Breaking in a woven wrap

There has been lots of discussion lately on how to “break in” a new woven wrap. When you buy a woven brand new, it can come feeling pretty stiff and not to soft. To get it to where it’s soft, floppy and moldable, there’s a couple of things that you can do that will help the process of “breaking in”
When you first get it you’ll want to wash it (please follow the washing instructions for the type of fabric you have)
You’ll also want to dry it, depending on the fabric you may be able to put it in the dryer on low heat. Tossing a few tennis balls in or even shoes inside of socks work as dryer balls. This will help beat in the fabric while it’s drying.
After it’s dry, I like to steam iron my wraps. Again this will help soften your wrap up.
Last but definitely not least, you’ll want to either braid, knot it or use this little trick that a wonderful mama from the babywearer.com does. I especially like using this technique as I feel that it speeds up the process tremendously. I’ve broken in several very stiff wovens this way. Enjoy her video!

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Mundelein’s February Meeting

Mundelein’s morning meeting was alot of fun!  We had alot of new moms with us as well as older members of our group. 

Two of our members: Alisa on the left wearing her son Dominic in a Natibaby Fairytales. And Cassia on the right wearing her daughter Vida in a Natibaby Organic Ecru

We went over the various types of carriers that are used. There are 5 main types of carriers mei tais, ring slings, wraps, pouches and SSCs (soft structured carrier). Within all of these categories are many different brands and types.

Ring Slings: a piece of fabric with rings sewn on one end. Primarily worn on front or side/hip. Can be used for a nursing cover or blanket. Can be worn from newborn on up through toddlerhood.
Popular brands: Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, Sleeping Baby Production

Pouch: a sized tube of fabric. Primarily worn on front or side/hip. Daddy friendly, no fuss, quick and easy, small for diaper bag. These need to be sized, so most likely will need two different ones to fit mom and dad.
Popular brands: Hotsling, Peanut Shell

Mei Tai: rectangular body with two pairs of straps to tie; one for the waist and another over the shoulders
can be worn front, back or side/hip.
Popular brands: Catbird Baby, Kozy, Babyhawk, Freehand

Soft Structured Carrier (SSC): like a mei tai but with buckle style straps. Can be worn front, back and side/hip. Low learning curve
daddy friendly, no fuss, quick and easy
Popular brands: Ergo, Pikkolo, Action Baby Carrier, Beco, Olives & Applesauce

Wraps: a simple piece of cloth that wraps around the wearer to hold the baby. Worn in several carries in front, back and hip. This type has the highest learning curve but is the most versatile.
There are 2 types of wraps; stretchy(4 way stretch) and woven(diagonal give, most supportive)
Popular stretchy brands: Sleepywrap, Anaju and the Moby
Popular woven brands: Didymos, Natibaby, Ellevill, Storchenwiege

 Another very useful website is www.thebabywearer.com. It  can be like information overload at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to navigate.

Rebozo: A beautiful tale on discovering babywearing

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My baby was the one you could hear from down the hall. Doors all along the hallway of the Mother-Baby Unit shut as the nurse brought 5 pounds 2 ounces of scrawny, screaming irritation back to me once again. After a physically uneventful but emotionally draining year, I was completely unprepared for a premature birth, forced labor and botched delivery. Apparently baby was not ready, either.

 
It was weeks before I could sit down, months before I could sit down without pain. Days before baby could latch on, weeks before he wanted to latch. Family came and went before the weather could turn. They marveled at baby’s tiny body and earsplitting voice. I notified the silence where baby’s father had been: “Baby boy born. Mother and baby fine.” I tried to cook and clean for my patient husband, our new marriage trapped in non-verbal infancy and the frustration of novelty: diapers, dryer vents, drugstores, dirt.
 
Nights were measured in one-hour intervals. Days ran into one another strung together by the constant motion of bouncing, moving, swaying, walking around and around in circles on my carpet path. Housebound by doctors’ orders and winter storms I sometimes wore earplugs to dull the constant crying until I, too, became dull.
 
Dull. Alone. Sinking inside. In my more lucid moments I thought this must be punishment for unplanned pregnancy. No friends, no network, no family and no peace. I never registered for baby things thanks to the kind lady at the Pregnancy Center who gave me a crib, a stroller and some maternity clothes. Lacking an periodical subscription a Babies R Us or an internet connection, I did not hear the term “Postpartum Depression” until well after the postpartum stage.
 
Books lived on the nightstands, on the counters, on the edge of the crib. Straight lines of text balanced the erratic daily mood swings, until they joined one day in a black-and-white picture book from 1961 entitled Children and their Mothers. Grainy photos of black and white skin, poverty and prosperity, new world, old world, third world glared starkly in the glow of my nightlight. Mothers from around the world, sad and happy, eating, healing, resting, nursing, working, starving, dying. In homes, hospitals, clinics, hovels and ditches. But the babies! The babies were content, peaceful, unaware of their circumstances. And for every sleepy, drooly, placid baby there was a piece of cloth, a basket, a scarf, a pack which held them up high on their mother’s body.
 
In the morning, after my tired husband left for work, I took a flat sheet and ripped it in half longwise. Looking in the mirror for perhaps the first time in weeks I tried to tie a band around my body, wrapping the length and width around mummy-like. I looked at the tiny body clawing at his blanket on my bed and then at the quantity of fabric wrapped around my middle. Looked at the picture of the African mamas washing sewing cleaning with babies socializing on their backs. Unwound the sheet and picked up now-frantic baby…and stuffed him feet-first into the top of my sports bra.
 
This became our morning exercise routine. Daddy leave for work. Baby wake up again. Mommy frantically strip her shirt off and nurse angry baby, then stuff him semi-upright in her bra and begin walking our carpet path. After a few days, baby quieted after a only minutes of protest, dosing in his tight elastic nest on top of mommy’s chest, all his bony arms and legs folded in, securely held. After a few weeks I got braver. I knew how to do something! I could cook, I could clean, I could help my baby feel better, if only for a few hours.
 
We got braver as the weather worsened and nights began before dinnertime. I half-expected to be stopped by a police car on our first walk around the block. Ma’am, what is that lump under your coat? Just a sleeping baby, warm in his swaddling of shirts and scarves, only the top of his hat visible under my chin. Deep snow, deeper quiet, an hours’ respite from fighting our housebound demons.
 
By spring baby had outgrown his nest. A new internet connection brought news of warmer weather, lists of garage sales and links to baby stores. I dragged out a used Snugli and diaper-pinned the straps back on. Baby objected to this new, open-air insecurity. What luck when I found a “real” sling at Walmart! It was huge–I pushed and pulled the padding through the rings, removed stitching, chopped ends and generally mangled it into submission. Miles, weeks and two aching shoulders later, I found a new website. La Leche led to Jenrose led to Jan Andrea led to my sewing machine and finally a simple pouch sling emerged.
 
We went to the grocery store together, baby, the pouch, and I. The white people stared, the gentleman in the milk aisle shook his head. “What will they think of next? That baby is going to fall out on the floor!” But the old Mexican lady buying bushels of tomatoes adjusted the stretch of fabric across my back with a gap-toothed smile and tucked the edges under baby’s knees. The deli girl told me of her grandmother and her country as plastic-gloved hands mimed tying straps and tucking fabric. “Rebozo?” asked a man sorting oranges, then let loose a torrent of Spanish. “Rebozo?”
 
“Rebozo?” I asked my Spanish-speaking mother a few weeks later. Doubtful about my invention, she was heartened by my combed hair and babbling baby. The wall between us cast shadows in either direction, baby rising every day, the noon sun of compromise. A few months later she returned from a missions trip, thinned and warmed by hotter climate. She handed me two strips of brightly woven cloth with fringe at the ends. The weave was open, the cotton soft and flexible. Meshlike, the scarves stretched and curved around the curve of baby’s peeking face. “Rebozo,” said my mother, as she tied it around baby and I. “Rebozo.”

Marion Scott is wife to a patient man, mother to four youngsters and designer of the CatBird Baby Pikkolo. A babywearing pioneer of sorts here in the area, she’s been wearing her babies intermittently for the past ten years, well before many slings were readily available on the market. She is the liaison for Babywearing International of Chicagoland, our local babywearing group. I’m proud to call her a babywearing mentor and friend.

Wrapping Wednesdays: An in-depth look at the world of Wovens

I’ve decided to talk about wraps on Wednesday from now on!  Everyone who knows me, knows that I love woven wraps!  To me they are the most versatile of all baby carriers. The same woven can take you from wearing a newborn all the way through toddlerhood.  With one long simple piece of cloth, you can carry your little one in a variety of  different positions.

Buying your first woven can feel overwhelming.  There are lots of different brands, different fabrics with all different patterns and colorways.  Then they also come in different sizes.  I’m going to take some time today to explain the different brands, materials, etc.

First sizing, all wovens come in a variety of sizes, the common sizes range from a size 2 (2.7meters) to a size 7 (5.2meters).  The average sized adult can use a size 6 for all carries.  Here’s a chart from Didymos to explain the sizing more http://www.didymos.com/index.php?s=groesse

Next are the different brands.  I’ve tried atleast one of  each of these different brands, so I’m talking from my own personal experiences. 

Didymos– Probably the most popular of wovens out there right now.  German made Didys come in all different fabrics anything from all cotton, linen blends, hemp blends, cashmere, and silk.  They come out with lots of limited editions each year so they are highly sought out.

Natibaby-This is my favorite brand.  These are made in Poland and come in all different fabrics as well all cotton, linen blends, wool and they are the only woven company to use bamboo at this point.  Natibaby wraps tend to be wide, which make for great toddler wraps.  I’ve owned lots of Natis and all of them have been super soft.

Storchenweige– Storches come in stripes and the diamond weaved Leos.  Both are amazingly supportive and will work perfectly from newborn through toddlerhood. 

Ellevill-These come in a couple of different patterns, they have a great texture to them and they are thin to med in thickness.  They are one of the most beautiful wraps in my opinion. 

Hoppediz– These all cotton wraps are super supportive and wrap amazingly well. They come in lots of different colorways and break in nicely (I’ll talk about breaking in another week).  The light Hopps feel like they are made from linen, the regular line Hopps are pretty thick and great for the cold weather. They remind me alot of the Storchenweige stripes.  Older Hopps are thinner and can be amazingly soft and floppy.

Girasol– A favorite among many!  Giras come super soft and flannely feeling.  They are another one that are perfect for newborn snuggles but also strong enough for toddlers. These all cotton wraps come in lot of  beautiful rainbows of color. 

Neobulle– Made in France these wraps are on the thicker side, they are soft and wrap really well.  The all cotton wraps come in a variety of colors and stripes.  The organic ones are super soft and break in very easily.  The regular ones take a bit of work to get them soft.

Vatanai-These are on the thin side and work extremely well for the warmer temperatures.  I find them great for newborns and good for toddlers if you’re using it in a double carry like a Double Hammock or Wrap Cross Carry. They are extremely soft and come in a variety of beautiful colors

Colimacon & Cie– This french made woven is a lesser known brand, they are less expensive but are high quality.  They are very soft and almost feel like a well worn pair of jeans feel.  I’ve owned the turquoise one and the color of it is stunning.

BBSlen-These are one of the widest wraps out there.  Because of this, they are great for toddlers.  They are of medium thickness and take a bit of breaking in, but soften up nicely.

Another thing to take into consideration when purchasing your woven, is the material it’s made out of.  The majority of them are made with 100% cotton.  Some of the brands like Didymos and Natibaby have other cotton blends.  Here are some of the pros and cons to them

all cotton– durable, easy to care for (machine wash and can be thrown in the dryer with low heat) basically an all around great wrap.  Come in thin to thick  

linen blends-these are usually very supportive, easy to care for again, can be of all different thickness

silk blends– I’ve never owned one but the ones I’ve felt are extremely silky soft. 

hemp blends-Didymos has hemp blends they are supportive, med-thick and easy to care for

wool blends-Didymos and Natibaby have wool blends.  These can vary greatly some are extremely soft and cushy, while others are more dense and can take awhile to become soft. 

Hopefully this will help when you are looking at the world of wovens. They vary greatly but there is one thing they all have in common.  They will allow you to carry your baby, be hands free and help create an everlasting bond.

Baby-wearing: Chicago-area group touts benefits of baby-wearing – chicagotribune.com

The LCbabywearers are in the Chicago Tribune.  A reporter came to our IBW week event this past Sunday and talked to several of  our moms.  Enjoy the article!

Baby-wearing: Chicago-area group touts benefits of baby-wearing – chicagotribune.com.

Petunia Pickle Bottom meets Ergo

Came across this blog today, and take a look at the new Ergo coming in Feb 2011. 

Beautiful Babywearing.

Babywearing is…

In honor of International Babywearing Week, I’ve decided to ask members of our group to describe what babywearing is to them in just one sentence.  Babywearing is alot to my family and me;  it’s helped us through colic, medical procedures and sleepless nights. Most importantly, it helped build a never-ending bond between my little guy and me. 

Take a minute to read and enjoy what our members have said.

“Babywearing has helped us become confident, attached parents and has helped us raise confident, attached children.” – Allison

“Babywearing is a whole new part of my life; it’s give me that closeness with my 3rd child that I didn’t think was possible while taking care of our other two young children.” – Casey

“Babywearing helped us become the confident, attached parents we hoped to become and has aided our daughter in learning amazing things by being involved in normal day-to-day activities.” – Sara

“Babywearing is an integral part of my life, allowing me to physically and emotionally connect with both of my children despite other obligations.” – Alisa

“Babywearing gives us the opportunity to be together despite the many demands of being a work-from-home family.” – Corry

‘It means I can attend to an active toddler and fragile newborn at the same time.” -Loralie

“Babywearing helped make us into the attached kind of parents we so desperately wanted to be and aided in shaping our little ones into compassionate souls.” – Hyacynth

“Babywearing has transformed our parenting style and has allowed us to easily comfort our children, meet their needs, accomplish daily tasks, and especially allowed us to more easily travel, camp and hike.” – Heather

“Imagine the easiest, safest, most natural way to nurture a young child – that’s what babywearing means to me.” – Karen

“Babywearing allows us to actively engage our children in outings, adventures, and daily activities without being bogged down by a stroller.” – Megan

“Babywearing has helped us meet many of our children’s needs without putting a stop to our lives.” – Colleen

 “Babywearing has not only allowed me to get chores done while comforting my children but has aided in forming the close bond with my children that I never thought was possible.” – Kate

The other day I was reading a post on facebook that asked this same question, and my favorite answer came from the owner of the store SweetPickles.  She described to me the heart of babywearing  by saying, 

 “Babywearing meant I never had to let go.”