IBW Bash Gold Sponsor Highlight: Marsupial Mamas

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Marsupial Mamas is a store that sells a large variety of baby carriers and babywearing accessories. The store is an online store but one of the lovely ladies behind the store happens to be local to us. Not only is she local, but Tabitha is one of the founding members of our babywearing group! Tabitha now works with another local chapter, Babywearing International of North Central Illinois, but she will always hold a special place in all our hearts. The other ladies behind Marsupial Mamas, Jilliane and Jennifer, live elsewhere around the US. Marsupial Mamas has often helped to support our chapter, giving us discounts on carriers for our library, or in this case, donating carriers to us to be raffled off at our bash on Saturday!

 

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Keep an eye on the Facebook page for Marsupial Mamas too because you can often find amazing sales going on, such at this one in honor of International Babywearing week!

 

Thank you for the Goodies!

We’re gearing up for International Babywearing Week (IBW), and life is pretty hectic for our group right now.  We actually have 9 events planned over 6 days next week!  Can you believe it?  All of our events are listed on our blog calendar HERE.  And we did a preliminary post HERE.  We have gotten two packages in the mail from BWI recently, and we don’t want to forget to say THANKS!

THANKS BWI, Moby Wrap, Boba, Slingrings.com, and Comfy Joey!

We are a large group, and we actually have a really nice lending library.  But we also have a lot of members who borrow the carriers frequently, and get great use out of their optional membership, so we see a lot of wear and tear from use on them.  Between the 4 libraries and around 8 monthly meetings, we’re often running carriers from leader to leader before meetings, to ensure we have adequate carriers for folks to try on at the free meetings!  We are really, really thankful for donations of carriers for the library.  We appreciate the support as we all help support one another in this parenting (and caregiving) journey.

A few weeks ago, we were sent 3, count them 3 Boba carriers!  Boba was kind enough to make a HUGE donation to BWI that was distributed throughout the chapters.  We are really grateful for these carriers.  We get a ton of requests for Boba carriers in our group, so this was a welcomed package at my doorstep.  We received:

  • A black Boba stretchy wrap
  • A striking blue Boba Air carrier
  • A very gender neutral “Safari” Boba version 3G carrier

Much of our group had never seen a Boba Air in person, so we’re excited to hear the feedback from our group on it!  They are very well made and well loved carriers.  You can find more information about them HERE.

Here’s a quick photo:

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Then today, low and behold, another package arrived from BWI.  It contained carriers that were donated from sponsors of this year’s IBW Celebration.

Today’s box contained these fun goodies:
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We received:

  • A black MobyGo carrier with a very pretty pattern called “Barberry”.
  • A few reusable bags that say “International Babywearing Week 2013 Get Carried Away!” and have logos for peace, love, and babywearing.
  • A few coupons included for online retailers, as well as pamphlets that we can give to new attendees at meetings.  (I know a few of you missed those recently while we waited for more to arrive).
  • Multiple sizes and pairs of slingrings, that we can use with woven wraps to show caregivers additional versatility of wraps, with variations on standard and nonstandard carries.
  • Last but not least, a beautiful gray Comfy Joey linen ring sling in “Storm Gray” that has a gorgeous tail accent in “Surf Blue”.

Comfy Joey is Extra Awesome!

We also have an extra thank you for Comfy Joey.  They gave a number of lending libraries a 50% discount to purchase carriers this summer.  We purchased 3 ring slings, one of each type.  We bought:

  • A royal blue water mesh ring sling
  • A toddler width linen sling (Sipadan Island- teal green linen)
  • A regular width linen sling (Sullivan’s Bay- sea green linen)

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Here are two of our members rocking CJ ring slings. 😉

If you’d like to find out more information about any of these carriers or accessories, here are the websites that can help you.  We’d also LOVE it if you thanked them for their generosity!

Boba:   http://www.bobafamily.com
Moby:  http://www.mobywrap.com/mw/Home.htm
Slingrings:  http://www.slingrings.com
Comfy Joey:  http://www.comfyjoey.com/index.php

Stay Tuned!

The next week or two will be a flurry of fun activities and information!

Mundelein Meeting Changes

Group Growth

It’s no secret that we’ve been outgrowing the space at Cygnus for the monthly morning meeting in Mundelein.  As our group has grown we’ve been evaluating options for the Mundelein Meeting.  This is a good problem to have, but a problem none the less.  The meetings have gotten so busy that it has become overwhelming for some of us as leaders, so we can only imagine how overwhelming it can be for new parents!

(Now, granted, this ring sling photo isn’t the best (the rings could be down lower and the shoulder a little farther out) but the photo shows from one end of the Cygnus meeting space to the other.  I think I put my younger boy up to show how you could still wear a 3 year old in a ring sling.  This was my handy dandy Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP) ring sling wrap conversion made from BB Slen Passion Fruit….)

We love the space and kind accommodations at Cygnus.  Jeanne has hosted our meeting since long before the Lake County Babywearers and Slingers merged almost 2 years ago.  It’s a free, available space, with toys and close restrooms.  Jeanne, thanks SO MUCH for letting us meet at your spot.

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Scheduling through libraries is actually a little bit of work that adds up all year round… figuring out schedules, not having a consistent time, asking and waiting for the ok, only being able to schedule 2-3 months in advance, needing someone with a card (and at some locations that person has to open/close the room), and constantly updating our group info with new events.  Having a standing meeting is REALLY convenient for leaders.  To try and keep that convenience and better meet the needs of new parents, we’re going to make some changes.

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Trying something new

We have an early afternoon meeting in Gurnee, and an evening meeting in Grayslake, and both of these locations are pretty close to the Mundelein meeting.  Hopefully, if the Mundelein changes don’t work with your schedule,  one of the other two might be a good substitute.

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The standing meeting at Cygnus the SECOND friday morning of every month will continue, but it will become more of a “Babywearing 101” meeting.  The library will be available, and we will focus on more of the basics, safety, different types of carriers, general questions.  We want parents to bring the carriers they have, and we will help them get more comfortable.  This “101” meeting is targeted for new parents or parents who are just learning about baby carriers and are looking for basic information or help with a carrier they own.  It may be helpful to come to the more basic 101 meeting a few times before moving to the playdate based meeting.

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The hope for this “101” meeting is that it will be a little calmer, a little *teeny* bit quieter, and a better environment for new parents that won’t be quite so overwhelming.  This meeting will be 1.5 hours, to accommodate leader schedules.

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A few parents from meetings at Cygnus, who were still early on in their babywearing journey, who would have benefitted from this new format:

(Sakura Bloom, Moby Wrap, Gypsymama Breeze, and Angelpack SSC featured here)

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Playdate based?

We are going to add a second Mundelein meeting for the THIRD Friday of every month. This meeting will be more playdate based, and targeted for folks who have already been to a meeting, and heard the general info at LEAST once, but preferably a number of times.  The hope for this meeting, is that it will be more playdate based, more peer-to-peer learning, and less “talking” from leaders.

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Let’s be honest, some of the regulars who have come to a year or two of meetings really don’t need or want to hear about an open airway for the 25th time.   Unless they want to step up into a leadership position… but we’ll talk more about that in a post in the near future.

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The playdate based meeting will probably be a better option for folks who don’t get scared off by excited toddlers and preschoolers, and want to revel in some babywearing geekery.  We will start off having this at Cygnus. If we outgrow Cygnus we will look for an alternate location.

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Normal Meeting Information

Meetings:  Our meetings are ALWAYS free.  Parents and caregivers are ALWAYS free to try out the carriers we bring to the meetings.  If you would like to support our group and become an official BWI Member, with privileges to borrow carriers between meetings, a 30.00 optional membership is available for a 12 month period.

The lending library will be available at both meetings.

If you *can’t* come to the meeting that best fulfills your needs, you are free to come to the alternate meeting.  We’d rather have you come to the alternate meeting than not come at all.  We’re just trying this option out to see if it helps everyone as much as it will help leaders.Please note: though this meeting is held at a lactation office, babies and children who are fed by both formula and breast milk are always welcomed.  We can teach you how bottle feed in a carrier just as easily as we can teach you how to nurse in a carrier.  Jeanne Cygnus provides her meeting space to our group for free and we appreciate the availability.

A Generous Donation

THANK YOU ACTION BABY CARRIERS!

This summer, a leader of our group contacted Action Baby Carriers to request carrier support for our lending libraries.  Our group has grown dramatically, and we’ve struggled to keep up with the requests.  As we’ve grown, our lending library has been split into 5 different sections based on meetings/leaders and the great distances between them.

We currently have one older version Action Baby Carrier (ABC) in our library, so it wasn’t available to as many parents at meetings.  They’re a fantastic, affordable carrier, and they’ve been severely under-represented in our group.

That under-representation is about to END.  We were SO excited to receive this yesterday:

 

That excitement grew as the box was opened.  We are completely BLOWN AWAY and GRATEFUL for the box that arrived this weekend!  It was more than we ever expected.

 

The folks at ABC were kind enough to send us not one, or two carriers.  They sent us 5 carriers!  That is one for EACH of our lending libraries.  What that means is that ALL the parents coming to a meeting, regardless of which location, will get to try these on as options if they’re looking for a new buckle carrier.

And the toddler and preschooler in the room were super excited too!  They couldn’t wait to help mom take them out of the box.

ABC’s are made right next door in Michigan.  Their website has a neat page called “See inside the carrier” that shows the interior construction.  You can see all the product features on their website here.

My favorite features are that it folds pretty compactly, the sleeping hood is easy to use, when worn on the front you have the option to wear backpack style or criss cross style.  Not all carriers offer criss-cross style straps (meaning the straps can be unlatched and switched for a different weight distribution), that the hip belt adjusts from 28″ to 53″, so it’s a bit more welcoming to parents of different sizes.

Photo Opportunities

We can’t wait to get some great pictures of these carriers and get them into the libraries.  Next time you visit a meeting, don’t be surprised if we ask you for a photo opportunity.  That photo might just end up on this website (wink, wink).  We’re looking forward to sharing the benefits of wearing children in carriers with you, and these are a great addition to that endeavor.

Thanks again-

BWI of Chicagoland

Finding the Buckle Love

(Sibling Babywearing)

Soft Structured Carriers

We get a lot of questions in our group about different types of carriers, and today I wanted to talk a little about Soft Structured Carriers (also known as SSC’s or buckle carriers). I think one of the greatest benefits for babywearing families is that SSC’s are really daddy friendly. We find they appeal to a lot of the guys who come to our meetings. I tried to get my husband to use a wrap for quite a while… and then I realized, no way, that just WASN’T going to happen. But he thought the SSC, that looked similar to his hiking backpack, was worth a try. The first time I got him into the Ergo Sport, he was hooked. I don’t think he ever looked back to the “other” carrier he had used before then.

(Daddy Babywearing- not my hubs 😉













Very often, a caregiver tries on one good quality, wide based carrier (one well known brand to think of is an Ergo), likes it, buys it, and finds it suits their needs from birth through toddlerhood. But what happens if another caregiver in the house tries on the same carrier and just can’t get a good fit? What can they do then? Why would that happen?


Like a Pair of Jeans

Thinking of buckle carriers and how they fit always makes me think of jeans. Not all jeans are created equal- especially post baby. Some may fit, but just feel “eeh”. Some may feel ok, but are a little tight or loose somewhere important (like the waist or tush), or too short or long. They may do the job ok, but you wouldn’t lose sleep if they suddenly got stained, ripped, or painted on by the kids.

SSC’s can be the same way. For someone average height, average weight adult, with no health problems, and possibly an average bosom, the first SSC they find may fit comfortably- and they don’t need to look any further. For some folks though, it’s not love at first wear. It can be more an adventure into trial and error to find your “perfect fit”.

Luckily, there are a lot of really great, easily accessible, safe brands out there that you can try until you find one you love. You can always borrow or trade among your friends (and online friends) so it’s not necessary to buy 10 SSC’s to find one you love!

If you talk to 10 different babywearers, you’ll likely get at least 5 different answers on which is “the best”. Avid babywearers sometimes have strong opinions on the matter. I have been known to fall into this category myself on occasion. 🙂



















Differences You’ll Find

There are many great safe brands of SSC’s on the market, and you’ll find a lot of differences in:

  • Waist padding- how thick, how wide, different materials inside
  • Waist shape- straight or curved, 1 part, 3 part that can fold down when not in use
  • Waist size- some brands cinch down smaller for more petite parents, some brands expand for more fluffy parents
  • Shoulder padding and shape- some have thicker, denser padding for the wearer, some with memory foam inside, Some have more straight padded straps,while some are more contoured or curved
  • Shoulder strap length- a few brands have shorter or longer straps than the most common “average” length, and some brands make specially sized “petite” or “plus” straps
  • Hood features- detachable with velcro or snaps, or constantly hanging in view, or attached and hidden when not in use
  • How the hood attaches to the carrier when in use- with a toggle, snaps, velcro, carabiner, etc.
  • Single or dual adjust straps- meaning can you pull to tighten from either direction or one direction only
  • Body shape- Some have seat darts or multi part shapes, some are more square or rectangular shaped, while some are wider at top and base, and narrower in the middle
  • Padding- some have padding near the knees, some don’t
  • Adjustability for littler babies- a few brands out there can be “cinched down” to better accommodate smaller babies with their legs out in a seated squat position
  • Infant inserts- some brands have attached, detachable, or separate infant inserts that can help the wearer get a comfortable, safe fit with their infant. As the babies get bigger, the infant inserts are typically removed or just not used anymore
  • Size of the carrier body- A few brands have multiple sizes of the carrier body to wear larger children more comfortably… if the caregiver wants to try that.


Disclaimers and Resources

Now, I need to make a quick disclaimer here. It is by no means necessary to have 5 carriers, or 5 types of carriers. Do I personally have more than 5 carriers…. um, yes, guilty here. That is because I love babywearing and have prioritized it above shoes, purses, and other accessories that others may enjoy.  It’s really easy to have one or two carriers for your family, and they can meet your needs from birth through the end of your babywearing days.  And if you are on a tight budget, there are some great DIY carriers that you can  make if you are craftier than I am. 🙂  

If you’re still looking for your “perfect fit” SSC, I encourage you to find a local babywearing group, or online support. One great resource is Babywearing International (but of course!!). Another is a popular website/forum called TheBabyWearer.  

Babywearing International: http://www.babywearinginternational.org/

TheBabyWearer:  http://www.thebabywearer.com/

Both of these sites have great resources that can help you find the buckle love. Good luck!!

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.