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Category Archive Babywearing general

Multinational babywearing support – Ergo Hipseat

We live in a multicultural country and one of the things that is guaranteed, for as long as there has been Canada Post, there have been relatives sending gifts internationally. Gifts that represent their love and their support for family members that they cannot see often due to the cost and the distance.

I myself was the recipient of these sorts of gifts when I was a kid, sweaters that would get here off season and wouldn’t fit by the time winter came, things you wouldn’t be caught dead in but that you had to put on and have a picture taken as “proof” that you loved it, and that the family appreciated the thought and effort behind it (and thank goodness there was no facebook, and that after that one pic, you could toss it into the donate pile without a second thought!). And later, cheap dollar store crap you could get at the shop down the street from where I lived, but was sent to you with love (and that was usually half-broken by the time it arrived).

That is why it is important to learn about baby carriers that are not sold in North America and to suspend your judgment when helping people out. My most recent introduction to a foreign carrier was when interviewing Sunmi Cha this past fall. Sumni is from Korea and her family had thoughtfully sent her a gift for her to use to show their love and for her to connect with her baby, an Ergo hip seat.

 

           

My first few thoughts on seeing it?

  • Hey, it’s like a Hippychick that’s been punked!
  • OMG this does not fall in-line with the hip safety marketing Ergo likes to use everywhere else. M-position, what?
  • Ooooooh, let’s play!

And that last one is what stuck with me, because it is exactly what I did.

What’s the first thing you do when you see a carrier like this? Pull from your experience. I’ve been around a long time, so the base was exactly like a Hippychick I still have cached in my basement.1 Then it’s like Ergo put on some romantic music, sent it on a blind date with a Playtex Hip Hammock and these two carriers made a baby! Or maybe they just took a style that was already popular in Asian and spun their own version of it out there (not as much fun, but likely the truth as Lillebaby has one too, Three in One and Pognae for example).2

                    

What if you haven’t been around for as long as babywearing dinosaurs have roamed the earth? Read the label. Yeah, I know, your Korean is likely as good as mine, but thankfully this one was fully bilingual English / Korean. What if the label is unreadable and not in script you can handily copy into your computer browser? Reach out to your international babywearing peeps and start asking questions (I got some good resources with that one – thanks Heather and Theresa!)3

The important thing to focus on here from the label is the BABY FALLING OUT warning: Infants can fall out through a wide opening or out of the hip seat. Essentially, is the baby TOO small for the carrier and the carrier base?

 

 

This fall warning is very important, especially since if you know your babywearing history, you’ll know that Baby Bjorn had to issue a recall of their front pack carriers for this exact reason.4 It lead to them making a small, but critical change to their carriers. They added a small loop and button to narrow the leg opening to prevent smaller babies from falling out of them. Yep, some babies will fall out through the leg openings if they are too wide.

Unfortunately, Ergo has not made any changes or adjustments to this carrier to provide a similar feature. And let’s not point fingers exclusively at one company, none of the others seem to have something in place either. So, Ergo, baby – let’s talk!! I’d really like to see all the companies who sell this thing make a modification to prevent what is a known fall hazard, moreover, one that from my perspective is a modification to the design that is relatively easy to do. So uh, hop hop, let’s get moving, am I right?

The other important warning is the SUFFOCATION hazard. If the baby is too low in the carrier and their face is pressed against the parent’s body or clothing, they might die.

The other parts of this warning label are just ridiculous. Essentially, if you follow them to the letter, you are basically asking that only trees, street lamps on poles and other inflexible objects wear the baby. And given they ask all the zippers be closed, essentially they are inadvertently saying that the base never be used separately from the rest of the carrier. It’s all rather incoherent and this is where you need to step in to intepret and explain this to your client. Once again, the important thing is to use your judgment as a babywearing consultant and have the parent put the child in the carrier. Assess:

  • The size of the child. If the child is too small, then this carrier cannot be used until they are older.
  • The stability of the carrier: Can it adjust tightly to the wearers waist? Important to look at since the hipseat is inflexible and hard plus not everyone is really good at attaching velcro waists securely enough.
  • What happens when the parent moves or bends over with the baby in the carrier? Is the carrier nice and tight around the child, does the baby slip around? If the answer is yes to any of those, and this is the ONLY carrier the parents own, emphasize the part on the label that states you should put an arm around the baby. Otherwise, if they have the means, or another carrier, talk about waiting until the baby can grow into it.

Is this a carrier I would choose for myself? No, probably not. But that’s not the point of being a babywearing consultant – it’s not about what I would chose. Your first goal should always be about supporting parents to babywear as safely as possible with what they have. The only real dangers are:

  • Baby too small and will fall through the leg openings.
  • Baby too short and is not visible.
  • Baby is improperly supported and if you are inattentive, the back and neck will slump and the baby’s airway will compress. And let’s face it, we get busy as parents and distracted. So airway compression is important.

After an assessment, if the carrier is truly dangerous – at this point, you need to be compassionate, listen to their story, and tell them the truth.

“It’s really nice to have gotten a great gift from your parents so that you know your baby is cared both by them and by you. But you can’t use this (right now /ever) because your baby is (choose one of the above).”

 

    

Débora Rodrigues has been teaching babywearing since August 2008. The Hippychick is part of her rental collection which is available to those living her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario.

Sunmi and I originally met October 15, 2016, and we spoke for about four hours. The first article is called Growing up Korean which was followed by Babywearing Redux. The next article about Sunmi’s journey is called Becoming Canadian, where she shares how she moved to Canada and then stayed.

___________
Footnotes:
1. Hippychicks are still available for sale in the U.K. and can be seen on their website. I scored mine at a community garage sale here in town. ↩
2. Here is a Korean blog discussing the major hipseat brands available there. I always find it interesting to see how these things are sold in other countries, using marketing that just wouldn’t work for a Canadian or Western market. If you scroll down, you too can also have a giggle at their claims of how a hard seat with narrow leg openings supports the M-position. The MATH is just wrong people. ↩
3. Check out the KOREAN Lillebaby website, Pognae’s website and the Ergo Baby website. You will need to use a translation tool to understand it.↩
4. Baby Bjorn carriers were recalled in 1999. Recall is archived here on Health Canada’s website.↩

Keep the wrap

We had a really rough week in babywearing, around the name of a wrap, around the design of a particular brand that they’ve carried and that I own. I’m calling it – it’s a hot mess. I found the pace of this conversation concussive, the need to know what your thoughts are right now, to decide right now, act today, go go go go. I can’t do this without reflection, and so I have reflected.

I need to make space for all the hearts I heard this week.

What is the concept of making space? This is the best description I’ve heard, offered by American Melissa Nightingale on her first maternity leave here in Canada:

“Canadians have an expression that I didn’t know until I got here. They talk about “making space”. And it took me awhile to get the hang of it but it’s basically leaving conversational room for the other person to express their ideas, to dissent, to disagree.”1

I’m making space for the things I wish had happened in this debate.

GRACE

“This situation is deplorable. I have a quick tip for you. If you’re defending the oppressed POC by oppressing another POC, you’re doing it wrong.” — F.L.

The level of assholery heard on the internet during this entire discussion was unbelievable. I witnessed people:

  • Issuing vile insults.
  • Talking over each other.
  • Engaging in cultural insensitivity on all sides.
  • Ignoring or outright denying someone’s personal experience.
  • Tracking people down and targetting them for the wraps they own.
  • Abusing others.
  • Being outright racists.
  • And worse of all, issuing death threats.

There was very little grace in this discussion. My foremost recommendation in any sensitive discussion of this nature is for civility.

LISTENING

We must listen to all the voices.

Cynthia Soliz:
“If I had to pick a single word from my childhood that meant ugly, uncivilized, unkempt, savage, or wrong, it was the word, “Indio.” Suddenly I had flashbacks to third-grade Cynthia who was trying on dance shoes and her dance teacher said loudly and to the class, “Si tienes pata de Indio, estos zapatos no te van a quedar y podemos ordenar otros.” (If you have Indio paws for feet, these [fine] shoes won’t fit you, but we have others we can order.)  […]

    • When you don’t put make up on?  Cara de Indio. (Indio face)
    • If you spend too much time in the sun (getting darker)? Color Indio (Indio color)
    • Don’t use your table manners? Comer como Indio (Eating like an Indio)
    • Being loud and boisterous? Portandote Indio (Act like an Indio)”2

Angélica de la Cruz:
“I am Mexican and I have never felt offended by the word Indio (Even when it is not the right term- as from origin- since the correct would be Indigenous) whatsoever when someone says I am an India referring to my indigenous background, from that point of view… I am an “India.”  And guess what… I am proud to be!!! I am Mexican, indigenous background is my root!! When someone feels inspired by my culture I feel proud and honoured not stolen from. When someone brings so much passion and love to dedicate her life and company to a babywearing industry full of love and raising awareness for parents to have their babies in their arms I see just that: LOVE!!! How can something with so much meaning can be turned into a hate campaign??? Didymos spread the babywearing word to the world, many families are now carrying their babies close to their heart because of that and that is the important part of the equation. Why is anyone attacking someone when she is no longer here to express her idea? How can they speak about Mexicans when this was not started by one and is just now arriving to Mexico because of this campaign? We do not need strangers telling us how to feel…. Diamonds patterns have existed all over the world, the thread, the patterns, everything has been used all over… It is not a copy. I feel offended but by the recent description of the word Indio!!!! I wonder if they researched it in the dictionary?? It means nothing of what they describe. Those words are racist and offensive not reflective of Didymos’ pattern or name, not their design, not theway Didymos used and honoured the word for their inspiration!!! I do not see the mistake… I just do not feel offended nor stolen from.”

From Samantha Venn:
“Never a term of endearment. Misused. From The New Latino Studies Reader: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective By Ramon A. Gutierrez “There are, however, other racial categories and skin color referents invoked among ethnic Mexicans to mark other phenotypical distinctions made among them. Racial categories such as negro (black), Chino) (Chinese, or Asian more generally), and Indio (Indian) are widely used by ethnic Mexicans to designate individuals with African, Asian, or Indian phenotypical features. It was very common in the Southern California world in which I was raised to find individuals with strong African, Asian, or Indian features who were referred to in these terms. they were generally ranked below a mestizos (because they were less white) and place near the bottom of the racial hierarchy. But it is very clear that the most derisive term and devalued racial category invoked was the term Indio. It signified the very bottom tier of the Mexican gradational racial hierarchy.”

From Nancy Arlette Rodriguez Garìa:
“Sorry for my poor English but…I’m Mexican and I have felt honoured since I knew this beautiful design was INSPIRED by my Culture. Please, don’t let negative people destroy all the love that Didymos has created through your work. Please keep the name! I feel proud to be a reference in the babywearing world. I’m pretty sure that the Mexican moms that have an Indio like me, have never felt offended for the name. I’m sorry you are facing this disgusting campaign.”

From Allanna Robinson:
“I don’t doubt Erica Hoffman did think it was a term of endearment- there’s been a few people who’ve said their family uses it as an endearment, it’s very possible she met ONE person who she heard use it as an endearment, went back to Germany, and made her wrap without consulting anyone else.”

To me LISTENING is about hearing about all the familiar and unfamiliar things. The comfortable and the extremely uncomfortable. To not decide right away, to occasionally be at the consensus point, to give relationships, connections and experiences the time to evolve. Many have very negative experiences with the word Indio, it brings flashes of pain, experiences they should not revisit ever.

But not everyone’s experience with Indio is negative. Does that mean the name should have remained? Some Mexicans felt empowered by it and through this mess only one voice is being heard. I want a place where people can share their experiences. This was no debate in my mind’s eye, but one thing repeated over and over again. I have friends on both sides of this and I have been listening to all of them and it’s been hard as hell.

If someone tells me it means something particular to them, that is their truth. Can we not hold space to at least listen?  We NEED to listen, and respect the voices who live in Mexico and honour them in their place in this living active culture.

To my dear friends who felt empowered by this carrier, who felt valued. I understand, but too many were hurt by it and I am sorry that no one got a chance to hear you. There was a language barrier, there were many whose experiences were negative, this happened so quickly from your perspective that you also must still be reeling.

The word Indio has been sullied throughout this conversation. In the English language, its primary meaning is now only that of a racial slur, when it has much greater depth than that. It was also being used as a word of empowerment among some latino Americans to take back and undo the negative, this work has been put back years.3

However, this word has caused pain and since that pain needs to also be recognized, it must be changed.

CHANGE

This did happen. Didy apologized and the wrap now has a new name.

From the Didymos – Das Babytragetuch facebook page, published November 2, 2016:

“Dear online community,
We are writing to inform you all about a change that is happening here at DIDYMOS. We have thought long and hard, have researched extensively and as a result, are issuing the following statement.

It is a sad day when a term of endearment changes with the times to be used as a racial or derogatory slur. We at DIDYMOS have always known the word “Indio” as a term of endearment but since there is now a negative association with the word for some people, this offensive meaning is not in keeping with our company philosophy and the love we wish to spread. As a result, effective immediately, we have decided to move forward and substitute the name “Indio” for a new name. This new name will be announced soon.

The pattern itself was a labour of love from our company founder, mother and role model, Erika Hoffmann, whose life goal was for parents to keep their babies close. It is a montage of historical weaves inspired by the first shawl Mrs. Hoffmann was given by friends and by classic weaving patterns or European tradition. The final pattern was achieved through the collaborative efforts of Erika Hoffmann herself and the master weavers at the mill in Germany, almost 45 years ago, using the weaving techniques and technologies readily available at the time.

This change will take some time to put into effect but we are working hard on it all. We apologise to anyone who was hurt by our use of the word “Indio”. We very much would like to thank those who have been in close contact with us from all around the world, especially from within America, discussing this matter quite intently these past days and weeks.”

VALIDATION

This one is questionably the very hardest thing to do. To acknowledge and believe it when someone says this word was ugly to them. To believe when someone says, “I am proud to be Indio” and are complemented by the carrier.

Cristi Adams, an Aboriginal Canadian:

“Are you even a poc? As an aboriginal what I’m tired of is white social justice warriors speaking louder than the folks in question. Part of being an ally is not speaking louder than the people impacted. So sick of dealing with that as a POC who has run many, many anti racism and social justice boards.  To take over a fight that isn’t yours and run with it and be louder than those impacted and to tell the people impacted that they are wrong, that is not recognizing your own privilege either.  I’m aboriginal, and I’ve seen this time and time again. It is one thing to be supportive it is quite another to turn it into a situation that revolves around you. Good on Didy for recognizing the slur and changing the name. Good on Didy for being inspired, not stealing, and creating a beautiful wrap with input from the community.
—-Signed – an aboriginal with a didy wrap conversion, who loves that the babywearing community is about LOVE and beauty and not all this anger. Also part of a strong kick ass POC community who are more than capable of speaking for themselves.”

In Canada, we have a system of taking a very deep look at troubling issues that need to be explored, our beloved Royal Commissions, our Task Forces, our Inquiries. These investigations are a long, gory process that requires us to pull everything out into the open and we hear from every person affected on the issue. These investigations make us deeply uncomfortable, and they are supposed to. More than two decades ago, it started with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Then we had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Currently, we have the Inquiry into Murdered Missing Indigenous Women. Trust me when I say, the light these investigations shine into our world here in Canada is sometimes incredibly ugly. But it is important. For all the voices need to be heard.4

Through this process, we have learned how Canadian Indigenous people have had their culture suppressed, stolen, families broken, and belong to a system that ignores their voices. Most importantly of all, they have not been validated.

During the Babywearing in Canada Conference, we had the privilege of hearing from Stephanie George, an Aboriginal midwife and IBCLC. When asked by an audience member listening abroad in the United States, “What can we do?” her answer was this: “Ask them.”

Her answer was not to go in with a solution, not to talk for them, not to make the decisions on their behalf. Indigenous Peoples have had enough of others talking for them.

What have my Indigenous friends living in Mexico told me?

Directly from Angélica: “We do not need strangers telling us how to feel….”

They understand the origins of the wrap. They can talk about its weave, its similarities, its differences.

  • They feels Didymos’ company founder, Erika Hoffman, was inspired. They do not feel it was a copy.
  • They are happy their cultural traditions have found a foothold in the wider world.
  • They feel this is done from a place of love, to help parents carry their children.
  • They wanted the name to stay.
  • They want the wrap to continue to be sold.

My role in this as an ally? It is to stand by them. I’m keeping my Didymos wraps, what are you doing with yours?

_________________________
1. Melissa continues as follows: “As far as I know, Americans don’t have an equivalent cultural concept. As a group, we are quick to dissent, vocal when we disagree, and not shy about expressing ourselves.” Read the rest of her piece here.↩
2. Cynthia Soliz shared her experience here. ↩
3. More definitions for Indio here. ↩
4. More about Royal Commissions, and other Canadiana (including our quirks) located here.↩
5. All other quotes were pulled from the public Didymos announcement on their Facebook business page. See the post here↩
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Growing into babywearing – Jenna’s Journey

Babywearing is something that grows with each of us. Take Jenna Rolfe, when she was pregnant she first asked for a standard front pack baby webpic-beco-w-logancarrier as part of her registry. She’d seen wraps, but decided they were too complicated and weren’t for her. At the urging of her mother-in-law, Jenna was offered a BECO Gemini. Her mother-in-law had done quite a bit of research on babywearing and said, “You should consider it, it’s a fantastic choice.” It’s what led Jenna to love babywearing.  Now, she uses all types of carriers including wraps to carry her two children – Logan is 2.5 years old, and Mason 5 months.

How did you wear your first child?

I wore Logan facing in on the front, or in a hip carry and when my oldest was 6 months old, I started backwearing in an SSC. I wasn’t a big fan of ring slings with my first. I could never get the seat right, his feet would always turn purple. It was a mess.  I felt so stupid. I just felt dumb for not being able to use something that everyone hyped up. I kept being told how easy it was and amazing it is. And I just couldn’t get it. Sometimes, we all do suck. Suck so badly at times.

I started backwearing in a wrap when Logan was 10 months old. I started because I had inherited a travelling Uppymama. That was my intro to wrapping with wovens and I got hooked right away.webpic-cradle-mason

What is the difference in your baby carrying journey between your first child and your second? 

Nailed the ring sling!! But seriously, I’d have to say my confidence level. Like with my second, I’ve been confidently back wrapping him as of 3 months old. I had tried twice before being able to securely get him high enough. I know more, therefore know what carrier or carrying position is best for what daily activity. I have a two year old and I’m a stay at home mom. As much as I love front wearing for easy hands free breastfeeding I also need to be able to see my feet and get things done without a baby in front of me. I also found it much easier when doing groceries, baby on back, cart being pushed in the front. Babies want to be close, they want to be held and I found it hard to accomplish with a very busy toddler so back carrying really helps me be there for both my kids.

What carriers do you use now, compared to before? Do you have a favourite style? What are the advantages of your favourite carrier style?

webpic-mason-backwornI love my linen Soulsling. My ultimate favourite is my wrap conversion full buckle I had made for my toddler that I actually just put in a work order for my youngest now to have his own wrap conversion made for him. Wrapping a basic ruck with a woven is always my go to but the quick, easy and comfortable full buckle has me hooked.

What happened when you moved to a new city?

Moving was hard because I had just found my village back in Ottawa. Now I feel like I have nothing because it’s so different, the stay-at-homes are in their 30s to 40s and I feel like they don’t have respect for me because I planned on being a young mother. So babywearing is what helps me. It allows me to go out with both my kids, I get to be hands free for my toddler which helps a lot when you’re a mom who needs to go out. It has sparked conversations when out and about, pregnant women especially. A lot of people ask me about wrapping or when they see my intermediate size wrap conversion they are wowed at the fact my toddler loves it, even more so when they know how busy he normally is.

How has your parenting journey been defined by babywearing?web-picenjoying-outings

Babywearing has allowed me to find this community and village that I wouldn’t have known existed. I have made the bestest of mom friends, which we all know is so incredibly hard to do, based off the fact that we share a love for babywearing. I think that in itself has defined my parenting.

Jenna Rolfe currently lives in Montreal with her two sons and her spouse, Patrick Matthieu.

Backwearing – for all parents

webpic-jennarbackwear2

There has been a real change in the language around back carrying these past few years. It has now become normal to view it as dangerous and to be avoided until babies are at least six months old or are able to sit on their own.

It didn’t used to always be this way. And when I look at the overall history of babywearing, carrying your baby long term on the front is so rare, to the point where long-term front wearing is a modern invention. Backwearing is done successfully in many other cultures and babies start to be backcarried as young as 2-6 weeks of age on their mother’s back in various African nations, and in Asian cultures like Japan as of approximately four months of age.1

As Bisi Osundeko says in Joy and Joe’s Dear New Babywearer Book:
“The world is revolving, and many modern families live (in) areas where babywearing is not as dominant. I have heard several stories of people being accosted at car parks and shopping malls because they were attempting to do a back carry.”2

Brenda’s story here in Canada started much the same way:

“My back is so weak. I think I was ridden with guilt at wanting to back carry even though everything I read and everyone I spoke to said, “No way José.” I was supposed to want to front carry only so I could snuggle and love my small baby. Not want to shove him to the back and wear him like a backpack. But I wanted to take care of his needs and not be in pain. He needed to be held and I needed to not hate holding him because of the pain.”3

Parents who turn to backwearing in are often made to feel like:

  • They will kill their baby.
  • They are inferior parents.
  • They are not good enough, strong enough, or healthy enough to babywear.
  • Your baby’s needs are more important than yours – that of your body, of your living situation, of your life.
  • You do not have a normal family, and you don’t count.

Who exactly are we targeting with this language?

  • Solo parents, single parents.
  • Stay at home parents.
  • Parents with multiple children of varying ages.
  • Twin parents.
  • Parents of babies with disabilities.
  • Parents who are in pain.
  • Parents whose bodies are just a little bit different.

Shari’s story is a common one:

Stay-at-home mother“At around two months my big baby was now too heavy for the Moby and it hurt my back and it began to stretch out. So I began looking into other options, that’s how I found out about wraps, mei tai and eventually the woven ring sling. Of course soon he was much too long for a front carry, but then we just switched to a back carry and he could go anywhere with us. By the time I had my last baby, my middle was almost 2. My last baby seemed to be the neediest baby in the world and I was run ragged chasing a two year old around all day and nursing. This is where babywearing was a life saver! I was able to back carry my infant around the house while still being able to entertain a rambunctious toddler.”4

 

 

webpic-carolynmoffat1

Or how about this common parenting experience from Carolyn:

“As a sole parent to a clingy baby on the 98th percentile for weight, backwearing was the only way I could get things done. She was too heavy and bulky to wear on my front during chores, but on my back it was bearable. We indulged in front carries for short walks and bedtime cuddles.”5

Taking backwearing away as an option from parents based on fear is wrong.

 

What are the advantages of backwearing?

  • Safer footing for the parents. You can see where you are going and can avoid obstacles much more easily. Also, once the weather turns and you start having temperatures hit below zero. If you need to increase your traction, invest in some boot grips or retractable walking canes.
  • You can reach things more easily.
  • Protective of the parent’s back. The front part of your body is all soft tissue and does not have the advantage of the spine to help lock things into place. This means you are putting a lot of pressure on your shoulders, throwing your whole body out of alignment and aggravating injuries. I have seen women who would have abandoned babywearing had they not been able to backwear.
  • Can be used to accommodate almost any adult physiology as the baby can be worn high, on the mid or low back.
  • Enables parents to continue with proximal care.6
  • Allows parents to be responsive, active parents through what I like to call the communication loop – parents are able to hear, feel, respond do their baby’s needs because they are worn.
  • Easier to monitor your child when they are worn.
  • Improves and decreases stress and anxiety in both the parent and the child.
  • It is incredibly empowering.

Objections to babywearing are based on a lack of know-how and are not actually based on being able to accommodate baby’s physiological needs in a safe way.

As a babywearing educator, I feel it is my job to empower parents to backwear safely.

The argument that we frequently hear, that unless a baby is physiologically capable of holding up their own bodies, you should not backwear is utter claptrap. Because then what other choice are we left with? That babies should all be kept in some sort of basin and off the body. The only difference between wearing on the front versus the back is the “out of sight” aspect. Which can be accommodated for if taught properly.

What do you need to consider to backwear safely?

  • For a younger babe, a carrier should form and hug its body. It must hug its contours, leaving no gaps and be able to snugly hold the baby in place. This is to prevent the baby’s from collapsing forward.
  • You must be aware of your child and check in with them often. If you use a high back carry, this means having them against the skin at the base of your neck so you can feel their breath. It means stroking their feet taking advantage of the Babinski reflex.
  • The right kind of carrier or this stage of life. Carriers that work well for back wearing young babies form tightly to the body and include wraps (of all lengths), mei tais, onbuhimos, and podaegis.
  • Structured carriers as they are not easily customizable. Wait until your baby is tall enough.
  • Have someone experienced. Experience is defined in hands on hours and in years of helping parents with this skill.
  • Have a spotter.
  • Practice awareness. Quiet all the noise around you and focus on your child: Can you feel their body moving with their breath? Can you feel them moving? The more you practice, the better you will get.
  • Stroke the bottom of their feet. If they react, you are okay.
  • Take advantage of any reflective surface to check in regularly with your baby, or buy a retractable mirror to help you peek at your beautiful squish. Or use the selfie mode on your smartphone.

We, as a culture, are still learning to become babywearing masters and being new to babywearing makes it okay to be hesitant about backwearing your baby. But to say that it cannot be done, or should not be done is entirely false. Go to a babywearing group meeting, watch videos, get expert help.

 

webpic-brendalavallee1What did Brenda do, given her history of back injury?  “I wore my 4 month old on my back when he reached almost 20 lbs because I found a babywearing group leader that was willing to teach me how to do it safely and I remember crying in joy that in could still wear and be pain free.”

Let’s follow Bisi’s advice. She believes “that we as a community need to uphold each other at all times because some new babywearers need this the most.”

 

 

 

 

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Footnotes
1. The History of Onbuhimo, Masayo Sonoda, PhD↩
2. Joy and Joe’s book↩
3. Brenda Duke is a teacher on her maternity leave, she has two boys.↩
4. Shari Rozon is a stay-at-home mother, she has three boys.↩
5. Carolyn Moffat is a midwife and sole parent two girls. A sole parent is when there is only one parent in the family.↩
6. Proximal care is when parents chose to hold their babies a fair amount of time, and to respond immediately to their needs.↩

Benefits of babywearing – Communication

Sewfunky Medallion Trim on Jet Black Ring Sling (#SF008)
There are many benefits to babywearing, but some of my favourites are the ones that arise from the natural symbiosis of the proximity effect. Speaking earlier is usually mentioned as one of the benefits of babywearing, because your child is in close contact with you and can see everyone’s lips.

I like to change this to reflect what is really happening from day one, that the true benefit of babywearing is increased communication between parent and child. When you wear a child, not only are you that much closer to hear their cues, but they also learn how you move through and interact with the world, even right down to the simple act of breathing. How do you breathe? When do you hold your breath? How do you exhale? When do you exhale — when you are at rest, when you are excited, when you are walking, when you are talking to others? All this is part of communication.

The really cool thing about being a parent is seeing which things your baby picks up from each parent. I see this very clearly in my own children. And to think that it all started with babywearing.

So share a breath with your child and babywear today.

Easy Peasy slip knot

Slip knots can really make wraps shine by increasing their adjustability.  Here is an early video of mine showing how to make one quickly and easily.

I teach locally in Ottawa through Crown of Dreams. Wrapping courses available year ’round and upon request.

At your wit’s end with a crying baby

First article in the series: Tackling the myth

You’ve tried absolutely everything.  You’ve checked the bum, the clothes, tried to feed them, burp them, checked to see if they are too hot, too cold, too something… and you just CAN’T figure it out.  And the crying seems to never end, it’s been going on for days and you are just so damn tired.  You are at the point of no return, ready to step off that plank and into the deepest part of the ocean because you feel like taking one step more would break you.

Then to top it off, you’ve tried one baby carrier, two, three.  Heck you’ve tried so many, that you feel you could write a Dr. Seuss book that goes something like one sling, two slings, red sling, blue sling. If you have gone down that list of things that might be wrong backwards, forwards, and sideways, and they are still crying, it is not your fault.

Some babies just cry more than others. Take a deep BREATH.  Because when you have a baby that’s been crying, crying, crying, and you can’t solve the issue right here, right now, it’s time to focus on YOU.  It’s time to take care of yourself.

REMEMBER who you are.  We all had likes and dislikes before becoming parents, ways that we used to successfully cope with stress and it’s time to pull some of those out of your hat.  Maybe you like music.  Who cares if it’s suitable for children, if you like it, if you will be happy listening to it – for a song, for three songs, heck for the entire collection, then do it.

Get out of the house.  When you feel overwhelmed and stuck, when things feel so big, start moving.  Try mommy & parenting groups.  If they aren’t your thing, join a walking club, get in the car for a drive, take a bus ride, slap on your headphones and go for a walk (walks are nicer if you can’t hear the crying as much).

Reach out.  Go down your entire contact list, go down your entire friends list and start messaging all of them. Heck, tell them all the same story – they aren’t going to be comparing notes.  And if you feel like you’re being a pain, then BE A PAIN. Invite them over, ask them to take the baby for an hour or two, get your partner involved while you go for a walk on your own.

GET help. None of us can move through life alone.

Especially if you are feeling so frustrated that you want to just shake that baby, or completely shut down and leave it in another room.  Your goal right now is just to find a way through this moment.  Get the help you need to move from this moment, to the next moment, and to the one beyond that. Find out what you need. Take care of yourself. DO whatever you need to do to find your equilibrium.

And pretty soon you’ll be saying, “Hey, look at me. I coped.”

Baby carriers are just a tool.  There’s no magic in them and they won’t solve anything in and of themselves.  But if you can move through one moment to the next, pretty soon you too will have your magical unicorn pixie dust shot.

 

Tackling the myth – babies will cry even if worn

Unhappy baby

We’ve all seen the pictures, and we’ve all heard the stories about the mothers who have finally found THE CARRIER.  You know the one, the one that guarantees that your child will fall asleep… because it has been blessed by magical pixies sprinkling dust as they race across swards and green fields on unicorns.  It makes you wonder, well, why does my child cry?  Why is my child not sleeping?  Where is my blessed (*&#%$^) sparkly dust?

And isn’t that just the thing that every single children’s product would like you to believe they can do?  Make your child stop crying?  Have you seen the diaper commercials – those slay me.  There is the child lying peacefully in its crib, mobile spinning gently, in a light shirt, wearing a disposable diaper.  I used cloth, so I never had disposables in the house.  Making me wonder if I missed out on something good – what is in that plastic? WHAT IS IN THAT PLASTIC?  (Seriously, should I be slapping one of those somewhere on my body and sit back and dream of Genie?)

The truth of the matter is that crying is normal.  All babies do it.  It is the only way they have to let you know that something is making them uncomfortable, that something needs changing, that maybe they are hungry, have a dirty bum, are gassy, are too hot, too cold, too something.

Babywearing is great because the proximity effect increases and improves communication between parent and child.  It does not erase crying.  There are some nights you will go down your check list and you will find what is bothering your child immediately.  Other nights, you will try things a million ways and still have a crying child on your hands.  And that is okay.  You are learning each other, you are becoming in-tune with your baby’s needs, and just as friendship between adults isn’t an instantaneous process, neither is the relationship you will develop between you and your child.

Plus, then there’s just the plain truth of the matter – some babies just cry more than others.

Next in the series.