Wrap Review: Danusling’s Bronte George

Review of Danuslings’s Bronte George

Wrap: Bronte George
Blend: 52% Irish Linen and 48% Cotton
Size: 4

Website: http://www.danuworld.com/

Age of Child being carried: 10 month old leaner and seat popper


I got the pleasure of hosting a Danusling tester for the last 2 weeks! If you aren’t familiar with the company, Danu is out of Ireland.  Danu blends their Irish heritage with the wrap to create an amazing story of Irish past, present and future. Danu currently has six collections: Bronte; Celtic; Enigma, Irish Poetry, Narnia and Nature.  What I love about Danu’s designs is they understated elegance.   

The wrap I hosted was out of the Bronte collection. Named after the Bronte sisters.  Bronte George is very regal looking in person, which is fitting because one of the reasons it’s named George is after Prince George’s first birthday! The other reason is for George Smith who agreed to publish Jane Eyre when no one else would. The roses are almost 3D like when you see the wrap in person and the contrast of blue and white is beautiful.

When I opened the package, I was pleasantly surprised at how soft it was considering the linen content. It was definitely not as soft as 100% cotton, but I know with more use, it will get close! I think it needs a little more breaking in and when that happens, I think it will be an even better wrap.

I tried a few carries with the wrap.  The first carry I tried was the coolest hip carry. While the wrap was very supportive, I felt the one shoulder carry allowed the wrap to dig in my shoulder more than I would like.

The next carry I tried was a two leg pass shepherds carry.  I love this carry because the seat is unpoppable! I felt this carry evenly distributed the weight on two shoulder taking away the dinginess I felt in my previous wrap job. Since there is not much stretch in this linen blend once I had the passes tightened, my little one wasn’t going anywhere.  It was very supportive and held in my wiggle worm nicely.  Even when he finally got his arms out I knew he was not going anywhere.

I also tried a kangaroo carry with the wrap.  Again, it felt much better on my shoulders than a single shoulder carry, but it still dug in a little bit. I believe it is just the top rail that is digging in to my shoulder.   That could easily be because I didn’t have it positioned in the best spot on my shoulder.  The single pass carry felt very secure and supported my baby well.

I really think this wrap would shine in single pass back carries, but that is still a struggle with my 10 month old. I just can’t do them yet with my seat popping leaner!

So what’s my final thoughts?

George is a beautiful wrap that will need a dedicated person to break it in. I’m sure a lot of braiding and steam ironing will be needed if purchased new. It is very supportive and would work best for toddlers. If you have picky shoulders, the linen content might make this a little uncomfortable for long ups. But if your shoulders can handle the linen you have yourself one awesome baby jail. Once you get it tight and secure, your little one isn’t going anywhere!

Review by Chapter Support Volunteer Jacquie Welty.

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International Babywearing Week

Next week is International Babywearing Week! This is an amazing week long event celebrating babywearing in all its forms. It runs from October 4-October 10. Our local group will be celebrating as well as the national organization. We’re going to have events throughout the week so don’t forget to check out our facebook group or our group for fun activities! Here is a list of what we have planned for the week:

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Here are the links to the fun events we’re having over the week!

There’s going to be a Community Walk in collaboration with Hike It Baby Des Moines:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1635913839997816/

We have our West Des Moines morning meeting and our Ankeny meeting that week as well:

https://www.facebook.com/events/883393048363053/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1588570884715263/

We are also planning a get together at Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge:

https://www.facebook.com/events/603516023119756/

Along with the in person events, we’re having a scavenger hunt throughout the week to gain IBW points. Look for the list of items to be posted on Sunday! Those points can be used for prizes after the week is over. We’re also going to be having rights to draw for prizes as well!

The National group also has some great things going on over on their page too, so be sure to check over there and follow their page if you haven’t already!

https://www.facebook.com/IntlBW

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All in all, it looks to be a very great week! We look forward to your participating.

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Creating a Normal Life with Severe Food Allergies: Our Adventures in Toddler Wearing

When my son Eli was only twelve weeks old, we discovered that his digestive system could not handle any cow’s milk protein in my breast milk, so I eliminated all dairy from my diet.  About six months later, we were still in the same place and even witnessed Eli break out in a rash all over his mouth after simply being kissed by someone who just drank milk. At that point, we knew we were dealing with something more serious and decided to schedule an appointment for testing with an allergist. At eleven months old, Eli was diagnosed with anaphylactic allergies to milk, peanuts, and eggs (recently, we also added garlic to the list).

Many people don’t know what it means to have an anaphylactic food allergy. We certainly didn’t at the time of our son’s diagnosis.  And we definitely could not foresee all the ways having a young child with  life-threatening allergies would impact our everyday lives. We soon learned that if Eli ingested even a miniscule amount of one of his allergens, his throat could instantly begin to swell shut, cutting off his ability to breathe.  We also learned that it wasn’t even necessary for him to ingest his allergens to go into full-blown anaphylaxis- a tiny bit of milk on his hand could cause this possibly fatal reaction if he so much as rubbed it into his eye.  Some food allergic people even react to their allergen being in the air! Due to the severity of Eli’s allergies, we had to begin carrying epinephrine with us absolutely everywhere Eli would go. And we had to learn how to venture out into a world filled with seemingly harmless foods that could potentially kill our child.

The first six months after Eli’s diagnosis were our biggest challenge. We were trying to figure out how to cook for ourselves safely and how to remove all his allergens from our home.  We made our house a safe zone for Eli- a place where we didn’t have to worry about him coming into contact with anything dangerous for him.  But we soon discovered how impossible it was to keep an active toddler safe in public. You would not believe the amount of food that is accessible to a small child until you are forced to pay attention. Most parents of young toddlers and preschoolers know that they like to run, they like to investigate, they like to touch things and put things in their mouths, and it’s almost impossible to stop. While normally just an annoyance for most parents, this is absolutely terrifying for a food allergy parent whose child cannot pick up even a tiny amount of their allergen without a severe reaction. My son is fast, he moves fast, and I realized I couldn’t take my eyes off of him for a second when we were out in the world. Because of that, we rarely went anywhere for a good six months after he was diagnosed.  This brings me to the solution that we discovered in toddler wearing. A solution that I am so grateful for every single day of my life and want to share with everyone I know.

When we realized that we could not even figure out a way to safely take Eli to a grocery store, we knew we needed another option.  I had worn Eli in a Moby Wrap that my cousin gave me for the first few months of his life. In fact, the stretchy wrap had a large part in helping us survive the colic that was caused by Eli’s milk allergy. However, once it was no longer comfortable for us, I simply wasn’t aware that there were other options as he grew. And I certainly wasn’t aware that there were carriers large enough to comfortably hold my tall, solid 18 month old boy. Like many people, I thought my only options were to let him walk or use a stroller. Then one day I happened to see another mom wearing  her toddler in an Ergo and decided to reach out in a breastfeeding group I had joined on Facebook. The ladies there immediately suggested a toddler Tula for Eli after I described his weight and height. I figured we didn’t have anything to lose, and I ordered it that same day. From that moment on, our lives changed. I can’t say they went back to normal because our lives will never be that version of normal again. But we were able to create a new normal for ourselves and a safe way to take our son into public at last. He is now three years old, and we continue to wear him every time we are in public, which amounts to nearly every day of the week.

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Our very first baby carrier ❤

My goal in writing this post is to reach out to other food allergy parents who may be struggling like we once were to figure out how to manage being in public with a young toddler or child after a severe food allergy diagnosis. I am also hoping to help other Babywearing International (BWI) educators like myself understand how baby and toddler wearing can be extremely beneficial  in this special circumstance. Below are some common difficulties that food allergy parents regularly face and how we have adapted toddler wearing to safely work for us.

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This was our first spin in public with our new Tula about 6 months after our diagnosis.

Emergency Medications

Epinephrine is  life-saving adrenaline and the ONLY medication that will stop an anaphylactic allergic reaction in its tracks. However, to work properly, epinephrine needs to be administered IMMEDIATELY and without hesitation at the first sign of an allergic reaction. Any delay in medication increases  the likelihood that a reaction will become fatal.  I cannot stress enough how important it is for children (and all people) with food allergies to carry epinephrine with them at all times, whether they are just in their own backyard, on a walk to the park, at a swimming pool, at Grandma’s house, at daycare, etc.  It must go everywhere. In our family, we try to think about it like Eli’s shoes. He cannot step outside of our house without it. And in our house, we always keep it in the same place so it is easy to find in an emergency. In addition to being easily accessible at all times, the epinephrine also needs to be kept at a stable temperature out of the sun.

Because of this, we decided to design a little pouch to carry Eli’s epinephrine that attaches to our favorite toddler carriers –our soft structured carriers (SSCs) and mei tais. With the help of some lovely seamstresses, I have ordered many of these pouches to go with our various carriers over the years (but just one would suffice of course!) They measure approximately 8” by 11” and are horizontal with the zipper on top. They slide on to the waist band of our carriers with heavy duty elastic . I do not sew, but I’ve been told that this pouch is very easy to make. It has come in so handy for us because it makes it very easy for me to take Eli places by myself without having to haul a bag around. In addition to the EpiPen 2 pack, we also easily fit a bottle of Benadryl, a syringe, a package of Wet Ones (for keeping our hands clean at all times when soap and water isn’t available), a toy, and a snack. We love that Eli’s medication is always no more than an arm’s length away and out of the sun.

The carrier pictured below is a toddler Tula, but this pouch design would work well with any carrier that has a waist band.

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Babywearing Tip: Use a soft structured carrier (SSC) or mei tai so you have a waist band to which you can attach your medication pouch. An added bonus to these two styles of carriers is that they are both very toddler-friendly, allowing for quick ups and downs. They are also among the easiest carriers for beginners to master and allow for easy changes between different wearers (my husband and I like to switch off a lot since we wear so often!).

Food Allergy Nightmare # 1: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping was our first and greatest challenge when we first got Eli’s diagnosis. In general, it’s not easy for any parent of a toddler or preschooler, but for us, it suddenly became extremely dangerous. In addition, as most people with food allergies know, grocery shopping is a lengthy process when you have to read every single label every single time.

Most little ones do not cooperate well enough while shopping to walk along side the cart holding hands, and our child was and continues to be no exception to this. Of course we talk to Eli constantly about not picking up anything off the shelves or floor and not eating food that we don’t give him ourselves. But  you can’t really trust a 2, 3, 4, or even 5 year old to understand that when it comes to this one thing, he or she must listen EVERY TIME or it could cost them their life. So walking wasn’t an option. He was and still is too short for us to keep a good enough eye on him at all times that way anyway, even if he would cooperate.  We of course tried to use carts, but we usually found that the kids’ seat had old food left in it from other kids’ snacks. Even after an extensive cleaning, we found that from that seat, Eli could still reach out to the shelves and other people’s carts, which were on his same level. The worst part was when we would try to get food off the shelves ourselves and turn our back on him for a moment. It just seemed like an accident waiting to happen. We never imagined it would be so hard the first time we stepped into a grocery store post-diagnosis.

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Our first grocery shopping trip after we got our toddler carrier was amazing. The thing about baby and toddler wearing that makes the biggest difference for a food allergy kid is the level. They are no longer on the same level as all the other carts and are no longer close to the ground. And even with your child in a back carry, you can still feel their weight shift with your eyes closed, so you’re well aware of what they are doing at all times (including when they reach for things they shouldn’t be).  Our Tula was a grocery shopping game changer, and we were so relieved.

Babywearing Tip:  I would just advise that food allergy parents and BWI educators be aware that a tight fit in the carrier is important so the child can’t lean back or out of the carrier (restricting how far they can reach). The wearer should also practice carries at home first so they get used to the way their child’s weight feels and moves in the carrier (when they are reaching for something, for example).  If the child is in a back carry, it’s important that the carry is high and the child can see over the wearer’s shoulder.  If the carry is lower than that, it is more difficult to monitor the movements of the child. Depending on the height of the wearer and child, a mei tai may work better for this since SSCs aren’t meant to be worn higher than hip or waist level.  Even though babywearing makes life so much easier with a food allergy child, hyper vigilance is still of course necessary at all times.

Food Allergy Nightmare #2: Doctor’s Appointments

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Most food allergy parents are unfortunately very used to frequent doctor’s visits with their little ones, especially if the food allergies are severe.  Eli does regular skin and blood testing and is currently doing a series of food challenges. Babywearing is extremely helpful  in these situations, especially when the testing is unpleasant or the child has had a reaction. Eli considers his carriers his “safe place”. Any time he is not having a test done, he is snuggling me in his carrier, which instantly makes him calm. We don’t allow anything painful to happen to him while he’s in his safe place so he trusts that he can count on it for security. That kind of security helps us get through four hour food challenges and blood draws. It is truly remarkable. It also helps us get basic things done like blood pressure and ear, nose, and throat exams.

Babywearing Tip: We always take a carrier that’s easy to get on and off (preferably an SSC or mei tai) since we have to take Eli down frequently for various parts of the appointment. We also try to take whatever carrier is Eli’s favorite at the time so he feels safe. His carriers really have become his comfort items over the years and make his doctor’s appointments significantly easier on the whole family (and the doctor!)

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Here’s my little happy camper after thankfully passing a baked egg challenge recently. Our first food allergy success!

Food Allergy Nightmare #3: Flying

When we decided to take our first big family vacation, I was filled with anxiety for Eli’s safety. Flying can be a very scary ordeal for someone with anaphylactic food allergies. For one thing, most airlines still serve peanuts (not to mention other snacks) on their flights, and  as I am writing this, there are no uniform regulations to help protect people like my son aboard the aircraft. You basically assume the risk yourself when you choose to do it. What makes flying so risky for a food allergy sufferer like my son is if he touches or ingests even a small amount of allergen at the airport or on the plane, he could have an anaphylactic reaction in the air, making emergency care very delayed. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch, and we learned some very valuable tricks for flying not only with a toddler but a food allergic one.

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Our strategy was to wear Eli in his Tula through the airport, through security, and on to the plane. In many cases, security officials will allow you to leave your child in the carrier through the check point as long as your carrier does not contain metal like a ring sling does. This part is at the discretion of the agent, but we got lucky and didn’t have to take Eli down at either security stop. My husband also kept Eli on his back as he boarded the flight so that he wouldn’t touch any surfaces that may have contained food residue. I then wiped down our entire row of seats before we took Eli off my husband’s back and put him into his car seat.  We of course kept multiple sets of epinephrine with us at all times as well. We were fortunate that our airline let us pre board the flights to wipe down the seats and refrained from serving peanuts for us, but that is completely at the airline’s (and the staff’s) discretion.  I honestly feel like wearing him was the greatest protection of all, however, because he had no chance to touch anything at any point between the time we entered the airport to the time we boarded the plane.

Babywearing Tip: If you have to fly with a severely food allergic child, I definitely recommend a soft structured carrier, mei tai or woven wrap WITHOUT metal for use at the airport to decrease the likelihood that you will have to take your child down at security. It is also very helpful to wear while boarding the plane so you have a chance to wipe down your area before restraining your child in their car seat.

Food Allergy Nightmare #4: Halloween

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I can honestly say that my toddler would not have been able to participate in trick or treating these past few years were it not for our carriers. Having such a young child with such severe allergies means that their level of understanding of the dangers is limited. When he’s older, he will know which candy he can and can’t touch, and he will also understand that he can’t pick candy up off the ground. But even now, at age 3, curiosity often gets the best of him, and Halloween is one night where you will notice candy all over the ground if you pay attention.  The fact that it’s usually partially dark by trick or treat time adds another element that makes it difficult to watch your food allergy child carefully enough.

The picture above was from Eli’s first Halloween after his diagnosis and the picture below from his second Halloween post-diagnosis. By wearing him on my back, I was able to check out the bowls of candy for him and let him pick out treats himself at the houses that had non-food items or all safe candy in their bowls.  I was also able to keep him off the ground and above the level of all the passing strollers with trays covered in candy.  I am so grateful for my carriers every Halloween when my son gets to feel just like all the other kids. That feeling is priceless.

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Babywearing Tip: What has worked the best for us each Halloween is to pick a costume for Eli that drapes over the back of the Tula (any soft structured carrier, mei tai or woven wrap would work just fine for this as well).  We also decided to just make it a family dress up event so it seems normal and fun to Eli. 

Food Allergy Nightmare #5: Swimming

Swimming pools are an example of something that is unexpectedly difficult for a food allergy parent of a young toddler or child. We have found that there is often concession stand food on the ground all over the pool, sometimes even in the water itself. In addition, many people bring their own snacks to eat while they sit around the pool, and we have even witnessed one parent hand their child a peanut butter granola bar WHILE he was still in the water right next to our son. For this reason, we decided to get a water carrier. We wear Eli in our water ring sling whenever we walk around the pool or need to go to the rest room. He even enjoys it in shallow water, so we often wear it there too. When he isn’t in his ring sling, we have to make sure we are right next to him, ready to intervene if he comes across food, so it’s always more stressful that way. Toddler wearing at the pool allows us all to have some relaxation time and prevents my son from picking up a Snickers bar left on someone’s lawn chair until he’s old enough to know better.

Babywearing Tip:  It’s important to have a special carrier that is made specifically for use in water since chlorine can break down the material of your usual out –of-water carriers.  Our choice was a Zanytoes Splash ring sling (pictured below), but there are many brands of ring slings and wraps that are made specifically for use in the water. Please also note that water carriers should never be used in deep water for baby’s safety.

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Some of you might be asking yourself why we don’t just use a stroller for our son. And in fact, we do! Our stroller works wonderfully when we just want to take him on a walk to the park, for example. It keeps him up off the ground and he enjoys being in it when he’s outside.  However, we have found that when we are at busy, crowded events, there are countless strollers. And most of them have cheese crackers, peanut butter Cheerios, etc…all over their trays. It’s not something I ever noticed before I was a food allergy parent, but now I zero in on it immediately. When my son is in a stroller in a crowded place next to lots of other strollers, he can reach right over and grab at whatever  food is on the other trays. And every parent knows how toddlers like to reach out to each other and share food and toys! Not to mention the fact that the cover and his position closer to the ground both make it harder for us to see every little thing he is doing while he is in his stroller. The safety that toddler wearing provides for a food allergic child is really all about the level, as I mentioned above. When he’s up on our back (or front), he is no longer at cart level or stroller level or ground level. And we are able to be hyper aware of every movement  he makes.  For this reason, I like to advise food allergy parents to make sure their carrier is tight and their child is high if they are in a back carry so that they can be more aware of the child’s movements.

We found ourselves very grateful  for the safety of our carrier recently at a very crowded dinosaur event.

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A Farmer’s Market is another example of a place we could not safely take our toddler were it not for our carriers.  (Please note with the picture below that Eli should have been up a little higher on my back so that I could monitor him more easily. This was one of the first times we took Eli out in public after his diagnosis).

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Babywearing Tip: If you frequently experience others attempting to hand your child food when you’re out in public, consider making a slip cover for your SSC or mei tai that states something along the lines of: “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH OR FEED MY FOOD ALLERGIC CHILD”. You could also attach a sign with tape to any carrier you are using.  I would not recommend sewing anything on to the carrier or otherwise puncturing the fabric because that could compromise the carrier’s function and safety.

More Benefits of Wearing a Food  Allergic Little One

Many caregivers have found that wearing a food allergic toddler or young child has too many benefits to count. In addition to preventing them from coming into contact with dangerous foods as I have discussed extensively above (and prevention is key!), having your child close to you can also help you carefully monitor them for any sign of a reaction. When they are on your chest or in a high back carry, you can hear their breathing and quickly notice any abnormality, for example.  Keeping your child close makes it less likely that you will miss those very important early signs that a reaction is starting and prevents you from wasting precious seconds when you could be administering the epinephrine.

Wearing your toddler or your child also allows them to be on your level and see the world from your perspective. Because of that, they are very likely to witness you advocating for them when you’re out in the world. I often have to tell people not to hand Eli anything and explain his food allergies on a regular basis. He then witnesses the way I handle these situations and hears everything I say, which I believe helps him learn how to advocate for himself as he gets older. Being attached to my body, he is also able to feel my stress and learn my body language in these situations, which in turn teaches him how to handle himself in the future when it comes to his food allergies.  It also instills some fear in him, which unfortunately is an important part of keeping him safe. I feel like his understanding of his allergies is pretty amazing for a three year old, and I do credit babywearing for giving him the opportunity to regularly witness these interactions from my view point.

It goes without saying that babywearing is a very useful tool for comforting a baby, toddler, or child, no matter what their situation. The same is true for food allergic little ones who undergo frequent doctor’s appointments, testing, and reactions. It is a very big help in the aftermath of a reaction when the child just wants to snuggle with mom or dad all day. It allows the child to feel the security they crave while the parents can take care of other children and go about their lives as they need to.

While this article has mostly focused on how wearing can help with a food allergic toddler or child who is walking and playing on their own, there are many benefits for small babies as well.  Babies who have food allergies frequently suffer from digestive issues, including reflux. Eli was diagnosed with both colic and reflux long before his food allergy diagnosis, and wearing him tight against my body was one of the only things that calmed him. If you have a baby who frequently vomits, wearing him or her in an upright position can also help prevent the baby from choking and allows the wearer to monitor breathing easily and at all times. Just make sure the small baby is worn high and in a tummy to tummy position for easy monitoring. Our stretchy wrap worked wonderfully for this, but a woven wrap or ring sling would work equally well for a young baby. Whatever carrier you use, it’s important that it fits both you and your baby safely and comfortably. If you need help choosing a carrier for your baby, toddler, or older child, please see the link to BWI’s page at the end of this article.

Conclusion

Our carriers have allowed our son to safely go on countless adventures. Too many to mention here! But here are a few more:  Latino Heritage festival, the zoo, the aquarium, the pumpkin patch, the science center, and even to see Santa! Thanks to toddler wearing, we have really been able to get out and enjoy our lives. Best of all, we found a way to give our toddler the normal childhood every little one deserves without compromising his safety.

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Writing this blog post and seeing all of the pictures of our adventures laid out in one place has definitely brought me to tears and reminded me of how grateful I am on this journey. Even though food allergies are never easy, no matter how much experience you have with them, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. My son’s food allergy diagnosis is the reason I am a babywearing educator today, and it has lead me to a supportive tribe of wonderful parents in both the BWI and food allergy communities.  My hope is that this blog post will help at least one food allergy parent out there to navigate their new diagnosis with baby or toddler wearing, whether their child is one or five. I also hope to have given other BWI educators some useful babywearing strategies and suggestions for their members with food allergy little ones.  I started out not knowing that anything beyond a Moby wrap existed and have ended up happily wearing my now 3 year old for the past two years. Our journey will continue to change as we welcome a new baby to our family in a few months and begin an adventure in tandem and newborn wearing. ❤

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Written by Marissa Jennings, VBE with BWI of Central Iowa, as part of an Advanced Babywearing Educator project through Babywearing International

I would like to give a very special thanks to the BWI volunteers and food allergy/FPIES parents who provided their input, experience and suggestions to help make this article as thorough and helpful as it could be. Your insight is so appreciated. You are all amazing for the sacrifices you make each and every day to keep your little ones safe. ❤

To learn more about carrier options that may work best for you and your food allergy child, for information on babywearing safety, or to find a Babywearing International chapter near you, please visit  www.babywearinginternational.org.  And for more information about food allergies in children, please visit http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org

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How Babywearing Changed Our Lives

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(Dezi on the day that he was born, then getting kisses on the day he was baptized.)

The birth of my third baby was a long awaited miracle.  After many struggles, he came to be by the grace of God and the wonder of science at the IVF clinic.  We got everything we felt that would be needed.  I went to all of my appointments, I ate well, I exercised.  To be safe, we had a level 2 ultrasound read by a perinatologist (a doctor who specializes in high risk pregnancies).  He assured me that my baby would be perfect.

When little Desmond William (Dezi) entered the world, he didn’t really feel the need to breathe.  The picture above is the first time I’d really seen him as they had rushed him out of the OR before I could really see him.  My first image of my little miracle baby… blue, attached to monitors, IV running.  I was assured that he just had a rough transition into the world and everything should be fine.  Oh, and he had a heart murmur, but we aren’t worried because the ultrasound was perfect and most murmurs go away on their own.  Expect his didn’t.  At 2 days of life as we were sat down and told about how our baby had Tetrology of Fallot.  The doctors patiently explained with a heart breaking diagram how he had 2 holes in his heart, his aorta was misplaced, his pulmonary artery was too narrow, his heart was working too hard, was too big, and was off set to where it should be.  All missed by the specialist.  The shining light in the storm was that there was a surgery that could fix most everything.  But isn’t there always a catch?  They wanted him to grow and be bigger and stronger.  They wanted to wait for 5-6 months?!  That of course came with the understanding that he would slowly start turning blue and we would have a constant struggle to keep him growing.

As we were preparing to go home from the hospital, I got one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever been given as a parent.  “You need to wear your baby.”  I need to what??  The pediatrician explained to me that if I kept him in my personal space, people were less likely to touch him and share their germs.  If and when he became sick, it would be life threatening, even just a minor cold.  “Everyone is going to be asking what they can do for you.  Tell them that you need an Ergo and they can all chip in and get you one.”  Ok, if this is what my baby needed, this is what we would do.  The mama bear in me had never been so strong.  We took him home, ready to face any challenge that might threaten him.

Dezi was 2-3 weeks old when we finally got our Galaxy Grey Ergo.  It was pretty easy to use.  It didn’t take long to realize that not only did it keep people from touching him, it also kept him close so that I could feel his heart beat, feel his sweaty little face on my chest, feel his breath.  It gave me a sense of strength and calm that I hadn’t felt since he was born.

Then a crazy thing happened.  Someone asked me if I was part of the local babywearing group.  What?! There’s a whole group just for people who do this?  Really?  So started my new-found love and addiction of keeping my baby close.  A ring sling you say?  Of course, I need to try that!  He’s popping his seat, what do I do?  A mei tei of course!  This group was amazing!  Not only did they offer me education and experience on babywearing, but enabled to me buy previously loved and broken in beautiful things.  I still had a lot to learn, but I gave it all my heart and Dezi loved it as well.

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(Wearing Dezi in my ring sling at our breastfeeding support group, our whole clan at Dylan’s Dragon Walk, an event to honor a baby who was lost to congenital heart defects.)

On November 5, 2013, We were admitted to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines for open heart surgery.  His murmur had gotten so loud that I could feel it’s washing machine noise against my chest when I wore him.  When he got upset and cried, you could lay next to him and hear it.  I was beyond ready for him to be “fixed”.  Dezi was 6 1/2 months old, weighed in at 14 lbs 6 oz, and was perfectly pink.  His oxygen, which was expected to be around 80%, was at 100%.  He was still on the growth charts, having been exclusively breast-fed.  Have you ever heard a surgeon tell you that they can’t explain or understand something?  Until that day, I hadn’t either!  “There is no medical explanation for how well your baby has done.”  His heart had deteriorated as expected, but his oxygen was perfect and his weight was good.

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(The first time we saw Dezi after surgery, the first time I held him the following day.)

With a recovery as miraculous as his life, we were discharged from the hospital 4 days after his surgery.  I’m sorry if the picture is a little too graphic, it’s the only way I could truly explain how extraordinary he was.  These pictures were 4 days apart!  While in the hospital I worked on my nursing Honors paper for my BSN.  A persuasive paper on why you should wear your baby.  If my baby did so well, imagine all the other babies that would benefit!  I ugly cried as we left the hospital that day, insisting that I wear him because that was the biggest factor in how well he had done and wearing him had become a NEED.  I was ready to start feeling normal again and this had become our norm.

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(Heading home from the hospital and the welcome we came home to.)

My teacher was generous with my paper, given the circumstances in which it was written.  She said that if she had a baby, she would definitely give babywearing a try.  Good enough!  I was ready to get past surgery and classes and try to remember what it was like to feel like a normal person again.

After settling back in at home, things slowly started to start feeling normal.  I went back to work, Dezi continued to thrive!  Then I crossed paths with one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, Dr. Nils Bergman.  After listening to him lecture at a Breastfeeding Conference, I could only compare my feelings to what it must feel like to meet a rock legend.  I was in awe of him and I fought the tears as I listened to him explain the neurobiology of why you should wear your babies and keep them close.  He offered me the explanation that even my surgeon had failed to understand!

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(Who can resist a selfie with their hero??  This is me with medical legend, Dr. Nils Bergman.)

Dr. Bergman runs a clinic in South Africa where there is no modern technology.  He told us of the miracles he had witnessed of sick and premature babies growing and thriving with nothing more than being worn close by their mother.  I wasn’t just another crazy, granola head, tree hugger (add your own descriptors if you wish).  I was a practitioner of basic science!  Wearing your baby helps regulate their heart rate, their breathing, their temperature.  It keeps them calm and happy.  Babies who are worn have a higher emotional IQ.  It empowers the mothers to trust their instincts.  It gives them peace of mind as they keep their baby close.

The month of February is important to me because it is Heart month.  It’s the time of year that we focus on bringing awareness to our cause, our heart babies.  I won’t bore you with all the statistics of how heart disease affects 1:100 babies born and is the leading cause of infant death.  (Just ask me, I’ll give you all the resources and support you could ever need).  What I would like to impress upon you is how wearing my baby potentially saved his life, and at the very least, make a very serious recovery very uneventful.  How wearing Dezi saved my sanity.  How much better it made “normal” life as compared to my big kids who screamed through every shopping trip, got sick frequently as babies, were just fussier!  Babywearing isn’t just for the tree huggers like me!  Every baby, term or premie, healthy or sick, benefits from being worn and held close by those caring for them.  If you are reading this and understand my love of this “hobby” or as I now prefer to call it, scientific practice, please, share the love!  I can only wish that someone had told me about wearing when my big kids were small.  Post a babywearing picture on your Facebook page, give a carrier as a baby gift, let a friend try yours out.  If you are interested in learning, go to BWI, find a local chapter, go to meetings, ask a friend!  Ask a stranger you see wearing their baby, I can almost guarantee they will excitedly tell you all about their reasons for finding the love.  Help normalize this great scientific practice that has been kept a secret from the general public for way too long!

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I Hate Wrapping!

Imagine this…my best’s friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s little sister convinced me I needed a woven wrap and my parenting abilities would vastly improve once I had said wrap. “You’ll be hands free! You can nurse in it! Everyone has them!” So I made an impulse buy and splurged on a gorgeous woven wrap. It was some name I couldn’t pronounce since it was made in Germany…or Guatemala. It arrived and I eagerly opened in. It was the most beautiful piece of cloth I had ever laid my eyes on. So I washed it per the instructions AND I even ironed it. Then I grabbed (well, not literally) my little one and went to wrap him up just like those VBEs do it at the meetings. But I failed. I failed big time. So I tried again…and again…and again. After multiple attempts I came to the realization that I hate wrapping. I love babywearing but I just do not enjoy wrapping. So now what?

Beautiful wrap that looks pretty on my shelf.

Beautiful wrap that looks pretty on my shelf.

You could sell your wrap locally on Central Iowa Babywearing Swap, The Babywearing Swap, or TheBabyWearer.

If you don’t want to sell, you could create a wrap hammock with your woven wrap. This is a common way that is used to’break in’ the wrap. You simply secure it around a table or in a crib and allow your little one to enjoy the hammock goodness. Please exercise appropriate supervision during this.

Woven wraps can be used as a hammock.

Woven wraps can be used as a hammock.

If you like babywearing but just don’t like wrapping, you can look into getting your wrap converted into a wrap conversion ring sling, mei tai, or onbu. You can communicate with local converter, Sarah, with Wallypop to see if she could help you convert your wrap into a different style carrier. Other options include Sleeping Baby Productions for ring slings and Two Mommas Designs for mei tais and buckle carriers. You can also communicate with ObiMama, Madame Googoo and Hipababy. Please note that some of these converters may not be accepting used wraps or be willing or able to make a conversion for you.

Zanytoes Wrap Conversion Mei Tai

Zanytoes Wrap Conversion Mei Tai

Wallypop Wrap Conversion Ring Sling

Wallypop Wrap Conversion Ring Sling

You can also get items made from your wrap. There are several local seamstresses in the Des Moines area that make wrap scrap headbands, scarves, suck/drool pads, purses, and diaper bags. Both Midnight Oil Marvels and Finnabug Bags, Etc. are in the Des Moines area.

Midnight Oil Marvels

Midnight Oil Marvels


Wrap scrap headbands by Finnabug Bags. Etc.

Wrap scrap headbands by Finnabug Bags. Etc.

There’s also tons of different options to turn your wrap into taggies or books. Beautiful Mess is a local Des Moines work at home mom (WAHM) who turns wraps into beautiful wrap scrap color books.

Wrap scrap color book by Beautiful Mess

Wrap scrap color book by Beautiful Mess

If you’d prefer to have a lovey made your wrap, you can contact Starbright Baby and have your wrap turned into a baby teether, rhino, or giraffe.

Starbright Baby toddler giraffe

Starbright Baby toddler giraffe

The owner of Starbright Baby also recently started Starbright Legacy Quilts, where she turns wraps into beautiful handmade quilts.

Starbright Legacy Quilts

Starbright Legacy Quilts

Not everyone enjoys wrapping and that’s OK! If you happen to not like it, hopefully you can enjoy your wrap in other ways–even if that means selling it to fund something else, converting in into another baby carrier, or even an accessory.

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Marissa’s Lillebaby Review

We received a new Lillebaby for our lending library, and I got the opportunity to play around with it for the first time this week. I was very impressed with this full buckle carrier to say the least. If I could only pick one word to describe the Lillebaby, it would be VERSATILE.

The Lillebaby is a soft structured carrier (SSC) with all the bells and whistles. After testing out all its features and even trying it on with my own son, I have to say I’m a big fan. Here’s a rundown of this carrier from my perspective.

Features:
1. The Lillebaby has all the safety features you would expect for a high-quality SSC; such as safety elastic for the waistband buckle. Something it has that I haven’t seen in very many other buckle carriers is a safety buckle inside the panel of the carrier to further secure your child to you.
2. It is designed to be worn in four different positions: back, hip, front inward facing, and front outward facing carries. You can adjust the width of the carrier’s base to accommodate the outward facing carry or for an inward facing carry with a young baby who is ready to have his or her legs out.
3. This carrier has a nice, large hood for head support while baby is sleeping or to use as a shade from the sun. In addition, it also has a head support feature which can either be snapped down in the outward facing front carry or attached to the shoulder straps to provide more head support for a young baby or further extend the back panel for an older baby or toddler.

Forward Facing

Forward Facing

Adjustable base for newborns to toddlers.

Adjustable base for newborns to toddlers.

Pros:
For me, the best part of this carrier is how you can adjust the size of the base and the back panel to accommodate a baby of any size. From now on, whenever a mom at one of our meetings asks for a soft structured carrier that will work for both her newborn and her two year old, I’m going to suggest she try the Lillebaby on. I will also suggest it to anyone who wishes to only buy one full buckle carrier to last them from the newborn stage well into toddlerhood. Many caregivers are also interested in being able to safely carry their children in a variety of positions, including outward facing and hip carries once their babies have adequate head and neck control. The versatility of this carrier is truly awesome!

Cons:
The only real con I can think of is the fact that all the features and accessories can seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, the Lillebaby comes with very thorough instructions and after an hour of playing with the carrier, I felt that I understood its features well enough to teach it to someone else at a meeting. And I honestly think having all the features makes the learning curve well worth it!

I am including a picture of my 2.5 year old in the carrier. He is about 32 lbs and 35 inches tall. Although he is not knee to knee in this carrier, that is not essential in a SSC like it is in a wrap or a ring sling. I have to admit that he does fit into a toddler sized SSC better, but we were both very comfortable for a long time in the Lillebaby. I have no doubt this carrier would work great for babies and toddlers of all ages.

Me and E in the Lillebaby.

Me and E in the Lillebaby.

The bottom line: if you have a chance to test this carrier out, do it. You won’t be disappointed!

More more picture that shows how high the carrier goes on his back.

More more picture that shows how high the carrier goes on his back.

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for the love of shorty!

Go, go, go, go, go, go
Go shorty, it’s your birthday
We gonna party like it’s your birthday
We gonna wrap oscha’s on your birthday
And you know we can do a rucksack–it’s your birthday

Or how about this beat?

Shorty you keep playin’ with my mind
You tease me all the time but I had enough
Maybe I should ask your 6’s why
Why you are so afraid to fall in love

You may be thinking: Is this post about Calli’s bad rapping? Ugh, wrong! It’s about shorties! Shorty, what? A shorty! A shorty is a woven wrap that is shorter than a full sized wrap. Sound simple, right? It is! Read on to learn more about shorty love. I promise I won’t sing anymore….;)

Size 1 or Size 2/Rebozo
The shortest woven wrap that is sold is called a size 1 or a rebozo. Rebozos are very common in different cultures–specifically Latino cultures where they are widely used. A size 1 wrap is 2.2 meters or a size 2 is 2.7 meters. This is the shortest shorty and is great because it’s small, compact, and cool since it offers primarily single layer carries. This size is oftentimes used as a sarong or scarf when not being used for babywearing. The shorter the wrap also means that there is less fabric to be drug in dirty parking lots.

Carries with a Rebozo
Rebozo carry — front (tummy to tummy)
Rebozo carry — hip
Rebozo carry — back
Rucksack TUB (tied under bottom)
Rucksack TAS (tied at shoulder)
Reinforced Rear Rebozo Rucksack
Double Rebozo Back Carry
Torso Carry
Short Back Cross Carry
Half Jordan’s Back Carry (Half JBC)
Shepherd’s Carry
Double Hammock Rebozo

Size 3
A size 3 wrap is approximately 3.1 meters. All of the rebozo carries can be done with a size 3 wrap with extra tail.

Size 3 Carries

Rebozo carry — hip
Rebozo carry — back
Kangaroo Carry
Abbreviated Front Wrap Cross Carry (TUB)
Semi Front Wrap Cross Carry (one shoulder)
Reinforced Rear Rebozo Rucksack
Double Rebozo Back Carry
Half Jordan’s Back Carry
Double Hammock Rebozo
Double Hammock Torso Carry
Double Hammock with Rings
Rucksack TUB (tied under bottom)
Rucksack TAS (tied at shoulder)
Knotless Rucksack Carry
Short Back Cross Carry
Shepherds Carry
Torso Carry
Hip Cross Carry
Coolest Hip Cross Carry

Size 4
At one point in time a size 4 was my favorite size wrap–but now they’re all my favorite. A size 4 is 3.7 meters. It’s oftentimes referred to as an “in-between” size. I also find this size great for parking lot wrap jobs, comfort, and still compact enough to fit inside of a diaper bag.

Size 4 Carries
Abbreviated Front Wrap Cross Carry (TUB)
Semi Front Wrap Cross Carry
Half Front Wrap Cross Carry
Kangaroo Carry
Short Cross Carry
Knotless Front Cross Carry
Jordan’s Back Carry
Ellevill Jordan’s Back Carry
Double Hammock TUB (tied under bottom)
Rucksack Carry
Reinforced Rucksack
RRRR with Candy Cane Chestbelt
Back Wrap Cross Carry with rucksack straps
Hip Cross Carry
Coolest Hip Cross Carry
Robbins Hip Carry
Poppins Hip Carry

Can you think of any other shorty carries? What’s your favorite? Upload your shorty photos to our fan page and tag them on instagram as: ‪#‎IntlBabywearingWeek‬ , ‪#‎cornninjas‬, and #fortheloveofshorty .

Shorty
From New York on to L.A.
Shorty
Chi-Town we wrap the night away
Shorty
Miami all the pretty carries
Shorty
We know wraps all around the world

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