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Babywearing

 

10 Ten Things Newborns Really Need

If you want to live simply with baby, consider skipping the baby towels in lieu of a clean adult towel; instead of a baby bath tub use the sink or cobathe (you can even use a water carrier, if desired); if your house is small or baby will sleep near you, you may need only a very simple baby monitor, or none at all.  There are loads of baby products out there: some are adorable, others seem like they’ll solve whatever baby-related issue you may have, some are just plain clever or fun. But, what do you really truly NEED for your newborn?  Here’s my list for baby gear minimalists.

For a newborn, you need: Read more…

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As part of the two-under-two club, it was important to me that I allow V. to be a baby for as long as he needed. Rather than accelerating the end of nursing, bedsharing, or babywearing because another baby was coming, we let him set the pace for these things. E. was born just days after V. hit 19-months and both boys needed lots of touch from mommy and daddy. So, what’s a person to do with two littles who both want “ups”? Tandem wearing! At times, I felt like a human clown car, but the emotional and practical benefit was worth it.
Tandem Babywearing

So, what should you know about tandem wearing? Read more…

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Babywearing On Board: Two Tots on a Cruise

What’s better than a Caribbean cruise in December? Not much! Once again, we decided to cruise stroller-free. If this was a bold move two years back with one ten-month old, it was an even bolder move this time around with a 16-month old and a not-quite-three-year old. As hoped for, babywearing gave us great freedom for adventures big and small. Here’s where babywearing took us this time…

A steep mountain hike

A steep mountain hike

Behind-the-Scenes onboard: backstage in the theatre, the galley, and the bridge

Behind-the-Scenes onboard: backstage in the theatre, the galley, and the bridge

Read more…

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Babywearing Through the Seasons

Babywearing makes loads of sense in the mild climates of fall and spring, but some parents ask if it is too hot to wear baby during the summer, and the answer is no! Babywearing can actually help you stay in more tune with baby’s temperature and hydration needs than other methods.

 
This past summer, babywearing helped us brave the crowds during a busy 4th of July Parade, and made a cozy nap spot in the midst of a lot of stimulation.
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Nursing In A Woven Wrap

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I am grateful to have nursed V for 18 months, at which point my milk turned fully to colostrum (at 37 weeks of pregnancy with baby E) and he gently weaned. E is now one year old (today!) and still going strong. I credit babywearing with making on-cue nursing possible with both my boys through vacations, work, and everyday life.

10-month-old V is ready to touch a lizard and then get rehydrated in the hot Caribbean sun

As a Volunteer Babywearing Educator for Babywearing International (BWI), I am frequently asked about nursing in a carrier. Here’s a bit about my story…

When V was born, we had trouble latching which meant feeding was slow and frequent. I felt like I was nursing every hour of every 1.5 hours. Intense! I searched You Tube for videos on how to nurse a newborn in a wrap, but everything I came across used a cradle carry, which just didn’t work for my anatomy, V’s latching issues, or my back issues.

When V was five weeks old, I decided it was time to get some help. I attempted to take him to the local BWI meeting, but I drove us to the wrong location. When I realized that I had missed by chance for help,  I got back in my car and totally lost it. I was the crazy lady crying and screaming in my car. Yeah, the nursing intensity and back pain was that bad (plus the post-partum traumatic stress disorder that I didn’t yet know I had). Once I calmed down, I made it to the correct location where several understanding moms welcomed me though I was late. They cheered me on and showed me some tricks. What I learned that day was gold and it has stuck with me as my favorite nursing carry.

What is this magic? The front wrap cross carry (FWCC). It is a great carry for nursing because baby sits in a pocket that can be easily lowed to get to the proper height for nursing and then heightened  back to the proper, “head is high enough to kiss” position when finished. This so revolutionized my life that I made a video when V was six months old, and I was still a novice, so I could pass on the love to others who might be feeling just as desperate.

Getting baby in a FWCC:

 
 
Nursing while in a FWCC:

 

Recently, I did a new version with tying the carry and nursing the baby all together:

 

These days, I can nurse in a wrap hands-free and do just about anything, but the day I learned it, I used my hands to go home and eat my lunch while my baby had sipped at his is lunch. I actually cried tears of joy at that accomplishment. Hands for eating was a big, big deal!

Breastfeeding can be hard work and require incredible determination, but–for me–after the rough newborn days (ok, ten weeks of blisters and struggles with my first baby), it led to being able to feed baby anywhere and anytime. Plus, when baby E came along, we were able to get to nursing in a carrier from day 1. It is a joy to pass the magic on to other mamas, now.

Baby E naps after nursing on his birth day.
(Disclaimer: a wrap should not have this much slack while standing)

Are you looking for information on breastfeeding and babywearing and local to Northern Virginia? If so, join me at Great Beginnings in Chantilly on Saturday, August 10. I’ll be part of the panel on Supporting the Breastfeeding Mom from 12:30-1:15. Learn more about the event here.

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Why Green Inside & Out? All of This Fun!

Cost and environmental impact are among the reasons why I switched to green greening our house inside and out, but as a parent I’ve discovered an added benefit: even the tiniest tot can get in on the action!

Inside, I feel comfortable with the kids being around our cleaners.. At 2.5, V is eager to spray and wipe everything he possibly can. While sometimes we just go with plain water, it is nice to really benefit from his eagerness. Baby E is still too oral to help that way (even green cleaners shouldn’t be eaten), but I can tote him around on my back while I work without worrying about dangerous fumes.

 
Scrubbing the tub with green cleaners
The same holds true outside of the house. With a pesticide-free yard, our kids can go free-range: Baby E can explore on his own and eat a handful—or three—of clover or chickweed. Toddler V can play dump truck with grass clippings with his bare hands for an hour while I use the quiet reel-push mower right next to him.

 

Mowing Helper
Getting used to the feel of grass

Digging in the dirt pile in the backyard
With organic gardening, we get the fun of watering, digging, catching slugs, and eating veggies together. Everyone can lend a hand!
Square Foot Gardeners
 
Little Helper
 
Green cleaning looks different: things are clean, but not perfectly spotless. Green yards look different: we have more clover, plantain, dandelions, and chickweed than actual grass. But, the payoff is that we can enjoy them as a whole family more fully.

V & Dave 2012
E & Dave, 2013
Babywearing helps keep baby in on the outdoor action

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Babywearing > Allergy Test

I recently took V (2 years, 4 months) to an allergist for a skin prick test as we navigate the cause for his persistent eczema. While this test isn’t supposed to be painful, it is definitely unpleasant to have 30+ needle pokes on the back followed by 15 minutes where you can’t touch the itchy poke sites.

The possibility of getting a two-year-old through this without a major tears and a huge temper tantrum seemed small. But, I hoped that babywearing might just save the day. I had already taken V in for muscle testing/applied kinesiology with alternative medicine practitioners and found that wearing him made the sessions more pleasant than holding him (albeit, it is a gentle form of testing). 

When I asked the allergist if I could wear V on my back during this test, he didn’t know what to make of it. He said that most parents just hold their kids down face-down on the exam table. I balked. That mentality is exactly why we’d ruled this test out for a year. A battle-of-the-wills or making my child feel voiceless is the opposite of what I work for everyday in my relationship with him. I said that if it came to that, we would skip the test. Then he suggested I hold V on my lap. I liked that idea better, but my intuition was that wrapping V was going to be best for everyone. Doc admitted that a calm child is the best kind, so I should work it out with the nurse.

When the nurse came in to administer the test, she was willing to give it a try. As the mama of a two-year-old herself, she got it. I chose a double-hammock carry because I could keep the fabric low on V’s torso. She watched as I wrapped him on my back and shared that in her country, women use a short wrap (rebozo) to wear babies, carry groceries, etc., but she’d never learned how.


V was very calm for the first 10 pokes; he started to cry for the next 10; and for the final 10 he whimpered. So, it wasn’t tear free. But, it was an atmosphere of awareness and instant comfort. Because he was at adult-height, V was able to look in the mirror (his choice) and understand what was happening. I could reach around and pat his bum in comfort. To help manage pain, I started doing deep, rhythmic breaths which V could feel through his whole body via our bodily contact and so he started doing them, too.

As soon as the pokes were done, I reached back and handed him a toy and started walking around. Had he not been wrapped, it would’ve been tough to pick him up without touching any of his poke spots, let along trying to manage that for the whole waiting period. For the next fifteen minutes we paced, talked, looked in the mirror, and watched the construction site across the road. With hands and mind occupied, he never once tried to scratch his back.


When time was up, the nurse was able to read the results and clean V’s back all while he was in the wrap. When the doctor came back to finish things ups, he said that they have never had a child be so calm during the test. He said he’d never seen a “contraption” like our wrap, but now he was a believer. Babywearing for the win!


As for the allergies and eczema, we didn’t learn anything revolutionary. Everything was in-line with my observations, intuition, and the muscle testing. That said, the experience gave me the confidence to continue on the holistic path we’d been on. I guess I’d better get my wrap ready for our next appointment…

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As much as I love using baby carriers to wear my boys, I also appreciate that they can be used for other things. For example, when a wiggly toddler doesn’t want to be worn and every cart has broken safety straps, I can tie him in.

Wrap as a shopping cart strap

Or, when you go to a fancy anniversary brunch and it turns out the restaurant doesn’t actually have high-chairs, you can create a baby-safe seat, instantly.

Mei Tai as a high chair

I also discovered that carriers can help support the belly during pregnancy. With baby E., I wrapped my belly starting at 20 weeks to help with my chronic pelvic instability. (Pregnant women may also know this as symphysis pubis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain. The difference with mine is that it may never go away).  I decided to use a woven wrap to lift and support it and give some compression to my back. I wore the wrap for half the day and a Prenatal Cradle Plus, leftover from my pregnancy with V., for the other half of the day.

A woven wrap is like the  sophisticated older brother of the Moby. They both are long pieces of fabric designed to wear a baby, but a woven wrap only stretches on the diagonal which means it gives a much more supportive fit than a stretchy Moby can. Woven wraps are often made by hand or with intricate designs. They have a higher price point, but also have a longer, more versatile life.
Kokadi Forest Birds 4.2m

Kokadi Forest Birds 4.2m

Verdict: the wrap was more breathable and comfortable than the Prenatal Cradle Plus. Sometimes I felt rather bold wearing my support outside of my clothes rather than underneath, but it was worth it!

Zara Black 4.6

Zara Black 4.6

After this Zara picture, I decided to get the tail around me one more time. Since Zara has long tapers, the top layer ended up creating a panel of fabric that I just pulled down to cover the rest. It lost the pretty, intricate look, but it look more like part of my shirt.

Want to see how I do this? Here I am 38.5 weeks pregnant, using a Neobulle Simon 4.6m:

Some women like to do the same kind of thing with a ring sling. Personally, I found that the ring sling could not actually lift the belly or stabilize my pelvis and hips, but it could give some compression to the belly.  At the end of my pregnancy, I wanted to coax baby to flip face-down, and out of that pesky occiput posterior position, so I used a ring sling to apply gentle-but-firm pressure my belly. It didn’t persuade my little guy to turn, but maybe it will work for some other mama out there:

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Babywearing: Cruising Stroller-Free

Before our son was even born, my father-in-law started planning a family cruise, which sounded like a blast. We boldly committed not even knowing what life as first-time parents would be like, let alone anything about cruising with a baby. As the cruise got nearer and nearer we started to wonder if we should bring a stroller or commit to only babywearing during our week-long adventure. We decided to go stroller free and loved it! Here are some of our favorite things about our stroller-free adventure with ten-month old baby boy, V.
1. Nursing on-the-go in public is a breeze We discreetly nursed at dinner, during craft time, on excursions, and more. On hot blazing-hot port days, easy access to hydration helped keep him healthy and happy. Here, V unlatches to check out an ice sculpture. In the background is my hubby with V’s 7-month old cousin whose parents also elected to go stroller-free for the trip.

2. Baby can nap wherever V had pretty much given up napping in a carrier, but he picked it right back up on the cruise which was great because it meant that we could be as active as we wanted, stay out of that tiny
stateroom, and spend plenty of time with the extended family while still meeting his needs. He loved going to the shows with us at night and bouncing to the music before drifting off. During long dinners in the dining room, which our family adores, V drifted off we used a wrap as an impromptu floor cover and blanket.

3. Protection from curious hands Lots of people love babies, and we are so glad that V can bring others joy, but multiple people took it further than we were comfortable with and tried to kiss or caress him when he was in- arms or in a highchair. We wondered why people were so baby-touchy on the cruise and came up with a couple of theories: crew members see relatively few babies and may be dearly missing their own children, elderly people do not always see many babies, people from different cultures have different boundaries when it comes to touch. Cruises bring people from all three of those categories together. Because people in each of those categories still tend to respect adult space boundaries, having him in the carrier kept him shielded.
4. Guard from overstimulation Cruises are busy with lots of noises, sights, people, and stimulation in a relatively small space. Wearing V kept him physically connected to the comfort and safety of a parent. When he’d had enough, he could nuzzle his head into my chest or neck (depending if he was on my front or back). Strollers and front-facing carriers don’t allow this.

5. Enjoy more versatile excursions In San Juan alone, we encountered outrageously bumpy cobblestone streets with no sidewalks, other streets had sidewalks but didn’t have curb cuts, we visited tiny shops that a stroller couldn’t fit into, we encountered several sidewalks that ended in of stairs, etc. In other ports, we encountered wobbly tender boats, sand, lack of security (meaning no safe place to stash a stroller to go into a small space), rough trails, open air busses, etc. With V strapped on, each one of these things was a breeze.

6. Share experiences fully with baby In a carrier, baby sees things at adult-height which means we are seeing the same things. Also, because he is on me, it is intuitive for both hubby and I to include him in as we talk about all we are seeing. He got to be brushed by the same low tree branches that brushed my face; I knew that he could see the ocean and other sights over protective barriers, etc.

7. Avoiding Cruise Elevators Cruise elevators make me crazy. They take forever and they are crammed with people. Embarkation and disembarkation days are the worst because everyone is in the common areas at the same time and many people have luggage with them. With a baby in a stroller, it is elevate or seriously struggle with stairs. With a baby in a carrier, it is very easy to traverse the stairs without delay. Plus, it is good exercise which means I feel all the better about enjoying the delicious, abundant food.

8. Maintain balance Ships can be rocky. With a baby in-arms, you cannot use your arms for balance or to hold on to railing. With a baby in a carrier, baby’s weight is centered on your body (unless you are doing a hip carry) and your arms are free. In addition to greater stability on the ship, the benefit of balance also came up on an excursion. In the Dominican Republic, we did a light hike to a waterfall. The final part of the walk involved traversing a small river via large rocks and bags of sand. Hubby is very sure-footed so he wore V on this one; he and V crossed the river easily with no assistance. I crossed only with the assistance of a trail helper. The woman behind us, however, had her toddler in-arms. Even with a trail helper at her side, she was not able to maintain balance with baby in her arms nor was she able to use her arms to protect herself as she fell. The pair fell into the water. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but mom and baby were both shaken up. People skeptical of babywearing sometimes ask if falls are more likely or more dangerous. The benefit of balance and free arms to brace a fall is the reason that I can always give a full-hearted, “no” to this question.

9. Conscious packing It is no secret that staterooms are small. A wrap (or three) takes up very little space, even less than the most compact umbrella stroller. Babywearing leads to lighter packing both for the whole trip as well as for day packs. When you commit to wearing baby for the whole day of excursions, you think about the gear you are loading into a day pack very carefully. When you commit to no stroller for a week or more, you do the samething. I find that when a stroller is an option, I think of every last thing that I might need and load myself down with it. Suddenly I go from baby gear minimalist to hoarder. I like that babywearing helps me keep things simple. It boosts my confidence in terms of resourcefulness, fits in with our general values of simple living, and helps our kiddo remain flexible. After all, if I’d loaded three of his favorite toys and a bag full of snacks into our day pack, would V have liked touching an iguana as much? Sure, another handful of O-cereal is fine. But, isn’t the experience eating a freshly-picked orange so much more what travel and adventure is all about?

10. Formal Babywearing How cute is a baby in a tuxedo on the back of his mommy or daddy who are also dressed to the nines? Ok, so maybe it isn’t a REAL benefit, but it is cute!

 
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I was in Taco Bell a couple of weeks ago—hey, some days I just embrace my pregnancy cravings—and put my 18-month old son up on my back to ease his temper tantrum when I noticed the eyes of every person in the place on me. Awkward! I was trying really hard to make us not a spectacle, but apparently failed miserably. It was only later that I realized that maybe a 9-month pregnant lady strapping a toddler to her back actually might be spectacle-worthy. I suppose that it isn’t something people see very often in our culture. After all, at 37 weeks of pregnancy most women are feeling big, moving is hard, and aches are abundant. Why and how would a very pregnant mom even do such a thing?

As a mom about to enter the world of two-under-two parenting, the reality is that I am a mom of two babies. Yes, my son walks. But, he still needs lots of cuddles, holding, comforting, etc. My lap is pretty full of belly these days and playing on the floor isn’t the most comfortable thing. So, if we can get in snuggles while I am standing—great! And, all the better if I can do that while on-the go, since I have a busy toddler who wants to go, go, go while being close to mama. Babywearing allows my son to still be the baby that he is while allowing me to do the things I need to do even with a big belly (and soon with a newborn).

Double Hammock Above a Second Trimester Belly

Wearing throughout the pregnancy has allowed me to build my strength gradually which means I can wear both now in the late third trimester and will have the strength to tandem wear both kids when after new baby is born. It’s like how when you lift weights, you start small and then get stronger and stronger. Nature and time have increased the poundage of my two precious “weights” over the past nine months allowing me to grow stronger.


Walking is one of my favorite ways to stay in shape, is well suited to pregnancy, and is the perfect babywearing activity. As with all exercise during pregnancy—heed what your body says and expect to only do about 80% for what you could pre-pregnancy, at most. I wear my son much less than I could two months ago. He weighs more each passing week and my body is working harder each passing week.

Now let’s move on to the how of wearing with a belly. I only wear using woven wraps—pregnant or not— and what I’ve learned about which carries work during pregnancy is that heeding the cues of my body is better than any particular rules. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Your body will tell you when a front carries are no longer a fit and it is time for just back carries. That might be four months in for some women, seven months for others, and sooner or later for still others.

 
 
Rucksack in the Early Third Trimester

Here are some of my preferences for back wrapping: a rucksack carry works well because it means there is no fabric across my belly, save for the knot, which I like to tie above my bump. I don’t find tying tietbetan comfortable, but other moms find that a great way to avoid uncomfortable pressure across the belly and to keep the knot away from the belly. I go with trying in the back or on the side to keep the knot from irritating me. Jordan’s Back Carry is another one that has ruck straps and avoids any pressure on the belly. My feelings on the double-hammock (DH) have varied. When I was nauseous, I couldn’t stand the pass that comes across the front and I stopped using the DH. At other times, I loved the supportiveness of the DH for my back, but loathed the way it felt across my belly, so I would place the front pass just across my chest versus over my whole torso. Very late in pregnancy, some days I really like for that front pass to go spread from top of my chest to bottom of my belly because it gives the belly a bit of snug support.
 
Each day, each wear, I go into wrapping ready to listen to my body—that goes for both picking a way to carry plus how long I will keep my son wrapped. Now that I am mere days from 40 weeks of pregnancy, I can only manage wearing my son for a few minutes at a time. But, I love that my months of “endurance training” have rendered me strong enough to respond when he asks to get on mommy’s back. He may not be the youngest baby anymore, but he is still my baby. Through these moments, I can keep relating to my son in a way that has been treasured by us both since he was born.

Almost there!

 

 

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