It can be nerve-wracking to go a new place, meet new people, and try new things. But I promise it is so much fun going to a Babywearing International meeting! My mission is to answer all of your questions about a typical meeting so you know what to expect.
Where do I go? Check out the pinned post in our Facebook group. In it you will find a link to the ‘Events’ tab, which will show you the date, time, and location of upcoming meetings. In the same post, there is a link to subscribe to the events and meetings so you never miss one. BWI of Central Iowa chapter has 4 meetings per month: the Ankeny meeting, West Des Moines morning meeting, West Des Moines evening meeting, and an Indianola (South side) meeting.
How much does it cost? Attending meetings is FREE! If you’d like to join the group, it is $30/year. This gives you the ability to check out 1 carrier/month.
What do I need to bring? Bring yourself. Bring your baby. The VBEs offer hands-on help with or without your baby present (we love to help expectant parents too)! Bring your family members. Bring your spouse, older children, parents, daycare provider, or anyone else that might be wearing your child. We can help anyone and everyone babywear. Bring your carrier if you have one you would like help with, or come try out some of the lending library’s many options.
What should I NOT bring? Please, no food or drinks at the meetings. Water, breastmilk, and formula are fine. We have several kiddos with severe food allergies, and we want our meetings to be as safe as possible. Germs–if you or your loved ones have been ill recently, please do not come to the meeting. We want to do our best to provide a healthy environment, especially for the brand new babies and kids with compromised immune systems.
What happens at a meeting? As you walk in, you will be greeted by our lovely volunteers and asked to sign in. The sign in sheet asks your name, email, if you’re a member, and if it’s okay to take your photo. There will be tables set up with different types of carriers around the room. One of the VBEs will welcome everyone, introduce the volunteers, and explain how the carriers are organized. Then you can browse carriers, try them on, and get help from a VBE. This time doubles as a playdate for your child, and you might just make some friends in the process! At any point in the meeting, you can sign up to become a member. We usually have about 60 minutes for testing the carriers and asking questions. Then check out time will be announced by a VBE.
How does the checkout work? At checkout time, everyone goes to the table of the carrier they want. If more than one person wants to borrow the same carrier, one of the volunteers will flip a coin to see who gets it. Then you take the carrier you want to the checkout table. The CSV will check the carrier number, log it on the checkout sheet and have you initial. The carrier will go in an orange bag with our policy and terms conveniently attached. You may be asked to show an ID at the time of checkout.
When do I have to return the carrier? Carriers must be returned the following month. Because our chapter has four meetings each month, we keep separate libraries for each meeting. So if you check a carrier out from the Ankeny meeting, you must return it to the next Ankeny meeting. Please make sure to return the carrier within the first 15 minutes of the meeting to avoid a $15 late fee. This is to ensure that everyone has sufficient time to try all of the carriers during the meeting. If you cannot make it to a meeting and you need to return a carrier, just go on to our Facebook page and message one of the admins. We will arrange for return of the carrier outside of the meeting. Communication is key–we understand that life happens!
How do I care for the carrier? Treat your lending library carrier as if it were your own. Use it as much as you want! There is no need to wash a lending library carrier if it is used for normal, everyday use. If baby has a blow-out or something else that warrants a washing, message one of the admins on the Facebook group for proper cleaning instructions. Please do not smoke near the baby carriers. Please keep your pets off of the baby carriers. If couple stray hairs from your pet make it onto a carrier that is not a big deal. But if there is significant pet hair on the carrier, please message us for washing instructions. Again, we need to be sensitive to our members with allergies. If a carrier is returned dirty, we will charge you a $5 laundering fee.
How do I join? You can fill out the paperwork, pay for the membership, and check out a carrier all at the same meeting!
What type of payment is accepted? We accept cash, check and PayPal. We can also send a PayPal invoice to your email that you can pay with your credit card.
What else should I know? We love babywearing! Share your photos on our Facebook page. The VBEs will do a fit check and give helpful tips if needed. We often play games, geek out, and share our love of babywearing through social media.
A final note – We love all babywearing. Whether you have a hand-me-down carrier or the newest wrap on the market, or no carrier at all, we love all babywearers. Our goal is to make everyone feel welcome and educated about how to wear safely.
Written by Cat Anderson and Emily Shafer