Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Animosity Encounters

 "Doesn't that hurt your back?" "He's too old for you to carry him that way." "Make him walk!" "You're going to spoil him."

When we moved to the woods from the city two months ago, I was expecting a slower pace of life. Maybe a small town feeling in the little grove we live in. What I was not expecting was the amount of slightly hostile curiosity I've gotten from my new neighbors when they see me wearing my 12 month old around the grove.

It started the day we moved in. I had Gunne Bear on my front in a Mei Tai while I directed movers with our stuff. As the day wore on, I slapped a sun hat on his head and sang to him until he fell asleep against me. When new neighbors came by to introduce themselves, they seemed surprised to see my 10 month old napping this way. "I'm a kangaroo" I told them jokingly. They didn't seem to get it.

Two days later a gas leak drove us out of the house, again at nap time. This time I used the Moby, wrapped him up and walked down to the beach. I met another new neighbor who expressed surprise that I could tolerate having him on me this way. "I'm one of those hippy-crunchy-granola baby wearer types you read about," I tried joking again. No dice.

My neighbors mounted a not so silent campaign. They stop their cars when they see us walking to ask me pointedly if carrying him on my back hurts. They have reacted in horror when I walk straight into the pond with him on my hip in my special ring sling. I've tried being kind and educating. I've tried being blunt, "If this hurt, do you think I'd be doing it?"

My neighbors and I have reached an impasse. I have no idea why the sight of a woman wearing her toddler annoys them so much, but I have no intention of stopping. I plan on wearing him as long as it's comfortable and beneficial to us both, and if that's another two or even three years, then so be it. Of course in two or three years, we hope to have another little one, so my neighbors may well be treated to the sight of a baby wearing mama for the next 6 years.

Has anyone else encountered such strange animosity? Have any suggestions on how to handle it, short of recruiting hundreds of baby wearers to march through the lanes of our grove? I could use some advice!
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

DIY Ring Sling with a Twist

When my son was about 6 months old, he'd gotten too big to be carried in a pouch sling across my chest, but we were having trouble shifting to a hip carry. I would get him in, make sure he was seated properly and everything was cool until he got excited about something. He'd start to jump up and down until he popped his butt right out of the bottom of the sling. He never fell, but it made me stick to wraps even for short errands a lot more than I wanted to.
I decided to make my own ring sling that would hold him in there no matter how much he wiggled or squirmed. As an added bonus, I discovered that by wrapping the tail of the sling between his legs and across my back, I had made a sling that took some of the pressure off my shoulder. This meant I could hold him much longer in this sling than I could in standard pouch or ring slings.
This video below demonstrates our sling. If you choose to make one yourself, I used about 3 yards of fabric for mine; you may need more or less depending on your and your baby's size. The rings are sewn to spread the fabric evenly across your shoulder for extra comfort, and I doubled the lightweight fabric over itself for extra strength.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Babywearing Journey

My name is Betsy from Funky Mama Bird. I'm a babywearing mama to a toddler, but did you know that while I intended to use slings and wraps right from birth, I had never heard the term "babywearing" until he was a few months old? I had no idea that there was a whole community out there dedicated to educating women and helping to ensure safe babywearing practices.
During the last year, I've become a huge advocate for babywearing and I'd love to share with you my story.

I was unable to work during my pregnancy, since I'd had a partial placental abruption and was on bed rest. Money got very, very tight and we still had a lot of baby purchases to make. So when it came time to buy the car seat, I wound up considering convertible seats. They would take him from birth to age 10 for one price, rather than having to buy multiple seats. I also found one on super low clearance to meet our budget. There was only one problem: How was I going to carry the baby once he was born, since the seat stayed in the car?

I knew about the Baby Bjorn, and we in fact were given a hand-me-down model, but it didn't look comfortable to me. So I did a little Googling and found the Moby Wrap and a pouch sling. I haunted ebay for a few days until I scored both for cheap and put it out of my mind.

Fast forward to my son's birth. He had somehow gone full term, but he was very small and blue. They wanted him on oxygen, and for me to hold him skin to skin.
I was feeling some major post partum anxiety, my baby is blue with a tiny mask on his face, and I'm trying to keep him to my chest. Things did not feel like they were going well, until I remembered the Moby Wrap. I tied it on and tucked him inside.

It was almost magical how fast my baby settled down and turned pink. He fell asleep pressed to my chest, no one was able to tell I was naked to the waist, and we started breast feeding right inside. I was hooked.

I started wearing him daily. I would tuck him in the wrap and curl up to read. I wore him in the Moby to go for hikes, and I won countless rounds of Mini Golf with him in a Hot Sling. The more I wore him, the more I wanted to; I actually found it addicting. I came to crave the feeling of him in there.

He was a few months old when I learned that there were whole communities out there dedicated to babywearing. Around the same time, safety concerns began to pop up about slings and I became an outspoken advocate for babywearing, writing articles for one of the magazines I work for to help moms (and dads) understand about safe and proper babywearing practices.

I still wear my toddler everyday (and that is a whole other story!) and I still enjoy it and look forward to our outings together. We've added a few more items to our arsenal of wraps and slings and are looking forward to trying out a few more as he gets heavier. I hope to inspire others to give babywearing a try, especially moms with small or sick babies, or moms suffering from post partum anxiety or depression. Babywearing can help you both to thrive.


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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Babywearing in Botswana

Elita shared this wonderful photo from National Geographic, and points out

"With water this high, babywearing is essential for a sleepy toddler!"





Love it!  What does that look like to you, a mei tai with a tibetan tie? Have you ever needed to babywear in an emergency situation?

I think the closest I can get to that is having to get loose livestock back in, and jogging around in mud boots trying to get our cows contained (and out of the road!) while nursing.  That is something you can't do with a stroller, just FYI. ;)


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