This Feature Friday brings us a crucial figure in the Babywearing world today. Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, but kind, generous and simply wonderful, Ladies and Gentlemen the beautiful Dr Rosie Knowles!
Hi Dr Rosie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your family?
I’m Rosie.. a Mum to Fred (6) and Maggie (3), a pair of high-energy children with mops of curly blond hair and minds of their own, and wife to Rob, who works in the catering business. I’m deaf, following meningitis as a little girl while my family lived in South Africa, but I lipread and have hearing aids. I’m the wrong side of 30, but happy with it! We live on the edge of Sheffield, close to one of its many gorgeous green spaces – its a really “villagey-feel” city and has a really relaxed vibe.
LET’S TALK BABYWEARING, HOW FAR INTO YOUR BABYWEARING JOURNEY ARE YOU? HOW DID YOU START?
I started off with a Karime stretchy wrap with my little boy. I followed all the instructions in the pamphlet as carefully as I could whilst still in the fog of new parenthood and when I look back, I wish I had had someone to help me position him better (he spent too much time curled over for my liking but I didn’t know how to correct it). Someone lent me their Baby Bjorn, but he soon outgrew it and I discovered the ErgoBaby carrier was much more comfortable and allowed me to talk to him when he was being carried. Being deaf this was important to me – being able to communicate with my son by seeing his face. I had a facing-inward pram for this reason too… As he got bigger I often complained that I couldn’t get his bottom deep enough down into the carrier to feel safe and thought my sling days were past.
When my little girl arrived I soon ran out of hands, so I tried an eBay mei tai which wasn’t very comfortable on my shoulders, however much I loved the feeling of carrying her close to me. In the end I finally listened to my friend Jenny and bought my first wrap to turn into a half buckle. When it arrived (a Natibaby Provence) I made the mistake of thinking “oh, I’ll just have a go and see what this wrap malarkey is all about”. I was hooked! There is just nothing like it – your loved little one held in an all-over cuddle and able to share the world right alongside you. Maggie and I loved it… and we never looked back
Soon after that I and four other friends set up the Sheffield Slings sling meet group, aiming to be an open and friendly community that welcomes baby wearers of any type, be they buckle users, wrappers, occasional or full-time slingers, those who consider themselves attachment parents or not, men, women, grandparents, foster carers etc. A few weeks ago we added our 1,000th member to the Facebook group – it has just grown and grown! There was a real need for well-trained advice to meet the ever-growing needs of this thriving community, so I decided to train as a consultant with Slingababy and join BABI (the British Association of Babywearing Instructors). I went on to do some of the Trageschule UK training. I have recently completed the French Je Porte Mon Bebe training as well, I love learning and broadening my knowledge and honing my skills.
NOT ONLY ARE YOU ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRATIONAL AND KNOWLEDAGEBLE BABYWEARING MAMAS I KNOW, YOU ARE ALSO A DOCTOR AND A HIGHLY TRAINED BABYWEARING CONSULTANT AND GENERAL GURU! TELL US ABOUT YOUR BABYWEARING BUSINESSES AND ALSO HOW BEING A DOCTOR WORKS WITH IT?
I run the Sheffield Sling Surgery and Library, a consultancy with a busy sling library (over 170 slings). I have a small team of dedicated and brilliant volunteers who help at the library drop ins (which seem to get bigger every week) and between this and my one-to-ones and workshops the Surgery supports over a hundred parents a month.
I spend a fair bit of time testing and reviewing wraps and carriers for British businesses; I want to support our local industries as much as I can. I enjoy this, but it can be quite time consuming!
I have been training babywearing peer supporters for a few months (under the Born To Carry banner), and ran my third course in July. I love teaching peer supporters, as I can see how the ripples of this shared commitment and passion for babies and their parents just keeps spreading.” I also have roles working as the in-house consultant for Slumber-Roo, training their staff, demonstrating at the Baby Show and other festivals and helping with their literature and any consultancy queries. I also support Oscha Slings with their literature, and spend a lot of my time writing articles on everything from how much I love ring slings, to promoting healthy hip position in slings, to how to keep your young baby safe in a carrier. My professional role as a doctor seems to lend reassurance and stability in this emerging industry.
I am one of the creators of The Sling Pages, a new website designed to be an unaffiliated, impartial one-stop-shop to help people find their local sling advice resources, find out where to buy a carrier or get one converted, discover all the Great British brands available, where to get training etc.
I’m also a part-time GP working in several different parts of the city. I love my job and the opportunities it gives me to draw alongside people in some of the toughest parts of their lives. I have a particular interest in holistic care (treating the whole person, mind, body and soul together). This is also what I love about the Sling Surgery, the interaction with families and how I can help to change things for the better (hands free parenting, closer bonding and attachment, reduced post-natal depression, a community to be part of). I’ve been supporting the physiotherapists and midwives who are trying to introduce sling use in our local hospital’s SCBU transitional care unit, and I am soon going to be supporting one of the disabled children’s centres. I write for Gentle Parenting as their in-house GP as well.
It can be a challenge keeping on top of all these different threads with a small and noisy family. I don’t think I get enough sleep… but I thrive on challenges!
WHAT ARE YOU FAVOURITE CARRIERS AND WRAPS OF THE MOMENT?
For our own use, Maggie and I have been loving our Woven Wings Mr K and Oscha Okinami Morgan hemp shorties. We are very fond of our ring slings – Diva Essenza Lago and a conversion done by a local lady (Tuesday’s Child) of Oscha Roses Hera are the ones that get the most love at the moment. Maggie is three, and we recently added a fabulous preschooler buckle carrier from Pouchlings in a glorious fox fabric to the Library, which she thinks is brilliant. (This is the nice thing about having a Library – we can borrow from it any time we like!)
For teaching, I love the Lir Slings Gothic Hearts wrap, alongside a Girasol Earthy Rainbow, and I am particularly partial to the Hana Baby stretchy wrap in warm weather. My most popular buckle carriers are the Connecta Baby Carrier, the Sleepy Nico, and the Beco Gemini. The toddler Tulas are also very well loved.
ONE LAST QUESTION,
IF YOU COULD SUM BABYWEARING UP IN ONE SENTENCE WHAT WOULD IT SAY?
“Babies love to be carried, and babies thrive when they are carried.”
A BIG thank you to Dr Rosie Knowles for being featured and for all her hard work and time that she dedicates to the babywearing world. Keep on, keeping on Dr R! We LOVE you! I will continue to send you lots of messages and ask you questions always! Thank you for all your support.
If you would like to contact Rosie drop her an email here, (email@example.com)
Check out her website and facebook groups here!