real stories

Opening up again as lockdown eases

We are acutely aware of the huge stresses and challenges faced by parents in the pandemic. While restrictions may be easing, the human cost of the coronavirus will be felt for many years to come. There has been a report on these “lockdown babies” which makes for sobering reading.

The Babies in Lockdown report captures the experiences of respondents and highlights the range of issues parents faced, the lack of support for families, and the inequalities in babies’ early experiences. For example:
*Almost 7 in 10 found their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted as a result of COVID-19.
*Nearly 7 in 10 felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child.
*Only one third expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required.
*Many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and were less likely to receive the support they needed. This is likely to have widened existing inequalities.

We are now able to start opening the project up again more widely, and have been sending out carriers again – usually one to two per week. We’ve restocked with our most popular carriers (with kind thanks to our faithful supporters Slumber Roo, Lenny Lamb and Sling Spot in particular) and are working our way through referrals once more.

Our Zoom consult format has been working very well, as has been partnerships with sling libraries around the UK, so we will continue with this.

Please consider referring yourself to us, or if you are someone who works with vulnerable families, please consider referring them to us for a comfortable carrier that can help. Being hands free while able to nurture a young child has many practical benefits, let alone the mental health benefits it brings to both child and carer.

real stories

COVID pandemic update

We have been continuing to provide support for families in need throughout the pandemic. Most of our volunteers are front-line workers (health or social care and education) so we have been a little slower in being able to help. We have been able to support several families around the country via Zoom appointments with careful safety measures in place, and have been delighted to be able to do this. As the situation eases, we remain aware of the many, many challenges families continue to face, and are stepping up our provision once more.

We have a few new team members, our next post will introduce all of the team to you!

Thank you for your ongoing support. We have had some donations, and some carrier gifts (please get in touch with us first about carrier donations) and we’re grateful to those who continue to keep our profile visible and share our services with those who may benefit.

children's commissioner
real stories

Children’s Commissioner highlights vulnerable children

We are keen to support organisations and bodies who are trying to make a difference when children are at risk of harm. The recent Children’s Commissioner report (see here) highlights the staggering number of children under one who are considered by local authorities to be “vulnerable, or highly vulnerable and at risk of harm, but still living at home.” There is an ever increasing pressure on local authority budgets and children’s social services are feeling the strain; many SureStart centres have closed.

We have been able to work with a number of initiatives focusing on residential care for families needing some intensive support. The aims of these centres is to keep vulnerable parents and children together. They provide families with a safe place where they can learn how to care for their babies, learn how to be parents, and have a chance to develop the connecting relationships that are so essential for successful family formation.

Comfortable, easy to use baby carriers can play a part in creating connections; the close contact between parent and baby triggers biochemical changes in the brain that encourage a sensation of love and responsibility.  We’ve now visited three of these family centres in three locations around the wider area, and have been very encouraged by the response from the staff and parents.

We visited a carrying conference in Coventry in September, and the staff at a local centre brought several families in to see us; Danielle and Stacie were able to fit seven carriers that day, to mums and dads of children of varying ages. Everyone was very pleased to have a carrier of their own to help them meet their babies’ needs for holding while still being able to focus on some of their own needs.

In October we visited one local centre again to see a new cohort of parents, and it was brilliant to see their enthusiasm, having heard about the benefits the last group had had from their slings.

children's commissioner

In the meantime you can do lots to support us  – read more here.


old friends
real stories

Meeting old friends again; supporting parents as children grow

A year ago, Carine came to see us with her young daughter who was at the very curious stage of her babyhood, wanting to look around and see the world. Carine is in a wheelchair due to a childhood illness. We loaned her a structured carrier that helped baby to sit on her knee safely hands-free. It was lovely to meet them then, and even more lovely to see them both again recently when they came by to upgrade to a larger carrier. Their first sling has been very well loved, and meeting old friends again is always wonderful.
Carine’s little girl is a confident, delightful toddler who enjoys meeting new people, and has much more control over her body; so a carrier that was tall enough to support her while sitting on mum’s knee in a cuddle was what they needed now. There was enough room in this bright Tula (donated by Ergobaby UK) for her to move and see where she was going. There were a lot of megawatt smiles in the Snug that morning!

building bonds project
feedback, real stories

“This project is wonderful!” A review from Ashiana Sheffield

Thank you so much to Carina, a support worker at Ashiana Sheffield for this feedback about the Project! (Ashiana Sheffield is a charity that aims to to support those from BAMER communities whose lives have been affected by violence and abuse to take control of their lives and move forward into healthy, stable and safer futures.Ashiana Sheffield

“I have used the Building Bonds Project for several of my clients now and have recommended the project to all of my colleagues. The referral form is simple to fill out and the team are very quick to get back to you. They have been really flexible depending on the individual situation and truly want to make life better and easier for mums and their babies.

I spoke with one client who has used the scheme who wanted to include her feelings. She was very isolated and new to the city and struggled to get out, particularly struggling to shop for food with her son. She was sceptical about the idea of a sling as he son is quite big, however the change in her opinion even before we left the Snug was huge! She says she wears him in his sling most days now and that he always falls asleep and she feels like she can explore the city and has even made a friend when someone complimented her carrier.

I am now trying to think up ways to get clients who live outside of Sheffield into the city to take advantage of the amazing benefits that I have witnessed having a sling provide. Building Bonds; this project is wonderful, thank you so much.”

families in care
real stories

Providing help and support to families in care

families in careToday, Amelia and Rosie had the honour of visiting another residential centre in South Yorkshire providing social support for families in care. These families need some formal help with building secure attachment relationships with their children. This can be due to difficulties with mental health, or lack of support locally, or previous problems etc. This centre focuses on play and development to help build bonds, and was thrilled that we could help. Parents can connect to their children by carrying them in comfortable slings, as the close contact releases hormones that reduce stress and encourage feelings of love.

families in care

There was a wide range of needs, from tiny babies to two year olds, some curious active babies, to sleepy ones, to refugee babies. We were able to fit all of them with a carrier; the Close Caboos were perfect for the tinies who snuggled to sleep, and the Ergobaby 360 carriers were great for the curious older children.

sleepy nicoVery specially, a Sleepy Nico was just right for a little one who is very ill and has lots of additional needs. Mum wasn’t quite sure if baby would take to the carrier, but as soon as the straps were clipped together and the slack was adjusted, baby snuggled under her chin, and then began playing happily with her nose, before nuzzling down again with eyes drifting off to sleep. Everyone was very moved; a special moment and we hope the carrier brings the family many precious connections as well as some hands-free support!

These families now have carriers to help them to develop secure attachments and build bonds; creating a foundation that will give these children a better start in life despite the circumstances.

We were able to show the staff how baby carriers work; they learned how to use a Close Caboo and an Integra, and we went home with a rather empty suitcase and full hearts.

Thanks go to our Friends, Ergobaby, Close Parent, Sleepy Nico and Integra Baby for their generous support of the Building Bonds Project!

Would you like to support us too? You can donate to us, fundraise for us, send us your nearly new carriers, spread the word! Read more about how to get involved here.

centre for families in crisis
real stories

Visiting a centre for families in crisis

Danielle and Rosie had the enormous privilege and pleasure of visiting a special place in Sheffield -a centre for families in crisis and needing intensive social input, with two suitcases of baby carriers. We were able to explain how keeping babies close helps them to thrive despite very challenging social situations… and how they make life easier for parents too. Strong and secure attachment is important in helping families weather the storm of adverse events and helping babies to do well despite adversity… and carriers can help.

It was wonderful to see how easily the babies settled and many of them fell into peaceful sleep. Parents were walking around kissing the tops of their babies’ heads and stroking them, feeling the connection. Many of them helped each other adjust their carriers, having learned how to use them and keen to offer their support to each other. We helped a family with twins and several dads too, and they were all delighted to hear the carriers were theirs to keep as they return to their homes around the UK. Several of them set off for a group walk with their sleeping babies in slings as we left.

We fitted and donated twelve baby carriers.. six Caboos from Close Parent, five Beco Geminis from Slumber Roo and one from Mamaruga. We’re deeply grateful to them for their generosity that allows us to help families who need it the most.

We’ve been invited back in October as the staff can clearly see how useful this is going to be and commented on how calm the babies were.

We can’t disclose names or photos of the parents due to confidentiality so here is Danielle demonstrating one Close Caboo!

It makes a difference. Help us to keep helping more and more families:

Donate to us here

Donate your nearly new carriers to us, find out how via the “get involved” tab at the top.

Spread the word!

sick children
real stories

Slings can be so helpful for sick children

Slings can be so helpful for sick children and those with life-limiting or chronic illness, as well as those needing intensive hospital treatment.

Earlier this week we had the great privilege of helping a little girl receiving chemotherapy for leukaemia.

She’s not well at the moment with quite a lot of pain and is needing a lot of reassurance and love from her family. She is tired a lot of the time due to the illness and her treatment… so it was so great to be able to give her and her family a toddler Izmi carrier. It will help her mum and dad keep her close and make her feel safe, as soft touch and cuddles reduce stress and anxiety and pain. She was very keen to try it on and nestled against her mother as they learned how to use it. It was a great fit and really soft and comfy for her, and will help her to enjoy their weekend away a little more and get through the months ahead a little more easily. The whole family was delighted at the new option for closeness that they now have.


If you’d like to help us help more families, do get involved! Donate to us, send us your nearly new carriers, spread the word!


better start
real stories

Giving children a better start in life

It’s a great privilege being able to help families to be close and to give young children a better start in life. Today we were able to give this pair their own buckle carrier to keep (donated by Sheffield Sling Surgery). C was referred by the Snowdrop Project who work with people who are free from modern slavery. Now she is free, her child has a chance of a better life, and a carrier can help her build her child’s security and confidence.



Today we also gave out a Boba 4G (kindly donated by Slumber Roo) to a mum of a young baby referred to us by the housing/social services department: it’ll help them build bonds and strengthen their relationship, and give the child a better start in life.

cycles of fear
real stories

Breaking the cycles of fear by creating safe spaces

Breaking the cycles of fear by supporting parents is so important. Helping parents to provide safe and consistent spaces for their children despite the traumas of their own lives can change the trajectory of that child’s future. We at Building Bonds are proud to play a small part in shaping the future for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

37053032_1879960942306164_8326613643185618944_nToday we helped a mum and her child who were referred by the Ashiana Sheffield charity. This organisation aims to support and empower those from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities whose lives have been affected by violence and abuse, to take control of their lives and move forward into healthy, stable and safer futures. This Boba 4G donated by Slumber Roo will play a part in stabilising and uplifting this gorgeous pair. Baby fell asleep within a few minutes of being put into the carrier and mum was so happy.

If you’d like to help us support more parents, do get involved!