Practice, Not Product

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We Know Cold – and We STILL Love to Babywear All Winter!

There are few places in the world that get as cold as we do.  Like this day 2 years ago, when we were colder than Siberia – really incredible.  Most schools were closed, but the majority of people still went into work!

Last year we had the most snow seen in the region for decades – and this year was supposed to be colder and have more snow.  Well, Environment Canada has apologised, saying: “Boy, never have we been more wrong in the West as this year”.

And while I have very much appreciated the warmer weather while loading 2 kids into the van in my detached garage – (please see this article about the importance of winter carseat safety; and don’t even start with me about needing puffy jackets to keep kids warm – polarfleece is warmer and keeps your children where they belong – IN their carseats!) – but, I have been missing our usual winter outdoor babywearing fun.

We often see parents struggling with winter gear and strollers and babies and toddlers, so we wanted to share some of the easy and inexpensive ways that you can baby/toddler-wear and do outdoor activities, in some pretty cold temps!

First up, are babywearing jackets – yep, there are jackets3 in 1s, fleece vests and hoodies, and even carrier coversrain ponchos (for those of you with odd 😉 winter weather) that are all available at pretty reasonable price-points, considering that you not only get a winter coat, but one that allows you to snuggle baby inside too!

DIY Babywearing Poncho

There are also many patterns and ideas available to make a DIY babywearing jacket or poncho.  I completely lack sewing skills, but managed to pull off this great little babywearing poncho (don’t worry, it is a no-sew project).  In fact, I made 2, one just for me, and one for me and babe (and I’m pretty proud that I even managed to make the instructions easier to understand for sewing newbies like myself)!

Pumpkin Walk (+5*C)

And of course, if you have a memory like a sieve as I do and forget your BWing outwear, you can always wear your baby over top of your outwear while he/she is in his/her gear.  (Yes – this is me carrying an elephant on my back!) This solution is not really practical if it is quite cold out – as there is too much bulk to comfortably wear for long, and you will both stay warmer and more in tune with each other’s needs if you wear normally and then cover up.

New Year's Fireworks (-20*C)

It is always important to make sure that baby’s face is not completely covered (baby needs air circulation – same reason not to leave a cover over top of baby in the carseat), so again windchill factors and exposure need to be taken into consideration.

Older kiddos can wear scarves or balaclavas, but younger babes may need more protection than you can provide, while still keeping their airways clear.  (This pic shows a clear airway, but an obstructed view – which we quickly remedied. ;))

As far as outdoor activities – let your imagination run wild (and stay within your safety skill set).

Long winter walks and visits to beautiful outdoor winter festivals are so amazing to do while babywearing – your kids get to see the sights & beauty from the proper vantage point  and you get to see the sparkles of delight in their eyes!

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(And keep watching our blog for a new post dedicated entirely to the beautiful functional babywearing art, known as Amautiit.)

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One of the foundations of babywearing is that it is accessible to ALL parents and children. For centuries, people have been utilising everyday items and articles of clothing to help them carry their children. This practice is not new. Every year we are learning (and re-discovering) the age old wisdom of baby carriers, and we […]

Imagine having no safe place to set your baby down. Imagine being beaten and having to decide between running to the back of a house to get your baby, or just leaving without her to save yourself. Imagine knowing that if you leave your baby in another room while you sleep, he might be sexually abused. Imagine trying to parent functionally when you’re faced with challenges like this.

These are some if the stories I was told by mothers and by their support workers when we booked our first privately contracted workshop in 2007. The community health nurse called to see if someone would come out to show the parents in their town how to use their carriers. I spent some time listening about the public health challenges that her small, isolated community faced, and explained how babywearing would work at addressing some of their challenges. By the end of that call, we’d planned two days of workshops for a wide variety of health workers in similar towns over a huge geographical area.

Some of the issues they face are heartbreaking and very hard to think about. Generational poverty. Sexual abuse rates near 100%. Substance abuse. Unsafe housing. Domestic violence. Suicide. These problems are in addition to the low birth weight rates that are high throughout our province, low breastfeeding duration, postpartum depression and other more widespread concerns that face all parents.

We have always known how important babywearing was, but even we were stunned at some of the reports we heard back from the people we’d worked with.  One community even told us that they’d had 2 fewer maternal suicides that year, an improvement they felt was at least partially due to the fact that all the mothers were now wearing their babies.

Teaching babywearing can be very simple and rewarding, but we’ve found that the public health work we’ve done over the years can elevate babywearing to a wondrous level.  For a health care or community services worker to know how to teach babywearing (by simply showing a mother & father how they can care for their baby by easily tying their little one to their bodies) is a very empowering skill for someone working with families to posses.

The transformations these community service workers see when babywearing is relearned are joyfully shared with us:

  • women who don’t drive are able to babywear so they can walk within their rural communities;
  • women who want to nurse are more successful because of the increased skin to skin contact;
  • fathers who aren’t sure how to connect with their new babies enjoy babywearing to help create attachment that doesn’t interfere with nursing;
  • grandmothers helping to make carriers for new baby gifts.

In small towns, with only a few hundred people, it’s easy to tip babywearing to become a common occurrence and to get everyone on board, supporting young families.  Nearly 5 years into this work, we’re proud to have taught hundreds of community workers the life skill of babywearing.  Dozens and dozens of communities have seen positive changes simply because we showed them how to simply babywear and explained why babywearing could be a part of their growth.  Our concept of using babywearing to improve public health outcomes has been the first of its kind.

We tell you about our work in the hopes that it will inspire you to share your babywearing skill with someone who works with new parents.

“The most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
Kurt Vonnegut