Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tutorial: Ring Sling - Threading, hip carry, & nursing

In this video, Ellen demonstrates threading a ring sling and then doing a hip carry with a baby.  Ann Marie also  demonstrates nursing in a ring sling.  One thing Ellen never specifically mentions, but DOES during the video is that when adjusting the sling with a baby in it she lifts the baby's weight off of the sling before tightening.  This keeps the fabric from twisting in the rings.  Another tip to remember is that when you finish, baby's bottom should be lower than his/her knees and his/her bottom should be about level or slightly above your belly button. 

Finally, in the nursing portion, covering for modesty with the tail is mentioned.  I STRONGLY recommend not covering baby's head with the tail, only cover your body.  As you can see, even without using the tail, there is nothing showing when I'm nursing in the sling.  You would be amazed at how often someone comes and sticks their whole head in to see the baby without realizing I'm nursing, and I never cover her head.  Covering the baby's head makes it impossible for you to see if she is having breathing distress.  The few moments between you "checking on" the baby under cover might mean the difference between a baby having a moment of distress and a baby smothering accidentally.  I would never cover my baby's face out of a sling, I think the same should apply when baby is in the sling.  Like all nursery products, it is important to monitor your baby at all times.  Another note on nursing, most moms find a nursing top or a V-Neck t-shirt is easier to nurse in when using a carrier.  I have to fish the whole top up through the carrier which isn't as convenient. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Washing and Wearing

One of the most common problems for new parents is how to keep up with housework when you have a sweet little bundle who wants to be no where more than in mom or dad's arms.  No one wants to leave baby crying while they do chores, but sometimes those chores just must be done.  Lots of household chores can be done while wearing a baby.  And choosing cleansers like vinegar can make things even safer for your little one.

Dishes are a task that can easily be done with baby in a back carry, if using a front carry, be careful of splashing hot water or soap onto baby.  And dads, this right here is enough to make a mom swoon... dishes getting done and baby getting a nap and mom isn't involved.  It's mom porn.

Other cleaning tasks like dusting or window washing can also be done while wearing.  Just be careful that chemicals don't get in baby's eyes, nose, or mouth.  Using safer products like baking soda or lemon can be a good choice, or you can make the kids do the cleaning.  Hey, they wanted to and thought it was a fun game! But really, the kids are demonstrating with doll wearing that they can clean with a little one in a hip or back carry.  Keep in mind while dusting the fine breakables that little hands are grabby... you don't want your little one getting a hold of a family heirloom.  Vacuuming can also be a great way to get a fussy baby to sleep.

So, there is no need to let all of the cleaning tasks get out of control just because you added a new member to the family.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Traditional Babywearing and the Babywearing Museum

This post is going to be mostly pictures.  Jen Wadleigh and Lindsay Ross of Babes in Arms taught about the various traditional carriers and demonstrated using them when appropriate.  The library also had displays of traditional carriers as well as a display of the evolution of modern carriers.  There were several pieces that were part of the collection of the Miao Baby Carrier collection.  Most of the others were loaned by Jen Wadleigh or Corrine Mahar-Sylvestre.

  Native American cradle boards and a carrying "net" from New Guinea.

The Miao Carriers:

Modern takes on traditional carriers:

A display of vintage modern carriers including the original Snugli, the HipSeat, etc:
The most remarkable thing about this is that we learned that all peoples have found a need to carry their young, and most have used a similar method to how they carry other items.  As a modern North American society, we lean towards things that resemble backpacks or bags.  Sadly, the bag-sling has been proven to be a dangerous design, but hopefully the backpack concept will prevail, and we can borrow from the traditions of other cultures to carry our young in safe, comfortable ways.

Monday, June 14, 2010

IBC 2010: Part 2

Day 3
I started the morning going for a walk with the other babywearing moms. This is Susie Spence (the founding president of Babywearing International) and I outside the Rigby Museum.

After the walk I went to my first class of the morning.  Babywearing Safety with Beate Fromme of the Babywearing Institute.  She discussed the German school ideas of spinal development and wearing as well as some of the other issues to be aware of when wearing a baby.  These include the obstructed airway concerns as well as simpler problems such as bumping baby on doorways, etc.  The German schools push the spread squat position from birth.  They feel that the spine best develops when it is in a J position, straight neck and then curved lower back.  They don't recommend the cradle carry or forward facing carries at all.  This class was an interesting perspective on safety issues in babywearing.  Beate has several children and my favorite moment was seeing her older daughter (I'd say she was about 10) wrap her little brother on her back without any help.

My second class of the day was Asian Baby Carriers and Soft Structured Carriers taught by Kelley Mason of Kozy and Melissa Radcliffe of TogetherBe.  They demonstrated some of the benefits of these types of carriers.  Then Kelley impressed us all with some tandem wearing.  She showed a handy trick of threading the straps of the back carried child through the straps of the front carried child.  I thought that was rather ingenious.  I wish you could see the Kozy on her back... it says "Nobody Pushes Me Around"  because of course the child isn't being pushed in a stroller. I loved that one.

Then came lunch at Me N' Stans.  The folks there were completely confused by the invasion of hippies, but they seemed to take it with grace.  The food was pretty good, although we had to recall the first rule of small towns which is that meals are anything but fast food.

After lunch I went to the Traditional Babywearing class.  Since it was in the museum and the museum and the class deserve a post of their own, I'm going to stop for now.

3rd International Babywearing Conference - Idaho 2010

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd International Babywearing Conference. I'm going to try to cover the conference in detail, so it may take a few posts. :)

Day 1
The first day of the conference consisted of going to Yellowstone National Park.    It is amazing and gorgeous.  It definitely merits the hype.  And it's the perfect place to babywear.  There are signs warning about not wandering onto the thermal plain, and there is uneven ground to navigate.  Keeping a baby or toddler out of the dangerous parts is important!  That pool of water is stunning, but hot, definitely not a place for a loose baby or toddler.  I even caught Old Faithful erupting!  I went back on the last day, but I'll get to that later. 

 Day 2
The first day of actual conference classes!  My first class was Wrapping 3 with Kristi!  In this class, Kristi Hayes-Devlin of Wrapsody Baby taught a class that focused on the 3 basic styles of carries: rucksack, rebozo, and torso.  Then each named "wrap style" that we talk about is just a variation of those.  She pointed out that once you learn basic wrap carry safety, you can adjust carries in any way you want to suit your needs and comfort.  This class was a lot of fun, and it was very interesting to see an approach to wrapping that didn't obsess on when the wrap goes over or under baby's legs and instead focused on the flexibility of wrapping.  I also discovered a super cool way of tying off that I need to play with.  Kelly demoed tying each end into a slip knot on her ruck shoulders.  Another wearer demoed a pretty way of twisting the wrap across your chest to tie at the opposite shoulder. 

That afternoon I took another class with Kristi and Sam Tower of the Rigby Police Department.  We discussed the value of being able to use non-carrier items as carriers in emergency situations.  Those emergencies can be both real emergencies like floods, fires, or injuries; but they could also be minor emergencies like being a mile from the car when your toddler runs out of steam on the beach and you need to use a beach towel to torso carry him back.  We discussed using found items like blankets, towels, scarves, or clothing to carry baby in an emergency.  Then Officer Tower demonstrated the uses of a carrier in an emergency that aren't carrying a baby. As he pointed out, some of us often have a few carriers with us and they can be used for a variety of things.  Carrying an injured adult - while not the intended use, most good carriers could probably do it.  Making a tourniquet, making a splint, making an arm sling (like a triangle bandage), tying a child in place if needed (flood situations), creating a grip line to cross water, lowering child from a window in a fire situation, the uses go on!  This was a really great class.  I encourage everyone to master a torso carry and a shawl carry for use in emergencies.

That afternoon there was the keynote address by Kelley Davis Mason of Kozy.  Kelley talked about her journey into natural parenting choices.  She talked about how she always expected that she would parent like she was parented.  She expected she would spank, use time outs, diaper, stroller, use swings, exersaucers, etc.  Then after the birth of her oldest she found she slowly started to change based on his needs.  She told of the amazing story when she needed to get wood for the wood stove and kept trying to put her baby in the car seat on the porch.  But the baby kept crying, she didn't want to leave him cry, but she needed to get wood or the whole family would be cold.  She went searching online, saw some pictures of a traditional Asian style carrier and went to her fabric pile and made her first mei tai.  Kelley said at the time she didn't even know the term mei tai.  She made a few more, making changes along the way, until she decided it was perfect.  Thus the birth of the Kozy Mei Tai.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fun with Wraps: Wearing Optional

We often talk about the wonderful ways we enjoy using our carriers to carry our children, but our children really enjoy our wraps too.  Wraps are terribly versatile.  Our children are often the first to point out something fun for which they can use a wrap (or two or three).

Our first suggestion would be to use the wraps with your little wrappee as part of peekaboo or tummy time.  This little one had fun peeking out from under it.  You can hold it in front of you for early peekaboo, and as baby gets older and can better manipulate his environment, you can toss it over and let him find his way out of the edge.  This is a good developmental activity for older babies.

It can also make a good tummy time mat. Depending on the pattern baby can explore the pattern and then use his/her gripping muscles to gather the fabric. Because it smells like the parent that usually uses it with baby, it is comforting and familiar for baby.  Of course, stay nearby so your little one doesn't get tangled in the wrap and become distressed or injured. (Note: it also makes an awesome picture prop). 

Wraps don't stop being fun just because your little one gets big enough to walk.  Wraps can make fantastic play forts, castles, pirate ships, whatever the imagination can conceive.  These girls were planning a princess show (I'm still not clear on what a princess show is about or what happens in a princess show, but something tells me that wasn't the important part of the play).

Wraps can aid in imaginative play in a variety of ways.  Shorter wraps can be shawls, capes, dresses, mummy wrappings, togas, rivers for the "jump the river" game, tug-of-war ropes, or in this instance, they can help transform adorable preschoolers into wiggly inchworms.  Let your kids loose in your wraps and you'll be amazed at the cool things they imagine them becoming.

The final idea we want to share today involves a little more effort from the parents, but in my experience, it is totally worth it.  We have put up hardware in a sturdy beam in our house to have a wrap swing.  Wrap hammocks can also be hung by tying wraps around a table or under a loft bed.  This winter when the kids were stuck inside because of snow/rain, we had a physical outlet in the swing.  This swing has taught them to be better at taking turns, helping (the little one can't sit in it without a little help), problem solving (my two year old swings on her tummy and both twist when no one is available to help push), and the swing has become a variety of imaginary things including a hammock for dolls to take a nap.

Do you have any more suggestions for ways to play with your wraps or carriers?