Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What does it all mean...

Now that we've introduced you to the new group name and the freshly minted Volunteer Babywearing Educators, I'm sure a lot of you are wondering what all this means. Well before I go any further I want to let you know one big, huge, majorly important thing that will always stay the same.

Our group (no matter what the name) will always offer meetings free of charge to anyone and everyone who would like to come!  We will always be focused on advocacy and support and we will never be a members only club.  No dorky '80's jackets, secret handshakes, or money will ever be required to attend a meeting.

So, what does it mean?  Well, one of the biggest advantages the leadership team saw was a sense of legitimacy that being associated with a national organization would bring to our group.  We have big dreams of working with healthcare professionals, the health department and other organizations to further our goal of making sure every caregiver we can possibly reach is aware of the benefits of babywearing as well as the support and encouragement our group provides.  We believe that having the backing of a national organization will help us in that endeavor.

Being able to have members certified as Volunteer Babywear Educators (VBEs) is another advantage.  Although we firmly believe that a safe, happy baby is the highest accomplishment, there are certain settings where letters behind your name go a long way.  It's also a great way for folks who want to expand their skills and challenge themselves to do so.  And a VBE isn't the only step.  You can bet some of us are already looking at the next level we can achieve.

Babywearing International takes care of all the paperwork involved in being a non-profit and also carries insurance that covers the VBEs while they are working in that role.  They advocate for babywearing on a national level and offer support to the individual group leaders.

One of the most fun parts though will be International Babywearing Week (IBW).  This is in the fall and we will start planning here very soon!  IBW is an entire week, sponsored by BWI, where babywearing groups from around the world come together and celebrate.  There will be a theme and and carrier companies have been known to donate carriers and accessories to the lending libraries. 

So... that's what Chapter status means for the group, what about you?  Well, the main thing BWI asks of the Chapters is to encourage their members to join the national organization which is a yearly fee of $30.  As many other Chapters have done we have decided to make borrowing from the lending library a benefit of membership.  So, instead of paying $5 each time you check out a carrier, you'll be able to pay $30 for the whole year.  Think of it as 50% off.  If you checked out a carrier every month for a year, that would be $60.  Now you can check one out every month for only $30.  And half of all membership dues stays right here with BWI Charlotte!!! So, the more members that join, the more carriers we can add to the library!!!

I want to make it clear that we will always have the library with us at meetings and the carriers will always be available to look at, play with and try on!  Only the procedures for borrowing carriers has changed.

Hopefully you guys are as excited as we are!!  There are great things on the horizon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Drum roll please...

Charlotte Babywearers is now officially Babywearing International of Charlotte (BWI Charlotte). But what does that mean? Well Babywearing International, Inc. is a national non-profit babywearing organization who's mission is to "promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support." Having the backing of this national organization will offer our group many advantages which we'll explain more about in another post, but this evening I wanted to point out one of the requirements for becoming a Chapter.

Before BWI will grant a group Chapter Status, the group has to have at least two leaders who have obtained what's called their VBE or Volunteer Babywear Educator certification. It includes both a written application and an in-person or skype skills assessment, and requires a well rounded knowledge of all the major carrier types and safe babywearing practices. BWI Charlotte is amazingly lucky to start off with not only two but four VBE's.

Ann Jordan, VBE

I am a mother of a 3 year old son named Connor and 1 year old daughter named Anna. Our family lives on a small farm just outside of Charlotte. I have been babywearing since Connor was about 4 days old. I have a beco, that my husband primarily uses, a few ring slings, and several woven wraps. Wrapping has enabled me to keep up with the chores around the farm while bonding with my babies. As Connor got older, he spent a lot of time in on my back learning about farming and livestock care. I am passionate about babywearing and love to educate new moms!

Katy Elwood, VBE

I'm Katy. I've been babywearing since my 2 year old (Lane Henry) was a couple weeks old. I love babywearing for many reasons. I like that it allowed me to get up and do stuff when my son was an infant. It allowed me to channel my frustration from other parenting things I wasn't so good at into something I knew I could do and something I was actually good at. Currently we (my husband and I) are still "toddler"wearing on a daily to weekly basis. While we stick to mostly buckles, I do enjoy an occasional wrap job. My strengths as a babywearer are wrapping, soft structured carriers, and SAFE DIY Babywearing. I made my first Mei Tai when my son was around 8 months old. Since then I've made countless Mei Tais and Ring Slings with the occasional DIY woven osnaburg wrap. My weakness as a babywearer is I churn through wraps and carriers like crazy! I'm recovering and currently own only a single Toddler Kinderpack.

Cat McDonald, VBE

I'm Cat and I have four children....oops I mean three but hubby counts as one because he doesn't clean up after himself. ;P I have a 14 yr old diva who is a freshman in high school, I wore her in all sorts of awful contraptions back then probably all recalled now and none of them comfortable. I have an almost 4 year old son who has complex medical needs (Mitochondrial Disease). He has a feeding tube and wears continuous oxygen he also gets weekly subQ infusions to boost his immune system. I started wearing him when he was a squish and at 36 lbs he still likes to be worn in my toddler tula at times. I also have an 18 mos old son who also has complex medical needs (suspected Mitochondrial disease) he has a feeding tube. I started wearing him when he was a squish and at 20 lbs I still wear him in the tula and also use my shortie in a rebozo. I'm the proud owner of a growing case management agency (Footprints Case Management) so I work around 80 hours a week;) totally not exaggerating. 

Bonnie Stafford, VBE

And finally, I'm, Bonnie.  I'm honored to be the mama of a lively, curly headed, little ball of awesome named, Lily.  I've been babywearing since we came home from the hospital. We started out with a stretchy wrap which literally saved our sanity during her colicy stage. Then my husband went back to school in the evenings when she was 6 months old.  I truly have no idea how I would have survived without the Boba I borrowed from the lending library all those months ago.  Lily is now a little over 2 years old and we "toddler" wear on a very regular basis. My personal goal is to make sure that as many parents as possible know about babywearing and those that choose to wear have the resources and support to be successful at it. My babywearing strength is soft structured carriers.  I love them!  I try to stay on top of what's coming out, how different ones fit and the benefits and drawbacks of all the different designs.  Although I also have a soft spot for squishies in a rings sling.  My major babywearing weaknesses is that I hoard like crazy.  I've yet to let go of a single carrier I've ever acquired.  Makes me a good library curator, though.

As a team, we are excited to lead this group to even bigger and better things than we have already seen.  However, as we celebrate these new adventures and the new VBE's we don't want to lose sight of the fact that this is a mama helping mama (parent helping parent) group and it always will be.  One of the things that makes our group great is the cumulative knowledge and experience all of our members possess.  Always feel free to share your experience whether it's at a meeting or at Target.  You don't need a VBE to be a babywearing advocate!

And if you think you'd like to be a VBE, please let us know.  Our group is growing by leaps and bounds and we are going to need as much help as we can get in the next little bit! Don't feel like you have the knowledge?  That's ok.  If you have a passion for babywearing and the motivation to learn, we can teach you!

A huge thank you to each and every one of you.  We wouldn't be the group we are without all of you and us VBE's are excited to see where we are headed together!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Beginning

I would like to formally welcome everyone to the newly renamed Babywearing International of Charlotte, formerly known as Charlotte Babywearers.

We are still the same community of awesome parents looking to promote babywearing in our community and support other wearers, just even more awesome and with the resource of a great national organization behind us.

Look for some great things to come here as well as on our Facebook and MeetUp groups.