How to Jazz up a Ring Sling!

Short of converting a woven wrap into a sling, I have never had an easy time finding good fabric to use to make my own ring sling. The cute stuff always seems to have an ugly wrong side, is made of synthetic fabric, is not strong/soft/smooth/thin/thick enough, etc., or sometimes all of the above. The good news is, slings can be “dressed up” with just a little extra effort and materials. And in my opinion, that extra just makes it more fun!

Keep it safe

This post will not go into detail about exactly how to sew a ring sling. Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions has a great website with patterns, instructions, and material recommendations here . In a nutshell, cotton fabrics like bottomweight, duck, canvas, denim, and twill; also 100% linen (not the polyester linen look-alike) are going to be your best choices when shopping at JoAnn’s or similar. Slingrings.com is the best place to get rings–do NOT use craft rings from Hobby Lobby.

Using dye to personalize

Procion dyes are the best choice to use for baby products, because the molecules actually bond to the fabric, rather than union dyes like RIT, which deposits onto the fabric, but washes out over time (in the washing machine water and in baby’s mouth, body, etc.). Dharmatrading.com or Dylon at craft stores are good choices (Dharma seems to be better quality and produce more vibrant colors). Cellulose (plant) fibers like cotton, linen, and hemp will take procion dyes well. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and add the extras as noted, such as salt and soda ash. Keep in mind that white fabric will produce the truest colors, and any other color fabric you dye will end up fabric color+dye color–meaning get white or a very light color fabric to start with.

  1. Tub dye–This is the simplest method to use for dyeing. You can use this method on an already assembled sling (homemade or purchased) or on fabric you are going to use to make one. Since fabric is often 45 inches wide and slings are more like 30 inches wide, you can even dye the whole cut of fabric and then make matching accessories with the scraps! Tub or washing machine dyeing instructions are usually included with dye.
  2. Gradient dye–Also called ombre, this makes a beautiful effect that has the added benefit of keeping the rails (top v. bottom) from getting confused. For different colored rails, dye before sewing on the rings. Alternatively, a vertical gradient, where the tail is a different color than the rings, would also work. This is more involved than tub dyeing, and I personally have had the best luck with the dip method , but you could also add water if you have a narrow enough container (the gradient will be too sudden if you use a wide bucket and a t shirt, as I’ve found). Gradient dyeing can look extra cool if you overdye a colored fabric. For example, if you use yellow fabric, and gradient dye it blue, you will have a green and yellow sling. You can also do a gradient dye on each side of the sling, making 3 colors–either overlap them to make a new color or leave the middle portion undyed.
  3. Tie Dye–a tie dye kit makes this super easy. You can get fancy and make fun designs , or just rubber band it in a couple places and squirt on dye. Jacquard makes a quality tie dye kit. Ideally, use it on fabric before sewing rings, but it would work with an assembled sling as well.
  4. Ice or Snow Dye — This method produces an effect somewhat similar to tie dye, but involves some extra equipment (a rack to set the fabric, a tub to collect dye water, a mask and gloves because you’re working with pure dye powder). It is also a good choice for dyeing an assembled ring sling if that is what you have.
  5. Low Water Immersion, Shibori, DNA…take a look at the facebook group for inspiration (click on “files” > “tutorials”)!

Adding fabric to one rail

I have seen a lot of really cute quilting fabric that I would love to use for a sling, but do not feel comfortable with the strength. They also tend to have an obvious wrong side that shows in the tail. My favorite way to combine a strong but plain fabric, like a thin denim, with a cute quilting fabric is to fold it over one of the edges. So you start with a rectangle of your basic fabric (denim or what have you): Then you sew on a few inches wide of the patterned fabric (please excuse the Paint job) so that right and wrong side look like this:

both sides look like this

Finally, sew the rings to the mostly charcoal part, leaving the colorful end the tail. This, like a gradient dye, has the added benefit of helping you tell the top rail from the bottom rail and avoid twisting.

Add a pocket to the tail

Pretty simple–just hem a square or even a heart of just about any fabric and size (depending on what you will use it for) and sew on 3 sides. You may want to try the sling on and position the pocket that way to make sure you do not sew it on the wrong side or upside down. Add this to any homemade or store bought sling before or after assembly.

Add ribbon

Ribbon can go over the stitching by the rings (especially useful for sloppy but effective sewing jobs or when the thread color does not match–just match the thread to the ribbon now). Or, try sewing one or more rows to the edge of the tail (at any time in the sling making process). You could even sew ribbon to either top rail or bottom rail before sewing the rings one, like Adding Fabric to One Rail above.

Applique the tail

Craft stores sell iron-on and sew-on appliques in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and styles. Personally, I have never had an iron-on stay put, especially through a machine washing. And I do not keep things around that I can’t machine wash, especially things that routinely get spit up, poop, etc. on it like a baby sling. I prefer a careful zigzag stitch around the edge of a sew-on, but sewing on an iron-on applique works too. You could even make your own with scrap fabric ! The edge of the tail works best for added texture, not where the fabric is going to be run through the rings regularly. And keep orientation in mind–switching shoulders with a ring sling is best for posture and will help preserve your spine, and an upside-down cupcake might look a little funny.

Comment below and let us know what other ideas you have, or post photos of your completed projects!

-Rachel George, VBE BWI of KC

A couple of my completed slings:

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Uzazi Village, for Every Baby, A Healthy Village

We are in the final days of our carrier drive for Uzazi Village. A huge THANK YOU to those of you who have donated! We will be delivering the carriers next week, and I’m so happy to have so many to bring. Good news, we have extended the carrier drive to the end of International Babywearing Week! That gives you 2 more live events to bring your carrier donations!! We really believe in Uzazi’s vision, and we are so happy to be able to work with them in this fashion. Hopefully this is the beginning of more projects together promoting babywearing in the urban core! To tell you more about this beautiful organization here is a post from Jakini Men Ab, Uzazi Village RN.

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Uzazi Village serves women in the urban core, promoting healthier pregnancies, leading to healthier mamas and babies.  Uzazi is a Swahili word, meaning, “birth”.  Our vision is:

For every mother, a healthy baby

For every baby, a healthy village

At Uzazi Village, we understand that the health of any individual is impacted by the  village that surrounds them.  We want to surround our mamas with the best of ancient mothering wisdom as well as the latest evidence-based care.

Babywearing is an ancient tradition, practiced by many cultures around the globe.  While baby wearing has become a lost art in Kansas City’s urban core, we want to restore this and other Afrocentric traditions and practices to build holistically sustainable self-heath practices into our community.  Uzazi Village is very excited to be receiving a donation of baby slings and wraps from the local KC Chapter of Babywearing International (BWI).

As advocates and providers of breastfeeding services, support and education, Uzazi Village is overjoyed to incorporate babywearing education into our village practice.  We are eager to share how baby wearing not only promotes child development and family bonding, but is very beneficial for breastfeeding!  Our families will learn that breastfeeding in baby slings and wraps helps increase breastfeeding duration and reading baby hunger cues.  Babywearing will help mamas who want to be more discrete with breastfeeding feel more confident. It will help busy mamas breastfeed while doing daily activities.  Many of us at Uzazi Village have been devoted babywearing mamas for years. We would love to see fewer of our mamas lugging their babies around in ‘buckets’.  Our motto here is that ‘Car seats are for cars, babies are for wearing’.

Uzazi Village’s mission is to increase maternal and infant health equity in the urban core and we are grateful for BWIs support with the Baby Wrap Drive.

International Babywearing Week 2013 Celebration Events!

ImageIt’s that time of year again! International Babywearing Week is just around the corner and we have some fun events planned to celebrate!

******IBW Events******

  • Monday, October 7th: We kick off the week with a blog post from our friends at Uzazi Village! We are celebrating IBW by hosting a carrier drive for this wonderful organization! Carriers are being collected through 10/9 and will be put to really good use by this fantastic community resource. We are so very excited for the chance to help them out, so donate donate donate! Check them out online at http://uzazivillage.com/ .
  • Tuesday, October 8th: Babywearing Parent’s Night Out!! Get ready for a special “night out” for die hard carrier collectors! (and those who like to hang out with die hard carrier collectors 😉 ). Call your babysitter and join us for wrap and carrier chatter, wine and good friends! Bring your stash, or don’t, it’s up to you! This event is informal and meant to be a fun night out for the members of our community to relax and get to know each other without having to worry about what their babies are getting into! Event Details. Also, our Shop Till You Drop fundraiser hosted by Itsy Bitsy Bums begins to day! Shop shop shop (in store only) and support our chapter! 10% of the proceeds from your purchase goes to support us! Be sure to mention you want your purchase to support BWI of KC! Fundraiser ends Saturday, October 12th.
  • Wednesday, October 9th: Workout Wednesday! Watch our pages and groups all day long for tips for staying fit while wearing your babies! Get active with a nature walk, some simple Yoga poses, or simply ditch your car for a trip to the grocery store. Today is all about staying fit with the kids in tow. Our Uzazi Village carrier drive comes to a close today as well, so don’t forget to DONATE!
  • Thursday, October 10th: DIY Workshop! Our resident DIY guru Rachel George will be sharing some fabulous DIY babywearing tips that you can try!
  • Saturday, October 12th: Join us at JC Nichols Memorial Fountain for a fun Babywearing photoshoot! Local photographer Brenda Pryor has donated her time and talents to take babywearing pictures from 10:00-12:00. Get your picture by the fountain featuring your babywearing style. Prints and small photo packages will be available to purchase. All proceeds support BWI of KC! After you get snapped, take a beautiful stroll around the Plaza! Lets fill up the whole area with wonderful examples of Babywearing! Come out to represent our chapter even if you don’t want a picture, the more the merrier! We will be taking a group shot at noon to feature on our page! Event Details.

International Babywearing Week is all about spreading the word. Share our posts and pages on your feed, talk to your friends about the benefits of babywearing, and take a moment to reflect on how babywearing has transformed the way you parent and connect with your kids!

Babywearing International of Kansas City Meetings

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We’ve had lots of questions lately on what meetings we currently offer, what we do at our meetings, and how to choose the meeting that’s right for you. Here’s a break down of our meetings to help you choose a meeting!

_________________MEETINGS________________

1st Thursdays Overland Park Meeting

New Birth Company (Corporate Woods)

9209 W. 110th St #36 OP, KS 66210

6:30-8:15 pm

This meeting takes place on the 1st Thursday of each month, and it’s geared toward general babywearing needs. Whether you’re an expectant parent, new babywearer, experienced, or somewhere in between, this is the meeting for you! It’s hosted by the free standing birth center, New Birth Company, and it’s a family friendly atmosphere. This is currently our only evening meeting so you will often find whole families in attendance. We regularly do a carrier 101 at this meeting and tend to whatever babywearing needs/questions you come with. Our lending library is open at this meeting  and available to members of Babywearing International of Kansas City.

2nd Tuesdays (Even months) Advanced Wrapping

Itsy Bitsy Bums  (Brookside)

6215 Oak St. KC, MO 64113

Even numbered months (Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct, Dec) 6:30-8:15 pm

This meeting is specifically tailored to advanced woven wrapping techniques, and gives our “regulars” a place to hang out, perfect advanced carries, and try out different wraps. Prerequisites for this meeting are having mastered Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) and at least one back carry. If you are an experienced babywearer looking to explore advanced techniques with other carriers, this would also be a great meeting for you! If you are experienced with other carriers but are looking to learn woven wrapping basics, we ask that you attend one of our general meetings first (1st Thursdays or 4th Tuesdays) to get the basics down before delving into the advanced techniques focused on at this meeting. The lending library is not available at this meeting.

This meeting will alternate between day and evening times each month in order to hit a wider audience. Please see the Events section of our Facebook page for time details on this meeting. If you’re not on Facebook, feel free to email us at kc@babywearinginternational.org to receive a schedule.

3rd Thursdays East Side Meeting

Lakeland Community Church

913 NE Colbern Rd
Lee’s Summit, MO 64086

6:30-8:15 pm

This meeting will have the same format as the 1st Thursday and 4th Tuesday meetings, appealing to all carrier needs and ability levels. The meeting is located in the Toddler Room, which is a very family friendly space. To access our meeting space, please enter through the main church doors and head right. You will find our room on the right hand side of the hall. The lending library is available at this meeting.

4th Tuesday’s Midtown Meeting

Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch
Large Meeting Room

4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64112

10:00 am-12:00 pm

These meetings, like the 1st Thursday meetings at New Birth Company and the East side meetings, are geared toward all babywearing needs. We often do a Carrier 101 at this meeting, along with addressing everyone’s specific needs. The meetings take place in a family friendly atmosphere and are geared toward all carrier types and ability levels. The lending library is available at this meeting

_______FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS_______

How do I know which meeting is right for me?

If you are an expectant parent, new to babywearing, new to a carrier type, or learning back carries then the 1st Thursday, 3rd Thursday or 4th Tuesday meeting is your best bet.

Can I bring my husband and/or children?

YES!!!! The evening meetings are often heavily attended by dads, but we also see them at our daytime meetings as well. Children are always welcome, just be aware that they will require supervision (we don’t have provided childcare.)

What should I bring to the meetings?

Just bring yourself and whatever carrier(s) you own and are looking for help with. If you don’t yet have a carrier or a baby/child, no worries, we have lots of carriers to work with and have weighted dolls to practice with.

Can I come to the meetings late?

Yes!! The educator staff is at the meetings from start to finish, so if you can only make it for the last 30 minutes of the meeting, no worries! You will have plenty of time to get your carrier questions answered and get the help you need!

Do I have to stay for the entire meeting?

Nope! You are welcome to stay as long as you like! If you come at the start of a meeting and have a sleepy baby/child, just make sure to let an educator know so that we can give you the help you need before you have to leave.

How do I access the lending library?

Our lending library is available to Babywearing International of Kansas City members. The cost of a membership is $30 per year, and it gives you access to our full library of carriers. You check out one carrier a month and return it at the next month’s meeting, at which point you can check out another!

Do I have to attend meetings to use the lending library?

Yes. Due to time restrictions of our volunteer educator staff we are only able to lend carriers through the meetings.

More questions?

Feel free to post your question on our Facebook page or email us at KC@babywearinginternational.org

With our meetings we strive to meet the needs of the babywearing community across the metro area. As our educator staff grows we will continue to add meetings across the metro area. I hope that you can join us at one of our current meetings!

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.

Wrapping our way through Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex neurological disorder that impedes the integration and processing of the five senses, vestibular system, and/or proprioception. -Dr. Rebekah A. Wittman

Although it was only recently that Lilah received her official Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis, we have been coping with it from the day she was born. Babywearing and child wearing, has been a part of our daily lives and interactions since birth, and it was only recently as we got the official report and profile of her SPD classifications that I began to reflect on how wearing has been an effective strategy for dealing with our daily struggles.

As an infant Lilah was extremely fussy, constantly screaming and inconsolable. We walked out of the pediatrician’s office with the label “colic” even though I knew in my heart that wasn’t the right term for our struggles. For the greater part of each day I coped with Lilah’s screaming by wrapping her tightly to me. This seemed to make her happy, and we could eliminate the crying all together if I combined wearing her in the wrap with spending hours upon hours bouncing on an exercise ball, convincing myself that this was normal baby behavior that she would certainly grow out of soon.

As the months wore on Lilah’s fussiness did not improve. It seemed to appear that colic wasn’t the right classification so the general consensus was that her “strong personality” was to blame, or perhaps karma for years of torture I inflicted upon my own mother. The wrap came to our rescue day in and day out, but as Lilah grew heavier, I could no longer withstand the hours of bouncing on the ball. In a last ditch effort to soothe my child I turned her around, facing outward in the wrap. I was warned to watch for overstimulation, and of course like any new parent, I hovered nervously over my daughter watching for the slightest sign of her tiring. Lilah, however, never appeared to tire of the world. In fact, this was the only way to quiet the hours and hours of screaming I would otherwise battle.

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I thought the whole “overstimulation” thing was a myth because not only did Lilah never tire, but she was also never so happy as she was facing out in the wrap. Looking back nearly four and a half years later, with SPD diagnosis data in my hand, I know that Lilah never tiring of this position was a result of her sensory seeking tendencies. Lilah still never tires of the world and even to this day giving her access to lots of input helps calm her.

As a babywearing educator I am more than aware of the fact that forward facing out is not the most optimal position, but it was a saving grace for my baby that never stopped crying, and a mother that was constantly on the brink of exhaustion. Although I had no idea of the specifics of Lilah’s Sensory Processing Disorder and the diagnosis that would come four years later, I sensed the presence of something bigger going on with Lilah than what I understood, but I also had the intuition to know when something was working, and when the benefits outweighed the downfalls.

As Lilah grew taller and heavier it soon became very awkward and uncomfortable to face her outward, and thankfully I had been introduced to the world of woven wraps at that point. A high back carry became a welcome substitute for our previous wearing position. Lilah was able to get the stimulation she needed constantly, and was also able to serve as an effective tool when other challenges with her “personality” came up.

The constant screaming started to cease somewhat over the following years but Lilah’s abilities to calm herself and self soothe were still not developing. A typical toddler tantrum would last three hours or more, excruciating for everyone involved. Recalling the endless bouncing that soothed her as an infant, I would wrap Lilah on my back and attempt to recreate that movement by running circles around the first floor of my house, which was physically demanding but worked wonders. The sturdiness of the wrap helped absorb the shock of the movements, and helped me cope with her weight by wearing her high on my back. Without the ability to wrap her for such an activity I would have never considered doing such a thing and would have missed out on an invaluable calming strategy. There’s no way I would have been able to keep up with such a rigorous activity otherwise!

In addition to the constant fast paced movements to feed what I now understand to be Lilah’s sensory seeking attributes, Lilah also started to develop a variety of sensory aversions as well. Lilah had struggled with texture aversions since young infancy, which became more extreme as she grew older. It started with excessive spitting up when her gag reflex was triggered during crying, continued into episodes of throwing up when attempting to eat solid foods, and transcended into skin based texture issues that caused her to become hysterical at even the slightest touch of clothing. As Lilah grew older she became less and less able to tolerate seams, tags, textures of clothing, far past the “normal” aversions toddlers and preschoolers experience. Unfortunately it’s not culturally accepted to take a naked two year old to the grocery store, even when you explain to well meaning strangers that the clothes appear to hurt her. And yes, I did take the tags out for her, and no I can’t do away with every single seam in her entire wardrobe.

In a woven wrap, however, I could ensure that no tag or seam touched her body. I could place the wrap around her in such a way that it was not readily apparent that my child was without a shirt or pants, and I could easily protect her skin from the elements. I could essentially dress my child without requiring her to interact with seemingly trivial things that made her life seem impossible. The wrap allowed me to provide my daughter with the constant input and motion she required, helped me to accommodate her desires to avoid texture based triggers, and enabled me to provide her with calming deep pressure stimulation by wrapping her tightly. Far before Lilah received her diagnosis we had at least one long standing coping strategy, and this helped my daughter push through her struggles and develop as a healthy and happy child despite the constant misfiring of signals and the fight or flight response that never seemed to shut off.

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Over four years later we now have a diagnosis and very detailed information on the scope of Lilah’s Sensory Processing Disorder. She is receiving occupational therapy on a weekly basis, and we are developing an arsenal of strategies to help her cope with and overcome attributes of SPD. Wearing my child has remained a consistent part of each day and helps achieve a great many of her goals. Instead of getting sucked into a multi-hour melt down, Lilah is becoming self aware enough to bring me a wrap and ask for a ride. Even at 40 lbs, thanks to my woven wraps I am able to accommodate my preschooler’s need to be carried, jostled, stimulated, all while I care for my other children.

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Wearing Lilah has served to help us cope with the challenges of her Sensory Processing Disorder, both prior to and after receiving a detailed diagnosis, and will continue to be an integral strategy for years to come. Lilah has not only become intensely attached to the practice, but it has served as a tool for coping and developing self awareness and self intervention. It has helped both Lilah and me strive for connection when we feel exhausted and torn apart by the challenges we face as a result of her special needs. This connection, fostered in part by wearing her, helped me identify and serve Lilah’s needs, which will be the foundation for her treatment and therapy in years to come.

Steffany Kerr is a babywearing educator and homeschooling mom to three children.

Become a Member and Meet Our Lending Library!

Becoming a member of Babywearing International of Kansas City has many benefits. Your membership supports this wonderful community and keeps our chapter growing. One of the biggest and most useful membership perks is our extensive lending library!

First off, we would LOVE to tell you about the membership perks and explain what membership money goes for. The cost of a yearly membership is $30, half of which remains with our chapter, and the other half goes to Babywearing International, the organization at large. Why in the world would we want to give away half our money to the national organization? Well, because that money helps them help us!!! Babywearing International supplies us with informational type brochures, educator support and professional development, and also some donated carriers for our lending library.  The remaining 50% of membership dues stay with our Kansas City chapter, money that we can use for business cards, other forms of advertising, and most importantly carriers for our lending library!!!

So now that you know what membership money goes toward, I’m sure you’re still wondering what the incentive is to become a member. By paying for a yearly membership to Babywearing International of Kansas City you then gain access to our lending library! Members are able to have unlimited access to our lending carriers (one carrier at a time for a one month time period) to help you in your carrier selection, seeing if there’s a carrier that you might prefer for the next phase of your babywearing, or even just for the fun of trying out new carriers!

So on that note, I would love to introduce you to our current lending library!

Stretchy Wraps

Stretchy wraps/carriers are those that contain multi-directional stretch.

Moby Wrap

Baby K’tan

Hybrid Wraps

Hybrid wraps are those that contain one directional stretch. They often have more versatility than multi-directional stretchy carriers.

SnuggyBaby Wrap

Water Wraps

Water wraps are those that can be used in the water.

Water Wrap Carriers Water Wrap

Woven Wraps

Woven wraps are wraps are wraps that do not contain significant stretch, woven of cotton, hemp, wool, silk, or linen. They come in a variety of lengths and can be used for a variety of front, hip, and back carries.

BB Slen 2 (2.7 meters)

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Hopp Tuniz 2 (2.7 meters)

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Amazonas Indio 2 (2.7 meters)

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Colimacon et Cie 3 (3.2 meters)

Zara Original 4 (3.6 meters)

Purple Waves 4 (3.6 meters)

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Girasol Tiramisu 5 (4.2 meters)

Storchenwiege Inka 5 (4.2 meters)

Dolcino Red 5 (4.2 meters)

Ellaroo Christiane Size 6 (4.6 meters)

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Dolcino Black 6 (4.6 meters)

Didymos Indio Monti size 7 (5.2 meters)

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Didymos Indio Orient (cotton/linen) 7 (5.2 meters)

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Wrapsody Bali Breeze Gauze Wrap Size D (5.5 meters)
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Ring Slings

Ring slings are one shouldered carriers that are adjustable, with the tension held by two rings that the fabric loops through.

Sleeping Baby Productions Ring Sling (size large, pleated shoulder)

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Comfy Joey Linen Ring Sling (Medium)

Sakura Bloom Ring Sling (Medium)

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Mei Tai’s

Mei Tai’s are Asian style baby carriers that consist of a body, two waist straps, and two shoulder straps.

TaylorMade Mei Tai

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Catbird Baby Mei Tai

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Babyhawk Mei Tai

Mei Tie Baby Mei Tai

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Soft Structured Carriers

Soft structured carriers are those consisting of buckles that connect the carrier.

Boba 3G

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Boba Air

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Onya Baby

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Ergo Performance

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Ergo Sport

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Pikkolo

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Britax with Seat Extender

Beco Butterfly II

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Pouch Slings

Pouch slings are made of a loop of fabric. They are either non-adjustable or minimally adjustable.

New Native Pouch Sling (Sz Large)

Hotsling Pouch (Size Medium)

So all of the carriers listed above are great reasons to become a member of Babywearing International of Kansas City, not to mention just supporting your local babywearing education and advocacy organization! Our lending library is always growing, and we are adding new carriers as often as possible so that we can continue to meet the diverse needs of our babywearing community here in Kansas City!

Eating My Words…

You know what babywearing is good for? Well, besides the whole hands free parenting thing… It’s good for dishing me a large serving of my own words, a little humbling, tenderizing of the soul. It’s good for reminding me that parenthood is a constant revolving door of change and evolution.

I have been at this babywearing thing for a long time and every day I learn something new. Every new carrier or wrap that I try teaches me something new about myself, my skill set, my expectations, my body, my baby’s desires and interests… The list goes on and on. I have noticed a pattern, that the minute I say “such and such doesn’t work for me” or “I don’t like such and such” the universe sets upon a mission to teach me a lesson. Usually this lesson results in me eating my words about whatever it was I felt so certain about.

For example, I have always said that I despise the double hammock carry, a carry that many people swear by. I had never found it comfortable or cute and I haven’t enjoyed it in the least. Until, of course, a certain wrap came my way, the lovely Fire Fish. This wrap introduced me to the fact that I do very much like grippy wraps, and also showed me that some wraps lend themselves more to certain carries. I figured out that I do like a double hammock carry in a grippy wrap. It was the beginning of my realization that it’s n0t always the carry I dislike, it’s the formula of a certain wrap plus a certain carry being undesirable. It’s true that some carries just don’t work for some of us, but I learned a major lesson, that before I write off a carry try it with a different type of wrap.

Here’s Violet and me enjoying a double hammock in Fire Fish. Although there’s only a crummy cell phone picture as proof, the smile on my face says it all!

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Sometimes I learn my lesson very quickly but other times I must be beat in the head repeatedly before it permeates. I have been around the block on numerous occasions with soft structured carriers. “I hate soft structured carriers,” I might say one month, “they don’t fit me properly.” The next month I might have a chance to try a different brand or style and then I’m shouting with excitement “I love soft structured carriers!” The very next month when my baby hits a growth spurt and I’m fidgiting with the fit of the carrier I loved so much last month, I’m back to swearing off soft structured carriers for good. But then it starts snowing, and there’s really nothing better than a good ol’ sturdy buckles carrier for quick wearing in undesirable weather, so then I love soft structured carriers again. At the end of these love/hate cycles, I don’t know why I can’t just remember to stay in the middle of the road and say that I like soft structured carriers sometimes, and other times I don’t.

Proof that I do actually wear a SSC sometimes (and enjoy it!!!)

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It’s funny though, when it comes to helping someone else I can easily live in middle ground, but with my own wearing and stash I can be so short sighted and extreme. It’s been so beneficial for me to have the opportunity to help others with their babywearing endeavors because it forces me to think more reflectively on a regular basis and see things from different perspectives. I don’t think I’m alone in that either. That’s also the benefit of a community based babywearing group. As we provide others with peer to peer support and engage with others on their journeys we are able to better see the middle ground for ourselves.

Our Babywearing International of Kansas City chapter is not just for those just starting out as babywearers and finding their way, its for those of us who have been at it for quite a while and could use some change in perspective or fresh ideas. Those kinds of experiences reside in problem solving with others with different babywearing needs or interests. I am a true believer that the teacher often learns more than the student.

It’s so easy to get caught in the rut of thinking “this works” and “this doesn’t,” when really the truth resides in the gray areas. Having a community full of people at different places in our babywearing journey’s, needs, and interests serves to keep our minds open. I enjoy eating my own words these days because it means that someone has taught me something new. At each Babywearing International of Kansas City meeting I have the pleasure of reforming my thinking every time and I’m better for it, and thankful to have such a community to gently nudge me out of my box and keep me engaged in learning and providing support with an open mind.

I encourage you, babywearers of all forms to make it to one of our meetings! We meet in Overland Park at Happybottomus on the first Thursday evening of the month, in the Northland on the second Tuesday, and in Midtown on the third Tuesday of each month.

Looking for the soft structured carrier love? Or maybe you want to try out a wrap that might help you fall in love with a carry you’ve been less than enamored with? When we all get together check out the selection of carriers you can play with!! It’s a good reason to come to a meeting!!

Soft structured carriers and Mei Tai’s galore!
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Or maybe you’re looking to play with some woven wraps!

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Maybe you want to hang out and learn from some friends!

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We certainly have it all!