Monday, August 8, 2011

my favorite sewing projects

take less than a day, start to finish. I don't like sewing to drag on and on--I like seeing the results of my hard work--but I don't like to wait. :) There is a very particular sewing hobby very special to me that is the only one I don't mind if it takes longer. Since my son was very young, I have made my own baby carriers. Babywearing is as old as humanity, and after I learned more about it, I knew I wanted to carry my son. Why am I doing a post on Babywearing? It's important to me, and it got me interested in increasing my sewing skills. I've cursed at my sewing machine at 2 am many times, but knowing I'm challenging myself to learn more gives me that little ego-boost when a stranger compliments a carrier I made myself. But its much, much, more than that...babywearing just became normal to me, and how I went about life with a new baby. I hope this post gives you a little view into the Art of Babywearing, and a push to find out more.

The benefits are HUGE! My favorite moments are getting to snuggle while I get things done around the house, or while shopping. When you have a sick baby that wants held constantly and you still have dishes and laundry to do---wrapping your babe on your hip in a ringsling or on your back is GENIUS. When its so simple, easy, and cheap, I don't know more women choose using swings, bouncers, and other 'babysitting chairs' instead of holding their baby. Babywearing is more than just strapping your baby in a Bjorn in front a few times when they're little. In fact, Bjorn-style is about the worst carrier you can get for your baby and unfortunately, the easiest to find in Target or Wal-Mart. There's a reason why there's one for sale every week on Craigslist for $5--its because they're CRAP! Yes, crap. Any baby carrier worth the money must position your baby correctly, supporting their hips,back, and spine. It also must be comfortable for you to wear! I would wear my son for hours in a stretch wrap at a time during his newborn naps.

Along the way, I've come across not-so-great websites and people that have many misconceptions about babywearing. Here are some:
1. Only ethnic people in Third World countries or hippies carry their babies.
2. My baby is too heavy to carry.
3. My baby has to face out when I hold him/her or she cries/can't breathe.
4. It's too hard to learn how to use a wrap or sling.
5. Leaving my baby in his carseat and carrying that instead is much easier.

1. Babywearing lost favor with middle and upper classes along the way in history because people thought having a "buggy" or "carriage" showed off your wealth. Every culture in history before the invention of a stroller carried their children. Buying the most expensive, top-of-the-line stroller just means you have too much money to waste. Don't get me wrong-strollers have an appropriate time and place, and I <3 my jogging stroller---BUT you are missing out on those little baby snuggles that you can never get back. Not to mention, strollers DECREASE interaction with your chid.

2. Most children can be carried comfortably up to 40 pounds. You need to use a carrier appropriate for your child's size. Some of you might ask, Why the HECK would I carry my 40 pound 3 year old? Why not? Get a work out and move your bloomin' arse! Take a walk with your kid on your back and let them see from your point of view while you hoof it. If you start while your baby is young, and continue into toddlerhood, you not only get the benefits of bonding-but you get stronger muscles and a more fun way to walk off the baby weight.

3. I'll be frank here-trying to put your baby in a carrier for the first time can be discouraging if he's upset. The excuse "I tried it and she didn't like it" is major Lame-O. You don't let a child not learn how to tie their shoes because "She cried and didn't like it." One time is not enough. You have to practice! And baby needs to be fed, and have a dry diaper before you even think about practicing. Babies that enjoy facing out can do so for VERY short periods of time-but using a Buddha hold in slings, not a "crotch dangler" like Bjorn or Infantino carriers make. Your best bet is to learn how to carry your child on your back, so they can see out safely and supported. Babies have NO problem breathing in carriers just because they are facing in toward your chest. This is where educating yourself about safe babywearing and correct positioning is so important. Babies CAN breathe in there, and its not much different from being snuggled on your chest while laying on the couch.

4. There are a ton of different types of carriers. Some are more traditional than others. If you want versatile, and like to learn new things, a woven wrap would be great! If you want quick-in-and-out, a soft structured carrier like Ergo, Beco, or Oh Snap! by Babyhawk is going to be best for you. Different carriers work better at different stages and what you're doing---Wraps are great for newborns and beyond, Slings are great up until toddler years and you can wear your baby on your hip! Carriers with backpack-style straps like Mei Tai, Onbuhimo, or a Podaegi (or Pod) are easy to tie on and switch between users without having to adjust straps. Mei Tai are my personal favorite and can be worn on your front or back. They're great for longer carries. Ringslings, another fave of mine, are super for quick errands if you have to hop from place-to-place. Once you learn how to use a ringsling, its one of the fastest to get on and off.

5. Carrying your baby using their carseat is NOT healthy for you or your baby. Manufacturers put handles on car seats and started calling them "infant carriers." Carrying them this way puts unnecessary stress on your body and throws off your balance. Leaving your baby in a carseat, bouncer, swing, and crib for extended amounts of time can also lead to flat-head syndrome. (Look it up, no lie.) "Babysitter" baby gear (in my honest opinion) is being over-marketed as essentials for a baby. Why have a baby if you're just going to keep her in a chair all day? Babies were made to be held by a HUMAN, not a plastic container. If that pisses you off, I'm not sorry. This is my blog. :P

This is a very,very brief overview of some of the myths and excuses I've heard from people who don't continue babywearing or don't start. Babywearing is SAFE, but you must be responsible for learning how to safely position your baby if you are newbie. Its another great way for you and family to bond with your baby, too. If you are interested in learning more, I'm linking the sites that I have found most helpful in the past 2 years. These are major resources for novice and experienced babywearers. Has SUPER forums on every kind of carrier imaginable and how to use them. You'll also find great advice from ladies who enjoy making their own!

Babywearing International is an organization that promotes and advocates for babywearing, and encouraging manufacturers to create safe carriers. Find local babywearing groups and learn about the upcoming Babywearing Week in October.
Great advice from Jan, a WAHM that sews and sells her own ringslings. She also has great pictures on how to use the sling,and make your own. I use her site often when I sew my own slings. This was the first tutorial I used to make my very first Mei Tai. Genuine Scandinavian Mei Tai carriers are extremely expensive, and very beautiful. This mama shows you how to make a copy-cat.

Here are some of the carriers that I have made, mostly ringslings and Mei Tai carriers.

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