Are you wondering how some other local mommas got started babywearing? Do you want to learn some interesting facts about BWI (Babywearing International) of Central Iowa’s current leaders? This month we interviewed the president, Marissa Jennings, and vice president, Cat Anderson, of BWI of Central Iowa on the thing they know best – babywearing. Read on to hear some of their heartfelt (and hilarious) answers!
When did you start babywearing? How old was your child?
Marissa: I started when my oldest was just a couple of days old. He is almost 5 now!
Cat: When my son Thor was about 6 weeks old. He’s 2 now and I still wear him most days.
Why did you start babywearing?
M: My cousin gifted me a Moby stretchy wrap for my baby shower, and she told me all about how my baby could sleep while I got things done. It turned out to be the only thing that comforted my son, who had severe colic as a result of food allergies, and it got us through teething as well.
C: I had read about the benefits and I wanted another tool in my parenting bag!
How did you start babywearing? What carrier did you first use?
M: I used a Moby until my son was about 5 months old. Once he got too heavy for that, I didn’t realize they made anything else so I quit wearing. At 11 months, he was diagnosed with severe food allergies*. We were struggling to take him places safely when a toddler Tula was suggested to me in a breastfeeding Facebook group. I ordered one, joined Tula Love, joined BWI of Central Iowa, and the rest is history! That was back in 2013 when my first child, Eli, was about 17 months old. Now my second baby, Makenna, is that age! Time flies.
C: I bought a Moby stretchy wrap and learned how to use it with YouTube videos. Then I learned about BWI of Central Iowa and I attended a few meetings to learn more.
Was there someone that got you started or that has been influential along your babywearing journey?
M: My cousin Megan got me started babywearing, and many amazing people have been influential to me on this journey. The person that sticks out the most is Suzi Lang. She was President of BWI of Central Iowa when I joined and quickly became a mentor and friend. In 2014, I became a VBE (Volunteer Babywearing Educator) with the chapter and in 2015, I became an ABE (Advanced Babywearing Educator) right before my second baby was born. I’ve made countless friends along the way and just love being part of the babywearing community.
C: I learned about babywearing through attachment parenting.
What is your favorite thing about babywearing?
M: I love that it allowed my son Eli to participate in normal activities safely despite his food allergies: farmers markets, pumpkin patches, trick or treating, and grocery shopping to name a few. It took a HUGE weight off my shoulders as his parent, and allowed me to protect him and feel safe holding him close. As a mom to two now, my favorite thing about babywearing is that it allows me to give attention to my older child while keeping my younger one happy and safe.
C: Being able to keep my child close and safe while being able to take care of myself. It helps me feel independent.
Where is the most unique place you have worn your child(ren)?
M: It’s tricky to think of just one place! I have been wearing my second baby, Makenna, nonstop since she was born, and she still loves to be worn several hours per day at 17 months old! I have worn in airports, on the beach in Destin, Florida, to all the awesome sessions at IBC (International Babywearing Conference) Atlanta, through all the historic monuments in Washington DC, to marches and political protests, trick or treating, cleaning my house, folding laundry, fixing dinner, shopping, doctor appointments, and everything in between. It’s definitely a way of life around here.
C: On the toilet. (Real life, ya’ll)
What is the most interesting thing you have done while wearing your child(ren)?
M: I am also a freelance Spanish legal translator, and when my daughter was tiny, I usually wore her while translating on my computer. Babywearing made working from home easy! I still admin BWI of Central Iowa as well as Tula Love, and I’m often babywearing while spreading the babywearing love online.
C: Played ping pong.
What are some of the benefits of babywearing for the child? For the caregiver?
M: Babywearing is really a style of parenting in many ways. It allows you to meet your child’s need for closeness and for safety while still fulfilling other roles you may have (employee, spouse, parent of other children, etc). It really can facilitate bonding between caregiver and child, reduce physical and emotional stress for both, and is of course fun too!
C: Babywearing helps the child bond and feel safe. For the caregiver, it helps with the same things. It also helps with sleep!
How should a caregiver who is new to babywearing wear their child?
M: There’s no one “right” way to do it. Babywearing may look different from culture to culture and person to person. We usually just suggest that new wearers try out a variety of styles to see what is most comfortable for them, best meets their needs, and is most compatible with their lifestyle.
C: I recommend using a carrier that they feel comfortable with. I also recommend getting hands on help if you have questions.
What are some great resources for someone interested in babywearing (new and/or experienced wearer)?
M: Babywearing International of Central Iowa** is of course a great resource if you’re local. The national BWI page (https://babywearinginternational.org/) has great safety information and video tutorials as well. If you’re interested in learning how to use a woven wrap, Babywearing Faith on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/BabywearingFaith) has a great collection of videos online.
C: BWI meetings** are the best place to learn about carriers and babywearing! I also appreciate the online babywearing community.
*You can learn more about how babywearing has helped Marissa and her family through severe food allergies here.
**You can learn more about BWI of Central Iowa and find out about the local meeting schedule on the Babywearing International of Central Iowa Facebook page.
Jennings, Marissa, and Cat Anderson. “Q&A Session with BWI of Central Iowa President and VP.” E-mail interview. 7 Feb. 2017.
Title image from: Keenan. Can You Pass the Question Test? Digital image. A Sales Guy. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <http://www.asalesguy.com/can-you-pass-the-question-test/>.