Saturday, October 13, 2012

Babywearing on the National Mall

Festival crowds on the National Mall -- a perfect day for babywearing! My three children are 7 1/2 and 5 1/2 years old, and 6 months (referred to as Monkey1, 2, and 3), so keeping mobile and having a nursing cover handy are key to family outings. The National Book Festival was a perfect example of a day of wearing and wrapping my baby.
We arrived on the grassy Mall around noon, found shade, and unpacked our lunches. I folded and spread out my wrap as a blanket for the baby, but since she's mobile, this merely marked her starting point as she investigated first the grass and then turned her attention to capturing the various sandwich containers.  Once everyone had lunched, I wrapped her up in a front carry, 

to try to keep an eye on her sunhat and accommodate my water pack on my back.  We spread out to enjoy the activities and authors under the tents.  Monkey2 wanted to meet her favorite PBS characters, so we stood in line for pictures. Front-wrapped, Monkey3 has perfected a rotate-and-grab action, so she was flailing for the camera in my hand.  When we rejoined Dad and Monkey1, who had been listening to singer-songwriter and now children's author Jewel, we all tried to move into the tent and find seats to listen to Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series.  There were no seats! We edged back out, ending up next to the outer perimeter tent poles, and while we could hear, we could not see well. Not that it was really important, except to children it is important to see their favorite author! So my husband hoisted the 7 1/2 year-old on his shoulders, after putting the 5 1/2 year-old on my shoulders.  And yes, I still had little Monkey3 in a front carry.  I really wish we had a picture of this carrying, one kid on my shoulders and one wrapped to my front!  After awhile Monkey3 decided she was hungry, so I dodged out, found a bit of tree shade, unwrapped Monkey3, and draped in my 6 yards of wrap material, calmly nursed her amid the throngs of the National Book Festival.  

Next we headed to the book signing line for Jewel with a copy of her book, and while waiting, a camera crew came along looking for comments on the Festival.  "I'll talk about it!" I said. Well, how could any producer resist the cute baby attached to me?  Monkey3 could not resist reaching for the microphone either.  Nor could she keep her hands off the book's shiny dust jacket.

We met Jewel! Where was Monkey3 looking?! 

Then we joined the lines for Mary Pope Osborne to sign a book, and hot little Monkey3 wanted some variety. I tried, unsuccessfully, to front wrap her facing outwards (I had seen a YouTube video where the baby's feet are sticking out in front of her bundled body), and then resorted to a back carry. Except then she decided she'd rather eat. So again, nursing on the Mall, with her hidden under the wrap, waiting in line #10 of many more lines waiting to meet the Magic Tree House author.  My husband was amazed that I just stood there and fed her, not deserting the line.  Then I wrapped her in a back carry again.  Waiting in line is dull, but the people around us certainly had some entertainment watching me wrap up a wiggly six-month-old. Unfortunately the book signing did not go as well, as we heard from festival volunteers that the author was rubber stamping books, not actually pen signing them, and then, that the line was so long, more festival volunteers were dispatched with copies of her signature stamp. We abandoned the line.

Walking back to one of the children's activity tents, Monkey3 fell asleep on my back, and I pulled the wrap over the side of her head, supporting her limp sleepiness in a cozy pocket.  Family outing, several meals, and her afternoon nap -- now that's a good day of babywearing!  

Posted by Maria

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reflections of a Babywearing Dad

As we’re getting closer to the end of IBW 2012, I felt like I wanted to post something about Babywearing
in general. For those of you who don’t know me, I was a reluctant babywearer. Our first child had survived three years without needing more than a stroller that my wife for some reason hated. When Ann Marie decided to try babywearing, I was expecting it to last for about two weeks. Long enough for her to forget about it one day, and then have the carrier lay forgotten in a corner like so many baby bottle cleaning apparatuses.

The difference was that she didn’t just find a carrier. She didn’t just find something that helped our needy middle child feel safe and comfortable snuggling with mommy. She didn’t just figure out how to hold a fussy baby and do other productive things. She found a group of supportive, helpful, sympathetic people.

They were the first real “Mommy-Friends” my wife had. They were a group that took her in, unconditionally, and helped my wife down a path that has reaped innumerable rewards. She was able to do things; from playdates, to meetings, to group lunches where they descended upon whatever poor soul was working the counter and forced to clean up after 8 toddlers.

She started talking to me when I came home from work about things she was learning. I heard about things that happened between her and her friends. A steady stream of carriers came and went as she borrowed and tried them. She was only given constructive criticism like: “Try this adjustment,” “Maybe you want something slightly different like this carrier,” “Your child may be more comfortable if you do this”. What I saw was my wife learning the entire time. She wasn’t force fed anything; she was able to find her own way. As a result of this wonderful group of people, my wife is able to do things I don’t even comprehend. Because the group had the smarts to let her work through her problems, my wife will grab a wrap and be able to tie a  Half-Tibetan-full-ruck-Nyarlathotep-ian high-back-carry with a twist of lime.
Our nightly ritual with our second daughter
The BWI group had made my wife enthusiastic. She in turn made me, not exactly enthusiastic, but receptive to the idea of babywearing. I wore our second daughter occasionally when I was forced. I even watched as a carrier came to the house “for me”. Was I a babywearing dad? No. But I was a dad who wore my child occasionally with only a little bit of embarrassment. The fact that our second daughter would only decide to sleep after a brisk winter walk at night meant that I’d take the strange looks if it let me sleep. The embarrassment was worth the ability to rest.

The real turning point for me came when my wife told me we were going downtown to the National Mall for babywearing photos. My eldest daughter decided that while we were waiting for everyone to show, she’d run laps in new sandals. Funny enough, after a few minutes she had a blister that oozed whining. I broke out the Kozy “I” had purchased, and popped her on my back. Four hours of fifty small child pounds later, we had finished. Reflecting on the process I realize I was able to fix my daughter’s problem without any damage to the outing we had planned. I also didn’t have to lug a stroller all over God’s green creation just in case. That’s when babywearing went from something fluffy and ambiguous to something concrete with real value.

In the hospital with a 1 day old

The other big event that turned me into a Babywearing Dad was in the hospital with the birth of our third daughter. My wife was recovering from her third C-section and all she wanted in the world was a shower. The nurse had come into the room just as we were getting ready for the shower. I was in the middle of putting on the wrap so I could hold our day old daughter and help my wife to the shower. I’m halfway through tying the wrap on me and the nurse is staring at me like I’m about to jump out the window. Once I finish tying the stretchy wrap the only way I know, I plop our little daughter into it and watch the nurse as she’s taken aback. “Wow, you really do know what you’re doing” she said.

At that point I realized that I had a couple of things working both for and against me. I was a dad, and if TV commercials are to be believed, I have as much chance of taking care of a baby as I do de-arming a bomb. I also was doing something completely foreign to this nurse’s experiences. However, I had a great teacher and wasn’t worried about screwing up. I’d like to think that once the nurse saw what I was doing, and how much it helped me and my wife be independent in taking care of our child, she had a better understanding of how babywearing is beneficial.

My family has become very vocal advocates. We see how wonderful and useful babywearing is, no matter the form it takes. We spend a good amount of our free time trying to positively help and encourage families to babywear. And frankly, I’ve seen it do a world of good. If I can be convinced, I’m sure anyone can.

So, to the babywearing community at large: Let’s keep it up. Let’s keep improving people’s lives. Let’s keep solving problems. Let’s keep being kind, inclusive, caring, helpful, fun, positive people.

Posted by Corey

IBW Day 5: Tackling Two Under 2

  It's the last day to enter our ErgoBaby blog giveaway!  Enter now!  We also hope to see you at our Fashion Show at Abby's Lane tomorrow (Saturday 10/13/12) at Noon!

When my third baby was born, I already had a 3.5-year-old and a nineteen-month-old. I was already an avid babywearer, which made our transition to three children a lot easier. In order to be able to take care of my two toddlers and my newborn, I had to be able to care for my newborns needs while on the move. My new baby is one of those who never wants to be put down and has to stay in motion so he has lived the first month of his life in some sort of sling or wrap.

I also have to make sure that my middle child still has time to be a baby so I make sure that I wear her some, too, especially while the baby is still asleep in the morning. We often have to wear a baby while changing diapers.

My 3.5 year old’s favorite thing about this time of year is all the pumpkin patches that pop up in the community. I didn’t want him to have to miss out on the pumpkin patch just because we had a new baby.

One of our first outings was going to a birthday party. Unfortunately, my middle baby was not in the mood to play so I had to wear two babies.

Babywearing has helped my whole family transition to being a family of five. We look forward to all of the adventures that the next couple of years bring us.

Posted by Raagen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

IBW Day 3: Cruising Stroller Free

International Babywearing Week Day 3:  Don't forget to enter our drawing for an Ergo carrier.  Also, if you want to purchase raffle tickets, they will be available at the Tysons meeting today, at the Abby's Lane Fashion Show on Saturday or you can email

Before our son was even born, my father-in-law started planning a family cruise, which sounded like a blast. We boldly committed not even knowing what life as first-time parents would be like, let alone anything about cruising with a baby. As the cruise got nearer and nearer we started to wonder if we should bring a stroller or commit to only babywearing during our week-long adventure. We decided to go stroller free and loved it! Here are some of our favorite things about our stroller-free adventure with ten-month old baby boy, V.

1. Nursing on-the-go in public is a breeze. We discreetly nursed at dinner, during craft time, on excursions, and more. On hot blazing-hot port days, easy access to hydration helped keep him healthy and happy. Here, V unlatches to check out an ice sculpture. In the background is my hubby with V’s 7-month old cousin whose parents also elected to go stroller-free for the trip.

2. Baby can nap wherever. V had pretty much given up napping in a carrier, but he picked it right back up on
the cruise which was great because it meant that we could be as active as we wanted, stay out of that tiny
stateroom, and spend plenty of time with the extended family while still meeting his needs. He loved going to
the shows with us at night and bouncing to the music before drifting off. During long dinners in the dining room, which our family adores, V drifted off we used a wrap as an impromptu floor cover and blanket.

1. Protection from curious hands. Lots of people love babies, and we are so glad that V can bring others joy, but multiple people took it further than we were comfortable with and tried to kiss or caress him when he was in- arms or in a highchair. We wondered why people were so baby-touchy on the cruise and came up with a couple of theories: crew members see relatively few babies and may be dearly missing their own children, elderly people do not always see many babies, people from different cultures have different boundaries when it comes to touch. Cruises bring people from all three of those categories together. Because people in each of those categories still tend to respect adult space boundaries, having him in the carrier kept him shielded.

2. Guard from overstimulation. Cruises are busy with lots of noises, sights, people, and stimulation in a relatively small space. Wearing V kept him physically connected to the comfort and safety of a parent. When he’d had enough, he could nuzzle his head into my chest or neck (depending if he was on my front or back). Strollers and front-facing carriers don’t allow this.

3. Enjoy more versatile excursions In San Juan alone, we encountered outrageously bumpy cobblestone streets with no sidewalks, other streets had sidewalks but didn’t have curb cuts, we visited tiny shops that a stroller couldn’t fit into, we encountered several sidewalks that ended in of stairs, etc. In other ports, we encountered wobbly tender boats, sand, lack of security (meaning no safe place to stash a stroller to go into a small space), rough trails, open air busses, etc. With V strapped on, each one of these things was a breeze.

4. Share experiences fully with baby. In a carrier, baby sees things at adult-height which means we are seeing the same things. Also, because he is on me, it is intuitive for both hubby and I to include him in as we talk about all we are seeing. He got to be brushed by the same low tree branches that brushed my face; I knew that he could see the ocean and other sights over protective barriers, etc.

5. Avoiding Cruise Elevators - Cruise elevators make me crazy. They take forever and they are crammed with people. Embarkation and disembarkation days are the worst because everyone is in the common areas at the same time and many people have luggage with them. With a baby in a stroller, it is elevate or seriously struggle with stairs. With a baby in a carrier, it is very easy to traverse the stairs without delay. Plus, it is good exercise which means I feel all the better about enjoying the delicious, abundant food.

6. Maintain balance Ships can be rocky. With a baby in-arms, you cannot use your arms for balance or to hold on to railing. With a baby in a carrier, baby’s weight is centered on your body (unless you are doing a hip carry) and your arms are free. In addition to greater stability on the ship, the benefit of balance also came up on an excursion. In the Dominican Republic, we did a light hike to a waterfall. The final part of the walk involved traversing a small river via large rocks and bags of sand. Hubby is very sure-footed so he wore V on this one; he and V crossed the river easily with no assistance. I crossed only with the assistance of a trail helper. The woman behind us, however, had her toddler in-arms. Even with a trail helper at her side, she was not able to maintain balance with baby in her arms nor was she able to use her arms to protect herself as she fell. The pair fell into the water. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but mom and baby were both shaken up. People skeptical of babywearing sometimes ask if falls are more likely or more dangerous. The benefit of balance and free arms to brace a fall is the reason that I can always give a full-hearted, “no” to this question.

7. Conscious packing It is no secret that staterooms are small. A wrap (or three) takes up very little space, even less than the most compact umbrella stroller. Babywearing leads to lighter packing both for the whole trip as well as for day packs. When you commit to wearing baby for the whole day of excursions, you think about the gear you are loading into a day pack very carefully. When you commit to no stroller for a week or more, you do the samething. I find that when a stroller is an option, I think of every last thing that I might need and load myself down with it. Suddenly I go from baby gear minimalist to hoarder. I like that babywearing helps me keep things simple. It boosts my confidence in terms of resourcefulness, fits in with our general values of simple living, and helps our kiddo remain flexible. After all, if I’d loaded three of his favorite toys and a bag full of snacks into our day pack, would V have liked touching an iguana as much? Sure, another handful of O-cereal is fine. But, isn’t the experience eating a freshly-picked orange so much more what travel and adventure is all about?

8. Formal Babywearing - How cute is a baby in a tuxedo on the back of his mommy or daddy who are also dressed to the nines? Ok, so maybe it isn’t a REAL benefit, but it is cute!

Posted by Pamm

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel made possible by Babywearing

I'm writing this from an airplane somewhere over West Virginia while my 3 month old nurses and my 2 year old colors with her Dad. This is the girls' and my second trip this week, the first was without my husband. I took the girls to New York City, relying solely on public transportation into and around the city after parking at the bottom part of Brooklyn. Weeks like this, babywearing is my best friend. I wore my youngest pretty much all day every day as we conquered parks, museums, Times Square, and the subway. I even tandem wore them once when we were late for the train! This morning, catching the early flight out of BWI, my husband had my oldest on his back in an Ergo and was pulling our suitcase while I wrapped the youngest on my front, had the diaper bag on my back, and we each carried carseat. We saw it "click" for more than a few families in line as they struggled with bulky strollers through the lines and security or with kids who wanted to be carried. My kids even had breakfast while we were waiting to board, Devon eating a fruit pouch and a granola bar on my husband's back and Piper nursing in the wrap.

  They say that travel is the only thing you can buy that's guaranteed to make you richer. It's something that my husband and both love, and in an effort to pass that love to our children, we do a lot of it. My husband was deployed the first 7 months of my first daughters life, and since she flew for free we did a ton of traveling. While he was gone, we lived in Colorado and flew to Richmond, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Ft Lauderdale, and Dallas. We took the train to Washington, DC, drove to VA Beach and to Charlotte. When he came back, we flew out to San Francisco and drove to Sacramento, and also to DC and drove from Richmond to the eastern shore of MD, through Ocean City, up to NYC, and back down to Baltimore. This was all under a year old. I also took her to MI by myself at 15 months to sort through my grandmother's things after she passed away, and then when my younger daughter was born we immediately when to Richmond for two weeks with my husband for a work trip, and even engaged in some of the "mandatory fun" required for his work with a brand new baby. We are also taking them to Europe next summer when he returns from his next deployment.  Without babywearing, none of this would have been possible.

  Some tips for traveling while babywearing:
*  Vacation is not the time to test out a new carrier if you have to pack minimally. Take what you know you love and what your kids love.
* Always bring a back up plan- while in NYC we had a bedbug
 incident, and because my wrap (my beloved diorite stars! *tear*) was out of the bag, we had it dry-cleaned. Thankfully I also had an Olives and Applesauce (soft structured carrier) in my diaper bag or else Times Square would have ROUGH that first day!
* if you are driving, have something quick available.  I am a wrapper, but to take the toddler potty on the turnpike the buckle carrier was faster.
* If flying, give yourself time to go through security. Some airports will make you take the child out of the carrier. Some won't. BWI did not.
*Also with flying, know that most airlines will make you take the carrier off for takeoff and landing.
* do not be surprised if a child who is not worn often wants to be worn. My daughter who is generally "too busy" wanted up a lot because it was new and overwhelming.

Babywearing for us, especially with traveling, has become the difference between "That would be too much work" and "Yeah, we can do that!" Being a parent doesn't have to mean giving up the things you love, it just means making the kids a part of it, and babywearing makes it possible for them to be involved and engaged while keeping them safe and keeping them comfortable.

Don't forget to enter our drawing for an ErgoBaby carrier.  Also if you would like to purchase tickets for our raffle but won't be at the IBW events, email us
Post by Kit

Monday, October 8, 2012

International Babywearing Week ErgoBaby Giveaway!

This year, Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA is excited to offer a giveaway in conjunction with ErgoBaby Carriers.  ErgoBaby is sponsoring a giveaway of one ErgoBaby carrier to our blog readers!  (This is completely separate from our International Babywearing Week raffle which will be drawn at our fashion show at Abby's Lane on Saturday).

If you are the winner of our giveaway, you may CHOOSE one of the following ErgoBaby carriers.  ErgoBaby Carriers are a versatile and comfortable carrier for parents and babies.

Decide which might be right for you by watching this video from ErgoBaby:

Then tell us which carrier you would want to win in our comments. You can earn an additional entry by liking our Facebook page.  Our giveaway starts at 12:01am on Oct 8th and will be drawn at midnight Oct 12th.  Good luck to you all!
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