Monday, July 21, 2014

Babywearer of the Month: Meet Courtnie T

Hi! My name is Courtnie! I'm 31, born in Norfolk, and after moving around a bit as a kid- came back to Chesapeake when I was 20. I have 4 children. Jack (11), Savannah (6), Brody (3), and Logan (3).

I had a brief stint with an old snuggli when my oldest was born. When my daughter was born, I found the Moby website by accident and I ordered that night. It was okay for a while, then she got too heavy for the snuggli and the moby, and that was the end of that. When my 3rd was born, I went to an LLL meeting and one of the lactation consultants brought several Maya wraps she was selling. I bought one at the meeting, and used it sparingly. A few weeks later, I discovered SSC and hunted Becos on ebay for weeks. I couldn't believe how expensive they were! (Ha!) I won an auction late at night and we wore the heck out of that and eventually a Boba. When my 4th was born, I tried to sell one of my SSCs and found the swap! I bought a wrap 2 days later. I was hooked, and have churned well over 60+ wraps in the last 2 years.

With 4 kids, and a husband who works  70 hours a week- babywearing keeps my house functioning. From errands, to school functions, to laundry and baths - I've had a kid strapped to me for almost 4 years now.
Our days are winding down a bit now, much to my sadness. We are still clinging tightly to some favorites. I love a ring sling for quick ups and downs while running errands. They are great for toddlers who just need a quick snuggle too! Wraps are so versatile! I love the custom fit a good wrap job will give you. An Ellevill Zara tops my list! Amazing stretch, and relatively easy to find. I've had Didys, Giras, Natis, Divas, Ellevills, Heartiness, Pavos, Oschas, and a few handwovens. It's so fun to see the different wrapping qualities between the brands.

The hardest thing is deciding what goes or stays!  And of course, when you're at the end. I truly enjoy telling others about wrapping their baby. It's fulfilling to see a new mother regain some of her independence with the use of her hands! Such a simple thing, that is really a lifesaver! Babywearing is such a special everyday thing you can do with your child. It doesn't have to be expensive, and just a carry or two under your belt is enough. Attending a BWI meeting is so beneficial! Wonderful VBEs and so many moms and dads willing to share their wraps to try! I've met some wonderful women through babywearing, including my best friend over a wrap trade!  I love the closeness I can steal with my children by having them close. Every parent should get that opportunity!

Thank you for sharing the babywearing love every chance you get, Courtnie!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ask a VBE: Babywearing and Flying

Back in January of 2013, I took a trip to see my sister get married in Phoenix, Arizona. I started typing up a blog about it after we got home but we ended up getting pretty sick from the trip so I put it off for a long time but I'm finally ready to share! Now, I am in no way an expert on flying. I did it once with Carmen and we really did learn a lot so I thought I'd share any advice I could. Remember that every situation may be different depending on the time of the year you fly and which airports you fly out of. Security has some basic standards but each are a little different.

We took our Didymos Anthracite Stone Indio (a short sz 6 with some fancy fringe,) and we packed our Didymos Roses (sz 2) for quick trips. I decided to go with something simple and that was kind of a beater (a wrap I didn't feel bad if it was stained or somehow lost or stolen) ASI can easily be washed, makes a great wrap to do a ruck and was long enough for really comfy carries like a double hammock with a candy cane chest belt. It was fancy enough for my sister's wedding rehearsal and looks great with my black polo and denim capris. I can't praise simple wraps like this enough. I also like to travel with wraps like this in case someone asks about it. I can then direct them straight to a vendor since this wrap is in stock in a few places.

If you're really worried about wearing and going through security, just be prepared to be flexible. Read up on the guidelines before going. They're posted online, you just have to Google who're flying through and their security guidelines. It makes it so much easier when you have kids when you can fly through security. Some may ask you to take down your baby (even in a wrap with no metal) and some may not even bat an eyelash. I found that the more open I was about Carmen's sippy cups being filled with almond milk and volunteering to have my bag searched, the nicer security was to us and we were processed through security much quicker. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
I got these rocking bags on Amazon for $20 each!
We had our hands FULL though. I had to pay for two tickets since Carmen was two years old at the time and I felt strongly about her being in a car seat for the duration of our flights. I even bought a light Cosco seat so I wouldn't have to use a car seat from the car rental company and it wouldn't be as heavy as her Evenflo Triumph. So since I spent so much on tickets, I took full advantage and got two really great rolling carryons that I thought I could simply carry behind me. It worked out so well in my head. Simply flip the car seat over one carry on and buckle it on, my backpack with things to keep Carmen busy on the other, Carmen on my back, a carry on in each hand and BAM! It all seemed so ideal and while it worked - it was still a hassle. My bags would flip the side and I was kicking them like a crazy person trying to get them to flip upright. Sometimes I needed these hilarious looking running starts to get them rolling right and finding walls to rest them up against so I wouldn't have to pick them up. Plus, if I wanted to do a quick trip into a store for water or snacks, I couldn't leave both of my bags behind and I did not have a hand to do things like carry my stuff or anything. If I could go back, I would have checked a bag. It would have been worth every dime. Plus, I got a lot of flack from staff about both carryons despite being allowed to have them and insisted we check them but that wasn't feasible on our way home. It also seemed unfair as I had done so much research making sure they were the perfect size for carryons and watching fellow passengers bring on these massive suitcases. So while babywearing kept me "hands free" to man-handle these bags, it was still a lot of work. I definitely felt like supermom though when we got home and I survived until that nasty after-flying cold and deafness set in.

The flights were excellent though in the end and I have never been more proud of Carmen. The car seat was a great choice. She slept well and I felt comfortable knowing she was in a 5 point harness as some turbulence in past flights have lifted me out of my seat before! My wrap came into play beautifully! I braided the wrap half way and use part of it as a neck support, like the ones you pay $20 for in the airport! Okay, not that my wrap is cheaper but I love when something has multiple uses and I have to carry less stuff. I then let out the other half and used it as a blanket since I am weary of the ones that are used on the air planes. Has anyone ever seen those washed? Gross!
While we were always the first one on each of our flights, we politely waited to be last as we needed the space and thought it would be rude to be in the middle of aisle for a few minutes getting all of our stuff together. I then was able to wrap in the aisle. With that said, be super careful of your baby's head. I totally bumped Carmen's head on the overhead compartment and she was already grumpy from waking up from her nap. Big mommy fail on my part but at least she had my shoulder while on my back and I kept leaning my head back onto hers to comfort her. Truly a reason why I love to babywear. Being there emotionally for your baby while getting things done!

It was quite the adventure flying my first time with Carmen but she did amazing and we ended up having a lot of fun in Arizona seeing family and seeing my sister to get married. We hope this helps you a bit if you decide to fly and comment with any tips you'd have for flying with young kids!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Carry of the Month: Secure High Back Carry

Please read our disclaimer before trying this carry.

Okay, so this post is way over due. Secure high back carry (SHBC) is one of the most common beginner carries; one of the first carries you'll try when you start wrapping. It can be done with a base size as well which makes it even more perfect. It has a nice stopping point thanks to the half knot so if you find yourself winded and baby is getting upset, it's a great time to stand up a little and soothe baby.

I admit this isn't a favorite of mine though. I find that it is difficult to get everything nice and even so that the rails of the wrap aren't cutting into you and depending on your chest size, the knot may irritate you. With that said, practice will help with all of these issues. You learn to use the rails (the long hems on each side of the wrap,) and tighten them to what's comfortable and you'll learn just how tight to pull on the chest knot. I will say that it is a very quick multilayer pass and it does have a lot of variations so you can really customize it to your liking.

So for the tutorial I used a size 6 beautifully dyed "DIY" wrap. You could use a smaller wrap, you may just have to adjust where you start the carry on your baby's back, like a couple inches off to one side but because of the nature of the passes, you will need just enough to tie in the front.

For this carry, I wanted to demo a little bit on the hip scoot. I think it's one of the easiest ways to get baby on your back especially if you're using a baby that is small (around 6 months or so) and when you go to unload baby from the wrap, you can essentially do a reverse hip scoot. It's great for big kids too when they get just too old for superman tosses and great for small babies when they outgrow the santa toss. To hip scoot with the wrap and a pretucked seat, I've place the middle of the wrap on my baby's back and brought the tail of the wrap behind my back and over my opposite shoulder like in the first photo. I've grabbed fabric and pulled it up between my baby's legs and spread it from knee to knee. This helps keep a seat in place so that all I have to do after baby is on my back is some minor tucking here and there to make sure the wrap stayed in place. For a photo tutorial of the hip scoot, check out our Ruck post.
The beginning of this carry starts with one pass over the shoulder and the other under your arm. Make sure everything is really tight and snug and that the wrap is as high on baby's back as possible just like I have in the third photo. You can always store passes between your knees as well so you don't create any slack while tightening the other pass.
Someone was kind enough to capture my goof up!
Now the knot is always what confuses me. Tie it the wrong way and you have a mess. If you were at the Virginia Beach meeting this July, you totally saw me mess up! To be fair, the only wrapping I do is at meetings for tutorials! So I was thinking about it and I came up with the best way to remember it; "The wrap OVER your shoulder goes OVER the other pass." Okay so it's not as catchy but the
"over, over" thing really helped me remember. So again, the pass over your shoulder goes over the pass under your arm and then you pull it up through and knot. If you want your shoulders capped, I'd try to cap your shoulder now otherwise it'll be difficult to loosen it to pull it over your shoulder later.
This next step is easy peasy. The pass that is on the bottom of the knot or the pass that sits on the side where the wrap is over your shoulder goes under your arm, over baby's knee (like the first photo) and then under baby's knee on the other side (second photo.) Now you can just pull the pass in front of you and store it between your knees. That first pass over baby's knee should really overlap the fabric that makes baby's seat so it stays in place. If you're wanting to try some variations, you can spread this pass super wide or you can bring it over both of baby's knees. This is just the original carry version. 
This is a really great time to take a break if you need one because now you have that secure knot and your baby's seat is secured by a pass. If you absolutely feel you need to take a break, just put a hand on baby's bottom, stand up and breath!
This pass is just a bit more difficult but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy as well. The other pass in front of you will now go over your shoulder. Spread it out super wide, flip it over your arm and push it to your back. Lift it as high as you possibly can to get it over baby's bum. It's very common to get it stuck so just keep trying and pulling. Grab the top rail with your hand and pull it up as high as you possibly can over baby's back. Now you can start to mold it to your baby's back and your shoulder just how you like it. In the third photo, I'm molding it to my shoulder by pulling on the wrap and using my thumb to pull some of the slack out on my shoulder. This pass is referred to as a rebozo pass because it goes over the shoulder and under the other.
This pass in the original version goes right over baby's knee but because the other pass that we worked with goes under baby's legs, I feel it can get a little lopsided so personally, I like to put it under baby's knee. It's up to you though. You simply finish off here by double knotting the passes at your waist.
That's it! I know the blog post was wordy but it does only take a few second to wrap up and it is super easy! 
You can email questions to our Education chair at
Education (at) BabywearingHamptonRoads (dot) Org any time. 
Photo tutorial not doin' it for you? No worries. Check out Babywearing International of Hampton Roads's YouTube channel for more information and tutorials!