Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farm Fall Fun!

If you’re looking for a fun, outdoor activity for your family this fall, you may want to consider checking out some local farms.  Our family recently spent the day the spent the day at Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicot City, Maryland.  Babywearing definitely came in handy, as we quickly found that much of the ground not very stroller-friendly as we were either in grass or on unpaved (dirt or gravel) paths.

We noticed that one family created a bit of a dust storm trying to move along a gravel path, then stopped for a break. 

We started our visit in the enchanted forest.  Your children are apt to enjoy the stations that illustrate some of their favorite fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, 

Humpty Dumpty,  
the dish running away with the spoon, 
and the crooked man with the crooked house. 
Your browser may not support display of this image.
If you’re carrying your child in-arms rather than in a carrier, you can find areas to stop for a break and to give your arms a rest. 
You can also relax a bit while your children roll down the hill along with Jack and Jill.   

After a visit with the fairy tale characters, we spent some time with the animals.  You may decide to go inside to pet the chickens and goats.  Our family opted to see the goats and sheep with a bit of a barrier in between us and the cute animals.   We did, however feed them.
We didn’t go on the hay ride, but you may decide that it’s worthwhile to use it for a spin around the farm.   

There’s also a neat picnic area with a tree house and a train.  There’s food available for sale, and you’re also allowed to bring your own food.  There’s even a separate area for birthday parties.  

Of course, when it’s all said and done you can’t forget to spend time picking out some pumpkins to take home with you.  We decided that the pumpkin patch was a good place for me to unwrap our daughter and to hang out a bit.
I hope you and your family can find a farm that you’ll enjoy this fall.  Now I’m off to bake some pumpkin bread with the pumpkins we chose. 

Posted by Cynthia

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall Fun at the Renaissance Festival

Fall brings about some fantastic activities for the family.  Many of those activities are a perfect compliment for babywearing.  One of our favorite family fall activities is attending the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  The Festival is located in Crownsville, MD and is a fun family day out.  There are plenty of activities for kids of all ages, from face painting and hair braiding, to henna tattoos, massage (including prenatal), throwing "pointy objects" as my husband says, and enjoying the work of a wide variety of artisans.

The ground at the festival is mulched, graveled, and dirt.  There are some VERY large hills, and very uneven ground.  It is definitely not terribly stroller friendly.  Baby carriers shine in this environment, and I was stopped a couple times and asked about my carrier.  My husband got to give an impromptu mei tai tutorial as well.  This is a place to bring your BWI/TBW cards if you have them because you very well may be asked about your carriers.

We recently went with another babywearing family and we all had a great time.  My husband and I both ended up wearing a child as our 2.5yr old was a little frightened of the stilt walkers.   The girls had a lot of fun.  They enjoyed seeing the horses in the joust (the state sport of Maryland), they had fun trying to shoot the cannon, and checking out the elephants (you can ride them too!).  They tasted local honey, saw wood being carved, and slid down a HUGE slide.

As we discovered with our middle daughter needing to be worn, situations that are frightening or unusual for children can be diffused by putting them in a place that they know to be safe.  Mom or dad's back is a safe place to observe a new place while growing comfortable with it.  It's also a great place to be able to ask questions about what you are seeing.  Mommy, why is that man wearing a skirt?  Daddy, what is a joust?  It's also fantastic as an adult to see the festival through the eyes of your child.  My husband and I have been going for years, and so there are some things that we have stopped noticing.  It is interesting to see those things again with the wide eyes of youth.

And when it all becomes too much, mom or dad can be a great place to take a nap.  I saw so many parents carrying exhausted children, even sleeping big kids in their arms.  All I could think was, "boy, they could really use a carrier."  Leaving a carrier around your waist or in your bag for emergency use with a big kid can be much easier than trying to push a stroller around all day "just in case" for overtired children. 

I highly recommend the festival as a fun outing for families.  It has something to interest every age, has boy and girl appeal, and is definitely an experience outside of the everyday.

Posted by Ann Marie

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mark Your Calendars! International Babywearing Week!

Coming soon to a babywearing group near you...

International Babywearing Week this year will take place from October 6-12, 2010. This year the theme is "Safe Babywearing: Enjoy the Benefits"

Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA has planned two events to celebrate this year. The first will take place on Thursday, October 7th from 10am to Noon. This will be a carrier safety check. Bring your sling or carrier to At Play Cafe and have it evaluated for safe construction and positioning by the Volunteer Babywearing Educators from BWI of DC-MD-VA.

The second event is for the whole family on Saturday, October 9th at 10am on the National Mall. This will be a Babywearing Walk. Bring the whole family and walk with other parents, children, and babies who are wearing children, dolls, or being worn. Help spread the babywearing love in our Nation's Capital. We will assemble at the Smithsonian Metro at 10am and set off from there.

We also need your help to publicize these events. If you would consider printing one of the flyers and posting at your local Whole Foods, grocery, Starbucks, Panera, kiddie gym, or other location with a community bulletin board. You can also share the events with your friends on Facebook through our Facebook group, you can email your parenting groups, post on any local parenting forums you use, etc. We thank you for your support!

Flyer 1 - clean lines, best choice if only Black & White available
Flyer 2 - full of photos, would look best in color

We look forward to celebrating International Babywearing Week with all of you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Does Baby See?

A year or so ago, I saw this video from Scandinavia exploring what baby sees in a stroller verses a carrier. I thought it was a great piece (and I'll be honest, it's WAY more professional than ours), but I heard many complaints that it needed English subtitles (although the mamas said there was nothing more interesting than greetings, weather, etc.). I also heard complaints that the rear-facing stroller didn't account for older children who could see more in for forward facing stroller.

Now, a study in 2008 found that away facing strollers were more stressful for babies than rear-facing ones. In the study, it was found that mom engaged with the baby less in the front facing stroller. I recall thinking, "I always talked to my oldest when I used a stroller" (I didn't successfully babywear until my second). I discovered when editing the video that the researchers were right... not because I was ignoring my daughter, but because I didn't realize she was pointing things out. She tries a couple of times and then gives up. But when she's on my back, we're able to have a conversation about what we see. The stroller video is particularly illuminating to me because I was trying to steer the stroller so that she could see interesting things, and yet the perspective is so different that what was water jets and a lazy river to me was just people's rear ends and fences to her.

I'm not going to say that no one should ever use a stroller. On this particular day with 3 small children of my own, plus a friend and her 2 little ones, we definitely found the stroller indispensable for carrying bags. The little ones also took turns riding in it from time to time. After our experiment though, I will always try to trade off which children get the mama's eye view. No one should be trapped in a stroller all day.