About hyacynth

A journalist by nature and profession, I've been on special assignment from the Great Editor and Chief covering the foreign land of motherhood for eight years. While I admittedly enjoy covering bare baby bottoms with diapers, I do, from time to time, miss covering chair-throwing, name-calling town hall meetings. But those moments of day-dreaming bliss are often burst by a toddler's tantrum, which, ironically enough does include pee-wee chair throwing and name calling. I write about faith, motherhood, marriage, healthy living and the intersection of it all.

Advocating for Education, Not Fear Mongering

Unfortunately, Monday morning brought sad news of a two-day-old Australian baby who died while being worn in a sling.

So, again, with the unfolding of such an unfortunate tragedy, the practice of babywearing will most likely be thrust into the limelight, complete with advice medical doctors who have no experience with slings forming all kinds of warnings for parents to avoid the alleged dangers of babywearing.

And because my heart absolutely aches for the mother who lost her precious baby while wearing her little one and because I whole-heartedly believe babies are safest when pressed against the skin of a care giver, I feel compelled to say it again:

Any baby item can be dangerous!

Carseats, baby swings, baby cribs — any place babies can slip into the dangerous chin-to-chest position and block off tiny airways must be monitored.

BUT the art and practice of babywearing is safe.

In fact, I would argue that the art and practice of wearing your baby snuggled against your skin where the rise and fall of baby’s chest can be felt is safer than leaving baby to sleep alone, unmonitored in a car seat or crib.

With that said, we must spend time educating parents on how to ensure baby is in correct positioning in ALL baby gear items, including car seats, swings and carriers.

And we babywearing advocates and instructors must send time helping parents understand best practices of baby wearing so they will not be tricked into thinking that all baby gear and baby carriers are inherently safe or alternately not safe.

But, first, let’s briefly talk baby carriers and why all carries are NOT made equally.

Some slings,like the recalled Infantino Slingriders that have caused infant deaths and are commonly referred to as bag slings, should not even be marketed as baby carriers because there is NO way to safely carry a baby in such a sling.

These slings are worn around the parents’ neck and body much like a messenger bag is worn. Babies who are placed into the deep pockets of these slings are at risk for suffocation because their bodies are positioned in a C shape where the child’s neck often touches her chest and restricts airways. All the while, the poor mom or dad wearing baby could be oblivious to any danger because baby is all the way down by mom or dad’s belly button.

(image courtesy of Walmart.com)
ALL bag slings — like the Infantino Slingrider — are so dangerous; they violate every babywearing best practice instruction we babywearing instructors teach:

Baby should be close enough to kiss.
Baby should never have his chin resting on his chest.
Baby’s head should be above the rest of her body.
Baby’s knees should be higher than his butt.
Baby’s face shouldn’t be covered by fabric.
Baby’s head should be supported.

Not only do bag slings — like the Slingrider — defy EVERY SINGLE ONE of these safety musts, they also give reputable ring slings and pouches, like Sakura Bloom ring slings, a bad name.

Can reputable slings be worn less than ideally? Of course! Remember, sometimes carseats are also used drastically wrong, with baby’s chin falling to the chest and restricting little airways.

But reputable carriers are designed so that the wearer can, indeed, adhere to the best practice guidelines {remember, baby should be visible and kissable}. We now also have the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance working with the ASTM to establish a voluntary standard for sling-style carriers that allow wearers to adhere to best practices while wearing their babies.  

And companies who sell sound babywearing products, like Sakura Bloom, send best practice guidelines with their slings that explicitely explain the tennents of babywearing safety.

So while the media circulates news stories about the “dangers” of babywearing that only promote fear without sharing education on best practices on positioning a new baby,  let’s ensure that we babywearing advocates {and carseat-and-swing-safety advocates} pass along information on best positions for newborns and babies inside and outside of carriers.

I think we owe it to all the babies and families out there who have experienced such tragedies as well as those caregivers who would like to remember, honor the beautiful little lives lost as they care for the little ones in their arms.

For more safety and carrier information, visit:
http://www.thebabywearer.com/ or http://www.babywearinginternational.com/

Please note: Baby E is being worn in the tummy to tummy position in a Kimz Kreations ring sling. He is one week old in the first picture and two weeks old in the second. Please be sure to note that the fabric is covering the back of his head in the second picture, but his little nose and mouth are clear of fabric and are tilted up away from his chest.

Hyacynth is a Volunteer Babywearing Educator for Babywearing International of Chicagoland. She writes about mothering, faith and parenting at Undercover Mother.

These stories need space, too

My 13-month-old baby boy’s chest rises and falls, rhythmically against my back as he slumbers while his brother and I collect leaves under a gentle autumn afternoon sun.

It’s been a long day, and Baby E., who is teething has needed extra mommy-care since he woke in a grumpy mood. I’ve been holding him nearly all day, and he’s refused his normal naps and sleeping, leading us further down a path of grumpiness and crying jags.

His big brother, G., has waited as patiently as a 3 year old can wait for attention of his own.

“Look at this biiiiig red one, mommy!” he exclaims. “It’s perfect.”

I squat down next to G. and examine a large Maple leaf that had freshly tumbled from the branches.

“You’re right!” I proclaim. “It IS perfect.”

He plucks the leaf from the cement, puts it in his bag and off we continue down the sidewalk in search of more leaves for our tree project.

As Baby E. quietly snores on my back, G. and I converse about autumn and why we have seasons and how Illinois is so verrry, verrrry far from the equator, which tends to make Illinois verrry, verrry cold in the winter.

A lull in conversation allows my mind to wander as G. bounds down the sidewalk seeking more leaves.

I feel Baby E.’s soft breath and teething-induced drool making a little patch on back damp.

And I feel grateful — grateful that he’s so snug and relaxed pressed against my body even as we merge recklessly into toddlerhood.

I’m comforted by his comfort.

But the reality that grips my heart, sends it soaring into the soft blue sky comes when G. retreats from a pile of leaves, grasps three fingers on my right hand and says, “Mom, I love having leaf walks with you.”

His face is brimming with love.
nd I think to myself, so often we talk about the benefits of babywearing for the child being worn and the person wearing him or her.

But how often do we talk about the many moments babywearing affords the little bigger one who walks alongside of mom, who can easily slip his little hand into one of her free ones so they can walk together?

I love {big fat mushy, overflowing love} the compelling stories my friends shared with the Chicago Tribune reporter who came to interview our Lake County Babywearers members at our International Babywearing Week event — stories of how babywearing eased post-partum depression, helped dad reconnect with his daughter and allowed a working mom the ability to bond with her little man after a long day’s work.

Babywearing boasts such powerful benefits; the Tribune story powerfully highlighted those extraordinary stories.

And parents need to read those stories because they showcase how to be attached caregivers.

But I think the every day, seemingly simple stories of babywearing benefits need a space, too.

So while I know it’s not newsworthy that G. and I went for a walk and connected on a gorgeous fall day, I just wanted share it anyway.

Because sometimes it’s those simple moments that end up changing a really small but important part of the world. And a small but really important heart.

Everyday babywearing: Hostage

There might as well have been bars on our windows and chains on our doors this afternoon.

And as any mother knows, sanity is fleeting and crying fits are abundant when your little ones are stuck in between your four walls when all they want to do is romp outside.

I tried. I really did. I attempted to jail break at least a few times, but every attempt was thwarted by natural disasters {of the minor to moderate level}.

First we tried playing in the back yard; I wanted to take pictures of our garden for my weekly post, G. wanted to “brune” the bushes with his scissors and baby E. wanted to eat dandelions {which is totally fine because did you know dandelion greens are actually, like, good for you?}.

In less than 60 seconds, however, we were swarmed by droves of mosquitoes, and, holy blood sucking crazy, I’m not exaggerating. I had to flail my arms and head like a mad woman trying to exercise the demons while running to the patio door just to get those little vampires off me and the baby.

I conceded in back-yard play, opting instead for the farmer’s market. And then the heavens let loose.

Of course, I’d already promised G. strawberries when it started blowing and pouring.

I told him we’d wait out the weather and go, but his little heart spewed out onto his sleeve in mourning for the strawberries he’d never eat; as the downpour raged on, so did his crying.

I thought about going to the grocery store for strawberries, but with two kids melting down on the floor, I didn’t want to chance a public outing. So I did the only thing I knew to do:

I wrapped the little onto my back tighter than Scrooge clung to his wallet in A Christmas Carol and encouraged the bigger one to strip down to his birthday suit.

For some reason, being naked makes G. happy and being tied up like a rug makes baby E. insanely happy.

And insanely passed out.

I’d say the naked “e-mail” time and the purple hemp wrap saved two certain boys’ afternoon from utter ruin and disaster.

And a lovely phone call from a good friend who shared how nice it was to talk saved a certain mommy’s afternoon from the same dreary fate.

Hyacynth Worth is a babywearing educator and co-leader of the Lake County Babywearers. She blogs about life, motherhood and boys at Undercover Mother. She was not compensated in any way for mentioning the Didymos Indio Hemp wrap. Baby E. was being carried in a rucksack carry.

Sakura Bloom Spread the Love Benefit

Love babywearing? Passionate about introducing new parents to the art of holding their babies close while having their hands free? Huge advocate for slinging your babe?
If you said yes to any of the above, would you consider purchasing a ticket on behalf of the Lake County Babywearers for the Sakura Bloom Spread the Love Benefit?
The tickets are $10 each. Our group could one one of 36 gift certificates to babywearing vendors, which would help us add lovely carrier additions to our lending library. And we have a shot to win a whole slew of Sakura Bloom Ring Slings if our group purchases the most tickets!
If you love and appreciate what our group has done for you in your babywearing journey, would you consider purchasing a ticket and increasing our chances to enhance our babywearing lending library. A whole community of mothers would benefit from more additions to our library. Help us spread the babywearing love.

Babywearing while traveling

My toddler just took his ninth flight on an airplane, which means ultimately, that I’ve been on nine flights with him.
And babywearing has been fabulous during traveling. As a little baby, I wore him in a mei tai through the airport. As a toddler, I wore him in a different mei tai, one with padding, through the airport. Each time it has worked fabulously. When he was a baby and slept most of the time we were in transit, I didn’t need a stroller. Now that he’s a toddler, I take a little umbrella stroller to help carry the carry-on luggage or him if he gets too heavy to wear. But I would not trade my carrier for a stroller ever if I were forced to choose. Because I’ve used all-cloth carriers, I do not have take my son out of the carrier when going through security. Wearing him through security frees my hands to take care of unloading everything under the sun onto the security belt. And while I’m wearing my toddler, he cannot escape or be stolen, which helps me to focus on the security process of separting liquids and electronics from our other stuff while also taking off our shoes, collapsing the stroller and removing anything that could be metal from our bodies.
I also love wearing my son onto the airplane because of the tight aisles we must squeeze through. With him on my back, instead of being carried on my hip, we make it much through more comfortably.
And did I mention the calming effect babywearing has even on a toddler. He is much less likely to put up a fuss or get cranky while being worn than while not being worn.
My personal favorites:
Tiny babies — a pouch (like a Hotsling or Slingling)
Heavier babies and toddlers — a padded mei tai like a Bamberoo or Kindercarry.

What I would avoid:
Any carrier with metal or buckles, because you will have to remove it while going through security.
Wraps because I, personally, like having an easy, quick, in-and-out carrier for the just in case times — especially, now that my son is potty learning.

Happy travels.

Cold-weather babywearing tips

It’s so cold frigid arctic-feeling outside here in lovely suburban Chicago, that I’ve decided to keep Gabe indoors until the mercury in the thermometer inches above zero. But if you do have to venture out into sub-zero temperatures (or even just cold weather), here are some tips for wearing baby in the cold and staying warm together.

*Invest in nice, warm gloves or mittens for both you and baby. Then invest in a warm hat or ear warmers for you. Baby needs either a hat with a chin strap or a snug-fitting hat that’s hard to pull off.
*Put baby in the carrier while you’re in the car. Adjust for comfort and good positioning once you get inside.
*If you wear baby in a front carry, put your coat on over the carrier. It will keep you warm and it will keep baby warm. Don’t worry if it won’t zip over the carrier; your body heat will most likely keep you both warm while you trudge through the parking lot.
*Consider using a ring sling, pouch or soft-structured carrier when the ground is slushy. It’s a little difficult to wrap a wrap or tie on a mei tai in the car; however, it can be done if you are persistent and dedicated. (If you can pre-tie your wrap for carrying a little baby, that’s not too hard to get on in the car.)

Cold-weather babywearing apparel

*An over-sized coat (only works for front carry)

*A poncho (can do front or back carry)
-Do-It-Yourself (http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/poncho.html)
-Mama poncho (http://www.childrensneeds.com/mama_poncho.html)

*A babywearing coat (sometimes restricted to front carry)
-Kindercoat (http://www.suseskinder.com/)
-Peekaru (http://www.togetherbe.com/productDescriptionPeekaruSoftShell.aspx)

Happy warm and cozy babywearing!

Reason number one million why babywearing is fabulous

On days when it looks like this outside

it’s really, really hard to push a stroller.

And if the dog cannot walk in it, there’s no way the toddler will be able to.