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.

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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!

sunglasses ssc

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.


09 May

Educator to Educator: Suck Pads


As a chapter, we noticed a need for suck pads for our buckles and mei tais. After all, those teething babies tend to suck (& drool) on just about anything they can. Our members appreciate having them available at check out and it helps keep our carriers in good condition. Win-win!

We were lucky and had several pairs donated to us, however, it was not nearly enough to cover our growing need for them. As a chapter we sat down and decided the solution was to make some. Always looking for reasons to see each other, we turned it into a volunteer get together! We are fortunate to have several excellent crafters in our organization, so we picked a day and everyone brought their equipment. While you don’t have to turn it into a get together, and it could be done by a single person, we always have a blast working together as a group!


Our super awesome volunteers at BWI of Greater Austin hard at work on a new batch of suck pads!

Getting started:
Things your will need:
Fabric (we use scraps)
Fabric marker or pencil
Snap press

Make sure you wash the towels ahead of time to avoid bleeding later. We tend to choose white towels, but any color will work. We want these suck pads to be cute enough that people will take them and use them, but not so cute that they will not make it back to us. As I noted, we are super lucky and have very crafty volunteers, so our items were all donated, however all of these things can be purchased easily at local stores or online.

Making the suck pads:
1. Begin with your towel and fabric.

2. Cut into rectangles
We do six inches by nine inches, which we have found give good coverage.

3. Line up the fabric on top of the towel and trim as needed to line them up.

4. Surge the edges all the way around.
(Tip: we did some just made from towels and found those did not hold up as well over time, which is why we now do it with both towel and fabric)

5. Sew on a tag now if you are going to do so.
I failed at getting a picture of this, but we learned it is easier to do it before the snaps are on. Since each of our suck pads will be individually numbered, we try to position the tags where they will be visible to our volunteers working the front desk. We have a smaller accessory tag we use for things like suck pads.

6. Add snaps.
For this it is helpful to decide where they are going to be and use the fabric pen to mark where they need to be put on the opposite side.
IMG_0014 IMG_0010

That is it, you now have easy suck pads for your library carriers!

Look at all the suck pads we finished that day! Go team!
Everyone who checks out a buckle or mei tai gets a set. When they return the carrier, the suck pads are removed, put into a bin for dirty ones and cleaned between meetings.
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A stack of brand new suck pads all ready for our carriers at our meeting!

We have found this to be an easy and affordable way to keep carriers clean and in good condition. I hope you and your library have found this helpful!

02 May

The Best of TBW: Summer Babywearing Resources

Hanging out by the pool with kids splashing nearby. Enjoying a tall glass of lemonade on the back porch, watching the evening sky. A long day enjoying rides and shows at a theme park. Relaxing with friends by the campfire.

Summertime is my favorite time of the year and babywearing has always made it easier to spend time with my family, making memories and having fun. But hot weather can make it harder to keep everyone comfortable and keep you wearing through it all. I am often asked for tips about summertime babywearing and luckily there are some great resources to help people keep on wearing even when the temperatures start to climb.

First, let me say this; Having a little human strapped to your body can be hot and in hot weather and climates, it will only get hotter. You can find carriers that are better for hot weather wearing and we will talk a little bit about what features you are looking for in a summer carrier, but most caregivers find that they  do not need to purchase a new carrier specifically for the summer time.

Dressing yourself and your baby appropriately is the first step in summer wearing and it can make all the difference. The carrier adds layers to the baby, so a comfy cotton t-shirt and a diaper is usually plenty of clothing in warm weather. With very small infants, remember that they are not very efficient at maintaining their own body temperature, however, an adult body is great at it and as you wear your baby your sweat that will help cool your baby.

Drinking lots of water and offering fluids to your child often is going to help keep you both hydrated. Another important thing to consider is sun exposure. Make sure you take the time to use sunblock and hats when exposed to direct sun. This great thread has some discussion about how to keep the sun off of your baby while babywearing. A sun hat is essential when in very strong sun, but be sure that the hat you choose still allows for plenty of fresh airflow to your child. Remember you want your baby’s face in view at all times.

Wraps and Ringslings:

Wrapping in hot weather is overwhelming to some wearers. Layers and layers of fabric seems like it wouldn’t be something you would want in hot weather, but single layer carries and thinner wraps can make all the difference and allow you to wrap all year long.

Ring Slings are a fantastic summer option as they are one layer and come in a variety of fabrics, from 100% linen to a thick dense wrap conversion, because there is just one layer of fabric over baby and wearer they are generally the coolest carrier style. Check out this thread about the best blends for summer slings.

Wearing a mesh ring sling at the beach

Mesh water slings and wraps are also available and perfect for wading with little ones. Please remember that babywearing is not to be done while swimming and to use your best judgement when babywearing around the water.

Short wraps tied as a rebozo is a fantastic shorty carry with medium/thick wraps. If you enjoy a multi layer carry, choosing a thinner wrap with more open weave will allow for maximum breathability. Check out The summer wrap resource which breaks it all down and has suggestions of different brands that work best in different carries.

Another great thread to check out is the summer wrap boot camp. Learn some tips and techniques to help you wrap with thinner wraps — even with bigger kids! Wrapping thin wraps can actually help you become a better, more careful wrapper, so don’t be afraid to try a thin wrap.

Mei Tais and Soft Structured Carriers:

There have been a lot of new carriers that have come on the market in the past couple of years, many are hot-weather-friendly featuring cool mesh panels and moisture wicking fabrics. I am often asked if these mesh panels make a difference in how cool the carrier is and the answer is yes, but it makes the most difference for the baby.

The caregiver will still be pretty hot, but the baby will be cooler as the heat can escape from the carrier easier. The open sides also allow for more airflow and so mei tais and ssc’s can be a great option for people who want less fabric overall and carriers with thinner/less padding are generally cooler too, so keep that in mind when looking at your options. The SSC/MT Summer Resource is a list that is updated every spring with links to all of the brands and options out there so check it out if you’re looking for a list.

ToIMG_1362 conclude, I want to touch on how to stay safe during the summer while babywearing. As always, follow the labeling and instructions included with your carrier. You don’t want to do anything while babywearing that you wouldn’t do with your baby in your arms. These include things like horseback riding, biking, ATVing, boating, SUPing and water skiing. Choose alternate activities like hiking or splashing in the sprinklers or at the splash pad. I touched on swimming a bit already, but always be mindful around water. Babywearing can be great if you’re wading in the shallow end while watching your bigger kids, but always have an action plan and have an extra adult nearby just in case.

Have a safe and cool babywearing summer!

26 Apr

Babyearing Adventures – Gardening

gardening with big kid and pointing at something with baby on back in ergo
Fall gardening in a rebozo carry

Fall gardening in a rebozo carry

Babywearing is so helpful in the spring when you are trying to get things done in the garden!

First, a word of advice. Only do what you are comfortable doing – that goes both for babywearing abilities and just what your body can handle. It’s hard gardening with another human strapped to you! If you start to feel uncomfortable in any way, stop and readjust or stop until another day! The garden can wait; your safety cannot!

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, what carrier should you use? Choose a carrier that you are very comfortable using, as you’ll be doing lots of moving around. Preferably also one that you don’t mine getting dirty. I most prefer SSC for gardening (though I have also used wraps and mei tais). The absolutely unpoppable seat and little need for adjusting once on means there is one less thing for me to worry about once I’m elbow deep in soil. My old, soft, grungy Ergo is perfect for messy tasks like gardening!


Don’t have a carrier you mind getting dirt on? Cover up an SSC or a mei tai using baby legs (or socks with holes cut in the toes) on straps and/or a tshirt over the body of the carrier (just unbuckle straps and slide it on).

ergo with tshirt cover

If wrapping, choose a carry you are comfortable with that won’t need much adjusting. I also prefer one with tails tied in back so they are out of the way as much as possible. If you are still front carrying (in any carrier), keep in mind you will be more limited in what you can do.

toddler in an SHBC

Remember also to put protection on you and baby! Sun hats, baby leggings, sunglasses, and sunscreen may be needed depending on where you are. Cooling towels can be used on your own neck, but generally should not be used in between you and baby, as it could cause unsafe temperature regulation in baby. I also choose to wear pants that won’t require constant adjusting. Pulling up your pants constantly while gardening is annoying regardless, but extra annoying with a baby and baby carrier in play! I usually use gardening gloves anyway, but always use them when babywearing so I can pull them off and have mostly clean hands to tend to baby.

squatting while gardening in an ergo

The main word for gardening while babywearing? SQUATS! So. Many. Squats. Because you have a tiny human on your back, your ability to lean over will be very limited, so you’ll mostly be squatting to reach things – weeding, spreading mulch, planting, etc. Just go ahead and count it as your butt and thigh workout for the week! If you need to keep something stable nearby to use to help yourself get up (wheelbarrow, small shovel to use to put your weight on, etc) – go for it!

woman holding gardening shears with baby on back in ergo

Safety first! Be sure to keep any sharp items away from baby (both baby’s hand’s and eyes). Keep in mind that you have someone on your back when tossing dirt, mulch, or weeds…you don’t want to toss them on your baby! If you are weeding or pruning anything prickly, poisonous, or otherwise dangerous….leave it until you are doing it without baby. And last but certainly not least…take plenty of hydration and cool down breaks – both you and baby! Though you are doing most of the work, baby will need extra hydration as well. The gardening can wait while you take a break!

gardening with 4yo and baby on back in ergo

17 Apr

National Volunteer Week 2016: Outstanding Volunteer Nominees

Babywearing International Logo

It has been such a pleasure getting to know several of the amazing volunteers with Babywearing International throughout this past week! To wrap up National Volunteer Week 2016, we would like to recognize the many others within our organization that were nominated as outstanding volunteers. It is inspiring to hear of so many BWI volunteers that are positively impacting their chapters and communities, and committed to spreading the babywearing love. And a big, heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our volunteers within BWI for your time and dedication!

Sarah Anton, BWI South Chicagoland

Kijafa Smith, BWI Atlanta

Shanna Straut, BWI Rock-West

Caryn Schajer, BWI Rockland- Westchester

Elizabeth Morton, BWI Phoenix

Natalie Thornberry, BWI Akron Youngstown

Christie Everett Chapman, BWI South Western CT

Kelly Feinstein-Johnson, BWI Denver/Front Range

Dana Karstensen Bryan, BWI Hampton Roads

Autumn Bruington, BWI Greater Austin

Kayo Higashimura, BWI South Jersey

Brittnie Johnston, BWI South Jersey

Mich Conway, BWI Rock-West

Amique H., BWI Atlanta

Jillian Droppo, BWI Fayetteville

Kathy Low, BWI Grand Rapids

Ashley Teller, BWI Knoxville

Amie Kanengeiser, BWI Cleveland

Tracy McBride, BWI Cleveland

Becky Jeffrey, BWI LA County

Jill Stickhost, BWI Peoria

Joni Anderson, BWI Denver/Front Range

Ellen Schaad, BWI DC MD VA

Caroline Boucher Hutton, BWI Washington

Sarah Sakai, BWI DC MD VA

Thank you to the over 1,200 volunteers putting in countless hours for your chapters and your communities.

To read our other entries from National Volunteer Week 2016:

Rosemary Cox

Lauren Maynard

Chrissie Riese

Stephanie Springer

Sarah Ludwig

Erin Fabian