Giveaway: Tickets to The Baby Show

Visit Us At The Baby Show April 14&15, 2018 Enercare Centre, Hall B, Exhibition Place, Toronto

We’re giving away 5 pairs of tickets to The Baby Show starting tonight at midnight!

We’re giving away one pair to a member of our Facebook Group. (Read here about how we can help you with your carrier online.)

Visit our Rafflecopter Giveaway for chances to win one of 4 other pairs of tickets:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or save $3 off tickets with code CMCTO

A Guide to Seeking Our Help Online

Carry Me Close volunteer educators donate their time to help local caregivers at our monthly in person meetings and on our busy Facebook page (insert link).  While in person help is superior, it’s not always possible.  Here are the steps to follow to get help from us online:

Click the following link and request entry to the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/carrymeclose/

The page will ask you to answer three questions – these help us keep spam accounts out and ensure people are local(ish) and interested in babywearing.  If you do not answer the questions within 24 hours your request will be denied.  You can re-request entry again at any time.

Once your request has been approved read the pinned post.  It contains the rules of the group.  If you have any questions feel free to ask on the post or on the page for clarification.

Search the group!  Facebook’s search function is pretty terrible so it’s very possible that nothing helpful will come up but it’s always worth a try.

If your question is related to positioning or pain while babywearing, please take pictures for us to comment on!  Multiple angles are helpful, as is wearing a colour that contrasts with your carrier (black clothing and a black carrier is especially hard to distinguish on small mobile devices!).  It is often easier to take pictures in a mirror that using the selfie mode on your handheld device. Better yet, have a family member or friend take the photos for you.

Feel free to use stickers or other photo edits to obscure faces.  Our Facebook group is private, but there are over 3500 people in it.   As an organization we will never use your photos inside or outside of the group without your explicit written permission.

Make your post.  Add the photos and other relevant information.  Baby’s age and rough measurements (i.e. weight, length) are normally helpful if you know them, as is any related medical or developmental concerns you or baby have.

Use your own best judgement when accepting advice. Our trained volunteers offer advice on our page, but so do knowledgeable members. Never do anything you feel is unsafe. If something seems unsafe to you, it’s fine to ask for clarification or wait for someone else to weigh in.

If you can, please consider making a small donation to the group through our PayPal account here.  Donations fund insurance for the group which protects our volunteers and allows the group to keep operating.  Your donation means the next caregiver who needs help will be able to access it through Carry Me Close Babywearers online or in person at our 101 meetings.

We’re Looking for Volunteers!

Carry Me Close Babywearers is an organization operated exclusively by volunteers. We are currently designing no cost, in-house training for Carry Me Close Babywearers volunteers. We hope to begin training by the end of 2018.

In the meantime, we are inviting Babywearing Educators who have completed training with the Canadian Babywearing School or an equivalent program to apply to volunteer with us at our “Babywearing 101 and Socializing” events. We are currently holding events once a month (every second Saturday, 1:30-3:45 at Ralph Thornton Community Centre), but hope to start offering meetings in different locations and at different times once we have enough volunteer educators and appropriate accessible spaces.

Here is the process:

  1. Send us a Letter of Interest (carrymeclosetoronto@gmail.com) telling us a bit about you, your training, and any relevant experiences or special skills.
  2. We will contact you and arrange for you to shadow one of our babywearing educator volunteers during one of our Babywearing 101 and Socializing meetings. We will ask you not to touch or instruct any participants during this shadowing session.
  3. If you are interested in moving ahead, we will send you information about all of our volunteer policies including our Current Practices Guidelines, Statement on Inclusion and Cultural Appropriation, and our Illness Policy.
  4. Once you have read all of our policies we will arrange for you to have a conversation with a member of our Board of Directors to discuss any questions you may have, either online or in person before a Babywearing 101 and Socializing meeting.
  5. The final step is to support one of the members of our Board of Directors at a Babywearing 101 and Socializing meeting. You will help to adjust carries and troubleshoot problems with participants under the supervision of the educator.
  6. If you feel you comfortable with our policies and demonstrate your understanding of them and commitment to them as you support our educator at the meeting, we will offer you a position as a volunteer with Carry Me Close Babywearers.
  7. You will become an official volunteer by signing our Volunteer Agreement, agreeing to abide by our official policies and procedures.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you for considering volunteering your time with us!

Featured Carrier: Spotlight on Ring Slings

Ring slings are a great option for newborns to toddlers and beyond but can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first.

Things to consider:

  1. Because you carry the weight on one shoulder and across your back, many people will prefer to use a ring sling for shorter periods of time after baby is 15lbs.
  2. Because there is only one pass of fabric to tighten, ring slings are relatively poppable (baby goes in, baby goes out).
  3. Depending on the fabric, many ring slings fold down quite small, making them an excellent carrier to have on hand while following a toddler-on-the-go.
  4. A ring sling carry is slightly dynamic and may need to be tightened periodically as you carry.

Ring slings are a style of carrier, not a brand. Many different brands are available with different fabrics and different shoulder styles (gathered vs. pleated shoulders is the most common dilemma for new buyers).

Important Safety Considerations:

  1. All the usual safety principles apply – keep baby visible and kissable.
  2. Ring slings are suitable for newborns (centered on wearer’s chest) and beyond (centered or hip).
  3. All the excess fabric should be under baby’s bum.  No rolling things into the top rail – it is easy to force baby’s head forward and into a risky position.
  4. If nursing in a ring sling, monitor baby throughout the feed, especially a young baby. Before wrapping and nursing, wait until nursing is well established and you are confident in your wrapping skills. Keep baby in an upright position to nurse and make sure to re-position baby high on your chest with face visible and kissable once nursing is finished, even if baby has fallen asleep

Helpful Videos:

Here are some videos we find helpful for learning to use a ring sling. If videos are not sufficient to meet your needs, please do not hesitate to seek out one of our events for help.

[When we share photo and video tutorials, we believe they represent good technique and relevant tips. We cannot vouch for every tutorial shared by the educators we feature. When in doubt, use your own judgement about whether a particular practice is safe – or ask a question in our Facebook group for clarification.]

This video from Babywearing Faith shows how to use a ring sling with a newborn.  If you also need a video on how to thread a ring sling, there is one available here.

And this second video demonstrates a hip carry in a ring sling using an older child.

How We Use Your Donations

We are run entirely by volunteers – through their time, labour, and emotional energy. This organization is a labour of love: for our children and for yours, and for all babies born with the need to touch and to be close to their caregivers, and for all the caregivers who need to get things done while meeting that need.

Carry Me Close Babywearers is a non-profit organization registered in the Province of Ontario. Since we are not a charity, we cannot issue charitable tax receipts. Donations help cover our insurance costs for the organization and for all the people who volunteer to run it. This is our most significant expense by far. If we are unable to successfully meet this cost, the organization will not be able to continue.

Cost should never be a barrier to participation in Babywearing 101 Meetings or in our online spaces. These events operate on a “Pay What You Can” basis and all are welcomed whether or not they can make a donation.

Our second most significant expense is making changes and additions to our carrier collection. We love to have the most common and popular carriers on hand at our meetings so that caregivers can compare and contrast different styles of carriers and decide which ones work best to meet their needs. For safety reasons, we can only bring brand new carriers into our collection – some of these are donated by manufacturers, but donations help us purchase others when there is significant demand.

If you would like to make a donation, you can find a donation box at our monthly “Babywearing 101 and Socializing” meetings. You can also find “Optional Donation” tickets on our Eventbrite listings, or donate directly to our PayPal account here: https://tinyurl.com/CMCdonatePayPal

We love our organization and we are hoping to help it grow up into a fantastic resource for families in our community. Thank you for all of your support, financial and otherwise! We hope we were able to give you the help you needed, when you needed it.

Statement on Inclusion and Cultural Appropriation

Carry Me Close Babywearers seeks to advocate for the practice of baby carrying and to normalize the use of baby carriers in our community. In support of this goal, we teach baby carrying skills to those carriers who seek our help, both online and in person. As we do so, we seek to foster an inclusive environment accessible to all, with due recognition that we do not own the practice. We are always learning and growing as an organization and do not allow or practice tone policing: if we have made a mistake, please let us know.

Acknowledgements:

Acknowledgement of Indigenous Lands

Carry Me Close Babywearers acknowledges that we hold our meetings upon Indigenous lands. The territories include the Wendat, Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations, and the Métis Nation.

Acknowledgement of Cultural Appropriation in Babywearing

Carry Me Close Babywearers acknowledges that the practice of baby carrying we enjoy and learn today has too often been denied to Indigenous and racialized parents and children through processes of colonization and assimilation. We further acknowledge that our current practice owes a great debt to those parents who were not forced to abandon these living practices and who continued to carry their children in culturally specific ways.

Caregivers have been carrying their babies for thousands of years. Skills and techniques were invented to carry babies in every human culture – sometimes overlapping, but always grounded in the needs of the people, the time, and the culture. Every baby carrier has a unique cultural context, not often open to those outside of the culture. After industrialization, most European cultures encouraged women to abandon the practice of carrying their babies, and their skills were forgotten. They have not generally been revived. Instead, in the last several decades, people in Europe and North America have appropriated carrying techniques from other cultures around the globe, and sold them for profit. With some few exceptions, almost all of the baby carriers sold in North America today owe a debt to the skill and expertise of people who never abandoned or were forced to abandon their traditional carrying practices.  We acknowledge this debt. When we talk about traditional carriers and babywearing practices, we endeavour, inasmuch as possible, to give the proper context and history. We have the utmost respect for traditional babywearing practices, and encourage our members to do likewise. We encourage our members to use the proper names for traditional baby carriers as a sign of respect for the origin of the carrier (e.g. onbuhimo instead of simply “onbu”).

Standards of Inclusion

Commitment to Anti-Racism: Carry Me Close Babywearers is committed to addressing racism in all of our spaces, online and in person. We recognize that racism is ongoing in our City and that it shapes the parenting experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure a space that is welcoming to BIPOC, as participants in our community and in leadership roles in our organization. We do not tolerate hate speech, slurs, bigotry, or prejudice of any kind.

Inclusive of Socioeconomic Status: We work hard to reduce and overcome socioeconomic barriers to participating in our organization. Our Babywearing 101 meetings are open to all, irrespective of ability to pay. We do not ever condone carrier shaming and will help make whatever carrier you own work for you whenever possible. We do not believe that participation in the consumer culture side of the babywearing world is necessary to make a person a babywearer. Except when seeking to address specific circumstances on behalf of caregiver or child, we believe that most baby carriers will work for most caregivers and most babies most of the time. There is no one perfect carrier for everybody or for anybody. We firmly believe that “The best carrier is the carrier you own and use.” If you do not own a baby carrier, we will try to give you advice on where to find baby carriers at a range of prices.

Inclusive of Age, Caregiver Status, and Family Structure: We welcome all caregivers to participate in our meetings and online spaces. We urge our members and volunteers to avoid making assumptions about a caregiver’s role in a child’s life unless given that information. Families of all kinds and all combinations of caregivers are welcome at our meetings and in our online spaces. In our online spaces we insist that all caregivers caring for children be treated as caregivers and not as anomalies or sexual objects (i.e. it is inappropriate to describe babywearing fathers as “hot” because they are caring for their children as expected).

Inclusive of Diverse Feeding Methods: At our meetings, we seek to create a space where all members of our community feed their babies by whichever method they choose without fear of judgement. Participants are invited to feed their babies whenever they need to do so, by any means (tube, bottle, breast, chest, etc.). We support the right to breast/chestfeed with or without a cover based only on the preference of the caregiver.

Inclusive of Ability/Disability: We welcome children and caregivers with disabilities and strive to make our spaces accessible to all. We are committed to addressing ableist language in our spaces and avoiding ableist assumptions. We choose accessible venues for our meetings and we are working towards making our online space accessible through Image Descriptions. Members can learn how to write and use Image Descriptions here and here. It is possible that we will not always have the expertise to advise caregivers about how to safely carry medically complex children, but we work to tailor all our recommendations to the needs of each individual child and caregiver.

Inclusive of Gender Identity and Gender Expression: We welcome caregivers of all gender identities and expressions. We strongly urge our members to avoid assuming the gender of a child or caregiver (e.g. “How old is baby?” instead of “How old is she?”), and to use a person’s preferred pronouns if given that information. Gender-based bullying or hate speech will not be tolerated in any of our spaces.

Inclusive of Sexual Orientation: We welcome and recognize the LGBTQ+ members of our community. We will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in any of our spaces.

Inclusive of Religion/Philosophy: We respect differences of religion or life philosophy and do not tolerate Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other types of faith-based hatred in any of our spaces. We are committed to holding our meetings in non-religious spaces to remain accessible to all. We are working towards holding our meetings on varied days of the week to accommodate varying days of religious observance.

Inclusive of Race/Ethnicity/Nationality: We are proud to operate in a city which represents such a tremendous diversity of cultures. We will not tolerate discrimination or hate speech on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality.

Summer Babywearing Safety Part 2: Safe Activities and Babywearing Tips

Beach photo on a hot summer day

Summer time is all about getting the family out and participating in fun outdoor activities. Day trip to the beach? Weekend at the cottage? Afternoon paddle along the lake front? Family week of camping? Visit to a farm? Berry picking?

We at Carry Me Close believe that babywearing is an incredibly useful parenting tool. Baby carriers are safe and comforting spaces for your child. However, like any baby product it is always important to use your common sense and to observe a few basic safety tips when babywearing. For many activities if you would not feel safe carrying your child in arms, do not attempt the activity with your child in the carrier. Here are some safe summer babywearing activities and safety tips.

Water Wearing and Water Carriers

There are baby carriers and mesh slings designed with water in mind. These are great to have when you are at the beach or wadding pool, and you don’t want to get your regular carrier wet from little hands splashing water! These carriers are quick drying and do not absorb a lot of water or get too heavy when wet.

Water Sling at the lake
Babywearing at the dock with a water ring sling.

Water slings are great for quick dips in and out of shallow water. It makes transporting your wet child to and from the water that much easier. They are handy if you are supervising multiple children alone and especially handy at the end of the day when everyone needs to shower and get changed.

However, did you know that you should not swim with your child in a water carrier or completely submerge the carrier while wearing your baby? A water sling is not a substitute for a flotation device.

Best practices are to only submerge yourself no higher than knee deep water or water that is shallow enough that if you fall your baby’s head would remain out of the water.  In deep water where you cannot wade safely and hold baby in arms, your child and yourself should be wearing a life jacket. Always be within arms reach to small children in water.

water sling beach 2
Wadding at the shore. Water wearing keeps a baby safe while looking after another little one.

Boating and Camping

Anytime you are in a water craft, motorized or not, your child should be in a life jacket. Both of you are safest in a life jacket, allowing everyone to enjoy the waves without the anxiety that accompanies the risk of falling into water. Save your babywearing adventures for land activities.

Life Jackets
Everyone is safest in a life jacket if they are going to be on the water.

Camping is a great summer past time for many Canadians! For some, canoeing and camping go hand-in-hand.  If you are camping and have to canoe to and from your campsite, babywearing can be helpful during your portage routes. Have your friends and family actually portage the canoe and carry any heavy gear. Wear your child if you don’t want to take forever to get to your final destination because a short 500m portage with a toddler could potentially take hours. On the portage route, while babywearing you could probably manage a few light things like paddles or a small backpack. Once you get to the water, take your baby out of the carrier and put them into a life jacket. Hopefully the weather is good and the water is calm. Enjoy the ride on the water to your site.

Walk to the lake
Free your hands with a meh dai hip carry and help bring supplies down to the lake.
Family in canoe
Fun and safe family canoe ride!

Nature Walks and Hiking

A great way to incorporate babywearing with the great outdoors is going on walks in the park or even a hike in the forest. There are many nice trails in the city as well as out of the city for those that are more adventurous.

Hiking family 2
Family hikes are much easier with the help of a buckle carrier.

Certain carriers may be more suitable than others. If you’re going on a short nature walk a thin and airy meh dai, short wrap or buckle carrier may be your first choice. Choose carriers that aren’t too bulky to avoid getting hot. If you’re going on a longer hike, you may benefit from using a framed backpack carrier.  Hiking baby carriers allow extra airflow between you and your child, have storage areas for gear and you can often put them down easily without having to take your child out. These may be handy features on your babywearing adventures.

Hiking Mama Meh Dai
Hiking is fun when you’ve got a great view over mama’s shoulders.
Hiking Daddy and Baby
Framed hiking carriers are great for long hikes.

Cycling

When the winter snows and spring showers are gone out come the cyclists. Cycling is a great form of exercise and it allows you the freedom to get to places that you might not normally go to. Hope on your bike for a fun ride, but don’t babywear too. Save babywearing for your final destination.

Cycling
Cycilng through fields of wild heather.

Remember the importance of cycling safety. Your child should be strapped in their own seat on your bike or in a bike trailer. Many child bike seats have weight, height and age requirements that must be met. Make sure your child meets those requirements. For small babies there are some models of bike trailers that are compatible with an infant sling seat. Lastly, make sure your child is wearing the correct size bike helmet. Many stores now carry infant bike helmets for little noggins.

Strap them in
Helmets and straps are a must! But don’t worry baby, you’ll be carried once we’re done.

Final Safety Tips

As always remember to wear your baby so that they are close enough to kiss. A high enough carry will allow you to easily monitor your child’s airway and breathing. Take frequent breaks if you or your child are getting hot.  Plus you and baby will need to stretch your arms and legs after a long carry and a diaper change is probably a good idea too. Remember if you don’t feel comfortable holding your baby in arms during an activity, it’s probably best not to babywear. So don’t go horseback riding with your little one strapped on!  Maybe try berry picking instead.  For more summer babywearing tips, check out our Summer Babywearing Safety Part 1 Blog Post.

Enjoy the rest of your babywearing summer!

Berry picking
Berry picking on a nice summer day.

 

Guest Post: Top 10 Reasons to attend a Babywearing Event, By Ratsamy Pathammavong

In honour of her talk at UP Canadian Babywearing Conference (“Social Justice – what does babywearing have to do with it?”), Carry Me Close Babywearers asked local babywearing parent Ratsamy Pathammavong to write us a piece on a topic of her choice. We are fortunate to have her as a member of our babywearing community. Come out to a local Babywearing Event to meet some members of your babywearing community in person!

Top 10 Reasons to attend a Babywearing Event
By Ratsamy Pathammavong

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After attending 3 babywearing conferences on two continents and lots of other babywearing meet-ups in the last year, I thought I’d share with you my top 10 list of why you should come out to a babywearing event.  Perhaps this can entice you to consider coming to the upcoming Up! Babywearing Conference in Ottawa.

10. Get some selfie taking lessons. Yes, I’m that babywearing momma always trying to get better selfies with my toddler. But I’m a crappy photographer.  I’ve learnt many great tips from others at these events. And bonus – no one is giving me strange looks when I’m taking my selfies. Even if you don’t take as many photos as I do – sometimes you are the only one able to take a picture of you and your little one(s).

9. Attachment parenting is normal at these events. I’m very uncomfortable when random parents ask me if Mr. Toddler sleeps through the night or why he breastfeeds at 2. I’m very proud of my parenting choices but it’s still exhausting to explain myself over and over. At these events, I am surrounded by parents who understand me and get me. No explanation needed. No justification.

8. Meet parents who share your hobby. Let’s be honest – babywearing isn’t part of mainstream parenting yet. It’s definitely picking up in popularity in North America with sales of carriers at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us but it is still fairly niche. So it’s really refreshing to be in a room where I don’t have to justify or explain my rationale for carrying my toddler.

7. Learn new carrying techniques. I’m a mediocre wrapper at best. I default to my usual carries almost always – mostly due to laziness but also due to my insecurity in my own ability to successfully pull off a carry in a safe and secure way. Coming to babywearing events gives you access to many experienced certified babywearing teachers and experts.

6. Meet your online friends. The most recent conference I went to was The Wrap Show in London England. When asked by the immigration officer why I was in the country, I told her “To see and meet my online friends”.  These parents in my phone were and are my lifeline in many ways through some of the roughest hours of my new reality life. Although I had never met many of them in person, I spoke to them and confided in them more often any anyone else – even my best friend or spouse.  Giving these parents a hug in person felt like I was coming home in many ways.  But you don’t have to go all the way to England to find these lifelines – many of my closest friends are babywearing friends I’ve met locally.

And of course – for those with the time, funds and inclination to turn a wonderful parenting tool into a hobby….

5. Visit a new city. Going to babywearing conferences are a great event for me. I plan and save up for the event.  As a new mom with a toddler I often feel guilty for doing things for me. But these events give me a great excuse to indulge in something I love with my child.

4. Purchase exclusive wraps and carriers. At all of the babywearing conferences, new exclusive wraps or carriers are released. This is your opportunity to purchase a wrap without worrying about getting online at the right time or if you are lucky enough to win the draw to buy.

3. Touch and try (new-to-you) fiber blends. Even though I have a long history and love of fiber arts – there are always new blends, weaves, colours etc. to touch, feel, caress and try. I’m still learning what I need or like in my woven wraps so this is a wonderful way to try wraps without the costs.

2. Indulge your inner Fan Girl. When I first saw Hedwig from Wrap you in Love fame in person, I was too star struck to say hi. I’ve watched hours of videos over and over trying to perfect my technique. It was so fun to watch other babywearers run up to her and squeal with joy upon meeting her. My goal for Up! is to meet Marley (Prairie Rebel).   I LOVE her gorgeous photos. She is not only a very talented photographer with a great eye for mood and context but her personal style is envy worthy.  I can’t wait to meet her in person. I feel as though I know here and her twins as I see them nearly every day.

1. Support women entrepreneurs – most (if not all) of the weavers, wrap companies, baby accessory makers etc. are small businesses started and run by women. These mothers and caregivers are hustling hard to support their families by pursing their talents. This is a great opportunity to support women who are working it!

Ratsamy Pathammavong is a West Toronto, cis, hetero, Lao woman and mother of a toddler. A long-time ‘social justice warrior’ baby-wearing and gentle parenting fit her personality and values. When she’s not chasing her toddler, she is a volunteer administrator for All Things Woven Wings, one of the larger Facebook woven wrap company fan groups, and knitter.