Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Meeting

Due to the July 4th holiday, we will be meeting the second Wednesday of this month, the 10th.  The meeting will start 10:30 at the Casa Verde Commons common house.  The focus of the meeting will be "Pouch Slings."  Bring your carriers and bring your babies!  (Additional kids and fathers always welcome!) 

If you have yet to join us on Facebook, please do!  Now that it is summer, there is a playdate or two almost every week!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Meet Our Local Weaver: "Golden Thread Mistress" Marcia Stewart

Marcia models her wrap as a scarf.
For babywearers, woven wraps can be quite sentimental.  Apart from being gorgeous fabric, they hold our babies close as they grow.  There are memories made, memories of a sweet baby falling asleep, or perhaps gazing wide-eyed at the world from the safe place close to our hearts.

Local group leader Marcia Stewart understands this: "To us, wrapping a child is symbolic of that love. Closeness. Hold your child close to you in a wrap and dream of a world full of joy."

That's what it says on her Facebook page, Golden Thread Mistress.  A babywearer since 2010, she has recently taken the plunge into handweaving wraps.

Marcia has been enamored by woven wraps since even before becoming pregnant with her first son.  She had a full selection of woven wraps awaiting his arrival by the time he was born.   

"Woven wraps were my favorite from the beginning. I love that the fabric is endlessly versatile: blanket, fort, scarf, washcloth, and baby carrier all in one. I love fibers of all kinds, and the beauty of wraps really draws me in," she said. 

Last winter, Marcia enrolled in a weaving class with a friend.  "After the first day of class, I loved it," she said.  "Weaving felt like what I was supposed to be doing. I was excited to look for my own loom."

Now she is the proud owner of a Schacht 36" standard floor loom, with 4 shafts. 

It really should be no surprise to anyone who knows her that she has taken on weaving. Marcia, after all, loves anything artsy.  She makes jewelry, pottery, paints, quilts, knits and sews.  Buying a loom and learning to weave only seemed natural.          

There are a few differences between her wraps and the ones readily produced on machines by brandname companies. 

"A wrap I wove is more likely to have handmade touches and not be perfect," she said.  "I strive to weave quality fabric, but I'm also new to weaving and am learning my trade. I think that handwoven wraps are very moldable and stretchy from the beginning, so they're quite comfortable. They're also able to have unhemmed rails because the selvedges are finished as they're woven (as opposed to companies that weave their wraps double-wide and have cut edges that require hemming)."  

Furthermore, because they are handwoven, this also means that they are each unique.  

"In addition to wrapping differently than a commercially-made wrap, a wrap I wove is smaller-scale, one of a kind, and can be customized for the intended recipient. That's one of my favorite things about weaving a wrap," she added.
"Painted Sunset" sits on the loom.

Weaving a wrap is more than simply putting thread on a loom and passing the shuttle back and forth.  It takes many hours to measure out the thread and there are variables that have to be taken into account, such as weft yardage, wrap width, shrinkage and other variables, which are used in mathematical formulas.  Then there is actually preparing everything on the loom.  The weaving, she says, is actually the easiest part.  

As a weaver, Marcia gets to be creative.  She can pick out what type of thread to use and of course, a beautiful color scheme.  So where does she get her ideas?

"My inspiration has been from pictures I've seen, other wraps...and photos of special places. Nature scenes are great inspiration, (my current project is a sunset-inspired one), and artwork is, too," she says.

To learn more about Marcia's gorgeous wraps and her weaving process, check out her Facebook, Golden Thread Mistress.  Unfortunately, she is not taking customs at this time, but if you are lucky, you may have a chance to try out one of her wraps at a local meeting.  

**This post was written by Paula R.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why we should be concerned with fake carriers

Fake Prada bags, fake Gucci glasses, fake Rolex watches, carriers?

Yep, they're out there.  There are fake Ergos, Becos and even Freehand mei tais.  But should we be concerned?  I mean, they work exactly the same, don't they?  The buckles will stay locked, the straps will still tie.  It'll work just fine!

Except, we don't really know that.  We don't know if counterfeit carriers are safe or "just fine."  They may look almost exactly like the real thing, but they aren't held to the same standards.  The materials may be sub-par or they may have traces of unsafe chemicals left on them.  We know that real Ergo carriers are tested for the safety of carrying children; we can't say that about the knock-offs.  So in cases like these, isn't it better to err on the side of caution?  

Yes, you can get fake carriers for cheap!  A counterfeit Ergo may run only $40 while a real one runs over $100.  But at what PRICE?  It's more than just money; could the price be your child's health?  Supporting illegal operations?

Let's talk ethics.  Ergo created a popular design.  It is theirs; they worked hard on creating it and they own it.   You buy a knock-off carrier because you like the way the Ergo looks, but you aren't paying homage to them; it's actually a bit disrespectful.  The people who deserve to be paid aren't being paid.  Instead, you're giving money to design thieves!   

But maybe you don't care and you're going to buy a fake Ergo carrier through a co-op anyways.  You're just going to use it for yourself and you're smart enough to make this decision for you and your baby, yes?  But what about the other people participating?  Do you trust them to do the "right thing" with their carriers?  Can you be sure that they aren't going to illegally resell them under the guise of them being real?  You can't.  And by taking on a "we're only responsible for ourselves and our own actions" stance, you are ignoring that this exact situation happens all the time.  I've seen mothers in online groups, lamenting that they bought an Ergo off of Craigslist, only to find out it was fake.  

There's also always the chance that your carrier won't even make it out of customs.  Customs has the right to seize counterfeit merchandise.  They're even cracking down online.  Just last year, Denver Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized over 15 websites that were selling fake baby carriers!

So how can you avoid buying a fake carrier?  Well, while eBay is a great place to buy HSA (highly sought after) wraps, it's notorious for having fake Ergos, Becos and Freehands (the latter of which is labeled "Minizone").  You know what they say, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.  
If you are buying in person, ask for the original purchase receipt, if possible.  If you have any reason to suspect that yours is fake, don't hesitate to contact Ergo with the serial number.  If you bought a counterfeit one on accident from a secondhand store, ask for a refund.  It was illegal for them to sell it to you.  

I accept that we are all adults and we each make our decisions based on what we consider risk factors.  However, as a group, our stance is that, for a variety of reasons, people should absolutely avoid buying and using counterfeit baby carriers.  

**This post was written by Paula R.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6/5 Monthly Meeting

Our monthly meeting was held today!  With Elizabeth C. moving away, meetings will no longer be held at Casa Verde.  We thank her for hosting us for this long.  :)  Future meetings will likely be at local parks if the weather continues to stay nice.

This meeting's topic was "Carrier Safety."  We talked about the "Cradle Carry" and while it is a valid carry, carries that hold the baby upright with their faces visible and kissable are the better option, as you can be more aware of the baby's airway.  (Vigilance about a baby's breathing while babywearing is important.)  We discussed forward-facing babies (wearing babies with their backs against our chests, facing out), and how there are also options such as hip and high back carries. These carries allow babies to get a good view and tend to more ergonomic for both the parent and the baby.  We also talked about narrow-based carriers.  These carriers are not considered unsafe. While there are more comfortable or ideal options out there, it is still safe for parents to wear babies in these kinds of carriers.

June Meeting Group Photo
Courtney K. tries out a wrap woven by group leader Marcia S.
(Photo provided by Courtney K.)
Rechelle B. checks her baby's seat. She is using an Ellevill Tri-green woven wrap.
Gretchen M.'s daughter rocks a torso carry.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cloth Diapers: The Basics

Group leader Jillian D. shares her cloth diapering expertise with us,  outlining the different types of diapers available, addressing washing concerns and giving us the basic 101 class alongside pictures of her very cute, fluffy-bummed toddler daughter. 

Venturing into the world of cloth diapering can be a very overwhelming process.  Who knew there could be so many choices? Cloth diapers have come a long way since our parents used them on us or maybe chose not to use them.  There are so many brands, styles, colors... it can be hard to pick which ones to use. 

Some of the big reasons people cloth diaper is because it saves money, it is better for the environment and there are no chemicals against sweet baby's skin like there are in most disposables.  So let's break it down by styles of diapers.

Prefold held together with a snappi laying on a Thirsties cover (PUL)
Prefolds:  This type of diaper is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers.  It is a layered piece of cloth made typically from cotton that folds around the baby into a diaper and can be held together by a Snappi.  A Snappi is a modern day diaper pin, no need to worry about poking the baby.  Most of the time a prefold is used with a diaper cover. Prefolds can also be used as an insert for a pocket diaper.  For a more in-depth look, read this wonderful post specifically about the prefold.
Pros: budget friendly, dry quickly
Cons: a small learning curve, requires a cover to be waterproof

Flats:  This diaper is similar to a prefold but instead of a multilayer piece of fabric it is a single layer.  A flat can be folded in many different ways to put the most absorbent part where the child needs it the most.  This site shows 10 different ways to fold a flat.  Like the prefold this diaper can also be used as an insert for a pocket diaper and requires a cover or frequent changing.
Pros: a variety of folding techniques, fast drying time
Cons: learning curve, requires cover to be waterproof

Fitteds: This diaper is a personal favorite of mine.  A fitted diaper is a piece of fabric with a soaker that is either sewn, snapped or laid into the diaper.  It has elastics in the back and legs which makes it great for keeping messes contained.  This diaper goes on similar to an all-in-one or pocket, it just does not have a layer of PUL, therefore it is not waterproof.  While PUL is nice for keeping clothes and mommy dry, it does not allow much air to get to the skin.  I like the fact that the baby's skin can breathe, especially on hot summer days.  Again, these diapers require a cover or frequent changes.  Fitted diapers also come in the cutest prints!
Pros: baby's skin can breathe, super cute
Cons: requires a cover or frequent changing

Wool longies (diaper cover)
Covers: These are typically made of polyurethane laminated fabric (PUL), fleece or wool.  PUL covers are a simple piece of fabric with elastics in the legs and back that either snap or velcro over the prefold/flat/fitted diaper.  They are waterproof, easy to clean and affordable.  The downside to PUL is that it does not breathe.  Wool covers are simply a cover made from wool.  Some snap on and some pull on.  They come in the form of soakers, shorts and pants.  Wool is the most natural way to cover and is very breathable but can be expensive and hard to care for.  Fleece covers are like wool but not quite as breathable and are synthetic.  They also come in the form of soakers, shorts and pants.  Fleece is a much more affordable and easier to care for choice than wool.

Pockets:  This type of diaper is probably the most commonly used.  Once it is assembled it is the simplest to put on.  It is an outer waterproof layer, like PUL, and an inner softer layer, typically fleece, that you place an insert between.  This is a very customizable option, more than one insert can be added to increase absorbency.  There are also a variety of inserts that can be used, microfiber, bamboo, hemp, cotton... and don't forget about a prefold or a flat. Here you can read more about the different types of inserts. Pockets come apart in the wash so there is no need to pull the insert out before laundering.
Pros: inserts can be added to customize, simple to use
Cons: requires assembly after laundering 

All-in-ones (AIO): AIOs are exactly their name, everything all sewn together in one diaper.  There are no inserts, no covers, no assembly, just put it on and go.  This seems like the obvious answer to what to get, however there are some down sides to this diaper.  It can be more expensive than the other options, there is a much longer drying time because the layers do not come apart and they can be harder to get clean, again because they do not come apart.  I think a couple of these are great in every stash, they are great diapers for out and about.
Pros: ready to use after laundering
Cons: longer drying time and can be harder to clean

All-in-twos (AI2): The name, all-n-two, also describes this diaper well.  It is basically and outer shell made typically of PUL that you snap an insert into.  One of the great things about this diaper is that the shell can be used a few times before washing.  Most can simply be wiped clean and a new insert can be added.  This is assuming that a major blow out does not happen.  With this diaper only one cover is needed for every 2-3 inserts. 
Pros: cover can often be reused
Cons: cover can get dirty after one use

Just a cute fluffy bum!
Washing: Washing cloth diapers always tends to be a scary process for moms, it shouldn't be.  That being said, every person washes differently.  Maybe this is why people are always so nervous about the washing process, there are so many opinions on how to do it correctly.  Here is what my process looks like, wet diapers go straight into the diaper pail, poopy diapers get sprayed off into the toilet (more on the diaper sprayer in a minute) and tossed into the diaper pail. Note: exclusively breastfed (EBF) baby poop does not need to be sprayed or rinsed, it can go directly into the diaper pail because it is water soluble. Once solids or formula are introduced spraying or rinsing is necessary. Now for the actual washing part, put diapers, covers (not wool), wipes, wet bags... into the washer, one cold rinse cycle with no detergent, one full wash cycle on hot with detergent (I use Tide powder, gasp, no I don't use cloth detergent) followed by an extra cold rinse cycle. This final rinse cycle is in addition to the rinse cycle that the washer automatically does when it washes.  I always wash on the biggest load size.  When the diapers come out they should smell clean, not like poo.  If they smell like poo the process needs to be adjusted.  Often people think they need to use a lot of detergent because the diapers are really dirty; this is not the case.  Using lots of detergent causes build up which results in stink.  As for drying, I line dry almost everything (I actually use the octopus hangers form Ikea) followed by a ten minute fluff in the dryer with no heat to make them soft.  The dryer is hard on the elastics and on any PUL.  If you choose to use the dryer, dry on low heat.

Diaper sprayers (like a sprayer on the kitchen sink but for the toilet) are not necessary and not everyone uses them.  Some people just swish the diaper in the toilet to rinse.  I personally think a diaper sprayer is a lifesaver and makes my life easier.  The installation to the toilet is also really easy, I installed ours all by myself.
 As for the quantity of diapers that are needed, the rule of thumb is 12 diapers per child per day.  So if there is one child in diapers and washing is going to happen every other day (this is what I recommend), then 24 diapers would be needed.  Lots of people, myself included, have many more than this for a variety of reasons.  The more diapers in rotation, the less they get used which makes them last longer.  Also, sometimes things come up and washing every other day doesn't happen.  The biggest reason I have more than 24 is because buying them is just plain addicting, they are so cute and there are so many different kinds to try. 

Aplix diaper that I had converted to snaps by a local mama
I should also mention that most diapers come with snaps or aplix (velcro).  While the aplix is easy to fasten and unfasten, especially in the middle of the night, it does tend to wear out.  Snaps are a little more difficult to use, not much, and last much longer in my opinion.  I always go for snaps!

I know there are so many options and it is hard to know what will work best for you.  I suggest going into a local cloth diaper store and touching things for yourself.  When I started using cloth diapers, I bought a few of each kind.  That is the way I like my stash, there is a diaper for every situation.  Some people prefer to have all of the same kind, that is also fine.  It is all personal preference.  Now it is time to go out and put more fluffy bums into the world.  Fluffy bums are the cutest!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Battle Bumms

As many parents know, the total cost of diapering a child from birth through potty-training can be very expensive.  Disposable diapers, after all, are one-use only and a newborn can go through ten or more a day!  It adds up quickly.

More and more parents are turning to cloth diapers, but unfortunately, the start-up cost can be a little daunting.  For example, the cost of just a single BumGenius 4.0 pocket diaper is almost $18.  A whole stash of just 30 diapers can easily run $500 dollars, which can be a lot of money to put down at once, especially for families who may be living paycheck to paycheck on one income.  

Military spouse Victoria Emry started cloth diapering her son in June of 2012.  

"After spending nearly $500 to get started my husband and I looked at each other and said, at the same time, that there had to be a cheaper way to get started," she said. "From there it went from us thinking about making our own line of diapers with more affordable prices, to us deciding that we wanted to focus on helping military families get started and it was all details after that."

Victoria decided to started her organization Battle Bumms.  With the help of donations, she puts together cloth diaper starter kits.  These kits include 12 diapers, 12 cloth wipes, a wetbag and a pail liner.  These kits are then given to eligible low-income military families stationed in Colorado Springs and Buckley Air Force Base.  So far, the organization has donated sets to five families and has another five in the works, three of which are for families awaiting the arrivals of their babies.  
Battle Bumms is accepts donations to be used in these kits.  Both used and new diapering items, (specifically pockets/prefolds/flats/fitted diapers, diaper covers, gently used Snappis or Boingos, inserts, wetbags, pail liners, and cloth wipes), can be dropped off at the Cloth Diaper Market.  

"In addition to collecting donations and donating starter sets, we make and sell wetbags (small, medium and large sizes) and cloth wipes (in two sizes) to help raise funds," said Victoria.  "100% of the proceeds go back to the organization. Our products are sold at Cloth Diaper Market, as well as from our website as custom orders."

While Battle Bumms is still a bit of a small operation, Victoria hopes for it to eventually become a countrywide non-profit, with branches spread across the military communities.  (Fellow cloth diaper enthusiasts have already contacted her about wanting to open branches in several states!) However, she would first like to build a solid foundation for Battle Bumms as well as register as an official 501(c)(3) organization.

To learn more about Battle Bumms, make a monetary donation, or to check eligibility, visit their website,

**This post was written by Paula R.

Where We Wore in May

Comment and let us know which photo is your favorite!  

Rechelle B.'s son reads a book in Didymos Natural Hemp India
while she gets some yardwork done.

Maureen S. milks a goat while wearing her baby
in a DIY Osnaburg wrap.

Marie C. takes her baby to the zoo in a Natibaby Amazonia
on her first Mother's Day.

Avelynn M. nurses her baby in Didymos Katja at her local Safeway.

Stella K. takes her daughter on the subway in her Ergo.

Isabel T. takes her baby sightseeing at Bryce Canyon.
Isabel's wrap is a Didymos Natural Linen Indio.

Cora K. and her husband explore Denver with their children on their backs!
Cora's pink wrap is a Natibaby Pink Zebra wrap.

Gretchen M. wears her sleeping three year old in Didymos Katja
during evening church service.

Lyndsey D. wears her newborn in an Ergo at Oceanside State Beach.

Crystal A. wears her daughter in an Ergo on Mother's Day at Fox Run Park.

Mindy R. rucks her baby at the Living Treasures Wild Animal Park in Pennsylvania, where they pet and fed baby animals.  The wrap she is using is a Wrapsody Breeze Presley.

Mindy N.'s husband wears their baby in a Diaper Dude Camo-print Boba 3G.

Nicole R. goes miniature golfing with her baby in a mei tai.
Rebecca L. wears her toddler daughter in Didymos Rosa
while exploring Sand Dunes National Park.

Jennifer P. wears her son in KoKaDi Glamour Stars
at America the Beautiful Park.

Gretchen M.'s family explores Cahill Cabin.  Her husband is wearing
their daughter in a sustain.bow (Girasol wrap conversion) Tula.

Paula R.'s daughter conquers the playground with her doll in a Beco Mini.