Maman Kangourou Europea Review and Giveaway

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Jun 072015
 
Guest review by Marie-Eve Perron

ME Like so many others, I was introduce to babywearing with the Maman Kangourou stretchy wrap. My daughter was two or three weeks old when I finally decided to unfold that (too) long and intimidating piece of fabric. And that’s when our love story with babywearing started. Twenty months later and a babywearing instructor certificate in hand, it’s far from over.

As a babywearer, I’m a huge fan of wraps. I’ve tried a lot : different lengths, different blends, different weights and different brands. I love them!

Founded in 2003, Maman Kangourou is the pionneer of babywearing in the province of Quebec. They are woven, dyed and made entirely in Canada. They offer different models of stretchy wraps, mei-tai, ring slings and pouches. Their Amerigo stretchy wrap is certainly their most reknown model. But what I didn’t know until very recently, is that they also have another model of wrap : the Europea.

This wrap is made of a poly/cotton blend and is described as a “5 meters of slightly stretchy fabric.” The instruction booklet says it’s suitable for babies from newborn up to 35 lbs depending on the capacity of the wearer. They say that the wrap can be used in 6 differents position, including front, hip and back carries.

The wrap

I was really curious to put that wrap to the test with my 26 lbs toddler! But honestly, I wasn’t expecting much of it. Let’s start with that strange slightly stretchy fabric. It is really different than the other kind of wraps I have touched before. It’s closer to the feel of a woven wrap, but it’s not quite like that either. The best comparison I’ve found for the look and feel of the fabric is a golf shirt: smooth in the inside, a tad rough on the outside.

I was pleased to see that the Europea was much larger than its “brother” the Amerigo! With a good 67 cm, it is closer to the width of most woven wraps (for example Chimparoo’s woven wraps are around 72 cm) than classical stretchies (Amerigo is only 43 cm wide). Wider wraps mean deeper seat for bigger babies!

ME2Where I was a little bit disappointed is the length. Described as a 5 meters wrap, the wrap I tested was only 4.4 m, soft tape in hand. Being an experienced wrapper, I know how to tie a wrap, but even with a good wrap job, it felt short on me and I had not much left to tied it up as shown in their tutorials.

Speaking of it…let’s be honest, the MK tutorials are not the best I’ve seen. In workshops, I often advised not to follow them and to use the Jeportemonbebe (JPMBB) one instead. It is not different in this case. They show to fold the fabric in half to do most of the carry. Why this? I don’t know. Is the fabric not strong enough to do it otherwise? I can’t tell, but can I wrap my toddler with 34 cm of wrap…absolutely not. Can I wrap my 5 month old baby with it? Maybe, but in my opinion, not securely.

The test

Ok, I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical about this wrap! Come on, 26 lbs in a stretchy wrap?! Surprisingly, I was able to wear my 26 lbs for 45 minutes straight and I was kind of comfortable with it. I usually have pretty sensitive shoulders, but I had no pressure point for the whole wearing time.

The wrap is easy to wrap with but the stretch makes it harder to adjust as tight as a woven wrap.

I tested the front position with a front wrap cross carry (FWCC) wich felt not too bad actually. I danced and jumped and walked and the wrap stayed in place. I felt no pressure on my shoulders. I would not have worn it for hours, but for a carry with a 26 lbs toddler I was surprised. I started feeling the weight in my shoulder’s after 30-35 minutes.

As a babywearing instructor, I always advised parents against back carrying with a stretchy wrap. They are too narrow and just not supportive enough to so. The Europea is wider and less stretchy. Maman Kangourou says that you could back carry with it no problem! I followed the back carry they propose in their tutorial (I know I said their tutorials are not very good and that you should not watch them…but this one is actually okay!)

So I tried a back wrap cross carry (BWCC) and once again, it felt comfortable. I wasn’t scared that my baby would fall off the wrap, it was solid enough with this carry. I would never do a simple ruck or any other 1 or 2 layers carry. You need 3 layers of fabric to make it secure. That is the key to remember with this wrap, whatever carry you decide to do.

The conclusion

So overall, the Maman Kangourou Europea wrap brings something different to the babywearing world. Is it worth it? It can be interesting with a smaller baby and even with a toddler for short period of time. But is it worth the investment? At a retail price of 104,00$ I would say that your best option still an actual woven wrap. You can find dozens and dozens of models at less than 100$. (And maybe a Maman Kangourou stretchy wrap for the first few months!)

With that said, Mama Kangourou is giving away a Europa wrap to one lucky winner! To enter, post a photo of you babywearing to the Mama Naturale Facebook page and visit Maman Kangourou‘s page on Facebook. Good Luck!

Jan 082012
 

I'm raising a social butterfly

There is more than one way to raise a child, but let me tell you why my way is the best way

Seriously though, these days, we are VERY clearly seeing the benefits of being committed to Attachment Parenting. I rarely use this blog as a place to wax on about how amazing my kid is, but if you know her, you know that my kid is pretty amazing.

At not-yet 11 months, she is the life of the party. She is happy. Pretty much always very happy. She is secure and quite simply a social butterfly. She is thriving and on top of the game with her gross and fine motor skills.

Was she born this way? Yeah, she was probably born with some pretty decent genes. But it is absolutely ridiculous for parents not to take credit for their children being awesome. So I, as this awesome baby’s mother, am going to take (at least a little) credit for my child’s awesome-ness, because you know what, we are working very hard here. (And if you’re committed to this VERY INTENSE style of parenting, I know you are too.)

Am I saying that parents who don’t break their necks taking Dr. Sears’ word as gospel truth are bad parents? Certainly not. Relatively speaking, I don’t know many AP parents, yet most of the parents I know are really great parents.

Am I saying my child is perfect? Yes.

  • She wakes  multiple times a night to eat (at 11 months?!) but it’s okay. It’s actually a good thing. She is eating the most perfect, nutritious, natural food tailor-made for her. Her brain and body are growing. A baby who sleeps through the night isn’t necessarily a “good baby” let’s put it all in perspective here.
  • She has a tough time falling asleep in the car which makes long car rides painful for the whole family. It’s okay though, and it’s not her fault.
  • Sometimes she DOES cry. But it’s always for a reason. Babies cry because they cannot speak. We respond, because that is the natural thing to do.
  • Nap times and night times still consist of breasts and milk and rocking chairs and Chet Baker and white noise. Sleep does not come easy. For any of us.
  • She prefers being “worn” to being pushed in a stroller. Sometimes I am made to feel like I have created a monster because she would rather be looking out at the world from eye level than out at peoples’ knees. But it doesn’t inconvenience me. And 25 lbs. feels light.
  • She has always been disinterested in taking a soother or bottle (I actually tried), which means if she needs to be pacified, I need to be by her side. Fortunately, I’m quite fond of my awesome daughter. I’m no caged bird.

In writing this post, it’s not my intention to come off as angry, because I’m not. I am, however, really f’ing tired!

Whether you proudly wear an “AP” badge or you’re simply just a dedicated, loving, devoted parent who is truly trying her best to raise a really great person, you are awesome. And your child, no matter how many times a night he wakes up, is perfect just the way he is.

Dec 222011
 

Find out if babywearing is right for you and your child

By Jenn Hardy
Written for Todaysparent.com

In South America, they call it an aguayo. In Korea, a podaegi. In China, a mei tai. While the slings, wraps and carriers we have in Canada are far from a new phenomenon, “babywearing” is undoubtedly gaining popularity in North America. There’s a reason for that. Supporters believe there are a number of benefits to wearing your baby.

What’s so great about babywearing?

Famed American paediatrician, and father of eight, Dr. William Sears coined the term “babywearing,” and has been studying its effects since 1985.

On his website, he lists a number of reasons to wear your little one in a sling or wrap. Sears mentions his own anecdotal experience to back up his claim that babies who are  worn cry less, but also cites a six-week study that showed infants who were carried in a sling or carrier for at least three hours a day cried and fussed 43 percent less than babies in the study who were not carried.

He also believes babywearing reduces the risk of SIDS, in part because of the way a baby’s breath will sync up to the breath of the person carrying him.

Amy Ma is the group leader of Mamasupial Montreal, an organization that educates families on the “how-tos” and “why-tos” of babywearing. She says she began wearing her children out of convenience.

“Even if you’re not sold on attachment parenting, with babywearing you always have your hands free to do whatever needs to be done around the house,” says Ma.

“And in the winter, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get a stroller down the slushy sidewalks. I just put my little one in a carrier or wrap and he is snug next to my body under my coat. We don’t have to worry about boots and stuffing him into a snowsuit.”

Ma, a mother of three, also mentions that women who wear their babies tend to get back to their pre-baby size sooner. She explains that weight-bearing exercise burns calories very efficiently. “You might be doing something as simple as taking stroll to get milk. Carrying the baby will burn more calories than pushing a stroller.”

She adds that the muscles that need to be engaged when wearing your baby will also help strengthen the pelvic floor, and help get all your body parts back to their pre-baby condition sooner.

Safety

There have been product recalls in the past that have perhaps made some parents nervous about carrying their babies in a sling. But babywearing is safe, as long as you follow some simple rules.

Check your carrier, wrap or sling over
First off, Ma says, make sure the carrier is in good working order—that no seams are frayed and no clips are broken.

How to wear your baby
“Wear your baby up high enough on your body that you can kiss the top of her head,” she says. “And always make sure her airway is open by ensuring her chin isn’t resting on her chest. Keep the fabric off baby’s face.”

She suggest babies be kept in an upright position while being carried. “Tummy to tummy is a great position,” says Ma. “Not all babies like the cradle position, but few babies would complain about the full-body warmth they get when they’re carried tummy to tummy. It can also be safer because there is less of a chance of asphyxiation when the baby’s face is kept away from folds of fabric.”

Wearing your baby in winter
For parents who “wear” their little ones during the winter, Ma says “If babe is snuggled in the parent’s jacket, make sure there is plenty of air circulation. It’s better to put a hat on the baby and have your coat come up no higher than the shoulder blades.”

Choose the right carrier
Ma recommends parents look for a versatile carrier — one that can be used to carry your baby on your back, front or side so that the same muscles aren’t being used — it’s much easier on the wearer’s body if you can switch up the carrying position.

She also advises looking for a carrier, wrap or sling that will support the baby’s thighs rather than allowing them to dangle from the crotch.

Ma says it’s a good idea to find a carrier with adequate padding on the straps to make sure it’s comfortable for parents. She also recommends trying the carrier to ensure the straps, when fitted properly, are not going to dig into the wearer’s neck.

What kind is right for you?

Wraps come in different lengths and materials. A stretchy wrap like the MamaKangarou is soft and ideal for newborns, while a woven wrap like the Chimparoo, is very strong and versatile can be used from birth to more than 35 lbs.

A strong ring sling, like the MayaWrap can last forever. It is easy to use in a variety of positions and is a good option for parents with walkers who can be carried on the wearer’s hip if they get tired.

A soft structured carrier like the ERGObaby Sport is good for up to 40 lbs and offers support for the baby’s thighs and hugs his spine in a natural way, and can be used on the wearer’s front, back or hip.

Some Made-in-Canada babywearing options
The Blue Celery sling is a favourite of Fleur Bickford, an Ottawa IBCLC and RN. “It’s simple to use so great for those just learning babywearing,” she says. “It can be used for many different ages/positions.”

The Réserve Privée Kangaroo T-Shirt allows for essential skin-to-skin contact and also doubles as a discreet breastfeeding shirt that can be worn as long as baby is breastfeeding.

May 072011
 

one week swaddle

2 month swaddle

I don’t consider myself a materialistic person. My concern for the environment is enough for me to usually choose to buy second-hand goods whenever possible. My friends call me “Hand-me-down Hardy.”

We haven’t bought a whole lot since baby came along and when we do, we certainly don’t head to Babies R Us to buy it new. kijiji has been great to us. So have family and friends.

While I may not consider myself materialistic, I wanted to share a list of my favourite (baby) things. These things directly or indirectly, keep baby and me happy, mostly because they make things quicker, easier and more efficient.

Don't worry, the stains come out in the sun!

Happiest Baby on the Block I’m pretty sure I have the happiest baby on the block and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve memorized Dr. Karp’s book. Thanks for mailing us the book, Chandra! This book prompted us to have the next couple items on hand:

Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe My mom bought these (used) for my eco baby shower. Friends had recommended the straitjacket-like product which makes swaddling (essential for us) a WHOLE lot easier. Thank you Joel and Christine for the recommendation! If you don’t swaddle your baby, I suggest you give it a try. They will sleep more happily and soundly, I promise.  (Swaddling: One of Karp’s 5 S’s)

Mam soothers. This was baby’s choice. She wasn’t into the suss thing for a long time, but eventually decided she liked Mams best. I like them because the nipple is straight which means I can pop it back in her mouth whichever side, and apparently it’s better for her teeth than a nipple with a curve. BPA-free, of course. (Sucking: One of Karp’s 5 S’s)

This Free YouTube link. Baby loves to fall asleep to the sound of New York Rain! (Shushing: One of Karp’s 5 S’s)

Mother-ease cloth diapers Who said we weren’t going to have time to use cloth diapers? It’s really a piece of cake. I would recommend these to any parent. Oh, and they’re made in Ontario! (Again, thanks, Christine and Joel!)

baby with her godmama, Caitlin in the MayaWrap

réserve privée‘s Skin-to-skin Kangaroo T-shirt. I wish I had this from birth and will buy it for the next baby shower I go to. I love wearing the baby and the shirt is also great for breastfeeding. A Quebec Company!

MamanKangourou Stretchy Wrap My favourite wrap to take the baby on long walks.

Maya Wrap This ring sling is perfect when I am hoping the baby will fall asleep shortly. I can slide it off and put her in bed without waking her. I can’t do that with the stretchy wrap! (Thanks again, Chandra!)

Medela Pump in Style This painless, quick and easy pump is so much easier than a manual pump.

Pump Ease
Hands-free pumping support (allows me to pump while blogging!) Also, the company is Canadian, so that’s a bonus.

A great glider If I had been smarter I’d have listened to the friends who recommended I pick up a good rocking chair before the baby was born. It made a world of difference during the times when feedings too 45 minutes, and now we use it to rock her to sleep.

Nuk Washable breast pads I refuse to use disposable pads of any kind–no different when it comes to stoping milk from leaking through to my shirt. I bought some other washable cotton pads, but they were so thin I needed to double them up which is pretty ridiculous. These ones are inexpensive, comfy, and never leak.

**No one is paying me to advertise for them, this is all stuff that has been purchased or given to us as a gift**

What baby items could you not live without? Is there a whole new list for toddlers?

Apr 052011
 

When I spent a few months travelling in South America I saw so many lovely things. Exotic Animals, the Rainforest, coffee trees and mountains. One of the coolest things I saw, however, was the women of Ecuador and Peru carrying their babies everywhere they went. And they worked while they did it–baby strapped tightly to them with a colourful fabric.

I wish I had bought one of those baby carriers. It could have dubbed as a tablecloth for a few years. But luckily “babywearing” up here in North America is becoming a wonderful trend. We are now doing what cultures around the world do. Cultures that simply don’t have Graco Travel Systems or the fancy sport strollers that I see taking over my Plateau neighbourhood.

As I type this, my baby is sound asleep on my chest. She spends the bulk of her days (when she’s sleeping) this way, most often in our favourite carrier, the Maman Kangourou wrap. There are a million reasons why “babywearing” is beneficial. Here’s what Dr. Sears says about Babywearing.

I have a couple of other baby carriers that were passed down. A couple Snuggly-typed things, A Maya Wrap ring sling, and a Maman Kangourou pouch, but our Maman Kangourou Stretchy Wrap works best for us.

But there’s something that might take over as my favourite. While my mom was here on the weekend, she splurged on a Skin to Skin T-shirt for me and the baby. I thought the price was ridiculous ($60) but this little black T-shirt was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. And I’m not usually one to refuse a gift.

Made here in Quebec, the Skin-to-Skin T-shirt allows mamas to carry their babies skin to skin (or not, it’s your choice) right in their shirt.

All I could think about it how incredibly convenient this would be when I’m out– no need to tie on the wrap.

And the shirt is also a breastfeeding top to boot.

Unfortunately, I stumbled upon this late in the game, as the shirt will only carry a baby up to about 15lbs. But you can be sure we’ll be getting use of it at home and out on the town for the time being.

Maybe even at a wedding or two this summer. A little black T looks much classier than a big brown stretchy wrap. And there’s no way I’m carrying her around in a car seat all night!

Mar 302011
 
How do we “parent” our babies to sleep?

My baby is a good baby. A baby that sleeps and rarely cries. She smiles big non-gas-induced smiles.

My baby is a happy baby and her parents can take a little credit for that.

The baby sleeping well has become one of my top priorities. I’ll admit, in the beginning the motivation to help her sleep was a little selfish, but I am starting to realize how important it is for her to sleep soundly and often.

The first few weeks of Baby’s life, The Happiest Baby on the Block was our bible. Author Dr. Harvey Karp teaches readers the 5 S’s that will miraculously lull your baby to sleep:

  1. swaddle
  2. swing
  3. side/stomach position
  4. shush
  5. suck

Guess what? It works. Mike became a pro at getting the baby to sleep. He used a SwaddleMe to make the job even easier.

Then night times got even easier when I started feeding her in bed.

Day times haven’t been too tough either. But I had been craving some kind  of routine, and it seemed baby would only fall asleep while eating. Or nibbling. She won’t take a pacifier which means I wound up sitting around with this tiny creature attached to my boob for hours.

One friend said something revolutionary to me when I asked what she does to get her 7-week-old to sleep. She couldn’t remember where she read it, but someone wrote that we have to “parent our babies to sleep.”

Of course. It’s so simple you might think I’m joking, but the simple statement changed my whole way of thinking. Why was I just waiting for my baby to fall asleep? Surely the little thing needs a little help! (I’ve since read that most babies under 6 months shouldn’t be expected to fall asleep on their own.) Why was I expecting her to fall asleep on her own? Put a little effort into it, mama, I told myself.

So how do we “parent” our babies to sleep? Julie who helped enlighten me on the subject said she put her baby in a MamaKangourou wrap and stood in front of the kitchen fan (white noise) while she swayed the little girl to sleep.

I started doing the same, substituting the fan for this YouTube clip, which Mike had been using to shush her to sleep in the first few weeks. He also downloaded a couple of rain and water tracks to his iPod so we can get her to sleep in rooms other than the office.

Then a couple days ago, another friend recommended the book The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program by Dr. Polly Moore, and it all started coming together. Her nine-month-old sleeps on cue and she swears it’s because she started using Dr. Moore’s techniques when the baby was two months old. They thought the baby had “Colic” but it turns out she was just overtired. Apparently this happens a lot.

With many friends of toddlers who have sleep issues, I figured it was worth a shot! I’ve only had the book for less than 24 hours and I have to say, I’m a fan. It works really well as a compliment to Karp’s book too.

He teaches us how to soothe a baby. She teaches us when to do it.

Did I ever think I’d be scheduling my baby’s sleep time? Oh no. Living by a schedule?! Not something I  chose to do in pre-baby life, why start now? The program taught in this book helps parents to work with their baby’s natural sleep patterns. What’s more natural than that?

This all makes sense to me because sleep (and a lot of it) is essential for the baby’s development.

A well-rested baby is a happy baby. A happy baby who has happy, well-rested parents.