Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tutorial: Front Carry in a Mei Tai

Today we have a tutorial on using a mei tai (pronounced "may-tie") for a front carry. A mei tai can be used on the front, back, or hip and can be used for babies from newborn through todderhood. In this tutorial the babies are big enough to fairly easily have their legs out of this mei tai. If your baby is very small, he/she might prefer to be "squatting" or "froggied" in the carrier (similar to how a frog sits). You can also use a ribbon to narrow the base for an earlier legs out carry. If you do this, make sure the carrier supports all the way to baby's knees and that his knees are higher than his bottom.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

As summer approaches, many of us find ourselves considering summer vacations complete with children. Would a trip be worth the hassle? How would we get all of our luggage, children and gear through the airport?

I started off by quizzing my husband, "What are our best tips for traveling with children?
His response, "Don't travel with the children, ever!!"

Thankfully, I'm here and slightly more helpful. Good news -- babywearing can be a wonderful way to ease your travel burden.

Planning ahead:
When choosing bags for packing your items, consider how versatile your packed luggage might be. Backpack or messenger style bags can both be worn on the front or the back. If possible, limit carry-ons that have handles requiring hand holding rather than draping across your body -- your hands will be plenty full! Have an older toddler/preschooler with their own plane gear? Consider a small inexpensive rollerbag that they can pull through the airport on their own! Kids love helping, so let them take a few pounds off your load.

Consider in advance which carriers might be easier to use while going through security lines. Carriers with significant metal portions are out -- wearing a ring sling with metal rings will mean taking your baby out of the carrier in the security line. If ring slings are your preferred carriers, consider one with nylon rings. Carriers without metal are preferable choices for this point of travel as the odds are good that you will simply be able to wear your baby through the security line. On occasion parents do report being asked to remove their baby from carriers for security, but I have personally not once been asked to do so in over 30 flights with my two kids -- may you be as fortunate. Do remember you'll be asked to remove those baby shoes!

Also consider your carrier needs while on the aircraft. If you're purchasing a seat for your little one, that gives
you not only a safe place to set them (and a known environment for them to rest in) but also some additional room. If this isn't possible, you'll likely want to do your best to try for a window or aisle seat -- the author has had a couple of miserable middle seat experiences with a lap child and would certainly not recommend that route if at all possible! If you are a nursing mama, consider nursing clothing or a carrier that might provide some nursing cover, should that make you more comfortable nursing next to the businessman sitting an inch away from you. I've personally enjoyed ring slings for nursing on the plane, as the tail is easily used for an increase in privacy [see above re: security lines, some of us might just pack more than one carrier!].

If bringing carseats with you for safer plane travel or for use at your final destination, you might want to consider purchasing a travel carseat. The Cosco Scenara and the Safety 1st Avenue are both lightweight convertible seats that come in a nifty plastic carrying case complete with handle. Our family found this more practical than trying to lug our heavy Britax seats to our final destination. If you don't need a carseat on the other end, the CARES harness might be another good option to consider for safely securing your toddler while on the aircraft.

Upon arrival at the airport
Consider checking bags at the curb. The few dollars you'll spend tipping the skycaps is typically more than worth it for not having to pull your luggage to the (often longer) ticket line.

If upon arriving at security you see a lengthy line that brings you to tears, always ask if there's a separate line for parents traveling with small children. Often times you'll be escorted through the first class line or otherwise receive some sort of special treatment to get you on your way as quickly as possible.

Be sure to ask people for help if you need it. Many people won't offer on their own but will gladly lend a hand
if you politely ask.

Pre-boarding can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Not dragging all of your carry-ons past every person on the airplane is great -- but adding an additional 20 minutes to your time on the airplane can be a bummer. If traveling with more than one adult, consider having one pre-board to secure overhead baggage room and install any carseats you might have, but leaving the second parent in the terminal with the child(ren) until the last minute as to not waste precious plane novelty time.

Portable DVD players or laptops with children's television are your friend. Nuff said.

And above all else, be sure to stop and appreciate the looks of awe you receive while easily transporting everything and everyone through the airport. Airports are a place where carriers really shine, so enjoy the "What a genius!" stares you are sure to get while comfortably strolling towards your gate.

Posted by Lindsay

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Babywearing Goes to the Dogs

Even dogs can benefit from babywearing!

No, that's not what I mean

Before I became pregnant with my daughter, my 2 little dogs - Corgan and Cash - were my life.  They were my children, really.  My husband and I would plan weekends around the dogs and take them with us on vacations.  They were a big part of our family dynamic.

Enter: baby. 
Once my daughter was born, the dogs got knocked way down the totem pole.  They just weren't getting the love and attention they were used to getting.  No longer did they enjoy the prime dog real estate of our laps.  They were lucky if one of us remembered to feed them regularly.  We started babywearing from the beginning, but I was still anxious about taking a baby and two sometimes not-so-well mannered, very excitable dogs out on a walk, all together.  So, sometimes my husband would take the dogs on a walk and I'd stay home with the baby.  Or the dogs just wouldn't get walks (don't worry - we have a fenced yard in which they can take care of "business").  But, for a while, when we thought of "going for a walk" as a whole family, we would pull out the stroller and strap the baby in.  Walking with two crazy dogs and a stroller is only possible with at least two, and preferably three, adults present.  As a stay-at-home mom, I often don't have 1-2 extra adults hanging around.  So, one day in early spring when the weather was gorgeous, the baby wasn't napping, and the dogs were going stir crazy, I decided to try it.  I put the baby in the carrier, and took both dogs on a walk - all at the same time.  And, you know what?  It worked great!  The dogs were (relatively) well behaved, the baby was totally content, and everyone was able to get out and soak up some much needed Vitamin D.  From then on, I vowed to never try to wrangle a stroller plus two crazy dogs ever again.  And we've had many successful, fun walks!  Hooray, the dogs are feeling the love again!

We also enjoy taking our dogs to dog parks.  Now that our daughter is 9 months old and loves to crawl around and inspect everything (often with her mouth), without a baby carrier, these trips would be nearly impossible.  However, thanks to the trusty SSC or MT (or any carrier, really), we can take the dogs for a romp with their buds and not have to hire a babysitter to do it.  And, bonus!  No doggie deposits on the stroller wheels!

Another task that fell by the wayside after my daughter arrived was cleaning up the back yard - both in terms of leaves and "doggie deposits".  We have a nifty poop scooper that you can use while standing up, but it still requires 2 hands - one for the scooper and one for the trash bag in which to put the debris.  There was no way I could either a.) leave baby somewhere on the ground outside while I cleaned up (for fear of her touching - or worse, eating - the offending substances) or b.) hold her while I did it.  That is, I couldn't do those things without a baby carrier.  Now that I've learned back carries with a Mei Tai and a Soft Structured Carrier, I am able to do the dreaded doodie duty without worrying about my daughter's exposure to the stuff.  And, our back yard is no longer a frightening mine field.

I mentioned that for a while, my dogs were lucky if they got fed.  And I also mentioned that they're a little...crazy.  My 30 lb black lab mix can jump straight up from the ground to the height of my shoulders.  And my 15 lb Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can barely contain his excitement when he knows it's dinner time.  They're very loving dogs, and they like the baby well enough, but when they get excited, they get unpredictable.  And they jump a lot.  This makes mommy very nervous when baby's playing on the floor, or even when I'm holding her and trying to bend down to pick up the dog bowl or fill it up, etc. 
This is another great time when I pop my daughter into a carrier - usually a ring sling - for the duration of the crazy excitement that exists around feeding time.  She is much safer to be up and away from the dogs; she is out of danger of me somehow dropping her while trying to react to the dogs' outlandish behavior; and it gives me two hands with which to wrangle the dogs and the bowls. 
Sometimes having 4-legged, furry family members makes life a little more complicated, but with baby carriers, they don't have to miss out on all of the fun!  So how does it work for you?  How have baby carriers improved your relationship with your dogs (or cats, or hamsters, or sugar gliders, or...)?
Posted by Jenni 
Thanks to Lily for the Dogwearing pic. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Babywearing at the Movies

No, I'm not talking about wearing your baby to the movies (although Angelique and I did to see the movie Babies, which is awesome and you should see it).  And I'm not talking about those few famous scenes where a baby is worn in a movie (Hagrid with Harry in the first Harry Potter).  No, I'm talking about movies that you sit and watch and think, "you know what that person needs?  He/She needs a carrier!"

So, today we bring you, "Movies that would be better with babywearing."

Lord Of The Rings – Hobbits, children, same thing; you could have made the trip in only ONE movie with a little planning. “Oh no! Frodo’s gone wandering off!” “Well, if you hadn’t taken him out of the darn wrap this wouldn’t have happened!”

The Incredibles – So Elastigirl runs off to save her husband, leaving Jack Jack behind. Really, Lady? I’m sorry, but somewhere in that “Hey, I stretch.” gimmick shouldn’t there be room for a Moby? All I’m saying is: are we really going to call her a hero when she abandons her youngest?

The Secret Of Roan Inish – You have a choice: Carrier or Floating Crib. Which is better for the seaside? I know! The floating crib! Nothing can possibly go wrong with this idea during incoming tide!

Speed – If you ever have to change buses while they’re still moving at 55 mph, don’t you think it’d be nice to do so and have both of your hands free?

Psycho – Babywearing promotes healthy bonding time. Time Norman obviously could have used.

The Untouchables  - This movie is the one you should pull out every time someone asks you why you wear your child. I mean, how many times have you found yourself in the middle of a shootout surrounded by the Mob separated from your pram? This way, you don’t have to rely on the reflexes of a young, hot-headed policeman with something to prove.

The Hurt Locker – No wait, horrible idea. Scratch that.
Monsters Inc.  – Boo returned to her door in 25 minutes flat. Thank you, good job, good night. This movie teaches us one of the golden rules of parenthood. Daddy should never be left alone (or with another Daddy) with a child. Mommy should always be present lest wacky hijacks occur.

The Empire Strikes Back – In some scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, Luke can be seen complaining that Yoda’s holding on too tightly. Does anyone really think that the 899 year old Master was washing his hands regularly? Luke, too eager to finish his training, could have easily wrapped Yoda and been able to concentrate on his training better. Had Luke even had a Bjorn handy, many Ewoks would have lived.

 Sweet Home Alabama - who can forget Reese Witherspoon drawling, "you have a baby... in a bar?"  Now, if baby had been cozily tucked in a mei tai, no one would have noticed her snoozing away while mom socialized.

So, what's your favorite "boy that character needs a carrier" moment in film?

This post brought to you by the mind of Corey 
and the terrible picture editing of Ann Marie

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hot tots, and their hawt mamas (and papas)

The birds are singing, our cars have an artistic yellow-green coating, and shorts and flip flops are being seen in the frozen foods section of the grocery store.  That must mean it's almost summer!  Summer in DC can be quite warm.  Who am I kidding?  Summer in DC is sticky, hot, and often sweltering.  Certainly there are days when a stroller might work out better for you, but lots of summer activities (and some babies, too) aren't stroller friendly, so how are parents to cope when it is time to strap an adorable little heater to themselves?  Do we need to hang up our carriers until fall?  Never!  We have a few suggestions to make summer wearing more enjoyable for everyone.

The first suggestion comes from Matthew, he says wearing tech fabric clothing yourself helps.  So those fancy shirts designed to make you stay cool when going for a 30 mile hike?  Yeah, a day at the zoo with a toddler is comparable, you might as well dress that way.  I often find back carries FEEL less hot than front carries.  It isn't like your little inferno suddenly becomes a Popsicle(who knew that was a proper noun?), but I find I tolerate the heat better against my back.  I like a mei tai or soft structure carrier, but a one layer wrap carry can also be a great suggestion, especially in a light colored wrap.  Sometimes leaning back a bit from time to time to get a little air between you can be a great thing.

Lindsay has a suggestion that is great when little one likes to be wrapped for nap, but it's 90 out and you need to get things done.  This carry is not only for when it's hot, it's hawt.  Lindsay is sporting a double hammock carry topless.  Since there is a torso pass that is spread across your chest, it allows for a modest topless carry.  This one is really only good at home or in your garden though, there isn't a solution for getting baby down without becoming quite a show.
There are also some fabrics that can be better choices than others.  I don't think I would choose a fleece pouch for July in DC, for example.  Figuring out which fabrics are terrible choices can seem easy, but which fabrics are good choices?  There are traditional summery fabrics like linen or 100% cotton.  Linen is a great summer carrier.  You can get linen ring slings, linen blend wraps, and even some linen mei tais.  Linen is light and airy and very breathable in warm weather.  Cotton gauze is also a great summer wrap fabric (and it is easy to DIY).  It requires more careful wrapping to avoid pressure points, but it can provide a supportive carry with quite a thin fabric.

Some parents are concerned about the baby overheating more than themselves.  There are carrier choices that can help with that.  Dress baby lightly (or even just a diaper) and use one layer carriers over them, a single layer wrap carry, a ring sling or pouch, or even a lighter weight mei tai or soft structure carrier can help keep baby from over heating. Some parents will also occasionally place a damp towel between them and baby to provide some temporary cooling.

However, if your little one is truly a mini-furnace, another possibility is to use a special extra breathable fabric carrier.  Solarveil is a material that is no longer in production, but there are a lot of carriers around that use it.  It is a durable mesh-like fabric.  It provides some sun-protection and is also quite breathable.  Another bonus for solarveil is that it dries quickly when used for and entire pouch/mei tai/ring sling/ or wrap.  This can make it the ideal choice for wearing in the pool, ocean, or lake.  When trying to wrangle a toddler or preschooler in the water while also keeping baby safe, wearing is the perfect solution.  Another fabric that is often used for this is solarweave.  Solarweave has a UPF 50 and there are several sling and soft structure choices that use it.

No matter what style of carrier you choose, make sure both you and baby remain well hydrated.  Remember that you must replace all of that water you are sweating out.  Also remember that while ice cream or a Popsicle (still a proper noun, thanks spell-check) may sound like a great summer treat, you do NOT want to let them eat it while in the carrier. Otherwise carrier, you, and your hair will all be colorful, fruit flavored, and even stickier than you were with just the heat as a contender.

The final thing to always remember when wearing in the hot DC sun is to protect those tiny noses and toes-es.  A solarveil carrier cover like a Monkey Pocket can be a good choice for keeping baby out of the hot sun.  A sun protective hat with a chin strap is also a necessity.  I have a sun-protection cape that I use on my daughter when she is in the carrier.  This is especially important for babies younger than 6mo as the pediatrician usually recommends waiting until after 6mo for sunscreen.  Something you may not be aware exists and can make any clothing UPF is Rit Sun Guard.  While your little one might be amused by turning the color of Elmo, you probably want to avoid the associated misery.

So, get out there and enjoy the sweet, sweaty, summer snuggles brought to you by babywearing.

Posted by Ann Marie
Pictures from Nicole, Ellen, Lindsay, and Ann Marie