Sensory Processing Disorder

Though I had never heard of Sensory Processing Disorder, I found Steffany’s story about how wrapping helped her family deal with the difficulties of SPD to be very interesting and have applications beyond the scope of this specific diagnoses.

  • Wrapping her baby allowed her to provide a safe place when the world proved difficult for her daughter.
  • Wrapping her baby allowed her to engage in physically strenuous routines that helped sooth her child.
  • Wrapping her baby provided a creative way to meet her daughter’s needs.

While Steffany and her daughter may have had a more challenging time of it, the benefits they had from wrapping are the same that any of us have because babies and small children, to greater or lesser degrees do find the world to be difficult, frequently need soothing at inconvenient times for extensive periods, and have the inconvenient habit of having needs that conflict with our societal notions of what is appropriate.

I don’t mean to make less of the situation that Steffany had to deal with.  On the contrary, I hope that any other parents and children who are dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder or any other condition that makes things difficult will find her post and benefit from her experience.

But the rest of us can benefit, too.  Because even without a fancy condition, our children are sensitive and needy and thrive when we can appreciate and respect them in their fullness, including their quirks, finding admiration in what we might otherwise write of as silliness, childishness, or weakness.

Read Steffany’s post.

How to Start a Local Babywearing Group

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If there is not a local babywearing group close to you, there should be!  It’s a resource every community should have as babywearing has the power to strengthen families and nurture the children who are the future of the community!

You can absolutely begin your own group and reap all the benefits while providing those same benefits to others.

If you are not an expert, think about this: if you can carry your baby or toddler in a carrier enough that it is helpful to you, then you have skills that could change the lives of other moms.  Being an expert doesn’t mean certification or having mastered the entire field.

Being an expert means there is at least one thing, no matter how small, that you know how to do. Just one thing.

Also keep in mind that when you start seeking out other babywearers you may find others who have more experience than you and would love to be part of a group.  Being the one to start it does not mean you have to be the one who knows the most!

Lending Library or Demonstration Library

Most babywearing groups have a library – a collection of baby carriers that can be tried out by the local community to help parents understand the choices that exist and find out which will work best for them.

These are the two main models.

  • Lending Library: members can try out carriers at a meeting but can also rent carriers to try out for extended periods at home.
  • Demonstration Library: carriers are available for trying out during a group meet-up but cannot be checked out to take home.  Carriers are only used under supervision.

Which model you follow is up to you.  Some groups prefer not to take on the liability of loaning carriers that can be used without supervision, and these groups stick to a Demonstration Library.  Others find that the Lending Library model provides an invaluable service to the community and also provides more help to lower income families.

The BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance), which looks out for the interests of baby carrier manufacturers, retailers, groups, and educators, has provided suggestions for library policy that errs on the side of caution to protect against any accident and liability.

As the owner of Wrap Your Baby, I support both models.  I have seen first-hand how valuable a lending library is to families and to my knowledge there has never been a liability incident. Wrap Your Baby provides woven wraps to local babywearing group lending libraries through monthly giveaways and a Library Credit Program.

To manage the library, you will want to keep a log of all carriers, and all the members who have it checked out, as well as the date checked out and the date due. To ensure the carrier is returned, many groups will ask for a check to be written for the replacement value of the carrier.  The check will be returned uncashed when the carrier is returned intact.

Be sure to get the contact info from anyone borrowing a carrier.  Decide whether you will require the borrower to wash the carrier before returning it, or if you and other group leaders will launder the carriers in between loans. Make sure the borrower knows whether they are expect to wash it or if you prefer that they don’t and specify washing instructions and acceptable detergents if you do require them to wash it or in case of accident that requires washing while it is on loan.

Also specify the date that the baby carrier must be returned, whether carriers can only be returned at official meetings or if they can be dropped off in between, and to whom.

How to Build a Library for your Local Babywearing Group

Baby Carrier Donations for Your Library

If you have a local baby carrier store or a natural parenting store that sells baby carriers, definitely make a connection as you can benefit each other and your community together!

The store may have a space you could use for group meet-ups and those meetings will bring new potential customers into their store so everyone benefits.

For the same reason, a local store will sometimes offer a standing discount to the local babywearing group members and might even donate a baby carrier to your library as members who try out the carrier will often be interested in buying one.

If a babywearing or natural parenting trade show or convention comes to town, you may be able to visit several baby carrier vendors to tell them about your group and ask for donation.  Business cards can be very helpful in showing that you are a legitimate group who would be using the carrier for the benefit of the community.

Otherwise you can email baby carrier manufacturers or vendors asking for donations or discounts for local Babywearing Group Lending Libraries.  Expect to hear no more often than yes, but know that the more letters you send, the more you will hear yes.  To improve your chances of hearing yes, write a thoughtful letter that explains the role of your group, how big it is or how many members your library services, and how the donation will be used.  Mention what you like about their particular carrier and why you think your group could benefit from having one. If you have community outreach programs, mention those.

And be sure to let the vendor know how the donation will help them:

  • offer to promote their business on social media
  • offer to blog about the company and their generosity or
  • blog about the product and how it can help parents
  • promise to share pictures of members using the product
  • offer to include the vendor on a list of resources for group members

Group Library Fundraisers

These fundraiser ideas have been successful for existing babywearing groups.  Use them as a jumping off point and add your own ideas!

Babywearing Classes – find a qualified teacher who will donate their time to teach a babywearing dance or exercise class.  Charge each participant and use the funds to buy carriers for your library.  Be sure to let participants know it is a fundraiser and that their $5 or $10 fee doubles as a donation toward building a library for the group.

Photo Mini Shoots – see if there is a professional photographer who will donate time to doing a day of mini-shoots for local families, each family pays a small fee and gets one or two priceless family photos, while your group gets funds to buy some carriers.

T-shirt or Decal sales – use your group’s logo or run a design contest in the group for a design that can be printed on t-shirts or made into car decals which can then be sold to the members in your local babywearing group with the proceeds going toward lending library carriers!

Auction or Raffle off a donated baby carrier – if a group member has a nice carrier to donate, or really any other thing that is likely to be of interest to a large percentage of your group, you can auction or raffle it off to raise funds for carriers.

Membership or Rental Fees

Some groups charge a yearly membership fee which gives the member access to borrowing from the lending library all year long (or a certain number of times over the year).

Some lending libraries charge a small fee for each rental, such as $10 for a two week rental.

With any fee based system, I encourage you to consider having a policy in place for need-based scholarships or waiving fees to allow access to families across the economic spectrum.

Where to Hold Local Babywearing Group Meetings

Small groups can meet in someone’s living room, but if your group is open to the public you may want to choose a public place for safety reasons.  Try the park during nice weather.  Ask your library or church about using a room as a regular meeting place.  Ask local businesses, especially those that cater to babies, children, or families (your presence can bring them business, after all).

It is a good idea to have a regular meeting place that does not change so that it is easy to find and familiar and comfortable to the families attending.  Look for ample parking, a place where noisy children will be tolerated, someplace with toys or where you can bring a pile of toys to play with, and where there is not too much for kids to get into trouble with (you don’t want vases, shelves of books, electronics, etc because your mommies will be too distracted keeping kids out of that stuff to enjoy themselves or learn anything)!

When to Hold Babywearing Group Meetings

How often you meet will be determined by the interest of the group members and community.  When you meet depends on what works best for the most people.  If you find your group consists mostly of stay at home moms, weekday meetings will probably work best.  Working parents will do better with weekends. Evening meetings are certainly an option but keep in mind that babies will be more cooperative in learning to be carried if they are not tired!

I recommend regular meeting times, whether weekly or monthly, so that members always know when the next meeting is and don’t have to look it up or risk missing it because they didn’t know.  Go with something easy to remember like, every Tuesday at 11am.  Or the first and third Saturday each month.  Or the first Monday of each month.  You get the idea.

If your group grows to the point that it can support more meetings, you might have a weekday meeting and a weekend meeting to accommodate different schedules, or have a schedule of meetings over a wider geographic range to make it convenient to families in different parts of your county.

How to plan meetings

There are many ways to arrange your group format and it is really up to you and what works for the community you are putting together.  But you should examine the form you want your group to have.

Decide whether your group is open to all parents or if you want it to be open to only certain groups: attached parents, or gluten-free parents, or members of your church, etc.  Remember that you will reach the most people and help the most people, and potentially learn the most yourself if your group is open to all parents.

Then decide what sort of a meeting to hold. Are you having a social meeting to hang out with other babywearers, or are you offering instruction?  Do you have a space that will accommodate older siblings?

Some groups plan a topic for each meeting so that one week addresses newborn babywearing, another toddler wearing.  Or one week might focus on ring slings while the next week is all about woven wraps.  Or hip carries one week and back carries the next. I personally think that the best format allows for the people attending each meeting to have their questions addressed.  Maybe I need help with a woven wrap but don’t want to wait for the September meeting.  In order to help me now, your group might meet with no particular agenda, then find out what most interests that week’s attendees.

If you really want to foster community, you can add other activities to your group.  You can have regular meetings and/or other get-togethers such as a babywearing walk (babywearers meet together and go strolling or hiking together for fun), park dates (babywearers meet at the park for a fun playdate), weekend barbecues (great for getting dads to meet other babywearing dads and families), etc.

How to coordinate and communicate with your group

My favorite platform for this is Facebook. It is easy to post events, and it encourages group participation between meet ups with an easy place for any group member to put up photos (of the recent meet up or of their recent babywearing success in their livingroom), ask for advice, look for a ride to your meeting, plan side get-togethers with other members, share valuable or entertaining parenting or babywearing information, etc.  It is also very easy for members to share your group and for new members to join. Your group could use a website or blog instead of or in addition to facebook.

How to find participants for your Local Babywearing Group

I saved the biggie for last, but the truth is it probably isn’t as hard as you think.  If you have a few friends who babywear, you’re already on your way.  Get them excited about the group, and get them to spread word to others.  Post about it on online mom forums such as mothering.com and thebabywearer.com (many of these have forums for people in different geographical areas).

Get some cards to pass out and give them to any babywearer you see, inviting them to join.  And don’t forget to give them to parents who are not babywearing, because anyone with a baby or toddler is a prospective babywearer and you might change their lives!

Ask if you can leave cards or put up flyers at the pediatrician or holistic doctor’s office.  Check with birth centers and chiropractors, give some to homebirth midwives, invite the members of the local LLL group or ICAN.  Talk it up wherever you go.

You can also start with an online presence such as Facebook, and as you add members, discuss with them when you should hold your first meeting.

After starting a Local Babywearing Group

Add your group to my babywearing group directory here so more people can find you.  Join in my monthly group giveaways for adding a new wrap to your group’s library and check out my other babywearing group resources!  Congratulations and good luck!

Support Your Local Babywearers (and let them support you)

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Hands-on help is hands-down best for learning to wear your baby.  If you lived in a culture in which babywearing was the norm, you probably wouldn’t need to be taught.  You would have learned it while learning to speak the language.  You would have carried your baby siblings around since you were eight years old.  You would have the equipment to hand, and the skills would come naturally.

For those of us born outside of such a culture, experiences vary.  Some people take right to it.  Some people find it awkward and need coaching.  It is VERY common to wear your baby in semi-comfort, until you meet with a more experienced mom who shows you a few simple pulls and cinches, or a slight positioning adjustment, and Voila-babywearing is suddenly as comfortable and convenient as you were told it should be!  And Ta-da-your reluctant baby who cries in the carrier now sleeps soundly or rests contentedly in the carrier!

So that help is invaluable.  That’s why I am collecting the contact information for live, in-person, local babywearing groups around the world.  Not only are their services invaluable, but they are usually free, cooperative mom communities that can enhance your life by giving you a wonderful support network and a close-knit group of friends (just as if you lived in a village).

Most states in the US have a few groups, so that travel to one is conceivable.  But there are some empty spots in the US where it is quite a drive in any direction to find a group.  And the best scene is to have one in your own city so that you can be a regular part of the meetings, contributing, learning and having fun regularly.  That’s why my next blog post will be about how it’s really not so hard to Start Your Own Babywearing Group!

Why Spend Money on a Woven Wrap?

Curious about the cost of wraparound baby carriers? What makes a simple piece of cloth worth the expense?

Second baby in a woven wrap.

Consider this, while baby wraps may not be common in this culture, their function in caring for your baby is much greater than that of many modern conveniences that are considered necessary baby gear:

A baby will sleep anywhere, so how important is a crib, really? When a second-hand cradle or bassinet will do, or a cardboard box, for that matter! Slightly less ghetto is the dresser drawer option. And even if you want a traditional nursery, there are no shortage of second-hand cribs from friends, family, childrens consignment stores, and thrift stores. Of course, I’m left out the simplest option: co-sleeping, which we have done with two of our three children, and which has proved easiest to manage as a sleep deprived parent! Hey, sleeping with your babies is a time-honored tradition in the history of mankind, and babies are, in fact, biologically designed to stay close to a parent at night. Evolution has not caught up with this new-fangled crib nonsense!

Most of us cannot get by without a carseat. It would take a major shift in our lives or in society for that need to go away. However, I don’t know any reason why you need an infant carseat and later a forward-facing carseat. Get a convertible carseat and let the one device serve all of your baby’s needs for a safe driving environment. Indeed, let it serve for all of your kids, replacing it only in case of accident or expiration. Simplify your life with less carseats; simplify your shopping with less carseats. Save money. Live better (couldn’t resist). Also, for those of you who live in Boston or other cities with great public transportation and little need for cars, you may be able to forgo the nasty things altogether as I swore with each baby I would do before I had another!

Baby bouncers, swings, seats, exersaucers, walkers, play yards, etc: some parents find them very handy. We had a bouncer and swing with our first but they didn’t get used much and weren’t worth the space they took up in our tiny house, so we didn’t bother with them again. Our baby only wanted to be held, and always wanted to be held, rendering these devices useless and a wrap indispensable. If one of the above gives you a safe place to set your baby while you shower, that can be life changing for an exhausted and tapped out mom, and I am happy to see her have that opportunity! If one such device entertains baby so parents can get a break, that’s invaluable and not to be scoffed at. So it’s worth borrowing one or two and trying them out with your baby. But do not think they are necessary, nor beneficial. Your baby learns more from being held or worn on your body than from the buttons and textures and sounds on their baby gear. Babies grow and sleep better in contact with mom or dad. A baby’s motor skills develop optimally in contact with your human body. So don’t buy into marketing that tells you what the devices will do for your baby. And do realize that all of these “conveniences” designed to replace your arms are, while probably harmless, not optimum. A baby who spends more time in gear than in arms should be given sufficient “tummy time” to counteract the unnatural situation. Babies in arms get their tummy time against you. And speaking of tummy time, laying a baby on his or her back or tummy (as preferred) on a blanket on the floor is a very good place to let a non-mobile baby play and be occupied with measuring spoons in lieu of a playmat. So, use these things to the degree that they help your family be happy and comfortable and without fooling yourself into thinking they are the best place for your baby. They are, simply, a helpful break!

A high chair can be very helpful, but again not necessary. My youngest has been high-chair free (except when visiting grandparents) due to our circumstances. Did you know that a baby can eat very easily perched on your lap or sitting on a spot on the floor set up for dinner? May I just interject a recommendation for baby-led solids, here? Again, evolutionarily appropriateness meets convenience for a parenting choice made in heaven 🙂

Baby bathtubs have always seemed to me to be a waste of space. We had a few with our first and soon passed them on. It was much more convenient and comfortable to take her into the bath with us, and when I didn’t feel like that project, she could be wiped with a washcloth. Young babies rarely need to be bathed as long as you are cleaning their bottoms and faces sufficiently after they eat and poop!

That leaves the stroller, and it is probably obvious that a baby carrier can replace a stroller. We found a cheap umbrella stroller helpful when we took our four year old to Disney World in the heat. We bought it at a thrift store, and re-donated it the day we got back. We found a similar umbrella stroller helpful to have as an option for our toddler as we explored the United States, traveling in our motorhome with our baby wrapped up. Even then, we encountered many places where it was more convenient to just wear them both (between my husband and myself), such as those charming cobble-stoned streets of Boston, or through the beautiful forests in the National Parks where she would alternate wanting to walk and be carried. Now, with a 7 year old, a 2 year old, and a 1 year old, we do not own a stroller. We haven’t needed one yet with the 1 year old, and other than that trip to Disney World, we didn’t need one when the 7 year old was little. We did find it helpful with the middle child for a time, and I used it with her during my exhausting pregnancy with number three. I’m very glad I had it. So, see what fits your life. But realize that…

…of all the baby gear mentioned here, a baby wrap is the one that can be the most helpful, has the most benefits for baby, for mother, for those who breastfeed, and for generally simplifying the complex world of parenting. I’d say it’s worth the price!

Is my baby too big for a wrap?

Hiking with a big kid wrapped on my back.

I hear this question a lot, and my answer is that, if you use a stroller and you want to ditch it, a wrap is your answer!  Or if you wind up carrying your child and want a more comfortable solution, a wrap is your answer!  Some people don’t think of their pre-schoolers as being in-arms, but when you think about it you may realize that you end up carrying them on hikes, at the end of a long zoo day, when they can’t be counted on to stay out of the street, oe when you’re in a hurry to pick up the pace.  It may be daily or weekly.  And since they’re pre-schoolers, that might be an achy proposition!  Your wrap can be there for all those times.  It’s a piggy back ride, but your child doesn’t have to hold on, and you don’t either!

If your child takes care of all his or her own mobility, then you probably don’t need one, unless you have a special circumstance wherein more time spent wrapped together would be advantageous, perhaps in the case of an adoptive child or one with sensory issues.

What Babywearing Does for Feminism

Babywearing Gets Moms out of the House

I guess “feminism” means different things to different people. If it means freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without regard to sex or gender, then none of us should feel like the needs of the feminism movement should dictate our choices. It means that condemning a woman for going to work or staying at home are equally preposterous, and equally harmful to the cause of feminism. It means that bottlefeeding and breastfeeding are both banners of equality and freedom and a woman can know that the less of a hard time she’s given for her parenting choices, the greater the progress of feminism.

The arrival of gender equality should mean that criticizing mothering practices is as rude as arguing with someone about how they decorate their homes.

It is true that how we raise our children is of more interest to society than how we decorate our homes. The results of the former affect us all. But those who feel strongly about how children should be treated can take solace when considering that just as children learn values from their parents’ actions and choices, so can our friends, relatives, and even strangers learn values from observing us. How happy our children are, how fulfilled we seem. If our family interactions inspire others to strive for a similar level of love, compassion, communication and understanding, then we are affecting the families around us more than we ever could by warnings or advice.

This was supposed to be about babywearing, so now I’ll come to it. Babywearing has many benefits for mothers and babies. A mother need not babywear because she thinks she ought to. I hope that mothers will give it a try because it can help make mothering easier. A happy baby makes mothering easier. A baby who cries less, makes mothering easier. Having hands free to feed herself or brush her teeth makes mothering easier. And if it doesn’t make your life easier, or if you don’t want to give it a try, that doesn’t reflect on the quality of your mothering. It just means that you’re not exactly the same as me. It would be kind of creepy if you were.

And for those who think that nursing and babywearing are bad for women, keeps them home when they want to be out, keeps them out of the workforce when they wish they were pursuing careers, to those people I say:

1. Stop assuming that your values and interests are mine! There are as many different ideas of the perfect life as there are human beings. Some are glad to get out of the workforce. Some feel privileged and excited at the chance to raise children full time. Some wish they could stay home but work out of necessity, and some are very happily nursing, babywearing and working a fulltime job.

2. Nursing and babywearing both make it easier to get out of the house, whether it’s every day as a stay at home mom, or action-packed weekends as a working mum. With no bottles to prepare and to keep cold or warm up, and no overstuffed bags to carry them around in, going out is a breeze. No need to be home when baby gets hungry, the perfect food is always ready at the perfect temperature and anywhere is a good place to feed baby.

Babywearing means you don’t have to pack, unload, or set up a stroller, and you don’t need space in your car. You don’t have to change your plans to accommodate the giant wheeled beast—babywearing can go anywhere that it’s safe for babies to go. You don’t have to schedule around naptime, since baby can nap contentedly in the middle of a festival when wrapped up. There is less stress from keeping your toddler in sight or out of the street, and you have less to fear from tantrums or accidents when you keep your baby or child wrapped against you.

As far as the pursuit of happiness goes, I assert that babywearing makes mothering easier in that it helps fulfill babies’ needs more easily, making for an environment in which a mother has more freedom to fulfill her own needs, and partake in the activities that make her happy. Feminist babywearers Unite!

Why A Woven Wrap?

Wearing a Toddler With a Woven Wrap

There are two main categories of wraparound carrier: those that are stretchy, generally made of knit jersey material; and those that are woven which are sturdier and safer for bigger children.

I only sell wraps. And I only sell woven wraps. Because wovens are the most versatile and comfortable carrier I have found. They are the one carrier I know that can do it all so that one purchase will last a family through many children, or even generations. To my mind, stretchy wraps are an altogether different kind of carrier, and fits into my “other” category:

Ring slings, pouches, mei tais and Asian Baby Carriers, soft structured carriers like the Beco and Ergo, and stretchy wraps like Moby and the Sleepywrap are all great babywearing options with which I have no beef. They provide ergonomic positions for your baby and allow parents to keep their babies close to their hearts while accomplishing daily tasks or hiking off the beaten path. For those who want to save money or space by forgoing many other baby devices, a good baby carrier can eliminate the need for other bulky or costly pieces of baby gear. They are all super stars, in my mind!

But which of them cocoons a newborn—no matter how small—in a womb-like cradle against your chest; is equally suited to keeping your growing, inquisitive baby safe and close while you go about your daily activities together; and provides a strong, comfortable place on your back for your toddler while you hike, or shop, or dance, and while they nap, or relax, or laugh and point, and engage in the world with you.

Which of them allows an infinite ability to customize on the go, providing head support as needed, allowing babies arms to be tucked in or out, offering carries that give your baby a view or those that tuck them against you for cuddling, supporting a nursing position, allowing for wearing multiple children or those with special needs, supporting little ones from preemie to preschool, fitting caregivers of different sizes without adjustment, promoting the comfort of the babywearer by accommodating different physical needs, and offering many options for front, back, and hip carries that are not awkward, all with one simple carrier?

So, why woven wraps? Because, in their simplicity, a simple piece of cloth really can accomplish the most for families.

Woven Wrap - Babywearing in Lake Eerie

Colimacon et Cie Woven Wrap Review

Susan was kind enough to send her thoughts on her new Colimacon et Cie wrap.  It’s a new brand to Wrap Your Baby, and there aren’t many reviews yet, so I was very happy to receive her comprehensive review and comparison:

I just received my 3.5m Chocolate C&C wrap in the mail today! The color is beautiful! I measured it and it’s actually 3.87m long. Right out of the package it is pretty smooth and soft. I can tell it won’t need much breaking in. I’ll see what happens with the length and how much softer it gets after a machine wash and dry later today. It is for sure thinner than my brand new Storch Inka that I received almost 2 weeks ago. When I hold it up to the light I can see light through it. It is slightly thicker than my Vatanai Maruyama. I can see this being a great summer wrap for multi layer carries, but really great anytime of the year. My youngest child was sleeping so I wrapped my 6.5 year old DS in a pretty sloppy BWCC and he felt weightless (which is saying a lot since I’m 5’2″ and 24 weeks pregnant and he weighs 40lbs!). It was very easy to wrap with….easier than my new Inka. My new Inka still needs some breaking in so I find that the fabric is still pretty grippy, but this C&C wrap was very easy to wrap with even though it is brand new and I haven’t done anything to break it in.

Thank you Diana Rosenfield for deciding to stock such a wonderful and affordable wrap! I’ll report back later after I wash/dry it and maybe I’ll be able to get hubby to snap an action shot as well 🙂

And she did report back after washing and drying:

Alright, I put it through a warm wash and dried on medium heat. It went from 3.87m brand new to 3.52m after wash so it shrunk down to pretty much exactly 3.5m! It’s softer for sure and I think it’s already feeling pretty floppy! Now I’m curious how much softer it will get. I can’t wait to wrap baby #4 in this wonderful wrap!

Benefits of Wrapping Premature Babies

“A woman is pregnant for nine months, she is postpartum for the rest of her life.” The biochemical truth of this is good news for the healing of our planet. Postpartum women are a gentle and essential force of nature. They are full of love, and there can never be too much love.” ~Ibu Robin Lim

All babies benefit from being held against their mothers, and from staying close during sleep and feedings, too.  But a premature infant has the most to gain from being close to mother’s heart, and the greatest benefits are had when mother and baby are skin to skin, with no clothing or fabric between their bodies.  This is known as Kangaroo Care and the benefits are so great, that studies have found preemies kept against their mother’s chests to do better than their counterparts in incubators!

Before man made the technology you find in hospitals, Nature, God, or Evolution made man, and gave every man a mother to warm him and raise him.  I think mothers are so cool, I could start a cult (if I had the time)!  For example, did you know that a mother’s breasts change temperature warm or cool a baby held against her?  Her body knows the optimum temperature for her baby before her baby’s body has learned to self-regulate temperature.

In fact, being held against mother’s body teaches a baby’s body a lot about how to behave.  From us they learn to regulate temperature, but also the rhythm of regular heartbeats.  One reason why sleeping with your baby can help prevent SIDS is that being beside our body remind a baby’s body to keep up regular breathing.

And when all of the baby’s systems are working optimally, he or she will sleep more, promoting healing and growth.  So for all these reasons, premature infants that are worn and whose parents practice Kangaroo Care grow faster, and are generally allowed to go home from the hospital sooner.  So if you are looking for a way to support your baby’s growth perfectly and give your family every edge for being together soon, look into Kangaroo Care.  Here is an excellent article on the subject of Kangaroo Care and why it works.

Wrapping with Clubbed Feet and Spinal Bifida

Special Needs Babywearing

Does your baby have a physical condition that makes wrapping impractical?  Because of the versatility of wraps, in many cases it will be possible to find a way to wrap up your baby that, rather than being impractical under the circumstances, will make it much easier for you to care for your baby.  Before you reject babywearing out of hand, read this story:

Sarah had a friend whose baby was born prematurely with some special medical situations: clubbed feet, Spinal Bifiida, dislocated hips and a delicate immune system.  Rather than giving up her plans for wrapping because of the special situation, her friend was able to use a baby wrap to help her handle the special needs.  She was lucky to have in her friend a trained babywearing instructor.  Since most moms don’t have Sarah to call on, I wanted to share this story for those mamas and papas who might have similar situations and could benefit from their story.

Wrapping up baby Alethea, was helpful to her mama because it allowed her to more easily hold her baby while supporting her heavy leg braces…while recovering from multiple surgeries herself.  It supplied her with a way to hold her baby’s hips in the spread position that her doctors had recommended, which was difficult to achieve in arms. It gave her a safe way to carry her baby in public while protecting her delicate immune system from being  exposed to a lot of germs.  It also allowed her to give her premature baby the extraordinary benefits of being held tummy to tummy while she went about her day.

In wrapping Alethea, her mamma had several physical considerations to account for.  The leg casts had to be supported so that they did not pull down on her baby.  The casts held Alethea’s legs stiffly in position so that her legs could not be bent into a squat as is normally recommended.  And Alethea was born early, making it particularly important to ensure that her airway was not compromised by letting her chin sink against her chest.

Read Sarah’s story about helping Tracy wrap up baby Alethea.

Wrap Sentimentality

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My friend Jessica, mother to 3 with another on the way, just shared this story about her 19 month old daughter and I couldn’t resist passing it on:

When it was time for Lailah’s nap, I picked up her wrap (Girasol night rainbow 2.5) and as soon as she saw it, a big smile came to her face. I didn’t even wrap her with it but laid it across her back like a blanket. She began to yawn and every muscle in her body began to relax. 2 minutes later she had eyes closed and I put her in her bed with the wrap draped across her torso.

That piece of cloth has got us through SO much in the past year. From the difficulties of nursing, tummy bug, fevers, teething, single parenting, keeping up with her brother and sister, long nature walks, wherever strollers couldn’t go…the list goes on. My arms could’ve never been able to accomplish all that a wrap or carrier could! Babywearing gave me the ability to comfort my baby, cook a meal and care for my other two kids at the same time! Never did I think that this simple, yet beautiful wrap could create such a wonderful loving bond between mother and child.

So, as I lay my 19 month old down in her bed, a tear came to my eye because of the tenderness that this fabric has created in our lives. Babywearing/toddlerwearing is such a brief moment in time and I am so glad it has been a part of nurturing my children. The physical and emotional attachment, security and gentleness will carry on for years to come! Wearing my children while they are young has become foundational to our family.

Happy Mothers Day!

My darling daughters!

Do you have an opinion on what sort of mom is best? Live it. Be the change you want to see in the world. Ooze your ideals as you nurture your babies and raise your children. Unashamedly act on your convictions at home and in public. Let your confidence subdue imagined criticisms and allow you to smile compassionately at the real ones. No need to defend yourself or explain yourself, and no need for others to defend or explain themselves. Your quiet confidence, your peaceful demeanor and happy family will speak for themselves. And sometimes strangers will look in and see the madhouse that your family often is, but if you know that happiness and peace underlie the madness, then wave cheerfully at the strangers and stride forward with your family, unafraid or abashed. There is no one else fit to mother your children. No one else knows the intimacies of your family, no else cares as much about the daily happiness or long term success of your family. No one else is qualified. Happy Mothers Day, Mama!

Chunei Carry Tied Under Bottom

Don’t be fooled, the Chunei Back Carry is another name for the more descriptive Double Hammock Carry.  And this version feels just as snug, secure, and supportive to me, but you can do it with a shorter wrap.

With Summer peaking around the corner, a lot of us like to start using shorter wraps–less fabric wrapped around you is bound to be cooler for parent AND baby!  So I thought this was timely.  I made this video this winter, however, at the Grand Canyon.  Because if you find yourself about to wrap up your baby at the Grand Canyon, you might as well have your husband pull out the video camera, right?

Give this Short Double Hammock Carry a try, and let me know how you like it!

Traveling Again

For those of you who don’t know, we are a traveling family. We’ve been at our homebase, in Clearwater Florida for a few months where most of our friends and family are, and today we set out again.  We move slowly, about 2 hours a day, because we’ve got the kiddos strapped down for the whole drive and kiddos only want to be strapped down for so long before they turn into terrible, miniature hulks, burst through their straps, and start tearing up the RV…

We got to Gainesville, Florida today.  We’re headed for North Carolina where my wonderful and musical husband–David Rosenfield–is attending the SouthEast Folk Alliance Conference, and then for Texas to enjoy good company and good music at the Kerrville Folk Festival.  Yee-haw!  This is a short trip, and we’ll be back in the bosom of our family by the end of June.

The wrap business comes on the road with us.  Precious cargo space that should be dedicated to our clothing, toys and possessions is instead taken up by stacks of wraps waiting to be sold.  So please, keep ordering wraps! I will keep shipping.  We’re somewhere new everyday, but every town has a post office and you can keep tabs on us by checking the postmark!

We have internet, too, so please, keep up with me on Facebook, feel free to email me, and keep sending your pictures, stories, and questions.  It wouldn’t feel like home without them 🙂
Traveling Family Motorhome in the desert

Are You Mom Enough? Or Extreme Parenting Thoughts…

Extreme Parenting Family :)

Attached Parenting is a label but you don’t have to have heard of it, studied it, or carefully adhere to it. The heart of it is to listen to and respond to your baby. No one ever hurt, spoiled, or confused a baby by listening to and responding to them. In fact, the practice of listening to and responding appropriately to 4 year olds, 12 year olds, 30 year olds, and 80 year olds alike will be found to increase mutual affection and respect, to produce a greater amount of common ground and shared feeling, to result in more, better, happier, and clearer communication and exchange of ideas, valuable to both parties.

Listening to and responding with love has never taught an individual to expect the world to revolve around them, but it has led individual’s to expect a certain degree of caring and kindness from those they choose to share their lives with. It teaches them to expect more than shallow friends, seek out better than “fair” romantic partners, and to care for others with honesty and integrity, free from agenda.

I urge you not to let social politics dissuade you from answering the needs of the helpless infant entrusted to you. I promise you that the bawling babe has no thought to manipulate you. What depths must a society fall to that such base motives could be assigned to our babies? Our BABIES?

And I remind you that taking care of ourselves and our needs is a full time job, that those of us blessed with parenthood are given a most impossible task in caring in full for the needs of another while we are supposed to be keeping ourselves going as well. If you need to use the bathroom and close the door to get some peace for one minute before you pick up that crying baby, I will not say that you have acted wrongly. Get what help you can in this task from your partner, your siblings, your friends, your parents, your neighbors, church, or community. Don’t kick yourself when your baby has to wait. Take a deep breath and allow yourself a little peace as you do what you need to do. This way you are more likely to be able to embrace your baby with love rather than resentment and in so doing you are more likely to comfort him and still his crying and fulfill you both.

And for those who wonder if some people take Attached Parenting to the extreme, and for those who ask Are You Mom Enough?…I encourage you not to close your minds to the possibility of breastfeeding, cosleeping, or babywearing out of hand. You make your parenting choices that work for you and your family and you cannot know, cannot even imagine, until you are a parent. And those of us who are breastfeeding, cosleeping and babywearing are doing it because it works for our families.

Yes, there are tons of wonderful reasons for me to nurse my babies, but it is no small thing to a mother of three that it is easier, faster, and simpler than any other feeding method. Do I enjoy not having to mix or prepare formula, store it in and out of the house, clean or disinfect bottles, pay for the pleasure of the extra work week in and week out, or try to stall a screaming baby in the middle of the night with stories of a bottle that will be ready soon? I do. I wont judge you if you do it a different way, but I’m doing what works for my family.

Cosleeping may reduce the risk of SIDS but since I breastfeed, it also means I don’t have to get up in the night. It means everyone in my house gets more sleep. It means I don’t have to strategize against my baby or toddler, battle planning how to get him or her to sleep in their own bed, forcing them to get used to sleeping alone, tricking them into thinking that I’m still there. I don’t have to listen to my baby crying while I count out the appropriate number of seconds or minutes before my strategic plan allows me to respond… That said, my first baby only slept with us for about 4 months because we did NOT sleep better together at that point. I laid her in her own bed with as much compassion, time, and patience as I could each and every time.  It was not particularly easy, but it was worth it.  See how I’m just doing what works for my family? The answer for your family is probably, whatever arrangement allows everyone to get the most sleep.  Parents who “don’t cosleep” may also find that they let their child into their bed, or climb into their child’s bed in the middle of the night anyway when they are too tired to enforce the house rules. Why not embrace it and look forward to waking up in a family bed, sun streaming through the windows on sleeping angels of various sizes, waking up to a cuddlefest or a tickle war, or a pillow fight, or a good book read together?

To say that extreme “APers” even let their baby into their bed is, in my opinion, disingenuous. It implies that this is new, radical, and a major sacrifice. The truth is that separate baby beds are the new fad, part of our culture of baby things that keep a baby out of a parents’ arms. I don’t condemn their use out of hand, but I cannot condone the suggestion that not using them often and regularly is some kind of a crazy, creepy, cult experience. Young babies are safest sleeping beside adult human beings (only given that you are not on drugs or pills of any kind, not under the influence of alcohol, and are otherwise healthy and capable). Our presence helps keep their new systems working, and if they do stop breathing in their sleep, we are likely to wake and find them and start them again. And can the fact that most of the families with several children are the cosleepers please put to rest the myth that cosleeping means no sex life? Becoming a parent means creative sex. No more same-time, same-place marital rut for you. Now you’re going to have to be spontaneous, seize the moment, and be willing not to “just finish up these dishes first.” I intend to get myself a bumper sticker: CoSleepers do it on the Couch.

Babywearing is one of my favorite things. That’s why I’m here (on this blog; not why I’m here on this planet—how extreme do you think I am?). I can—and do—go on about the benefits of babywearing, how it promotes babies’ development physically, mentally, and emotionally, but that doesn’t mean I think a baby that doesn’t get wrapped up is specifically at any disadvantage. Just as I think organic food is MUCH better for a child, or anyone, I cannot tell the organically fed children from the conventionally fed. We do the best we can with what we have and with what works for our families. Sometimes my family eats organic, sometimes it’s not in the budget. Babywearing, however, fits my life and budget very well. We don’t have the room or inclination for a stroller. We do a lot of hiking and climbing, and touring down cobblestone streets. We go to beaches, wade through creeks, crowd into little coffee houses, visit Rennaisance Festivals and engage in many other unpaved adventures. I have all these things to fit into my days that I cannot always schedule around naptimes—so babywearing means naps happen at the beach, or wherever we are and doesn’t keep us from pursuing the day’s activities. Besides that, I have three kids, myself and my husband to keep up with, I have all of us to feed and I need my hands free, I have my toddler’s hand to hold in parking lots, and I need to be able to chase her at a moment’s notice. No, mine is not a strolling life. Babywearing works for my family and makes my life easier.

I don’t do any of these things by way of sacrificing myself for my children. Oh, having children means a lot less me-time, and a lot of changes, and I look forward to getting a lot of personal freedom and autonomy back as they get older, but in the meantime nursing, cosleeping, and babywearing make these rough but wonderful years easier, more pleasant, more fun for all of us. Believe me, I am taking the easy road, as I need every break I can get at this point!

Responding to a crying baby is never extreme. Every time a baby cries, he or she is communicating something. They are hungry, or tired, or wet, or hot, or lonely, or even just want to be held by a parent, and is that really something bad, to be discouraged? Why? Even when you cannot figure out what a baby needs, your being there, holding, comforting, singing, whatever you do, helps that baby get through the discomfort or unhappiness with your support. If you are my friend, please don’t leave me alone to cry just to teach me a lesson.

If we are teaching lessons here, can it be that the world is full of loving people, that none of us need be alone?  How about acting in the best way you know how, without judgement of others doing the best they can?

Interested in my thoughts on continuing to parent toddlers and children with extreme love and kindness?


Daddy Babywearing Toddler at the Grand Canyon

Characteristics of Bamboo, Linen, and Silk Baby Wraps

Bamboo and Cotton Wrap

I’ve always used 100% cotton wraps.  There is a lot of variety available in 100% cotton.  But other textiles are popular, and I’m branching out now to find out why:

Bamboo is popular in wraps primarily because of how soft and airy it is.  It has a light, silky feel and a lovely sheen but is very strong and durable enough to machine wash (a big perk for parents).  What’s more, parents or children with sensitive skin–or those prone to allergies– may find that bamboo’s hypoallergenic and anti-fungal properties and natural UV protection make it the most comfortable carry around. To cap it off, its antibacterial properties make it naturally odor resistant.

Linen, as a fabric, feels fresh and smooth to the touch. In a wrap, the lightweight, breathable fabric is known for cooler wrapping and is often recommended as a Summer wrap for this reason.  Because it wicks moisture away, it keeps you and your baby feeling cool and dry.  Linen is not very elastic, and perhaps that is why it is popular with parents wrapping heavier babies or bigger kids: as they have less bounce, or give, linen wraps are very sturdy and hold a rock solid wrap job without having to worry about sagging.  Linen is also very durable and can be machine washed.

Silk has a beautifully luxurious sheen, and a lovely drape, making for some very classy baby wraps.  It is very flexible, molding around you and your baby like a glove, and provides a supportive carry that is also soft and comfortable.

Patience Isn’t Just For Babies

My three kiddos (and my new Ellevill Paisley Java wrap).

I have a baby, a toddler, and a seven year old.  This spectrum of ages gives me some perspective that I didn’t have when my eldest was younger, and it occurs to me that these concepts compliment and build off each other:

When your baby cries, realize he or she is communicating a need.  He doesn’t have words, and crying is how he tells you something is wrong.

When your toddler cries, screams, or tantrums, realize that he or she is communicating a need.  Her emotions are bigger than her vocabulary and sometimes she doesn’t even know what is wrong, just that something is.  Even if you don’t know what’s wrong, you can help her by being patient, calm, and loving so that she knows she is somewhere safe while experiencing scary and overwhelming emotions, and that will allow her to come back into the present moment and calm down when ready.

When your young child “misbehaves” or acts out, realize that he or she is communicating a need.  His emotions are bigger than his ability to handle them gracefully, maybe because he’s hungry or tired, or under some other physical stress, because too many things have gone wrong today, or even because something has keyed him into some scary incident in his past that he doesn’t realize is affecting him.  The same thing happens to me when I’m not at my prime–I react  to unruly kids in ways that I resolved not to, ways that are not graceful or appropriate or helpful.  I misbehave, too.  You can help me at these times, and you can help your child the same way, by staying patient and calm and loving so that we know we are with someone safe until we feel safe enough to snap out of it and join you in civilized behavior.  Sometimes if my husband just silently pulls me in for a long, full hug, that does the trick.  You can try the same with your son or daughter.  Understand that this is not his usual face, that he is stressed.  The better you get at being a good listener and the less advice you offer, the less of that behavior you will see because you will have provided a safe outlet for when things are rough.

Likewise, if your baby bites you, or won’t leave the outlets alone, or pulls your hair, you know that she is learning and experimenting and it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from her, and her safe from everything else so that she can safely explore.  When she continues to do these things despite repeated reminders, you know that it is developmentally appropriate 🙂

If your toddler draws on the wall, pulls the cat’s tail, and keeps getting sticks of butter out of the fridge, unwrapping them, carrying them around in his sweaty little hand, then leaving them around the house (What? No, it’s just a random, common example), you can remind yourself that he is learning how to cause effects in his world, practicing how to do things for himself, experimenting with self-determinism and feeling the waters of interpersonal relations.  It is your responsibility to set a good example and part of that good example is how to handle unplanned messes and disappointments gracefully.  When he fails to stop drawing on the wall when you come in and say, “No, stop that–STOP THAT!” then you remind yourself that this, too, is developmentally appropriate.  It is your job to stop him if it’s unacceptable, and it’s also your job to attempt to do it without bruising his self esteem, pride in his work, trust in you, or peace of mind.  Because that’s a parent’s impossible job, and the more often we manage it, the sooner our toddlers will grow into responsible and caring children that can be trusted with markers, cats, and the contents of the refrigerator.

If your young child leaves a mess, breaks her possessions, or disobeys direct instructions, remind yourself of how far she has come, how much she has learned, and how much easier she is to live with…than when she was a toddler.  Learn to take deep breaths and think before you act.  Think back to this blog post when I told you that the more independence you can grant her, the better you can listen to her, the more ways you can find to accept help from her the way she wants to offer it, the more ways you can find to appreciate her, and the more you can refrain from controlling her, the sooner she will improve on all fronts and blossom into the sweet, thoughtful, responsible and trustworthy person you know she is.  Every time you put more attention on what she’s doing right, instead of wrong, that’s when you will see her doing more right.  And as always, it is your job to set a good example.  She will show you respect when she sees you respecting her needs, objections, crises, contributions, explanations, and bright ideas.  She will become responsible for her messes, possessions, and obligations as you model responsibility be behaving consistently toward her and in your dealings with others (they are always watching).  Your thoughtful and caring actions towards her, will inspire her to think of how you might feel about her actions.  Be honest and frank in your communication and in your love.  Listen to her, and you will find her listening to you.

And most of all, remember that mothers who blog about how to mother, are subject to all the pitfalls that you are.  Lucky for me, this post was about some ideals to operate from, and not about the facts of my parenting wins and fails.  These are my beliefs, and when I am calm and all my children are asleep, I think about these ideas and smile peacefully. In the morning I will do my best to operate from them.  I think operating with loving intention is an awfully good start.

Each One Teach One

Do you see too many babies in bucket seats? Harried mothers carrying a baby in one tired arm and pushing an empty stroller in the other? Wish your sister, and cousin, and your BFF knew how much easier life can be with a baby wrap, and how many benefits there are to babies over “container parenting”?

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Babywearing groups are great and I wish there was one available to anyone. But sometimes there’s a mom that has skills and willingness to help, but does not have the time or energy to create a babywearing group. I want to tap that resource for brand new wrappers everywhere because nothing makes wrapping easier than one on one assistance!

Our Facebook community had created a database of individuals, listed by US state or by country, that would be happy to help a new wrapper learn the basics or troubleshoot wrap difficulties. The database was lost during one of Facebook’s many restructurings, but I saved the info before it disappeared. Now the information sits on my hard drive, not helping much of anyone…

So it’s time to put up a new database, not hosted by Facebook or another entity that gets to change the rules whenever they want.

I’m going to create the list on my website, and ask all of you to be brave enough and proactive enough to volunteer your name and contact info so that when a new mom springs up in Somewhere, West Dakota*, and learns about wraps, and starts to think, “that looks too complicated for me—I’ll just use a stroller…” we will be there to say,

“Wraps are easy with practice, and here’s a list of friendly and experienced mamas in your state who wish you would call them so they can help you get the hang of it!”

Because parenting is easier with a wrap, and the babies seem to like it too 🙂

*I know, I know.

Wrap Designs, Old & New!

All of the companies I work with are small enough to remain very much in tune with customers’ needs and wants, and so it should be no surprise that wraps are sometimes discontinued to make room for new colors and designs as they emerge.  Here’s a look at some of the changes over the past year:

Seattle EllaRoo

Seattle EllaRoo

I was disappointed to learn recently that EllaRoo has discontinued their rebozo (2.7 meter) size wraps.  I loved EllaRoo rebozos for quick carries, loved the thinness, and the fringe.  I have only one remaining EllaRoo rebozo in stock: Seattle.  The brand I have in my store that is still available in rebozo size is Storchenwiege, and luckily, they have many colors to choose from.  They are thicker which is nice for a cushier feel on the shoulders, and should still not be too warm for a Summer wrapping solution as a one-layered rebozo carry admits plenty of air flow.  Reports are that the organic Bio Louise Storchenwieges are thinner and cooler than the other weaves.

In the beautiful world of Bali Breeze, brought to us by the GypsyMama, we have seen several new colors this year, and said goodbye to several more (Gaia, Haumea, Whitman).  The latest wrap to be added to the discontinued list is Alice, which has been a pretty good seller for me, but I am consoled by the fact that she is always coming up with new beauties to replace the old and I would hate to miss out on new artwork just because I couldn’t let go 🙂  I still have some Alice wraps in stock (if you don’t see your size, email me as I may be able to get one), but there will be no more manufactured so these are the last.  Here’s Alice:

Alice Bali Breeze wrap

Alice Bali Breeze, with mother and baby Mynah birds

But such pretty new Bali Breeze!  My favorite is Hope, but you can see all three: Rainbow Hope, Purple & Grey Lily, and brown & pink Lana in my store right now.

Batik Rainbow Hope wraparound baby carrier

Batik Rainbow Hope

And in the world of Storchenwiege, we have two brand new Leos (the famously soft, supple, cuddly, and beloved weave exclusive to Storch wraps)–Bordeaux and Cafe.  Which makes for seven gorgeous Leo colors now available in all sizes!

New Storchenwiege Leo Bordeaux baby wrap

Leo Bordeaux Storch

And I’ve got my own plans for releasing an exclusive to Wrap Your Baby wrap.  But that’s not news yet.  You’ll just have to wait…