Monday, March 3, 2014

Meet Your VBEs

Babywearing International's not only for new wearers. As an organization, it also helps give babywearing educators "a common educational background when they work with our non-profit groups". By helping other mamas, learning, studying, and giving hands-on help, volunteer babywearing educators - or VBEs - continually increase their knowledge and hone their teaching skills. Each VBE must be proficient in the use of all major types of carriers (wraps, ring slings, pouches, soft-structured carriers, and mei tais) in all common positions (front, side, hip). VBEs know how to teach wearing safely, ergonomically, and correctly, from newborns to preschoolers, and for a variety of special circumstances.

Every chapter of Babywearing International is led by at least two volunteer babywearing educators. Here in Columbia, we're lucky to have three VBEs with a whopping combined twenty-six years of teaching experience.

Elizabeth: When I was pregnant with my oldest son in 2009, I told my mother that once he was born I'd never put him down. She laughed at me, but I started wrapping him in a Moby and never looked back. I primarily use woven wraps, and have wrapped almost-daily since Blaise was born. I love helping new mamas learn to use a wrap or ring sling - the moment that baby settles, cuddles into mama's chest, and falls asleep is pure magic every single time. It's amazing to help parents learn to wear. It's such a simple skill that can help so much! I also love to help mamas DIY and learn to nurse in wraps (something I do for about two hours a day right now with my four-month-old). When I'm not babywearing or homeschooling, I make art of all kinds, but primarily write at my own blog, Manic Pixie Dream Mama and Columbia Moms Blog. I also have a novel in progress (as usual).

Elizabeth is in her second year as a recognized VBE and recently presented at the Midlands Perinatal Breastfeeding Conference, in which she taught an introduction to babywearing class to over 150 medical professionals, which counted for continuing education credits.

Rebecca: In 2007 I was working as a Nanny for the sweetest little 18month old boy. I was taking him to our first Mommy and Baby Yoga and when I walked in, the studio owner/teacher was sitting at the front desk, eating her lunch and putting a client's info into the computer . The whole time, she was wearing a sweetly sleeping toddler in a woven wrap. I was sold. I ended up buying my first two carriers from her- an Ellaroo Mei Hip and a 5m Ellaroo wrap.

I wore my nanny kids right up until I had my son in October of 2009. When I started babywearing I had trouble figuring out how to wrap so I stuck to the Mei Hip for a while, but when I found out I was pregnant I was determined to use something cozier. I found a ring sling maker on Etsy who was selling simple dupioni silk ring slings and bought one... then two... then three of them, and Aidan lived in those slings for the first three months of his life. Eventually, I found my way to and joined the community there and fell head over heels for wrapping.

I believe in babywearing. It's an empowering skill, being able to comfort and connect with your baby and still have your hands free. Babywearing is something that everyone can do. Baby born at home? Wear your baby. Baby born via Cesarean? Wear your baby. Baby doesn't share your DNA? Who cares! Wear your baby. Babywearing doesn't discriminate. Babies are born to be worn, and they deserve to feel that connection with you just as much as you deserve to feel that connection with them.

Rebecca is a graduate of the Babywearing Institute and a particular expert on ergonomics and anatomy.

Brandi: I have been a stay at home mom for the last 18 years. I have 6 kids with another due in May. I enjoy playing on the computer, reading, and needlecrafts right now. When health allows, I also enjoy hiking, camping and anything else that gets us into the fresh air. I started babywearing in the 90s. I later learned how unusual it was that my Lamaze teacher, in 1996, knew anything about baby slings. But she recommended them to prevent overstimulation in babies. We started with a Snugli style carrier. We added a padded style sling with my 2nd, then an unpadded. We dealt with special needs and health issues that had that child almost living in the sling. It was a full 5 years before my 3rd was born but I then had 4 kids in 5 years, babywearing was a necessity. I went from just using ring slings to pretty much using every carrier out there, over the next 8 years.

Brandi is a founding member of the Columbia chapter - formerly Columbia Babywearers - from way back in the day when it was a yahoo group only, and has over 16 years of wearing and teaching experience.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Babywearing 101 Meeting Recap

Hey mamas! We had a great first meeting at Expecting Well today. Big thanks to Dr. Rachel and Shelly for having us. They gave us a great space - lots of room! It was also nice to *have to* remove our shoes in the yoga room. Any excuse for hippies to go barefoot, right?

Elizabeth recapped her Babywearing 101 from the Midlands Perinatal Breastfeeding Conference. We talked about the clinical benefits of babywearing - with citations and handouts! - babywearing safety, and where to buy carriers locally. Then Elizabeth, Brandi, and Rebecca got mamas into carriers!Most mamas were beginners, so we mostly stuck to teaching front-wrap cross carry. The pic above is Rebecca teaching a brand-new mama how to use a Wrapsody Stretch Hybrid. Her babe was only two weeks old!

One mama had a gorgeous Oscha roses that she'd been lent, but had no idea how to use. Her sweet baby liked it, and the wrap looked so awesome on them both.

Darcie came for help with her Ergo. We helped her and Trey get into one of our lending library wraps. Now she's looking for one of her own to keep her cool in the hot SC summer. She decided that a wrap was probably her best bet for that. We like to help mamas figure out what works for them - and the best way to do that is to try a bunch of carriers.

Katie brought sweet little Emerson and her pretty Boba wrap. Did you know that doing a front-wrap cross carry in a stretchy, rather than the pocket-wrap cross carry that Moby recommends (they call it a "hug hold"), can help prevent sagging and make your wrap useful for longer? And you should always tie a stretchy wrap in the back for stability, though you can knot the excess in front afterwards.

It was fun to see everyone today! Our next regular meeting is Thursday, March 20th, at State Street Baptist Church. Expecting Well has asked us to come back next month, and our topic then will be Wrapping 101. 

And just in case you missed it, here are the citations this morning for Elizabeth's talk:

Benefits of Kangaroo Care:
 Blois, Maria. “Birth: Care of Infant and Mother: Time Sensitive Issues.” Best Practices in the Behavioral Management of Health from Preconception to Adolescence, edited by William Gordon and Jodie Trafton. Los Altos: Institute for Disease Management. 2007-8. pp. 108-132. (   [note: this is a meta-study; see Blois’ citations for specific sources]
 Lawn et al., “‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ to Prevent Neonatal Deaths Due to Preterm Birth Complications,” International Journal of Epidemiology” 2010: April. 3

Reduction in Infant Crying:
Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648
Niala, Claire. “Why African Babies Don’t Cry: An African Perspective”. The Natural Child Project, web:

Reduction of Postpartum Depression:
Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial.
Pediatrics 77:641-648
Ferber SG, Makhoul IR. (2004) The effect of skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) shortly after birth on the neurobehavioral responses of the term newborn: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics 113(4):858-65.
Tessier R, M Cristo, S Velez, M Giron, JG Ruiz-Palaez, Y Charpak and N Charpak. (1998) Kangaroo mother
care and the bonding hypothesis. Pediatrics 102:e17.
Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers' touching increases infants' positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92.

As Replacement for Tummy Time:
Brentnall-Compton, Arie. “Why Carried Babies Don’t Need Tummy Time”. Carrying On. Nov/Dec 2011. Babywearing International, web:

Increased Attachment:
 Anisfeld E, Casper V, Nozyce M, Cunningham N. (1990) Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child Development, 61:1617-1627.

Better Infant Alertness and  Regulation:
Powell, A. “Harvard Researchers Say Children Need Touching and Attention,” Harvard Gazette..
 Ludington-Hoe, S. Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
Feldman et al. “Testing a Family Intervention Hypothesis: The Contribution of Mother-Infant Skin-to-Skin contact (kangaroo care) to Family Interaction, Proximity, and Touch,” 2003 March Journal of Family Psychology. Vol. 17, 94-107

Oxygen Desaturation in Car Seats:
Lilijana Kornhauser Cerar, MD[a], Christina V. Scirica, MD, MPH[b], Irena  tucin Gantar, MD[a], Damjan Osredkar, MD[c], David Neubauer, MD[c] and T. Bernard Kinane, MD[c]
For more babywearing safety information, see:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Traveling Tester Review: Tekhni Olympos Kalamata

Hi babywearers! This month, we were picked to host a special wrap from Tekhni Wovens: olympos kalamata. Since the modern babywearing craze started with Didymos in Germany, and has remained mostly European-based until the recent handwoven craze, it's exciting to see American wrap companies come onto the scene. Tekhni's sought to weave wraps accessible to newbies, but wearable and unique enough for longtime wrappers. Owner Alisa is a practicing artist with a focus in color; she's known as the magic behind ColorDip Studios, and she's designed several patterns for Natibaby, including their perennially popular Clovers and Linden. So it's no surprise Tekhni has distinguished itself out of the gate with an innovative. modern design sensibility writ large in vivid color schemes. These wraps are a far cry from the old-world florals we're used to in the babywearing world. 

Fatbaby loves it so much he's asleep. 
Olympos, Tekhni's second release, is a play on the classic chevron in 100% cotton. Alisa calls it a "decidedly modern, yet retro design with an angular, yet organic flow." Yep, it's pretty - but we really swooned over the texture. In hand, Olympos feels fat and smooshy, like a thick Ellevill jade, but with a touch more stretch. I hear it's nearly beastly enough to stand on end BNIB. Luckily ours had some miles on it when it arrived, so while I wouldn't call it the softest wrap I've ever used, I didn't hesitate to use it with my newborn. 

And it was lovely. 

I first used it in a front wrap cross carry. The passes tightened easily, and once it was on - yum. Plenty of deliciously thick bounce and cush. I tend to love the way ellevill jades bounce, but dislike many thick wraps for their blankety solidity. Olympos had the best of both worlds: easy to tighten, cush and bounce, but cosily thick. It's wide, though I didn't feel the width was overwhelming with a small babe. And while the dark-purple color didn't strike me at first, it wears well with everything. It's girly enough for purple lovers, but subtle enough for mamas who aren't feeling pinkalicious (and I can only assure you that I never feel pinkalicious). It wore maybe a bit short to size, because of the thickness, but my base size felt like my base size. I think it compared favorably to my handwovens - the thickness reminded me of my Warped and Wonderful, in fact, and the weightlessness it gave me particularly reminded me of that brand's crystal weave. 

Saffyre and her mama. She snuggled right in. 
It's a wrap that seemed like it would shine with a toddler, so I waited for naptime and wrangled August up. Pics were not forthcoming, due to toddler rage, but the wrap wore well. It tightened fairly easily, accounting for the screaming tantrum. I had to work a bit harder for it than I would have with a thin, super moldable wrap, but the texture didn't work hard against me, and the wrap had great grip. Super cushy on the shoulders, and August seemed to like it.

We love Rebecca, and her baby is super cute. 
I loved it, basically, so I hauled it to a meeting for everyone else to love, too. It made the rounds: new wrappers, old wrappers, and even a preggie. 

We mostly put new wrappers in a FWCC with smaller babes. All of them liked it, and none found it overwhelming to tighten. Nor was the grip or texture off-putting for them.

Our only naysayer was our preggie mama, who showed up just to try it, as part of her desperate quest for a wrap to suit her picky, picky shoulders. While most of us found Olympos amazingly cushy, she didn't like it. Back to the drawing board for her - though her shoulders are crazy picky! Rebecca wasn't fond, either - though she found it comfortable and cushy, thick wraps aren't her deal. We love her anyway.

Olympos puts to bed the recent whining about toddlers needing hemp or linen blends. It's as cushy as anything I've tried, and shines with a toddler. The length isn't overwhelming for a squish, either. It wouldn't be a great only wrap in a hot climate. I reached for it a bunch on blustery, chill days, and it kept babe and I pretty cozy. I was definitely sad to mail it off, and I'm stalking for an olympos kingfisher now. Hear me, Alisa?
Good distance pic of the pattern. Cara is objecting to going up. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feb. 1 Meeting and Photos: Babywearing Ages and Stages

Hi, babywearers! We had a great meeting on Saturday at Whole Foods on Saturday, with over a dozen mamas - most of them new! Apologies if we didn't get your picture; our photographer could only be in so many places at once.

Our education portion focused on babywearing ages and stages. Elizabeth talked about appropriate carriers and tips for different ages, starting with newborns and going up to toddlers.

For newborns, mamas need carriers that hold baby in a safe, ergonomic position that maintains the baby's spine's natural c-curve without over-spreading his legs. Many mamas use stretchy wraps, like the Boba wrap  in our lending library. These are wonderful for term infants up to 15 lbs, and easy to nurse in. Woven wraps and ring slings also hold baby in a tight, ergonomic position and allow for good nursing access and positioning, regardless of mama's size or breast flexibility. We don't recommend soft-structured carriers like the Ergo for newborns; they tend to overspread a small baby's legs, and the infant insert isn't a particularly great solution to that problem. Remember, newborns should always stay in a tummy-to-tummy, upright carry unless you're actively nursing.

Around four months old, babies tend to want to see the world! At this stage, many babies become vocal about this, and mamas decide to face them outward. We don't recommend facing baby out  - Boba has a great list of reasons why - for reasons of ergonomics and emotional regulation. But baby still wants to see! At this point, a rebozo hip carry becomes a great, economical option, as does a ring sling in the same position.

This is when mamas begin to want back carries! A woven wrap or mei tai offers the best options for back carries at this age. They can be worn high enough for baby to see well, whiel still supporting the trunk muscles of a child who may not be able to sit in his own. We recommend waiting until you have wrapped with a woven (not a stretchy) wrap for at least a month, and mastered front carries, before trying to put baby on your back. Rebecca showed us how to do a superman toss and hip scoot to get baby up there.

Finally, for chunky toddlers, mamas may want a soft-structured carrier. A ring sling or rebozo offers quick ups and down; a cushy wrap offers plenty of support. It's safe to try a back carry at this age, even for a beginning wearer, as long as you take proper safety precautions.

Emma and Oliver in Didymos Terra Indio (lending library)

We wrapped up lots and lots of mamas - everyone seemed to be there for help with either front carries or back wrapping! Emma tried out a few wraps and Oliver eventually took a nap.

Melissa and Claire in jade purple (lending library)
Melissa and Claire tried some wraps too, and then got baby in a ruck tied tibetan.

Then Elizabeth got some help nursing toddler Douglas in a wrap. She finally fell asleep, which was the sweetest thing ever. The visible bow may have slain us all with its cuteness.

We had lots of other mamas there who wrapped and talked and played, especially with our two traveling tester wraps (we'll post pics and reviews in a few!). Thanks to all who came - we look forward to seeing you next time. Sorry to the many mamas who aren't pictured!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Announcing our Scavenger Hunt!

Hey, babywearers! We'd like to announce our February contest - a babywearing photo scavenger hunt. Here's how it works:

Every week, your VBEs will release a list of photos of yourself to find. These need to be NEW photos, taken this month, and you have until the end of the month to find all photos. Post them to our FaceBook wall at Label them with the clue you're counting it towards (for example, "At a BWI meeting") and tag yourself. Your VBEs will keep score; each photo gets one point. We may announce something else that can be done to get a point (for example, coming to a meeting).

At the end of the month, we'll tally the points. The mama who gets the most wins our top prize, a travel potty donated by KD's Treehouse. Other prizes for runners-up include a Shiny Star teething giraffe, a boob hat, and custom crochet work. In the event of a tie, we'll use to choose a winner.

We'll update this post with clues as we release them. You have until the end of the month, remember!

Released Feb. 1:
1) wearing at a BWI meeting
2) wearing while watching a sporting event OR Downton Abbey OR Sherlock
3) wearing while feeding your baby
4) wearing while eating
5) wearing near an animal
6) wearing near water

Get those photos coming! Your VBEs may post pics but are not eligible to win. Let's see some cute pics!

Meeting reminders:
Third Thursday: Feb. 20, 10:30 at State Stree Baptist Church in Cayce
Fourth Saturday: Feb. 22, 1:00 at Expecting Well Maternity Salon in Columbia

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Babywearing 101 at the Midlands Perinatal Region Breastfeeding Workshop, and January Round-Up

Lots of great things going on here in Columbia! We had a great meeting on January 16 (third Thursday) at our usual location - State Street Baptist in Cayce. Mamas learned some new carries with their woven wraps! Rebecca and Elizabeth helped everyone learn to tie a rebozo and perfect their double hammock, and we welcomed several new people (and their sweet squishy babies!).

Our NEXT meeting will be held on Saturday, February 1st - first Saturday - at Whole Foods Market, 10:30 am. Hit up Soda City Market on Main Street before you come! Our topic is "Babywearing Through Ages and Stages", and will have both Elizabeth and Rebecca demonstrating different carries and carriers appropriate for various ages. Bring some awesome carriers, some sweet babes, and some ideas about what you'd like to see us talk about next time.

Later in the month, we'll meet at State Street Baptist in Cayce on third Thursday - February 20th - at our usual 10:30 time. Our formal teaching session will focus on using soft-structured carriers and mei tais. After that, we'll answer questions, play with carriers, and hang out!

Then, on our usual fourth Saturday slot, we're excited to announce our invitation to hold a Babywearing 101 presentation at Expecting Well, Columbia's physician-supervised maternity spa and yoga studio! We'll meet at 1:00 pm and talk about the benefits of babywearing - for both mama and child! - babywearing safety, and types of carriers. You'll leave with detailed information about how to learn more, and where to find those carriers we show you. Because of the nature of the space, we ask  caregivers to limit this class to children under two only - we love our toddlers, and we want them to have a happy, fun time at babywearing meet-ups!

This Expecting Well session came about due to one of our other cool happenings this month - Elizabeth Broadbent, one of our three VBEs (Volunteer Babywearing Educators) was invited to speak at the Midlands Perinatal Breastfeeding Conference at Palmetto Health Baptist on January 24th. She gave her Babywearing 101 presentation to over 150 state and medical personnel, with demo baby Simon obliging by nursing and sleeping in turns. The manager of Expecting Well happened to be in attendance and asked her to reprise the class for their clients. We're super excited to reach out to new mamas this way! This dovetails perfectly with our outreach mission - to get as many Midlands parents wearing as we can, and to made babywearing accessible to every caregiver and child, regardless of economic situation, parenting philosophy, or work/daycare arrangement.

Hope to see you at our regular meetings - third Thursday and first Saturday! We hope to add a regular evening and fourth Saturday meeting as well. In the meantime, see you on our active Facebook group - BWI of Columbia, SC and hope to see you soon! Carry on!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

International Babywearing Week Events

Next week is International Babywearing Week. We in Columbia want to do it up right, with lots of events to help you learn to carry your baby close.

Mamas with or without babies are welcome at all events! Other children are always welcome as well, though we ask that you supervise them. The Tuesday night event at KD's Treehouse is also open to all, though if you bring a child who is not in a carrier, please bring an extra adult to closely supervise. 

Here's what's going on:

Lexington Playdate, Corley Mill Park - 10:30 am
Babywearing Class, KD's Treehouse - 6-7:30 pm
We ask that you leave children who will not be in a carrier at home, or bring an additional adult to closely supervise, as  there have been issues with toddlers and other children trashing the store :).

Lending Library Photo Session, USC Horseshoe - 9 am
 The lovely Reshma of Blue Silk Photography has agreed to photograph our lending library! We need mamas to model. All members will receive one high-res digital image through email. I recommend parking on College Street, near the Shell Station, Main Street, or Pendleton near the Statehouse.

Fair Walk, meet at the Rocket at 12:15 pm
The State Fair has a lunch time deal ( where you pay $5 (cash only) to go eat lunch. If you are out by 2, you get your money back. So we will take advantage of the deliciousness of fried foods while showing off our love of babywearing. We plan to meet at the Rocket around 12:15.

Northeast Playdate,  Carolina Children's Garden, 10:30 am

Babywearing Class, St. Andrew's Regional Branch of Richland County Public Library, 3 pm
 This is the Richland Co Library Branch located on Broad River Rd between St. Andrews Rd & I-20. It is called the St. Andrews Regional Branch. The address is 2916 Broad River Rd, Columbia, 29210

This is a great week to become an official BWI member! Remember, members are entitled to borrow carriers from the lending library ;).