How to Share Babywearing with the World without being OBNOXIOUS

What do you love about wrapping your baby?

I know you love wrapping your baby: the closeness, the connection, and the convenience!  AND it’s so pretty!  And mastering the different wrap carries is fun and makes you feel a sense of accomplishment!

Naturally, you want to share this amazingness with EVERYBODY.  But does everybody want to hear?  Are you just turning everybody off of babywearing with your enthusiasm?

Some tips for SHARING YOUR LOVE OF BABYWEARING (without being obnoxious):

AVOID posting excessive studies, articles, or other “proofs” about how great babywearing or wrapping are.

INSTEAD talk about the things you’ve been able to do comfortably and easily thanks to a baby carrier:

Ditch the Stroller

Eating out in a red Nati Notes wrap with music notes.

 

AVOID looking like a looney when you suggest that a mom might want to wear her baby AND her 40 lb toddler at the same time.  Leave tandem wearing discussions between expert babywearers and keep it tame for the general public.

INSTEAD mention how wrapping your newborn made it so much easier to care for your toddler:

Spending time with big brother while baby is wrapped.

Baby sleeps in a Natibaby Winter wrap while mom reads with the toddler.

 

AVOID telling your newly pregnant friend that she’s going to prefer a baby carrier to a bucket seat.  Positioning yourself in opposition to what she’s always seen and expected just weakens your credibility.

INSTEAD mention that you personally preferred a wrap because the seat was heavy:

Wrapping so you don't have to carry a bucket seat or push a stroller.

Unlike carseats and strollers, this Nati Odyssey wrap is neither heavy nor bulky.

 

Share super cool wrapping related things when you come across them like this babywearing orchestra:

 

And mostly, just share about your family having fun like everyone else does on Facebook, and if wrapping is a part of your life, it will show up in your pictures and stories without having to force it.

Babywearing family playing together in the water.

Jumping off the rock at Lithia Spring!

Pediatric Babywearing

Mandy is a pediatric nurse.  She doesn’t work in NICU so hadn’t had experience before with a baby going through withdrawal, but as a babywearing mother, when she found herself responsible for a distraught baby, she knew what she could offer him for comfort!  When she shared this in our local babywearing group, I felt fit to burst with emotion:  compassion for the baby and mother and also a deep gratitude for the ability to comfort babies with the simplicity of human touch; for the good fortune to know how important this is for babies; and for Mandy to be working when this little one needed that.  Mandy reported that the other nurses were continuing to wear the baby so that he was not left adrift when she went home.

In Mandy’s own words, “I’m a pediatric nurse and had a baby going through withdrawal. I made a makeshift sling out of some baby blankets and “wore” him as much as I could. It was the only thing that consistently calmed him down! Wear ALL the babies, even the ones who aren’t our own!”

Summer Babywearing and Woven Wraps

Babywearing a baby in Florida means knowing how to keep everyone comfortable in hot weather.  Here are my suggestions for lighter Summertime wraps, recommendations for cooler carries to use with your wraps, and tips for surviving hot weather wrapping so you don’t have to stay in-doors all Summer!

Tips for Choosing a Wrap

Thin wraps and wraps with open weaves:  a thin, airy wrap will be more comfortable than a thick, densely woven wrap and because there is no padding or heavy canvas, has the potential for cooler carrying than many other carriers.  Try Ellevill, Wrapsody Breeze, and EllaRoo wraps for the most comfort this Summer.

Dad and baby in Ellevill wrap for Summer

Ellevill wraps are woven in Norway with a super-soft but airy weave that gives you a cushier feeling without holding in the heat making it a very comfortable, breathable Summer wrapping option.

Dad Wrapping Toddler in Wrapsody Breeze for Summer

Wrapsody Breeze wraps are made from bottom-weight gauze which means they are sturdier than gauze found at a fabric store for more support and comfort, yet still the thinnest, coolest wrapping option around, even in multi-layer carries.

Baby wrapped up in EllaRoo wrap for Summer

EllaRoo wraps, are hand-woven in Guatemala with a very thin, flat weave that makes them perfect for babywearing on hot days without feeling like you're bundled up.

Short wraps and carries with fewer layers:  another cooler option for hot days is a shortie in a single layer carry.  If you already have a wrap and it’s not the coolest fabric, it’s good to know that a heavier wrap in a single layer carry can be as cool as a thin wrap with multiple layers.  A size 3 or 4 will give most parents several front, back, and hip carry options that won’t warm you up as much as a longer wrap.

Toddler Nursing in Rebozo Carry

Even a thicker wrap is cool enough for Summer in a single layer carry like this rebozo carry.

If you want a stretchy wrap, choose a cooler stretchy wrap: the silky-soft Wrap DuO is similar to other stretchy wraps on the market, but SO MUCH COOLER, and it does double duty as a wrap you can wear in the water (think pool, beach, splash park, or shower).

Wrap DuO is a stretchy wrap that won't heat you up.

The Wrap DuO is a light and cool, silky-soft stretchy wrap from Wrapsody that will keep you cooler in the water or out.

Tips for Choosing a Carry:

  1. A carry that does not tie around your waist can keep you cooler (click on photos below for tutorials).
  2. You can often bunch up instead of spreading a pass in a front carry that has more than one layer – just make sure that baby is secure, supported, and you are both comfy.
  3. For older babies, a back carry usually feels cooler than a chest to chest carry, but you want to be able to see and interact with them enough to know if they are doing well or getting too hot.

Cooler carry suggestions (click on the photo to go to instructions page):

A single layer carry like Kangaroo is the coolest way to wear a baby wrap.

Kangaroo Carry is a front carry that can be used for newborn through toddler with a single layer over baby and open sides for airflow. With a short wrap, tie the carry under your baby's bottom to avoid a warm strap tied around your waist. This carry can also be done with a longer wrap but you would wrap around your waist to tie in back to use up the extra length.

FWCC TUB in a short wrap for Summer

Front Wrap Cross Carry TUB (tied under bottom) is great for all ages especially if you're already familiar with FWCC and want to try it as a single layer carry with a shorter wrap.

Dad using short wrap for Semi FWCC

Semi FWCC is another great front carry for someone who is familiar with FWCC and feels cooler with only two layers over baby and only one shoulder wrapped.

Rucksack Carry feels cooler for Summer

Rucksack Carry is a great choice for a back carry in hot weather with only a single layer on baby and rucksack strap on the parent instead of fabric covering any part of your torso.

Double Hammock Rebozo with a short wrap for Summer.

Double Hammock Rebozo (DHR) gives you much of the same famous support as a full Double Hammock Carry but with only one shoulder and a much shorter wrap it will leave you feeling much cooler.

There are also some very short carries (size 2 or 3 wrap for most parents) that are tied at shoulder with no waist belt and no pass over the caregiver’s torso and these are great for hot Summer weather:
Rucksack TAS (tied at shoulder)
Double Rebozo Back Carry
Half Jordan’s Back Carry

If you have a longer wrap and are doing Front Wrap Cross Carry, try bunching the crosses at baby’s side to keep some of the layers off baby in hot weather (click the photo to go the the tutorial page where you’ll find instructions for both spread and bunches passes):

Cooler FWCC variation

Try bunching the FWCC crosses to keep baby cooler.

6 Tips for Sun Protection:
Even the FDA recommends against using sun screen on babies under 6 months old so here are some old fashioned methods of protecting yourself from excessive sun exposure.

  1. find shade frequently or provide your own by using a wide brimmed hat or parasol
  2. cover baby’s legs and arms with light, loose clothing
  3. use your wrap or wrap tails to cover baby (but not baby’s face) while still allowing airflow
  4. the WrapDuO mentioned above provides UPF 45 Sun Protection
  5. Shea Butter and Coconut Oil are safe for babies and both provide some protection
  6. avoid being outside for prolonged periods between 10am and 2pm

6 Tips to Avoid Over-heating:

  1. keep yourself hydrated – drink plenty of water
  2. keep your baby hydrated – if breastfeeding, allow baby to nurse as often as they want, and switch sides as frequently as they like as they will instinctively switch more often when they need more of the watery foremilk; if using formula, baby may need extra when out on hot days or even supplement with water; babies who are eating solids should drink water frequently
  3. sticking to the shade makes a huge difference
  4. make a breeze – use a small clip on fan with foam fan blades, or carry a paper fan with you (or improvise with a magazine)
  5. if using a cooling towel, be attentive to your baby to ensure that he or she is not getting too cold, especially with young babies who are not yet able to regulate temperature well and do not use ice packs or cloths soaked with ice water directly on babies
  6. take breaks – remove baby from wrap and use the wrap as a blanket for you and baby to hang out on for a few minutes in a shady spot
Summer wrapping: keep hydrated!

Babies get hydrated from nursing, formula, or water supplementation; mom and dad or other caregiver should drink plenty of water.

Made in the shade from mama's giant sun hat!

Sunhats can protect delicate skin from the sun, either on baby, or a large brimmed hat on the caregiver . . . or both!

Bring your own shade when wrapping in the sun.

Bring your own shade when you’re wrapping in hot weather or on a sunny day to protect baby’s skin without having to use sunscreen.

Wrapsody Wrap DuO covering baby's legs

The Wrapsody Wrap DuO is a water wrap that is light and cool and has a UV protection rating of 45. Tuck the ends of the wrap over baby's legs to keep them protected from the sun.

Taking a break in the shade ON the wrap instead of IN it.

Wrapping lets you include your little one in all the fun Summer outings but it's important to monitor yours and baby's heat level and take breaks if necessary.

London Intro to Babywearing Walks

 

Intro to Babywearing Walk with Walking Mums in London

Walking Mums offers Intro to Babywearing Walks for trying out different kinds of carriers

Motherhood is an experience that is unique to each of us yet there are certain experiences that many of us have in common.  That’s why other moms can be the best allies and friends and help to keep us sane and make us happy.

Jay (founder of the organization) understood that because she felt the absence of that “village” of moms when her baby was born and out of necessity Walking Mums was born.

Jay’s story is here and I love it because I strongly believe that many of the things that make wrapping such a great tool to combat post partum depression (or post natal depression) are present in this organization’s walks, whether the moms use strollers, wraps, or just carry their babies.  Some of those powerful elements to mental mom health are:  sunlight, fresh air, adult companionship and conversation, enjoyable time spent with baby and exercise.

It sounds ridiculously simple but the truth is that it makes a world of difference feeling cooped up indoors alone with a needy baby vrs strolling outside with other moms (who are also moms and don’t make you feel like an outsider), chatting and making friends.

For one thing, a baby on a walk – whether in a stroller (pronounced Pushcar or Pram if you have a British accent) or a wrap – is usually not crying.  That alone can save a mom!

 

Wrapped up for an Intro to Babywearing Walk with Walking Mum London

Enjoyable time spent with a content baby brings peace.

Additionally, exercise, outdoors, and companionship can all positively affect hormones which might leave you feeling like a different person.

Knowing you are not alone in your trials and worries and feelings can also be a game-changer and change tears to laughter before you know it.

Walking Mums of London has recently implemented Introduction to Babywearing Walks/Workshops to complement their existing program of walking with other moms and babies for companionship and enjoyment.   During these walks, parents will be able to try 4 types of carriers, with assistance from a certified babywearing consultant.

Learning to use a woven wrap on the Babywearing Walk

Getting help trying out a variety of baby carriers.

“We aim to teach people about wraps as we believe they are the most ergonomic and natural types of carriers but unfortunately a bit of time is needed to learn and feel confident and that what we are trying to achieve.”

Their first Into to Babywearing walk/workshop was a great success and Jay was kind enough to share them with me, and let me know that there will be more walks to come!

 

Dad wrapping baby on the Intro to Babywearing Walk

Dads are welcome, too!

Bomba Dance with a Baby Wrap

Dancing Bomba with baby in a wrap

Wrapped up in a Barefoot Rainbow wrap while dancing barefoot with the Bomba drum.

 

Bomba is a traditional Puerto Rican dance derived from the island’s African, Spanish, and Taino cultural influences.  The dance is named for the drums – bombas – which follow the improvisation of the dancers in an energetic dialogue as the drummer responds to the gestures, moves, and swirling skirts of the dancer:

Babywearing Bomba Dancing

Wrapped Up Baby and Bomba Dancing

Bomba Dance Skirts Swirling

Babywearing Bomba Dance

Barefoot Rainbow Girasol and Bomba Dancing!

Wrapped up on mom dancing.

Bomba Dancing with baby

Bomba Drummer

Jessica drums to the rhythmic dancing of Asia and baby Esmé in a woven wrap.  If you enjoyed these, you can see more about their art at Bomba Body Dance and Drumming Co.

Photos by Petal & Vine Photography.

The earthy rainbow wrap Asia and Esmé are wearing is called Barefoot Rainbow and is a Wrap Your Baby exclusive design handwoven in Guatemala by one of Girasol’s weavers.

Dear New Wrapper . . . You Got This!

Sometimes I hear that wrapping is too hard.  It has a steep learning curve.  There is even a popular meme circulating that begins with “Dear New Wrapper” and promises that as terrible and frustrating as it is to learn to wrap, it will all be so worth it.

I disagree.  Wrapping doesn’t have to be hard.

Learn how easy baby wrapping can be.

I get emails all the time from parents who just received their wrap, tried it on and LOVED IT.  And that’s what I want to happen every time I ship a wrap.

But it is not uncommon for a parent to try a wrap for the first time and end up with a big mess.  Baby crying, wrap not supporting them, back hurting . . . what went wrong?

Just this: wrapping is not common in our culture, so we’re totally unfamiliar with it.  And just like tying shoes, something you’ve never done and aren’t used to can seem impossible the first few times until it clicks and, with practice, becomes second nature.

So what do we do?

What I do: I provide step-by-step photo and video instructions on my website.  I send an instructional DVD with every wrap I ship.  I invite questions and am eager to help trouble shoot a problem.  I know from experience that I can help you love your wrap!

What you can do to learn wrapping without tears:

  • Start with Front Wrap Cross Carry.  It is a great carry to learn with and will teach you how to tighten and adjust and spread and bunch.
  • Watch the video a few times before you try it.
  • Have the photo instructions open to refer to while you’re wrapping.
  • Stay calm.
  • Pause as needed, with your hand around your baby for safety, and find out what the next step is before continuing.
  • Use the carry a few times a day until you have mastered it.
  • Don’t try to learn a new carry until you have mastered the last one.

If you have any trouble, let’s solve this and get you happily wrapping:

  • Practice on a doll or, even better, something with a little weight like a bag of apples.
  • Learn the steps of the carry so that it is memorized, before you add in your real baby.
  • Practice with your baby when he or she is not tired or hungry, is freshly changed and happy.  Once you are both used to it you will find it most helpful for the more desperate moments but start easy!
  • Don’t get frustrated.  It is highly unlikely that you will finish successfully if you are trying to do it when you’re overwhelmed or upset.  If your baby is crying and it’s worrying you too much, stop and take a break!  Come back to it later.
  • Consider every time you work on it to be one time closer to getting it right.  There are no failed wrap jobs, just one practice closer to success.
  • Be cognizant of whether your wrap job is safe and secure.
  • If the wrap is too loose or uncomfortable, keep your arms around your baby for safety and comfort and leave the loose wrap job on for at least a few minutes while you walk around, helping your baby to get used to the idea of being wrapped up.
  • Locate a babywearing group near you where you can get the hands-on help that might make the whole thing much, much easier for you.
  • Email me if you need help!

 

Farming Family Wraps Up

Parents wrap toddlers on horse farm

photo by Petal & Vine Photography

Tatyana relates her experiences with wrapping her babies and toddlers as she and her husband Frank, always adventurous, embark on the adventure of farming:

With two babies 13 months apart, babywearing has saved my sanity way too many times! Me and my husband met hiking the Appalachian Trail, so backpacking is what we love the best. Only when babywearing your load is much more precious than a load of camping equipment.

I was lucky to meet a great local support group (South Florida Babywearing) and learn the right way to carry my first newborn when he was only few weeks old. It has been an amazing closeness ever since – either flying, hiking back in the woods, going around my daily chores, nursing.

Wrapping Family on the Farm

photo by Petal & Vine Photography

We moved to our new farm in Ocala, FL when Nadia was just a month old, and Andrei just 14 months… I tandem-wore them A LOT at that time. It was an adjustment for all of us…new sibling, new bright world outside the womb, new house.

Feeding chickens; wrapping toddler.

photo by Petal & Vine Photography

With Frank’s unpredictable travel and work schedule, my hands were, and still are, very full… Two kids, the house to clean, cook, feed the horses, clean the chicken coop, start a vegetable garden, plant a tree, water the flowers, check on my bee-hives (when kids are sleeping at the same time).

Wrapping on the Farm

photo by Petal & Vine Photography

Wearing my baby feels safe! When you are working around horses you need to be very careful, and keeping my baby close and safe brings me a peace of mind. Plus, I am always paranoid about fire ants that can bite little feet. Also, we like to take long walks on the country roads around the farm, and me and my husband always carry a baby along.

Gardening while wearing toddlers.

photo by Petal & Vine Photography

Inspirational Magnets

Memories, inspiration, and affirmations on Frank and Tatyana's Fridge

 

Baby Wrapping Perk #218: cup holder

Woven Wrap Carry with built in cup holder

This toddler back carry comes with a built in cup holder. Can be used as a bottle holder for the younger set.

 

 

Babywearing: Beneficial or the Biological Norm?

Babywearing is the Biological Norm

Yesterday the Canadian Babywearing School posted this Facebook status update:

Do you know that there are NO benefits to babywearing? It’s the biological norm and being carried and kept close is the minimum babies expect at birth. When we use language like “benefits”, we establish babywearing as a nice extra (like a university fund or tennis lessons) instead of the normal behaviour that carrying is. Change our language, change the world!

How can you say there are no benefits to babywearing?

But, but but . . . when your baby is kept close against your chest they experience:

  • optimum growth
  • increased cognitive development
  • enhanced motor function and muscle strength
  • less emotional stress and therefore cry less
  • stronger breastfeeding relationship
  • strong and continuing bond with parents or caregivers

With all that going on, how can you say there are no benefits??? The question is, compared to what?

If all zebras eat grass, no one talks about the benefits to zebras of eating grass.  Benefits are discussed with practices or products that are above and beyond the usual.  Zebras benefit from a monthly, lavendar-scented, sponge bath (for example).  You don’t talk about benefits for the standard baseline.  So is babywearing – or baby-carrying – something that should be the obvious thing for families to do, or is it more of an optional add-on?

It all means the same thing, why does it matter how it’s phrased?

Because our language shapes our world.  The words you use when you talk to yourself shape your world outlook.  The words you use around your kids shape their outlook.  The words we use with each other shape our agreements and understanding of the world.

So you decide – a baby held close to a parent for the first 9 months of his or her life, receiving all the cues that they are designed to optimally respond to, experiencing the safety and peace of mind that comes with the feel and sound of a parent’s heartbeat . . . do we want to consider that a customary element of parenting or more of a sub-culture trend?  

Thanks to Canadian Babywearing School for this conversation and the opportunity to think about the place of this practice in our culture.  To me, wrapping is not some new parenting fad.  Doing without it would have made parenting that much harder.

Trying to keep a baby healthy and happy at arms length can be more work than simply babywearing.

There's no question that babies who cry less are easier on parents!

Note: Anytime you talk about advantages or disadvantages, especially on the subject of providing for your children, you risk alienating those who are utilizing the opposite choice.  The implication that those families are making a worse choice is almost impossible to avoid while encouraging the healthiest practices but I want to make it clear that I believe what is best for baby is what is best for the whole family.  Emotionally and physically healthy parents with love in their hearts are about the best thing a baby or child can have and, in my opinion, trumps everything else.

I work hard to teach how wrapping can be a boon to parents because I really think that the things that contribute the most to a healthy baby, must also contribute to healthy and happy parents.  I recognize that there isn’t any magic practice or product that is going to make parenting easy so I share what works for me and teach others to make it work for them, and I work hard to avoid the trap of thinking that someone who finds other solutions, even contrary solutions, is making a mistake.

Fitness and Community with Babywearing Ballet

Making Fitness Fun for Moms with Babywearing Ballet Classes
Wrapping moms know that life can carry on (pun intended) with baby in tow and that the experiences had in a wrap enrich baby’s physical and cognitive growth far more than sitting on the sidelines.

Wrapping your baby is a great way to keep both mother and baby in fine physical fettle and any gentle activity will be comfortable and soothing to your wrapped baby. Bonus points for a fun activity that gives mom an opportunity to build community and engage with grown-up friends!

Wrapping dance instructor demonstrates for ballet class.

Ballet Instructor describing how the mothers in the babywearing ballet class should point their feet as they arabesque across the room.

Ballet Bar Work with wrapped and worn babies.

Folding chair were used when the standing bars were all filled up.

Babywearing ballet with Ergo and wrapping moms.

You can use any safe and ergonomic carrier for a babywearing dance or fitness class, although wraps are the most flexible both in terms of lack-of-structure and ability to customize the carry to compliment your activity and body preferences!

Wrapsody Breeze Morgaine hugs baby against wrapping mom's body during ballet class.

Babies are soothed by being wrapped against you during the motion of your day, so why not do something fun and artistic as well as active while your baby snoozes?

 

Wrapsody Breeze wraps are light and flexible; great for active lifestyles!

Mothers and babies practicing ballet walks across the room. Wrapsody Breeze wraps are light and cool, perfect for active families with babies.

Double Hammock Carry for a Second Arabesque in Babywearing Ballet

Baby watches the class from mama's back in a Double Hammock Carry as she demonstrates a Second Arabesque.

Wrapped snugly in Front Wrap Cross Carry for Babywearing Ballet.

A snug wrap job in Wrapsody Breeze Ada keeps baby secure while practicing curtseys.

Back wrapping while teaching babywearing ballet!

Elizabeth Bedore, our talented Babywearing Ballet Instructor, wearing Wrapsody Breeze Kimber.

Most of the wraps used in this class were Wrapsody Breeze wraps which are so light and thin that they are much appreciated here in Florida, and also lend themselves expertly to work out activities.

Most of the mothers have their babies wrapped in either a Double Hammock Back Carry or a Front Wrap Cross Carry variation.  Any secure carry will work.  A back carry is most convenient for bending and raising legs but front carries should be used by anyone not already a competent back wrapper and it is easy for a babyweaing instructor to adjust the class to fit the needs of the moms.  A knowledgeable instructor will keep the motions of the class gentle and smooth, and advise mothers not to overreach while doing the double workout of ballet and babywearing.

Back carries wrapped a little lower rather than super-high on mom’s back may be more convenient for an activity such as this and keep you better balanced.

Palm Harbor Florida is lucky to have a mom-owned business dedicated to bringing fitness and community to moms in a family oriented environment.  If you are in the area you will want to visit Om Sweet Om and discover all the classes available.

If you are anywhere else in the world, find your local babywearers and see if you can find a qualified individual who wants to start a class!