Tuesday, May 28, 2013

June Meeting 6/5

Our June meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 5th, starting 10:30 at the Casa Verde Commons common house.  The topic of the meeting will be "Carrier Safety."  Bring your carriers and bring your babies!  (Additional kids and fathers always welcome!) 

If you have yet to join us on Facebook, please do!  We sometimes meet for additional playdates, outside of our scheduled meetings!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lighthearted Babywearing Videos :)

Sometimes we just need a laugh.  This SNL skit will have you giggling!

Back in 1963, apparently babywearing was referred to as "baby-toting."  Check out an awesome clip from that time period here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Boba 2G, Boba 3G, Boba Air

Boba is a Colorado-based company and the maker of the very popular Boba buckle carriers.  There are three Boba soft structure carriers that are currently on the market:  The Boba 2G, while discontinued, can still be bought at several retailers, including Amazon; the newer model is the Boba 3G, which can be used from newborn through toddlerhood, with no additional insert needed.  Lastly, there is the Boba Air, the "lightweight" carrier the company offers.  

Mindy N. has owned and used all three and here is her experience/review of them:

I started with a 2G from Zulily, when they were liquidating their stock before releasing the 3G. I heard about it from a friend who thought it might be up my alley, even though my third child had just turned 3 years old. We were at Fort Campbell at the time, and we used to visit downtown Nashville a lot; a stroller or wagon is really inconvenient when going into many of the stores there, so I was willing to give a carrier a shot, after not wearing her since she was less than a year old.  We were planning to have another baby in the future, too, so I figured we'd eventually use it even if it was a failure for her. Anyway, I got the carrier and LOVED it for hiking, exploring record stores in Nashville, etc. Since she was pretty old when we bought it, we only ever back carried her. My husband was deployed when I bought the Boba, and started using it once he came home. He liked it, too. When Baby #4 came along, I used the Boba with him straight out of the gate. I wore him frogged, without an insert or adaptive use. He was 8 pounds and 20.5 inches and he fit very comfortably that way. 

I was so happy with the 2G that I wasn't even interested in upgrading to the 3G -- until I bought a second Boba in the Diaper Dude camo print, for my husband to use. I had no intention of wearing a camo-print anything, since I try to keep a low profile as an Army wife, but I really liked the higher back and the purse strap. I decided to buy a solid Boba for myself, in grey. The purse strap wrangler is so helpful, as well as the ability to adjust the chest strap vertically. It's also more adjustable than I remember the 2G being; the webbing straps between the end of the padded shoulder strap and the seat are adjustable at both ends.  I think it makes it easier to tweak the fit while a child is in it, since you can grab either end and make your change. 
Mindy N. wears her baby in her Boba 3G at Cheyenne CaƱon.

The main con I've found is that I'm not quite flexible enough to clip the chest strap when I'm wearing him on the front. I manage to get around that by having one of my other kids clip it for me, since I'm rarely without at least one of them. I can deal with it if I go to the store alone with the baby and don't have someone to snap it for me, but it's kind of annoying that I have to hike the straps up every so often. (I have no issues getting an arm behind my back to unsnap it with one hand, though.) The other potential con is that my daughter hates using the foot straps/stirrups. She would probably be better supported if she used them, but she finds them annoying. Still, the seat is pretty big, so she's not dangling when she's in it.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Boba Air when we set out. As enthusiastic as I am about our 3G, I wondered if the Air was going to be as comfortable. It turned out to be surprisingly so! I am not a frequent flyer, so I wanted to travel as minimally as possible on our trip to North Carolina. The Air was perfect: lightweight and breathable while running through the airport, compact when settling into our seats on the plane. It stuffs into its self-bag easily. It collapses down like a reusable grocery bag, without a lot if hassle to make it fit, and it took up about as much room as my makeup bag in my carry-on. 

I also used the Air at our destination, not just in transit. I walked for over three miles on the beach one day during our trip. Despite its lightweight construction, I didn't find the straps digging into my shoulders. (It might be worth noting that my son is pretty petite. He's only about 20 pounds at 15 months. People with older or larger children might not have the same experience.) The Boba 3G's more padded and rigid structure is still definitely superior to the Air in terms of support and comfort, but the Air stands on its own pretty well. My son also seemed to like it, as he fell asleep about a mile into our walk.

What were your personal experiences with Boba carriers like?  Comment and let us know!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Woven Wraps 101

Most new parents have heard of a Moby. (Perhaps you even received one at your baby shower.)  For those who haven't, the Moby is a stretchy wrap.  It's made of one long piece of stretchy material that parents can wrap around themselves to wear their babies on their chest.  

Maybe you love your Moby and that's great!  But if you find yourself thinking you need more support or would like to try a back carry, the woven wrap is the way to go.  Unlike the Sleepy/Boba wrap and Moby, woven wraps are not stretchy.  We do not recommend using either of these stretchy wraps to do back carries.  Here is a video that showcases why:

Admittedly, woven wraps come with a bit of a learning curve.  You have to learn to guide the fabric around you while holding your baby, and because of the lack of stretch, you also have to learn how to tighten properly.  BUT once you have it down, it is more than worth it, and you have to admit, woven wraps come in way prettier designs than most stretchy wraps!

Woven Wrap Sizing 
Woven wraps come in many different sizes, the most used ones being 2 -7.  The brand Didymos is generally considered to be the standard of woven wraps.  With the vast majority of woven wrap companies being European, wraps are measured in meters.  This is Didymos' sizing:
  • Size 2: 2.7 meters
  • Size 3: 3.2 meters
  • Size 4: 3.7 meters
  • Size 5: 4.2 meters
  • Size 6: 4.6 meters
  • Size 7: 5.2 meters
While other brands may vary slightly, this is a good start for figuring out what size wrap you need.  Different sizes correlate with different carries.  For example, a Rebozo carry is a one-layer carry done with a shorty (short wrap).  A Poppins Hip Carry uses a medium-length wrap, while a Double Hammock, which has two layers and a chest pass, uses a long wrap.  There are literally dozens of carries (and variations) you can do with a woven wrap!    

So which size should you get?  It depends on which carries you would like to do.  Many people start of with a longer wrap, such as a 6, perhaps because you can use the same carries that you learned with a Moby.  Some might prefer a short wrap for quicker carries.    Wrap Your Baby has an excellent guide about various sizes and carriers, while TheBabywearer.com has a very comprehensive chart.

Brands and Blends
Marcia S's stack of Didymos Indios
includes various blends.
There are many woven wrap brands out there: Bara Barn, BB Slen, Colimacon et Cie, Didymos, Diva Milano, Dolcino, Easycare, Ellaroo, Ellevill, Girasol, Hoppendiz, KoKaDi, Lenny Lamb, Linuschka, Little Frog, Natibaby, Neobulle, Oscha, Pavo, Pollora, Vatanai and several other up-and-coming brands that are slated to release their first wraps within the year.  Each company has their own style; some may do only stripes or cotton, while others many specialize in intricate jacquard-weave designs.  In other words, with all of these options, it's likely you'll find something gorgeous that works for you. 

Blends are a little tricky.  There are wraps made of 100% cotton or even 100% linen.  Then there are wraps made out of cotton plus various percentages of linen, wool, cashmere, bamboo, silk, and hemp.

One hundred percent cotton wraps are a great choice and easy maintenance.  Bamboo blends have been described as dense, hot, smooth feeling,  and better for little babies.  Linen and hemp blends are generally considered supportive and great for heavier babies.  Silk blends tend to be on the thinner side.  Wool and cashmere blends are said to be cushy and bouncy and thus, easy on the shoulders; some people find them warm, while others find them breathable and airy in the summer time.  Cashmere is pricey when compared to other fibers.   Both wool and cashmere require gentle handwashing. Blends aside, thickness also plays a role in how a wrap feels when worn.  A thick cotton, for example, can be just as supportive (or even more so) than a thin linen. Overall, it is hard to go beyond generalities, with different wraps and weaves from the various companies.  

Where to Buy
While you can usually buy wraps directly from the company sites themselves, buying from a stateside vendor is an excellent option.  Shipping is generally quicker and on the off-chance that you might want to size up or size down your wrap, doing an exchange is much easier when dealing with a company in your own country!   Here is a list of some vendors we recommend:  The Blueberry TreeEarthy Bliss, Frogmama, Granola Babies, Heart-HugsMarsupial MamasNappies and More..., Paxbaby, Purple Elm BabyRisaroo, Sustain.able SproutsWoven Wraps and Zerberts.  

Yes, a woven wrap is somewhat expensive, at least more expensive than a starter Moby.  But it is an investment and if you pick the right one, it can last you well into toddlerhood. Not to mention that if you keep it good condition, when you are done babywearing, you can sell it!  

Here I am wearing my daughter in Oscha Foxglove Roses,
which I got off the Facebook Swap in a trade.
People sell their woven wraps quite often!  Sometimes it's because they are no longer babywearing, or other times it's just because they want to try something new on a limited budget.  There are two specific places we recommend for buying a used wraps/baby carriers:  The Babywearing Swap on Facebook and FSOT on TBW (you will need to sign up for a TBW account).  Admittedly, babywearing has its own lingo, to include lots of acronyms, which can make it hard to understand what exactly it is they are selling.  You can check out some of the commonly used acronyms in our group document here.

Buying used has a few advantages.  For example, the wrap you get may already be broken in.  Wraps can come out of production stiff and a little hard to wrap with, but over time and with use, they generally become softer and "broken in." Second, sometimes the wrap you want is a limited edition or no longer in production; in this scenario, buying secondhand may be your only option for getting that specific wrap.  Third, you MAY be able to find a wrap for a cheaper price than new.  Now, when buying used, the onus is on you, as the buyer, to do your research on price.  Don't hesitate to ask in the group whether we think the price is good or any other questions about a wrap you are considering.  

Now you've got the basics down about woven wraps; we hope this post was helpful!  If you've stumbled across this blog by chance and are local, please join us on here on Facebook!

**This post was culmination of joint efforts of Paula R. with Jillian D. and Marcia S.   

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Carrying On Project

With five military bases in the area, Colorado Springs is a bit of a military city. This means that a great deal of our members come and go, only passing through for several years, before moving on to another base.

Kit Jenkins is one of those people. She left the Colorado Springs babywearing group in summer of 2011 and her family is now stationed in Virginia. She has also since launched The Carrying On Project, an organization that aims to get carriers into the hands of military families who need them.

Such families are faced with obstacles that are unique to the military. Husbands deploy and often miss births; mothers are left caring for their three children on their own, with no family around to help. Sometimes service members come home injured and are physically unable to hold their babies with just their own two hands. Kit having served as a Marine herself, was well aware of these kinds of challenges.

After having her baby, she sought out the local babywearing group and found herself at her first meeting with her seven-week-old daughter. Her husband had been deployed for just under six weeks and she knew she needed to find better ways to function around the house with a newborn. She also wanted to stop lugging around the heavy carseat.

There, at the meeting, she met Billie (of Nappies and More...), who taught her how to use a ringsling and wrap.

"I borrowed that wrap for close to three months, and was AMAZED at how much easier it made everything," Kit said. "We used it to travel back to the east coast, to walk the dog, to grocery shop, to do laundry...everything. At that point I had decided that EVERYONE needed a baby carrier, especially people who are running a household by themselves, like military spouses often are."

The seeds were planted. Kit was in love with babywearing for the way it made life easier, particularly for parents like her who were doing it alone without their spouses for many months at a time.

The Carrying On Project officially came to life around Christmas of 2012.

"I had been tossing the idea around in my head for a while...A friend of my husband's died very suddenly two weeks before Christmas," she said. "One of the big things his dad talked about at the funeral was how my husband's friend was always looking out for military families. He was always trying to make sure, especially when part of rear detachment, that all of the families had what they needed. I wanted to take that spirit and run with it."

The name of her organization, "The Carrying On Project" has two distinct meanings. Babywearing is a way of "carrying" our children and going on with life. "Carry On" is also a military order, one that means "keep doing what you're doing," Kit explained. "It's used service-wide, across all branches, through out all the ranks and jobs."

Kit enlisted the help of a friend: Fellow babywearer Rachel Silvernail, who has a background in graphic design.

"I spearheaded the push to get the website up and running," Rachel said.

According to the website, The Carrying On Project has a specific mission:  "The goal of the Carrying On Project is to help get carriers to the families of our military so that they may better obtain secure attachments with their children, something that deployment and injuries will often interrupt. We seek to assist both the service members and the families left behind in 'Carrying On' while both home and away, to make something that is difficult for the whole family a little bit easier."

With the hard work of Kit and the help of several baby carrier companies as sponsors, The Carrying On Project has been able to donate many carriers to the families who are nominated, including some that stationed overseas.

"We also partner with Operation Homefront for Star Spangled Babies, which is a baby shower thrown for expecting active duty as well wounded warrior and active duty spouses," Kit said. "Our next major event is in VA Beach, where we will be helping 200 families learn how to use donated carriers and talk to them about the benefits of babywearing, especially while a spouse is at training or deployed."

Operation Homefront DC Metro Chapter's March 2013 Star Spangled Baby Shower
(Photo provided  by The Carrying On Project)

So what are some of the other plans The Carrying On Project have in store? They have teamed up with Sustain.able Sprouts to create their own custom Girasol wrap, fittingly named "Warrior's Pride."

According to Kit, the new colorway is meant to "bring awareness to our cause and organization" while also bringing "something patriotic to the market." The wrap, which features the standard American red, white and blue, also has teal in it, that represents PTSD Awareness, as well as the yellow, for the yellow ribbon in support of military troops.

The wrap is currently on preorder through Sustain.able Sprouts, who will donate $10 of each wrap bought to The Carrying On project. That money will then be used to purchase wraps that will be donated to military families.

Also, Obimama, a company that makes wrap conversion carriers, has “offered to do a conversion for us, which we will be auctioning off in the fall to benefit Wounded Warrior Project," Kit said.

To keep an eye out for what other projects the organization has coming up, "like" their Facebook page, The Carrying On Project. To nominate a deserving military family, go to their website, http://www.carryingonproject.org/

**This post was written by Paula R.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talking About TBW with Marcia

Thebabywearer.com was founded in 2003 and is often touted as a great reference for babywearing.  Although various forums and  Facebook groups are growing in popularity, TBW still hold a special place in many people's hearts and for a great reason.   The forum is a place of vast community knowledge, with contributions from members who post from all over the world.  It has a great reach and you can read wrap reviews from someone in a small country in Europe or answer the questions of someone who lives in a small city in Asia.  There are also threads dating back to close to almost a decade and it is amazing to read about the various babywearing trends that have happened over the years as well as the start-ups of several companies that are now considered mainstream.  

Colorado Springs group leader Marcia S. shares her thoughts and TBW journey with us.  

How did you find out about TBW? What made you join?

I joined TBW back in April 2008, and Micah wasn't born until Jan 2010. My cousin was pregnant and I went to view her registry. She had requested a pouch from Target, and I thought it looked like something I could sew. I Googled instructions to DIY [Do It Yourself], and found Jan Andrea's site [sleeping baby productions llc]. I think I read the whole thing that night and she linked to TBW for a resource. I joined either that day or pretty quickly afterward. I spent lots of time researching things after that, especially because I worked night shift and had free time at strange times of day.

I did end up making a cotton pouch, and started making ring slings for baby showers from Jan's instructions. Once I started reading more at TBW, I got very interested in woven wraps and bought my first one from Peppermint.com. After that, I found FSOT [For Sale Or Trade] and bought more wraps used. 

What are your thoughts about TBW as a resource? How has it helped you?

Without TBW, I don't think that I would have found babywearing as early as I did. I'm so thankful that I got a chance to learn about the options before I even became pregnant and knew what carrier (a wrap) I would prefer before Micah was even born. I'm sure people thought I was a little crazy for being there before even TTC [trying to conceive], but there was something about babywearing that I loved and I knew it from the start.

What advice do you give people who are trying to navigate for the first time?

For people new to TBW, I strongly recommend learning how to search. vBulletin isn't as user-friendly as Facebook, and it can be overwhelming to try a forum for the first time. I would tell a new person to take his or her time and explore the site. The "Choosing and Using" sections help to answer a lot of questions about finding a new carrier, and the stickied threads at the top of the forums have the most-requested information without having to search. New members would benefit from asking lots of questions and commenting often to make friends in the online community. Plus, users need 30 days membership and 30 posts to use the ISO [In Search Of] forum, so it is important to have established a presence so that you can request specific used carriers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013

Heather and her son get ready to join the
crowd inside.

(Photo provided by H. Graham)
The Great Cloth Diaper Change (GCDC) was held on the 20th of April.  The GCDC, for those who haven't heard of it, is a worldwide event to break the Guinness World Record for the number of cloth diapers changed.  Previously, all of the changes happened simultaneously, but this year, the changes took place at 11 a.m. local time at each location. 

Several of our members opted to participate in the GCDC.  Heather Graham and her family drove up to participate in the Denver event, which was being held part of the Kanga Care Natural Parenting Expo.

"There was babywearing everywhere you looked," she said.  "My mother-in-law thinks we are kinda crazy because we wear both babies every time we go somewhere. (She thinks it is 'easier' to use a stroller.) She came with us to the GCDC and was amazed at the sheer amount of people wearing their babies. It seemed like every parent was either wearing one baby or each spouse was wearing a baby each."

While the venue was packed, Heather noted that the atmosphere was still a very pleasant one.  

"As my husband put it, he has never seen a group of more beautiful woman most very natural with little to no makeup, breastfeeding in public with no cover and no feeling of need to cover, and overall very peaceful loving vibes could be felt through out," she said.

Of course no big event would be complete without some great prizes and great company.  Raffle prizes included several baby carriers, full sets of cloth diapers and diaper bags.  Participants were also given goody bags with nursing pads, a limited edition Rumparooz, and various samples and coupons.  They also had the opportunity to mingle with some well-known people at the Expo/GCDC, such as Jessica of The Leaky B@@b and The NYC Baby Guy. 
Denver GCDC participants get ready to change their babies!
(Photo provided by H. Graham)

Sarah Theriault opted to attend the GCDC event at the Chapel Hills mall.  Local sponsors such Cloth Diaper Market and CJ's Unique Boutique were present and there were also some demonstrations and activites, such as a Diaper Derby for crawling babies.

"The change was pretty wild," she said.  "They checked all diapers to make sure they were publicly available brands.  They gave us anklets for the babies so they made sure we walked out with the right ones."

Sarah described the GCDC as fun and said that it was "great to be in the midst of so many like-minded mamas!"  She noted many babywearing parents in attendance, but admitted to being too shy to say hello to them.

The event also helped convert a friend she brought along with her.  She hadn't been cloth diapering, but the GCDC provided a free cloth diaper for moms like her that still wanted to participate.

"She loved it so much she wants to start cloth diapering!"  Sarah said.  "She learned a lot about how much money it could save and how much healthier it is for the planet." 

**Written by Paula R.

5/1 Monthly Meeting

This was our first meeting with our newly appointed leaders.  Seeing as how it was snowing (in May, thanks Colorado!), we stayed indoors, where Jillian and Kristen started the meeting off with an "Introduction to Babywearing" mini-class to acquaint people with the different types of carriers and help guide their questions.  We welcomed quite a few members to their first meeting and we hope it was good one for them!  

Kate H. and Patti S. listen as members introduce themselves. Kate
wearing her son in a Girasol Rainforest Wrap Conversion Half-Buckle
and Patti is wearing her daughter in a BBslen Lychee shorty.
Leader Jillian D. wears her little girl in a Kinderpack while
explaining the different types of carriers, including those in the
lending library.
Babywearers converse with their little ones close to them.
Jillian D. guides Jamie E. as she wraps her child.
Jillian is wearing Didymos Black Hemp Pfau.  
May Meeting's Group Photo