14 Sep

The Best of TBW – An Introduction

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My wrappee and I in 2006

It was the spring of 2006 when I found my community. I was anxiously expecting my fourth child and searching for reviews of baby carriers when I accidentally stumbled upon it. Tucked away in a quiet little corner of the internet, a small group of caregivers had come together to share information about a centuries-old parenting tool now known as babywearing.

TheBabywearer.com, or TBW as it’s commonly called, is a website dedicated to the education and advocacy of babywearing. TBW was built in 2003 by Jennifer Norton and Denby Angus. When searches to find comfortable carriers and information
about babywearing turned up little, Jennifer and Denby decided to build a website to help other caregivers find that information.

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TBW founders Jeni and Denby

Jennifer writes, “I had hoped to find some way to compare types of carriers, reviews of brands, a listing of retailers etc. I bought a few different styles on-line to try them out; some that cost me a lot of money, some were well-loved by others (according to testimonials on the vendors’ sites) but many just didn’t work for me or Denby. It was a frustrating and expensive process. The best part of this phase was finding the Yahoo! babywearing email discussion group in about February, which introduced me to lots of new friends and more carriers!

After months of searching, buying, trying, sewing, etc. in July 2003 the idea for a babywearing information website was born, with the initial emphasis being a place to list all of the vendors and products, and for consumer reviews. Denby agreed this was a good idea and volunteered his assistance as webmaster, having previous programming experience but no web skills. Babywearing-related articles were added as an idea, and work began.

After four months of hard work and some bumps along the way, TBW officially launched on November 17th, 2003. The site grew rapidly and steadily; so much so that it required three web hosting upgrades in the first couple months.

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Historical home pages; top circa 2003, middle circa 2006, bottom circa 2010

In 2006, TBW transferred ownership to Melanie (koalamama). The following year, ownership was transferred to Christy (MonteMama). She owned TBW until it was transferred to Crystal in 2010, who owned it until its final transfer to Babywearing International – for safe keeping – in 2013.

During all those years, TBW saw huge influxes of members and traffic. TBW  boomed with new vendors, carrier styles, and brands. Local communities and babywearing groups found each other in the forums and grew rapidly. Babywearers gathered together on TBW to geek about wrap qualities and intricacy of weaves. To compare strap angles and debate the pros and cons of seat darts. To discuss shoulder styles and construction methods. But it wasn’t all about the wearing, it was also about coming together to support each other. We laughed together, we cried together. We celebrated together and we mourned together.

In the past few years, much of the TBW community has migrated off-site to Facebook groups and other popular social media outlets as technology has evolved, but the history of how the babywearing community was built is still there on TBW, where we will hold it for future generations to discover.

I am excited to bring you this new blog series, The Best of TBW, where I will share some of the treasures on TBW with you. Whether you are an old school TBW alum, a brand new babywearer, or somewhere in between, there will be something for everyone.

“Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old.” ~Robert Brault

References:

Thebabywearer.com http://thebabywearer.com/forum/threads/todays-the-day-happy-birthday-tbw.3171/

Thebabywearer.com http://thebabywearer.com/forum/threads/tbw-time-capsule-the-history-and-evolution-of-the-babywearing-community.530187/

Robert Brault http://rbrault.blogspot.com/

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