12 May

About Us

BWI-Logo-Stacked-with-TM-300x300Babywearing International, Inc. (BWI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support. The heart of BWI is our network of local chapters which provide free educational meetings and support within their own communities.

We invite you to spend some time getting to know us.

24 Aug

Spicing up your social media content

Does your chapter have a social media presence? How do you reach out to your target audience? How many times do you post every week?

Best Baby Carrier

What is the Best Baby Carrier?

Creating an online presence is very important especially in this day and age where almost everyone uses their cell phones for everything. Research has shown that more people are using their cell phones as the source of news instead of relying to the good ole television. The reason being is cell phones are so much smaller and can be carried everywhere. Not only that, better phone reception and having free Wi-Fi being available almost everywhere make being connected so much easier these days.

The first step to creating a successful online presence is catering to your audience’s needs. Think of who you are producing content for. Your content must push their buttons enough that they’d click on it, and want to respond to your postings. If you produce something that is not interesting to them, then they won’t feel inclined to respond.

This means no shares, ‘likes’ or commenting, even though they may have seen it and saw what you posted. The shares, comments and ‘likes’ are important as they help push your content higher and give it more exposure.

IMG_1362Second, what are you using to create content?

Do you prefer pictures with some words? Are you more comfortable writing essays? Perhaps a short video?

There are various apps that you can use to help with creating content especially if you are pressed for time, such as PicMonkey, VSCOcam, and Phonto. I personally love the app ‘Over’. It is a great app that is very user-friendly and allows me to create a poster in less than five minutes. I am by no means a professional graphic designer, but using this app has helped me create some really cool-looking posters that I can use to advertise events or just random Public Service Announcements (PSAs).

If you are on the computer, using Canva.com is also a great way to create professional-looking content. It’s very easy to use, you can upload your own photos, add text and voila, a cool poster is now ready to be shared with your group.

If you love making short videos, Ripl is a great app that allows you to make short videos that are great to get your points across without being too draggy. You can add pictures, music and animate them.

If you are feeling creative, you can create a video. Upload it to your Facebook group or a YouTube channel, and share it with others. Having subtitles is also a good idea as it allows more people to be able to follow your content.

When writing an essay, add pictures to make your content less dry. You can use photos from members of your group (make sure they have signed the photo release allowing you to use their pictures), or you can also add links for related content to another BWI chapter.

Tasneem, a VBE with BWI of Savannah, helping a caregiver at a meet.

Tasneem, a VBE with BWI of Savannah, helping a caregiver at a meet.

Facebook Live and Periscope allow you to interact in real-time (with some delays) with your viewers, although these two options may not be the most inclusive. If possible, you can have someone who is fluent in American Sign Language to sign or you can also have some sort of written signs up during the live-streaming so your audience can follow your live-stream video.

Last but not least, interact with your audience. If your group has a Facebook group, make sure you post once or twice a day. Answer questions when they are posted, comment on pictures when they are shared, share a funny meme or two.

Woven Wraps Sizing GuideAll these will help create a positive environment that will encourage your members to post and be active in your group, which will help push the content further up in their feed. Not only that, they will feel more inclined to join any events that your chapter plans, which means better participation for you!

Try these steps and let us know how it went!

17 Aug

International Babywearing Week 2016

International Babywearing Week has always been the first full week of October. We have recently been made aware that, this year, the previously announced dates for IBW conflict with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, which begins at sunset on Oct 2. We apologize for the oversight.
In order to give a full week for celebration without also overlapping Yom Kippur, we would like to invite everyone to celebrate officially from October 5th-10th.

Many groups and vendors have been planning their IBW events since the 2016 dates were announced, nearly a year ago. They may have already scheduled activities during October 2nd-3rd, including reserving facilities or planning events which they would be unable to reschedule. IBW 2016 does not include any date-specific activities or theme days, so we encourage chapters and members to plan their events at the times and dates that work best for their membership.

We are also pleased to announce the theme for IBW 2016: Best Seat in the House.IMG_4441

16 Aug

International Babywearing Convention 2018 Location Selection

In response to the questions and concerns raised around the selection process for the 2018 IBC site, we (the BWI Board of Directors) would like to share briefly how this decision was reached.  

There are many aspects to planning a conference the size of IBC and we have learned a lot from the past several conferences, which has allowed us to improve the process each time. 

IBC 2016 had a final attendance of nearly 800 people, more than twice that of IBC 2014, which was itself substantially larger than any previous conference. Given the growth of the babywearing community, we anticipate that IBC 2018 will be at least as large as this year’s conference if not larger.   Going into the IBC 2018 selection process, it was clear that it would be important to have a strong team comprised of local and national volunteers and that it would be imperative to identify and book an appropriate venue space during summer 2016.

The IBC 2018 selection process drew heavily on experiences learned during the selection and planning of IBC 2016.  We are listening to the comments, suggestions, and concerns that have been raised and we will be incorporating them into the site selection process for 2020.  

The Board of Directors created the IBC 2018 bidding process.  We consulted past IBC chairs with the knowledge that their experience could inform improvements in our process.

The IBC 2018 selection committee was comprised of the BWI Board of Directors, the members of the BWI Chapter Support Committee, and chairs from prior IBC committees.  This was the group that had been tasked with the decision in the past.  The selection team members represented BWI’s governance and logistics branches and were already bound by a Non Disclosure Agreement thus ensuring confidentiality.   

One flaw in the bid process for IBC 2016 was that we did not require bidders to include specifics that would be needed to book an appropriate venue immediately upon selection. Because of this and other delays in the planning process, we didn’t secure a site until well after the 2016 city was announced. It was extremely difficult to find a venue in the greater Atlanta area that could accommodate the size of the conference, was within our budget, and was easily accessible by public transportation.  The late start meant having to accept a venue that was not as easily accessible for public and air transit as the committee would have liked.   The deadline for the IBC 2018 process was set so that the winning bid would have two years out from the date of IBC 2018 to secure the venue.

The IBC 2018 bid process was announced via email to all BWI chapters and promoted via Facebook. The bidding process required that interested cities submit a preliminary form with information on their city, the babywearing groups nearby, transportation options, and more.  Once that was received we asked for additional information for each city including a specific proposal from a venue they would recommend, conference team résumés, and a detailed budget.  The package was intentionally detailed both to give the selections committee enough information to make an informed decision and to reflect the amount of work and attention to detail required to successfully manage the local ground team for the conference.  

Of the six cities that submitted preliminary forms, two submitted nothing further and did not respond to requests for additional information.  Two cities, Des Moines and Boston, submitted complete bids.  Two more cities, Bay Area and Minneapolis/St. Paul, submitted incomplete bids and were asked to submit additional information.  

Ultimately Minneapolis/St. Paul did submit a completed bid and was included in the group of three finalists.  In response to concerns raised during the discussion process they also submitted a second possible venue for consideration.  

Bay Area was contacted to complete their bid and was aware of what was needed but did not submit the requested information.  The selection committee discussed providing additional time and assistance in order to have a bid to consider from the west coast but there were several factors that led the committee to decide that even a revised bid would not have been viable including a Food and Beverage minimum of nearly $200,000 (about 3 times what was spent at Atlanta) and 90% attrition rate on hotel rooms (10% more than Atlanta and a substantial financial liability).  Because we were unable to get additional information with which to review this bid and all of the available information was sufficient to indicate that the conference could not afford, financially, to select Bay Area, the bid was eliminated before the final voting.  

All three groups who submitted complete bids had representatives included in the final rounds of discussion to answer questions raised by the selection committee; however, representatives from the bidding chapters were excluded from voting and from the final portions of the discussion.

Among the remaining finalists, (Des Moines, Boston, and Minneapolis/St. Paul) all bids had positives and negatives.  We considered a broad range of factors including the proposed venue and its suitability to our needs, overall travel costs (flying or driving), the number of potential attendees within driving distance, city walkability scores, available public transit, local restaurant capacity, things to do within walking distance, distance to/from the airport, the diversity of the city’s population, the city’s interest as a vacation destination and options to extend the trip into a full family vacation.  We considered the résumés of the planning team and the leadership capacity of the local group submitting the bid knowing from previous experience how hosting IBC can put a strain on a local chapter.  Above all, we considered each of these elements as it related to the accessibility of the conference with the goal to make IBC 2018 as inclusive as possible.  Ultimately Des Moines was selected as having the best combination of these factors together with a strong and enthusiastic local planning team.  

Selecting a conference site is a delicate balancing act.  There was no “perfect” option, but the 2018 IBC Committee will work to make the conference an enjoyable, inclusive, and safe experience for all attendees. We learn more from each conference, and by moving to a national leadership structure, we are better able to retain that institutional knowledge and build on it year over year.  

A contract has been signed with the Iowa Events Center and we look forward to welcoming the babywearing community to come together once again in Des Moines for IBC 2018.  Valid concerns have been raised and we will work to address as many of them as possible over the course of the next two years.  If you have anything you specifically want to share with the IBC 2018 committee please email ibc@babywearinginternational.org or board@babywearinginternational.org. The IBC Committee is currently taking a much-needed break to rest and to wrap up loose ends from the 2016 IBC but the 2018 Planning Committee will be open to new members in September and we hope many of those who enjoyed IBC 2016 or who have thoughts on how to improve the event will consider applying!

29 Jul

Air travel and babywearing

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Traveling to South East Asia with a toddler – babywearing helps a lot!

Traveling with small children can be daunting, but babywearing makes the whole experience less scary. Last summer I traveled with my almost-2-year-old alone to South East Asia to visit family, and got quite a few comments wondering how I managed to do that by myself.

My answer: I babywear!

If you have a toddler, you will know that they run and they run very fast! As short as those legs are, my son can disappear in less than two seconds — a scary moment for me as a parent.

So any time we are at a public place where it is crowded with many nooks and crannies for him to hide in, I always wear him, either on my front or my back. Mind you, with him being almost 30lbs doing a front carry is not easy, but it helps him nap so can’t argue with that!

For more info on air travel and babywearing, here is a great blog post by BWI of Tucson:

Air Travel and Babywearing

05 Jul

The Best of TBW: International Babywearing Conference

In this installment of The Best of TBW, I want to share about the history of International Babywearing Conference. This biannual event was first conceptualized and brought to life by members of TBW and over the last ten years, IBC has become a highly anticipated educational opportunity for educators, vendors and hobbyists alike. In this post I will share some of the highlights and events from each of the past five conferences unique and memorable. As you are about to see, IBC isn’t your average con experience.

Portland, Oregon. August 3 – August 6, 2006

“The first International Babywearing Conference will be held August 3-6, 2006, at Reed College. (http://www.babywearingconference.org)
The conference is a first-ever gathering of baby sling and carrier manufacturers, vendors, advocates, educators and parents from around the world. It is a truly unique event and looks to be a great learning opportunity for locals and visitors alike. An effort of the brand new and rapidly growing nonprofit organization, Nine In, Nine Out (NINO), www.nineinnineout.org , the conference is a four day combination of trade show, educational conference and fan convention.”

The Portland conference was organized by Jennifer “Jenrose” Rosenberg and it offered four tracks; Sewing, Teaching, Advocacy and Business. Also offered were a variety of breakout sessions on subjects such as breastfeeding and babywearing and the science of babywearing. Portland set out to create an education based conference experience and that tradition is upheld today as IBC2016 includes many sessions that offer IBCLC and ANCC contact hours for healthcare professionals.

Chicago, Illinois. June 25 – 28 2008

The secosquare (2)nd annual IBC was hosted in Chicago Illinois at DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus. This conference counted approximately 200 attendees from over 10 different countries and over 30 exhibitors. IBC2008 offered lots of educational sessions and introduced a now popular event – the babywearing fashion show, with more than 60 different carriers and accessories modeled. IBC2008 inspired this thread on TBW all about Mei Tai tweaks.

Rigby, Idaho. June 8 – June 12, 2010

The third annual IBC was hosted in Rigby Idaho, by the Idaho Babywearers. This conference set out to reduce the costs and make attending the conference as accessible as possible. Idaho offers a lot of wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities and this conference took full advantage of that – with a memorable trip to Yellowstone National Park. The keynote address was given by Kelley Mason. Check out Idaho’s session list. Idaho did a fantastic job at hosting a unique and memorable conference.

Washington, DC. June 28 – July 2, 2012logo

For the fourth annual IBC, babywearers headed to our Nation’s Capitol – Washington DC, and hosted by BWI of DC, MD, VA. With attendance reportedly around the 300 mark, the conference was growing. The Keynote speaker Rachel Coleman of Signing Time. Check out this fun thread talking about the attendees favorite moments from IBC2012.

Tempe, Arizona. July 17 – July 20, 2014

Held at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and Conference center, Arizona hosted the fifth annual IBC and brought fun (in the very hot) sun to conference. One of the most talked about sessions at IBC2014 was the “baby-making” session where participants made demo dolls. Check out the photo thread from IBC2014. The Keynote Speaker was Sherry Payne, MSN RN, CNE, IBCLC, CD(DONA) who presented on “Head Wrapping and Babywearing: Using African Traditions to Build Health Equity.” There was also a special guest speaker, Henrik Norholt, PhD. chief science officer at Ergobaby, Inc. Some sessions of IBC2014 were recorded and can be viewed here.

References:
http://thebabywearer.com/forum/threads/babywearing-conferences-master-links-list.541662/
http://www.urbanmamas.com/urbanmamas/2006/07/babywearing_con.html
http://www.greenparentchicago.com/2008/06/babywearing-conference-comes-to-chicago.html
http://www.trageschule.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Tragezeitung_01_2008_10.pdf
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-2012-international-babywearing-conference-draws-300/2012/07/02/gJQAJzOGJW_gallery.html

 

25 Jun

A Statement on Rebozos

Babywearing International has been eagerly following recent conversations in the babywearing community around the world regarding the use of the term “rebozo” in babywearing education.
A rebozo is “A fringed shawl that is a traditional female garment in Mesoamerican* culture, used for a variety of purposes including labor/childbirth support, goods carrier, and baby carrier.” (from Glossary of  Babywearing Terms). Rebozos are often handwoven fabrics passed down through families and imbued with great significance. From the 1960’s through the 1980’s, as babywearing became popular in Western parenting, many traditional carriers were observed, copied, modified, and commercialized by companies in Europe and the United States. In Germany, imported rebozo shawls from Mexico and Central America inspired the start of the Didymos woven wrap company. In English language usage, the word “rebozo” came to mean many things which were not in fact rebozos, including shorter length wraps, wraps tied at the shoulder, and a wrap pass going from the caregiver’s shoulder to under the arm without passing between the child’s legs.
In recent weeks, many babywearers have begun discussing and actively trying to correct this usage. There have been excellent conversations in the Facebook Groups CCBW Reviews and Base Love regarding the use of the term “rebozo” and possible alternatives. This has also led to a campaign known as #TakeBackTheRebozo in which babywearers of Mesoamerican* heritage have been exploring their connections to the rebozo through personal heritage. For many caregivers, wearing a baby in a rebozo is a way of participating in the living history of parenting in their own families and celebrating a cultural tradition passed down through the generations. For others, it is a way of reconnecting with a history that was interrupted or lost.
Babywearing International strongly supports these efforts to correct the use of the word “rebozo” in the babywearing community. We recognize the impact of cultural appropriation on the use of this term and support a move towards terminology that appreciates and celebrates rather than appropriates and erases. We also recognize that finding new terminology is both a challenge and an ongoing journey. Babywearing International would like to engage in ongoing conversations regarding these terms. As consensus develops within the babywearing community, we will update the language in all of our educational materials and documents.

We want to say a huge thank you to the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee members who drafted this statement which is fully supported by the board of directors.

-Babywearing International

*We first published this article with incorrect information. We had said Latin America/Latinx instead of Mesoamerican. We are sorry for this error. Rebozo is specific to Mesoamerican culture and Mesoamerican decedents.

06 Jun

The importance of lending libraries

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A lending library waiting to be sorted.

Finding a carrier that works for you can be a daunting process, especially if you are just dipping your toes into the wonderful world of babywearing. With so many different types of carriers available these days, choosing your first can be understandably, rather confusing and a tiny bit scary. Worry not, a lending library may be the answer to your babywearing conundrum!

BWI of Savannah uses rolling suitcases to house its lending library, making it easier to bring to meets. — Pic credit BWI of Savannah

BWI of Savannah uses rolling suitcases to house its lending library, making it easier to bring to meets. — Pictures credit BWI of Savannah

What is a lending library, you might ask?

A lending library is a library with various types of carriers that you can try and as a member, check out for a duration of time, just like you would with books at a traditional library. Most Babywearing International chapters have their own lending libraries in varying sizes, depending on the area they serve and the number of members they have.

Big or small, a lending library is usually staffed by volunteer babywearing educators, and is a wonderful way to try different types of carriers. It is a great way to try before you buy, especially if you are carrier-curious but may not want to spend the money on something you might end up not liking very much.

I first went to a babywearing meet when my son was about three months old. My elder sister had used a ringsling with her children, so that was my first choice to use once my son arrived. I was however intrigued by woven wraps, but thought they looked a little too complicated for me to learn how to use one on my own.

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Attending our first BWI meet and learning how to wrap.

So off to Facebook I went, and found out that there was a local babywearing group near me. I went to a meet and the educators helped me find something that worked for me.

Having that hands-on help was really important as they gave me pointers on how to wear my son correctly and safely. That really boosted my confidence and made me feel a lot more confident when wrapping my son at home.

Not only that, a lending library also acts as a learning library and are essential in any outreach efforts. Sometimes babywearing groups hold outreach programs, and having various style carriers in the lending library allows them to demonstrate how each carrier is used.

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VBE Mikaela and VBE Danielle at an outreach program.

Having several carriers in different sizes means options for its members, and this is important as carrier preferences may vary from one person to the next. It is essential that you try and find one that works for you — instead of going with what is popular — as what works for one person may not work out for you.

Chapter volunteers are not only responsible for running instructional meets but also keep up the maintenance of the lending library. Usually each chapter will have its own librarian, who keeps an eye on all things related to the lending library like keeping tabs of late carriers, but the other volunteers will usually pitch in to help with the library maintenance.

This includes making sure all carriers are tagged properly, checking them to see if there are any flaws and if they need replacing as well as keeping abreast with the current safety standards to ensure only safe carriers are kept in the library. Based on feedback from members, chapter volunteers also work on getting new carriers added and retiring old ones to ensure there is a growth to the lending library as well as keeping it relevant.

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VBE Abbie putting carriers into the inventory list.

So if you have a carrier than you don’t use anymore, instead of donating them to a thrift store, why not find a local lending library and donate your carrier to them. As BWI is also a registered non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible, so you can request for a tax donation receipt whenever and if you do donate carriers to them.

  • All pictures courtesy of BWI of Savannah.
30 May

Babywearing Adventures – Summer Festivals

It’s warming up, and that means it’s time for outdoor festivals and all the babywearing that comes with them. I’ve often found that these events are crowded and on rough terrain. That makes strollers tough. And kiddos who get over-stimulated on crowds may also want to be held close. So babywearing is a great way to get through the events!

mesh rs sun hat sleeping

Don’t think you NEED to go by a specific carrier for summer. You can make what you have work. But…You will get sweaty! Your baby will get sweaty! But that’s OK. Summer is hot! Summer is sweaty! Strapping another human to you is hot and sweaty! Keep these tips in mind:

thermoregulation when babywearing

  • NEVER use an ice pack either directly or covered to cool baby. Ice can burn the skin after 20 minutes on adults, and a shorter time period in babies or children.
  • DO keep both baby and wearer hydrated by frequently drinking liquid.
  • DO stay out of the sun.
  • DO keep as much skin uncovered as possible. Bare skin will help the body cool itself.
  • DO wear baby in a carrier that is breathable or made of breathable fabric,
  • In dry climates, DO wet baby’s garments to assist in cooling.
  • As always, use your best judgment! If the wearer or the baby are too hot, take the baby out of the carrier and cool down.
  • You may also want to refer to some tips from the Beach Babywearing post.

In we cannot get out of the sun, I also make sure to have a hat for myself and/or baby (a wide brim hat for me will cover him some as well). I will also dress baby in UV protected clothing such as rash guard swim tops or UV treated baby legwarmers if possible. Make sure you both have eye protection.

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A wide brimmed hat on baby protects her head and eyes. Long sleeves in a light color protect her arms.

Personally, ring slings of any fabric are my favorite summer carrier. Being single-shoulder and single-layer, they are about as cool as you can get when strapping a tiny human to you. But if you don’t like ring slings or don’t have one, use what works for you!

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Sun hat and ring sling, allowing mom to carry stuff while staying relatively cool

If you have an older kid who may want up and down multiple times, pick a carrier that you can accommodate that with. So maybe don’t whip out your fanciest wrap carry with a base +1 light colored wrap in the muddy parking lot, winkwink.

soft structured carriers are great for easy parking lot ups!

soft structured carriers are great for easy parking lot ups!

If you have multiple kids who may want up, bringing a carrier and a stroller that will both work for both kids is a great way to be able to switch out based on changing needs during the day.

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An Ergo and a stroller that will work for both kids!

As far as sunscreen, your favorite sunscreen should work just fine. Just make sure to rub the sunscreen in well so that it doesn’t leave white marks all over the carrier (especially for more natural zinc-based sunscreens) and be familiar with your carrier’s washing instructions should you need to toss it in the wash. You will likely need to wash (either spot clean or full wash) your carriers more during the hot summer months!

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Thanks to all the Babywearing International of Southern Maryland members who shared photos for this post!

 

 

16 May

Chapter Highlight: BWI of Savannah

slingers leader pic

groupphoto10-9In Savannah, Georgia, with two military bases nearby, a babywearing group was started by some friends who enjoyed wearing their children in April of 2012. The founder, GeorgAnna Wiley, who was part of a sling group in the United Kingdom, decided once she got back to the United States to share her love of babywearing. On June 23, 2013, they affiliated and became BWI of Savannah.

The group serves Savannah and its surrounding areas, which could be up to thirty miles away. Towns served include Pooler, Richmond Hill, Fort Steward/Hinesville, Bluffton (South Carolina) and Rincon. They have four instructional meetings per month, with their Saturday meeting being the most popular.

Since the area has two military bases, most of the leaders of BWI of Savannah are military spouses. This means that the turnover is quite high and can be a challenge, with new people always coming and going. The current group of leaders includes a mix of moms who work in and outside the home, a homebirth midwife, an engineer, teachers, and moms who love photography, Pinterest, and Doctor Who.

Back in February, the group had a carrier petting zoo, which had a great turnout. Over 40 IMG_5883carriers were loaned by members, as well as some library carriers. Folks came to “pet” and play with the carriers. Then, back in March, they had a back wrapping workshop, which also had good attendance. The group plans to hold similar educational and fun events in the future, as well as a quarterly fundraiser to help grow their library.

Their advice for other BWI chapters or unaffiliated babywearing groups is to have an off-topic group. They believe this is a great way to make friends, especially in a military community. Having an off topic group allows members to chat about other things and plan play dates, and keep the chatter in the main group specifically babywearing related.

To find out more about this chapter, you can check out their blog, Facebook page, join their Facebook group or follow them on Pinterest. You can also follow them on Twitter @bwiofsavannah or Instagram with the same name.