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.

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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!

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.