What is a Seat and How Can I Make One?
There's a lot of talk online about 'seat making' and why it's such an important part of wrapping. There are many different ways you hear of doing it - and 'rules' to follow - like making sure the fabric goes right up to your child's belly button. Today I want to look at why; Which of these rules are true? Why should it go to belly button height? How does a seat work?
Let's take a look.
When seated in a carrier or wrap, the baby's tailbone should be the lowest point with their weight resting there, and their knees being above that point. Not simply level, but above, so there is no weight been borne at their knees or thighs as in the images below. This is called a “Pelvic Tuck” and you can find a great article describing it by Rosie Knowles here: https://www.carryingmatters.co.uk/the-pelvic-tuck/
Oftentimes if the pelvis is not tucked, weight can be borne more forward at the crotch, or upper thighs (if you've ever had nappies leak during a carry this may be the cause) This slight difference in position is much less comfortable for your child.
You can also see in these pictures that as baby's pelvis is no longer tucked I'm actually having to support them from falling out. This is because the weight is now being borne on the thighs rather than at the bottom and the centre of gravity has changed.
An ideal seat is like the first set of these pictures, and this is what it looks like with children of different ages.
(Photos credit to Rosie Knowles and the Sheffield Sling Surgery - Many Thanks for allowing us to use them.)
Having established what a seat looks like - the next part is how do we create that?
Creating a Seat
On our Slingababy Consultancy Course Lorette did a fabulous demonstration that made this so clear for me:
Firstly she followed the 'rules' that we so often hear;
This was both what I had previously been taught and what I've seen demonstrated or talked about online many times, I'm sure it'll be familiar to you too. "Bring the fabric up between yourself and your baby; Ideally to belly button height", exactly as Lorette has done in the picture. Roxanne and Laurna (fellow consultants) are keeping the tension, exactly like a tied off carry would at this stage. Then she let's go.
As Lorette lets go of the fabric, the baby's legs drop down. The weight of the baby shifts forward into the untucked position we were avoiding above. What started off so "well", as a seat with a lot of fabric between us, has now failed.
And that is the key. A seat is not comprised of excess fabric between you and your child. All that does is create slack - that as you walk along, will creep down, causing your child's position to change, causing them to 'leg straighten' through no fault of their own, and making the carry more uncomfortable for you.
So what should we do instead?
How Do We Make a Seat?
Think of a hammock. It's taut, and you sit in it, your weight on your bottom supported by that taut fabric with your knees hanging over the edge.
And so with a wrap, position the fabric at the correct height for your child, (e.g nape of the neck for a baby with head control, at least to arm pit height for toddlers etc). Then pull the excess down, past the bottom, and gather it up into the knee pits, ensuring it is nice and taut, like in this image.
This video by Lorette herself shows very clearly what this looks like with a baby and a wrap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=492BRXY8o4g
When you tighten the wrap or ring sling, make sure that there is adequate support at their bottom too so that weight isn't borne at the knee pits by tightening across the width of the wrap or ring sling as required. Check that there's no pressure at the knees or the thigh.
For more help on this please speak to your local Baby Carrying Consultant or Sling Library. You can find them all here: www.slingpages.co.uk.
Thanks again to Lorette for sharing her knowledge and experience with us, for allowing me to use these pictures taken on the Slingababy Course as examples for this, my Slingababy Project and to Rosie Knowles for letting us link to your article and use your pictures.