Winter Babywearing 101

Newsflash to no one: It’s cold outside. Really cold outside. It doesn’t mean you have to stay in, though! You can still bundle up and babywear.

Know Your Carrier

It’s best to be comfortable with your carrier before trying to bundle up with it so you have a sense of how it feels when it’s adjusted that you can replicate with the extra layers.

Your carrier type can also help you dictate how you bundle up yourself and your wear-ee. Ring Slings are easy to adjust on the fly, so they can accommodate extra bulk without a lot of prep. For buckle carriers that are already perfectly adjusted, you may want to go with layers that fit over both you and your kiddo so you don’t have to adjust as much. Frame carriers hold the wear-ee up and away from your body – so you won’t have the benefit of shared body heat and may want to add an extra layer.

Know Your Activity

How long you’re going to be outside should dictate how much you need to bundle up. If you’re just going from the car to the school/store/house, not much bundling is needed – a hat and a blanket to throw around the carrier will be sufficient to get you in and out. If you do add layers, it’s best to shed them once inside and put them on again right before going outside again – this will make you feel warmer!

If you’re going to be outside for a more prolonged period, you’ll want to layer up. For serious outdoor time, you’ll want a base layer, another layer (preferably warm fleece!), and a weather layer – on both you and your wear-ee. It doesn’t have to be expensive to bundle up – footed fleece pajamas make a good base layer for little ones, and fleece sweaters and sweatpants are often on sale at Carters.

Also, make sure all the gaps are covered – long wool socks or baby leg warmers are perfect for covering legs and arms from pants or sleeves that will ride up. And never underestimate the value of a warm hat!

Do You Need a Babywearing Coat?

If you’re bundling up you and your little one together, a babywearing coat or fleece is a good – and easy – top layer. You can find fleece covers on Amazon and many carrier companies, including Lenny Lamb and Diva Milano, sell babywearing coats.

Coats can also be DIY’d by cutting a panel in the back or front and adding fabric to accommodate baby. (We have a DIY coat in our Weeknight Lending Library if you want to come check it out. DIY No-Sew Fleece Ponchos are also an option.

But, you don’t have to have a special coat to babywearing during the winter. An oversized coat or maternity coat will work well for most front carries. Bundling separately is also a perfectly fine option!

Keep It Safe

Regardless of how you bundle up, you want to keep the babywearing safety basics in mind. You always want your little one’s airway to be clear and visible – so make sure those extra layers don’t block either. You want to keep their spine in a neutral position and strive to keep their legs in the M position – with their knees higher than their bottom. Also, wearing should be comfortable for both the wearer and the wear-ee.

How Cold Is Too Cold?

This mostly depends on personal preference and the quality of your outdoor gear. If you’re bundled up properly, freezing temperatures are totally manageable. You want to remember that the younger the baby, the more trouble they have regulating their own body temperature so you’ll want to keep them out for shorter durations and be more vigilant to look for distress cues from them.

It’s also worth noting that exposed flesh will start to freeze right around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so if the temperature is there or near there, that’s the line where you’ll want to limit time outside or plan to stay in.

Donate to BWI of Central NJ this Giving Tuesday

It’s Giving Tuesday, the day to support your favorite causes, and we’d love to be on your list today. Donations to Babywearing International of Central New Jersey help us purchase additional items for our lending library and support outreach programs that bring education and carriers to low-income caregivers in our area. As a non-profit, donations are tax deductible and we’ll provide you a donation certificate.

We’ve even made it super easy to donate online. You can donate here:



Happy Giving Tuesday, Babywearers!

Holiday Gift Ideas for Babywearers

Stuck on gift ideas for the babywearer in your life? Looking for things to add to your own wish list? We’ve got you covered! There are great babywearing accessories and mementos available at lost of different price points – you’ll be sure to find something for all the babywearers on your list!

Suck pads can be both practical and beautiful. Available in a plethora of patterns and styles, these can change the look of a soft-structured carrier or meh dai while protecting the carrier from little ones that like to chew on the straps. Etsy is full of great options, and many carrier companies make their own version too.

Another great accessory for little ones that are teething or love to chew are chew necklaces or carrier  accessories. These can either be attached to the carrier or worn by the babywearer to give the wearee something to keep them (and their mouths) busy.

On a practical note, bags you can use while babywearing are always awesome. Cross-body bags are popular among babywearers. Hip packs also work well with lots of carriers. Some carrier companies also make special pouches designed to fit on the carrier straps – like the Onya Hipster Pouch.  If you like to back carrier, a mirror that attaches to your carrier is a fun little accessory. These can let you peek at your little one while you’re out and about.

As we roll into winter, babywearing coats and fleece covers are increasingly popular – and a great way to keep warm if you do a lot of outside wearing. And if you find that your little one’s pants tend to ride up while being worn, knee high socks or baby leg warmers, like Babylegs, are a good way to keep little legs covered during the colder months.

If you’re looking for something to memorialize your time babywearing, a gift certificate for babywearing photos or an art portrait made from your favorite babywearing picture make for beautiful mementos.

Artists on Etsy also offer many options for babywearing insprired jewelry and babywearing ornaments – which are both great keepsakes whether you’re currently wearing or not. You can also find lots of wrap scrap accessories online – these can be made from your favorite woven wrap (or just another pattern you like!) and are a great for everyday use.

Did you know you can also gift a BWI membership? All you have to do is email us at centralnj@babywearinginternational.org and we’ll get you set up – we can even give you a certificate to wrap up for easy gifting!  Want to gift a membership to someone in another part of the country? We can help put you in touch with their local chapter, too.

Do you have any great gift ideas for babywearers? Feel free to share links and ideas in the comments!

Big Picnic Thank Yous!

We rounded out our anniversary month with a potluck picnic – and we have a lot of people to thank for helping make it happen!


First off, a huge thank you to the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association for letting us use their beautiful property for our gathering. We loved exploring your center, trails, and butterfly house!

We also want to send out big, grateful hugs to those who generously donated prizes that were raffled off as part of the celebration: giftcards from Picaboo, a wrap from Smitten, a kids’ handtowel from Kate Sabella – Norwex Independent Sales Consultant, and suck pads from one of our craftiest members, Lucie Pfefferle.

And, of course, thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate our 3rd anniversary! Here’s to another great year!

Water Carriers 101

It’s the stereotypical summer scene: lounging around at the pool or beach on a beautiful, carefree day. Add a baby/toddler/kid (or two), and suddenly this seems a little less idyllic, right? As with everything, there’s a baby carrier for that!

Why a water carrier?

Water carriers are baby carriers that are designed for use in or near the water. Why do you need a special carrier? Because regular carriers aren’t designed for use in water, wearing them wet can put extra stress on the carrier. Water carriers are made with materials that can better hold up to salt water or pool water. Also, a regular carrier can sag or stretch when wet in ways a water carrier won’t – so it’s safer for baby to be in a water carrier if you’re going to be splashing around. Water carriers also dry faster, since they’re made of quick-drying materials and use less padding.

 

Safety First

As with all babywearing, safety is very important. All of the same considerations that you would make for dry wearing should be made for water wearing – you want to make sure baby’s airway is clear and visible, that baby is in an ergonomic position, and that you and baby are both comfortable.

Also, the same as all babywearing, you don’t want to do anything while wearing that you wouldn’t do while holding baby in your arms. While water carriers are made to get wet, you don’t want to actually swim with them – wading and splash pads are perfect, but heading into deep water while wearing isn’t safe. A great rule of thumb is to stay no more than waist-deep in a pool and less deep than that in ocean waves. Remember, baby’s head will always be lower than yours so you need to be extra aware of where baby is in relation to the water.

We often rely on babywearing to corral multiple kids – wear the little one so we can attend to the older one – but when it comes to water wearing, you have to be incredibly cautious. If something happens with the older child, it’s easy to lose awareness of where baby is in relation to the water and accidently dunk them.

 

Picks from the Lending Library

So, how do you pick a water carrier? A good place to start is with which carriers you like on dry land. Whether you prefer a wrap, ring sling, meh dai, or buckle carrier, you can find a water-friendly version. Also, then, consider what you want to use it for. Mesh ring slings are a great, fast-drying option but aren’t ideal for carrying outside of water. A buckle carrier will provide more support for a carry on land as well as in the water.

In the lending library we have several to try out including the Connecta Solarweave and BityBean, which are both buckle carriers, a Water Onbuhimo by Cute Awaking, the Wrapsody Duo water wrap, and water-safe ring slings from Zanytoes and Comfy Joey.

Water Carrier Care

Water carriers need a little extra TLC to extend their life – salt and chemicals can be harsh on them. Once you’re done wearing, it’s best to rinse out the carrier in water and hang to dry. At the end of the season, wash according to the manufacturer’s directions before storing.

Beating the Babywearing Heat

Babywearing can be hot. When you’re strapping two bodies together there’s really no way around it, but there are tweaks that can make you and baby more comfortable in hot weather.

Pick a cool(er) carrier

Some fabrics and carrier designs are a little lighter or more breathable.

Ring slings, by design, only have one pass of fabric around the child, so they are one of the cooler options for warm-weather wearing. Ring slings made of linen are light and breathable – perfect for summer. In the lending library, we have linen slings from Comfy Joey, Zanytoes, Sakura Bloom, and Soul Sling.

You can also pick wraps made from lighter materials. Options from our lending library include the Wrapsody Breeze, Wrapsody Stretch Hybrid, K’Tan Active, and Solly Baby,

Soft-structured carriers made with lighter fabrics or mesh panels are another great, breathable option. In the lending library, we have the Beco Gemini Cool, BityBean Ultra Compact Baby Carrier, Ergo Performance Ventus, Infant Kinderpack with Koolknit, Pognae, Connecta Solarweave, Lillebaby All Season and Lillebaby Airflow.

Ways to keep cool

Regardless of which carrier you use, there are a few things that will keep you and baby cooler.

  • Dress in light colors, which will feel cooler in the direct sun.
  • Dress in layers, especially if the day will start cool. During the spring, the day can heat up fast. Being able to shed a layer is an asset.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water will help keep your body temperature down. Remember, babies shouldn’t be given water –
  • A misting fan will also help you and baby feel cooler – and stroller fans can also be clipped to carriers!
  • Keep out of the sun as much as possible. Sun hats will help keep you covered – or use an umbrella to make your own shade.
  • Use a cooling towel to cool the wearer. A cooling towel like FroggToggs should never be used on baby or between baby and the wearer because babies can’t regulate their body temperatures as well and it’s hard to tell if they’re getting too chilled.

Watch for overheating

When you’re out and about, it’s important to stay mindful of signs that baby is in distress. Signs of overheating can include:

  • Rapid breathing or rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive redness or rash
  • Baby seems dizzy, confused, lethargic, or limp
  • Baby acting overly fussy and uncomfortable

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to get baby and yourself into a cooler environment and consult your pediatrician.

Three Cheers for our Volunteers: the Chapter Volunteers

Last, but not least, we want to wish all of our chapter volunteers a Happy National Volunteers Week! While we can’t name you all individually, we appreciate you! Whether you’ve jumped in to help us at one meeting or have been with us for years, organizing and planning, we’re so thankful for you help.

The truth is, running BWI of Central NJ is a big job and – simply put – the VBEs can’t do it alone. We rely on our volunteers to fill the gaps and keep things running smoothly – and we’re always looking for more hands to help.

Can you help sign guests in at meetings? Are you a fundraising guru? Do you love to plan fun events? No matter what your talents or time you have to commit, we’d love you have you on our team. You can check out some of the jobs we currently need help with here, or drop us a note with your strong suits and we’ll find something that fits you!

Again, thank you so much to our current and past volunteers! We’re so glad you’re here to help make BWI of Central NJ awesome!

Three Cheers for our Volunteers: the VBEs in Training

National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to introduce the two soon-to-be members of our VBE team: Stacy Raite and Kerry Ann Beal are currently in training to be VBEs!

Stacy has been involved with BWI of Central NJ since the summer of 2013 and is excited to help spread the babywearing love as a VBE. Stacy’s an avid wrapper and credits her babywearing success on finding the chapter.
Current go-to carrier: Wraps! Base minus 2 is my go-to.
Dream carrier: One I currently have – monochrome with a galaxy dye in place of the nati fibers or, if a black and white version of the literary wrap I fell for is released, that dyed rainbow grad  for a Reading Rainbow carrier!
Best babywearing advice she’s gotten: Don’t give up and keep asking questions until you are wearing comfortably, safely, and confidently!

 

 

Kerry has been attending BWI of Central NJ meetings since the summer of 2014. She found babywearing to be a lifesaver and is looking forward to pass on her knowledge to help other caregivers fall in love with babywearing, too.
Current go-to carrier: It would be a tie between my toddler Tula and my wrap conversion Kanga XP.
Dream carrier: My dream has been my own custom wrap converted carrier which I recently just received. It’s a Cari Slings Mithril wrap converted to a Bloo Kangaroo XP SSC.
Best babywearing advice she’s gotten: Make sure to wear your hair up high since little toddlers love to pull at it when doing a back carry!

 

You’ve probably seen Kerry and Stacy helping out at meetings – soon you’ll see them teaching, too! We’re so excited that they’ll soon be official  members of the BWI of Central NJ leadership team. Join us in wishing them luck as they finish up their VBE assessments!

Three Cheers for our Volunteers: the VBEs

It’s National Volunteer Week and we couldn’t let the week pass without sending out a big THANK YOU to our team of Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs, for short).

VBEs are the leadership for all BWI chapters. Most people see the VBEs teaching at meetings or answering questions on Facebook, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Not only do they know their stuff – they’ve passed a written assessment and skills assessments from Babywearing International to earn the title – but they are also behind-the-scenes rock stars.

The VBE team sets up meetings and special events, organizes fundraisers, maintains the chapter’s website and social media, keeps the group’s accounting in check, organizes community outreach, and builds and maintains the lending library. And they all do it with multiple kids in tow and other jobs or volunteer gigs to balance.

Babywearing International of Central New Jersey’s VBE team currently includes Lucy Fronheiser, Megan Mikita, Lauren Bartlett, Sandy Lee, Allyson Sandak, and Kate Sabella. If you see one of them this week, be sure to say Happy National Volunteer Week and Thank You!

Babywearing ABCs

If you’ve been to a meeting, you’ve heard the VBEs talk about the ABCs of babywearing. We start every meeting this way because whether you’re brand new to babywearing or a seasoned wearer, these are great reminders.


A is for Airway. We always, always, always want to make sure that baby can breathe easy in the carrier. We don’t want baby to be chin-to-chest because it can pinch off baby’s airway. (To see what we mean, put your chin to your chest and try to breathe. Go ahead! Not really comfortable, right? And babies don’t even have the muscle development you do, so it’s even worse for them!) You also want to always have a clear sight of baby’s airway and make sure that the carrier (or your clothing) are not impeding fresh air from circulating around baby’s face.

B is for Body Position. You want to make sure baby has a nice, neutral spine. Baby should have enough support that they’re not slumping over, but not so tight that they’re unnaturally straight. Baby should be in the seated “M” position, with baby’s knees higher than their bum, and the carrier should support baby from knee to knee.

C is for Comfort. You should be comfortable. Baby should be comfortable. If you’re not, let’s fix it. Bring the carrier with you to a meeting and we can help you tweak your carry to make it more comfortable, or you can browse our lending library and try out some other options. Can’t make a meeting? Post some pictures to our Facebook group and we’ll try to help with some virtual tweaking!