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Monday, January 18, 2016

Tips and tricks for a successful BST experience: Part One

As you dip your toes into the huge world of babywearing you'll notice that there are hundreds of carrier options to choose. Different styles, materials, shapes, and sizes abound. How do you know where to buy? What those acronyms mean? How to pay? It may seem overwhelming at first but know that there's a huge community of like minded babywearers out there and everyone was just starting out at some point! In this first part of a two part series we'll cover some tips to get you started so that your first transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

Listing photo for a woven wrap in natural light.
We get a lot of questions about where to buy. Maybe you've come to a meeting and tried on or even checked out a Library carrier and now you're curious about making a similar purchase. 
Here in Middle Tennessee, we have a few options for purchasing in person.

  • You can find Infantino, Ergo, Moby, Boba, and Ktan at many big box stores like Target, Babies 'R' Us, and USA Baby. 
  • There are also smaller and more local boutiques like Green Pixie Baby, Bump & Rump, and Little Star that carry a changing roster of carriers. 
Many of us will also opt into purchasing carriers new or used online, either through a retailer or through an individual. Smaller companies often aren't sold in stores so your best bet may be starting at the brand's website or online boutique to find where to buy. If the website seems like a dead end with nothing but sold out carriers it may be time to look at the various BST groups.

  • You can often buy directly from a brand's webstore where they have carriers in stock or they may release them at a set date or time. 
  • You can look for an online boutique such as 5 Minute Recess, Purple Elm Baby, and Birdie's Room. Stores such as these will sometimes do layaway, discounts or sales, and exclusive releases of limited edition carriers. 
  • Converters may keep carriers in stock online as well. Check out Ziursrm BabyLil Peepers Keepers, and Chunky Monkey, three of our local converters.
  • BST groups on Facebook such as the "Budget Swap" and the "Big Swap" are hugely populated and full of deals on used or new carriers. Try searching by colorway, brand, or weave. 
  • The FSOT forums at The Babywearer are a fantastic resource.
  • Our local Chatter page has its very own FSOT album too!
Many online BST groups function with the warning of "buyer beware." This means that it's up to you to determine if a listing looks legit. You can always message a seller to ask questions or request more pictures. Ideally, any and all flaws would be disclosed but people are human and miss things- ask if you're concerned about undisclosed permacreasing, pulls, stains, or odors. If your spidey senses are tingling you can always reach out on our Chatter page about whether it seems wise to proceed. Many BST groups will require a "Feedback Link" to proceed with any buying, selling, or trading. Check out the pinned post in the group of your choice to find out if you need one and how to get one set up. They function as a way to leave feedback after a transaction, ensuring that you can check on a buyer's or seller's track record and avoid any potential funny business.  

Listing photo for a ring sling in natural light.
As you peruse your options you may see the same acronyms that keep popping up. Listings can often read like a different language. Just like carriers and carries are shortened the buying, selling, and trading (BST) terminology is in shorthand too. There are plenty of glossaries out there (check out Babywearing 102's huge resource!) but here are a few of the most commonly used terms you'll see when navigating a listing.  
  • BNIB: brand new in box
  • BNWT: brand new with tags
  • DISO: desperately in search of
  • EUC: excellent used condition
  • FSOT: for sale or trade
  • FSO: for sale only
  • FTO: for trade only
  • GUC: good used condition
  • ISO: in search of
  • MMAO: make me an offer
  • MMARO: make me a reasonable offer
  • MV: market value (average price a carrier is sold at on the secondary market)
  • OBO: or best offer
  • PM: private message
  • PPD: postage paid domestic (shipping is included in list price)
  • STIH: soft tape in hand (used when measuring woven wraps)
  • VGUC: very good used condition
Showing the original box in a listing can be helpful.
Now that you've found a place to purchase and chosen a carrier it's time to pay! PayPal is the most commonly used form of payment when purchasing online. It's accepted just about everywhere. Very easy to use, it provides protection to both the buyer and the seller. The peace of mind when you decide to take the plunge on a carrier trade or purchase is well worth setting up an account if you don't have one already. When utilizing PayPal you'll be provided with the most protection by paying Goods & Services. People often consider the associated fees when creating their listing and will expect the transaction to go through Goods & Services. You do avoid fees by paying via Friends & Family but you sacrifice your protections should anything go wrong. You may choose to pay using Friends & Family if purchasing a carrier in person from someone you know locally. Make sure you feel comfortable with how the transaction is going down either online or in person.  

Feeling ready to go even further? Part Two will dive deeper into payment plans, navigating a trade, listing a carrier for sale, and red flags to avoid. Got a question you don't see answered here? Ask away on our Chatter page or in person at one of our monthly meetings.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What membership can do for you!

If you're new to the group or have been lurking for awhile you've probably seen posts about membership, reservations, check outs, workshops, and donations. It may sounds complicated or exclusive but membership with Babywearing International of Middle Tennessee is truly for everyone. Your donation not only results in the awesome perks of library carrier checkouts and access to specialized workshops but also supports our chapter and our overall mission of making babywearing a safe and accepted practice available to all.

So, what is membership?

Annual membership is a $30 tax deductible donation. That's right, a $30 donation to our chapter means you're a member with us for the entire year.

Why should I consider donating?

Your donation goes towards growing our Learning Library of carriers (available at every meeting), helps our volunteer-run group ensure we have meeting spaces available to the community, and helps us provide goods for attendees such as business cards. Donations directly support the success and expansion of our chapter and enable us to make ourselves as beneficial to the community as possible.

How do I become a member?

You can become a member with us at a meeting by filling out a short form and donating with cash, check, or card. We also process memberships online. You can use our membership form and donate via Paypal to You'll receive a welcome email with membership information and library policies shortly afterwards.

Can I gift a membership to someone?

Absolutely! Membership is the best kind of gift- thoughtful, useful, and takes up almost zero space. You can specify gift membership preferences on our membership form.

Now that I'm all signed up, how do I check out a Learning Library carrier?

First, plan on attending one of our monthly meetings. At the meeting you'll have access to our Learning Library as well as the expertise of our Educators. All attendees are welcome to try on any of our library carriers, regardless of membership status. As a member, you have the option of taking one home for the month as well as reserving a carrier of your choosing ahead of time. As long as the carrier you've chosen is unreserved you can check it out with a volunteer and sign that you'll return it to the following monthly meeting.

What if I want to reserve a carrier?

If you have an idea of which carrier you'd like to check out you can utilize our reservation form. This form goes live several days before the meeting date and stays live until about forty eight hours before. If you haven't already, join our Chatter page where we post an update when the form goes live. You can also find it here. You'll receive an email confirmation once your request has been processed. It may be at least twenty four hours before you receive your confirmation. If the carrier is already reserved we will get in touch. It's helpful to have a second choice ready.

Please note that you do not need a reservation to check out a carrier at a meeting. It's simply a useful tool, especially if you're pressed for time or are interested in a high demand carrier.

What are some other perks of membership?

Besides endless gratitude from our Educators membership will give you access to specific workshops and events throughout the year. In the past we've covered topics such as Newborn Wearing 101 and Advanced Back Wrapping. We're gearing up for some exciting workshops this Fall... feel free to request that we cover a topic that interests you! These classes can be especially beneficial to attendees as the educator:caregiver ratio is much lower than our monthly meetings, allowing for specialized instruction.

We often do an annual membership drive with prizes and goals like specific library carrier additions. This is a great time to renew your membership (it applies towards another year from you current expiration date) so keep your eyes on our social media pages.

As a member there will be lots of opportunities to participate within the community as well. For example, our regular Member Monday posts where everyone posts a recent babywearing photo are often full of squishy goodness and are a great chance to see other Library carriers in action.

For further questions our Educators are available on our Facebook page, in our Chatter group, and via email. To learn more about our meetings this blog post is a great place to start. As always, we're glad you're here and happy babywearing!

Your donation helps us add gorgeous woven wraps like these to our Learning Library!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Upcoming September workshop...

We are thrilled to be partnering with Nashville's new birth center, Baby + Company, for a Babywearing 101 workshop on September 16th from 6-8 pm. Babywearing International envisions a world in which babywearing is a natural part of child-rearing. We hope that with this workshop, we can familiarize caregivers with the practice of babywearing, its benefits, and and how to get started.

This workshop will be a comprehensive look at best practices in babywearing. We will be demonstrating newborn carries in soft structured carriers, ring slings, woven wraps, and mei tais. We will talk about the benefits and availability of each carrier at a variety of price points. Additionally, we will be talking about Babywearing International, our fantastic Learning Library, and membership with BWI. After our demonstrations and discussion will hold a Q&A session for you to gain as much information as possible.

If you attend one of our meetings you'll hear us talk about the many benefits that babywearing offers. We do what we do because we love it and because we want every caregiver to have this life changing tool in their parenting toolbox. Our belief statements may help you get to know us before we meet on September 16th.

We believe that...

  • Baby carriers are powerful tools for parents and caregivers, enabling them to hold their babies more comfortably, more securely, and longer than they would otherwise.
  • The practice of using baby carriers, known as babywearing, is beneficial for both children and caregivers. Babywearing fulfills a child’s need to be held, while its utility makes the lives of caregivers easier.
  • Babywearing promotes bonding between children and their caregivers.
  • All types of baby carriers have value, and caregivers have the benefit of a wide range of available options.
  • Baby carriers should be comfortable for both child and caregiver, and can be used for as long as is mutually desired by children and their caregivers.
  • Babywearing is compatible with any parenting style or philosophy.
  • With education and support, children and caregivers can benefit from the ease, comfort and utility of babywearing.
You can learn more about Babywearing International here and Baby + Company here.

This workshop is free and all are welcome so please bring a friend, partner, grandparent- everyone can benefit! You can RSVP through the event on our chatter page or by emailing us at 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Our September theme is...

Mei Tai madness!

This month we'll be focusing on Mei Tais and and the wonderful qualities that keep folks wearing them from the hazy newborn days to toddlerhood and beyond. Mei Tais, or MT's as we sometimes refer to them, are a traditional Asian carrier. Basic anatomy of a Mei Tai includes a square or rectangular body panel, waist straps, and shoulder straps. This simple design is a multifunctional baby carrier that can be used for front, hip, and back carries. We have a variety of options in our Learning Libraries including brands such as Babyhawk, Infantino, Chimparoo, Catbird Baby, and Fidella. 

Mei Tais are easily transferred between caregivers as each wearer adjusts the carrier themselves for a personal fit. They can also be quite compact which is very useful when shuttling to and from activities. They are a fantastic choice if you like the custom fit of a wrap and the ease of a SSC. Additionally they can often be used from day one with minor modifications and do not require an infant insert. They can typically carry up to 35 pounds, although each manufacturer will have different specifications.

There are so many varying styles and modifications for Mei Tais. Each component of the MT's anatomy will differ depending on the maker. When choosing a Mei Tai to try it's helpful to know about the following options...

Waist options:
  • Unpadded means just that- no padding
  • Padded waists may have padding the width of the body panel or may wrap around the wearer
  • Structured includes ring waists, buckle waist, and reverse buckle (tie waist with buckle straps)
Strap options:
  • Wrap style straps tie much like a wrap would and are unpadded
  • Padded provide some extra cush on the shoulders and continue unpadded to the full length
  • Unpadded means just that- no padding
  • Padded/Wrap straps are padded on the shoulders and fan out like a wrap (often seen on wrap conversions)
Body options:
  • Size may be listed as infant, standard, or toddler. Some will be one size although no MT will be a perfect fit from newborn to preschooler. It can be helpful to check measurements before purchasing or try one on from our Learning Library!
  • Material can vary but is often a natural fiber. The body panel may have a decorative print over it. Straps are often a heavier or thicker fabric. Wrap conversions are made in part or whole from a woven wrap.
  • Style of the panel could be flat or contoured and could have seat darts. These factors will change how your little one fits in the seat and have snug of a fit you have as well.
  • Accessories such as hoods or headrests can be a useful feature to support a sleeping baby's head or to use as a cover while feeding. They sometimes store away when not in use. Some hoods are flat and some are shaped like the hood on a jacket.
So, how does one wear a Mei Tai?  If your MT has an unpadded waist you put it on "apron style." That is, you tie the waist straps around your waist leaving the panel to hang down like an apron. The outside of the panel should face towards you. Those with padded waists can be tied on apron style or non apron style. After bringing baby against your chest you bring the body panel up between their legs and up over their back. The shoulder straps will come over your shoulders to cross in the back. You can then bring the shoulder straps to the front where they go over baby's legs- here you can adjust and tie off under baby's bum or bring them back underneath baby's legs to tie off at your back. There are many different ways to tie off in a MT much like a you have options with different carries in a woven wrap. 

Remember, your MT should support baby from knee to knee and the panel should not come past the midline of baby's ear. Their back should not be excessively curved or straight if tightened properly. For a MT that is big on baby it's possible to roll the waist to shorten the panel. You can also cinch the panel to provide a knee to knee fit. We hope you'll come to a meeting if you need any help achieving a proper fit.

As always, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming monthly meetings! We'll be introducing you to the Mei Tais and other carriers in our library, helping you with your carrier of choice, and will be taking any and all of your questions. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Upcoming August workshop!

Babywearing International of Middle Tennessee and Smile Mommy! Diaper Service are partnering for a great community workshop full of information on cloth diapering and babywearing. 
We hope you'll join us this August 25th at 5:30 pm.

This workshop will be especially useful to any caregivers who are curious about the options they have for diapering as well as wearing their little ones. 

A few of our educators will be on hand to give a 101 demonstration for all who attend. This is a great chance to check out our awesome Learning Library and learn all about choices you have on your babywearing journey. We'll be demonstrating ring slings, wraps, mei tais, and soft structured carriers for you with a focus on safety and choosing a carrier that works for both caregiver and little one. We'll also have time for you to "ask an educator!" So get ready to ask us any and all questions you might have about babywearing and BWI of Middle Tennessee. 

You can purchase tickets here!

We hope to see you at El Jardin on Tuesday the 25th at 5:30!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Keeping summer safety in mind.

As we close out July it feels like a good time to revisit our theme for this month- Summer Safety!

We discuss safety during this time of year because of a few variables including heat, sun exposure, and more outdoor activities. All of these can have an impact of safety while babywearing, both for caregivers and worn children. A few absolute rules still apply:

  • Keep airways clear. You should always be able to monitor baby's breathing with ease.
  • Keep baby's chin off of the chest. Reposition as necessary.
  • Ensure a proper fit for your carrier- come to one of our monthly meetings if you need help.
Babywearing in the summer, especially here in Middle Tennessee, is going to be hot, plain and simple. You still have to get where you're going and get things done. So! How do you stay cool and safe while out and about?

  • Wear sunscreen! It helps to be extra mindful of those exposed feet and hands, especially for young babies that don't need shoes and older kids who go from arms in to arms out in a flash.
  • Mineral based sunscreen won't damage your carrier. Chemical based sunscreens may cause discoloration.
  • For wrappers, consider sticking to single layer carries to avoid overheating. A FWCC with bunched passes or a simple ruck will keep you cooler than a multi-pass carry.
  • Try out a linen ring sling or a SSC with a mesh panel- both may keep you cooler. We have several of these options in our Learning Library.
  • Monitor body temperature and don't overdress little ones. It's easy for both of you to overheat when wearing in the summer. If you notice baby feeling overly sweaty or flushed it's a good time to take a break in the shade or indoors.
  • Hydrate! We know you hear it and do it but it can't be said enough. 
We know it's hot out and everyone's cranky- cooling off in some water feels like the only solution these days. If you're going to be around water and plan on babywearing consider using a waterproof carrier. These specially designed carriers can help you have a great water wearing experience. There are a variety of styles available, we have several mesh ring slings in our Learning Library for that very purpose. Once you're ready to go cool off in your carrier of choice keep in mind a few other important safety measures.  

  • Visible and kissable still applies- front carriers or hip carries are the best way to monitor baby. Never back carry while in water.
  • No wearing baby in water higher than your waist.
  • Always be mindful of water near baby's face.
  • Water carriers are not a life vest substitute. Always put yourself and baby in a properly fitted life vest prior to any boating activities.
Getting stuff done is a huge reason why so many caregivers embrace babywearing. When you see how helpful it can be it may be tempting to think that anything goes as long as baby is secure and happy. However, we encourage you to exercise caution when it comes to certain activities. To round out hot weather wearing and water safety above, here are a few final guidelines that we hope you will consider when making plans for what you'll get done while babywearing. 
  • If you couldn't do an activity while holding a baby you shouldn't do it while babywearing. 
  • If a helmet or protective gear are required for said activity, do not babywear while doing it.
  • Lawnmowers, weedwaters, and other power tools don't mix with babywearing- a carrier provides zero protection when it comes to fumes and debris, eye protection, and ear protection.
  • Exercise caution around grills, stoves, or open flames of any kind. Curious hands are at an easy height to grab something hot.
  • Avoid running and other high impact activities while babywearing as these motions could negatively impact a worn baby's head, neck, and spine. 
  • Never use a carrier in lieu of a car seat or life vest.
We strive to see our community embrace babywearing in all seasons. Our VBEs are available to help you safely make the most of your babywearing journey. If you have a question, comment, or concern, don't hesitate to reach out to us here or on Facebook

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thinking about attending a meeting?

We love seeing new and familiar faces at our monthly meetings. Attending one is fantastic way to learn a new parenting skills, make friends, get out of the house when you have a newborn... the list goes on and on. If you have never attended a meeting you probably have questions. Below are a few we are asked frequently.

"What happens at a meeting?"

Meetings are led by Volunteer Babywearing Educators. VBEs usually have a shirt or headband that designates them as educators amongst the crowd. There will be a sign in sheet that attendees are asked to sign. We bring the learning library with us to meetings which has carriers that all are welcome to try on and get help using. We can also help you with your personal carriers.

Check ins of library carriers will occur at the beginning of the meeting and towards the end we will handle member check outs from our learning library as well as membership paperwork. We like to do library carrier returns before the meeting is in full swing. If you have a library carrier to return you're welcome to bring it up to a VBE who will get it checked in for you. By checking in carriers first thing this ensures that people can try on a variety of carriers and also frees up our time to focus on teaching. Once the check ins and sign ins are complete we start with introductions from the VBEs and any VBE in training. We will talk about Babywearing International, the benefits of membership, and we might talk about a certain theme for the month such as summer safety or ring slings.

After introductions we break into smaller groups. Often we divide up based on carrier preference so you can go to the group that interest you or pertains to the personal carrier you brought with you. If we have a lot of folks who are new to babywearing we may have a 101 group for demonstrating carrier options and safety while babywearing. Questions are welcome at any point during the meeting and we do our best to work one on one with each individual or couple.

"When and where are meetings held?"

Meetings are held in both Nashville and Murfreesboro. Nashville has meetings on the first Tuesday of the month, the second Monday of the month, and the first Saturday of even numbered months. Murfreesboro holds meetings on the third Thursday of the month. Locations change but in Nashville meetings are typically held at McCabe Community Center and Blooma Yoga in West Nashville. Mursfreesboro usually holds meetings at the Salem UMC in Rockvale. AM meetings run from about 10-noon and PM meetings from 7:30-9:30. You can subscribe to receive event notifications from our main page here. If you're in our chatter group you can check the events tab as well.

"Do I have to wear my baby to the meeting?"

Nope! Some people will be babywearing, some will have strollers, some will have older kids who prefer to walk... we are especially sensitive to the fact that we all started somewhere and consider meetings to be a judgment free zone.

"Can I bring my older kids to the meeting?"

Yes! Kids of all ages are welcome. Their supervision will be your responsibility at meetings as there is no child care available. Older kids do usually have a good time playing together while you try on carriers and chat.

"Can I come to a meeting if I don't have kids or am pregnant?"

Yes. We often have people who attend meetings to learn more about babywearing before baby arrives. Additionally, grandparents and other caregivers often attend- we only ask that you have an interest in babywearing.

"Do I have to be a member to attend a meeting? Who can come to a meeting?"

You do not have to be a member to attend. Anyone who has an interest in babywearing is encouraged to attend a meeting- they are free and open to the community. If you do decide to become a member we can get you signed up in person or online in a few minutes.

You are always welcome to get in touch with us if you have a question that you don't see answered here. Reach out to BWI of Middle Tennessee on Facebook or below in the comment section.
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