Monthly Archives

August 2014

How to wear Mei Tais Product News

Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. And the pikkolo isn’t an SSC.

August 28, 2014
by Beth Warrell Leistensnider

So, major blow on Wednesday of this week. Sanrio tells us that they’re not sure what we’ve all been smoking for years, but Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. “Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature.” Sanrio, the creator of Hello Kitty, made this correction to the curator of an upcoming exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum who had submitted her notes for review. 


Whoa. Hello Kitty is not a cat? I’m going to take this opportunity to blow your mind twice in one blog post with another revelation: the pikkolo carrier is NOT an SSC.

Really. SSC, or soft structured carriers, are a genre of carrier typically characterized by, let’s be honest, their similarity to the ErgoBaby carrier with a permanently attached, firm foam-padded hip belt. This type of carrier is meant to be worn NON-apron style, with the firm foam padding resting against the lower abdomen and the carrier body pouching out in a J-shape, forming a seat for your baby.

The pikkolo, on the other hand, is something else. Yes, it has buckles. But it is really more of a mei tai. The pikkolo, like the traditional mei tai, is worn apron-style. This means that you put it on with the front of the body panel against your stomach, and before you put the baby in it, it is hanging down in front of you like an apron. When you put the baby against you (tummy to tummy) and the carrier comes up behind baby’s back, your body and the carrier form a U-shape.


The mom’s torso (back) plus the body panel of this mei tai form a U-shape.

So, maybe you are wondering: isn’t this not as good as an SSC with a foam-padded hip belt? Isn’t more padding better? Well, not always. It’s not bad, it’s different. It holds the weight of your baby differently. It works differently with your body. There are reasons some people love a thicker padded hip belt; but there is definitely a reason why I prefer the unpadded waist of a carrier like the pikkolo or a mei tai. For one, it’s way more compact. Less carrier means less to fold up when I want to stash it in the diaper bag, and less fabric surrounding me. I want to feel like I’m wearing the carrier–not the other way around. And I don’t want my carrier to push my pants down. New moms are liable to end up walking around the grocery store with two wet circles on their shirt, so wouldn’t pushing down your pants just be adding insult to injury?

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As with the mei tai, the mom’s torso (front) plus the carrier make a U-shape. The carrier is worn slightly above the natural waist typically.

The reason that these two different designs can both be comfortable is because they are worn in different ways. Mei tais (and some carries in a woven wrap) are meant to be worn higher and closer to the body. For the most part, an SSC with a firm-padded attached hip belt is meant to be worn around the top of the hips with the baby sitting in the carrier and effectively on top of the hip belt, with a little bit of sway, or space between your body and baby’s body. Both ways can feel comfortable. Which way you will prefer will depend on your body type and how you feel about other aspects of the carrier (such as the level of bulk, features, style, materials, etc). Often it’s really hard to know which one will work for you until you try one on (which is why we highly recommend shopping for carriers at an independent local store that has staff well-trained in babywearing and fitting baby carriers).

So now you know: a pikkolo is a mei tai with buckles. But I’m still not buying that Hello Kitty is not a cat.

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Catbird Seat Blog Project Parenting

STICK: Basic rules for better back carrying

August 5, 2014
by Karyn Thurston of Girl of Cardigan
S.T.I.C.K. (Basic Rules for Better Back Carries)
There is a moment when a you become a babywearer.  There are newborn days, dusty with rest and snuggles and the haze of oxytocin haven that settles over perfect wrinkled toes and tired parent bodies.  There are those first awkward attempts in stretchy jersey, too-small baby precariously cradled loose and low, pictures with proud smiles that will later be sheepishly tucked away.  And then there is a moment when it clicks – oh! – this is a thing you are going to be doing for a good long while.
You Google.  Admit it.  You totally Googled.
You Google and the doors to a new and utterly confusing world are opened, and if you are anything like me, you spend hours soaking up information and wondering how on earth, through 10 months of pregnancy and obsessive message boarding and crazy book reading, you managed to miss all of this?  Mei tais and buckle carriers and woven wraps and it’s all confusing and weird but one thing is consistent – an acronym – TICKS.
TICKS (Tight, In View, Close Enough to Kiss, Keep Chin Off Chest, Supported Back, if you were wondering) is Babywearing 101 – welcome to the club, here is your secret handshake.  TICKS teaches you, in easy to remember terms, how to keep your little one safe and snuggled and happy.  You learn, you love, you wear on.
Fast forward a few months – now you’d like to explore carrying your strong kiddo on your back.  It has long been my belief that we are in dire need of a TICKS adapted for back carries.  So many of us start with our buckle-carriered infant stuck mid-back and staring at the sweaty spot between our shoulder blades, said shoulders hunched awkwardly to soothe the ache of horrible posture…people.  Nobody wants that.  And switching TICKS around to the back is simple, and silly, and might just change your life!  Blogging: now with loftier expectations!  I digress.
It is with great pride that I present to you “TICKS for Your Back.”
That sounds completely terrible.  Let’s call it STICK.
S – Start High!
In order for everyone to be at their happiest in a back carry, we need baby high!  Start the waist belt of your mei tai or buckle carrier up, up, up at your natural waist (or heck, just under your bust will do!)  Ask yourself where Marilyn Monroe would tie a mei tai, and start there.  I adore the Pikkolo for this purpose – it’s one of a precious few buckle carriers on the market designed for a comfortable high back carry, and it’s tops, kids.
T – Tighten Up!
The first thing I ask anyone and everyone who solicits my help with babywearing is “How tight are your straps?”  Much like the jeans of many a teenage boy, most of us are wearing our straps waaaaay too loose.  I’m not a short girl, and when I have my 18 month old on my back, my buckle carrier straps are nearly at their tightest setting.  Your baby should not be sagging in a back carry – he or she should be tightly snugged to your back, keeping both of you able to navigate safely through the world.  The further your babe is from you, the easier he or she can lean back or bonk on something accidentally.  When baby is closely sharing your space, your natural ability to judge positioning AND your center of gravity and balance are 10,000 times better.*
I – In View!
Hey, just like TICKS!  You should be able to see your little one over your shoulder – Hi baby!  The reasons that being able to see your baby is beneficial should be rather obvious to you if you’ve been in this parenting gig for more than a few minutes.  Seeing baby = way better than not seeing baby.  You’re welcome.
C – Catbird Seated!
Is baby positioned high, tight, and in view, leaving him or her able to see over your shoulder, interact well with other humans, and generally participate nicely in the goings-on of life?  Yes?  You win!  On to K!
K – Keep on Keeping On!
Mastering a high back carry, like so many things worth doing, isn’t easy.  Keep trying.  Get yourself a carrier (cough cough Catbird Baby cough) designed to help instead of hinder you.  Get yourself to a babywearing meet-up where other parents can advise and assist you.  Then perch your little one way up high, in the highest seat – the seat of best advantage – and go out and take on the world.
*This is not a very scientific estimate.  But it sounds about right.

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