Why Series pt 1

Why Series pt 1

Why use a baby carrier?

We asked caregivers to tell us why the love using a baby carrier! Here's just a few reasons a baby carrier has made their life easier (and more fun!)...

1. Look Ma, no hands!

(Photo credit Rebecca Snow)

(Photo credit Rebecca Snow)

2. It's FUN!

(Photo Credit LaNek Sides)

(Photo Credit LaNek Sides)

3. Get off the beaten path with your little one.

(Photo Credit Bethany Cain)

(Photo Credit Bethany Cain)

4. Bath time for your toddler is no sweat!

(Photo Credit Nurjanna Ng) 

(Photo Credit Nurjanna Ng) 

5. Baby snuggles while you enjoy your dinner.

(Photo Credit Natasha Henderson O'Malley)

(Photo Credit Natasha Henderson O'Malley)

6. Navigate public transportation with ease.

Photo Credit: Nurjanna Ng Claire Soignet 

Photo Credit: Nurjanna Ng Claire Soignet 

7. Sibling bonding made easy!

(Photo Credit Austin Rees)

(Photo Credit Austin Rees)

8. Be the calm in the crowd.

(Photo Credit Claire Soignet)

(Photo Credit Claire Soignet)

9. Squeeze in some work during naptime (or just catch up on Netflix!)

(Photo Credit Tanya Childress)

(Photo Credit Tanya Childress)

10. Nurse or bottle feed baby on the go!  

(Photo Credit Krystal Fare) 

(Photo Credit Krystal Fare) 

11. Helps make the transition of welcoming a new family member seamless! 

(Photo Credit Kristi Hayes Devlin, Rebecca Snow, Tanya Childress,  Nurjanna Ng, Baxter Snider)

(Photo Credit Kristi Hayes Devlin, Rebecca Snow, Tanya Childress, Nurjanna Ng, Baxter Snider)

Worn=Happy

(Photo Credit Natasha Henderson O'Malley, Alexandra Sullivan, Christyn Ibara, Claire Soignet, Melissa Mcgill Cooper)

(Photo Credit Natasha Henderson O'Malley, Alexandra Sullivan, Christyn Ibara, Claire Soignet, Melissa Mcgill Cooper)

Graduate Highlight: Meet Amber Kozak

Graduate Highlight: Meet Amber Kozak

I would describe myself as very passionate and empathetic. I have learned that this is what empowers me to be better, to do the right thing and inspire others. I have been told that it’s a weakness, it’s not, it is my greatest strength.
— Amber Kozak

Amber is a CBWS Babywearing Consultant, and works under her business' name Babywearing Unicorn. She works at a natural parenting store in Philadelphia called CLOTH where she does in store Babywearing consultations for customers and teaches a class on early infant bonding. She also volunteers with, and is one of the founders of, Philly Babywearing Group. 

Amber has a new Zine coming out in August called "Mom Punx" her first issue is called "Mommy Group Misfits" It can be a struggle to be accepted by other parents when you have dyed hair and tattoos or you don't fit the mold. In this issue Amber will be talking about body modifications such as tattoos and piercings in regards to pregnancy and parenting. There will also be an interview with a really awesome LGBT couple Shalee and Mallory Ellis.

Amber offers  home consultations in, and up to a one hour drive of, Philadelphia PA. 
You can contact Amber babywearing_unicorn@gmail.com 

Instagram: @babywearing_Unicorn
Please like Amber's page on Facebook


I met Amber at Bond Conference in April,  when she posted about her recent volunteer work at a women shelter in Philly  I asked her if she can write a blog post about her experience. Please read her post below and lets keep on spreading the babywearing love. - Bianca

When I attended the BOND conference in April I was really inspired, not only by the speakers but, by all of the individual work done by all of the folks in the industry, from educators to brand reps. This industry is making big strides to change the way people view early infant development and creating lasting bonds between caregivers and their children. It really inspired me to do more.

At Bond there was a lot of talk about bringing the information back to our individual communities,  and I took that to heart. With the wealth of knowledge I received at BOND, the confidence and inspiration from my peers, along with my background in Babywearing I was able to create a full early infant attachment, kangaroo care, safe sleep (including Breastsleeping), and Babywearing class and teach it at my local shelter for new and expectant moms, as well as provide carriers with donations from two different companies whose reps I first met at BOND. BabyloniaUSA donated BB Tais and MOBY donated their original stretchy wraps, words can not express how much I appreciate their generosity. 

I enlisted the help of Erica Desper of Confident Parenting to assist with fit checks. An active member of Philly Babywearing Group named Kita Wolfe also volunteered to come and take photos. I really appreciate them taking their time to assist me with this project. Many of my peers in the Babywearing community also assisted me by helping me make sure my class presented as gently as possible and I really appreciate their support.

 

After my general presentation I spoke a bit about spinal development and Erica held up a visual while I used my beaded spine prop to explain progression of the developing spine, before going into general Babywearing.

Participating in this class was so fulfilling for me personally. I believe that every Mother needs a “village” and we as consultants can be such an important part of so many of them.
— Erica Desper

I announced they would be receiving 2 carriers and the 3 of us handed out gift bags. Everyone seemed really excited! I also did a demonstration of each carrier. 

After each demo the girls got into groups of two and I walked them through each step. Erica and I made sure everyone tried on each carrier with a demo doll and had it fitted properly. Some of the women started talking about their due due dates, their baby's genders, and how the anticipation of waiting for the baby to come can seem like a lifetime. For a moment it didn't feel like we were in a shelter. We were just a bunch of empowered women in a room talking about Babywearing. 

Helping other mothers is so important. I’ve learned that babywearing is an unspoken bond. It was great to help welcome those mothers into the family through this class
— Kita Wolfe

When we first arrived at the shelter I must say that my audience was less than impressed, many were uninterested in introductions, going in and out of the room and there was a general vibe of disinterest. Feeling a little disheartened I started presenting anyway and began my talk on attachment. About 1/3 of the way through that first portion, the women began participating a bit and asking questions. This was a big win! I thought deeply about how these women are lacking support that I take for granted every day and how they don't even have a home to go to. I also thought about how I would feel in that situation. Assessing my own privilege and trying to look at things from their perspective helped me understand why it took them a bit longer to warm up and engage. It is important to actively try to look at things from your Audiences perspective, if you are planning to do this type of work, you really need to put a lot of effort into being sensitive to your audience. You never know just what someone may have been through before coming into a space with you.

After class I stayed behind to help the 3 women who already had their babies get comfortable in their carriers. Helping women create stronger bonds with their babies is what my work is all about. Naturally this was my favorite part the end result, happy parents with snuggly babies.

I loved fitting them in their carriers and seeing how strong and confident wearing their babies made them feel it was very heartwarming. I hope to do this again soon.

A special thanks to Moby, BabyloniaUSA and Nova Natural for providing the carriers. 


Have Your Photo Featured With CBWS

Have Your Photo Featured With CBWS

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CBWS is working on a series of baby carrier blogs and posts, and we need your help! We would like to feature a variety of babywearing caregivers in real life situations. Below are a list of specific needs we are hoping to fill, but if you've got a great image you'd like to share with us, we'd love to keep it on hand!


You can submit your photos by uploading them to our Dropbox here. By uploading your photo into this dropbox, you agree to our public use of the photo within our blog series and via social media.


List of pictures we need :) 

 

-A babywearing caregiver with a toddler playing on floor in background, or playing with a toddler while wearing

-Caregiver playing with toddler while younger baby is in the carrier

-Caregiver babywearing at a party

-Caregiver babywearing and utilizing public transportation

-Caregiver walking up the stairs while babywearing in a public location (ie:leaving the subway station)

-Caregiver babywearing while eating a meal

-Caregiver babywearing while pushing stroller with shopping bags or other belongings. 

-Caregiver walking with baby in carrier up stairs and easily carrying a stroller too

-Caregiver displaying being "hands free" on baby

-Caregiver active and outdoors with baby in a carrier

-Caregiver wearing a content baby in awake state

-Baby sleeping in a carrier

-Caregiver kissing baby in a baby carrier

-Caregiver and baby looking at each other

-Caregiver interacting with someone else or looking elsewhere, baby looking at caregiver

-Baby and caregiver in Kangaroo Care

-Caregiver and worn baby looking at same thing/exploring same object

 

 

 

Graduate Highlight: Meet Sean Bourke (Father's Day Edition)

Graduate Highlight: Meet Sean Bourke (Father's Day Edition)

Kiddos? Tristan 7, Caden 3

Where do you live? Valencia, Ca

How or why did you get into Babywearing? I got introduced to babywearing though my amazing partner Erin. She wore our older son and wearing just seemed like the natural thing to do with Caden. 

What is the best thing about working in the Babywearing industry? The best thing for me about being in the industry is being able help new parents feel confident in themselves when it comes to babywearing. Being a dad I feel like I am able to connect with other dads and  encourage them to follow there paternal instincts to care and nurture their child by babywearing. 

If you could only own one carrier which one would you choose? Now a days I would have to say a larger (toddler/Pre-k) SSC. Caden has become rather independent and wants to walk around most of the time. So having something that I can just have around my waist and put him up when he gets tired is the best option. If its a generic question about what kind of carrier I would probably choose a woven wrap because it is the most versatile from infant until they decide they are done being worn.

What are you jamming to these days? I have a wide variety of music I listen to these days. It varies from viking metal like Amon Amarth, folk metal like Eluveitie to folk/rock like mumford & sons

What's your favorite quote/mantra/inspiration? I don't have a favorite quote but on the fridge there is a dry erase stick on that Erin or I will write a quote that speak to us and change it every so often.

What's next for you? I plan on teaching some classes and getting more involved in my local community.

Connect with Sean

www.facebook.com/TheKiltedBW

instagram.com/thekiltedbw

Graduate Highlight: Meet David Brown (Father's Day Edition)

Graduate Highlight: Meet David Brown (Father's Day Edition)

Kiddos? Chandler 7 Matilda 5 August 3

Where do you live? Glendale CA

How or why did you get into Babywearing? We started wearing with our first and then my wife started BabywearingLA

What is the best thing about working in the Babywearing industry? Helping people

If you could only own one carrier which one would you choose? Kinderpack ciao because it has scooters on it. But we have a new one on the way and the Ergo Adapt can be used longer

What are you jamming to these days? Ska!  There is a podcast called 23 Minutes of Ska

What's your favorite quote/mantra/inspiration? My wife. She is awesome and an inspiration.

What's next for you? I am homeschooling our kids and that takes all of my focus.

Anything else you want everyone know about you: A few years ago I did some tutorials under the title "Yo Pax Daddy Wraps". I think they are funny, informative and a good introduction for dads that might be a little apprehensive. (Note by Bianca: Of course I had to find those videos and I posted them below.. enjoy!) 

Connect with David

Thebabywearingcpst.com

Facebook.com/thebabywearingcpst

 

Graduate Highlight: Meet Ben Winton

Graduate Highlight: Meet Ben Winton

Kiddos? Will age 5,  Sam age 2, Third boy due in September 

Where do you live? Birmingham, AL

How or why did you get into Babywearing? I got into babywearing for two reasons. First is because we were having our second son and being hands free really helps. The second reason was for bonding. My wife has been very fortunate to be able to breastfeed both our sons and through it she is able to have a bond with our sons that I am not able to have. Babywearing and being on a hands on dad helps me create a similar bond with our boys. 

What is the best thing about working in the Babywearing industry?  I love the support of this industry. I don't believe there is another industry with this kind of support. 

If you could only own one carrier which one would you choose? A mei tai with a ring waist. 

What are you jamming to these days?  Honestly, I don't listen to music much I prefer books on tape.  

What's your favorite quote/mantra/inspiration? My inspiration is taking care of my family. Finding what helps us/them grow and flourish. Wanting to find what nurtures their best and mine keeps me growing personally both personally and professionally. And inspires to to encourage the same in others. 

What's next for you? Currently, I'm working on growing It Takes a Village Babywearing Consulting. I'm wanting to get more males babywearing and to show them that it's not just for females. 

Anything else you want everyone know about you:  Anything I do, I do because I love it. I love the bond babywearing creates between the wearer and the wearee as well as how wearing creates a village for so many and gives them that community where, for many, it didn't exist before. I want everyone to have the chance to experience what that is like.  

Connect with Ben

Instagram.com/itavbw

twitter.com/itavbw

facebook.com/ittakesavillagebw/ 

 

 

 

 

Graduate Highlight: Meet Mat York (Father's Day edition)

Graduate Highlight: Meet Mat York (Father's Day edition)

Kid(dos) (age and name?) Daughter Baylor- 3.5 yrs    Son Miles- 1.5 yrs

Where do you live? Dallas, Tx

How or why did you get into Babywearing?  Acknowledging the extreme bonding experience my wife was developing  through breastfeeding as a new dad I knew I had to find a way to bond with my kids while they were in that early stage of life. Babywearing seemed a natural option to create that experience for myself. I would have never fathomed that almost 4 years later I would be an educator crusading for paternal Babywearing neutrality.  

What is the best thing about working in the Babywearing industry? Watching the families I work with not only enjoy Babywearing but seamlessly make it a part of their parenting style.

If you could only own one carrier which one would you choose? While I reach most often for a ring sling, I'd have to say if I could only have one a Mei tai would have to be it! 

What are you jamming to these days? Depends on my mood anything from acoustic singer songwriter stuff to dancing around to Taylor Swift and disco while cooking! And course the ever present Disney tunes that are always being sung or played to entertain the kiddos! 

What's your favorite quote/mantra/inspiration? "Well that could've been worse" #parentingtoddlers 

What's next for you? I'm really enjoying the path that I'm on as an educator. I find great joy in speaking to families about their Babywearing needs. My next speaking topic to tackle is Babywearing as a family unit: if we're not all participating, what message are we sending? 

Anything else you want everyone know about you:  As much as own my role as a father, I'm still really just figuring it out as I go. 

Connect with Mat

www.Instagram.com/thatdadmat 

https://m.facebook.com/ThatDadMat/

Babywearing Trend Report Fall/Winter 2015

It is that time of year again…how does that happen?!  ABC 2015 just flew by like a whirlwind. That's the All Baby and Child show in case it is not known to you.  I have been attending this show since 2009 and every year there are fantastic things to discover, people to meet and visit, breakfasts and dinners to attend, and for the last 5 years there has been the BCIA Annual dinner.  So much goes on during this show it's amazing anyone ever sleeps!

What are my ‘takeaways’, well in the baby carrier category a few trends instantly jumped out at me.  We are seeing ring slings, hip seats, wraps, and exclusive Mei Tai's...so keep reading for more details.

First, the Ring Sling is King!  There were so many new options that it was a bit of a tail spin to keep up.  It's clear that many companies are seeing the ring sling as a great newborn option!

Ring slings are available in pretty much every price point and fabric option now.  A must mention is the Wrapsody Ringsling with the Sleeping Baby Productions Shoulder. This is sure to please many new families as this is a truly beloved shoulder style.

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There are a few players coming into the lower price point ring sling game in an effort to entice new families to ‘add on’ the ring sling.  The ring sling does happen to be a great carrier to throw in your purse, diaper bag, or under your stroller and I can see why companies are pursuing the 'add on' market.

It was fantastic to see Maya Wrap back at ABC!  As one of the pioneers of ring slings it says a lot about the health of our industry for them to be back at ABC.  This year they unveiled many new colors and a few shoulder styles as well.  Maya Wrap has really grasped that each retailer knows their market best and is providing an array of options so best meet the newer demands of this clientele.

It doesn’t stop here! Tula came to market in full force and their ring sling is front and center. They offer their woven wrap as a wrap-conversion ring sling which is currently a very popular option for many families.

The tried and true fashion statement still is Sakura Bloom, a new line up of colors and a retailer exclusive makes this a consistent high quality ring sling that has excellent fashion sense.  Like instant ‘freshening up’! 

Sakura Bloom also announced their new BLACKOUT collection.  They are currently only available at authorized brick and mortar store. The slings even have a custom branded red/black Sakura Bloom label. Might make a great gift for this special man in your life. 

Sakura Bloom also brought old favorites back and added some new chambray colors. Black Cherry is my personal favorite. You can see them all in the video.

New BlACKOUT collection from Sakura Bloom 

New BlACKOUT collection from Sakura Bloom 



The second trend is the Hip Seat.  This popular trend is just hitting the North American shores in full force. Think a shelf that your baby sits on that is an extension of your hip... but one that is comfortable and lightweight and easy to transport. These are sure to be popular with the ‘up and down’ stage of babywearing and during events, at home while doing house work, and when kids want to be involved and when they just want to see what's going on.  Expect to see more of these over the next few years.

"I can see dads really digging this style, it's like ‘babywearing’ light.  If you can put on a belt…you can put on a hip seat."  


The trend we saw blossoming last year that is still going strong is "the wrap”.  The number of companies showing their newest materials, colors and fabric weaves continues to expand.  Together these companies are bringing ‘wrapping’ towards a more mainstream option.  They are making some progress if the foot traffic at many of the booths is any indication, and yes it brought smiles to my heart.  Making a splash this year was Babylonia, Wrapsody, Poe Wovens, Moby Wrap, Maya Wrap, Hug-a-Bub, and Beachfront Baby.

Joanna stopped by Babylonia booth to test out the water wrap. 

Joanna stopped by Babylonia booth to test out the water wrap. 



Coming out of the Buckle carrier section was not much new..whew!  I am glad to have a year off of comparing all the new changes and just have time to focus on the new colors and fabrics. Thanks!

Honorable mention: not yet a trend, but watch out (!) for the custom limited edition Mei Tais from Catbird Baby and MayaWrap. Touted as the friendliest carrier style for those just starting babywearing.  The retailers were all a buzz about the great new prints and limited runs, by far the most mentioned piece of the show… well... outside of the newest all black ring sling from Sakura Bloom…but go figure!



Our Time at ABC Kids 2015!

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I had a blast at ABC 2015, I got to see so many familiar faces and to connect with some new people as well!

Each day I held a session or two designed to help the retailer be the best they can be at selling carriers. In my dream world every city would have a babywearing store, or two, that a person could visit any day for assistance and purchasing of a wide variety of carriers. This  means I want to help them be around for as long as possible! I had a lot of fun at each session and am excited to turn that material into something all retailers can enjoy.  

 

Every year the BCIA (Baby Carrier Industy Alliance) has their annual dinner during ABC and this year was our 5 year anniversary!  This amazes me on so many levels and I am so grateful for all the work the BCIA does do for our industry.

It was a very nice event, with over 80 people from Manufacturers to retailers, to educators all standing around chatting, eating and drinking. Simply wonderful that our indistry does this!

Of course, the events that happen off the tradeshow floor are super important part of the show too. and here is just a few of the pics from our adventures:

Stay tuned for a Babywearing Trend Report  in the next few days!
Until next year….
Happy Babywearing! 

 

Reap the Rewards of Spending #ABCKids15 with CBWS!

Getting your schedule organized for the ABC Kids Show? Remember to put CBWS "Get Your Carrier Sales On" sessions on your list! We've partnered with some amazing manufacturers to make sure you have a great time networking! The more the merrier, so feel free to share with other retailers who love great sales tips, parties, networking, and a chance to bring home awesome prizes!

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Sunday, October 18th at 10:30am

for our first stop in the Catbird Baby Booth 7221! 

What better way to start off the show than learning about,

 "Maximizing Carrier Purchases for Your Store"


As a bonus for attending this session, place your order on the spot and get two Carry-All totes ($60 Value) free, IN ADDITION to the awesome show specials! 


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Sunday, October 18th at 3pm
for a session at the Onya Baby Booth 134!


Find out the importance of
 

"Welcoming All Caregivers to the Babywearing Lifestyle"


Those who stay for the entire session will also have the opportunity to win a Blue Lapis Carrier with Booster and Chewies PLUS a carrier donated to the babywearing group of their choice! You don't want to miss it it!


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Monday, October 19th 10:30am
 with Beco Baby at Booth 5701


Find out how carriers are a growth market that YOUR store can be a part of. Join Joanna for a session that shows...

"If You Can Sell a Stroller, You Can Sell a Carrier"

You don't want to miss the amazing incentive Beco has planned for you. For each retailer who attends the session in full, receive one new Beco Ringsling FREE and shipped to you following the show! 


 

Monday, October 19th 3:00pm
with Sakura Bloom at Booth 553

 

We are so excited to be returning to the Sakura Bloom booth with a session on...
 

"Closing Your Ring Sling Sales"
 

Stay through the session and be entered for a chance to win $500 in Sakura Bloom credit for use while at the show!! 


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Tuesday, October 20th 10:30am
 with Ergo Baby at Booth 6543


 Start your day as Joanna explores...

"Is There Room for the 100lb Gorilla in Your Store?"

 Stay for the entire session and be entered to win $1000 in Ergo products! 


 

Tuesday, October 20th 3:00pm
with Moby Wrap at Booth 7529

 

Wind down your day, while enjoying a session about...
 

"The Rise of the Wrap"

Stay for the whole session for a chance to win a One Day CBWS Retailer Course. Joanna will bring her extensive retail experience to your store, all expenses paid by Moby Wrap!


Wednesday, October 21st 10:30am
 with Ergo Baby at Booth 6543

Join Joanna for a chance to get her feedback in this fireside chat...

"Your Questions, My Answers"


Amazing CBWS Prizes!

 For each session you attend in it's entirety on Sunday, you will receive one entry into our daily raffle which includes One FREE Hazel demonstration doll, including shipping to you!

For each session you attend in it's entirety on Monday, you will receive one entry into our daily raffle which includes One FREE admission to our Kangaroo Care Mini Course!

For each session you attend in it's entirety on Tuesday, you will receive one entry into our daily raffle which includes A 2 hour business consultation via phone or Skype with Joanna! 


Want more freebies? Make sure to take one of our collector style buttons from each session. Collect 3 buttons and receive an entry into our final prize drawing for...SIX demo carriers for your store, one from each of our participating manufacturers shipped direct to you! Plus, each button you collect after you reach 3, counts for an additional entry! 

Get Your Carrier Sales On at The ABC Kids Show

Are you headed to the ABC Kids Show? We are! Come and join the Center for Babywearing Studies for a series of short and fun retailer sessions guaranteed to help you Get Your Carrier Sales On!

We've partnered with a great group of manufacturers to help you network, reconnect and boost your carrier sales! Oh, and we'd better not forget to mention that this is all about celebrating the retailer, and what's a celebration without a party (and prizes!)?

Check out our daily schedule below, and sign up for our ABC Mailing List below to receive reminders and additional info about our fantastic incentives!

Meet Kara Cook!

We've had so much fun this week introducing you to some of the many people who volunteer in the babywearing community. We've been so inspired by each of these individuals! For our final installment, we introduce you to Kara Cook:

Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?

 I became a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with Babywearing International of Phoenix after a year of being an active member and seeing the positive change they were making in our community. I love serving local moms and helping them to discover babywearing. I have a special focus on helping special needs families and families that wish to tandem wear.

I co-run a Special Needs Babywearers of Phoenix support group with my friend and fellow educator Rhiannon. With this group we try to meet the emotional and social challenges of babywearing special needs children, or wearing a child when faced with special needs. Outside of this group, I am building the Little Lives Lending Library, a project to serve children and families that are admitted to our two local children's hospitals, with particular attention to the Infant/Toddler Continuing Care and Oncology units. This project is near and dear to my heart, as my children spent the past 2 years calling these hospitals a second home.

Outside of the babywearing world, I am also a Foster and adoptive parent. I volunteer in our state placement center and after hours office for children that are removed from their homes. These offices serve as a temporary holding area while children from newborn-17 await placement in a foster home. These offices get very busy and volunteers spend our time doing anything from cleaning and laundry to rocking and comforting scared children to sleep.

Who is your babywearing role model?

 I look up to the many women in our industry that are fighting to keep babywearing safe and accessible for all families. It is a difficult task to take on, and so many do so on a volunteer basis. From local babywearing leadership to weavers and babywearing educators, these women are empowered and are setting the bar for the rest of us.

How has babywearing impacted your life?

Babywearing has allowed me to bond closely with my now adopted children despite not being able to have the traditionally bonded relationship that I wanted, due to over 2 years in foster care. It has allowed me to meet the attachment needs of my toddler while caring for her baby brother, and to meet both of their many medical challenges. From long late night walks in hospital hallways to surgeries, procedures, and many doctor appointments, babywearing has allowed me to be the best parent I can be.

What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?

Be mindful. Be mindful of your abilities and play to your strengths. Be mindful of your time and do not take on more than you can commit to 100%. Be mindful of small everyday tasks that can make someone else's life just a bit easier. Be mindful of the needs of your community, your family, and yourself.

What advice would you give to a brand new mom?

Ask for help and let people help you. Let go of the idea that you have to be a perfect parent. No one is perfect. Ask for help. Let friends and family serve you and your family. It will lighten your burden, but also bring joy to those you allow to serve you. Helping others makes people feel good. Accepting help when it is offered makes people feel wanted and appreciated.

What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?

I love helping special needs families. Seeing a family find relief and discover babywearing for their special needs child is so incredibly rewarding. Seeing our local babywearing community grow and expand to include so many special needs families, and watching those families being embraced with love and acceptance, that is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?

I just do. We find our priorities and we make them happen. Babywearing and my work with special needs families are important to me. I do as much as I can and then I turn to my amazing community of fellow educators, and I know that they are there with me making sure that everything gets done. They truly are remarkable ladies.

 

Do you have other hobbies or interests?

 I'm a mother first and foremost. I enjoy spending time with my children. I also find joy in reading and film, particularly in Sciene Fiction and Fantasy genres.

What's one thing someone may not know about you? 

I love classic literature. I adore Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen. I could get lost in the classics.

Congratulations on your nomination, and thank you for participating Kara!

Meet Aisling Schenck!

In the Fourth Installment of Honoring Babywearing Volunteer Educators, we would like to introduce you to another nominee who inspired her community, Aisling Schenck!

Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?

I am an educator for the Atlanta chapter of Babywearing International and serve as Secretary on the Babywearing International Board of Directors. 

My first two children were twins and when I found babywearing, I realized what a great way it was to meet both of their needs more easily. I started attending local babywearing meetings and learned so much from the kind and welcoming volunteers there. I quickly became more involved with the group by volunteering and educating and, with two other coleaders, began the process of affiliating our group with Babywearing International.

Who is your babywearing role model?

One of my most positive babywearing influences has been Meredith Sinclair. We first met through an online parenting community and I found her enthusiasm for babywearing as well as her eagerness to educate others, infectious. She was responsible for introducing me to the incredible community at thebabywearer.com, and from there my love of babywearing took off. Her dedication to the babywearing community is unparalleled. She is both a wonderful educator, a generous volunteer, and one of the kindest people I know.

How has babywearing impacted your life?

 Babywearing was a major contributor in easing the transition into motherhood for me. At times during my first pregnancy, I doubted my ability to meet the needs of two infants at once. With babywearing as a tool, however, I never felt as though my twins were missing out on a moment of touch, affection, or closeness. I could hold one child while tending to the needs of the other, or provide much needed cuddles while completing other necessary tasks. It's also much easier to get around without a double stroller to contend with all the time! When my third child arrived, I could enjoy outings and activities with my preschoolers without slowing down a bit. It has most definitely made life with my children easier, and educating others has satisfied my desire to give back to my community.


What is your group/volunteer experience like?

 Our group reaches caregivers throughout a large metro area and has grown so much since it's inception. We work very hard to ensure that our meeting attendees feel welcome and supported. I am so proud of how far we have come. I love seeing the joy on a caregivers face when a carry "clicks" or they master a new skill.

What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?

 Remember what it was like when you were a new parent, and keep that in mind as you work with caregivers. You were probably tired, overwhelmed, and wondering if you were "doing this parenting thing right". Be gentle, focus on safety, and don't feel as if you need to teach everything about every carrier all at once. Try to help new parents find one solution that will work for them right now or for the long term.

What advice would you give to a brand new mom?

 Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the most important and sometimes most difficult job there is. Take time to nurture yourself. Try your best not to compare your parenting journey or your baby with others.

What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?

Seeing how my local group has grown in the last few years has been immensely gratifying. I also so very proud of the volunteer educators that we have trained in our group. Every one of them is a truly excellent, empathetic, and skilled educator, and an asset to our community.

How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?

 Babywearing and subsequently, volunteering as an educator, has been a part of my life since the beginning of my parenting journey. As such, my children are at home at our meetings and have met many of their closest friends there, as have I. I have met many of my closest friends through volunteering the babywearing community. Now that my older children are at school, I teach at meetings during the school day and bring my youngest, who is forming his own babywearing friendships. I try to fit in work for the BWI Board of Directors wherever I can, often after my children have gone to bed.

Do you have other hobbies or interests?

 I have a large vegetable garden at home and love spending time there. I also enjoy outdoor pursuits such as hiking and camping with family.

What's your favorite place to visit?

One of my favorite places in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I especially love the Orchid house and Japanese garden.

What's one thing someone may not know about you?

 I studied jewelry and metalsmithing at Georgia State University. I haven't been making jewelry since the birth of my children, but I would love to get back into it someday.

 

Thanks so much for participating and sharing your wisdom with us, Aisling!

Graduate Highlight: Meet Hope Hichak!

Our International Babywearing Week celebration is all about volunteer educators in the babywearing community! We hope you are enjoying the chance to learn more about some of the amazing individuals who make volunteering part of their lives. In our third segment of Honoring Babywearing Volunteer Educators, we would like to introduce you to Hope Hichak, founder of Quantico Area Babywearers!

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Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?:

I volunteer with Quantico Area Babywearers. I became a baby wearer when I had my first son in 2010. My husband was in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton. I attended my first meeting with Babywearing San Diego & I was hooked! I started holding playdates under BWI of Central Virginia in Spring 2013. With the help of 6 wonderful women, We started QAB on October 1, 2013.

How has babywearing impacted your life?

Babywearing became essential when my second son was born with multiple food allergies. He screamed night and day. The best way to help us all get through that trying time was with Max in a carrier. We used babywearing to survive. At 3 years old, I am happy to say that my child that was worn 20 out of 24 hours of the day is now a well adjusted, thriving preschooler. I attribute most of that to our babywearing relationship.

What is your group/volunteer experience like?

My group holds 5-6 free meetings a month in the Fredericksburg, Stafford, Woodbridge, Virginia area. I love meeting new caregivers at every meeting. I truly enjoy helping families in our community.

What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?

 I would say set up healthy volunteer boundaries so you don't burn out. It is easy to get super involved and take on too much. Make sure you have fun!

What advice would you give to a brand new mom? 

I would advise a brand new mom to make sure she takes time to take care of herself. Whether is a cup of coffee in the morning, meeting girlfriends at target or taking a quick shower, whatever helps you to feel refreshed and recharged, find the time to do it!

How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?

Volunteering fits into my life because I get to hang out with the other leaders who I am happy to call my friends and my tribe.

What's your favorite place to visit? 

We love to visit the mountains! My family is blessed to have a place to go to in Massenuten, Virginia. We try to get out there once a month to relax while taking in the fresh air.

What's one thing someone may not know about you? 

My mom wore me in a padded ring sling as a baby!

Meet Leslie Kung!

International Babywearing Week is the perfect time to take a pause and applaud our volunteers! Volunteer Educators are the people working tirelessly everyday in our communities to bring babywearing to new families. In our second installment of Honoring Babywearing Volunteer Educators, I'd like to introduce you to Leslie Kung, founder of Babywearers of Cedar Rapids. 

Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?: 

In July of 2007, I had my first son. We had a planned home birth transfer to the hospital, and the experience was pretty traumatic. As a new mother, I instinctively wanted to keep my son close to me. I started out with a narrow-based carrier and a bag sling! My first class on babywearing was with a local doula who owned a cloth diaper store In Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Wearing my son helped with the transition into motherhood, and the closeness and ease of comforting him was key in helping us both heal after a traumatic birth.

I joined TheBabyWearer.com forums and learned everything that I could. Within a year or less, I was asking the doula business owner if I could teach for her. She agreed, allowing me to take the helm. I taught the official Babywearing 101 class as well as founding Babywearers of Cedar Rapids.

As an active mom, I went to many different groups and meetings: la leche league, hospiral breastfeeding/mom groups, and more. At each group, I offered my help with slings, wraps, and other carriers. I helped anyone who wanted it, buying clearance ($1/yard) cotton jersey to cut into stretchy wraps as outreach gifts.

Babywearers of Cedar Rapids had a slow start, but it grew and grew into the large, sprawling group it is today. In my mothering journey, I have seen a time where most people didn't babywear or even recognize babywearing devices. There were only a few woven wrap companies, and the most expensive fanciest carrier out there was the Ergobaby. Things have changed. Iowa stands to be one of the most babywearing dense places per capita in the USA now, which is amazing!


Who is your babywearing role model?: 

My mother wore us in a traditional red silk mei tai which she was gifted when she started to have kids. She and my father also used framed backpack carriers to take us with them on hiking excursions and on vacations. My parents gave us all a great gift by keeping us close and holding us, so my mother is my babywearing role model. As a grandmother, she is an enthusiastic supporter of babywearing, and has worn each of my children with joy.

How has babywearing impacted your life?: 

Babywearing allowed me to bond and do something positive in the aftereffects of a very traumatic birth. Babywearing also gave me something to concentrate on that made me feel good on many levels:

  1. bonding and cuddling released oxytocin
  2. having my hands free while going about my day made me feel as if I could possibly survive and keep my son safe in case of zombie apocalypse
  3. making contact with other parents and helping them wear their babies allowed me to feel as if I contributed something to the world
  4. I had positive and unifying socialization with other mothers
  5.  babywearing allowed me to make lifelong friends. 

What is your group/volunteer experience like?: 

It has been a long 7 years. In all those years, each year had its own challenge. In the beginning years, I would show up at the meeting location and time and wait to see if anyone was coming. Many of those times, I waited until 15 or 20 minutes after the start time, saw no one, and just closed and locked up. The few times someone would show up, it would be a new or expectant mother. I would show them the basics of safety, clear airways, high and tight, and mimicking an in-arms position. They would thank me, give rave reviews to the store owner (when I was still having meetings at the cloth diaper store), and I would most likely not see them again, even though the group was twice-monthly and free.

The next few years brought me the first steady members. The next few years after that, the numbers of babywearers in the local area seemed to reach some sort of snowball point, and groups became overwhelmingly busy at times. The steady members became helpers and teachers as well. Even though I am aiming at retirement now, showing up and helping people with carriers is still a highlight of my month.

What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?: 

Be humble and persistent.

To be a good babywearing leader and teacher, you have to know that you DON'T know everything. You are not the expert. You are a facilitator, and when the session ends, the person you're helping should feel more confident in what they are doing. Don't answer questions definitively which you cannot confirm. "I don't know, but I can find out" is the best answer to questions about carriers, carries, and safety which you are not personally familiar with.

To be a good babywearing leader and teacher, you must be persistent. You want to start a group from scratch? Be prepared for the first year to have a 30% attendance rate versus no-shows. If you help people 3 out of 10 times, and you sit and wait 7 of those times, you're still making a difference. If you can't figure out a carry, try and try again. If you are having trouble teaching a technique, research it, approach it from another angle, and think about asking the student how he or she learns. People learn in all different ways: by verbal direction, written instruction, by watching it over and over, or by doing it themselves. Keep honing your craft. Be persistent.

 

What advice would you give to a brand new mom?: 

Slow down. Stop looking at the time. Stop charting everything, and start to really live in each moment. Before you know it, they'll be 8 years old begging you to buy a game system for them you can't afford. The time that you have with your newborn is the most potentially stressful and personally destructive phase of your life because our society no longer acts as if you're important. If you buy into that "all that matters is the baby" myth, you'll lose yourself. Bring it back down to the simple pleasures you have access to. Enjoy the feel of your infant's skin. Her smell. His laugh. When you have those moments when you cannot, no matter what you do, enjoy your baby--TAKE A BREAK! Ask for help as many times as you need help. Be vulnerable in your fears and weariness.

What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?: 

Every time someone says I changed their life, or comes back to thank me for the knowledge I helped them achieve, that moment is my biggest triumph.

How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?: 

Most of the time, I used my latest baby as a demo baby to show different carries. All my meetings were family friendly, so I mostly brought my children along. Over the years, I scheduled night meetings for working parents, afternoon meetings for stay at home moms, and morning weekend meetings.

Do you have other hobbies or interests?: 

I like making baby carriers, sewing, martial arts, horseback riding, belly dancing, and writing. I'm currently writing a fantasy novel, in which I had to include mention of babywearing!

What's your favorite place to visit?: 

My favorite place to visit might be The Grove in Glenview, Illinois. It's an awesome, free nature center. The kids love it.

Thank you so much Leslie, for taking the time to share with us! 

Meet Ann Marie Rodgerson!

This week we will be honoring volunteers who are doing incredible work in our communities. They are the fearless leaders who reach out and organize monthly- sometimes weekly- meetings for new parents to come together in a warm and welcoming space to learn about babywearing. Today, I want to introduce Ann Marie Rodgerson who is a leader for Babywearing International MD-DC-VA. 

Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?

I volunteer with Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA. I tried wearing my first and basically failed. I had a front pack that I couldn't figure out how you could hold the baby so she didn't fall while also snapping the snaps. Then I got a closed tail ring sling that was way too big and just didn't seem secure. I gave up. When my second came along, she was very needy and only wanted to be held by me. She was so different from my first and I knew I had to find a carrier solution. Someone on a forum online pointed me to TheBabywearer.com. From there, I discovered there was a local group (the predecessor to BWI of DC-MD-VA). I went to my first meeting and felt so welcomed and received so much help that all I could think was how I wished I had known about them with my first, and how I wanted to help other parents not have the frustration I felt failing at wearing with my oldest.

Who is your babywearing role model?

Gosh - I have so many. I would say Gretchen Pimentel and Nicole Nuemann were the first two. They were leaders in our group when I joined and they were so open to helping others. Susie Spence is someone else that I would count as a role model. She was the first president of Babywearing International, and I learned so much about non-profit work from her.

How has babywearing impacted your life?: 

Babywearing has impacted so many aspects of my life. It has helped me to fulfill my children's needs while still doing the tasks I want to do. It has helped me grow closer to my children and be the parent I wanted to be to them as babies. In a wider sense, babywearing brought me friends, a clan to rely on as a parent. It brought me to recognize some leadership skills in myself as I dove into being on the board of Babywearing International and then chairing the 2010 International Babywearing Conference. I've be so blessed to be able to do something I love and share it with others.

What is your group/volunteer experience like? 

It's a lot of fun most of the time. I love meeting a wide variety of families and seeing the smile and confidence they feel as their child settles into the right carrier for them.

What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?

Respect yourself and your time. People can sometimes forget that you are a volunteer, so you need to set boundaries and be okay with people being unhappy. You can't give all of your time and effort to volunteering or you will burn out fast. Our chapter has had many volunteers who remained well after their babies aren't babies because we do encourage all of them to be respectful to themselves and their time.

What advice would you give to a brand new mom? 

Forgive yourself. You'll do a million things before your baby is 10 that you'll wish you did differently. But as long as you love your baby with your whole heart, most of those "mistakes" will matter far more to you than to him/her.

What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?

Honestly, it was helping to get Babywearing International moving. When I joined the board, it was in danger of fizzling out and with shear determination and stupid idealism, I helped shove it into gear and started adding chapters. In the 3 years I was on the board, the organization grew 10 fold. Since then, it has grown more than 3 times the size again. I'm so proud of all of the board members who have helped shepherd the organization and look forward to watching it grow.

How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?

One of the great things about volunteering in a child-centered arena is that it allowed me to include my children in my volunteering. I wore them through meetings when they were babies, and as they grew into toddlers and now children, they have made friends and are used to playing nicely during meetings.

Do you have other hobbies or interests?

I like to read a lot, and watch TV. I write or edit most of the blog posts for our BWI chapter as well as my husband's business.

What's your favorite place to visit?

Oh gosh - I really loved Australia. I recall saying in Munich that if I spoke German I could live there. I love the bustle and history of London, I love the quiet and friendliness of Ireland.... I can't pick just one.

What's one thing someone may not know about you?

My undergraduate degrees are in English and Theatre Arts. I love the theatre and wish I could afford to go more often. I miss the rush of working behind the scenes during a show.

Team CBWS goes to MommyCon DC

When Team CBWS gets the opportunity to be together in person, it's always a welcome treat! MommyCon DC was a chance to not only be together as a team (minus Bianca, who was sorely missed), but also to spend a day with other members of this amazing industry. We were able to catch up with so many people and meet many others for the first time. A huge group of our graduates were present, including our recent additions from the Beco Team!

Amy, Katie, and I spent the day checking out the Babywearing exercise class (we hear we were on Periscope!), exploring the booths, and listening to some of the speakers.  If you were there, you may have noticed us sporting our great new #TeamCBWS shirts! 

We finished out the day with a wonderful graduate reunion, drinks, and food that lasted long into the evening. The room was filled with wonderful members of our graduate community taking advantage of being face-to-face! 

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We had such an amazing day, and can't wait for more like this in the future!

-Joanna and Team CWBS