Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maximizing your Meeting Experience!

We have previously written blogs describing for you what happens at a babywearing meeting (check out this and this). As leaders, it is our goal to help YOU make our meetings a more helpful and enjoyable experience.  BWI of DC-MD-VA is an ever changing organization. Our leaders change, our membership changes, our needs change, and we do our best to roll with it and come out ahead. In an effort to respond to the needs of our attendees (and potential attendees), we have collected some survey data about your experiences at our meetings. We are actively discussing and experimenting with some of your suggestions already!  At our most recent meeting, we tried a signup sheet for one-on-one help to see if that allows our VBEs to better meet the needs of those seeking support. We will continue trying out other ideas and responding to your suggestions.  

One thing we have learned is that many of you would like to know what you can do to help make our meetings better!  Here is our list of suggestions to help you get the most out of our meetings.  We’re calling this, “Maximizing Your Meeting Experience!” (Exciting, isn’t it?!)

  1. Let us know you’re coming. Please RSVP to the meeting events on Facebook, if you can. A
    rough estimate of attendees allows us to allocate our leaders appropriately.  When we are expecting a large turnout, our volunteer leaders have been known to rearrange their schedules in order to give better coverage to help you, but if you decide at the last minute to come to the meeting and haven’t RSVPed, that is 100% fine!  Come!  We’d love to have you.

  1. Communicate special requests in advance.  If you have a special request to try a certain carrier, please post your request online in our FSOT and Chatter Group. We have a broad variety of carriers available in our six carrier libraries, and not every library has the same carriers available. If you ask in advance, we can point you to the right meeting (and sometimes our volunteer leaders can even ferry it behind-the-scenes to the meeting you’re already planning to attend, if time and availability permits).

  1. Bring the carriers that you already own. Our motto is, “practice not product.”  If you own a carrier, bring it! We have a working knowledge of just about every carrier out there, and we’ll do whatever we can to help you with your carrier. Our primary goal is to help you be successful with what you already own.  When needed, we’ll offer suggestions if there is something else that might truly be a better fit. We don’t sell anything, and we don’t stand to benefit from you spending more money. So bring those carriers! If you don’t own anything, that’s ok, too! Come! We have plenty for you to try out.

  1. Plan ahead for your kids. Kids of all ages are welcome at our meetings. Please come with whatever you need to keep your child(ren) happy: snacks, drinks, toys, books, whatever that may be. We ask that it be quiet and not messy (we do often meet in libraries, after all). The libraries have Wifi, so portable devices are an option. If your child has a special toy that would be stressful to share, consider leaving that in the car. When packing snacks, please avoid nut products and be aware that many of our participants have food allergies (especially nut, gluten and dairy).  We ask that you keep snacks contained (within arm’s reach to limit your child leaving food or drink where someone else could pick it up), and avoid sharing or offering snacks or drinks to other children.

  1. Make yourself comfortable. We don’t always set up chairs, as whatever we take out we have to put back and many of our volunteer leaders have to leave as soon as the meeting is finished. If you would like a chair, grab one! Sit on the floor. Lean against a wall.  Put a blanket down on the floor.  Whatever makes you comfortable!  Join us.  If you come in late, that’s fine.  Just slide right in.

  1. Put your child’s needs first. Feel free to parent your child.  Our leaders will sometimes have to pause instruction or conversation in order to parent their own children, and we understand that you may need a break to do the same.  You are welcome to breastfeed, bottle feed, stand and sway with your baby, take a child to the restroom, whatever you need to do.  The children are why we’re here, after all. Please know that many of our leaders are stay at home moms or are working moms with some schedule flexibility, so we often have our children with us, too.  Our leaders have kids that range from newborn to 12 years old.  Many of us couldn’t volunteer to teach you if we couldn’t bring our kids with us.  Our leaders and attendees will also have older children that they need to bring, especially when school is not in session. We all try our best to keep older children calm and contained, but towards the end of the meeting especially, their patience may be wearing thin, hunger is setting in, and things can get a bit rough. It’s frustrating and nerve wracking for all of us!  Please bear with us. If you see a safety concern, inform one of the leaders and/or the parent of the child.

  1. Speak up. Ask questions!  We love questions. We will periodically pause from instruction and ask if there are any general questions. We can handle more specific or in depth questions when we begin our one-on-one support after our basic overview instruction. We do try to get to everyone in turn. When possible, we like to work in small groups to maximize our meeting time and share more varied information. Sometimes true one-on-one assistance is needed and we will do our best to be available for that. Please speak up and ask for what you need. It isn’t rude!  If you ever need us to repeat something, we’re happy to do it. If you asked for help and we didn’t get back to you, remind us. We are not intentionally ignoring you.  You did not annoy us.  We probably just got sidetracked with all the competing demands at a meeting.

  1. Trust us!  All of our VBEs are well versed in every type of baby carrier. While we each have our favorites and our strong suits, any of us can help you with just about anything you need.  For example, if one VBE is wearing her child in a ring sling, she can still help you with mei tais. If she feels another leader is better equipped to help you, she will take you over and introduce you to that leader.  If you trust us, we will do our best to make sure you get the help you need.

  1. Be Patient!  We are moving more of our systems for check-in, membership, and the lending library to electronic databases. Please be patient with us while we figure out new technology and new systems and deal with things that sometimes don’t work the way they should.  We’re all new to it and trying to learn. Once we do, we’ll spend a lot less time at each meeting trying to manage paperwork and we’ll be more available to teach babywearing.

Remember, above all else, we’re here to help you. We volunteer our time because we want you to love babywearing and to be successful with it.  At one point, we all walked into a babywearing meeting, unsure of ourselves, a little bit intimidated, not knowing anyone, and probably tired and frazzled, as well. But something special happened for us, and we came back again.  And again.  And again. And now we’re the ones standing in the front of the room, tossing a baby on our back again and again and again so you can learn to do it, too. We hope these tips will help make meetings a better experience for all of us, and allow us to better meet your needs and make you feel included. Happy wearing!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meet a Leader: Pamm

Our series on our Volunteer Babywearing Educators continues...

Name: Pamm

Name/Age of Child/ren: I have two boys. V is three and E is 19 months.

What jobs, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, etc. did you do before kids?  Do you still do that thing?
I have been the Director of Children’s Worship at Fairfax Community Church since 2007. I direct three creative teaching & musical worship environments as part of a team that mobilizes 150 volunteers to serve nearly 600 kids each weekend. Before my call to vocational ministry, I worked in corporate writing and editing. I channel those skills into helping our BWI chapter and blogging at More Green for Less Green. I also am an accredited Attached at the Heart Parent Educator.

When did you start babywearing?
 I practiced wrapping while pregnant and I started wearing my oldest a day after he was born. Although I had a woven wrap, I brought a Moby to the hospital and used that. Did you know you were going to wear before you had kids, or what prompted you to try it? Based on raves in the blog of an Australian woman I met in an online forum, I decided that I wanted to use woven wraps well before I was even pregnant with V.  I’d never seen anything so beautiful as a Girasol rainbow wrapped around a baby. Before V was born I received a Neobulle cotton wrap in Simon (blue and brown stripes). I registered for it because of the gender-neutral look and lower price point, but I lucked into something amazing. It was soft right out of the package and had contrasting rails which are great for learning with.

Who was the person who most influenced your babywearing and what did they do that was so influential?
Can I have two?
#1 Ann Marie Rodgerson – I showed up to my first BWI meeting with 5 week old V who wanted to nurse and snuggle 24/7. Because of extreme pelvic instability, I couldn’t hold baby in my arms and walk without excruciating pain. I also couldn’t push a stroller. It was wear him or nothing, but the Moby wasn’t cutting it for comfort. I wasn’t able to eat, drink, or use the bathroom without my little snuggle bug losing it, which meant I was losing it. Ann Marie showed me how to use my woven wrap and how to nurse in it. I left the meeting, went home, and ate food while my baby ate (again). I cried tears of joy and came to as many meetings as I could from them on.
#2 Lindsay Killick who worked with me over and over again on a symmetrical-starting double hammock (DH) as my first back carry. DH is a tricky first back carry, let alone having a different way to start it, but it was a must for my special support needs. DH revolutionized my life! I was able to do so much more with baby a back carry. Since my kids regularly come to work with me, mobility is key.

If someone took away all of your carriers and said they were handing you a newborn and you could only choose ONE carrier from birth until the end of wearing, what would you choose? A woven wrap, for sure. More specifically, I’ll go with Didymos Fire Fish, size 5. I have a buttery size 6 one now that I love, but it is a tad long.

Which carrier do you find you return to time and again, whether it be for each newborn, or just a consistent workhorse?
Girasol Amitola yellow weft, size 5. It is such a cheerful rainbow that it perks up any day, and the cotton does well year-round. It’s my deserted island wrap: breathable, beautiful, hides dirt, would make a lovely hammock, is comfortable from newborn to toddler.

Tell me a story of a time that babywearing made a huge difference in the outcome of a family outing.
Cruising while babywearing has been great. Read about it here and here.

What is your favorite thing to do while wearing?
Working and/or nursing! I love that I get to bring my kids to work with some of the time. Babywearing makes productivity and nursing while on-the-go possible.

What is your least favorite thing to do while wearing?
Bending over. Even in a back carry and bending with my knees, my little guy just hates it. He always has. I recently got a grabber to help me pick things up from the floor.

Why did you decide to become a VBE?
 I love babywearing; I love connecting people to resources; I love teaching in large group settings. I think it is important to do volunteer work at every stage of life, and this fits the kid-friendly bill. I suppose the better question is how could I NOT be a VBE?

What is your favorite thing about being a VBE for BWI of DC-MD-VA?
I love those moments when caregiver and child click with the right carrier for them. I can look at them and tell it just clicks. If baby falls asleep out of the perfection of the moment—great! Sometimes these magic moments happen with a carrier the family brought with them that just needed some tweaks and other times it is connecting with an eye-opening library carrier.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What is a VBE?

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying our Meet a Leader series. Maybe you’ve been wondering what exactly it means to be a leader for Babywearing International (BWI).

BWI certifies leaders to be a Volunteer Babywearing Educator (VBE), Advanced Babywearing Educator (ABE), or Master Babywearing Educator (MBE). For simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to everyone as a VBE in this article.

All of our VBEs are well versed in all kinds of babywearing: one shouldered carriers like pouches and ring slings, Asian-inspired carriers like mei tais, soft-structured (or buckle) carriers, and wraps. While we each have our favorites and our strong suits, each leaders has trained to help you with any type of carrier and is versed in front, back, and hip carries and breastfeeding in each type of carrier.

During a meeting, VBEs may teach in a variety of forms. Many meetings start with a Babywearing 101 session modeling the major types of carriers and safety basics. After that, we like to work in small groups if people with similar questions. It’s a great way to learn through listening, seeing, and doing, and to start to meet others in the group. When one-on-one assistance is needed, we do our best to be available for that.

Only BWI certified educators can instruct at a meeting, but we welcome other volunteers in supporting roles like greeter, librarian, membership sign-up, and behind-the-scenes things like marketing and web support. Having volunteers in these supporting roles is key to allowing VBEs as much time to teach at a meeting as possible.

The V in VBE is key. Each one of us is a volunteer. From the Board of Directors on down, BWI is completely volunteer-run. Our leaders have kids that range from newborns to 12 year olds. Some are stay-at-home-parents, others work part-time or full-time. We volunteer our time because we want you to love babywearing and to be successful with it.  We all look forward to meeting you at a local event soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meet a Leader: Kit

Name: Kit

How old are your kids?
D. 3.5 (7/22/2010)
P. 19m (7/20/2012)

What jobs, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, etc. did you do before kids? Do you still do that thing?
Before kids I danced, nannied, and was in the Marine Corps. We still dance, but it's usually around the house.
When did you start babywearing?
August of 2010!

Did you know you were going to wear before you had kids, or what prompted you to try it?
I knew I wanted to learn more about it after seeing it at a Bradley Class while pregnant, but what really lit the fire to do it was after my husband deployed and D was sooooo clingy (and had food allergies, so her tummy was miserable!).

Who was the person who most influenced your babywearing and what did they do that was so influential?
There have been a few. The moms running the Colorado Springs babywearing group when we first started had a huge impact. I learned all my basics from them, and a lot of other things about how I wanted to parent.

If someone took away all of your carriers and said they were handing you a newborn and you could only choose ONE carrier from birth until the end of wearing, what would you choose?
My Natibaby Warrior's Creed. It's the right width and length to be useful, without being too huge for a newborn or too small for a toddler.

If you had to choose ONE carrier from what you already own to be the only one you had to use from now forward, what would it be?
My Kokadi Melody (old version)- It is super wide, thick, blankety, long enough to tandem but not SOO LONG and has been with us most of our babywearing journey.

Which carrier do you find you return to time and again, whether it be for each newborn, or just a consistent workhorse?
For each newborn it's been a lila ecru indio. I actually sold it when D was 15m old, but bought it back so I could wear P in it as well. We have since sold part of it but kept a wearable scrap.

Tell me a story of a time that babywearing made a huge difference in the outcome of a family outing.
We went to Europe last summer, and T (husband) was still deployed, so the girls and I left without him and had him meet us there. I looked pretty ridiculous on the London tube system wearing two kids and hauling a suitcase with enough clothes for four people for three weeks, a carseat, and a diaper/travel bag, but it got us through! I can't imagine trying to push a double stroller and haul the carseat and suitcase!

If you were stranded on a desert island, which carrier would you want?
A wrap! Blanket, sunshade, carrier, use it to haul things.. all kinds of stuff!

What is your favorite thing to do while wearing?
Dance. We do a lot of dancing

What is your least favorite thing to do while wearing?
Shovel snow! (hmm, aren't you unlucky this winter?)Why did you decide to become a VBE?
To help start the Richmond (Central VA) chapter. They needed more and I thought "Eh, I know a little.."

What is your favorite things about being a VBE for BWI of DC-MD-VA?
The sense of community. It's kind of like insta-family, and as a family that moves around a lot for the military, that is amazing to us.

And since she didn't include this info about herself:
Kit was the driving force behind starting The Carrying On Project.  This amazing organization (which is really Kit and Rachel - another of our local VBEs) provides carriers free of charge to military and veteran families who might otherwise not be able to afford them.  If you are able to skip a coffee or two out this month, perhaps you can donate a little to help out their worthy cause.  You can read more about The Carrying On Project and see this amazing piece that was recently on Fox5 News here.  To date they have provided carriers to more than 1000 military families. 



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Carry of the Week: Front Cross Carry (FCC)

We've recently started some virtual meetings in our Facebook chatter group.  We invite you to join us for our weekly series on wrap carries, as well as our conversations on day to day wearing.  You can learn more about our regular meetings and join the meeting events on our Facebook page.  Our two Facebook homes give us the opportunity to connect with you between meetings.  You can also use the chatter page to plan informal playdates to meet other families.
This week our Carry of the Week (COTW) continues on from last week's emphasis on FWCC. Once parents move from a stretchy wrap to a woven wrap, one of the things they often lament is the inability to pre-tie their FWCC as they could with the stretchy wrap.  A great pre-tied option in a woven is the Front Cross Carry (FCC).  This can be done with your base size or sometimes base -1.  This is also a great carry for wearing under a coat while winter babywearing.  Follow along with this photo tutorial.

Find the middle marker
Middle marker starts in the middle of your back

Bring one side around and cross up to opposite shoulder, be careful not to twist

Bring other side across body to opposite shoulder, be careful not to twist

You should have an X in front of you at this point

In the back, you should have a straight piece across, with the 2 tails hanging over your shoulders

Reach behind you for the opposite tail

Cross these tails

Bring back around front

Tie in a square knot

Find the pass of the X closest to your body.  This should be the first piece you crossed in front of you.

Hold baby on shoulder like you are going to burp her.  Guide the foot closest to the working side through the pass

Help her to sit on this pass

Then spread this pass from one crook of the knee to the other and across baby's back

Now find the outside pass of the X, guide baby's foot through here

Spread this pass from one knee to the other and across baby's back

Adjust your shoulders and the passes around baby's head for comfort and clear airway

And you're ready to hit the store!

And although it isn't my favorite, this can even work for a big kid who needs some front snuggles.
 Hopefully this was clear.  For those who prefer video tutorials, try this one.  A variation on this carry can also be helpful for parents who have children who always want to be held in burp hold.  These instructions are in Greek, but the photos are self explanatory.

When you try this out, share your photos in our Facebook group to show us your successes!  Happy wrapping!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meet a Leader: Angelique

Name:  Angelique

How old are your children?

E is 6 1/2yrs old
A is 4yrs old
Q is 14 mo old

What jobs, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, etc. did you do before kids?  Do you still do that thing?

Before Kids:  I was a parent educator supervisor through the Early Head Start program.  I worked with pregnant moms, and families with children between 0-3.

Sadly, I do not do this work any more. It is something that I would like to get back to
when my children are a bit older. I really enjoyed knowing that I was giving back to the community
that helped me and my family out when I was a kid.

When did you start babywearing?

I started babywearing when my first was born.  I did a TON of research to find the PERFECT ONE CARRIER.  (editor's note: I don't think she succeeded)

Did you know you were going to wear before you had kids, or what prompted you to try it?

I didn't know I was going to be a babywearer, per se.  I just knew that I needed some sort of device that would help me make my days at home with a baby easier.

Who was the person who most influenced your babywearing and what did they do that was so influential?

I don't know if I have a single person who made the light click for me.  It was definitely a group of people through a lot of interactions that has made my journey remarkable.


If someone took away all of your carriers and said they were handing you a newborn and you could only choose ONE carrier from birth until the end of wearing, what would you choose?

I would definitely choose a wrap.  It is the only carrier that conforms to ME.  All of the other carriers, I have to conform to it in some shape or form.  Wraps are also the most versatile.

 If you had to choose ONE carrier from what you already own to be the only one you had to use from now forward, what would it be?

I would choose my Girasol Earthy Rainbow.  The colors are beautiful, and rainbows just make everyone smile and happy.

 Which carrier do you find you return to time and again, whether it be for each newborn, or just a consistent workhorse?

 I have been wearing for many, many years now.  My stash is divided into two group:  the tried and true, and the fun/fashionable.
I am absolutely in love with my Didymos Natural Hemp indio.  It is soft enough to handle a delicate newborn, yet is able to stand up to the task of wrangling my 6 YO when she wants to be held.

Tell me a story of a time that babywearing made a huge difference in the outcome of a family outing.

 I traveled across the country to see my dad with a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old by myself.  Had I not had a baby carrier, it would have been a DISASTER trying to navigate the airports with two kids, a rolling suitcase and a diaper bag.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which carrier would you want?

I think I would want my hemp indio.  It is light in color, so we wouldn't attract too much heat.  It is strong, so we could use it as a hammock to have a place to sleep up off the ground.  It is washable, so a dip in the water won't hurt it when it gets dirty.  Very practical.

What is your favorite thing to do while wearing?

Nothing makes my heart swell more than putting a little one to sleep by just swaying back and forth.  And being able to sniff the tops of their heads, breathing in that intoxicating smell...whether they are a tiny newborn or a stinky toddler. 

What is your least favorite thing to do while wearing?

Using the public bathroom.  You don't know the thigh burn until you have a baby strapped to you and you hover over the toilet.


Why did you decide to become a VBE?

Being a VBE is very much in line with what I used to do in my former, professional life.  I enjoy working with parents become better parents to their little people.  I also think that volunteering is something that I want my kids to do when they are older.  Helping others for the sake of having the ability to do so is a characteristic that I want my kids to embrace.  The only way that I feel I would be true to my belief is if I live it out in front of them.

What is your favorite things about being a VBE for BWI of DC-MD-VA?

I get to meet so many people, and share with them how wonderful it is to be a babywearer.  We are great at sharing all sorts of parenting information to all types of parents.

Tell me a story about a time you helped someone at a meeting that stands out to you.

I had a dad come in, and he was adamant about learning how to wrap.  I must have wrapped along side him a good dozen times to show him the steps to completing the carry.  I walked away from him, leaving him there on his knees, as he maneuvered the material around his body.  Later that evening, I received a message from his wife that he had spent the afternoon practicing and had conquered the fabric.
Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you, Angelique.  You are definitely an important part of our leadership team.  You can meet Angelique and learn her awesome skills at most of the meetings in Northern VA.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Let's Get Real...

I've observed a disturbing trend lately in the online babywearing world.  A parent says, "I have a new baby, I've heard of ring slings and mei tais, which ones are good?" and the immediate reply is "you need a custom wrap conversion from *high end maker*."  Or a parent will say, "I have a 6mo old and a *standard carrier*.  How long can I expect this to work for my pumpkin?"  And someone immediately jumps in with, "you should get a toddler *brand* because pumpkin is going to outgrow *standard carrier* very soon."  Or "wow I can't believe your 6mo old can fit that carrier, mine outgrew it when she was a month old."  Or my favorite, "you need to get a REAL carrier, like a woven wrap made of *special fabric blend*.  I truly believe these folks really do want to be helpful.  I think, like a game of internet telephone, they are repeating what they heard from someone who heard it from someone else who also heard it from someone else and it grew (or shrank) with each retelling.  So, I'm hoping to help reset the telephone game and provide a reference point for when you hear the game getting out of control again.

Here are a few babywearing truths you need to know BEFORE you can adequately share the love:

1.  If you wear your baby... you are a REAL babywearer. 
 I've had so many people say to me at meetings, "I want to learn more so I can be a REAL babywearer.  I only have a frontpack or big box store soft-structured carrier."  Babywearing isn't like the Velveteen Rabbit.  An expensive German-style-woven doesn't shed a thread into the ground to grow a fairy and make you into a REAL babywearer.  You ARE a real babywearer, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't.  Even if you measure in yards or inches.  Even if you own "only" one carrier, and even if you made that carrier in your kitchen or bought it from a BigBox store, you ARE a real babywearer.
A "REAL" Babywearer
Also a REAL babywearer with her real DIY mei tai (and awesome matching headband)

2. Babywearing is a SKILL and not a product.  Let me repeat, Babywearing is NOT a product that you buy.
Towel kanga at the beach
Pillowcase and duct tape podegi from the
first Babywearing Conference Emergency
Wearing class

You do not need a carrier to babywear.  You're shocked right now, aren't you?  It's true, a product may well make it EASIER for you to babywear, but it isn't the end all and be all.  If you have the SKILL of babywearing, you can use any carrier, as well as a large variety of *not a carrier* to carry your baby/toddler.  For example, a sheet,  towel, or pillowcase and duct tape can be used in a pinch.  For more examples, check out my emergency babywearing posts.

3. No carrier works for everyone.
  Have you ever had a friend tell you, "omigosh, I just got the most amazing shoes, you HAVE to get some."  You head to the store and the shoes pinch your toes or your feet swim in the shoes, or you just think they look like boats on your feet?  Carriers are like that.  The one I think is awesome may be misery for you.  Brand doesn't matter. The Latest-Greatest doesn't matter. Does it fit your child?  Is it comfortable? Does it fit your aesthetics and more importantly budget? If so, it's a good choice for YOU.
Ouch that rubs!

4. Toddler carriers are not made for the moment your baby can toddle.
    Most toddler carriers don't properly fit children in the 90+ percentile for height/weight until after 2.  So, most kids have been running for a long time before they fit a toddler carrier properly.  A too small child in a large carrier is at risk of over-extending their knees and hips.  I'd go so far as to say this is much MORE not ideal than a baby/child in a narrow carrier, and a too small baby is certainly at risk of getting lost in the fabric and possibly suffocating.  In this way, smaller is better than bigger.
Too tall: Bamberoo, 5mo

Toddler Kinderpack, 13.5mo, has been walking for 5mo
Carrier is too tall and too wide.  You can see the side of the carrier
where the buckle is sits well past her leg bend

5. Toddler carriers aren't necessary to wear a toddler, or preschooler, or elementary schooler, or high schooler.... and there is no such thing as "toddler worthy."  If a toddler is in it, it's worthy.
   Okay, I'll admit, wearing a high schooler wouldn't be my first choice, but if I had a standard carrier and I had an injured high schooler I needed to carry, I'd make use of that standard carrier like a boss.  In general, you don't wear big toddlers for multiple hours a day like you might with an infant.  So, if the carrier/wrap isn't the MOST comfortable carrier to ever hold a kid, so what?  You're wearing for 15-20min, maybe an hour tops.  Are there situations where a toddler carrier makes sense?  Sure.  Special needs kids who might be worn more often, kids who struggle with new situations and might be worn more often, parents with an injury that requires more support, or even a parent who just wants one for their toddler, all of these might make a toddler carrier make sense, but let's stop saying everyone needs one, and especially not with a 12mo old.

ErgoBaby  15yr old, Diane is SO Boss
I want folks to share their babywearing knowledge.  I want them to share how awesome it is to wear their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  However, I implore you to not let your want for a new carrier sound like a NEED to a new wearer.  Do you want a new carrier because it's pretty?  Awesome, if you have the means, buy it.  Do you want a toddler carrier?  Awesome, if you have the means, buy one.  Do you want a wrap made of unicorn hair?  Awesome, if you have the means, buy one.  Do you want a wrap conversion carrier made with the latest-greatest wrap du jour?  Awesome, if you have the means, buy one. There's nothing wrong with wanting a carrier or wrap, but PLEASE, stop telling new wearers they NEED those carriers. This discourages people from trying babywearing, it makes it seem like it must be very expensive and exclusive. The consumerist attitude also pushes out and discourages long term educators.

Recently, I've heard of folks telling women who founded the modern babywearing movement, women who are leaders in advocacy and the establishment of babywearing as an acceptable universal practice that they aren't REAL babywearers.  To be frank, How DARE they?  Even if she was a new mom who'd been wearing for a week, where does anyone get the right to tell others their babywearing isn't real enough for them? 

Remember as advocates, our first goal should always be to help them work with what they have.  If what they have truly won't work for them, start with a few examples of carriers that will do the job that are easy to find at a reasonable price point.  If someone wants to jump down the collector's rabbit hole, they can make that decision on their own without feeling pressured to do so.  So, I ask you to take this time to become familiar with these carriers that I have heard "can't" carry a child over 8-12mo.  Notice the wide variety of sizes that children of the same age are.  Notice that all of the pairs seem to be wearing and at the very least content with their *not specifically toddler* carrier. 
Kozy Mei Tai
Kozy Mei Tai, 4.5yrs 48lbs

Kozy Mei Tai, 4yrs old

Onya Baby

Onya Baby, 4yrs old

Onya Baby, 7yrs old

Onya Baby, 4yrs 40lbs

Ergo Baby
Perhaps the carrier MOST often disparaged as "too small"

Ergo Performance, 5yr old 
4yrs, 42lbs

5yrs, about 35lbs
3.5yrs, 99th percentile height/weight

Ergo Sport, 4yrs, 40lbs, 42"

But what if s/he is a leaner?
 It's true, a leaning kid can be uncomfortable, but kids can be taught. 
I teach them that there is no climbing out of the cart at Target,
I teach them that they can't run into the street,
and I teach them that if they want to be carried, they can't lean.

Assorted SSCs

Beco Butterfly, 4yrs, 40lbs, 42"

Beco Gemini - often seen as a "small baby" carrier, but it can still do the job at 4yrs, 40lbs

Action Baby Carrier, 5yrs, 35lbs. 
Pikkolo, another notorious "small baby" carrier,  4yrs old, no support belt added
Boba, 3 yrs, 29lbs, 34.74"

Boba, 5yrs, 35lbs

Assorted Mei Tais and Half Buckles

Babyhawk 4yrs, 40lbs, 42"

Kindercarry Standard, almost 6yrs old, makes any hospital trip better

Nuzzle Me, Recruit size, 4yrs, 40lbs, 42"

Ring Slings

Ring Sling 4yrs, 40lbs, 42" 
Also an example why the crazy long sling craze is not a good plan


I often hear that certain materials or brands of woven wrap aren't "toddler worthy."  Nonsense.
 Didymos Standard line, cotton, 4yr old
 Little Frog, cotton, one of the most inexpensive wraps you can buy, 5yr old
 Girasol, cotton, 6yr old
Old Girasol, the one with a "wrong side," these were already considered
not "toddler worthy" when I started wearing. 50lbs.

Little Frog, cotton, inexpensive, 60lb 6yr old 48", and her 4yr old sister who said, "I wanna go up in the rainbow too!" 

Traditional Inuit Amauti, 8yr old 
Admittedly, this isn't a "Standard" carrier for our area, but it is SO cool (or warm),
and can carry a wide variety of kid sizes

Thanks for reading, and happy baby-toddler-and-big-kidwearing!

 Thanks to the babywearers from around the country (and Canada) who contributed photos for this piece.