DIY Babywearing Halloween Tips and Tricks

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Most babies like to be held, and the younger children may be out past their bedtime and ready for a nap during prime trick-or-treating time. Instead of placing baby in a stroller, covering up the expensive costume with a cozy blanket, and hoping they will stay warm, why not try babywearing this year? Halloween babywearing can jazz up both your costumes, keep you two warm, and provide all the benefits of babywearing in general.If you would like to put your child in a carrier and dress up for Halloween, I hope you will find these tips and costume ideas helpful. I have referred to a child that will be worn as “baby”, but any child/caregiver team that wants to “baby”wear can participate! (Older children usually enjoy back carries in a woven wrap or Mei Tai.)

Halloween babywearing tips:

  • Facing out can be especially cute, but please remember that baby can easily be over stimulated, especially when trick-or-treating and seeing lots of new faces and creatures (in addition to poor hip and spine positioning.
  • Keep in mind that you may need to remove baby from a back carry to nurse or change a diaper, etc., so complicated additions that are added once the carrier is on may be cumbersome to take on and off. Alternatively, smaller babies or frequent nursers can be worn in front, facing in, to allow for easy access to the breast (ring slings are great for nursing, and don’t forget to wear a nursing top:))
  • Dress yourself and baby appropriately for the weather if you will be outdoors. Keep in mind that sharing body heat will keep both of you warm, the carrier is considered one layer of fabric, and while you may get warm from walking around, baby will be relatively inactive and may get cold more quickly.
How to incorporate a costume: (I don’t necessarily endorse the shopping websites I linked to–it’s just to provide examples)
  • Use safety pins a store-bought costume to the carrier, so that the carrier doesn’t hide it. Try butterfly wings, or a hooded coverall costume
  • Put an Asian baby carrier  (such as a mei tai) inside the costume, with the arm straps out the arm holes and the waist straps (if applicable) out the leg holes, before wearing baby on the inside. This would work well with the store bought infant or toddler costumes like pumpkin and ladybug.
  • Try a coordinating couple’s costume, such as Flintstones (would work well with another adult) or salt and pepper (Salt and pepper (matching “lid” hats with “holes” at the tops; shapeless dress for self, safety pin rectangle of fabric with cardboard bottom onto carrier for baby; don’t forget gray clothing and a letter ”P” for pepper and white clothing and letter ”S” for salt)
  • Hats–the internet, including etsy.com, has a myriad of creative hats that instantly transform you or baby into a court jester, Yoda, or Wayne from Wayne’s World. (If your baby is anything like mine, she will immediately remove any hat placed on her head, so look for hats with chin straps or hooded capes/jackets/coveralls)
  • Expand the neck hole of a roomy adult costume, wear baby high on your back, and make your costume two-headed (a ghost from a sheet would be super simple, and a turtle or monster would be fitting)
  • To get a little more detailed, a back carry makes an ideal setup for a monkey on a tree (baby as monkey and wearer as tree) or a peacock (craft stores sell peacock feathers to affix to carrier and wear a beak, etc.)
  • Front carries with a small baby is great for a baker holding a cupcake (hats will make this costume), a farmer holding a pumpkin (overalls and shirt from thrift shop is cheap), or your favorite quarterback holding a football.
  • If you are a woman and have a baby boy (or don’t mind a cross-dressing), I love the idea of a Popeye and Olive Oyl costume. Use cotton balls or stuffing inside nude pantyhose to my baby’s arms “muscular” (don’t forget the tattoo!) and a sailor hat for Popeye. Olive gets red collared shirt with long-ish black skirt and appropriate hairdo/wig.

Here is an example of integrating a costume and carrier. Katie Murphy, a crafty mama and babywearer made a turtle shell Onbu (Asian Baby Carrier style) to wear her little Ninja Turtle inside!
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Do you have any other tips or ideas for babywearing on Halloween? Have you worn your baby with a costume?

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 Rachel George, LMT and VBE in Training with Babywearing International of Kansas City

International Babywearing Week 2012 Celebration Events

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It’s just around the corner folks! We have some exciting things planned this year in hopes of celebrating babywearing and bringing together as many local babywearers as possible!

**International Babywearing Week Events**

On Monday, October 8 we will begin the celebrations via our Facebook page as we celebrate the Do It Yourself (DIY) approach to babywearing! Our DIY aficionado and leader in training, Rachel George, will present a blog post on integrating Halloween costumes with babywearing! Stay tuned for her tips and tricks on crafting some costume ideas that collaborate with your favorite carrier type!

On Tuesday, October 9 we will continue celebrations with an advanced wrapping course hosted by Diaper Daisy from 6:30-8:30 pm. If you’re feeling ready to move past the Front Wrap Cross Carry and basic Rucksack carry, this class for you! We will go more in depth about woven wrap fibers, lengths, and various carries for wearing a baby/child of any age. Bring your wrap(s) and either a willing wrapee or doll and be ready to do some wrapping of the fabric kind!

On Saturday, October 13 we will be holding our International Babywearing Week Fashion Show and Carrier 101 from 10:00 am-12:00 pm at Itsy Bitsy Bums . This is a great event for both new and experienced babywearers alike! It will be family friendly and a great opportunity for caretakers to get a rundown on different carrier styles, get help choosing a carrier that’s right for you, and get fitted for carriers by the Babywearing International of Kansas City educator staff.

**International Babywearing Week GIVEAWAYS**

Win an Ergo Carrier

In addition to our events, we will be celebrating International Babywearing Week with some GIVEAWAYS!!!!!!!!! Woohoooo! Who doesn’t love free stuff? And it’s even better if the free stuff is BABYWEARING RELATED! (Yes, I’m SHOUTING because it’s REALLY EXCITING!!!!)

Thanks very much to the generosity of Ergobaby, Babywearing International of Kansas City will have the pleasure of feeling like Oprah for a day and giving away a free Ergo carrier of your choice!!! That’s right, not only will you have the chance to win an Ergo carrier, but you will get to choose from three styles of carriers:  the Ergo Original, the Ergo Performance, and Ergo Sport. One lucky person in our community will win one of these three amazing carriers and I’m sure you’re all wondering how you can get lucky!

Here’s how to win:

Step 1: Attend one of our International Babywearing Week in person events (either the Advanced Wrapping Course at Diaper Daisy or the Fashion Show and Carrier 101 at Itsy Bitsy Bums.)

Step 2: Register at the designated “free stuff to win” table

Step 3: Random drawing will occur at the end of our Fashion Show and Carrier 101 event on Saturday, October 13

Step 4: If you win, watch this video to help you choose your carrier

Step 5: We will provide your information and carrier choice to Ergobaby, who will then provide you with your Ergo of choice!

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, what if I don’t have a chance to make it to an International Babywearing Week celebration event to register to win a free Ergo? Well you can all be winners because Ergobaby will be offering 10% for all Babywearing International of Kansas City members during the week of October 8-14! Keep your eye on our Facebook page next week for more details!

Win a FREE BWI of KC Membership

I know that nothing really beats winning a free carrier, but we will have other free stuff to win next week too! Keep your eyes posted on our Babywearing International of Kansas City Facebook page for a free membership giveaway to our lending library! We will host a surprise posting party during one of the International Babywearing Week days (hint, it will probably be on a day we don’t otherwise have a premier event scheduled) where you will have the opportunity to post your heart out to earn a free membership to our lending library! This is a wonderful opportunity to try out carriers through our lending library before you buy!

Babywearing International of Kansas City is so excited to celebrate International Babywearing Week 2012! We hope that you will help us with Carrying on Traditions of babywearing in our area and promoting the practice in our community! Check out our Facebook page for ongoing details about our events and giveaways and join us for one of our in person events at Diaper Daisy and Itsy Bitsy Bums!

Hip Carries for Every Age and Stage

As a babywearer of three children I have had the opportunity to explore a variety of carriers and many types of carrying methods. I can confidently wear my baby on the front, hip, back, or maybe even one on the front and one on the back! Out of all of the vast carrying options, I have found the hip carry to be one of the most useful and functional ways to wear and carry my child.

Anthropologically speaking, humans are in the “parent clinger” category, meaning that it is inherent both emotionally and physiologically for babies to cling to, and be carried by the caretaker. Our bodies are designed to carry our babies, and our babies are designed to be the best of riders. During this time of carrying our babies, we are able to acquaint them with the world, while in the comfort and safety of the arms of the caretaker. While the baby is riding, they are learning from our tandem movements through the world.

As a mother, I pick up my children on a daily basis probably about 1000 times or more. Whether it’s an infant, a toddler, or a preschooler, I pick up my child and plop them on my hip, giving them the time and attention they need while I go about my daily tasks as well. Although many of the times I carry a child on my hip throughout the day it’s for merely a quick up and down, there are often times I need to keep them with me for longer. During those times, I grab a babywearing device to help stabilize the child and distribute the weight, which aids in my own comfort and also allows me to be hands free. I learned through my years of babywearing that through the stages of young infancy, older infancy, toddlerhood, and beyond that hip carries were not only functional but beneficial.

Hip Carries with a Young Infant (apx 3-6 months)

I first became acquainted with hip carries when my young infants hit a point of wanting to see out in the world. They were no longer content facing me but still needed the support, comfort, and monitoring that a front carry would offer. My babies have had a tendency to mature faster mentally than physically, and although they desired to see the world very early on in their life, they didn’t have the head and neck control, or the upper spine support that would stabilize them in a forward facing out carry. Once they developed the strength enough to safely face outward in a carrier I found that position to be very hard on my back, as the baby’s body uncomfortably shifted my center of gravity. I discovered with my children that it was important for me to find a carry that I could use that would give my young infants a view of the world while still offering them the physical and emotional support necessary, while also providing me with lasting comfort as well.

The off center carry is a great way to appease an infant with growing awareness and curiosity. It has the potential to provide the caretaker with the ability to easily monitor a baby who is still working on developing head, neck, and spinal support, and also give them the structure and carrier support they need as well, all while giving them a great view! A ring sling and a woven wrap are great ways to do an off center carry for a young infant. When choosing a carrier to perform an off center carry for a young infant, it’s important to use a device that has the potential to provide your baby with the utmost amount of support. Although Mei Tai’s and Soft Structured Carriers are great for hip carries in older infancy, ring slings and woven wraps provide more optimal support and positioning for use with an off center carry with a young infant.

As seen in the picture below, this babywearer is wearing her young infant in an off center carry. She is doing so in both a ring sling and a short woven wrap. The baby’s legs are not straddling the caretaker, rather they are in a natural spread squat position with the bottom lower than then knees. This is an optimal example of how to wear a young infant in an off center carry to give them a better view, but a stable resting place as well.

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Hip Carries with an older infant (apx. 6-12 months)

As my own babies grew older and gained the ability to sit unassisted, I found that carrying my baby facing toward me became more awkward as my growing baby took up more space on my front and made it more difficult to complete tasks while wearing. A back carry was always my go to for any long term wearing, but although back carries were more comfy for me, my children did not always prefer them and they weren’t always practical for the moment. All of my children have always been more than happy to ride on my back, but my hip is always where they’d rather be when in need of comfort, security, or wanting to nurse.

As a baby ages and gains more body strength, the hip carry options for infants expand greatly. A 6-12 month old infant has a fair amount of spine strength, solid head and neck support, and can often sit unassisted. This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable times to wear a baby in eye’s view as the baby becomes more interactive with you and the world around them. They are continuing to learn from your actions and reactions, they are comforted by making eye contact with you, and the conversations  and exchange of interactions begin to deepen. With your older infant on your hip they still have the access to you that they desire, and you can accommodate this style of carrying easily with a variety of options. Soft structured carriers, ring slings, Mei Tai’s, woven wraps, and pouch slings all have the capacity to provide a comfortable hip carry at this stage.

The pictures below demonstrate some options of carrying your older infant on your hip. As they gain dependable head and neck support, and develop a strong spine they are able to branch out into a variety of carrier options. The key to wearing an older infant in a hip carry is ensuring that the baby is provided with support from knee to knee with the carrier, with their bottom below the knees. They can have the flexibility of having their arms in or out of the carrier for extra movement and a better view.

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Hip Carries with a Toddler (12+ months)

It never fails though, just when you were enjoying the comfort and ease of wearing your infant on your hip, something happens that throws a wrench in everything. That once small-ish sized body you’ve been toting around for the last several months grows bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Caretakers often write off the hip carry as their baby emerges into toddlerhood, proclaiming the child is just too heavy to ride on the hip for any length of time.

With my first two children I just moved on to exclusive back carries as my child hit toddlerhood and never looked back. It was my third child who refused to give up on hip carries. The hip carry has been her favorite from early infancy, as she was often unhappy being worn directly in the center of my chest. I nudged her gently off center and it was happiness ever since. Baby number three was my anomaly baby and refused to nap in her crib (and to her credit, it’s not her fault, we’re on the go a lot!) She also prefers to nurse to sleep, so a hip carry has served naptime for her for almost her entire life. I could have her off to the side nursing and sleeping, while I had some range of motion and could at least have my hands free. As toddlerhood crept up this became less comfortable for me but my baby wasn’t ready to move on from hip carries forever. Instead she forced me to find some toddler solutions to the hip carry.

Most commonly hip carries are one shouldered carries, meaning that the weight of the carry is supported on one shoulder, not distributed between both. Because of this aspect it’s incredibly important when wearing a heavy child in a hip carry to use a supportive carrier that distributes the weight as much as possible. Short woven wraps tied rebozo style in a slip knot, ring slings made from woven wraps or strong linen where the fabric is more supportive and dense, and longer woven wraps that provide multiple layers can be effective. Depending on your comfort Mei Tai’s and Soft Structured Carriers like the Ergo can also be effective for hip carrying your toddler. Longer woven wraps can also be used to configure a two shouldered hip carry that can distribute the weight more evenly across both shoulders, which serves to better support the weight of the child.

As I spent more time experimenting with hip carrying my toddler, using woven wraps and ring slings made from woven wraps were my favorite options. I experience scoliosis related back pain, which made it very necessary for me to use extremely dense and supportive material for carrying. Thankfully for everyone, baby number three has been able to maintain her hip carry napping regimen and I have been able to maintain comfort during carrying. My preschoolers even like taking part in the hip carry snuggles occasionally too, and as long as I’m using a supportive carrier I can accommodate their desire for snuggles on the go, or the times when my older kids get tired of walking at the zoo and need a quick ride.

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Hip Carrier Overview

As you can see the hip carry options for each age and stage are vast! There are so many carrier options capable of achieving a hip carry and some are better for certain ages and stages than others. Babywearing International provides a detailed analysis of various carrier types and tips for choosing a carrier style that’s right for you. It’s important to be aware that some carriers are not designed to for hip carries. When shopping for a carrier that you would like to use on your hip, it’s especially important to check the manufacturer instructions and carry recommendations before making a purchase. In effort to simplify your options, here is a breakdown of various carriers and what ages and stages they best serve for the hip carry:

Ring Slings

Ring slings are one shouldered carriers and are great for newborns through toddlers (and beyond!) The carrier is stabilized by the use of two rings that hold fabric tension and allow for an adjustable carry.  The can be used for front and hip carries.

Age/Stage for hip carries: 3-4 months as an off center carry, and  5+ months and beyond for hip carries

Woven Wraps

Woven wraps come in a variety of lengths from very long (5 meters) to short (2.6 meters) and are available in many different fiber contents such as cotton, linen, wool, or hemp. Woven wraps have the potential to be very supportive. They are used for a large variety of front, hip, and back carries, and have the most versatility of any carrier. Woven wraps do have more of a learning curve but they have the potential to provide the most options. For a hip carry a one shouldered or two shouldered carry is possible.

Age/Stage for hip carries: 3-4 months as an off center carry, 5+ months in a variety of hip carries, two shouldered hip carries for infants-preschoolers and beyond

Pouch Slings

Pouch slings are constructed of a loop of fabric. They are either not adjustable or minimally adjustable. They can be used for front or hip carries. Pouches are one shouldered carriers.

Age/Stage for hip carries: best used with a baby who can sit unassisted due to the lack of adjustments

Mei Tai’s

Mei Tai carriers are Asian style carriers constructed of a square of fabric with waist and shoulder straps. They can be used for front, hip, and back carries. A hip carry in a Mei Tai is a one shouldered carry, but a strap does wrap around the waist to help distribute weight.

Age/Stage for hip carries: best used for a baby who can sit unassisted (5+ months)

Soft Structured Carriers

Soft structured carriers like the Ergo, Boba, Scootababy, or Gemini are carriers that secure with buckles and often contain shoulder and waist padding. Some brands can be used for front, hip, and back carries, and others can only perform front and back carries. Here is a chart for gauging a soft structured carrier’s usage by brand. A hip carry with a soft structured carrier is a one shouldered carry. The padding does influence comfort of the hip carry, as some find excessive padding leads to a bulky hip carry, although others find it very comfortable.

Age/Stage: Best used for a baby who can sit unassisted, about 5 months and up.

As a long time babywearer I have found hip carries to be both functional and an effective comforting tool as well. No matter what age or stage your baby is in, a hip carry has the potential to make your life easier and comfortable, all while keeping your children close! Be it your young infant looking to experience more of the world, your blooming older infant wanting some independence and comfort, or your emerging toddler, there is a carrier and a carrying style to help achieve an optimal hip carry. Thanks to the variety of carrier options, our tired arms can have a break and we can continue to provide our children with the closeness they desire!

Steffany Kerr is a mother to three children with one on the way. She is Chapter President and Master Babywearing Educator for Babywearing International of Kansas City, and also holds advanced certification through Babywearing Institute.