Seasons of Change

The Early Days

As Colleen and I (Heather) retire and step down from BWI of Chicagoland, we’ve both been reflecting on what a phenomenal journey we’ve been on, from learning to use our first carriers, to learning to wear toddlers and preschoolers, to learning to spread the love, and meet so many new and veteran caregivers along the way.

I am forever grateful and appreciative of Colleen and Hyacynth (our other leader from Lake County, when I learned of the group).  I found them when I had a 2 year old and newborn.  Colleen and I both started using carriers around the same time (8 years ago, if you can believe that!!), but all I had experience with was my Baby Bjorn and an awesome ring sling.

Colleen learned about different carriers through our local La Leche League, before her first was even born!  She then found the local Lake County group through an online forum at thebabywearer.com .  Helping teach others was a calling for her.   When I met Colleen and Hyacynth, they were warm, welcoming leaders for the Lake County Babywearers, and had group gatherings I wanted to keep coming back to.  That was almost 6 years ago!  Colleen was my inspiration, and she pushed me beyond my comfort level.  “You want me to try this long piece of fabric?”  “Are you sure he’ll be ok on my back”  (remember I had only used a ring sling and Baby Bjorn before this…).  THANK YOU COLLEEN.

Back then, we were a small group, with around 30 attendees online (and maybe 10-15 adults total in person each month?).  It was a social group, and very much about wearing all the babies!  There weren’t nearly as many carriers or brands of carriers out on the market.  I will always think fondly of my early days learning from so many women I consider great friends to this day.

There has been SO MUCH growth and it is really exciting to see how many parents and caregivers are embracing different types of carriers and holding their babies close.  There has also been an explosion of education along the way, and an explosion of options.  If you’d like to learn more about our history along the way, this post has a lot of great information:

https://bwichicagoland.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/10-years-old-2000-strong/

FAST FORWARD

We’ve both grown as educators, parents, and friends.  The organizations have had tremendous growth as well over the last number of years.  But now, our kids are growing up, our lives and passions as parents have changed focus.  It’s time for us to find some new adventures!

REFLECTIONS

Almost 2 years ago I won an educator award from BWI.  When I look back at the bio, I’m reminded of the passion to help others, and the empathy needed to help caregivers effectively.  I was asked to put together a BIO for the award page.  I think about these two quotes often:

“I love sharing what I’ve learned, and want and help others see how this great tool can help make parenting so much easier.  I wish I’d have found our group earlier in our lives as parents.  I don’t think it’s important for an educator to know everything; I think it’s more important for an educator to know what resources to look for to help with a difficult situation.  I also think it’s important to listen to parents, and figure out what they’re REALLY asking, so we can meet their needs.  I love the look on a caregivers face when they find something they like, or their baby quiets down and falls asleep, or is content to look around.”

“It’s easy to forget that it’s NOT about the special fancy carrier, it’s about using some fabric to help them and their babies.  The parents are the real carriers, the fabric just helps them do that effectively.  That’s really the heart of our organization.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it.”

BEST WISHES

Sometimes caregivers will thank us, but we really need to be thanking all of you!  It was all of YOU that kept us coming back meeting after meeting, month after month, and wanting to spread out more, and stretch ourselves as a group.  To meet more of you, and share what we’ve learned about wearing our babies close.  The years have flown by.

This volunteering journey and the people we’ve met have changed our lives, so thank you for that as well!

You ALL drive this group.  You help each other socially, through questions, and support on the off topic facebook chat group.  You help each other learn about carriers, carries, and support each other in the local BWI group, at meetings, and playdates.  The group will continue to thrive because of ALL OF YOU.  If you see a post that you can contribute to?  Share what you’ve learned with others.  That’s how all of our past and present leaders learned along the way.

We love how the current and future leadership team has such passion, excitement, and “fresh eyes” to share babywearing. Their ambition and passion will serve the Chicagoland chapter well, and I’m sure they will make great, positive changes in the future.  I’m looking forward to hearing about the things they accomplish that took a back seat during our tremendous growth.  They have drive and ambition, and they will make great improvements and changes for the group!

Hold those babies close.  They grow up WAY TOO FAST!  One day (believe it or not) they’ll get too big to want to be worn.  This weekend, we hope you all get a chance to use whatever carries at your disposal to enjoy time with family and friends!  Happy Independence Day!

(Here are some photos of us along the way.)

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March Madness and Carrier Giveaways!

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Mundelein Playdate meeting is Cancelled for Friday Feb 28th

So very sorry to post this, but we are canceling the Mundelein playdate meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning.

The only leader available for the meeting is up late tonight with a sick kid.  😦

If anyone is close to Mundelein and needs to swap out carriers tomorrow, please email bwichicagoland@gmail.com or PM or contact Heather M. for carrier exchanges.  This information will be posted on the door of the meeting location.  Facebook and the website calendar have also been updated to reflect the cancelled meeting.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next meeting instead.  There are a few other meetings next week to catch us at, including Crystal Lake, Chicago, and Northbrook.

Today’s meetings!

Just a quick note, there are two meetings today!

Schaumburg is from 12-2 at the Schaumburg Township Public Library.

Chicago is from 10:15-12:15 at Elate Yoga Studio.

The Calendar Tab has complete details about each meeting.  Have a great week everyone!

 

Welcoming 2014 with a Winter Snow Storm!

First- HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Second- We’re going to cancel the Chicago weekday meeting at Be By Baby for Friday 1/2/14 due to the heavy snowfall.

But don’t fret!  There is a weekend meeting at a different location later this month, and the Be By Baby meeting will resume next month.  On Jan 19th, there is a weekend meeting in Schaumburg at noon, or in Chicago at 10:30.  You are free to keep any borrowed carriers until the weekend meeting or next month’s Be By Baby meeting.

We’re sorry for the cancellation, but the weather will make it too difficult for some of the leaders to get into the city.  Most of the leaders are in Cook or Lake County, and snowed in.

Here are the details for the weekend Chicago meeting on Jan 19th:

When:  Sun, January 19, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Where:  Elate Yoga– 912 W Armitage Ave #2, Chicago, Illinois 60614 (map)
Description* THIS MEETING IS REPLACING OUR CURRENT MONTHLY TUESDAY MEETING. SINCE THIS NEW LOCATION IS LARGER THAN BE BY BABY, IT WOULD BE HELPFUL IF CAREGIVERS CAN COME TO THIS MEETING IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. * THERE WILL STILL BE A MONTHLY WEEKDAY MEETING AT BE BY BABY ON FRIDAY FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT MAKE THE WEEKEND MEETING.

We hope you’re all enjoying the new year with your families!  Don’t forget to make sure your little ones are bundled up for the weather if you are out and about!

Here’s a recent post on winter babywearing:  https://bwichicagoland.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/winter-babywearing-in-chicago/

Winter Babywearing in Chicago

(Note:  The original post content is courtesy of our former leader Katie, who originally wrote it up for BabyCenter/BBC, and gave permission to post it here.  The photos are courtesy of our group.)

Kindercoat (Shell) in the fall

Kindercoat (Shell) in the fall

The weather is getting cold, and suddenly you are wondering how to keep baby warm. How many layers should you use? How do you get from car to carrier? What should baby wear? Where can you find a babywearing coat? What kind of cover should you get if you wrap? What bout back carries? What if you are short on cash? Not to fear – I have been there done that in wind chills double digits below zero with infants to preschoolers in my carriers (and in multiple carriers!).

The most important thing to remember is the same no matter what weather you wear in – keep baby’s airway clear. As always, chin up, a free path to fresh air, and no slumping. Second most important actually has to do with the cold weather. Be careful not to overheat or freeze baby. If possible, put baby in the carrier before either of you are wearing your outer layers, then layer over both of you. Apart from making it easier to identify baby’s body temperature, layering over both of you allows you to disrobe when you get inside without having to remove baby (yay errands!).

Dressing Baby

Be careful not to overheat baby as you venture into the great outdoors, but you don’t want to freeze them either. When the temperatures start to dip below 65F, start putting baby in an undershirt (or onesie) underneath their regular clothes. As it gets colder, add the necessary outer layers. If you are venturing out into the below freezing temps, and you have a coat on that is made for that temperature, no other layers aside from the added undershirt should be needed. If your coat or cover runs to the thinner side, you may find that baby needs an additional sweater or jacket on. Remember, the cover or coat is acting like baby’s jacket. Depending on the one you get, this may be a thin or thick layer. Hooded jackets or sweaters are a good option, or just use a hat as needed. Toddlers and older babies that prefer to ride arms out in the carrier will need their own winter coats and gloves on to keep warm.

Toddler with her own coat on

Toddler with her own coat on

Knee high socks (like Rock a Thigh Baby), and baby leg warmers (like Babylegs) are the perfect addition to your little one’s winter wardrobe. Pants have a tendency to ride up in the carrier, and the cool air that sneaks in will be sure to bite at any exposed skin. Leggings a size too large cover baby’s legs really well too.

Tip for car transferring: put your carrier on ahead of time and wear it in the car, then you just need to pop baby in, tighten and throw a coat, jacket, blanket over you both to go.

Products

So, what can you use to keep warm? Specially made babywearing covers, coats, and vests are great for this. Many carrier companies make weather covers: ErgoBABY, Catbird Baby, and Bjorn are just a few that do this. It also tends to be less expensive to buy a universal cover. Covers are usually for front carries only. Many of them tie or snap onto the straps of carriers, so they may not be suitable for wraps, or wrap-strap carries. Some, like Jolly Jumper go around the wearer’s neck and work great over wraps. Covers are an option that works well if you are in and out of the car (side note: no coats or covers under baby’s harness straps in the car seat), because you can move the cover to go over baby in the car, stroller, or carrier. These usually fit to about 2yo (especially in ergonomic carriers). Here are some covers available:

A really wonderful option is the babywearing coat. These are awesome if you spend a lot of time walking outside or take public transit. I used mine all last winter on the bus and train. Babywearing coats also mean you have one less thing to carry with you. Many of them have back carry options too, and can go over any type of carrier. Here are some of the available coats:

Suse’s Kinder Coats (left is the fleece liner only, right is the full coat)

Amautiks are a traditional Inuit baby carrier that is built into the back of a coat. Since the Inuit people live in cold climates, they needed a carrier that could handle the weather. These can be used from newborn to preschool age, but are pretty pricey. They are built to last however. Check them out at Amauti Baby.

If a babywearing coat sounds nice but the price doesn’t, another option is a zip-in coat extender to turn your regular coat into a babywearing coat.

Babywearing vests are exactly what you think they are. A vest is kind of a cross between a cover and a coat. These are great for spring and fall, but also can be used under your winter coat to keep both you and baby warm.

This all sounds awesome, but I can’t afford it – what do I do?
There are definitely less expensive options! If you are crafty, a DIY option would be great. You can find tutorials for DIY coats, covers, vests, etc. online; here are a couple:

A DIY Zip in Insert!

A coat with a DIY Panel sewn in!

Front and Back Carrying with the same DIY Poncho

A few of us have made a poncho per the link above, and it was great, but we found that increasing the size opening of the collars was helpful, especially if you wanted to do back carries.  If the collar of the babe is “tight” and they sit lower, they tend to strangle the wearer a bit.  Here are a few pictures of the DIY poncho Heather has.  It was easy to make, fast to make, and only cost around 10 dollars with Polarfleece from Joann Fabrics.

But I’m not crafty!

Neither am I. Don’t worry, I have you covered (pun not intended!). Here are some other options:

  1. Walmart, Target, and the like sell fleece jackets that cost about $15. Get one two sizes too large, and simply zip it over both you and baby – this can even be used for back carries! Or steal your significant other’s coat if it is big enough.
  2. Take one of the aforementioned fleece coats two sizes up, and cut a hole in the back. Fleece doesn’t need to be hemmed, so you can use it just like that for a back wearing coat.
  3. Grab a couple of binder clips, a ribbon, and a warm baby blanket that you have lying around the house. Tie the ribbon to the end of both binder clips, and clip them onto the blanket. Put the ribbon around your neck, and ta da! Easy babywearing cover (and it works as a great nursing cover too!). You can also just take a blanket and tuck it around you, but the ribbon and binder clips helps it stay up.
  4. Get a nursing cover clip like LatchOn or Little Carr Cover Me, and use that in lieu of the binder clips and ribbon. 

Using a roomy coat or jacket in the winter and fall

Have you loved any winter babywearing products not mentioned here? Tell us about them!

Remember to watch baby’s airway, temperature, and extremities this winter when you are out and about!

 

Updated 10/2017

Last Call for Fundraising Raffles!

Raffles, Raffles, Raffles!

Why are we fundraising and doing some raffles right now?

We are a volunteer run organization. We don’t pay ourselves for time, for gas, or other incidentals. We use this money primarily to get new carriers for the lending library, whether it is to buy something used, something new that a company gives us a deal on, or to pay shipping for a donated item.  We LOVE that the lending library is so popular for the group, but it also means carriers are well loved, and see more wear and tear because of the members who borrow carriers.  So we keep track to see when they need to be replaced or pulled out of the library because they become “too loved”.  We also use this money for printing, business cards, or room reservation fees on rare occasions.

We keep 85% of the fundraising money this month (and the other 15% goes to the international organization).  Tickets will be available before, during, and after each event between now and October 25th.  You will choose which raffle (s) you would like to enter and put the ticket (s) in the correct envelope.  Before the raffles end, the leaders will combine the tickets

Our raffle tickets will be 1 ticket for 3.00, 2 tickets  for 5.00, or 5 tickets for 10.00, or 10 tickets for 20.00. So, the more you buy, the less each ticket costs!  We can take cash or a check.  Paypal doesn’t allow online raffle sales through our account, so we will not be taking payment through the group’s paypal account.  If you would like to purchase tickets, but can’t make it to an event, we are HAPPY to get you set up.  Email bwichicagoland@gmail.com or contact a leader for details.

Raffle tickets will be available at both the Grayslake Meeting tomorrow night, as well as the Mundelein Playdate meeting Friday morning.  You can get raffle tickets until 4pm on Saturday October 26th, and will be drawn after that time when leaders can meet up!

If you would like to have the raffle winnings shipped instead of picking it up from a leader, we are happy to do so if you cover shipping costs.  Good luck!

NOTE:  We received two extra, generous offers to add to the raffles.

1.  The first is a one month adult supply of Juice Plus Chewables Orchard Blend and a one month supply of Juice Plus Chewables Garden Blend (120 chewables each).  Here’s Megan’s page!  http://mv87906.juiceplus.com/  This has been added to Raffle #6, with Mary’s custom portrait.

2.  The second is a jar of Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder that washes approximately 100 standard loads, generously donated by New Mother New Baby in Northbrook.  This item has been added to Raffle #8, with the little boys items.

The RAFFLES!!

Raffle #1:  A gift certificate for two months of swim lessons and registration at Goldfish Swim School in Roscoe Village, Chicago.  Estimated Value of 199.00

Raffle #2:  A one month membership for one child to the Purple Monkey Playroom in Chicago (estimated value 100.00).

Raffle #3:  A 6 pass punch card for Bubbles Academy in Chicago (estimated value 60.00).

Raffle #4:  A 5 pass gift certificate at Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago, good for 5  drop-in yoga classes, including prenatal, mom &baby, and kids classes (estimated value 70.00).

Raffle #5: One knitted hat from Manziknitz (any size). Winner and knitter will discuss patterns and color choices after raffle ends.  Jen has made some really cute items for others in the group.  We’re looking forward to seeing what the winner has made!  This raffle also includes an adorable  unique Didymos baby bib, with the didymos logo on the front, and a 40 load bag of Norwex Ultra Plus Laundry Detergent.1238325_10201324721934904_50188713_n

Raffle #6:  Juice Plus and a Custom Portrait by Mary Haas:  Mary is one of our fearless leaders, and also an artist.  She has volunteered to donate an 8×10 matted Custom Black and White Charcoal Portrait of a Single Subject.  Details as follows:

Portrait will be drawn on archival quality charcoal paper. Portrait will be drawn from photographs supplied by client. Supplied pictures must be ones for which the client owns the copyright, and has the legal right to reproduce. Please plan to provide multiple photographs to give the artist a better sense of how the subject truly looks. Higher resolution photographs (such as those taken with a DSLR camera) are best. Additionally, the best photographs for portraits are taken in natural light without a flash. Please allow 4-6 weeks for completion of the finished portrait. Certificate does not include shipping charges, if applicable. For examples of finished pieces please visit  http://maryhaas.com/custom-portraits/

Also included is a one month adult supply of Juice Plus Chewables Orchard Blend and a one month supply of Juice Plus Chewables Garden Blend (120 chewables each).

Raffle #7:  WAHM made custom nursing pillow donated from Cygnus Lactation.  The pillow has 3 removable foam inserts to adjust to the height of the pillow.  Also includes a pair of girly reversible teething/suck pads from little trendsetters and a pair of Monkey patterned Rock-A-Thigh baby socks in size 0-6 months.  And last but not least, a fun wooden toy donated from Max and Jack’s Room.1374148_10201324722374915_2032321595_n

Raffle #8:  A Pair of new brown football babylegs (NWOT from a combo pack a leader had), a pair of boyish reversible suck pads from Little Trendsetters, a 2T-3T tie dyed t-shirt from The Pink Willow Tree, and one beautiful grad dyed mama scarf from Lavender Llama.  Also now included is  a jar of Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder that washes approximately 100 standard loads, generously donated by New Mother New Baby in Northbrook.

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Raffle #9:  One beautiful grad dyed mama scarf from Lavender Llama and one Corolle mon premier 12 inch Tidoo Candy doll (bath baby) donated by Building Blocks Toy Store.  Soft and poseable, Tidoo is so light that it floats in the water. Featuring smooth, delicately scented vinyl skin and filled with polystyrene beads that dry quickly, Tidoo is a favorite playmate out of the tub, too. Designed in France and part of Corolle’s Mon Premier Collection for the littlest mommies.- (estimated value 62.00).1394033_10201324722534919_168611583_n

Raffle#10:  One pair of red babylegs, one pair of size 6-8 Rock-A-Thigh Baby socks (they run small), and one size 6 tie dye girls short sleeved dress donated from The Pink Willow Tree.

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To Purchase any tickets, please email us or contact a leader via the Facebook group and we will get you taken care of ASAP.  The raffles will be chosen after this weekend, and some have great odds right now!