Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why don't you recommend? SSC High Back Carries

Today we are starting a new feature.  We are going to explore common suggestions that we don't recommend.  In this post, we are going to cover why we don't recommend high back carries as a standard carry in a soft structured carrier.  The biggest reason is that it is not how the carriers are designed to be worn.  Because soft structure carriers use a heavily padded waist band designed to distribute the weight onto your hips, buckling well above your hips loses that benefit.

Other troubles the can occur when using this method are highlighted below.

With the waist just beneath the bust, it doesn't have anything to keep it from sliding down your body as the day wears on.
Fabric becomes trapped under the child's bottom or hangs way over the waistband making either a poor seat or an overly deep seat.

Because of the fabric lost under the bottom, the back of the carrier does not come as high on the child as it could.  The wearer also may not be able to tighten the straps sufficiently.  This mother has the straps as tight as they will go and wants them tighter.

Contrast the same child worn with the same carrier at her mother's waist.

The child has a much better seat, she has support all the way up her back, and her mother can get a much tighter fit with her straps.  You can also see the child feels more confident and supported in the carry because in the earlier photo she was holding on to her mother, whereas she has relaxed in this carry.
Does this mean that if you have a buckle carrier that you like wearing under the bust we are saying you must stop?  No, of course not.  But if you ask us to show you how to use an SSC on your back, we will not demonstrate a high back carry.  And if you come asking for a carrier to do a high back carry, we will recommend a mei tai or wrap as carriers better suited to the task.  There are a few buckle carriers with unstructured waists if you really want a higher back carry and buckles, but they still may not fit your body because of the tightening issue mentioned with the straps.  Hopefully this illustrates more clearly the pitfalls of this popular recommendation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Moving: A Babywearing Story

In the winter of 2010, the day after Christmas, my husband, J, set off to Virginia from California with all of our belongings in one of those big yellow trucks.  I was eight months pregnant at the time, so I flew up about a week later once he and my father in law got everything unloaded.  We moved from a small little two bedroom ground level apartment in a middle of nowhere town to a three story town house on the outskirts of the DC Metro area.  The culture shock was staggering.  Having to haul my huge self up and down all those stairs was exhausting.  Add to that all the things that need to get done after a move like that-new license plates and driver's licenses, figuring out just where in the world the grocery store is, finding a new OB at pretty much the last minute, etc.-I bet you can guess how much unpacking I got done while I was still pregnant.  Not much.  The baby's room got done though!  Two months after the big move, I gave birth to our first son, D.  My first non-baby related thought?  How am I supposed to unpack now?  This tiny human needs to be in constant contact with me.  We left all of our family and friends in California, so we did the best we could unpacking on the weekends while D was sleeping.  That is, when we weren't sleeping ourselves.  

When D was three months old, J went on travel for three months.  I was on my own with this new
baby and a house that was still half full of boxes.  My goal was to have the house put together before he got home.  I started using cloth diapers around this time, and it was while shopping at the local cloth diapering store that I was first introduced to the idea of babywearing.  I walked in carrying D in his car seat, and the first thing I saw was the employee behind the counter wearing her baby in something that looked like a backpack.  I asked her about it. I walked out that day with my first carrier and information about a local babywearing group.

All of this back story to get to the point of this post: how babywearing helped me during our move. What a huge difference it made!  No longer did I have to wait until my son was sleeping to unpack as many boxes as I could before he woke up.  All I had to do was put him in our carrier, and I could get things done.  I had my hands back!  He loved being snuggled up to me, and I loved it just as much.  Probably more.  I managed to get the majority of the house unpacked by the time J got back, and was able to keep my baby close while doing it.  

Fast forward two years, and we found ourselves getting ready to move again.  Packing is enough of a chore without a two year old trying to "help."  For this reason, I wore D quite a bit while packing.  While J was at work, D would play until he started causing trouble, then I'd put him up on my back and continue to pack.  At our new house, D was much more interested in exploring than helping me unpack, but just before we moved I found out that I was pregnant again.  Yay for a new baby!  Boo for being pregnant during the move.  I was EXHAUSTED the entire 40ish weeks, and the only time we got any unpacking done was on the weekends.  Long story short, I again ended up with a new baby, L,  and a house half full of boxes.  Luckily, this time I already knew about babywearing.

Posted by Katelyn

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

If You Don't Put that Baby Down He'll Never Learn...

When you become a parent, the first thing you realize is that everyone has an opinion on how you raise your child.  Many of those people are strangers or acquiantances that are easy to dismiss if their advice isn't helpful, but what about family members and close friends.  We tend to take their advice and criticism to heart.

So, here we set out to debunk some of the regular comments heard by babywearing parents from their family about what they are doing wrong by babywearing.

If you don't stop babywearing, your child will never learn to crawl. 

And they'll definitely never learn to walk:

And if they manage to walk, they will surely not be able to do physical or helpful things:

And they certainly will never be able to go to school or play away from your side.

See that pink dot WAY over there?  That's a baby who would only be held by mom for almost 2yrs.  She's a perfectly well adjusted first grader:
So, all that to say, babywearing will not keep your baby from growing up to be a normal functioning child.
See, worn babies even get into things:
And make you wish that you could do this, at least for a little while.
So, tell those helpful relatives that your babies WILL do all of those things.  They are only little for a couple of very short years.  During those years they learn a ton about language (easier to learn when near you speaking), balance (worked harder while worn), and they learn that their parents will ALWAYS be there for them.  This leads to a child who is able to successfully attack the world secure in the knowledge that someone has their back (or had them on their back) ;) 
Posted by Ann Marie

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year, A New Leadership Structure

Happy New Year!

In December, the VBEs for BWI of DC-MD-VA voted to move to a board structure.  With this new structure, a smaller number of VBEs will deal with the day to day operations of the local chapter.  As our chapter has grown, the large number of VBEs now assisting our chapter made leadership by consensus challenging.  The new system will have a board of 7 VBEs who will develop policies and make decisions about events, outreach, library, and day to day tasks, then bring proposals for any big changes to the larger VBE pool for a vote.

Now, how does this affect you?  Probably not much at all.  Meetings will continue to be held as they have been in the same locations when possible.  VBEs will continue to be available to assist parents and caregivers at meetings.  Social events will still take place for special occasions such as International Babywearing Week.  The daily operation of the chapter for those outside the leadership will look very similar.  However, it will help streamline systems for the leadership team.

So, without further ado, the new leadership team and their roles.  You can contact the team member listed if you have a question related to their role.  All board members can be reached via email at

Director/Grand Poobah:  Nicole N.
  - will oversee board operations
Money Czar (aka Treasurer): Angelique M.
 - will oversee and track funds
Scribe (aka Secretary):  Ellen S.
 - will produce minutes, notes, etc.
Education Czar:  Ann Marie R.
 - will handle VBE training and accreditation
Library Czar:  Jessica B.
  - will oversee library acquisition, maintenance, and management
Fundraising/Outreach Chair:  Cynthia C.
 - will oversee fundraising and outreach events and the committees involved
Membership: Reilly D.
  - will maintain membership records and serve as liaison from the board to the members

With this new board we hope that we will continue to provide the quality educational and social outlet that our members have come to expect with increased efficiency.  We look forward to serving you this coming year.

Ann Marie and the board

Monday, December 8, 2014

DIY No Sew Babywearing Jacket

I wanted to throw something together quickly, but not pull out my sewing machine.  I found this jacket at Walmart.  It is fleece, so no fraying, no need to hem.  I wear a size S, and I bought an XL to accommodate for the baby on my back. 
The coat I chose has a yoke on the back.  It was super convenient because it is the EXACT place where a baby’s head would pop out.  For any jacket that does not have a yoke, measure down 5 inches.
I measured 3.5 - 4 inches in from the side seam on each side.  And cut along the seam. 
Tada!  Done.
See Angelique's DIY coat tutorial for a heavier coat/sewing version.
Posted by Angelique

Monday, December 1, 2014

To size up, or not to size up... THAT is the question

A common refrain in online babywearing groups lately is, "get a toddler carrier, it'll last longer."  Now, if someone has a 2yr old and is considering purchasing their first carrier to only use with the 2+yr old child, that is pretty good advice.  However, I regularly hear it referencing children under a year.  Many have tried to explain why a too big carrier is a bad idea including questions of comfort for the parent and child.  But I wanted a quick reference for what happens when baby has to overextend.  I borrowed my almost 5yr old (because she's compliant and follows directions), and took a couple pictures. 

When her legs are bent, she can open them about 12inches from the inside of one knee to the other. (I used the seam on the jeans as my consistent measure point).

This is open "as wide as you can, and with legs hanging off the edge of support... similar to a carrier that isn't quite knee to knee.

Now, I then had her sit on the floor, straight legs, and do the same thing.  She makes about 11inches.  She loses a full inch of flexibility by not being able to bend her legs.
Now in this position, she wasn't forced to fit into a carrier, or made to stay in that position for hours.  Imagine the child in a too big carrier. 

If she can't bend her knees, she is stressing her ligaments in the same way that my child did when straight legged which caused her to be unable to open them as wide.  But she would have no choice in a carrier. It is inherently less comfortable and less optimal.

Meanwhile, we can look at the child in a carrier that is "too small."

She can bend her legs as much or little as she wants.  She is old enough to likely want down within a fairly short time frame, or do long stretches maybe once a month?  She doesn't need the most supportive carrier ever made for a child her size.  But this carrier will serve her far better now on the short jaunts than the toddler size one that "fits" would have served for the first 2yrs of her life. 

So, the answer to the question, "to size up" has more to do with what your child needs.  Is an infant/standard size carrier no longer working for your child?  Why?  Is it just because she isn't perfectly knee to knee?  That is not a reason to size up.  There is a full 2in or more gap between fitting a standard carrier "perfectly knee to knee" and fitting the next size up carrier at all.  Most families will never NEED a toddler carrier.  They may WANT one.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But sizing up too early doesn't help you or your baby to have a comfortable babywearing experience.

Posted by Ann Marie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Library Carrier! Madam GooGoo

We are excited to share our latest library carrier win!  During International Babywearing Week, we won this lovely from Madam GooGoo!

And for an action pic, Angelique models with Q (21mo, 19lbs)

Thanks so much for this generous addition to our library.  It should tour each meeting before settling into it's final home.