"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Monday, September 3, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #1: Ivy's Hammock

Baby hammocks are widely used in South America and Mexico, as well as parts of Asia.  The most familiar American version is the Amby Baby Motion Bed, which unfortunately was poorly designed.  It was recalled a few years ago and now baby hammocks are seen as dangerous in the States.  Too bad, because baby hammocks rock.

I first heard of babies sleeping in hammocks when Isaiah was a baby.  I read an article on indigenous baby care written by a missionary family in rural Venezuela, where all babies slept in crocheted hammocks.  My Mexican mother-in-law was pleased to see the hammock in our living room; she has fond memories of baby cousins hanging in sheets from kitchen ceilings while their mamas cooked. 

My two friends who use/ used the Amby hammock with fussy babies were completely unphased by the safety recall.  They both got their replacement parts, but wouldn’t stop using the hammocks.  “How else am I going to sleep?!” one snapped when her husband questioned her.  The bed moves in response to any movement baby makes, which in theory will sooth baby back to sleep before he or she fully wakens.  Also, because the hammock moves up and down, side to side, and forward and back all at once, really fussy babies who need constant stimulating movement like it.

The plan was to purchase a hammock if we ended up with another fussy baby.  (Both JP and Rosemary were all-day-and-up-till- 3-am screamers.  One of my biggest fears during this pregnancy was the possibility of another baby screaming several hours a day for 8 months on end.)  But when I saw how expensive baby hammocks are, I decided to make one up ahead of time, just in case.  It was quite simple, and only cost around $40. 

Here are the directions for the construction of the sling:
Remember that 1 meter is really about 1 1/10 yards , so buy 3 and 1/3 yards.  NEXT, do NOT buy plain muslin or calico for this, as the Canadian directions suggest.  American muslin and calico are weak, plain-weave fabrics.  The double-boiled muslin used in Australia is a MUCH STRONGER fabric than the version available in America.  Instead, use any fabric suitable for sling-making: shirting, medium or heavy linen, lightweight denim or twill, or batik.  A 40-45 inch wide fabric with nice-looking selvages is ideal, otherwise you’ll need to hem the fabric edges to this width. 

I used batik.  Make sure your batik is DYED not STAMPED.  The 2 are constructed differently.  Dyed batik will look the same on both sides.  Stamped batik will have one side that is obviously the “wrong” side.  It is a weaker fabric so avoid it. 

Don’t forget your 40% off coupon.  You should be able to get your length of fabric for under $20 that way.

Then, be sure to read through the directions at least 27 times before beginning.  It is simple, but confusing.  BE SURE you understand what you’re doing before cutting and sewing, or else you’ll be doing a lot of seam ripping.  Close-up of the easy-to-sew but hard-to-explain envelope folded end:

I suggest buying REAL carabiners from a camping shop, and REAL sling rings from www.slingrings.com.

The spring should be readily available at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  Ours is the one for up to 27 Kilograms.  Springs for higher weights won’t have the proper give for a 10 lb baby.  I sewed a cover for my spring and carabiners, for aesthetic purposes.

I used organic wool and cotton batting wrapped in organic birdseye fabric for my mattress.  I made a sheet for it out of organic hemp/ cotton fleece with snaps on the bottom to keep it in place.  My mattress is only ¾” thick, and totally flexible for baby’s safety and comfort.  QUILT THE HECK OUT OF IT!  Stitches should be very close together, again, for safety and comfort.

pillowcase-style sheet with snaps on left, quilted mattress on right

We constructed our frame from scrap wood and based it on the dimensions of other baby hammock frames we found online.   However, I recommend hanging it from a ceiling joist (like studs in the wall, but in the ceiling), on a screw-in ring also found at any hardware store.  

But Ivy, tell us how you really feel:

All smart babies will prefer to nap in mama’s arms, or on mama's back!  Really, Ivy naps in the hammock happily for short times during the day. Isaiah can bounce her in it for a bit while I shower or what have you.   At night we just hunker down in the family bed and zonk out because, so far, Ivy is not a fussy baby- praise God for His infinite mercy!

"A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often."
~Author Unknown

BTW, that little turquoise square at the top of my hammock is a crib medal.  The Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita make these- for cribs, obviously, but we've never had a crib so I'm happy to find a use for it.  It is a tiny miraculous medal in the center of a crocheted square to keep baby safe while she sleeps. 

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