Monthly Archives: May 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Pouch!

Babywearing trends have ebbed and flowed throughout the years and there is one carrier that has fallen out of style that I believe we need to bring back: The Pouch! A pouch carrier may be the single most easy baby carrier available to use…of all time…in forever. Got that? It’s so simple! Anyone can use a pouch!

So what is a pouch? According to Babywearing International‘s definition: Pouch or pouch sling is a more-or-less rectangular piece of cloth sewn into a closed loop, used as a baby carrier by wearing the loop around the body, generally from shoulder to hip, and usually folded in half lengthwise so as to form a pocket or pouch for carrying the baby. Typically has a curved seam which forms a more secure seat for the baby. Sometimes known as a “tube sling”.

So here’s the 411 about pouches and why we love them:

Pouch Pros
Easy “popability” (can wear the pouch then put a coat on and drive to a location and “pop” baby in the pouch and cover up with coat)
Shorter learning curve
Breastfeeding-friendly, especially compared to front carriers
Streamlined look
Very lightweight – easily fits in diaper bag
Dads often prefer
No rings allow for a more comfortable fit
Not a lot of fabric covering wearer or child
Great for skin to skin contact/kangaroo care

Skin to skin contact with a feverish tot.

Skin to skin contact with a feverish tot.

Pouch cons
Less adjustability–if two caregivers are different sizes they may need two different pouches
As the child grows the pouch may be too snug
Less discreet breastfeeding–may not be fully hands free

Using a Pouch
Sounds easy, right? So how does one use a pouch? The pouch gets folded in half with the “pocket” facing upward.

Google Image

Google Image

The pouch goes over one shoulder and the seam hits around your belly button. When putting a baby or toddler in the pouch in the heart to heart or tummy to tummy position, you want the seam in line with baby’s bottom. Next you take your baby and have him face you and put him on your opposite shoulder. You then slide baby in between you and the pouch. Pull the top rail all the way up to the top of baby’s back or the base of the neck. Securely hold baby with one hand. With the other hand take your bottom rail and pull that up between baby’s legs creating a pocket for baby to sit in. The bottom rail should be pulled up securely–all the way to baby’s belly bottom. This will move baby’s knees higher than his bum and make a nice secure seat. If your top rail feels too loose you can take the fabric that’s on the inside rail on your shoulder and flip it down your shoulder making a cap.

How’s the fit?

Pouch is too big--there's extra fabric on the left side of the photo.

Pouch is too big–there’s extra fabric on the left side of the photo.

Kathy and her sick toddler have a great fit without flipping the shoulder so she spread the fabric across her shoulder.

Kathy and her sick toddler have a great fit without flipping the shoulder so she spread the fabric across her shoulder.

Example of the shoulder flip method to snug up the carrier

Example of the shoulder flip method to snug up the carrier

Reminders

Because fit is so important with a pouch carrier please take your measurements before buying a pouch. Most pouches available have a size guide that require the wearer to take measurements. This is very important to do. Then do again to check to ensure your measurements were accurate the first time.

If you chose to nurse baby in the cradle hold, it is recommended to pop baby upright into the tummy to tummy position once finished nursing. This will prevent baby from putting his chin or his chest or falling into the dangerous “C” position.

Check for Ticks

T – Tight: The importance of a sling or carrier being tight is to hold a baby safely against the wearer, it supports the spine in a straight-upright position and stops baby from falling out of the wrap or carrier accidentally.

I – In view at all times: Seeing your baby at all times allows you to be constantly monitoring your child’s breathing and general demeanor, you will have the ability to make sure the chin has not dropped and they are happy. You will also be able to check temperature and feeding cues.

C – Close enough to kiss: This is greatly important also, as the lower the child the less you will be able to tell about your child, placed in an upright position you should be able to lower your head and kiss the top of babies head, if you are unable to do this, then it’s advised your re-position your child higher.

K – Keep chin off chest: if your child is tight, in an upright position and spine is curved with legs in the squat position the likelihood of the chin dropping is unlikely, this is the most optimum position for safety, development and comfort. The rule of thumb is a child should have a gap of roughly 2 fingers width underneath their chin.

S – Supported back: the tightness of any carrier will be crucial in the support of a babies spine, it’s also important not to over tighten. The carrier should be tight enough to keep the child against the parents body without a gap, but still have the ability to slide your hands into the carrier with ease if needed. Generally in an upright position, if the carrier is adequately supporting the spine the chin will not drop, but it’s important to follow all the steps carefully.

Here’s a great pouch video from Babywearing Faith‘s YouTube Channel.

More Help
If you still cannot seem to get the hang of your pouch then please come to a Babywearing International of Central Iowa meeting to get in person assistance from a Volunteer Babywearing Educator.

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Old Tradition Becomes New Trend

Several Volunteer Babywearing Educators with Babywearing International of Central Iowa were featured on WHO News Channel 13 to discuss babywearing. The segment aired this evening on the 5 PM news.

You may have noticed more parents using special carriers around town at places like the Farmers’ Market or mall.

The practice of babywearing has been around for centuries, but it’s becoming more popular across the country as parents look for easier ways to keep their kids close at home or on the go.

You can’t help but notice a trend in this room of moms. Mom Amanda Brezina says, “This is Jovie, and she’s 6 months old, and I have worn her since the day she was born.”
Mom Katie Kelly says, “This is Finn. He’s 11 months, he’s been worn since he was almost two weeks old.”

Suzi Lang says, “I’ve been babywearing since my 7 year-old was like two weeks old, and gone through every carrier there is.”

Babywearing is the practice of keeping your kid close in a carrier around the house or around town. Kelly says, “It’s about the only way I achieve anything in my house, laundry, cooking everything.”

Mom Katherine Gamble says, “Strollers are wonderful and great, but sometimes it’s great to have a baby right on you, you’re moving through crowds, farmers’ market is a great example of that.”

You’ll find a variety of carriers online and even in big box stores ranging from $20 to $1,000. While the wraps may look complicated, The moms showed how to safely get your kids on your back or close to your heart in less than thirty seconds. Gamble says, “What we never want to see, we never want to see baby’s chin on chest. We always want that airway nice and visible and clear. We also want to see baby’s back supported, and we really want to see them nice and upright when they’re old enough.”

The women are part of a group promoting the safety and benefits of babywearing. Gamble says, “We are Babywearing International of Central Iowa.”

The group is growing in popularity. They meet the first Tuesday of every month in Beaverdale. Meetings are free and open to the public. Gamble says, “It’s really just a place for you to get hands on help with your carrier, try on different carriers, see what you like, meet with other like-minded parents that are babywearing.”

The group even includes specially trained and tested volunteer educators, which help moms and dads learn to use a carrier. Kelly says, “I was really intimidated by getting him on my back by myself, so it was really nice to have someone who knew what they were doing, spotting me to get him up there.”

The next Babywearing International of Central Iowa meetings are Tuesday, June 3rd at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The group currently meets at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverdale. You can also learn more at the group’s booth at the Downtown Farmers’ Market June 14th.

The group has about 70 active members. They pay $30 dues and get access to the lending library of carriers. About 700 people belong to the Babywearing International Central Iowa on Facebook.

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Baby…where? No—BabyWEAR!

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 edition of the UnityPoint Health – Des Moines Real Parents blog. Since that time, author Melissa Wardell, delights in wearing all three of her children (now 6, 4, and 2) whenever they will let her and continues to add to her wrap collection, dreaming of more babies.

Melissa and her family using a Wrapsody water wrap

Melissa and her family using a Wrapsody water wrap

Did you know that there’s a special name for when a parent or caregiver carries a child in any type of carrier where the child is strapped to the parent? It’s called babywearing! And there are lots of different kinds!

I was blessed to spend a college semester in Ghana, West Africa. Nearly every woman had a baby strapped to her back, from newborns through toddlers It was my first exposure to babywearing, and I was completely fascinated!

When we were pregnant with baby #1, I received a Baby Bjorn at one of my baby showers. Despite how happy the people looked on the box, Max and I found it profoundly uncomfortable. It caused some serious back pain for me, and Max never stopped screaming while he was in it. I decided after two or three attempts that this Baby Bjorn business just wasn’t for us, put it in the back of my closet, and forgot about it. Turns out there are why carriers like the Baby Bjorn are so uncomfortable for both mom and baby!

Two years later, we had an active 2-year-old boy AND a newborn baby girl. I needed a way to care for her at the same time I was chasing after him! I don’t remember who recommended I check out the Moby Wrap, but whoever it was changed my life! Learning to wrap all that fabric around myself and Charlotte was definitely a challenge! But once we figured it out—hallelujah! My teeny tiny newborn was tucked safely and securely against my chest, and my arms were free to wrangle my 2-year-old couch-jumping, chair-climbing daredevil.

Melissa using a Moby wrap with a newborn.

Melissa using a Moby wrap with a newborn.

As babies tend to do, Charlotte kept gaining weight, and once she reached about 15 pounds, I just couldn’t get the super soft and stretchy Moby to work well for us anymore. My friend, , a local babywearing expert, suggested I try a woven wrap. Similar to a Moby, a woven is a long piece of fabric. Unlike a Moby, a woven does not stretch, so it’s safe to use for as long as the parent wants to wear their child! And best of all, when wrapped correctly, a woven won’t hurt your back! Depending on the woven’s length, your list of wrapping possibilities is endless.

Storchenwiege woven wrap in Albert colorway.

Storchenwiege woven wrap in Albert colorway.

With baby #3, my wrap world expanded again. This time, a friend introduced me to ring slings and I was smitten! The joy of a wrap in the ease of a quick carrier! My ring sling is my go-to carrier. I keep it in my diaper bag and love how quick it is to pop Alexander in when we run errands, or just when he wants a few extra snuggles.

Ring Sling

Girasol woven wrap conversion ring sling

Girasol woven wrap conversion ring sling

I’ve tried a few other carriers along the way—an Ergo, kelty, and a Mei Tai. Like anyone who babywears, I’ve found my favorites.

Ergo Soft Structured Carrier

Ergo Soft Structured Carrier

I’m proud to say I’ve passed on the babywearing love to my family. Charlotte loves to wear her dolls, and my boys roll with laughter when Max wears Alex for a romp around the house! And last summer, I even convinced my dad to wear Charlotte while on a hike at Family Camp.

Grandpa wearing a preschooler!

Grandpa wearing a preschooler!

Babywearing Babies

Babywearing Babies

I wouldn’t have learned all that I have about babywearing without the always-helpful folks at Little Padded Seats and the wonderful ladies of the Babywearing International of Central Iowa Chapter, formerly Des Moines Babywearing and Cloth Diapering Group on Facebook. We’re a fun group! Come join us! I bet you’ll even learn something!

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Central Iowa Babywearing: A History

For a city of approximately 200,000 people, Des Moines, Iowa has a huge babywearing population. Have you ever wondered how babywearing became such a common practice here? Local mom, Sarah Reid, an avid babywearing and founder of Wallypop offered up the history of babywearing in Central Iowa.

One day, two moms who had met at their childbirth class met another mom, new to town, at a LLL meeting. Besides natural birth, breastfeeding, and otherwise generally hippie ways, these three moms also shared something else – a passion for babywearing. They were excited to find each other, because none of them knew anyone else who wore their babies in central Iowa. (They were certainly NOT the first people in central Iowa to do so, however.)
Wouldn’t it be so much fun to get together and show each other our carriers (and our diapers – one of the moms was brand new to cloth diapering) and let the babies play and have a mommy play date? YES! So, one day, they did just that, and they invited a few other moms they’d found along the way. And it was fun, and everyone learned from each other, and POOF! It was the first meeting of Des Moines babywearers and Des Moines cloth diaperers. That was some time in the summer of 2004 – a whole decade ago. (Though we’re certain that none of the moms involved looks a day older than they did that summer day.)

After that playdate, one of the moms (Sara Janssen) started a mission to spread babywearing across the Metro. She was her own one-woman babywearing group – lending out carriers from her sizeable stash, meeting moms in her home to show them how to wear their babies, and talking about babywearing everywhere she could. The three moms (Sara, Sarah, and Louisa) started getting together in public places to wear their babies in the hopes of starting up conversations with other moms about babywearing – an effort which was only somewhat successful, and which also resulted in getting busted for soliciting at Jordan Creek mall. Oops.

It became evident that continuing to have informal meetings at Jordan Creek wasn’t going to continue to be a super great strategy, so Sara found the group a regular meeting place at a local church. And, she found NINO.
NINO (Nine in, Nine out) was the first international babywearing organization. It is now defunct, but for the several years it was around, NINO provided the support that many local babywearing groups needed to get started and to start spreading the babywearing love.
So, Des Moines had a NINO group, and we had a place to meet, and we met so many awesome moms – many of whom are still friends today.

At the time of the first NINO meetings, the KKAFP (Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Fleece Pouch) and the Moby were all the rage. (Kangaroo Korner closed in 2010, but you can still try out the group’s KKAFP in our Lending Library.) Only a few had woven wraps. Most people who used ring slings wore padded ring slings. (the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder was promoted by Dr. Sears and LLL, and was nearly the only baby carrier available locally).
It was somewhat of a challenge to get a baby carrier in Des Moines. If you didn’t want the padded ring sling available through LLL, your options were pretty limited. I don’t honestly recall whether there were any baby carriers available at the big box stores at the time (other than Baby Bjorn and similar), but I know this was before Moby was available in stores. Just before the NINO meetings started up, I had officially opened up Wallypop and Louisa bought Stork Wearhouse, giving local parents a few more babywearing (and cloth diapering) options. The NINO group provided a means for parents to try out carriers they could otherwise only see online.
Most of the moms who came to the early meetings were a lot like us – first time moms, pretty generally into natural parenting, and eager to learn how to wear their babies. The format of the meetings was largely the same as it is today – informal, lots of chatting, and moms helping other moms. The group didn’t have a lending library, but we did have Sara’s stash, and each of the regular attendees usually brought their own stashes, as well, so there was plenty to try on at each meeting.

In 2006, Sara moved away and the national organization of NINO imploded. Sara handed the now nameless group over to me, since I was already running the cloth diaper group (which started up about the same time as NINO, and met on opposite Tuesdays at the same time and place). We lost Sara’s stash, but sought donations of carriers from anyone who cared to donate, and got a decent group stash going. It was rather full of Wallypop carriers and somewhat lacking in any of the pricier carriers, but enough people continued bringing their own carriers to share that it worked.

At this time, the focus of the group was still mainly on introducing babywearing to newbies, and having at least one or two examples of every type of carrier (wrap, mei tai, onbu, podegi, ring sling, pouch) was a priority over having examples of a wide variety of brands. Most people coming to meetings were interested in seeing what a mei tai looked like in person, or learning how one might use a ring sling, rather than discussing the finer differences between Brand X ring sling and Brand Y ring sling. As the liability insurance that I carried for the group didn’t cover loaned carriers, Des Moines Babywearing didn’t lend out carriers, but many individual members lent their personal carriers to other moms.

We renamed the group Des Moines Babywearing and focused on our mission of introducing babywearing to area parents. During the next several years, the group waxed and waned in membership and attendance. We changed meeting locations. We started up a Yahoo Group, so parents who couldn’t come to the meetings could seek support online. We also tried evening meetings, with probably a dozen attempts to get an evening meeting going over the next 4 years, but could never get enough attendance to make them worth the effort.
We celebrated as we started noticing that babywearing in Des Moines was getting more commonplace. It was awesome the first time I saw another babywearer “in the wild” in Des Moines and it was someone I hadn’t already met!

Eventually, as my own schedule got more complicated, and as I began to notice that the moms coming to the babywearing meetings were pretty much the same moms who came to the cloth diapering meetings, I combined the two meetings into one monthly meeting that became Des Moines Babywearing and Cloth Diapering.
Around the time that the two groups combined (which might have been in 2007), we as a group had the AWESOME idea of holding a twice-yearly Garage Sale. Members had been posting their own private garage sales at which they planned to sell their old carriers and diapers on the Yahoo group for several years, but it just seemed more convenient to gather everyone in one place and have one giant diaper and carrier sale. Area parents brought their used diapers and carriers, set up tables, and sold their goods to other parents in the community. They paid a small table fee, and the money went to the group as a fundraising effort. It was a huge hit and continued to be a very popular idea for many years.

After my second child was born in 2008, and with my schedule getting more and more crunched, I asked Tiffany Tice to help take over the groups. Tiff led the meetings and I handled the online support, served as a point of contact, and taught classes across the Metro on behalf of the group. (This turned out to be an amazing partnership, as Tiff was great to work with, did an awesome job with the meetings, and a few years later, donated a kidney to my youngest child. You gotta love Tiff.) Eventually, as Facebook got more popular, we shut down the Yahoo groups and moved to Facebook, and Tiff took on a more active role there, as well.

As Tiff’s kids were aging out of the babywearing phase, Tiff found a replacement to take over her role with the groups. The groups were growing like crazy at this time, and pretty quickly, we ended up with four group leaders/admins. I took a much less active role in the group, serving more as an advisor than in any active capacity, and eventually stepped down entirely in early 2013, feeling that I needed to cut a few activities from my life before I went completely insane. About the same time, the groups split into two groups once again, with the Babywearing component becoming BWI of Central Iowa, and the Cloth Diapering component remaining Des Moines Cloth Diapering. Babywearing International of Central Iowa became an official chapter in November 2013.

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Babywearing Bloopers

I think it’s happened to everyone at some point in time. You get baby in a carrier, think you’re looking pretty fantastic, snap a quick selfie, and realize….Ahh man, I missed the mark on this one! Total babywearing blooper. And now there’s photographic proof of your blooper since you already uploaded it to Twitter, Instagram, and BWI of Central Iowa’s Facebook page. No need to shame yourself though, let’s embrace those babywearing bloopers and all get a good chuckle out of them so we can go back to taking rockin’ selfies!

The most notorious babywearing blooper is the leaner or back bender. Here’s some of our favorites!

Toddlers love doing back bends!

Toddlers love doing back bends!

Look at his arch--impressive!

Look at his arch–impressive!

"But I'm comfy, Ma!"

“But I’m comfy, Ma!”

How the ruck turned impromptu strap carry?

Always have a spotter for those seat poppers!

Always have a spotter for those seat poppers!

Silly faces!

Toddlers love to turn on the charm for babywearing selfies!

Toddlers love to turn on the charm for babywearing selfies!

Ouch--that hurts Mama!

Ouch–that hurts Mama!

Babywearing giraffe style!

Babywearing giraffe style!

Don't forgot to smile in your selfie--you don't want to look like this grouch face!  ;)

Don’t forgot to smile in your selfie–you don’t want to look like this grouch face! 😉

Ride on Luke Skywalker's back, Yoda will. Hmmm.

Ride on Luke Skywalker’s back, Yoda will. Hmmm.

The student becomes the teacher, me thinks.

The student becomes the teacher, me thinks.

Big smiles for forward facing!

Big smiles for forward facing!

First time wearing baby and the ring sling and Mama was too nervous to move around a lot. So her and baby chilled on the couch all day until baby had a massive diaper blow out!

First time wearing baby and the ring sling and Mama was too nervous to move around a lot. So her and baby chilled on the couch all day until baby had a massive diaper blow out!

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