Mamascarf breastfeeding scarf and Arms Reach Co-sleeper bedside cot

Alana Doyle, a disabled mother from Glasgow, UK, reviews the Mamascarf breastfeeding scarf and the Arms Reach Co-sleeper bedside cot.

As I have had myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) for eight years, I had concerns about how I would cope as a parent. After all, even on a full night's sleep, I would still be exhausted! I also have and arthritic joints, which give me difficulty in walking and in using my hands, as well as weakness and pain in my arms.

I had a difficult pregnancy, which brought further mobility problems from symphysis pubis dysfunction and pelvic instability. I also developed carpal tunnel syndrome at the end of the pregnancy.

We had a successful home water birth and welcomed our son into the world. Having a home birth saved me from the sensory stimulation and resulting exhaustion of a hospital birth. I started off our journey to parenthood relaxed and in better health than I had hoped.

To overcome difficulties, our plan was for me to have everything I needed to care for our son close to hand. This would save me struggling around the house and wasting precious energy. A young baby's life revolves around eating, sleeping and nappy changes. So, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to test out products that could potentially help make life easier in these areas.

Breast feeding scarf

With soft tissue and nerve damage from a spinal fusion for scoliosis, back pain is the bane of my life! I am breastfeeding exclusively, but as our son grows, the strain on my back and arms increases. The Mamascarf breastfeeding scarf, designed to provide "essential support without the need for a cushion", sounded like the answer to my prayers!

The scarf is quite simply a large triangular piece of material. I couldn't believe something so simple could be adapted to provide so many benefits. It has little tufts covering the surface of the material. I soon realised this wasn't just for aesthetics but a discreet and clever way to help you get a good grip of the material. Without this, the scarf may not be usable for people like me who have any trouble with their hands.

I struggle to use my arms behind my head. Despite the simple picture instructions, I still had to re-tie the scarf several times to get it a suitable length to position for feeding. I imagine you would also have to readjust it as your baby grows bigger too. The scarf is one size fits all, but I am a size 12 and our baby is only 10 weeks old, and there was already not much room for growth. The instructions highlight how the scarf provides much-needed privacy. I think this is really important when you're getting used to breastfeeding, especially in public. Unfortunately, the scarf isn't big enough and covered us only partially from the front, and not from the sides or behind.

Once I'd got our normally very calm and happy baby inside the scarf, he became fussy and unhappy in this enclosed dark space. So with little arms and legs kicking, I found it hard to cover up and got very flustered and exhausted myself. I also had some difficulty getting him into a position where the scarf provided any support. He was then too upset to latch on so we had to give up!

The hidden pocket was very small and thin, and positioned too low down to be of use for breast pads, which are a necessity to avoid embarrassing leaks. This is a minor flaw in the design that could perhaps be improved by adding a thicker pouch inside the scarf.

Because the scarf is so small and lightweight, I popped it into my changing bag anyway. This made me feel more confident that should we go anywhere, it might work out! I persisted in the hope that it would help. I have found that if our baby is falling asleep, I can gently slide the scarf around him to give me some much-needed support on those longer feeds. However, it's really a bit of a hit or miss that I don't always have the energy or patience for!

Mamascarf is available from, price: £17.99 plus P&P.

Bedside cot

The Arms Reach® Co-sleeper Bedside Cot was designed for parents to be able to keep their baby sleeping safely beside them. This provides security for the baby and less interruption during the night. The bedside cot looks just like a travel cot but attaches to the side of the adult bed. It has the huge advantage that the base can be raised up to about the same level as the adult mattress and the side is lowered to the same height.

This product differs from other co-sleeping cots in that it has straps which slide under the parents' mattress and safely secure the cot. Other cots tend to just sit beside the adult bed. The cot does extend about half the length of the bed, so I couldn't get in and out as I normally would. However, I could use the side to help pull myself up instead.

This cot is expensive, retailing at £239. I would have to agree with the many reviews that say how difficult it is to assemble initially. The instructions were not easy to understand. Even though I used a demonstration model that already had the base raised in the co-sleeping position, I still had trouble with locking the sides. I can't imagine how I would have been able to set it up from scratch without help. However, once assembled and strapped into place, this cot has been fantastic.

The only downside is that there is a lip of about four inches between the cot and the adult mattress. This means you can't simply slide over to feed your baby, although you can still easily reach over and offer a comforting hand.

Unfortunately, our baby wouldn't sleep in the cot for more than one hour at a time. As he breastfeeds frequently through the night, he sleeps beside me in my bed. But for anyone whose baby will sleep alone, this is definitely a fantastic product. The cot has tons of storage in pockets stretching over three sides. There is enough space to store baby sleepwear, nappies, wipes, feeding cloths, story books and anything else you might need close by! Just being able to store everything at waist height right beside the bed has been such a huge help for me. I also use it as a platform to change his nappy without getting out of bed. During the day, I can safely put him inside on the play gym. This saves me struggling to bend down and get him from the floor and it means he can easily see me.

After weighing the pros and cons I would definitely recommend this cot. I think now I'd struggle to get by without it.

Arm's Reach Co-sleeper Bedside Cot is available in the UK from and in the US from Two models are available: Universal Co-sleeper (price £239) and Mini Co-sleeper (price £199).


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