Babywearing with Jess

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Why would I pay for a Sling & Carrier Consultant?

While the main difference in the experience you could have to learn about babywearing from a sling meet comparatively to a consultant does boil down to just “time and price” as I mentioned, it is a bit of an oversimplification again, so why would you pay for a consultant?

Starting with the two points I have already briefly discussed, time and attention.

With a paid consultancy service, I believe a large part of what you are actually paying for is the tailored or specialised information they are able to deliver to you. Whether it be in a one on one consultation or a small workshop setting, the ability to focusing on delivering what is most important to the specific audience means we are able to together reach a deeper level of understanding or learning.

Also obviously, as part of the cost of any business, the resources involved play a part in the cost they are charging to you. As I have mentioned previously, the babywearing dolls are a bit of a hot commodity in the among educator groups alone.

Clearly all of us will have at least a moderate stash or library (it’s a lovely perk of the job!) to teach, demo and/or wear! Most of us have started out in this line of work as first and foremost, enthusiasts of slings and carriers, so some of has have quite decent collections built up. Another perk is being connected to circles where people import, make or sell various wraps, slings or carriers so many consultants are able to dig up a “demo/test box” if you give them a bit of time.

The other thing that I really noticed was a difference in my process of supporting and helping people after doing the Slingababy consultant training as opposed to before I had completed it, was the level of thought and attention I am paying to the process of demonstrating and teaching.

Take for example the ring sling, something I have used quite extensively for years now and still have a different take and appreciation for post training. The way I would use it, differs only very little to the way I might now demonstrate or teach it. Essentially the process isn’t all that different, but my emphasis, words and method have all altered just so slightly.


“The Price is Right” move 😉


Little tips and tricks from the course specifically, like “the price is right” move and being more clear and concise about the words I am using as I demonstrate are obviously great tools. More than that though, I think the thing I appreciated most about the Slingababy training in particular, was the emphasis of Lorette that this was just the beginning of our learning and training.

Being more equipped and empowered to understand the pedagogical and andragogic aspects of the subject matter is a great basis for helping others. It provides us the opportunity to reach a deeper level of understanding and learning with our clients.


teaching and learning



But it is an ongoing process of learning, training, upskilling, experience and work, which is what it is for us as consultants, a job and a business for many of us, as well as a passion.


To find a babywearing educator in your area, please see –



Doing some in store training with the lovely ladies from Baby on the Move Botany, Fri 30th Sep 2016


(Thanks to my Slingababy NZ Consultant training peers for helping with this article x)



Further reading on the topic can be found here:





Sling Meets vs Sling & Carrier Consultants

Navigating the differences between volunteer and paid roles in the Babywearing Community



Sling meets provide a great introduction to the world of babywearing which would suit lots of people looking to find out more. They are a free service, run by dedicated volunteers who give generously back to the community by sharing the babywearing love.

Sling and carrier consultants are another option. They are a paid service which just like any other business has overheads and operating costs to cover. That’s not to say that a sling meet doesn’t have those things but they generally use fundraising, donations, volunteer hours and sometimes membership fees to cover their costs of operation.


Before I look at the differences between the two though, I would like to first give an outline of some of the similarities and how these people and groups both act as a great resource of all kinds of information babywearing related.

Both will be able to provide you information about safety and positioning in a carrier. Both could be able to help you troubleshoot or work with you to find optimum comfort using your carrier. Both would be able to provide you some guidance about the pro’s and con’s of various styles and brands. And among both groups you will also find a lot of variety in the approach used and the specific service provided.

As a collective from both respective groups sat down and discussed the differences between the services offered, we came to the conclusion that the main differences boil down to just two; time and price.

Time at a sling meet is a very precious commodity. The time frame limitations is one of the main restrictions to the level and kind of support that is offered in this setting. These generous volunteers often have large groups of people wanting assistance and support. The time available to cover something in particular depth or in the case of a special circumstance is limited and therefore the information must be too.

Due to the paid nature of consultancy, often things could have more opportunity to be taken at an individual’s preferred pace or in their preferred manner. With more time and a tailored and specialized service, there is a depth of assistance and support that consultants could offer that can be outside of that possible in the time available in a sling meet setting.

Another aspect to the consideration of time is the time and place of the service offered. Sling meets are usually at a fixed time and place and commonly will have “holiday breaks” like other support groups do. In the situations where someone is maybe not able to make the time and date of the sling meet or would prefer to choose those factors, a consultant would be a better fit.

The aspect of price is obviously a big difference between the two. Sling meets run by volunteers are a free service in the community. Sling and Carrier Consultants all chose a different approach and focus for their business and services offered and many will have a different “specialty” in an area or approach that they are particularly passionate or experienced in, but all will provide this service at a charge. Training costs, ongoing upskilling, teaching resources and our time, both with you and in preparation of meeting, are all aspects of this charge.

As we discussed this relationship and dynamic, it was a Slingbabies leader, Natalie, who made an incredibly valuable comparison in my opinion. The La Leche League provide a breastfeeding support service run by dedicated volunteers around the world. Lactation Consultants also provide a support service for breastfeeding mothers.*

Together they help to boost the rates of breastfeeding in New Zealand by offering support, guidance and assistance in the area of breastfeeding. But the manner, approach and service offered by each is incredibly different but complimentary and more powerful combined.

Just like that of the babywearing world.


Josh and I at a West Auckland Slingbabies meet on 13th September, 2013. 


To find an up to date list of Sling Meets and Consultants around the country here –

Another list can be found here –



As you can see, I was still screwing up my face at understanding wraps at the Slingababy Consultant Training in Christchurch just under three years later! While I have improved and learnt a whole lot, the learning never stops!


(Thanks to Sandy, Kelsey, Natalie, Sherylee and Amy for help with this article x)



*I have simplified the comparison to LLL and also the various tiers and levels of support and services within both the volunteer and paid sectors of the support available here. Within both LLL and sling meets there are various kinds and levels of support, group leaders and peer to peer educators are another differing level of support and guidance again. With the intention of being all inclusive and the limitations of my own lack of knowledge and experience within both sling meets and LLL, I am not able to do justice to the various roles or kinds of support. If you have any insight or feedback, I would love to hear from you –


What’s up with the babywearing dolls??


So this is one aspect of this ‘babywearing consultancy’ gig that I guess I didn’t personally have a total grasp on before going through the training process myself. I mean I have noticed the emphasis on “babywearing dolls” among educators but I guess I just wasn’t really sure what it was about… or maybe I assumed that they may not have a child of the same age bracket as what they were trying to demonstrate…

But many of you know, I have a nearly four year old and a sixteen month old who I both regularly wear… You may also have noticed that I have been demonstrating more and more stuff using a doll lately…

Or maybe you noticed the reference to my “wee army of dolls” or have seen pictures I may have posted of them..? Or maybe you have no idea at all what I am even on about…




So anyway, what’s up with the dolls?

So firstly, what are these dolls? Babywearing dolls are specifically design to be weighed in a similar proportion to the way your baby is. The smaller of these dudes, “Moritz” weights 3.5 kgs and is an infant doll, so approximately five months old say… The bigger one is David, he is a toddler doll, weighing 7kgs and is approximately in size two pants…

So David is pretty darn close to Jai’s size (though Jai weighs a heck of a lot more, David is a “dead weight” so feels pretty similar…) Yet I have posted videos and photos of me wearing David as opposed to Jai… So my thinking that babywearing educators didn’t have the “right” size model was totally flawed obviously…

NONONO tie using a ring sling from Babywearing with Jess on Vimeo.


There are plenty of reasons a babywearing doll might be used in the place of a child or baby to demonstrate, play or teach about slings or carriers, here is just a couple…


The wearer’s confidence;

When you are trying something new it can feel difficult to get your head around for any of us. Our kids are like little ‘energy’ sponges, they pick up very well on how we feel or perceive something.. That means if we aren’t confident about what we are doing, they sense that. If you feel more confident and in control, they also sense that.

I so commonly hear people say, “my child doesn’t like being in my sling or carrier”, the first question I would ask is, “how do you feel about it?”

So far not one of those people have said replied to me, “I love it, it’s perfect and comfortable and I feel so confident getting my baby into it”… I have no evidence that your feelings or potentially uncertainty about your carrier is a direct cause of negative associations for babies and children but my experience suggests there might be at least some correlation between the two…



When I am giving people new carriers or techniques to try, obviously there is the aspect of safety which is another reason for using dolls. Particularly at my workshops or events where I ‘open my library’ up for playing with… I am not always able to be individually supporting people in a group setting when they are trying something new. If they use my dolls, we can all have like a “show and tell” kind of experience just playing with lots of different options.



So this is a big one when it comes to demonstrating several types of carriers in a short succession for me. As well as in a “library sampling” setting where people may have a limited time to try a range of options. Each time we pick up and put down our child, they are experiencing a period of transition. Same thing if I lay them down to change a nappy and pick them back up again, that’s two periods of transition they are experiencing.

Same thing for getting in and out of the car, pram or carrier. Each period of time we are moving them or changing their environment or experience, they are going through a ‘transition period’ which we often need to help them settle with, particularly as newborns.

If I am using a carrier for a child or baby, my process of going through each of the steps or stages is much slower than if I am using a demo doll. At each step I would take some time to sway and bounce and talk to the baby to settle them as I got them into the carrier. With a doll, I can just get them in position and move on to the next step..


Helping Learning;

When we are learning something new being able to go at our own pace often helps most of us. Also not having a moving and wiggling model definitely helps learning in my opinion! Plus my dolls ALWAYS smile and never complain or moan, so that’s also nice 😉

This also means that for people who don’t have a child of their own, maybe they are expecting a child, they could work with parents using carriers but not use them personally, in these cases I still think there is lots of benefits to learning about carriers and slings and the dolls help me to facilitate that in a hands on setting.

Children also have this thing about ‘own mind’ which my dolls don’t, meaning they don’t have a choice about if they “want up” in that particular moment or not! In a workshop setting, seeing someone using a doll instead of a child helps me to more quickly help troubleshoot or explain a new process or approach.

The only time in a workshop setting I would encourage someone to use their own child instead of a doll would be if we were trying to better fit a carrier they have already been using or that we have had enough of an opportunity to practise with something that they were sure they felt confident.

When I am trying to show someone a particular thing with a carrier, I also often find using a demo doll can make it clearer to them the steps I am taking, as the distraction from my model moving and doing their own thing is minimised.



So that is just a few reasons I am using babywearing dolls for work and teaching more and more, as well as carrying my actual real life children!


Just a note about handling… These dolls are bloody expensive, they have rotatable hips, arms and heads.. The are weighted and hand painted. If you are using a consultants doll, treat them like you would a real baby! Or at the very least grab them by their clothes no an arm or leg or you could rip it off! And my kids would certainly not be happy if anything happened to our “spare children” hahaha