Online Support – what support is there, how can I access it and what is different?
The obvious answers are there is LOTS of online support, you can access in lots of different ways and some things – you’re not in person. But, when you think about it accessing support online how different is it really? With the current lockdown many more places are offering these online services and I wanted to share what we’ve learned in our long experience of offering online only sling and parenting services.
I’ve looking at each of the online services we offer and talked about what the service is, how you can access it and what things you might want to bear in mind when using it.
Phone consultations are great way to get advice and support on your specific needs and narrow down your sling options. We can help you understand safety advice and the do’s and don’ts of carrying, and look at how your circumstances might affect carrying. We offer 15 minute phone consults for free here so that we can talk you through steps to help you narrow down your sling options or work through safety or any other questions. You can also book longer phone consultations if you need to. Phone consults are also a great option for BabyCalm or ToddlerCalm consultations too!
You don’t need to leave the house to access these and all you need is a phone and hopefully some distraction free (mostly – that’s the hard part!) time. It’s a super quick way to access some support, you can just call us on 01133206545 and if we are free, we will answer or you can drop us an email to fix a specific time! You can easily access our experience and knowledge and we waive deposits and usually offer a discount on hires to all our phone consult customers too.
Obviously, we can’t demo something over the phone, but we can and do signpost to video tutorials. You don’t have to remember everything we say, and we will follow up with our recommendations via email or via Facebook messenger. You will probably want to spend a bit of time after our chat though looking things up!
Video consults are great for those times when a demonstration is definitely what you need. Maybe you’re struggling with something technical about carrying or you need to see it step by step. In those cases this can be a perfect way to get advice.
You still don’t need to leave the house, but you will need something to watch with, some form of webcam and you’ll need a decent internet connection to get a clear picture. If you want to practice then you’ll also need to have your own carrier – hired, bought or already owned – and something to practice with like a large teddy or doll. If you want to practice with your own child we recommend taking some safety precautions which we can discuss with you before and during the consult. Drop us an email to arrange a time which suits us both!
Video consultations will differ from in person consults – it can be harder to get the initial connection we need to feel comfortable together but mostly the way we demo and what we will discuss will be very similar. If there is something that you need to see very close up, we might have to get creative! Follow up advice and signposting to useful resources will always happen as well.
We offer a level of support through Facebook messages and email as well as phone and video. It won’t be to the level of a full consultation, but it will allow you to send over some pictures for us to view or ask for specific help or recommendations. We are always happy to look at images and happy to send links to more info as well.
This type of support, especially troubleshooting from pictures, is always a little limited as you can’t see all angles. But it can be a way to get some initial suggestions and support.
You can hire via post from our wide range of slings. You book your hire on the website and then on the day it is booked to start we post it out to you. We include a prepaid return label so that at the end of your hire you package it up and drop it at a post office. If you know what you want, you don’t have to speak to anyone or get in touch you can just book and go!
All of this is available without leaving your home – you can even do it without speaking to anyone. We have an extensive range which we add to and update regularly and you can try multiple carriers together to compare. If you’d like some advice on what to choose or advice on how to use it, we recommend using one of our advice services at the same time. The most annoying part might be waiting to receive it but here’s some ideas to fill the time!
If you were accessing this service in person you might be able to try more than one sling in a library session, but it would depend on the library and the time available. There are no time constraints on you trying things when you get them at home.
You can buy from our shop anytime from the website. Just have a browse, checkout and we will post your order direct to you. If you know what you want, you can just jump in and go!
Again, this is totally available without leaving your home. You can grab slings, coats, accessories and more all from one place. You’ll have to wait a bit for it to arrive I am afraid, but it will hopefully be worth it!
If you need to try before you buy, we do recommend hiring, or using our Try Before You Buy service so that you can get that opportunity. You can also access our advice services too to help! We even offer payment plans on many of our in stock carriers – just email us to arrange.
Whilst you can’t pick up and touch items before buying online the distance selling regulations and our returns policy also exist to make sure that you get a chance to see if it is the right option for you.
Try before you buy
Our try before you buy scheme allows you to pay a smaller amount up front for a brand new carrier and then try it for two weeks before deciding if you’d like to keep it (pay the balance) or return it (get a partial refund). If you’re not 100% on a carrier and want to make sure it will work for you this can be a great option.
As with all our services, you don’t have to leave your home, and this can save you some money over spending the whole amount on the carrier upfront. If you love the carrier it is super easy to pay the balance and keep it as well. You can access our advice services still as well!
This isn’t a service many shops offer in person, so it’s any easy one to take advantage of online 😉
Free stretchy hire
Our free stretchy hire scheme is available to anyone with a baby under 8 weeks old. Simply choose your stretchy wrap and we will send a brand new one to you for four weeks, just for the cost of postage. If you love it just pay a one-off payment of £30 to keep it or send it back if you don’t.
We want to support as many people with new babies to carry as possible! Our scheme aims to enable people to try a wrap without the upfront cost and without leaving your home or even having to speak to anyone. As part of the service we send you plenty of demo videos on how to use it and you can also access our advice services too.
This is a service that is offered at many sling libraries in person, and the main difference here is that the support and demonstrations will be via videos or the phone rather than in person!
The Wrap Club
The Wrap Club is our subscription service for wrap enthusiasts! We have an extensive range of woven wraps to hire and the wrap club allows you to try a whole range over 3 or 6 months. This might help you compare brands, blends, lengths or just because you’d love to try a range! Many of the brands who we stock have also offered discount vouchers when you hire one of their wraps as well.
When you sign up on the website we send you a short survey about your preferences and then you can sit back and wait for your first wrap or wraps to arrive!
If you’re looking for some videos on specific carries just ask and we will signpost, or we can also include a video consultation to demonstrate various wrap carries.
There are many Facebook groups out there which give sling and parenting advice. You can join our group here, and we will endeavour to answer as many posts as we can always! But there are a huge number of other groups too all working slightly differently and with different advice available.
This support is very easy to access as it’s right there on Facebook and it’s easy to find places where they are offering advice based on really specific topics. However, be aware that not all advice on Facebook is factual or evidence informed and that there is a lot of advice given which is either incorrect or occasionally unsafe. It is worth checking advice you get in groups with advice from other sources as well and checking where the advice is coming from.
We do regular Facebook lives on a variety of topics (you can find them all here and here). On our pages we often do a series of videos around certain topics – like our Friday Facts videos or our children’s activities series. These can be an easy way to get ideas or information on a certain topic.
Like with groups it’s very easy to access these videos for many people, although it’s harder to add subtitles to live videos. It’s also possible to find videos on very specific topics and demos too. Again, like with groups please be aware of where your advice is coming from – not everyone has the same level of training and understanding so it’s worth using multiple sources and checking as well.
There are thousands of sling tutorials on YouTube and parenting videos too. If you can think of it, someone has probably done a video on it! Our YouTube channels are here and here if you want to have a look and see if we have a video which might help you!
Like with Facebook however similar things are true – there are a LOT of very old videos on YouTube and a lot of videos made by enthusiastic amateurs and they vary hugely in quality and safety in terms of the advice given so do check the source and do ask if you’re not sure. If you’re looking for something specific do ask, we have plenty of videos saved to send to clients!
Like with videos there are tonnes of blogs out there on every parenting topic imaginable. And again, like everything on the internet they vary hugely in quality and safety and evidence. Many blogs are written from a personal perspective, which is important but might not mean that the advice contained within is appropriate for you.
Our blogs (and here for CalmFamily) have plenty of articles on a range of topics but like with our other suggestions we would suggest looking at the source of who is writing, and looking for several different sources as well to check safety and other evidence is all sound.
Whilst getting advice online sounds like it might be really different, in reality it isn’t hugely different and there are is a wide range of ways of getting support when face to face is not an option. Our aims remain the same – to support you, to empower you, and to ensure you have the knowledge to make the choices which work for your family. Whilst we recommend some caution around some sources, there are plenty of amazing places where you can gain the support you need online – including with us!