely hands free with the reassurance that your baby is safe and secure next to you. Studies show babies cry less, sleep more and show faster cognitive development when compared to babies who are not carried in a sling.
5. How did it help you when you became a mother to Indi?
I carried her in my Oysterbaby from a tiny new-born, she is 15 months now and I still carry her everyday, she loves it. It has given me so much freedom, We travelled to Africa when she was 4 months old, and we are about to travel to Sri Lanka, we could not dream of having these adventures without an Oysterbaby!
When she was tiny and it was hard to get her to sleep, and hard to get anything done, my Oysterbaby was a life savour! she would always sleep so well in the sling and because the fabric is so lightweight and breathable I could wear it around the house to do all the boring chores knowing that she was cosy and safe next to me.
I love being hands free as well, it gives me so much freedom! and I don’t have to battle with a bulky buggy when I go shopping and I can still go for my walks along the beach.
She is so content and calm when she is in the Oysterbaby and what’s more breastfeeding discreetly was easy in the sling!
I could go on and on…….
6. There are so many other slings out there, how is Oysterbaby different?
Although other wrap carriers are similar in design, the main difference is the material. Most wrap carriers are made of cotton, either with or without elastane. Oysterbaby is made from 100% bamboo fabric, which is much more breathable, and softer than regular cotton wrap carriers, making it more comfortable for you and for baby. Other advantages of bamboo are that - it is naturally antibacterial, whereas bacteria readily grow in cotton - it is hypo-allergenic – it has a natural UV filter. It is also one of the most sustainable fabrics available.
Unlike other slings, Oysterbaby is chiropractic endorsed ensuring spinal health for both you and your baby Oysterbaby carries your baby ergonomically – which helps promote correct hip development and doesn’t put pressure on your baby’s spine or pelvis.
The sling distributes your baby’s weight evenly over both shoulders and entire torso, making your baby feel feather light and does not cause any shoulder or back discomfort. In contrast to other baby carriers that have thin straps that dig into the shoulders.
Unlike other slings, It is also possible to comfortably and discretely breastfeed your newborn baby in an Oysterbaby!
7. What inspires the designs?
I make all the slings with a reversible design so parents can wear it to match their wardrobe and mood! I design the slings with the weather in mind so the colours and patterns change with the new seasons! I would say nature is my biggest influence on my designs!
8. How safe are the slings? And are they hard to tie?
Oysterbaby is completely safe to use, all slings are provided with a clear illustrated manual showing you how to safely carry your baby. Your baby is carried securely next you, with no danger of any buckles or straps breaking!
It’s really easy to tie as well, if its your first time using it, it may take a couple of practices but it soon becomes second nature to tie it. It’s a bit like learning to tie a shoe lace!
We have a gorgeous Oysterbaby sling to give away to one lucky reader! All you have to do to enter is ‘like’ and ‘share’ the Oysterbaby Facebook Page with someone you think would like it, post it on the wall and we will pick from random a winner! And it’s as easy as that, good luck!