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.

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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.

Summer Babywearing Safety Part 1: Stay Cool, Stay Covered (But Not the Face!)

White woman wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat carrying a baby on the front in a green wrap. Baby is wearing a bucket hat.

We are right in the middle of summer and for many people living in Toronto, everyone just wants to be outside. Being outdoors and getting a breath of fresh air is great, but for all the babywearers that are watching wee little babies and toddlers on those hot summer days, one very important question to ask oneself is,

“Is it too hot to babywear?”

 

If you love babywearing, you can still carry your child as long as you use your common sense. Avoid going out in the middle of the day when the sun is at it’s hottest. On those oppressively hot and humid days, you may find yourself and baby much more comfortable using a stroller, hopping on an air-conditioned bus, travelling by car or just staying indoors.  If you plan to babywear in hot weather, please keep the following in mind:

Hot Weather Babywearing Safety Tips

  1. Avoid direct sunlight. Stay in the shade as much as possible. Use a parasol/umbrella to block the sun.
  2. Plan outings for the early morning or late evening.
  3. Wear sun protection. Apply sunblock on exposed skin. Both babies and caregivers should wear wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck. Loose long sleeved clothing or baby leggings can provide good coverage. Look for fabrics offering UV resistance.
  4. Dress baby lightly. Remember that the carrier counts as a layer of clothing and babywearing generates a lot of body heat. Baby will not need more than one layer, a  t-shirt or onesie is often enough. Consider loose cuts and thinner/lighter fabrics that allow air flow.
  5. Ensure baby is visible and kissable. No sleephood in a front carry or muslin blanket over their face to block the sun. Your child’s face and airway must be clear and unobstructed at all times. It is important to continue to  monitor their airway, breathing and comfort. Young infants can overheat easily, becoming excessively sleepy or lethargic.
  6. Choose an appropriate carrier. Avoid carriers with excess padding, and bulky inserts (if possible). Some buckle carriers made for hot weather babywearing have mesh panels that allow better air circulation (e.g. Lillebaby Airflow, Je Porte Mon Bebe Physio, Trek Air-O, Beco 8). For woven carriers, look for fabrics such as linen/cotton blends or gauze, and try thinner or airier weaves (e.g. Didymos Waves, Wrapsody Breeze). Ring slings are also a good option as less fabric is spread across the body in a one shoulder carry. Meh dai’s are often unpadded or lightly padded, and allow extra air flow on the sides of baby’s body.
  7. Use your carrier appropriately in hot weather. If you have a woven wrap, use single pass carries such as kangaroo, front wrap cross carry with bunched passes, ruck, or traditional sling carry. With a buckle carrier, meh dai or wrap, try a hip carry to reduce the amount of fabric covering your body, and if your baby can sit unassisted, try a high back carry to reduce the amount of surface contact.
  8. Stay hydrated. Ensure you take plenty of water breaks, and nurse/give formula/offer water to baby often to increase fluids.
  9. Use a cooling aid. Try a wet washcloth, mist of water or blast of cool air from a handheld fan on your face or neck, and baby’s too. Cooling towels should only be used on yourself and babies that are 6 months or older. These need to be exposed to open air to cool, as they work through evaporation.
  10. Take breaks! Remove baby from the carrier, get some air circulating around the two of you. Go somewhere cool or air conditioned to get some relief from the heat.
  11. Check if your baby is overheating. Learn more about the signs your baby is overheating. The earliest signs are that the skin is warm to the touch and is flushed in appearence (e.g. rosy and red). If any of these signs appear, take steps to get out of the heat as soon as you notice them! If you are seeing late signs, seek medical care immediately.
Cooling off indoors
Getting some relief from the heat with an ice cold drink and some air-conditioning by stepping into a store.

Carry on! Enjoy babywearing the rest of the summer or wherever you are that may be hot, hot, hot!

 

Featured Carry: Front Cross Carry (FCC)

The similar names mean this carry is often confused with last week’s Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). However, unlike the FWCC, this carry doesn’t have a horizontal wrap pass.

This means:

  1. This carry should never be attempted with a stretchy wrap as it is secure only in a woven wrap or sturdy hybrid with minimal horizontal stretch.
  2. This carry is extremely “poppable” (meaning easy to take baby in and out) and easy to tighten on the go.
  3. The easy up way in which this carry loosens and tightens makes it an excellent carry for nursing a baby with trunk control (sitting assisted, about 4 months) in an upright position.
  4. This carry can be performed with your base size minus one (base -1), so if you usually use a size 6 for FWCC you could probably do FCC with a size 5. However, it also works with your base size, so don’t go running out to buy a new wrap!

Important Safety Considerations:

  1. All the usual safety principles apply – keep baby Visible and Kissable!
  2. This carry is theoretically suitable for a newborn if correctly executed and tightened. However, with no horizontal pass, it is more difficult to tighten precisely than some other carries – especially for a beginner. New wrappers should probably stick to other carries until baby has some trunk control.
  3. Exercise care in keeping the passes clear of baby’s face when sleeping. Flipping the wrap to cap your shoulder can help keep fabric from crowding baby’s face.
  4. If nursing in a wrap, 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 (especially!!!) if baby has fallen asleep.

A Helpful Photo Tutorial and Videos:

Here is a photo tutorial and some videos we find helpful for learning to do Front Cross Carry. If photo tutorials and/or 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.]

Here is a photo tutorial from BWI’s South Maryland chapter, using stills from Wrapping Rachel’s video tutorial.

This is Wrapping Rachel’s FCC video tutorial with a brief explanation at the end of how to use the FCC to nurse on the go. This can be particularly useful for busy babies between 4-8 months who just can’t focus on nursing when they are out and about without some extra help.

This video by Wrap You In Love demonstrates some useful modifications, flipping the wrap to allow you to spread the back pass further up your back and create a more comfortable weight distribution. It also demonstrates capping your shoulders, which can keep little faces clear of excess fabric.

How do you like the Front Cross Carry? Where and how to do use it?

For other posts in this series, see here.

Exploring Wrapping!

If you’re currently geeking out about wrapping and looking for some inspiration you might like to check out some of the instructional videos and inspirational photos from our “Featured Carry” threads.

Finding wrapping instruction online can be a daunting task : some of the advice represents best practices and some doesn’t, and as a caregiver new to baby carrying and/or wrapping it can be difficult to separate the safe from the risky! In this series on our Facebook group and now on our blog, we have attempted to identify individual videos and/or articles that describe good technique and best practices as we understand them.

We’ll be working our way through our “Carry of the Week” archive on the blog, and posting the links here – stay tuned for more!

A word about different kinds of wraps: Most of the carries we will be featuring require a woven wrap to execute safely (or a sturdy hybrid wrap with minimal horizontal stretch). Stretchy wraps are appropriate only for front and hip carries, and those carries must have 3 passes spread over baby for support and security. When it is suitable to attempt a particular carry with a stretchy wrap, we will mention that.

Woven wraps come in different sizes, and this can seem overwhelming to new caregivers. If you are of average body size, you would probably be best served by a size 6. If you are smaller you might prefer a size 5, and if you are larger you might prefer a size 7 or 8. Most stretchy wraps are size 7 and will fit most people. If you would like to read more, you can look here and here for more information.

Week 1: Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)

Week 2: Front Cross Carry (FCC)

Featured Carry: Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)

Baby in Front Wrap Cross Carry while parent plays with toddler

Introducing Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)!

This is the usually the first carry we teach to a new wrapper. You can do this carry with a woven or stretchy wrap (with a stretchy wrap you need to spread all three passes across baby’s back for support). The passes are easy to tighten and when you master it you have gone a long way towards learning to manipulate and tighten your wrap!

This carry requires your “base size” which for a person of average size will be a size 6 – some people will use a size 5, 7, or 8. Most stretchy wraps are roughly a size 7, so most people should be able to use them to do the FWCC.

Important Safety Considerations in FWCC:

  1. All the usual safety principles apply – keep baby Visible and Kissable!
  2. Never fold or roll anything into the rails of your wrap. Doing so can push baby’s head forward and cause their chin to fall down onto their chest – putting baby’s airway at risk.
  3. When spreading a pass over the back of baby’s head, never pull it further than the back of baby’s ear and monitor carefully.
  4. Always spread 3 passes when doing FWCC in a stretchy wrap.

Helpful Videos:

We will share here some videos we find helpful for learning to do Front Wrap Cross Carry. 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 voiceless video by Britt Brown Marsh shows the FWCC with an older baby and a woven wrap.

This video by WrappingRachel shows how to spread the passes of the FWCC when using a stretchy wrap. She demonstrates with the Moby wrap and an older baby.

This video by Tooralei, Kathy Heffern,shows the FWCC with a newborn in a woven wrap.

Finally, this longer video by WrapYourBaby shows the FWCC with a newborn, with some tips for keeping the fabric away from baby’s face.

How do you like the Front Wrap Cross Carry? Where and how to do use it? Share a photo or a story in the comments!

For other posts in this series, see here.