Saturday, January 22, 2011

Regulating Baby Carriers

People have been asking questions about the new regulations to the babywearing industry that are greatly affecting small, work at home based companies, so I thought I would explain some of these new regulations to help people understand what is going on.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) has put into place many regulations that are affecting the babywering industry.  These are aimed at making these products safer and easier to track in the event of a recall.

Everyone agrees that having standards to make sure babywearing products are safe is a good idea and even necessary for the future of the industry.  But unfortunately, these measures can be expensive to implement and hard for a small business to comply with.  For example, a small stay at home mom that makes ring slings is now required to put special tags and labels on all her products as well as attach product registration cards and have on-line registration available.  The rings they use will also have to be tested and proven to be lead free and soon they will also have to stress test their slings in each position the directions say they can be used.

The costs of complying add up very quickly and are simply too expensive for most small businesses.  Plus, these regulations will make it much harder for new businesses to start up since the costs are so much higher.  The babywearing community has always been full of many small, stay at home based businesses that provide a wide variety of carriers.  But these new regulations will probably lead to a lot less diversity in the babywearing industry since the number of businesses that can afford to comply will be limited to larger businesses that can absorb the costs.

The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) is doing what they can to help.  When ever possible, they are trying to provide cost saving services to small businesses so they don't have to incur the whole expense themselves.  But unfortunately, this still isn't enough to allow many of the smaller businesses to stay profitable.  Sadly, the days of the small, stay at home moms sewing baby carriers in their spare time looks like it will soon be coming to an end.

Disclaimer:  I only stated the regulations to the best of my understanding.  There may be more regulations already in affect and due to come into affect that I am not aware of.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Guide to Summer Baby Carriers

It's time to start thinking about summer babywearing and finding the right summer carrier for you and your little ones.  Summer is hot and wearing a little one in summer is going to be hot too.  But fortunately, there are some options to help keep you and your baby a little more comfortable while babywearing in the heat.

First you need to think about what your needs are.  If you have a little baby or a toddler that you only wear for short periods of time, a ring sling might be the best option.  If you plan to do a lot of babywearing this summer, than you are going to want the comfort of a two shoulder carrier like a mei tai or soft structured carrier (aka buckle carrier).  Here's a run down on the different styles and some of the brands that might work well for you.

Ring Slings
Ring slings are great for summer.  They don't have as much fabric touching you and your baby as some carriers and they are great for quick carries when a busy toddler wants to be held for a few minutes and then wants down again.  But ring slings are a one shoulder carrier and unless you are used to it, prolonged wearing with a ring sling can get uncomfortable since your child's weight will mostly be on one shoulder.

Ring slings like Maya Wraps and our Hoppediz ring sling conversions by Kalea Baby are made with a single layer of woven material that is very breathable. Silk is also a very cool fabric to use in summer, which makes our double layer Dupioni silk slings by SweetPea Ring Slings another good option for summer. You can also find ring slings made from linen or solarveil fabric that are perfect for summer. But realistically, most ring slings are going to be fairly cool simply due to the lack of fabric.

For the wrappers out there, you don't have to stop wrapping just because it's summer.  There are a lot of great wraps out there that are lighter and better in the heat.  Wraps can be a great option for summer since there are so many different ways to use them.  You can find lots of different ways to wrap using The Babywearer's extensive wrap instructions links page or by purchasing wrap instruction media like the Wrapsody DVD or Hoppediz instruction booklet.

So if you are looking for a woven, Hoppediz makes a Hopp Light that is very nice for summer. It is extremely thin and soft and reminds people of a very expensive cotton sheet. Amazonas Classic wraps are also woven wraps that are very light and breathable. The weave on these still feels like a woven without being thick and hot. Vatanai and Didymos linens are other brands of lighter woven wraps that people recommend for warmer weather.

Gauze wraps, like the Wrapsody Bali Breeze, are very light and airy. You have to be more careful when wrapping a gauze wrap to avoid pressure points, but these wraps are very cool and lighter than a woven.

Wrapsody also makes a stretch wrap that is kind of a hybrid wrap.  It's not as stretchy as a standard stretch wrap and can be used comfortably with older, heavier babies.  The wraps are thinner than other stretch wraps, making them much lighter and cooler.  You can also safely use this wrap to do other carries that are not safe to do in a traditional stretch wrap.

If you just absolutely love stretch wraps though, or have a tiny baby you want to snuggle this summer, check out one made with a bamboo blend since bamboo tends to be a cooler fabric.  The Anaju stretch wraps by 3TD are made of 70% organically grown viscose of bamboo and 30% organic cotton. These wraps are amazingly soft and light. Lovey Duds also makes a bamboo stretch wrap and you can even make your own by purchasing a bamboo jersey at the fabric store.  Moby wraps aren't bamboo, but they do have some that offers extra UV protection.

Mei Tais and Soft Structured Carriers
Mei Tais and soft structured carriers (buckle carriers) can be another good option for summer babywearing.  If you wear your little one a lot and for long periods of time, you will want the support of a two shoulder carrier like these.

When looking for a Mei Tai or soft structured carrier, try to avoid anything made with heavy materials or lots of layers. Thinner, narrower bodied carriers are going to allow more air around you and baby and help keep you both cooler. Action Baby Carrier, AngelPack, Olives & Applesauce and Baby Hawk are some of my favorite carriers, but there really are too many to list! You can also look for Mei Tais made from solarveil fabric, which are breathable and can be used as water carriers, but can be very hard to find since solarveil is no longer being manufactured.

Water Carriers
A water carrier can be a really useful thing to own, especially in summer. These can be worn in the ocean or pool, as well as the shower. Many also provide some sun protection, but protection can vary. Water carriers can be found in a variety of styles, including stretch wraps, ring slings, and Mei Tais. Wrapsody makes a stretch wrap water carrier with a UPF rating for 45. TaylorMade makes mesh ring slings. Solarveil Mei Tais are harder to find, but they are out there, especially if you look for people selling used carriers.

Final thought
Summer is hot and having your baby touch you is never going to be cool.  That being said, a little sweat never hurt anyone and it's worth the added convenience and snuggles you get in exchange!  So find a carrier that makes you more comfortable and enjoy your summer!

Have a tip you'd like to share?  Contact us, we'd love to hear it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Babywearing Art

I know I have already posted about the amazing paintings by Katie M Berggren, but I couldn't help myself from posting some of her beautiful paintings centered around babywearing!  Hope you enjoy them!

Wrap by Katie M Berggren

Deep As A River by Katie M Berggren

Elemental by Katie M Berggren

Mid-Summer Day by Katie M Berggren

Perhaps by Katie M Berggren

Pieces of Me by Katie M Berggren

Wrap 2 by Katie M Berggren
Too see more of Katie's beautiful work or purchase one of her amazing prints, visit her website.  We are also doing a special giveaway and promotion.  Find out more on our blog.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Special Giveaway

We have our winners!  Thank you so much to everyone that participated.  The winners have been contacted and notified.  And a special thanks to Katie Berggren for participating in our giveaway!  Keep checking back for more giveaways or join our mailing list to make sure you don't miss any.

We are excited to announce a very special giveaway.  Artist Katie M Berggren has agreed to give away some of her beautiful prints to two lucky winners!  She has also let us use this stunning painting to make some amazing babywearing magnets that we will also be giving away!  I love this painting of a mother carrying her child in a ring sling!

We will select 5 winners.  Two people will win a 8x10 print from Katie M Berggren and 3 winners will receive one of our special magnets!

Here's how to enter:
  • Visit Katie's website and select "Shop Online" to see the amazing prints she has available.  Come back here and leave us a comment with your favorite one.  Do the same on our Facebook page to receive another entry.
  • To get additional entries, spread the word!  For each person you send, you will get one entry.  Make sure they post who sent them so that you get credit!  They may also enter if they'd like by doing the above steps. 
Don't forget to leave your e-mail so we can contact you!

The giveaway will run through the 17th and the winners will be announced the morning of Tuesday, Jan 18th!

These magnets are not available for purchase, but this won't be your only chance to receive one of these pieces of art!  For a limited time, we will be giving away a free magnet with the purchase of every baby carrier from Zerberts!  Supplies are limited and this promotion will end when they are gone.  At 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, these magnets really are a wonderful little piece of art for your fridge!

Painting Motherhood

I was first introduced to this artwork by Katie M. Berggren when I received some prints as a gift. Her work was so beautiful that I knew I had to share it with you all!

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Mostly a self taught painter and mother of two, Katie was drawn to painting emotion and the mother/child connection. She uses common daily moments as her inspiration to create beautiful paintings that capture the love and affection between parents and their children. Her paintings are easy to identify with in a very real and powerful way.

As a mother and a painter, I am compelled to create honest, emotional pieces that stylize the intimate moments of life. I delight in capturing the visible affection between mother and child in a dance of paint on canvas. My compositions play with how two or more figures can fold together within an atmosphere of movement, energy and sparkle.

There is a daily conflict for a mother of young children. For me it is a challenge that reawakens every morning as I balance my desire to be a patient, graceful mother and at the same time fulfill an instinctive urge to bring forth the creations of my soul and realize my dreams.

Capturing and releasing are two reasons I paint - to capture a fleeting moment, and to release an emotion. The process of painting allows me to connect with the world around me. But, perhaps most important, it is the way I model to my children the value of following their dreams and exploring their gifts.

I really enjoy the unique style and look of her paintings. I find she has captured some precious moments that I can relate to my own experiences with my children. I feel she has beautifully captured the emotion of motherhood in her artwork!

To find out more about Katie M. Berggren and her work, visit her website. Many prints and paintings are also available for purchase on-line.

All images have been used with the artist's permission.

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