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The Vijay Owens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Babywearing Advocacy

The Vijay Owens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Babywearing Advocacy is sponsored by the Babywearing International, Inc. CafePress store and TheBabywearer.com. Click here for more information about the award and Vijay Owens.
And the winner is ...
Kristen DeRocha
Read the press release:

Hotslings Founder Wins Award for Lifetime Achievement in Babywearing Advocacy
Kristen DeRocha of Dallas, Texas is the winner of the Vijay Owens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Promoting Babywearing from the nonprofit organization Babywearing International, Inc., as part of its International Babywearing Week 2010 awards program.


The term “babywearing” means carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier. Babywearing allows parents to have both hands free while carrying their children, and research indicates that this practice has numerous benefits for children.


A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 1986 found that 6-week-old babies carried at least three hours a day in a soft carrier cried and fussed 43 percent less than others overall, and 51 percent less in the evening hours. Another study, published in the journal Child Development in 1990, found that mothers who were given cloth carriers at birth were more responsive to their babies and had babies who were more securely attached than mothers who received plastic infant seats.


“International Babywearing Week is a wonderful time to recognize the advocates who are helping parents learn about and become successful at babywearing,” explained Glenda Criss, president of Babywearing International, Inc., the nonprofit organization that coordinates the event.


Ms. DeRocha founded Hotslings in 2003 at her kitchen table creating a pouch style sling for carrying her own daughter.  She developed a pouch sizing system which has been the gold standard ever since.  DeRocha was one of the first sling makers to focus on fashion and used designer fabrics for her slings.  Until then, most slings were made from plain or baby print fabrics.  She made slings a beautiful accessory for mom at the same time as being a comfortable and safe place for baby.

DeRocha brought babywearing charging into the mainstream with effective marketing that got her product into big box stores like Target and Babies R Us.  This made babywearing a viable option for many parents living in small towns who may not have even known such carriers were available.   Many parents consider their Hotslings pouch the "gateway" carrier that brought them into babywearing as a parenting tool.

Ms. DeRocha was instrumental in developing the sling standard currently under vote.  She approached the ASTM with the proposal of making a standard and served as the chair of the Sling Standard Committee until August 2010.  It was thanks to her hard work that a workable standard has come to vote.

Sadly, in August 2010, Hotslings closed its doors.  Turbulence from the CPSC warning on slings in general pushed DeRocha into making the tough decision to close her doors.  However, the legacy of DeRocha's impact on the babywearing world will continue to be felt by every mother that puts her baby in a sling.  "Kristen can be credited with bringing babywearing into its own as a 'legitimate' parenting choice instead of just something a few hippies did.  As a parent and babywearing advocate, I will always be grateful," said Ann Marie Rodgerson, Vice President of Babywearing International.


International Babywearing Week 2010 was celebrated by nonprofit groups around the world. “We had Official Celebrating Organizations in countries around the world,” Criss said. The groups hosted babywearing workshops, photography exhibits, walks, picnics, and other events to raise awareness about babywearing and help parents and caregivers learn babywearing as a skill.


International Babywearing Week is supported by funding from presenting sponsor ERGObaby Inc. ERGObaby EU, and general sponsor DIDYMOS Erika Hoffmann GmbH.

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