Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Warm Weather Babywearing Tips by Guest Blogger Katy Stroupe Elwood

Since North Carolina winters are generally mild I rarely have a problem staying warm when winter babywearing. I do remember last spring and summer there was a lot of talk about staying cool in the humid North Carolina heat, though! When it comes to summer babywearing there's bad news and there's good news. The bad news is that North Carolina summers are humid and muggy and there's really no way to avoid being at least somewhat sweaty and sticky while wearing in the heat. The good news is there are a few ways to help alleviate some of the discomfort that accompanies summer babywearing. My personal favorite is dressing and light colored or white cotton clothing. Dark colors absorb heat while light and white reflects heat. The same thing goes for carriers.  All-black and dark-colored carriers will absorb heat and make you feel hotter. The lighter the color of the carrier, the better.
 Next, if you wrap you should get to learning your ruck variations, they will be your go to carries in the summer. The fewer the passes the better. Linen blend wraps are supposedly cooler than other blends. Vatanai wraps are excellent summer wraps as they are super thin and airy, same is said for the Didymos Waves wraps. Surprisingly, some wool blends are also cool in the heat. Gauze wraps are also nice options for summer wearing, but keep in mind unless you have a super snug wrap job these are really only comfortable for smaller/lighter babies and multiple pass carries are suggested for safety reasons.
 Some brands of carriers offer mesh panels which help keep the wearee cooler, but makes no difference for the wearer in my opinion, based on experience. Some people swear they make a difference for the wearer, so to each his own. Kinderpack, NuzzleMe Creations and Ergo as well as a couple other brands offer varying types of these carriers. Kinderpack with Comfort Mesh is shown below. Kinderpack also offers Kool-knit in addition to comfort mesh.
 Other options for staying cool include buying the stay cool towels (like Frogg Togg Chilly Pads) in the sports section of big box stores. When these towels are wet they stay cool but they also require airing out to stay cool. I've heard most people cut them in half, and wear them on the back of their neck to stay cool. And as a general rule, shade is your friend as well as water. Keep the kids hydrated in the summer and year round! Also check the heat index in the morning if you have plans outside for the day and take frequent breaks. Heat exhaustion is no joke especially if babies are involved. I truly hope these tips will help you stay cool this summer. Happy babywearing!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Do It Yourself Babywearing, by guest blogger Katy Stroupe Elwood

Babywearing does not have to be expensive. My first carrier was it do it yourself Asian style carrier called a Mei Tai. It was not pretty, but it was safe and it got the job done and I loved it! 

•Important things to consider when you're making a do it yourself carrier: Quality materials and safe stitching.

•DIY stretchy wraps can be made of knit cotton or interlock. For safety reasons they must be at least 25 inches wide and edges should be serged or hemmed, you want at least 6 yards because it may shrink some.  

•DIY woven wraps can be made of any cotton or linen Jacquard weave, think hefty table cloth. Polyester, rayon and any knit cotton is advised against. Osnaburg is an excellent cheap option. Linen is still affordable especially with a coupon. The wrap should be 28 to30 inches wide before hemming. Cotton Jacquard tablecloths from Target and Amazon amazon make excellent short wraps (as well as ring slings). Keep in mind that Osnaburg shrinks (as well as linen), so by an extra half of a yard. If you want to dye your osnanurg be sure to use Dharma Trading Company dyes. RIT is not fiber reactive and is unsafe to use for babywearing. Dylon or Tulip brands are OK but still not as safe or as good as Dharma. See here for DIY wrap instructions.

• DIY Asian style carriers are a little more advanced and require a pattern or tutorial found here. Bottom weight materials are best for Asian style carriers. Polyester or cotton covered polyester thread is the best choice of thread. Be sure to make X BOX stitching at all weight bearing points, like where the straps meet the body.

 •DIY Soft Structured Carriers also fall under the Asian style carrier category.  Here is a link to a popular tutorial. I personally buy my buckles and webbing from Strapworks. The same safety principles apply to soft structured carriers. 

• DIY ring slings are easy with the right instructions and some patience. Shoulder style makes a difference too. Gathered and pleated are both popular options. There's a funky hotdog shoulder tutorial floating around out there used by a lot of WAHMS that I highly advise against using. Pretty much any fabric you would use to make a do-it-yourself woven would make an excellent ring sling. You can also use some athletic meshes to make a water ring sling. Be sure that the mesh isn't too stretchy (preferably only has a one way stretch.) You want to make sure to use polyester thread, cotton covered is fine. You also want to make sure you use safe sling rings. I personally only buy them from I will never personally tell anyone to buy them elsewhere or harvest them off of an old ring sling (that doesn't have sling ring brand rings) because they could have welding points that may have sharp edges that could cut baby or you or damage your fabric. I'm going to link Jan Andrea's do-it-yourself page from sleeping baby productions for further references. 

If you have further questions on DIY carriers please feel free to catch me (Katy Stroupe Elwood) on our Facebook group, or email us at Happy (and safe DIY) Babywearing to all!

Other resources include the Babywearing DIY Advice and Support Group on Facebook as well as the forums on The Baby Wearer.