Sunday, October 13, 2013

Support Babywearing Giveaway

As International Babywearing Week comes to an end, we want to continue the love and support by holding a special giveaway.  Win a free carrier for you AND the babywearing group of your choosing!  There are several ways to enter, including one entry for every dollar when you donate $5 or $10 to the Baby Carrier Industrial Alliance, Babywearing International or your local babywearing group.

Winners can choose to receive a free Olives & Applesauce, Action Baby Carrier, Wrapsody wrap, Oh Snap, Kalea Baby wrap conversion ring sling, CatBird Baby mei tai, or receive 50% off a Wrapture wrap conversion.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last day to enter is Oct 26th.  Entries will be confirmed.  Any entry that can not be verified for any reason (e.i. if donation receipts are not provided) will be disqualified and will not be eligible to win.  Winners will be contacted but will not be announced until they are confirmed via email.

Free shipping inside the US.  International winners will be responsible for shipping costs
and may be responsible for import fees.

We Will Donate Too!

For the next week, we will donate 5% of any order from Zerberts to the babywearing group of your choosing!  Just enter the name of the group and the website in the comment section during checkout or email it to us and we will send them a donation.  Donation amounts will be deducted from any refunds that are given due to returned items.

Thank you for supporting babywearing and sharing the love! 
May you continue to get carried away!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thrifty Babywearing

Anyone that has ever even looked at buying a carrier knows that they can get pricey.  Of course there are a lot of factors that affect the pricing of these baby carriers, from quality materials, licensing costs, product safety testing, product registration cards, etc.  And the quality and piece of mind you get from these carriers is worth every penny.  However, sometimes you just don't have many pennies to spare and that should not stop you from babywearing!

You don't need a fancy carrier to wear your baby.  Babywearing can be done super cheaply, all you really need is a piece of cloth and the desire to make it work!  So whether you are crafty or not, we have thrifty babywearing options for anyone on a budget.

Use What You Have

Pretty much any piece of cloth can be used as a baby carrier.  People have used scarves, towels, even bed sheets as baby carriers!  Here's some great links for using what you already have to wear your baby! Improvised Carriers
Babywearing International of Birmingham - How to make a bed sheet baby sling (video) - Wraparound Carrier Instructions Links and Info (instructions can be used with different lengths of fabric you already own)

Do It Yourself

Making your own carrier is actually not that hard, can be very inexpensive and some don't even require the use of a sewing machine!  When making your own carrier, make sure you do some research and get the correct materials.  Also, look up instructions for how to properly use your carrier since it won't come with instructions.  You will have to make sure you know how to safely use the carrier you make.

You can easily make a no sew stretch wrap with some jersey fabric.  Actually, the width of the fabric is wide enough to make two by cutting lengthwise from one end of the fabric to the other.  And stretch jersey does not need to be hemmed or surged, just make sure the fabric you buy isn't too stretchy since it won't be supportive enough.

Non stretchy wraps can also be made without sewing, but depending on what fabric you choose, you may need to hem the edges.  Lots of people recommend Osnaburg fabric for making your own wrap, but there are a variety of fabrics you can use, all with their own pros and cons.  If you purchase a fabric that need to be hemmed but don't want to do it yourself, most tailors can do it for about $10 which can still save you a ton.

To make your own wrap, check out these sites: - Stretchy wrap instructions - Stretchy and non stretchy no sew wraps

Ring Slings
Ring slings can be simple to make with both sew and no sew options available.  The most important things to consider when making a ring sling is to buy the correct fabric and proper rings.  Craft rings and metal rings that are welded (not solid) are not safe for babywearing.  Sling Rings are widely recommended and widely used by the babywearing community for making ring sling.

To make your own ring sling, check out these instructions:
Jan Andrea No-Sew Ring Sling
Jan Andrea Simple, Un-padded Sling
Maya Wrap Sew Your Own Sling

Mei Tais
Making a mei tai takes a bit more work and skill.  If you have a sewing machine and some time, then you can likely make a simple mei tai.  Here's some instructions for different DIY mei tai carriers:
Jan Andrea - Making a Mei Tai
Becoming Mamas - Let’s Make a Mei Tai (or Onbu)!! Part I and Part II

Here's some more resources for those of you interested in making a DIY baby carrier.
Becoming Mamas -  Adventures in Carrier Making: A Brief Guide to DIY Babywearing
Jan Andrea at Home
The Babywearing Sewing and Improvising Baby Carriers

Buying Used

Buying a used baby carrier is always an option.  Some people are able to find them at Good Will, Salvation Army, or other second hand stores.  These are usually a really good price, but don't come up often and can be hard to find.  But if you already shop at these places, make sure you do a quick scan to see if there are any baby carriers tucked anywhere.  Hint: wraps and ring slings are not always with baby stuff because not everyone knows that they are baby carriers!

There are also swap boards on The Babywearer and all over Facebook and the internet where people sell and trade used carriers.  The problem with the swap boards is that most brands hold their value insanely well, so it can sometimes be really hard to find something if your budget is super strict.  But if you are not picky about the brand or even if it's a home made carrier, then you can usually find something.  Just make sure that any home made carrier has been safely constructed using safe materials.  Watch for things like single layer quilting cotton carriers or carriers that don't have reinforced stitching at the weight baring seams.  Also, ring slings should always have solid metal rings, not welded rings or craft rings.

Buying on a Budget

On a budget, but still want to buy something?  There are lots of options out there for carriers that are affordable brand new.  Make sure when looking for a deal that you are buying from a member of the BCIA or someone that is CPSIA compliant, otherwise you are getting a lower cost at the expense of complying with safety regulations.

Buckle Carriers
Buckle carriers tend to cost a little more because they are more complex and require more materials.  But their are still some brands out that there are available at amazingly low prices right off the shelf, so sales needed!
BobaAir $65
Moby GO $79.95
Action Baby Carrier $98

Mei Tai
Basic Mei Tais can be found for really good prices.  The Babywearing Essentials mei tai by Catbird Baby is one example of a simple mei tai carrier at a value price.

Ring Slings
Some ring slings can be purchased under $50 from places like Sleeping Baby Productions.  Maya Wraps are also a great deal at $74.95 if you are looking for something a little more comfortable than a single or double layer of standard cotton.

Wraps can get pricy, but there are many amazing brands out there that are a really good value right out of the box.  Stretch wraps are generally the most affordable, but they are also less supportive for older babies.  The Wrapsody wraps are a really great price for someone interested in wrapping, but wanting to try it out before spending a lot on a wrap.  Hoppediz and C&C are other amazing brands of woven wraps that both cost right around $100.

So whether you make your own, buy used, or just want a more affordable brand, there are options for everyone.  Anyone can babywear on any budget, so look for an option that fits yours!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Babywearing Myths

So many babywearing myths, so little time.  I could write pages debunking just one of these myths, and at some point I would like to do just that with each one, but for the sake of keeping this post manageable, I will try to be short and sweet and to the point.

Many myths persist around babywearing.  Some come from people that know nothing about babywearinmg, while many circulate among the babywearing community.  All of these myths hurt babywearing and scare off potential babywearers, so I think International Babywearing Week is the perfect time to shed some light on some of these misconceptions.  I will try to cover some of the common ones that many of us have heard and maybe even been guilty of repeating.

1. Babywearing will spoil your baby.
This one is something you can often hear from family and friends that think you are doing something wrong by wearing your baby.  They are worried that your child will always need to be held and carried forever!  The truth is that children that feel their needs are being met trust their parents more to meet their needs, so they actually end up more independent when they are old then babies that do not get their needs responded to in this way.  The whole concept of spoiling a baby by giving them too much love and affection is silly.  Do what feels right to you and your family.
For more info, read Spoiling by Dr. Sears

2. Carriers must fit knee to knee.
This is something I see all the time in the babywearing world.  This guideline was initially for people wrapping to make sure they created a supportive seat.  It has been incorrectly applied to buckle carrier (soft structured carriers) by well intending people trying to help people find more supportive carriers.  The problem with this guideline is that it is unnecessary and practically impossible to apply to buckle carriers.  Unlike wraps that require you to make a seat, buckle carriers have a seat that is structurally sound and safe without the need for this guideline.  The worst part is that this "rule" is often used to tell people their carrier is not good enough and they need a new one, but the window for a carrier actually fitting knee to knee is very short since we all know babies grow every time you blink!  There are many carriers that are still very supportive with toddlers even though they are no longer close to being knee to knee.  Your baby hasn't outgrown their carrier just because it no longer fits knee to knee and it isn't necessary to replace a carrier unless one or both of you are no longer comfortable in it.

3. Narrow seated baby carriers cause hip dysplasia.
This is a VERY controversial issue in the babywearing community and I am sure many people will not agree with me, but narrow seated carriers do not cause hip dysplasia.  First of all, if they did, we would be seeing a nation wide outbreak of babies with hip dysplasia since these are easily the most commonly used carrier in the US for some time now.  Now, this does not mean that the narrow seat in these carriers is ideal, it is much more comfortable and ergonomically ideal to wear a carrier with a wider seat.  But parents are being told that their carrier is dangerous and being made to feel they must stop using it immediately or risk damaging their baby.  These parents may completely stop babywearing because they can't afford a different carrier or spend the next several months not wearing so they can research what kind of carrier is best.  The worse thing is that in the rare case that a child does develop hip dysplasia, these parents are made to feel like they have caused it when in all likely hood, it was an undiagnosed issue that started long before their child was even born.  So yes, a narrow seated carrier could absolutely exacerbate an underlying condition, but it is very unlikely that a baby would spend enough time in one of these carriers to actually cause hip dysplasia.

For more information on this complex issue, read Healthy Hips - Busting Some Myths by Sheffield Sling Surgery

4. Forward facing out is bad for your baby.
Again, this is a very controversial issue.  I actually did a whole blog post on this called The Forward Facing Controversy.  Many people believe wearing baby in a carrier facing away from their parent is a black and white issue and you shouldn't do it ever.  Articles like this one by Boba point out some good reasons why wearing facing out is not ideal.  It is not the best ergonomic positions for either you or your baby and young babies can very easily get overstimulated in this position since they don't have the ability to look away or block stimuli other than to shut down and "fall asleep".  For this reason, I generally tell people not to wear facing out until their baby is older and to watch their baby for signs that they might be done and need to be turned around.  But I have seen new and exited babywearers being told that they are harming their baby by wearing them out and this extreme stance harms babywearing overall.  People carry their babies facing out int heir arms all the time and some babies even enjoy taking it all in!  So there is nothing wrong with letting your baby face out for short periods of time if your baby enjoys it.  It is likely going to be too uncomfortable for you to do it for long periods of time anyway.  Just watch your baby for signs that they are getting overstimulated; fussy, anxious, too excitable, squirmy, or even sleepy.  When they start showing any of these signs, turn them around and let them face you so they can choose if they want to look around or bury their face in your chest.

5. XYZ carrier is a bad carrier, you shouldn't use it.
This one makes me sad every time I see it.  It's usually a myth that comes from a well meaning experience babywearer towards someone that is new to babywearing.  There are definitely carriers out there that are not as comfortable or ergonomically ideal as others, but that doesn't make a carrier bad.  If a mom in your babywearing group posts a photo showing how excited she is to be wearing her sleeping baby, there is no reason to tell her how "horrible" her carrier is.  If she is comfortable and her baby is comfortable, then it works.  If she posts saying that her carrier hurts her back after 15 minutes, then by all means, tell her what brands you think are better.  But I have seen so many people get discourage because the baby carrier their friend loaned them or the one they got at their baby shower "isn't good enough".  Sometimes these people are able to get a "better" carrier, but sometimes they just walk away from babywearing, after all, they have a stroller that works perfectly fine.

6. Babywearing is dangerous.
With the rare exception of bag slings, which are dangerous and have been recalled, babywearing is NOT dangerous!  Unfortunately, this is a myth that gets perpetuated by both people that have no babywearing experience and babywearers alike.  People that don't understand the differences between styles believe all babywearing is dangerous because they lump bag slings in with babywearing in general.  But it is just as harmful to the babywearing community for active, experienced babywearers to paint such black and white lines on controversial issues, telling people that the are harming their baby.  They are sending a clear message that if you aren't doing it "right" then you are doing it "wrong" and could hurt your baby.  Of course, of someone is not safely using a carrier in the way a manufacture designed it to be used, then that is dangerous.  But using a narrow seated carrier should not be treated as a safety issue.

Be A Babywearing Myth Buster

Babywearing is about so much more than the carrier someone is using.  It's about the bond and benefits that babywearing provides to both the care giver and the baby.  Empowering new parents and nurturing their relationship with babywearing should be far more important to the babywearing community then making sure someone is using the most ideal carrier.  If they love babywearing, they will find a way to keep doing it when their old carrier gets less comfortable.  They will ask questions and learn more if they feel welcome, stick around and join in the conversation.  I would rather see a baby facing out in a narrow seated carrier than several feet out in front of their parents, facing out while being pushed in a stroller.  (NOT that I have an issue with strollers... I use them too!)   So I will never judge a parent for what they choose to wear their baby in and will honor them for making the choice to wear at all.

Check out our Golden Rule of Babywearing

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

International Babywearing Week Fun!

Join us in some fun activities during International Babywearing Week!  Starting Monday, Oct 7th, and running through Sunday, Oct 13th, join us here and on facebook to celebrate International Babywearing Week together!


Oct 7th

Maniac Meme Monday (facebook) - Join us on facebook and post some crazy "babywearing" photos.  Only one rule... no REAL babies!  Take and share crazy photos of you "babywearing" in all kinds of crazy ways.  Be creative!  I can't wait to see what fun photos you come up with.  And I promise to share some of my own!

Myth Monday (Blog) - Follow our blog when we debunk some babywearing myths


Oct 8th

Toddler Tuesday (facebook) - Calling all toddler wearers!  Join us on facebook to share photos and stories.  Tell us why you love toddler wearing.  Don't have a toddler?  Do you think you'll wear your baby when they are older?  We'd love to hear your thoughts!


Oct 9th

Wrapping Wednesday (facebook) - Show us your wraps!  Stretchy, gauze, woven, DIY... we want to see your photos of your little one all wrapped up.  Or show off your wrap stash for those of you that are collectors!


Oct 10th

Throwback Thursday (facebook) - Share photos and stories of your earliest babywearing days!  Did you have it figured out from the start or were your early days less than ideal?  We won't judge!  And I bet most of you started off better than I did!

Thrifty Thursday (blog) - Follow our blog for tips on how to enjoy babywearing on a budget.


Oct 11

Favorite Friday (facebook) - What's your favorite carrier?  We wanna know!  Come join us on facebook to discuss the carriers we love the best.

Freebie Friday (blog & facebook) - Win some fun babywearing prizes!  Enter any time before 12am on Friday, Oct 11th.  Winner will be selected on Friday and announced once entry is confirmed.  Free shipping inside the US.  International winners will be responsible for shipping costs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oct 12

Sleepy Saturday (facebook) - Does your little one sleep while babywearing?  Join us on facebook to discuss how babywearing fits into your child's sleep routine and share those adorable babywearing photos of your sleeping angels!


Oct 13

Support Sunday (blog & facebook) - Continue to support babywearing even after International Babywearing Week comes to a close!  Enter to win a free carrier for yourself AND the babywearing group of your choosing by support babywearing.  Donate to the Baby Carrier Industrial Alliance, Babywearing International or your local babywearing group for entry.  Proof of donation must be e-mailed to receive credit.  One entry will be given for every dollar donated.  Stay tuned for more details to come.

Additional activities:

If you are local to the Chicago land area, come and join DuPage Slingers on Thursday for a babywearing playgroup at Hummer Park in Downers Grove.  Babywearing International of Chicagoland has fun meet ups planned for every day, so check out their site for more info.

Not local?  Check out your local babywearing groups for fun activities and meet ups.  Or start your own!  You might be surprised how many babywearers are out there!

Happy International Babywearing Week!