Category Archive Featured

Summer Babywearing Tips

Summer is here, heat warnings are on the horizon, or maybe already on your weather forecast for today. You have a hot sticky situation and a baby to carry, or even a toddler who just WON’T stop treating you as their favourite climbing gymn, what is a parent supposed to do?

How can you stay cool in the hot summer months while wearing your baby or toddler?

There are somethings you can do that will make a difference, but you need to keep things in perspective. Your hot body, squashed up against the little heat sinks that are our children, well, there’s only so much relief you can expect. A baby, quite simply cannot adjust as well to the summer heat — they sweat less AND they generate more heat when they move.1 Normally, a mom’s body can act to thermoregulate your infant’s temperature if they are worn while touching your chest. You will sweat more as a result, but the reality is there’s only so much that you can do and that your body can do. Warm is warm and hot is hot. A thing also to watch out for is that a man’s body will overheat more easily than a woman’s.

And let’s be honest. There are adjustments we can make to keep cooler and comfortable while babywearing. But there are limits, when you babywear in hot weather, you must accept facts. Not a lot of carriers that will truly leave you feeling cool and breezy while carrying a child.

So I will tackle both carrying solutions and other options to stay as cool as possible.

What carriers can help?

The general rule of thumb is to use something that:

  • Is thinner.
  • Brings the sweat easier to the surface to promote wicking and evaporation.
  • Contains a venting panel.
  • Avoids using darker coloured fabric.

The style of carrier you use also has an impact. Let’s take a look!

Ring slings

These carriers are already relatively thin. They only require layer of fabric around a baby’s body, and even the thickest are made with natural fabrics. The thinner the fabric, the more able it is to capture the sweat, bring it to the surface so that it can dry in the heat of the day. They are a medium hard carrier to master and are great for quick ups and downs, transitioning to sleep and for exploring. There are even versions which are made of mesh or a swimsuit material to enable you to go wading without worrying about bleach damage from local park pool water. You can also use the tail of the sling as a head cover to protect your little one from the sun. Just remember to keep their face clear and in view!

The disadvantage, no matter which type you use is that they are an asymmetrical carrier. The weight is on one side of the body and pulls on a diagonal making ring slings a short term carrier for most parents. Short term carrying is usually defined as an hour or less.

Soft structured carriers, buckle carriers, mei tais / meh dais and onbuhimos

I am grouping these all together because they all use some sort of panel that holds the baby against the parent’s body. These carriers are automatically cooler than some other styles. They tend to have open sides, which allows for more airflow than a tightly wrapped child.

However, some brands can be made from thick canvas or synthetic materials which aren’t breathable. Choose one made with natural fibres that allow for “breathability,” such as a wrap conversion or a carrier made with natural cotton, linen or blend which automatically allows for more airflow and for the heat to dissipate from the body. Another thing is that many of these carriers also come in a summer version and have a cool weave mesh panel that allows the sweat to wick off your baby’s back. Some brands even have an all-seasons options, like the Lillebaby, with a panel that can be modified, allowing you to unzip it or remove it for summertime.

These carrier styles are among some of the easiest to master, but may not be suitable for every body type. Particularly the ones which are full-buckle.

Wraps

If you love wrapping, you’ll want to look for a wrap that is thin enough to be supportive, yet allows the sweat to come to the surface and dry off faster. If your child is small enough, a gauze wrap could do the trick. You might also consider trying different fabric blends like linen or hemp. But don’t always rely on the fibre content listed on the label: Do your research, as some of these wraps can be quite thick! So much so that a thin wool blend wrap can be a good option too, when compared to a very thick wrap.

When wrapping, I would also consider using different tying techniques. A carry with three passes (this is when the carrier is wrapped around the body three times) is too warm for a hot day. Consider trying out new wrapping techniques that rely on fewer passes. A supported ruck is always a favourite of mine on those sticky days.

We feel heat differently on different parts of our bodies, so use summer as a reason to switch things up. Change positions if you’re out for the day and find you’re getting too hot, or bring your partner along so you can take turns carrying.

Wraps have the highest learning curve, but also the greatest amount of adaptibility.

Staying safe in the heat!

Best time to take your littles outside?

It is not recommended to use sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age. Thankfully, the easiest way to avoid sunburn is prevention.

The sun is strongest between 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.2 One option is to limit your activities during peak hours, but this isn’t always a realistic option. Getting out of the house and enjoying what the community has to offer is part of what makes summer great. And it’s bigger than that, as parents know, baby doesn’t always accommodate leaving the house on a predetermined schedule – somedays it’s a get out when you can! Moreover, there’s nothing worse for baby blues or postpartum depression than feeling trapped and stuck inside your home. Getting out of the house, no matter the weather, can be one of the best things to help you enjoy your maternity or parental leave.

Thankfully, there are many things we can do to protect us during peak sun hours, go out and have fun.

What to wear?

I would recommend wide brimmed hats for both you and your little one. However, if you’re wearing baby on your back, check that the brim of your hat isn’t hitting your child in the face. Especially if you like to wear high on the back with a wrap or an onbuhimo.

If you have a baby who hates wearing hats, or just manages to get out of all of them, consider using a parasol. There’s nothing like a golf umbrella to provide you with a portable shade blanket as you enjoy a summer festival or garage sale.

Finally, take a good look at what both you and your child are wearing to head outside. Most carriers will provide coverage of the baby’s torso, so many of us use one piece baby suits or just take kids outside in their onesies. Which leaves only their legs and feet exposed. Consider using baby legs. Choose fibres that allow for the sweat to be wicked away on both your bodies.

How to cool down?

Generally

  • Place a cloth between you and your baby, it catches the sweat and is much more easily replaced and is more practical than constantly changing clothes.
  • Stop often to nurse or bottle feed your baby, smaller more frequent feedings are highly recommended. Hydration is important.
  • Get a portable personal fan, provided your arms are long enough to keep it out of baby’s reach while using it (backwearing rocks with this one).
  • Drinks plenty of fluids yourself, smaller more frequent quantities are best. Especially breastfeeding moms, you’re hydrating for two!

At home

  • Keep your window shades down and curtains closed to reduce the heating effect of the sun.
  • If you have air-conditioning, keep it no cooler than 24-26 degrees Celsius. This prevents the baby from going from one temperature extreme to another and helps with their thermoregulation.
  • Use fans to help circulate the air. For those with air-conditioning, a fan also reduces your electricity use and can save you quite a bit of money. If you have a toddler, keep them out of reach.
  • For those without air conditioning, keep the windows open.

Out of the house

  • Stick to walking in shady areas whenever possible, where there is a good breeze you can catch. A nice patio, a large beach parasol, a shady forest walk, or shady side of the street are all great options.
  • Goto air-conditioned places! Visit shops, go grocery shopping, malls and catch up on your chores.
  • Consider joining a walking group at your local mall. Even if they aren’t specifically for parents, it’s always nicer to walk with someone else and you can meet some of your neighbours that way.
  • Use a wide-brimmed hat or a parasol.

Warning for stroller use…

Putting your child into the stroller may be a great way to give each of you a chance to cool down, but please remember, placing a cloth over top of the stroller cuts air circulation and creates a heat sink. Temperatures can rise quickly to 30 degrees Celsius as is shown be experiments conducted in Sweden.3

Things to remember

  • Keep track of your baby’s diapers. A baby is well hydrated if they have six to eight wet diapers over a 24 hours period.
  • The pee should be a pale yellow. If it’s dark, increase their water or fluid intake.
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Water is best for keeping babies and toddlers well hydrated. Fruit juices, cocktails and pop are to be avoided.

And most importantly of all, enjoy summer!

 

I would like to extend a big thank you to all the families who provided me with their babywearing pictures.

  • Jacqueline Bradley, PEI. Jacqueline is an admin for the PEI Babywearing and attachment parenting facebook group.
  • Audrey La Duchesse Gingras, QC and ON.
  • Kendra Runions, ON. Kendra supports parents with feeding at Full Circle Feeding in Carleton Place, ON.
  • Amélie Longpré, QC. Amélie is an instructor from Drummondville QC and you can reach her here.
  • Ashley Saskiw, AB.
  • Lindsay Browns, AB.
  • Avril Blaine, BC.

 

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Footnotes
1. This webpage by the state of New South Wales in Australia is one of the most comprehensive out there on how to take care of yourself in the heat.
2. Caring for kids is the web portal for information to parents from the Canadian Pediatrics Society. They recommend staying in from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Read more of what they suggest here.
3. Read more about this experiment here.

Benefits of cycling for families

Getting out of the house and being able to do things can be so important after having a baby, even though some days it feels like it might be almost mission impossible.

Being stuck at home all day with a baby sucks, and if you’ve had a rough birth, if you’re really tired and sore, things can be even tougher. Because the longer you’re alone, the louder the crying and fussing may seem and the more you start to doubt yourself as a parent. Most parents handle maternity and parent leave alone, and the more you are alone, the more isolated you feel, the bigger and harder things will seem. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a real concern, with 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 10 men suffering from it in Canada. Any little thing we can do to make this period easier helps.1

Researchers at the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 studies and determined that exercise is often a great low impact way to prevent or reduce these feelings of depression. I love this quote from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK:

“We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate – but they aren’t. The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly – but it also works the other way. The state of your mind affects your body.”2

The reason I love cycling so much is because it can be adapted to any lifestyle, and you don’t need to be really good at it either, you can move faster than walking and go further distances with little trouble.

  • Not got the energy to do a long trip? Take a 15 minute ride to the store to pick up what you need.
  • Have to take your kids to school? Pop yourself and the kidlets on the bicycle and get them there.
  • Prefer cycling just on the weekends – what I call a Sunday bike rider?

I think cycling is a great way to get out of the house with a baby and young kids because it can be used just like walking – as you need it

Families who engage in what is known as “enriching activities” which includes outdoor activities experience diminished symptoms of PPD.3 Something you can do with the whole family is even better.4

Families that do things together, including exercise are happier. It is too easy to feel trapped by your obligations and the never ending list of things that absolutely need to be done. With a bike, taking the trip down to the local store can be an easy solution and much faster than loading up the car. By breaking up the chores into smaller ones especially outside of the winter season can make life so much better.5 Not only are you living by example, but everyone gets a nice little boost from doing it as well.

And we have such a fantastic network of biking trails through our city parks, alongside river paths and more. The Canada Trails website has a fantastic map and a resource list for each province. Pack a picnic basket, and just go. There’s nothing more lovely.

This is the third article in our cycling series. The first article called Cycling and babywearing – yes or no? In it, we discuss whether to babywearg on a bike and also includes extensive information on laws in Canada. The second article, called But what about Europe – babywearing and cycling abroad, acknowledges that other cultures do wear while cycling and also includes extensive quotes from my European babywearing colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Footnotes
1. This is an indepth report for Public Health Ontario on Perinatal Depression by Cindy-Lee Dennis, a professor at the University of Toronto.

For more information on Canadian resources visit Postpartum.org. Though they are located in BC, the have lists of Canadian resources.

2. Researchers from the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 trials including 1,734 women. Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concludes that exercise – either in group sessions, individually or when added to other interventions – is effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms. More information can be found in this article published in the Telegraph August 29, 2017. The authors wrote: “UK clinical guidance recommends psychological therapy and antidepressants for postnatal depression. However, women can be reluctant to take antidepressants postnatally and the availability of psychological therapies is often limited.

“Given the high prevalence of postpartum depression and the potential for exercise to be a low-cost, freely available intervention, aerobic exercise should be considered as a management option for postpartum women with depressive symptoms and as a potential preventative measure more generally in postpartum women.”

Here is a link to another study which shows exercise has some impact on PPD.

3. Other ways to reduce PPD are listed on slide number 9 and cite information from studies by Zajicek -Farber 2009 and Cadzow et all 1999.

4. Cycling rules and why you shouldn’t cycle and babywear.

5. This article from the Royal College of psychiatrists in Britain talks about the benefits of exercise for those who suffer from depression.

Article on family exercise with CNN.

Information on children’s mental health by the Centre of Disease Control in the United States.

Moncton Babywearing Group: Best Babywearing Group in Canada 2018

With only a small handful of days to vote, Canadians were enthusiastic. Congratulations Moncton Babywearing Group, you won the Best Babywearing Group in Canada for 2018. I recommend reading the rest of the nominations, we have some great groups run by some fabulous volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

Moncton Babywearing Group

  • They are a fantastic resource helping so many of us with fit on our current carriers, networking babywearing mum’s through the Facebook group & local meetups, trying out a variety of different carriers before purchasing.
  • They helped me learn how to properly use a ssc at a group meeting. And they also have helped guide me / answered my questions in regards to purchasing a different type of carrier. I greatly appreciate the education and support that they provide as I would of otherwise shyed away from babywearing.
  • Wonderful resource for all things babywearing! They also have an awesome lending library. Lots of tips and instruction on different carriers, plus information on how to safely wear baby. I bought both carriers I own now due to the discussions in the group.

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Windsor Babywearing group

  • This is such an amazing and supportive group run by local moms who manage the online group, schedule babywearing play dates and also offer a lending library on their own time. I like the playdates, it’s where you can meet up with other like minded moms to try on various different carriers and learn what may work best for you. They also do one on one learning sessions as well. I love this group.
  • They provide so much knowledge and information regarding so many carriers and they take so much time out of their lives to run this group. When I joined, I quickly learned how inviting and generous this group is. Such a nice community.
  • They are so great!!! They have the best babywearing moms and we are so lucky have such a great babywearing community here in Windsor.

 

Ottawa Babywearing Group – Under Wraps

  • I joined OBG Under Wraps group about a couple of years ago, it was formed by many enthusiasts who enjoy using woven wraps to carry their children. It has been my to go group if I ever have any questions about wraps bst, wrap techniques, or just simply to show off my new wraps. The members in the group are extremely friendly and positive, no one talks about controversial topics, no triggering posts. It’s truly a sanctuary for people like me who just want to learn more about woven wraps, admire beautiful pictures of parents wearing their littles.
  • Couple years ago, the babywearing community had many dramas going around and I honestly stopped enjoying being in the community as much, but since joining Under Wraps, the joy has returned. Even its parent group has been quite peaceful. The groups admins really work hard to make sure people are here to discuss and share babywearing knowledge in a safe space. My babywearing days are coming to an end very quickly as my youngest is already 2, I hope for the next couple years this group continues to grow peacefully.
  • I have always been a part of the main Ottawa Babywearing Group, but to me Under Wraps is special.  It is a smaller community, I feel like I know all of them and they are my go to place for many things — be it quick questions, commiserating and sharing parental woes, and enjoying everyone’s squish pics. In this group, there’s always someone happy to answer questions and share experiences. It’s a great group of moms and dads.

 

Winnipeg Babywearers

  • The Winnipeg Babywearers has an active Facebook group of four thousand where members can access peer to peer support. Leaders are great at directing parents to current information and supporting all their members. They run two monthly meetings where anyone can access in person help, which includes trying carriers from their extensive lending library.
  • The group has been meeting for over 15 years. Many leaders donate years of service providing a strong foundation for the group. Leaders are so helpful and kind, they work to make you comfortable and successful.
  • The Winnipeg Babywearers were instrumental in helping me feel successful with babywearing. The in person help was so important to me and taught me so much more than anything I was learning online. It was so helpful to be able to try carriers before committing to a purchase. I went in thinking I would hate a ring sling thanks to the group I discovered how to use them to their full advantage. Now 7 years later they are still my favourite carrier.

 

 

ACE Wrapping: Best babywearing blogger in Canada 2018

Congratulations Asia from ACE Wrapping on winning the Best babywearing blogger in Canada for 2018.

 

ACE Wrapping

Blogger’s name: Asia
Youtube channel
ACE wrapping art facebook page.
Helps admin Fancy Finishes facebook group.

 

 

  • Asia is the face of fancy finishes with woven wraps. Not only does she help admin a Fancy Finishes facebook group, she also regularly contributes to other groups such as including Geeky Wrappers. This is where I met her.
  • I find Asia to be very approachable, kind, down-to-earth and helpful when sharing her tips and techniques.
  • I love how she is so creative in combining different elements of wrapping into seamless and safe carries. I feel like she has invigorated my wrapping skills and I think she would be a wonderful face for the best Canadian wrapping video blogger. 🙂

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Take the time to read all our nominations. They show a level of thankfulness for those who work hard to help parents online. There weren’t as many nominations for this category, making me wonder if as Canadians we focus less on our nationality and more on what we can do to help parents. I appreciate anyone who works hard to help parents in our communities.

 

Momma Luvz

Blogger’s name: Teresa
Website Momma Luvz Blog
Momma Luvz facebook page.
Youtube channel.
Instagram: @Mommaluvzblog

  • I have been following Teresa since my first son was born. I love how she breaks down each carry and includes tips for seat poppers. Her website is easy to follow with different sections, and she even offers in person help. I wish I was closer to meet her in person. She has been amazing to follow.
  • She also blogs about a wide range of topics, even has a playdough recipe which was a hit with my toddler! I love her.
  • I find her videos easy to follow along with and I like the little bits of text she uses to get our attention about what we should watch out for.

Close to the Heart: Best babywearing store in Canada 2018

Votes are in! A huge congratulations to Close to the Heart, this year’s best babywearing store in Canada.

Close to the heart

Owner: Larissa
Business website: Close to the Heart
Facebook page.
Instagram: @Closetotheheart.shop

 

 

 

  • I honestly didn’t know much of anything about babywearing before Larissa. She was there to offer me any information on many different brands and answered all the questions I had! I’ve been carrying my daughter for 16 months now thanks to Larissa and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Larissa is such a kind person, always there to help anyone out. She’s has monthly meet ups locally with other parents in the area where they can try carriers and share information. Larissa is also a single mother of two, running her own amazing business carrying handmade baby products too, not just baby carriers. She’s an amazing educator and even more amazing lady.
  • Larissa helped me chose the right kind of carrier for my baby and myself. She is dedicated to educating on babywearing and has a lending library to test and try out products or lend a hand
  • Larissa is hard working and believes wholeheartedly in baby wearing. Helped me with fitting my carrier correctly. She is very devoted and knows her product. One of the most amazing knowledgeable babywearing educators in the area!

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Our small and medium-size stores build community in Canada, and are usually the first point of contact for many looking to purchase or to get help with a baby carrier. This was evident because this category received the second highest number of nominations. Canadians are passionately grateful to the stores who help them in their babywearing journey. Please, read the entries below. TO all the store owners, thank you for all you do.

 

Birdie’s Room

Owner: Barb
Business website: Birdie’s Room
Facebook page. Birdie’s Room Chit Chat facebook group.
Instagram: @BirdiesRoom

  • Where do I even begin. She’s built our group lending library, gives us with space for our babywearing group meetings, offers local discounts, lets people borrow before they buy. There is no end to the support she provides to the local babywearing community. Last but not least sponsored me to go to Canadien babywearing school.
  • Barb from Birdie’s room has started me on my Babywearing journey 4 years ago.  She has worked tirelessly to bring babywearing to parents across the world, and shown countless people the joys of babywearing. She has been so generous with our local Babywearing group, as well as other deserving organizations, including the Carrying On Project. She always operates her business with the most admirable professionalism, and thoughtful care, in everything she does. She’s not only an excellent business owner, but an excellent person, inside and out.
  • She’s been such a great help to our whole community of babyweareres. Providing knowledge, time, help, support and overall a rock for the babywearing people!

 

Hugs and Cuddles

Owner: Kerri
Business website: Hugs and Cuddles
Facebook page. Hug and Cuddles Babywearing Chatter facebook group.
Instagram: @Hugsandcuddles

  • I first met Kerri Devine at the peach festival 2 yrs ago. I had just purchased a second hand mei dai and was having trouble with it, I had asked for help at another store previously and they had half-heartedly offered me advice, then informed me that I could book a consultation. So when I met Kerri, she helped me, and was so kind to me. And since has helped me with all of my babywearing purchases. She’s kind and really knows her stuff. I recommend her to everyone and try and stop and say hi to her when ever out and about at shows and whatnot.
  • Kerri is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. She takes as much time as needed for one to find the carrier that is right for mom and babe. She this all and does not pressure the buyer into making a purchase. Overall, she is very kind and easy to work with.
  • Kerri is so smart and informative. She makes sure that you leave with product that is best suited for you. She’s always quick to answer questions. Not only that, but she also comes out to meetings to help local Mama’s. She’s so passionate.

 

Snips and snails

Owner: Karen
Business website: Snips and snails baby
Facebook page. The Snail Shell facebook group.
Instagram: @Snipsandsnailsbaby

  • Karen from Snips and Snails is so kind and helpful, answers all the questions, helps get the right style and fit to beat suit your needs. There’s so many variables most people aren’t aware of when you first start out and when you dive down the rabbithole of babywearing.
  • Karen has been fantastic for all our babywearing needs. She has been quick to answer any questions we may have and helped us find what will fit our baby. She has always gone above and beyond to ensure the best selection is available and to ensure we receive our orders and items in a quick fashion. She is a great mom and business owner to buy from and speak with. She is fantastic and I have referred others to her as well and will continue to purchase from Karen in the future.
  • They make shopping for anything so easy. She helped me pick out a carrier for my toddler that I can also use with baby #2 and is even going to fit it for me and teach me how to use it. She set up a payment plan for me too! Snips and Snails is the best place to go to! Karen is amazing, because she engages with customers online a lot. She herself participates in various online babywearing groups, and is always ready to help or give feedback.

Honourable mention

Carry me mommy

Owner: Jessica
Business website: Carry Me Mommy
Facebook page.
Instagram: @Carrymemommy

  • Jessica, the owner, is incredibly helpful in answering any and all questions I have. Her shipping is fast. She also has a very generous payment plan option, making high quality carriers accessible for nearly everyone.

 

Emporte-Moi: Best Babywearing Educator in Canada 2018

A huge thank you to everyone who works helping parents in their communities. I am very pleased to announce this year’s Best Babywearing Educator is Mai-Anh from Emporte-Moi. Congratulations!!

Emporte Moi

Educator: Mai-Anh
Webpage: Emporte-Moi
Facebook: Mamasupial Montreal

 

 

 

  • I have a feeling I only know a small amount of what Mai does. I know she has her own business and babywearing group, but I don’t know her through her local efforts. She started a private babywearing group for mothers interested in babywearing that are also physicians. This has connected mothers who will learn about babywearing themselves but also share with their patients.
  • This is a very active group with over 3300 members and Mai has worked over many years, building up valuable FAQ resources to share and educate from the best babywearing practices) – ie. water safety, babywearing preterm infants, etc. I am also an admin within this group, along with a handful of other educators, but she should be commended for her continued passion and support for fostering new babywearers and helping experienced ones as well.
  • Mai answers nearly every question within her groups, which is impressive considering she is also a physician herself with a busy schedule. She is also fully bilingual.

 

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Educators who also work really hard to support parents in their communities. Thank you for all the work you do.

Little Hands and Me Parenting Network

Educator: Tanya
Webpage: Little Hands and Me
Facebook: LittlehandsandMeParentingNetwork

  • Tanya is the most patient and kind person I have ever met, no question is too small or stupid. She helps you understand how you should carry your baby securely for both yourself and your child. She takes the time to explain why it is important, and focuses on the safety and comfort of both the person carrying and the child being carried while working with what you have. I truly do not have enough words to say how wonderful Tanya is. On a side note, she has helped so much with my mental health after having a baby, and for that I will be forever grateful. She would be a very worthy recipient of any award for helping mothers.
  • Tanya is an amazing person, with such dedication, commitment and passion for what she does regarding early child education and parenting. She works hard in her community to offer wonderful programs that support parenting and child communication, amongst an array of other education efforts. Her dedication and effort really shows an amazing talent and is well appreciated by all the people who participate in her classes.
  • Tanya is tireless in her effort working with families in the Saskatoon area providing valuable information related to feeding baby, safety, and connecting during the early informative years. Not only has she helped others but remains open minded and searching for new material, courses to always improve upon her knowledge base. She has an interest and is certified in positive discipline which i feel is especially important is creating ” conscious” adults of the future!

 

Porter la Vie

Educator: Janie
Webpage: Porter la Vie
Facebook: Projet.Porterlavie

  • Janie s’implique énormément dans le domaine du portage au Québec. En plus de son école qui forme des monitrices et aux parents. En plus, elle offre ces formations dans les deux langues officielles. Elle travail dans ce domain dès 2007. ENGLISH: Janie is very involved in babywearing in Quebec and started her school in 2007. Her school trains professionals, yet Janie also continues to work with parents in supporting them in their babywearing journey. Her courses are offered in English and French as she is fully bilingual.
  • Elle nous transmet les nouvelles informations dans le domaine et partage ce qu’elle apprend dans ces voyages. Recemment elle vient d’aller à Rome pour la première conférence en portage Italienne (1 convegno italiano sul babywearing). ENGLISH: She works to ensure we receive the latest informations in the field of babywearing and including what she learns in her travels. She recently went to Rome to present as part of their first babywearing conference.
  • Établissement de l’Institut National du portage des enfants. Le bût serait de combler des études dans le portage. ENGLISH: She is working with a group to establish the Institute National du portage des enfants. The goal would be to support the expansion of babywearing including studies.

 

Raising a Little

Educator: Lindsay
Webpage: Raising a little
Facebook: Raisingalittle

  • Lindsay is awesome and always willing to help. Whether it be answering questions in person or via social media, adjusting carriers or just being a listening ear. Lindsay has helped me adjust my carrier on many occasions. She loves what she does and doesn’t ask for anything in return.
  • Lindsay is an amazing person. So personable and truely cares about other people, parents, children and their wellbeing. She is so easy to talk to and has so much knowledge. Lindsay has grown her business so much over the past year because of how honest she is.
  • Lindsay helped me by finding the right carrier for my son and I. She made sure I knew how to use it properly and even came to my house to make things easier for me. She deserves to be nominated because she works hard and strives to make her customers happy. She is super friendly and knowledgeable about what she does!
  • Lindsay helped me find the right carrier for my little, my 6’2” husband and my 5’2” self! Our little is only 8lbs and is curious about the world. We need a carrier safe for now and down the road that she could safely view the world around her.

Honourable mention

Educator: Cindy
Works for: Birdie’s Room
Babywearing group member / support: Halton-Peel Babywearers! and Mississauga Babywearing Community

  • I first met Cindy on one of the many babywearing playdates she organizes along with babywearing hikes. Her kindness and encouragement helped me, along with anyone new to babywearing, feel comfortable and at ease.
  • She’s always willing to go above and beyond with answering questions or giving tips and advice, often on her own time (outside of “business hours”).
  • I think she derserves to be recognized for the amazing person she is and the wonderful job that she does.

 

But what about Europe – babywearing and cycling abroad

Let’s not pretend we’ve never seen people cycling while babywearing in other countries. Because we have, especially if you have friends from the Netherlands, China, African countries or from other countries.

Are our perceptions accurate, are they really radical in Europe? We often see large promotions from both Denmark and the Netherlands about how great their biking infrastructure is such that I know that what these countries do is used to determine what might work here. 1

Needless to say, Canada does not have a biking culture, nor are we a small country like those in Europe whose winter conditions are basically NIL compared to ours.

So what is a biking culture? We have people who cycle, and cycle extensively, what do you mean we don’t have a biking culture? What are we lacking?

Proper and extensive bike lanes. The thing that keeps cyclists safe above all others is to separate cycling traffic from other vehicles. Bike lanes in all the cities I’ve been to in Canada are either non-existent, leaving you to share the road and they are non-continuous if they do exist. Our bike lanes often do not continue from one road to another. We even have some really weird examples in my home town, where a lane will go for two or three blocks, then disappear. It’s the most useless thing ever. A concrete example of this can be found in in this CBC article that shows the gaps in the urban cycling infrastructure in Ottawa .

Another thing that’s important in a cycling culture, are drivers who are used to having cyclists everywhere. And this is important. Cyclists are fast, they honestly don’t understand the blind spots a driver has, and they don’t behave like cars do. There is also no licensing or training requirements for cyclists, which means the onus is on the drivers. Our drivers simply aren’t used to keeping an eye out because cyclists aren’t a regular part of our everyday driving experience. In the Netherlands, drivers are trained to watch for cyclists. There’s even a campaign, videos and website to teach people about the Dutch reach, a technique of using the hand opposite the driver’s door to get out. It forces you to twist your body to see what’s coming up beside the car to prevent dooring, when a car door opens and knocks a cyclist down. It is taught in drivers tests in the Netherlands.2 See the video below.

But do Europeans really cycle while carrying children?

Some do. Some don’t. I have an extensive international network, so I asked some of my friends to help me out.

In Germany, Laura Dingel who works as a babywearing consultant in Munich, told me the following. Babywearing while cycling is not illegal, it is a gap in the law. In Germany, it is recommended that children wear a helmet, and the Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad Club (ADFC – in English, General German Bicycle Club) writes that parents are liable if they use a baby carrier on the bicycle and they might be subject to a fine if it is deemed dangerous. 3  Also, as a babywearing consultant Laura doesn’t recommend any activities where you can fall from a certain height or others can crash into you while babywearing.

Laura goes on to say, “That’s common sense in the German Babywearing scene. If you do so, it’s your own responsibility and you know it’s potentially dangerous.”

In speaking to Katie Nicolai, who works at Bindung trägt and also runs the babywearing group Tragegruppe Oberhausen, she explained to me that the fine for being caught cycling and babywearing is rather small, the charge is only 5 Euros. Moreover, it is rare to see someone be fined. Therefore, does not act as much of a deterrent.4

And I know that some Germans do babywear and cycle in Germany because I found this babywearing shell for cycling had been designed. Full information can be seen here.5

But this design was heavily criticised and it is fair to say that many Germans would be against babywearing on a bike. Most choose to use a bike trailer or bike seat.

And what about Scandinavians?

Amalie Apitzsch, admin for the large Danish babywearing group Slyngegalleriet and one of the planners of the Dansk Baerefestival told me this:

There are no explicit laws against babywearing while biking in Denmark, but there are general laws describing how to transport younger kids. The laws translates like this:

It is Article 25 of the cycling order that states:

  • PCS. 1. Bicycles may not carry more people than they are intended for. Children not older than 7 years must only be taken on the bike when special seating is provided for them.
  • PCS. 2. Special seating for children must be adapted to the weight and height of the child and there must be a guard against the wheels.
  • PCS. 3. Children who are taken by bicycle must be properly tied to their seat.

Essentially, they do not promote it in the Danish babywearing group for these reasons.

MariLaura Sjalig, a long time babywearing consultant from Norway, has this to say:

“It is not recommended in Norway. For children over 8 month’s that can sit in a bike seat, it is not illegal, but you are responsible if anything happens. In my opinion, though you change the center of gravity and the steering of the bike alot more in using a bike seat than if you have the babe in a carrier when biking. But we can still ski and babywear though. We have used bike seats for at least 50 years, so their use is culturally ingrained.”

It is not hard to find evidence of cycling and carrying on the internet. Googling and searching in Pinterest pulls up more than a few examples. But when you look deeper, many of the links are dead ends. I tend to think one of two things when I see this, perhaps the parents aged out of babywearing and they took their pictures down, or that they were possibly pressured into taking them down. Discussions of cycling and babywearing do happen regularly enough on Dutch babywearing groups like Draagpraat on Facebook.

The discussions in the Netherlands on whether to cycle while carrying can get a little hot and heavy. The focus can be on accessibility. Many do not have driver’s licenses in the Netherlands, and taking a bicycle is often faster, easier and more efficient than taking public transportation. Equally important, it costs nothing to do so. Plus, their weather isn’t as harsh as ours and using a bicycle can be faster and more convenient than taking a bus or using light rail options.

I also found additional opinion pieces from Selma Langbroek, a consultant in the Netherlands who looks at both sides of the equation. Dutch legislation is like Canada’s in that it requires the feet be against a surface, and so on. Read more in this article.

Selma’s points can be roughly summarized as follows:

    • Babies without head support cannot be put into a bike seat.
    • It gives the parent back a bit of freedom; you can travel longer distances more easily.
    • A bike seat is not necessarily that supportive for babies. And babies recline too much in a bike trailer.
    • Best done while backwearing to prevent injury from the handlebars.
    • Cycling feels familiar and it feels safe.4

Accessibility is important. Extremely so. Here is another link where this Dutch mom who cycled with her baby in the sling with her oldest child to school. She felt it was liberating and much easier to get on the bike, off the bike, her eldest sorted and into the building, and back home again. The general consensus if that if you cycle and babywear, it’s best done on quieter paths and streets.

Then if we expand our consciousness, and look at places on the African continent, owning a bicycle is really liberating and allows people more freedom. They can access services, travel around and go further than they do on foot. When you start looking at things in this light, babywearing and biking can also be about granting dignity to people. There are even charities which fundraise to provide bicycles just for this purpose.

The Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia is all about empowering disadvantaged Namibians through sustainable transport like cycling. Known as BenNamibia.

 

Watch the video form more information.

Many Canadians have connections to other places, other cultures and we should always be open to learning about them. Most Europeans are against cycling and many of their laws mimic many of ours, some Europeans like to cycle while carrying because it is such a natural part of their life. And then to others, like BenNamibia, cycling is about accessibility and dignity.

Because of the above about our culture, policies and laws, I believe in taking the conservative approach on babywearing while cycling in Canada.

And yes, for those who are interested. There are no studies showing the impact of babywearing while cycling.

Do you have anything to add? Comment below! Please read our other cycling articles Cycling and Babywearing – yes or no and the next one called Benefits of cycling for families.

A huge thank you out to people in my network who provided their time, expertise and in some cases their translation skills. Those not included in the article who helped me out also include Wendy and Ariel.

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Footnotes
1. The Danes do have an extensive cycling infrastructure, but also a concern for preserving their biking culture. The number of Danes who own and use cars more regularly has increased over the past few decades. To understand a bit more, take a look at this document where they provide an extensive analysis.
2. There is an entire website whose sole focus is educating people on the Dutch reach method.
3. Directly from this website:
In Babyschalen können Eltern Säuglinge schon früh im gut gefeder-ten Anhänger transportieren, wenn sie langsam fahren, Kopfsteinpflas-ter und Unebenheiten meiden. Nicht geeignet sind Rückentragen und Tragetücher. (Not suitable are backpacks and slings) Das verbietet die StVO zwar nicht, aber Hersteller schlie-ßen meist den Gebrauch auf dem Fahrrad aus. Im Schadensfall haften Eltern vollständig selbst.

3. Katie quoted me this from the above link: Sie beförderten auf dem Fahrrad ein Kind, obwohl die vorgeschriebenen Sicherheits¬vorkehrungen nicht vorhanden waren.” 5 Euros.
4. Another cycling piece from Germany that features this shield. On this website, we see an image of a mom babywearing on a bike in Berlin.
5. Use google translate to visit Draagtips website – Selma has written at least two pieces on cycling and babywearing: Dragend fietsen is het veilig and Dragend fietsen mag nou wel.

Cycling and babywearing – yes or no?

Should you cycle while babywearing your child in Canada?

Babywearing comes down to two basic things – first is keeping a child secure in the carrier, with airway safety being the very first consideration, second is preventing falls.

But it’s not always the baby we’re trying to keep from falling. Which means that baby carrying is also about controlling the adult to keep the baby safe. Which means the adult has to mind their speed, stability, all while managing obstacles while carrying.

When cycling, the most important thing to mind is protecting the baby in case of a fall. Helmets contribute greatly to injury prevention while cycling. Below is information from a website maintained by Chris Gilham, an Australian journalist. Currently, most provinces and territories require helmets be worn.1

  • Alberta: Minors
  • British Columbia: All ages
  • Manitoba: Minors
  • New Brunswick: All ages
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: All ages
  • Northwest Territories: No law
  • Nova Scotia: All ages
  • Nunavut: No law
  • Ontario: Minors
  • Prince Edward Island: All ages
  • Quebec: No law but education programs available
  • Saskatchewan: No law but education programs available
  • Yukon: No law

I also spoke to Kendra Runions, a feeding support consultant in Eastern Ontario2. She worked for 2 years selling specialty safety equipment for power sports applications and some of the families she helped had riders were as young as two years old.

When I asked Kendra about helmet wearing, this is what she said:

“I could easily write a novel on just helmet wearing. Is it a correctly fitted helmet? Is it optimal materials to withstand the most
likely crash scenario?

  • Has the child’s skull developed enough to wear the style of helmet you’ve chosen?
  • Where was it purchased?
  • What is it’s rating type?
  • Do you understand the difference in ratings and where they test protection?
  • How old is it and where was it stored? Even if it looks perfect it has a shelf life.
  • Do they understand how tight it really does need to be?
  • What about the neck?
  • Has the baby been tension tested and can they even suppport and balance the helmet?

All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet from tricycles to tobaggans and dirt bikes.”

Do you feel adults can gauge whether a helmet is properly fitted and safe for their child?

“No. Honestly a lot of adults don’t know even how to fit a helmet for themselves. An incorrectly balanced and fitted helmet can cause a more severe injury than would have been originally sustained even in a relatively minor accident. I’m talking tip over and fall accident. All of these factors should be in play when choosing a helmet for everything from tricycles to toboggans to dirt bikes.”

What happens to the body dynamic forces when a baby is worn on the body?

“First off your center of gravity is shifted. I’ve consistently warned adults of having other adult passengers because there is some input required for manoeuvering and if your passenger does the wrong thing it can definitely throw you off enough to cause an accident. Now just think of how unpredictable kids are, along with having their leverage points reduced when wrapped or carried and just basically being too short for their legs to reach anything.

Velocity, distance, gravity, pretty much every force could potentially be encountered based on what type of accident could occur. The possibilities are literally endless.”

What about if the baby is worn on the back?

A back worn child is actually what I picture by default. Everything I have mentioned is at play. This is where I want to note that in the event of most accidents, especially low speed, think under 5 km/hr, your back passenger will end up off the vehicle before you. There are many scenarios in which the driver will remain with the vehicle but the passenger will not. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. In order to absorb impact and mitigate potential damage to the human body its better on us to take space to stop v.s. one fast and sudden stop. Everyone has heard “tuck and roll”. A back worn child cannot break free from the adult to do this. Any adult with a child strapped to them is no longer the correct shape for their own body to make the adjustments it
needs to maximize their own injury protection. The adult will most likely be fighting base protective instincts in order to try and shield the child.

Can you always protect your baby in case of an accident? NO.

Think about the difference if you fall while walking, versus if you fall while biking. Now add a baby in the mix on a parent’s back or even in the front. It changes the centre of gravity, which with experience you can accommodate for, but it also adds a weight. If a back pack can go flying off your body when you get into an accident while cycling, or you crush it with your body, think about replacing that very same backpack with the weight of a child.

Additional to the information from my interview with Kendra, here is an excerpt from iBike, an American organization centred around cycling information and safety about cycling while babywearing:

“The conservative approach is that taking an infant on a bike in a backpack has risks and is potentially dangerous — and it is illegal in some jurisdictions.  Some of the issues are:  The center of gravity is higher; if you wear helmets, your helmets may banged together; the child is quite vulnerable in a fall because the distance is higher and there is a greater chance of the infant ending up underneath the adult in a tumble; and the backpack provides less protection than a child seat or trailer.  Slings would present similar issues, though in is a sling the child is lower down and their head is better supported, so it unlikely for the adult and child to bang heads — it is also unlikely that the child would be wearing a helmet.” 3

So to go back to my initial question, should I babywear and cycle in Canada? My answer is NO.

Should you cycle with your babes? Absolutely YES!

There are many great ways to cycle with your kids. You can use a trailer until they are old enough to sit unsupported, at which point you can move to a bike seat, as Lauren has with her child here. Lauren lives in Ontario.

Trailers can be be found for affordable prices on second hand boards, and now is the time to start looking. Often, you can buy a trailer or bike seat and then use the money from the resell to by your children their first bike.

 

 

Thank you to Kendra from FullCircleFeeding.com for providing us with her expertise for this article. Please read our other cycling articles Babywearing and cycling abroad and the Benefits of cycling for families. .

 

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Footnotes
1. This website tracks all bicycle helmet laws from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. You can check it out here. For more about bike helmet legislation in Canada, visit the Canadian Pediatric Society here.
2. Kendra is the owner of Full Circle Feeding, a business that helps families with breastfeeding, chest feeding, and just feeding their babies. They specialize in working with traditional and non-traditional families. From her website, “Non traditional family unit? Grandparent feeling out of touch? Nervous new father feeling left out?” Visit their website for more information.
3. To read more about what iBike has to say about early helmet wearing and babywearing while cycling, visit this page here.

Last minute shopping

Are you still looking for that last minute gift to give? Or something to suggest to someone else?

Consider taking a look at these carriers I explored this past year that are new to the babywearing world.

Looking for something unique in Canada? The LennyLamb Up is perfect, a blend between their baby and toddler sizes, this will meet your needs through out your entire babywearing life. See the featurette I did below while attending the Babywearing Conference in Poland. Want to learn more about LennyLamb, read this article about my visit to their homebase! Lenny Lamb can be purchased in Canada at Lollipop Sky, specializing in many baby carrier brands.

 

There’s also the Sleepbelt or JoeyBand. Though not a baby carrier, it is a great gift to give to new parents who are expecting, and can be easily added to the birthing bag for home, hospital or birthing centre. Perfect to keep the baby on you while seated, it is also very useful to help attach the baby to the mom after a c-section.

 

Here’s the Flexia by Babylonia Slen. It is a structured carrier with an interchangeable body so it can grow as your baby grows. Extremely innovative and comes in some classic colours. It can be ordered from any of their stores, like from HetKnooppunt.nu in the Netherlands or directly from Babylonia itself.

Or know someone who is expecting twins? Consider the innovative twin carrier by MiniMonkey.

And finally, the newly redone toddler flip by Kokadi.

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (PAIL)

October 15 2017 is the internationally recognized Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Day.  For many women, the excitement over a positive pregnancy test doesn’t lead to that picture perfect moment of mom and baby cuddling and, in fact, an estimated one in five (other estimates say one in four) women will experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss in her lifetime.

Tonight is the International Wave of Light to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  At 7:00 pm in time zones around the world, people will gather to light candles to create a wave of light in honour of the butterfly babies, those who were lost during pregnancy or shortly after birth. We ask the candle be lit for an hour, to make this light burn brightly for a 24-hour period around the globe in memory of all the babies who were lost.

I have experienced loss. My story begins when my husband Rob and I decided to start a family in 2013.  We experienced a miscarriage at 10 weeks with our first pregnancy.  This loss made me realize that becoming a mother happened the moment I found out I was pregnant. While I was treated for the physical effects of the miscarriage, we were not provided with any support service referrals. Which had a large impact on us at the time, especially since we did not know that programs such as the PAIL Network existed.  The PAIL Network is dedicated to improving bereavement care and providing support to families or individuals who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or the death of their baby/babies.

December 2015, a private member’s bill was passed in Ontario proclaiming October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This is second year it is commemorated. The bill sought to promise resources and support, as well as better research into perinatal loss and infant death. The Ontario-based Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network has done research on the needs of families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss and has found that although women are treated medically by healthcare professionals, they are not treated for the psycho-emotional aspects.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada estimates that approximately 7/1000 babies in Canada are still born. Yet such experiences are largely misunderstood – they are rarely discussed in public and during prenatal care. A 2015 US study found that the general population believes miscarriage occurs in just 5% of all pregnancies, and that most often the cause is due to choices and actions of the mother.  This misunderstanding about the prevalence and causes of pregnancy and infant loss generate and create a strong taboo, leaving families and individuals to experience their grief largely in isolation. In the case of a fatal diagnosis during pregnancy, stillbirth and infant loss, referral by medical practitioners is more common but often in the context of a traumatic and overwhelming time-strained consultation. Parents are not always provided with the time to process their grief.

In 2016, we decided to add again to our family. We passed the 12 week mark and I breathed a sigh of relief.  After a routine ultrasound at 19 weeks, we found out that our son Aaron had no kidneys and that there was no chance that he would survive after birth. We were told that termination was the best option and that it must be done quickly. We were devastated, but after hearing his strong heartbeat and seeing his profile that looked so much like Gabriel, our son from our second birth, we decided to continue the pregnancy.

We were only referred to the Perinatal hospice program at Roger Neilson House after making this decision. The Perinatal hospice program at Roger Neilson House is a nurturing and safe place for families and individuals who have received a heartbreaking fatal prenatal diagnosis that will result in the death of their baby prior to, or shortly after birth.  These parents have access to specialized care and support at Roger Neilson House. Support includes counselling, and emotional support to help parents make medical decisions about the pregnancy, delivery and the baby’s care, assisting with memory making (such as photographs) and ongoing bereavement care. We spent 100 precious minutes with Aaron after birth in June 2016.  It was sad and hard, but it was beautiful. You can read our full story here. Roger Neilson House also offers a Perinatal Loss Bereavement Support Group. This group is available for parents who have lost a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks gestation, or an infant aged up to 28 days.

Many families have found this journey and the support offered through the Perinatal Hospice program to be very meaningful and healing.

Aaron’s Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau was held yesterday in Ottawa to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss, and this wasn’t just any old kind of run. Aaron’s Butterfly Run is aiming to provide support and share resources in our community with those who experience pregnancy and infant loss. At Aaron’s Butterfly Run, we are doing everything we can to share our personal experiences and communicate with others about the pregnancy and infant loss resources that already exist in our community.

Through a grant from Just Change Ottawa, we are partnering with Mom Friends to create the Butterfly Box. This box will be a resource that is available at no cost for parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss in Ottawa/Gatineau.

If you are grieving because you have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, please know that I am thinking of you tonight as I light a candle in memory of my two butterfly babies. Please join us during the International Wave of Light today at 7:00 pm to light a candle in memory of all the butterfly babies. Leave the candle burning for at least an hour and create a ‘wave’ of light spanning the globe in honour of babies who were lost during pregnancy or shortly after birth.