How to Wear Your Baby

April 12th, 2013

I am going on 5 years of babywearing. Babywearing is a term coined for those that use some sort of carrier to keep baby close and hands free (or at least mostly). It is great for babies and toddlers as they grow through different stages to have this access to being close and secure with mom.

I was introduced to babywearing slowly at first, with probably some of the most well known carriers. Several new moms are getting Mobys for their infants at showers and such. You may even see the occasional ring sling. Starting out, though, I had no idea how vast and confusing the babywearing world could be. It is quite daunting at first and you seriously need a translator half the time.

I think I’m finally “getting it”. Especially over the last few months I feel I’ve doubled my knowledge. I’ve been watching the resell boards (Facebook), doing searches, checking retail sites, and reading whatever I found when I had time.

To begin with, carriers can be categorized into about 7 types. I will try and go through each type and give you some examples and general descriptions. Hopefully this can get you started on finding what you want. Nothing beats just a little trial and error, though. I found through personal experience (or AM finding) that trying different carriers/sizes yourself is the best way to figure out what you want, but it’s also time consuming and expensive at times. Wraps/Carriers have a great resell value so that is a great advantage.

Stretchy Wraps    **NEVER use for back carry**

The most popular I think, is the Moby. It is considered a wrap and is made of cotton. You wrap it around yourself and place baby in the folds. I found it wonderful for newborns and little babies. Once you get close to 20 lbs or so, it starts not being so comfortable and will stretch out too much. Despite this, I will always keep a moby in my stash because of how much I loved it for the littles.

Baby K’tan is getting a little more popular. It works the same way as the Moby, but without the several feet of material. No wrapping.. it just slips on and you are ready to go. I loved the design and feel of the Ktan, but I didn’t like the fact that after about 20 lbs, it started stretching out and no amount of washing/drying would make it shrink back up tight enough for my comfort. If you buy, go a size DOWN to prevent this. K’tan is wonderful, though, if the sizing is right.

Others:

Sleepy Wrap AKA Boba

Wrapsody also makes a hybrid stretch wrap

Pouch Slings

Not that popular, but easy in/out. These are sized, so you have to figure out what size you’d need. Lots of people love them with newborns and then hip carries with older babies. Examples would be Hotsling and Peanut Shell.

Soft Structured Carriers

These are fairly popular. The Ergo and Beco would fall in this category. These have adjustments, buckles, inserts, and other pieces that help you get the right fit. They are very easy to use but some people aren’t fond of all the hardware (me included). I found all the buckles/clasps/etc to be annoying and I never got a good comfortable fit with my Beco, BUT many many women love these types of carriers.

Other SSCs (soft structured carriers):

Babyhawk Oh Snap

AngelPack

Kinderpack

and many more

Asian Style Carriers

Mei tais will fall in this category. There are homemade, or work at home mom made mei tais. Then there are bigger brands as well. I’ve had WAHM and big brand .. both worked fine .. just had different details. I want to be a mei tai fan… I’ve tried several, only to find out I’m a wrapper at heart (I love using the wraps).

Brands/Makers of Asian Style Carriers:

Wrapstar

Free Hand Mei Tai 

BabyHawk

Woven Wraps (my FAVORITE!)

I plan to do a whole separate post going more in depth with woven wraps. I ADORE them. There are several sizes (lengths) and several materials. Lengths you will see range from 2-8.  Woven wraps are made of 100% cotton, cotton/bamboo blend, cotton/linen blend, linen, silk, cotton/silk blend, cotton/hemp blend, cotton/wool, blend and any mix there-of. Some are generally more supportive than others. Some are more “slippery”. Some are like wrapping with a tarp at first until you break the wrap in. Breaking a wrap in is basically using it, braiding it, sleeping with it, sitting on it, whatever you want to do to make the wrap nice and floppy and moldable. Wraps are so versatile, which is why I love them so much. For videos on how to wrap, check youtube and paxbaby, but nothing beats finding someone in your town to help you in person!

Details of the sizes are as follow:

Size 2 -2.7 meters=8.86 feet (great for ruck carries/quick carries for size S/M)

Size 3-3.1 meters=10.17 feet (great for ruck carries/quick carries for size L/XL)

Size 4-3.6 meters=11.81 feet (great for more involved carries for most sizes)

Size 5-4.2 meters=13.78 feet (involved carries for most sizes ..good size for quick carries for dads)

Size 6-4.6 meters=15.09 feet (involved carries for any size)

Size 7-5.2 meters=17.06 feet (any carry you would ever want to do including tandem

Sellers of woven wraps:

Marsupial Mamas

Paxbaby

Purple Elm Baby

Granola Babies

Slingomama 

Thanks and stay tuned for a post detailing more about Woven wraps. Happy babywearing!!

Rachel

 

 

Wearing Babies and Oily Tip #1

October 19th, 2012

I’ve been wearing my babies for about 4 years now. It sounds amusing, doesn’t it? Baby A gets lots of comments from people about him being “tethered” or “strapped” to me. It may look that way, but what people don’t see is how excited he gets when I pull out the sling when he’s tired or fussy. He knows he’s going to get some extended cuddle time, which is exactly what he needs at this ever changing stage.

I’ve grown in knowledge regarding babywearing. Much like I did with cloth diapers and homeschooling, and many other things I discuss here. I started out with a ring sling my mom made for me when Joe was a baby. It got the job done but I was far from an expert in how to wear it correctly. I then moved on to a ring sling I found at Target – the Balboa (Dr. Sears). A nice sling that I enjoyed for the tiny stages and then again when at a bigger stage. It was awkward for the between stages, though. I also found an Ebay/WAHM made Mei Tai wrap. It was a great simpler wrap for Jo and we even used it for our 2 yr old, but it didn’t work well for us with chunky A.

When I had Baby A, I bought a Moby – which I LOVED. It’s one of my highly recommended wraps for newborns. We also used a K’tan, which was awesome for out and about since it doesn’t have all the draping material, BUT I had issues with the sizing and it stretched out so much that I could no longer use it comfortably. Then I took the plunge and bought a nice soft structure carrier- a Beco Butterfly II. It was a great carrier though I didn’t grab for it much. The main times I used it were for a few extended outings, but even on those I found myself taking a second carrier (woven wrap) and using it about the same amount of time. A around a year old with A I got a ring sling – another WAHM made one that worked out really well. I knew how to wear it better and it was my “go to” sling for Farmer’s Market, Church, and other things. I love the versatility and the ease of use. Even knowing how to use it, it wasn’t the BEST sling for extended wear. I found myself looking again for something I could LOVE. A friend let me try on her sling. A lovely woven sling with a SBP (Sleeping Baby Productions) shoulder (pleated) and I LOVED it. It was comfortable, sturdy, and beautiful. Unfortunately I ended up missing the sale of it.. barely, but I employed the help of this dear friend to find me a sling that I could love just as much. Trolling swap sites on Facebook, one caught my eye. A beautiful medium Didymos NHI dyed LWI style with dharma dyes. It had an Eesti shoulder, turquoise rings, and EUC double hemp threads. “WHAT!”, you say?  Oh yes, did I forget to mention that sling/carrier lingo is as bad as cloth diapering lingo – or possibly worse. This is why I needed so much help. Oh, and if you need help as well, go see my dear friend at Keep Calm and Carry On .

So Medium – size of the sling. The one I tried on was a medium, so I knew it was good. Didymos NHI stands for Didymos Natty Hemp Indio. It is the brand and material of the sling. Hemp is very solid and so it’s wonderful for heavier babies and toddlers. LWI stands for low water immersion dying and it results mostly in a tie dye look.

See why it caught my eye? It’s LOVELY! Now you can see the Eesti shoulder. It’s a style done by Sleeping Baby Productions and it’s GREAT because it allows the fabric to spread out much easier over the shoulder making it a much more comfortable sling. The double hemp threads are in EUC – meaning excellent used condition. So.. this is the sling I have making it’s way to my home. I am so excited. Of course, this also means I need to sell the Beco to make up the $, but I have several inquiries so that’s looking promising.

I have a sleepy little boy vying for my attention this afternoon, so I will end with Oily Tip #1 and be on my way. A lot of you have seen me mention Young Living essential oils, but YL also carries a variety of other products that contain essential oils. One of these is Thieves Hard Lozenges. You can get them free with an order of 225 PV this month (along with Inner Defense, and Thieves EO). The Thieves Lozenges have a herbal taste, with a slight spicy kick at the beginning. They are perfect for on the go immune defense, sore throats, and many other things. I woke up with a slight throat irritation and immediately popped a lozenge in to suck on and as soon as the lozenge was almost finished, I felt back to normal. I also had a slight boost in energy afterwards, though I haven’t pinpointed if it was the lozenge or just a fluke. I’ll let you know :-)

https://www.youngliving.org/cajenjoemom

Thanks for reading friends! Wear your babies and have an oily day!

Rachel

Blue Willow Academy – Our School Room

August 7th, 2012

I’ve spend the last 2 days working HARD on our school room. I pulled out every single thing, trashed, reorganized, moved, and put it all back together. It was exhausting and I stirred up more dust bunnies than my sinuses wanted to deal with, but the end result is well worth it.

I love seeing pictures of other homeschool rooms. Most of the time, I see something they’ve done and want to incorporate it in our room. This is our 4th year of schooling and so I feel we are still learning on how to set it up that best fits our family. For example, the first 3 years, we used one big table. This year, we are trying desks instead and we’ll pull out the table for art or large projects.

I took pictures in the 5 minutes that the room was clean so I can share our set up and you can see where things are supposed to go.

The details of pictures (left to right, top to bottom):

  1. High shelf for math/science manipulatives and scissors/punches
  2. Corner shelf for other curriculum, games for older kids, container with erasers/dry erase markers/permanent markers, etc; Shorter shelves have Preschool “Towel Time” items and Toddler friendly items; basket with teacher supplies
  3. Drawer tower for extra pens and pencils, glue and tape, and other odds and ends; Red box is the art supply tub and brown box is old magazines for reuse
  4. Dry erase board, US Flag, Chalkboard, calendar, clock
  5. Bookcase with educational books, reading books, My and Andy’s yearbooks, and the 3 college textbooks I kept as resources; Top left pink is extra workbooks, paper, and teacher planning book; Top right pink is this year’s curriculum books minus ones to be ordered this week, middle is extra paper
  6. The older kiddos at their desks, eager for school to start!

Hope you enjoyed the peek into our school room! I am excited and I look forward to having a Preschooler, Kindergartner, and Third Grader this year. Have a happy start of the school year!

~Rachel

Are Kids Expensive?

July 26th, 2012

Too often, I hear the comment “Kids are so expensive!”. Most of the time it’s said to me by someone just finding out I have 4 children. My usual reply is, “They don’t have to be.”  as I pat my youngest ones cloth diapered bottom.

Psalm 127:4-5

New International Version (NIV)

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.

I feel that I’ve been on both sides of the “story” from my first child to my fourth. With our first, we had a couple big showers, and received just about every baby “thing” out there. We had the crib, changing table, glider/rocker, large swing, travel swing, bassinet, bouncy seat, exersaucer, highchair, and so much more. He barely used a lot of these things, and hated the swing. Our second child loved the swing, but was less fond of the bouncy seat. I rarely actually used a changing table while changing diapers, but we still loved the glider/rocker. By our 3rd baby, The changing table became a toy shelf, I had sold the glider rocker and travel swing, and sold the highchair and bought a spacesaver chair instead.

I’ve learned how LITTLE a baby needs to be happy and cared for. A swaddling blanket, nourishment (preferably Mama’s milk as it’s FREE and specifically designed for your baby), and a clean diaper go a LONG way for babies. We also made lots of changes along the way in what we bought for our children. Instead of disposable diapers, we switched to cloth diapering to save money AND to minimize harmful chemicals touching baby’s skin.  I also switched from disposable wipes to cloth wipes that we wash with the diapers. I also have cloth wipes that I use for faces and hands as well.

Another money saving idea is making your own baby food instead of using store bought. There are plenty of easy recipes found online and a blender or food processor can speed it along. I froze mine in ice cube trays first and then put the cubes in ziplock bags. Of course, by the time we had our 4th baby, I had changed my thoughts on food for babies anyway and he never even ate “baby” food. He went straight to food from our plates at around 8 months (earlier than I was wanting, but he was determined).

We get a lot of clothes from family, but if I’ve ever needed to buy anything, I’ve always shopped sales and have a limit of what I’m willing to spend on something. I’ve also bought more and more second hand clothing items recently and it’s SO much more worth it. For baby clothes that are only worn for a short amount of time, it just doesn’t make sense to me to pay full price for day to day clothing.

The last thing I want to mention is toys. We very very rarely buy a toy outside of birthdays or Christmas and we also don’t spend much at those times. I’ve come to learn that less is more when it comes to toys for the kids to play with. The less I have out, the more my kids play with what they have. I have really tried to minimize the amount of toys we have. I hit a block not too long ago when I had it down to balls, blocks, dress up, kitchen, car/train table, monster trucks, puzzles, plastic animals/figures, and geotrax set. I can’t seem to pick any of those to let go!

Overall, there are many things you can do to save money with children. I highly suggest consigning things your kids grow out of and use the money towards the next size or toys more age appropriate. Look for a local swap & sell group or a consignment store near you.  At the beginning of the year, I started a local Swap & Sell page and it took off. We now have 300+/- members and we swap/sell just about anything, but mostly children’s items. It has been a HUGE help and I’ve made some new friends along the way.

I hope this helps someone out there. Just remember that kids are not expensive, THINGS are.

 May your “Quiver” be full, and your pockets not completely empty! (unless it’s the end of the month – There’s always too much month at the end of our money! )

Rachel

I Choose This

May 4th, 2012

We get comments all the time about our family size and pretty much anything that goes along with that. I often just have to brush them off, nod and smile, or say Thank you. So many times I’ve wanted to say MORE. To somehow help them understand why I CHOOSE THIS.

“I’m sure you need a break from the kids.”

I had fun before kids. It was, of course, a much different lifestyle with different decisions. When my husband and I decided to have children, we wanted to raise, to protect, to teach, and to love them. This was a silent promise to our children, that by deciding to have them, we would do all these things. And this promise for me, as the Mother and primary nurturer meant not just during the day, but at night too. Not just a few hours a day when I come home, ALL DAY. Not just when it’s obvious they need my help, but when it isn’t so obvious as well. Not just when I have time, but ALL the time. Not as a  side-thought, but as a constant though.  24/7.  Of course, as each child grows, they will need me less and less. And one day, it will be only on occasion that they need me and what I will have are the memories and reminders of the time when they were dependent on me. On that day, I know I will be sad that they have grown up, but I will also be happy and pleased in knowing that I was THERE.  I choose this.

 

“Why don’t you just give him a bottle?”

I’m a nursing mom. Going on 11 months with Baby A.  I don’t think Mothers were made to produce milk “just because”. I believe we were made to produce milk because that’s what our baby is supposed to have. I also think that breastmilk should be the primary source of nutrition at least for the first year, and preferably for the first 2 years. Of course, I could pump and bottle feed. A lot of moms do this and it works great for them. Personally, it’s an unnecessary step for me. I’m with my baby  (see above) and so I feed him “from the tap”.  I choose this.

 

“I bet you’re glad when they go to bed at night.”

If I should be that ecstatic when my children are asleep at night or any time I’m not actively taking care of them, then something isn’t right. I love hearing the chatter, the play, the babble, and yes – even the fuss. It means there are CHILDREN in my home. And Children are a blessing.  Does this mean I don’t enjoy my evenings?  No. It IS nice to sit and work on a blog entry, pay some bills, fold laundry, or wash dishes without interruptions. But I also don’t have my little helpers. :-)   And that’s what I choose.

 

“You know what causes that, don’t you?”

I honestly don’t understand how people can not know how rude and inappropriate this question is.  But if you must know, the answer is YES.  And we made that choice together.

 

“You mean he’s not sleeping through the night? Aren’t you tired!?”

If you mean from the time he lays down 9:30 until he wakes up for the day around 7:30, then NO, my almost 11 month old does NOT sleep through the night. But then, I think this is subjective. Baby A wakes up at least once to nurse during the night. I roll over, latch him on, and then go back to sleep (as does he when he finishes).  So, for the next question “Aren’t I tired”. Sometimes I am if we’ve had a fussy or late night, but mostly, I sleep rather well and so does Baby A. and I choose that.

 

“You have your hands full!”

Why is this a bad thing?  What’s so great about “empty hands”?  If my hands ever find themselves empty, I’m immediately looking for an infant to pick up. :-)  “Full hands mean a Full Heart.”   Also, if my hands are full, that means I have lots of little hands to HELP!  I love having little helpers.. just helping me along. I choose this.

I Choose THIS.

 

~Rachel~

 

  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.