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.

25 Jan

The Best of TBW: Asian Style Carriers

In 2006, a Babyhawk mei tai was my very first carrier purchase after joining TBW. Mei tais have remained one of my favorites carrier types because they are comfortable and easy to use. In this third installment of The Best of TBW series, I will discuss the influence that Asian Style Carriers have had on the babywearing community and share some classic threads from TBW about the Mei Tai and two of its popular cousins, the podaegi and the onbuhimu. Read More

18 Jan

Educator to Educator – Transporting a Lending Library

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FB_IMG_1452633830770There is one thing I know to be an absolute truth in the babywearing world: we take our baby carrier lending libraries very seriously. They not only serve as a teaching and research tool for caregivers, but also as a cost effective means of borrowing a carrier as an alternative to buying. For chapters who choose to maintain a lending library as an extension of the babywearing support and education they provide, an abundance of time and resources are invested in building them. An extension of that investment is special consideration for how the library is protected and transported between meetings. The best method of storage and transport will depend on library size,  distance between meeting locations, and other criteria unique to each chapter. Read More

11 Jan

Chapter Highlight: BWI of the Twin Cities

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11652093_10106367029249193_1556517967_nHello and Happy New Year! My name is Christina Owen and I’ve been writing the BWI chapter highlights for some time now. Because it felt kind of like cheating, or like I’m bragging; I haven’t written about my own chapter. I’m supposed to write about the other chapters! But today, I’m going to highlight my own chapter, BWI of the Twin Cities. Admittedly, I’m still in a holiday fog, but the truth of the matter is; my chapter is awesome and it deserves to be highlighted too – so here we go!

Babywearing International of the Twin Cities affiliated in June of 2013. Before that, we weren’t a group. We started from scratch. At that time, there were no rules that said you had to have an established group in order to affiliate, so we affiliated and then started the group. There were three leaders at the time and we started with two meetings a month.  Over  the past two and a half years have grown to 5-6 meetings per month. We have about 150 members and a very large and active Facebook group!

Our chapter serves the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, north and east of the Mississippi River.  We have meetings in St. Paul, Woodbury, Minneapolis and Blaine. We have more than a dozen Volunteer Babywearing Educators and twenty other volunteers who help with administrative duties at meetings, social media, and other things. Fun fact: six of our volunteers are expecting, so we are looking forward to lots of squishy(newborn) wearing!

BWI of the Twin Cities has celebrated three International Babywearing Weeks, had two big anniversary parties, and participated in the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo every year since we’ve been affiliated, often with our sister chapter, BWI South Metro Minneapolis (who I hope to highlight in the future)!  We also present our “Babywearing 101s” to many new mom groups and other organization across the Twin Cities.

We hope to have lots of fun events in 2016. We want to have some members only events, develop a sponsorship program to help raise funds for our library, and maybe even walk in a parade during the Minnesota State Fair! We would like to work on reaching out to under served populations in the Twin Cities, and maybe, if volunteer schedules allow; add another meeting. We also have several volunteers who are registered to attend the International Babywearing Conference and are really looking forward to learning some amazing things and touching base with educators and enthusiasts from around the world.

You can find out more information about BWI of the Twin Cities on our Facebook page or on our website!

 

30 Dec

Ergobaby Carriers with Christina Soletti

 

IMG_7200Join us today as we chat with Christina Soletti of Ergobaby! Christina is a Mama, Wife, Conservationist, DIY’er, Vintage Fanatic, Dog Lover and the Community Manager for Ergobaby. She is passionate about babies, babywearing, birth, yoga, natural living and healthy eating. When not online reading and writing about all of the above, she can be found spending time with her sweet daughter.

21 Dec

Educator to Educator – Inclusive Language

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The holidays always make me reflect on the year past and consider the upcoming new year. As a babywearing educator, I spend great deal of time thinking about my chapter; what has worked, what has not worked, and where improvements can be made. One of the areas I spend a lot of time considering is inclusiveness. Do our members feel welcome and safe coming to our meetings and posting in our discussion group? Am I doing my part as an educator to help people feel included? I have always felt that as volunteers and leaders, we can help set the tone for the group, organization and our community.

One of the best parts of being an educator is knowing other educators! We get to talk, discuss and chat about new tips we learned, tricks for getting a great fit and new ways of thinking about how we do what we do and how we teach what we teach. I was recently lucky enough to have one such conversation with Angelique, a fellow MBE, and president of BWI of Greater Houston. The topic of our discussion was inclusive language, what it means and why we consider it in our own practices. Angelique did a great video on language for teaching babywearing for our vimeo educator series. It was a timely conversation and I thought I would share some of our conversation as we reflect on the year past and the year to come.

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What is inclusive language?
A: In the sense that language communicates information, inclusive language could be any communication, spoken or written or even nonverbal, that allows the receivers to feel addressed, considered and respected. It’s a broader definition than literally turning around to say, “It’s language that includes.” I think as humans, we want to be considered, to have our experiences considered. So as babywearing educators, if our goal is to educate and support learning, I think it is helpful to consider how learners could feel as we choose the words we use.

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Why is it important to our chapters and organizations?
A: That is a question for you, for each of us.  We need to ask ourselves what is our purpose? Who do we want to reach? If you are reaching the people you want to reach, then you are achieving your goals. If we find that we would like to reach more people than we do, using inclusive language could be one way to accomplish that.

In a female dominated space, it may be our habit to use female pronouns. So let’s assume that in most of the babywearing meetings I know of, you would likely be achieving your goal of reaching your intended audience in that moment. What purpose would it serve to use gender-neutral pronouns or male pronouns sometimes? Could it maybe help normalize babywearing for all caregivers? Could it make those individuals you are presenting to consider the option of other wearers in their lives? Could it open the door for others’ participation at a later point in time?

11425155_10153457098180909_8914046430534523706_oWe could think of communication choices like choices we make throwing a party. What kind of a host do you want to be? An active host might greet folks at the door, offer them something to eat, and go out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcomed. Maybe you even asked guests in advance how else you could accommodate them and took on the work associated with that. Or are you a more passive host who assumes that everyone will introduce themselves, and if they need something they will just find it? Or that it’s their job to make the party awesome? Using inclusive language can be like being the active host. It can let individuals know they are welcome and help them feel included.

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Self-reflection may be a good tool when thinking about inclusive language. Consider your own world experiences. Do you personally feel included or excluded in your family circle? Why or why not? Then consider your wider scope, your friend circle, your community, your organization. Do you feel included or excluded in those spaces? Why? How could changes in language and behaviors help you feel more included? Then, how could you use this information to reflect on how you could change your language and behaviors to create a more welcoming environment?


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What are some examples in the babywearing community and how can we change it to be more inclusive?

A: The most common example I see is the use of mom, mother, mama to refer to the person who carries the baby and cares for baby. We could instead use parent, but even parent can be limiting because of its connotations. So we often suggest caregiver to include anyone who cares for the baby and may wear them. But that’s just substitution. I like to go further and physically include non-female-presenting caregivers in our demos or events. Just changing words isn’t enough.

The terms we use are often based on assumptions and generalizations, like that caregivers who come have partners, that they have a home or want a certain carrier because of the gender presentation of their child. Assumptions can be useful, but if you make too many that are not accurate, it could lead to some folks not feeling included. So inclusion is judged by how the receivers feel, and we do not control other people’s feelings, which makes being inclusive a challenge. But we know we can often affect feelings. So when we do have that power, I think it is kind and responsible and practical of us to try to use it well.

When we look at making a choice in substitution, I like to look at how the original practice came to exist. We need to think about the words we choose to reach our audience and be genuine in our approach. Will the new words you choose actually reach those you want to include, or will it create more problems or leave others out inadvertently?  Yes, we often feel like we should do something, but we need to examine why we feel that way and understand where those motivations come from and make informed decisions. Words have different connotations in different contexts. If we want to be effective, it is worth being sensitive and taking time to be aware of those connotations in the communities we work in and want to reach.
Again, do self assessments of how your information is received and what you can change if it is not received the way you intended.

Wrapping it up
I want to thank Angelique for taking the time to chat with me about inclusive language and share some thoughts and considerations for using inclusive language. This is something I think we could have talked about for hours, the above is just the very tip of the iceberg. Again, Angelique has two videos on teaching language that speak to some of this and can be found on our vimeo page. BWI also has a video with Tips for Inclusive Language if you are interested in more on this.

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14 Dec

Why I Wear by Bonnie Stafford

309890_10151403038791001_1203272212_nWhen people ask me why I wear, I like to start with why I DON’T wear: 

  • I don’t wear because it’s what the “cool kids” do. Although a lot of cool kids wear.
  • I don’t wear because that’s what some parenting expert in some parenting book told me to do. Although there are plenty of parenting experts and parenting books that  say babywearing is a good idea.
  • I don’t wear because I hate strollers or people who use strollers. In fact, we have a stroller we like and use often.
  • I don’t wear because the carriers are pretty. Although there are lots of pretty carriers.

I wear because it allows me to thrive as a parent at times when all I can do is put one foot in front of the other. Read More

07 Dec

Are you Listening? A Primer on Active Listening for Babywearing Educators

I, like many babywearing educators, have experienced those moments where I ask myself what I could improve upon to become a better educator. Perhaps if I were more outgoing or a better public speaker it would improve my ability to teach what I love. I’ve had the privilege of observing many highly talented educators in action. Educators who are compassionate and effectively convey information. The type of educators who really make a difference in the lives of the caregivers they assist every day, and they share a very important skill…they know when to keep quiet. More specifically, they are active and engaged listeners. Could you benefit from listening more and talking less? This primer on active listening will help you build a foundation for the most important skill in babywearing education — listening. Read More

30 Nov

Chimparoo Carriers and More

image2 (2)Chimparoo, created in 2007, manufactures ring slings, mei tais, soft structured carriers, stretchy wraps, woven wraps, and cold-weather carrier covers. The founder, Christine Duhaime, is an occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience in design and textiles and a mother of four children. Recently, Kathy Low of BWI had a chance to talk with Christine – read on to learn more about Chimparoo!

Read More

23 Nov

Educator to Educator – K’Tan Tips

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The K’Tan carrier is a popular and great option for caregivers with new babies. With fabric similar to a stretchy wrap, but without the length, it is frequently a prefered option for many new caregivers. While the basic infant carry is similar to pocket wrap cross carry (PWCC) and it may be helpful for educators to think about it like a pretied PWCC, there are some important differences.  Read More