Babywearing Group Highlight: Babywearing San Diego North

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Babywearing  San Diego was founded in 2009 as a parent to parent support group to teach people to choose and use baby carriers safely. They started in local parks with 2 leaders and almost no members. They taught with carriers owned and used by the leaders. Soon 2 more leaders joined and started a south chapter. For months they held very small meetings often teaching just a few families. Over the last few years they have grown to have two full libraries a Facebook page with over 4000 members and busy active meetings with dozens of attendees.

San Diego is a large city by acreage and this week I’d like to focus on the North County chapter. North County currently has 10 active leaders with decades of combined teaching experience. They have leaders with experience in a variety of unique situations including prematurity and special needs. They are all very passionate about the babywearing community and making sure it stays safe and reliable for all families. They serve people who love the collectors side of babywearing but share a passion for making it accessible to everyone. This includes guiding people on making their own carriers safely, helping caregivers get comfortable in ones they already have, or steering people towards purchasing the best option for them.

Meetings are currently held at a park in Oceanside on weekday mornings, and one in Escondido on the weekends. I hear rumors they may be adding a new meeting in the Poway area as well in order to serve as much of San Diego as possible! They also run a very active Facebook group where people can ask questions, share tips, and buy and sell used carriers.

Babywearing San Diego is also very active in outreach programs. This year they have attended BabyFest, a local fair for new and expecting families, to answer questions and even offered an introductory session. They also offer a monthly Babywearing 101 class through Babies in Bloom boutique. They also work with local community organizations such as the San Diego Birth Network to educate doulas, midwives, and other caregivers on how to support babywearing.

Meetings are always free, the leaders are 100% volunteer. They do offer a membership based library of carriers at the meetings. For a small annual membership fee members can check out a carrier for a month to try at home that they can then exchange for another one at the next meeting. Such a wonderful way to try new things without having to purchase them all!

You can find Babywearing San Diego online at http://babywearingsandiego.org/ or on Facebook. If they are local to you, I hope you’ll head to a meeting!

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Adding a Second or More Child? Here Are My Favorite Tips!

Adding a new member to your family is a joy and a challenge, especially with older siblings involved. How do we continue to meet the needs of our older child and care for a newborn that needs constant care? Here are some of my favorite tips on how to manage the transition period.

Put together a nursing/feeding time box. Before baby is expected, get together a few toys that you can easily enjoy with your child with one hand. Blocks, cars/racetrack, new books, anything you think your child will enjoy. Put these in a special box or tote and put it up high and away out of sight. Once you new baby has arrived take down that box only when you’re feeding baby. Tell your child that these are special toys to play with with mommy during nursing/feeding time. In my experience, this only needs to be done for a few days but you’ll have the resource as long as you need it. This can make nursing time something your older child will look forward to, rather than feeling left out. When baby eats, I get special time with mom and some cool new toys!

Put your older child’s needs first. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it really works. If the older sibling is young still, when they run up to you and need you immediately hand the baby to another caregiver. If your partner or other family member is there to help you for the first week or so take advantage! Make sure your toddler or preschooler sees that you are still readily available. This can really help them with the transition.

Ask for and accept help. The advice of sleep when the baby sleeps doesn’t work so well with other siblings in the home. This is a time to cut yourself some slack. The house doesn’t need to be immaculate, or let’s be honest tidy. Paper plates are totally ok. Ask for a meal train where friends and family sign up to bring meals for your family for a few weeks. If possible hire help or allow your friends to help with the house. If that can’t happen, relax and understand that you will learn a new routine and be back to managing your home in time. It is totally ok for you to take some time to adjust too.

Babywear! I know, shocker right? Get an exercise ball, wrap baby up and bounce/wiggle. You may not be able to get baby down for a nap on their own with another child needing your attention. Take your big kid for a walk with baby in a carrier to settle them in for a nap, eat while wearing etc. Having your baby snuggled in close to you, while you have your hands free to push your child on a swing, prepare their lunch, or just eat with two hands is a complete lifesaver with multiple children.

Learn to feed your baby in a carrier. Nursing in a carrier is a learned skill but a very valuable one. I remember walking around a zoo all day with my 4 month old in a carrier who was going through a growth spurt and my 2 year old in the stroller. The little one nursed for several hours straight and I didn’t have to stop at all! What a difference from having to stay home all day during those times when they need to nurse all the time. I suggest keeping baby upright in the heart to heart position, lowering the carrier a bit so baby can access your breast and popping them on. As baby gets more head control this gets easier and in the beginning you may need to help by supporting your breast. Be gentle with yourself while learning this, try at home first and take your time. It is well worth the effort through. You can bottle feed in a carrier as well either by holding the bottle or tucking it under the wrap on your shoulders.

Find a support system. La Leche League is a breastfeeding support group that helps mothers of young children with many topics and there may be many wise women who have been through similar things with great tips and ideas for you to try out. Find a local playgroup and connect with other parents. Sometimes just having a sympathetic ear from someone that knows the struggle can make all the difference.

Relax. You’re not going to be perfect, you will make mistakes and that is totally normal and ok. Take the time to breathe and be with your kids, the rest of the world will wait.

I hope some of these can help your family as you add a new member. I’d love to hear any additional ideas that you have found work well in your family. Add them to the comments or on Facebook!

Summer Wrapping???

What about all that fabric? Aren’t you hot?! As the weather heats up, we’re all looking for comfortable ways to carry our babies without melting. I had 4 summer babies, including 2 in June, that needed to be worn all through the hot months. I live in San Diego where the summer extends into October most years! And yes, I still used a wrap.

Mei Tais and Soft Structured carriers can be excellent summer carriers. There isn’t much fabric on the adult’s body and the open sides allow airflow for your child. Some even have a mesh panel for more breathability.

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Ring Slings can also be very comfortable in the summer. Since only one layer of fabric goes over both you and your baby you should feel nice and cool. Choose cotton or a linen blend for the coolest option or even one of these amazing water mesh slings. These are quick to dry and easy to clean, and are made of a sport mesh fabric that breathes very well while still protecting from the sun. Bonus: the tail can be pulled up over baby’s head a bit to keep the sun off her sensitive skin.

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But I love wrapping! Especially with squishy little newborns, I love the way they feel all snuggled in on my chest. Yes, I do get a bit sweaty where their little cheeks rest on my bare skin, but hey it IS summer. And yes, there are several possibilities when you want the versatility and comfort of a wrap, even when it’s 100 degrees outside.

The first thing to consider is fabric. A thin breathable cotton wrap or a light linen blend like a Ellevell Zara or Deli, or a Didymos waves can be very breathable. Gauze wraps are wonderful in the summer as well. You can make your own with 5 yards of crinkle cotton gauze from any fabric store cut length-wise. You actually get 2 wraps out of it, so share with a friend!

The tying method also makes a difference. Three layer carries can be very warm. You can adjust some carries very slightly to make them more comfortable. Moving the top two layers to the sides of the baby in a standard front wrap cross carry can provide almost the same support with only one layer on the baby.

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For an older baby, the rucksack carry on the back is also wonderful for summer. At any age, its reverse, the kangaroo carry, is a wonderful choice.

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You can see detailed instructions for these carries here. 

Another fun trick is to place a cool towel between you and your child! This can add just a little bit of extra comfort on the warmest days. Relax, have some fun, and try out a few of these tips. With a little playing around I’m sure you’ll find a comfortable way to keep your baby close and connected even through the hot months.

Organization Spotlight: 3.21 Carry

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Drea and Josh already had a passion for babywearing. When they discovered that their second child, a son they called Copley, had Down Syndrome they realized it was indispensable. Children with special needs need special care and babywearing has allowed them to support his needs. Drea explains how amazing this has been for them:

One night we were out to dinner, when Copley, whose physical disability would not allow him to sit in a highchair, refused to sit in his carseat.  I wrapped him up and we enjoyed a peaceful dinner and started talking about all the ways babywearing made our lives easier, especially as Cop’s physical disability outpaced his physical development.  Thank to babywearing, we have the tools to help Cop keep up with us, and help us keep up with his big brother. Copley’s development be a little delayed, but he’ll never be left behind. By wearing him he is constantly hearing us talk, seeing what we see, working on strengthening his neck and core muscles, and when he needs to rest he can sleep close to mommy or daddy. 

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Children with Down Syndrome and other special needs often have low muscle tone and develop at a slower rate than typical children. They often need to be carried for longer and may become upset when in new situations. Having a parent close by can help these children explore their world while being safe with a caregiver. It’s a tremendous gift to any child, but especially those that have to fight a bit harder to find their place.

Drea and Josh came to realize that this was a skill that many families with special needs children needed to have access to! So 3.21 Carry was born.

Our purpose is to serve both parents who need special carriers to meet special needs, and parents of older children with special needs who need carriers for younger typical children.

3.21 Carry helps get carriers to families with special needs children, at no cost to the families. Whether they need to carry a typical child to have their hands free to help an older child, or need to carry a special needs child that needs extra help! We just love their passion and commitment to helping other families and are very excited to support them.

If you are a family that could benefit or know someone who is you can apply for a carrier through their website 321carry.com. You can also make monetary donations there to help them purchase carriers for these families. They also accept carrier donations, Woven Wraps will be donating a carrier and we hope you can as well!

The basics: Four Main Types of Baby Carriers

Having trouble wading through all the choices? Here’s a quick overview of the basic types of carriers and what they do best and what they are not ideal for. Hope it helps! Keep an eye out for more detailed information on each type in future posts.

Wraps 

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A wrap or wraparound carrier is the simplest carrier design available. It is simply a long piece of fabric that is wrapped around the body to create a pocket for your child to sit in. There is tremendous variety in fabric options, sizes, colors and patterns to choose from. My advice if you are overwhelmed by the choices is simply to choose something you like the look of and go for it! I suggest choosing one carry and learning it well before branching out and learning more.

Pros: Versatility!! Wraps can be used in a variety of ways, or carries, to carry your child on your chest, back, or hip. They can be used from birth until you can no longer physically carry your child and if you want one carrier to last all through your babywearing days, this is it. They are supportive and comfortable and can be used by more than one caregiver. You don’t have to worry about adjusting anything if you change between mom and dad, grandparents or another adult.

Cons: Wraps have a bit of a learning curve and sometimes people get overwhelmed by all that fabric! When you’re first learning it can take a few minutes to get it on correctly. After you do it a few times it does become muscle memory and many people end up finding it one of the fastest and easiest carriers to use. It’s just like learning to tie a shoe.

Ring Slings: 

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Ring Slings are made of a length of fabric with a set of 2 aluminum rings that are specially made for baby carriers. One end of the fabric is sewn onto the rings and the other, the tail, is left open. You thread the fabric through the rings and it is worn over one shoulder with the rings in corsage position. This creates a pouch out of the fabric for your child to snuggle into.

Pros: Ease of use and portability. These carriers fold up very small to be carried in a diaper bag or left in the car so it will be available when you need it. They are easily adjusted so can be used by multiple caregivers. There is no complicated wrapping or buckles to be adjusted. Once you have the tail threaded through the rings it just slides right on over your shoulder and you tighten the fabric around your baby by pulling the tail through the rings. This is also the easiest carry to use for an older baby that likes to ride on your hip and see what you’re doing!

Cons: Ring Slings are only recommended to be used in the front or hip carry positions. If you want to be able to back carry, you’ll want a different carrier. This is also a single shoulder carrier, meaning all of the weight you’ll be carrying will be on one shoulder. If you have back or neck issues or wish to carry for long periods of time this may not be your best choice. They are however, amazing for quick trips and newborns.

Mei Tais (pronounced MAY-Tie):

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A Mei Tai at it’s simplest is a rectangle of fabric with four straps. Two come off of the top for shoulder straps and the other two tie around your waist. The variations between different brands are the padding, size, and of course patterns!

Pros: Super simple and easy to use! This is the carrier with the lowest learning curve in my opinion. It is able to be used on the front or back and is the easiest carrier to learn back carries with. No adjustments are needed to go back and forth between multiple wearers, which makes this an ideal choice if you can only purchase one carrier. They come in a variety of color and pattern options ranging from all black for those who desire to not draw attention to themselves to vibrant prints.

Cons: This carrier is sized to your baby, not the wearer. Because of this it is necessary to purchase more than one if you plan on wearing for many years. Mei Tais make excellent toddler and preschooler carriers, but you won’t be able to use the same one that you used as a newborn. For heavier babies, more structure or padding is wonderful which will distribute the weight better on your shoulders and waist.

Buckle Carriers or Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)

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A buckle carrier is similar to a mei tai, except instead of straps you tie they are attached to the body of the carrier with buckles. These are the most common and mainstream of the ergonomic carriers and you’ll likely see them in the wild more often. They are simple and easy to use, and feel familiar to many people.

Pros: Ease of use and padding. To use this carrier you simply buckle and adjust the waist, hold baby next to your body, flip the carrier up and put your arms in the straps. Adjustment is done with a webbing strap that is pulled until the carrier is secure. They can be worn on the back or front, but really shine in a back carry! The dense padding at the waist provides excellent support for your back and gives baby a little lift so the wearer is more comfortable.

Cons: Lack of versatility. It can be worn on the front or back, but many find it only truly comfortable for a back carry. Although, I’ll admit that is a matter of personal taste. If you want to share this one with another caregiver you will have to readjust the buckles to that person’s size. Like a Mei Tai one size doesn’t fit all babies, but it will still last you a good long time depending on how fast your baby grows. You might expect to need one for a small baby and a larger one for a toddler.

I’m sure you can see why so many babywearers end up with many types of carriers. Each one has it’s benefits and drawbacks. While wraps and ring slings are perfect for supporting a newborn, buckle carriers and mei tais provide the quick on/off that moms of older babies love. I’m sure you will adore whatever you choose and of course please reach out to your local babywearing group or educator to help you learn to wear it safely and comfortably!

Tula Buckle Carriers are now at WovenWraps!

We are VERY pleased to introduce you to Tula buckle carriers!

TULA Ergonomic Carrier is a soft structured carrier designed to support the bond between a child and an active parent.

The panel of the carrier was designed to hug around the child’s back and to provide support for the child’s developing spine. Soft structured Tula carrier offers the convenience of buckles yet is vastly different from framed backpacks as it holds the baby securely against the wearer’s body. Unlike framed backpacks, Tula carrier is suitable from birth (if used with an infant insert) through toddlerhood and provides the benefits of body-to-body contact for the baby.

Tula Baby Carreir is an ultimate baby carrier – you will not need anything else, as you can use it from birth all the way till at least 4 year old! The unique construction of their carriers reduces the weight from the shoulders and distributes it to the hip area of the parent.

Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier uses only 100% cotton and complies with the European Norm EN 13209- 2:2006.

Benefits of Tula Carriers:

• Front and back carry
• From 7kg – 20kg
• Can be used for newborns (3.5 kg +) if used with the Tula Infant Insert
• Easy to use. Fast to put on and take off
• Tula Carrier complies with the European Safety Norm EN 13209- 2:2006
• Business Member of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA)
• High quality, 100% cotton with Öko-Tex Standard 100 certificate
• Highest quality Duraflex buckles and YKK snap buttons
• Pocket on the hip belt for additional storage
• Hood to support baby’s head while asleep, to protect from sun or wind, and to allow for comfortable breastfeeding
• Additional padding in shoulder straps and child’s leg area for extra comfort
• Three section hip belt that contours around waist
• Machine Washable
• Made and designed in the EU in their own manufacturing facility

Product measurements:

• Panel: 39 cm tall & 37 cm wide
• Hip belt: 12 cm length
• Weight of the carrier 0.80 kg

This carrier comes with:

• Removable, regulated hood
• Instruction brochure

Benefits of Tula Carriers:

More about the Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier

Tula Baby Carrier is hand made in their own factory in Poland. They do not outsource manufacturing of the products, therefore have a full control on the quality of everything made. They do not use assembly lines! Each product is truly made by hand by one person from the beginning to the end. Our seamstresses are getting paid hourly, as we want them to work relaxed and we want to prevent defected products, which could occur with time pressure.

Each carrier is inspected by their quality assurance manager before packing in the box.

It is one of the simplest carriers in the market and they want everyone to intuitively be able to put the carrier on and enjoy the benefits of wearing a baby.

The Tula philosophy:

“We love baby wearing and all it has to offer. It’s practical for the parent, it has amazing benefits for the baby and it feels so good to have your baby snuggle in close!

Babywearing isn’t a trend, it is also not a skill you need to learn. Every parent should follow his natural instincts.

We do not support criticism and looking down at parents for the type of a wrap or carrier they chose to use. We believe that every parent tries to make the best decision and the best choice for his baby.

Have an amazing experience discovering all the benefits of having your child close and your hands free to do as you please.”

Why Babywear?

With so many different carriers on the market these days, how can anyone choose?  Ideally, we are all looking for the perfect carrier that is:
A. Easy to use
B. Comfortable for mom/dad/caregiver and baby
C. Matches what we wear!

Although many people shy away from Woven Wraps and Mei Tais as being too hard to use, this is actually a misconception. The basic carries with both of these cute and functional carriers are about as easy to learn and do on a daily basis as tying your shoe. A Woven Wrap is similar to a stretchy wrap like a Moby or Sleepy Wrap or K’tan except it is woven on a loom instead of being a jersey t-shirt stretchy fabric.

Why does that make it different you ask? Here are the main points:
A. Breathable fabric for a less sweaty mom and baby
B. Stays where you wrap it so you don’t have to re-tie it after a while because of stretching out
C. Comfortable and supportive to use until 2-3 years (and in some cases beyond!) rather than just 4-6 months

For the most simple and easy way to wear your baby on front every day, I recommend the FWCC: Front Wrap Cross Carry. This can be done from day 1 with a newborn’s legs tucked in, and then you can let them have their legs out when they seem like they are ready for it.  Below is a video tutorial. Try it a few times and you’ll have it down!

Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)

A Mei Tai is an Asian style baby carrier that is also very easy to use on the front or back. Because of it’s similarity to a backpack carrier, some moms might want to start here because they can “understand” it just by looking at it. Here is a quick tutorial for the front:

Mei Tai on Front

and also a Mei Tai on Back

A few quick tips…

Just like any grown up, babies might have a day when they don’t feel like being in a carrier…just like they might have a day when they don’t want to be in the carseat or stroller. It doesn’t mean they hate it! Give it a shot another time rather than forcing it or giving up. They also might sense your mood of uncertainty in not knowing how to put it on right. This is why practice is key!  Try out a new carry and see what works for you.  The more confidant you are, the happier they will be…and this will make everyone happy because now you’ll have your hands free!

Happy Babywearing!

More Benefits to Babywearing

When I first began searching for a comfortable and easy-to-use baby carrier, I was desperate to find that perfect one which would allow me to be hands free. I tried everything you could imagine- mainly by purchasing on impulse and then soon after when it didn’t work out, returning it to the store.  I wanted a carrier that I could put on in seconds and wear comfortably for hours. There were so many options and I felt overwhelmed. After a long process of trial and error, I finally found wrapping with a long woven wrap my carrier of choice. But I do throw in an occasional Mei Tai, SSC (soft structured carrier), and Ring Sling for quick trips into a store or when long term comfort is not a top priority. Wraps are not the easiest carrier to choose from but I heard a great analogy about wrapping your baby the other day: it’s just like learning to tie your shoe.  It looks so complicated in the beginning, you would rather wear velcro. But fear not!  Wrapping takes just a little practice and once you have it you can’t believe how easy it actually is. It is a skill that will be with you for a very long time!

Baby wearing is helpful  by integrating your baby into your daily life; I really don’t know what I would do with out it. There are so many benefits of baby carrying that are listed repeatedly all over so I won’t presume to station myself as a scientific expert everything. I’m just a mom who fell in love with this bond-strengthening practice and want to share it. One of my favorites is the constant interaction for both mom and baby. The thing that a baby needs most after milk and safety, is human touch. Constant contact with mom, dad, or another loving caregiver helps to make a baby secure and comfortable, for both long and short term. Parents and babies are constantly shaping each other’s behavior and when your baby is in your arms, your speech, reactions, touch, and comfort is molding their future and personality. Something no bouncer, rocker, or swing can replace.

For parents, baby wearing is magical by freeing your hands to take care of everyday tasks, all while still interacting with your baby rather than leaving them to stare at a dangling toy or the ceiling. Simple activities become learning experiences because you can talk to your baby the entire time about taking out the trash, washing dishes, folding laundry, a neighborhood walk, grocery shopping…. all the things that you do are utterly fascinating for this new human being. Since their brains are still developing, they are taking it all in second by second each precious moment that you wear them, talk to them, let them watch you react and converse socially with other people.

Lastly, one of my favorite benefits of baby wearing is being able to nurse on the go in a carrier- and for me, especially in a wrap. It is so easy to do this discreetly and I finally felt like I wasn’t a prisoner of the glider chair anymore! I could see when my son was getting hungry immediately and nurse him before he ever expressed the late stage hunger sign of crying. Another amazing benefit of this is that I was nursing with my baby in an upright position rather than cradled, which meant significantly less reflux and upsetting stomach bubbles. Any parent knows how important this can be to the happiness of baby and also everyone around them!

Today, my son is two years old. He is healthy, happy, independent, smart, well mannered, amazing, and well, I could go on but you get the idea! What can I say? I’m his mom so of course I think he is a shining star of intelligence and I don’t apologize for being completely in love with every new development in his life. I won’t try to say that I am positive which part was nature and what was nurture in his development, but I will say that my mommy instinct tells me all the baby wearing we have done has been a big contributor to his sense of independence, confidence, intelligence, and development. Our rich daily interactions together in this manner have made me a believer in baby wearing and I hope you will find the same closeness and connection with your little one.

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Babywearing Benefits and Tips

The benefits of babywearing are endless; here are a few tips to get you going.

If you are reading this article, you are already curious about how to make your life a bit easier by having your hands free while snuggling and bonding with your baby. There are so many articles out there on the benefits of babywearing so I will give you a few of my personal favorites that made me fall in love with carrying my baby.

My favorite benefit of babywearing.

Bonding time. Many of us moms have to work in some capacity whether full or part time, or there are just certain days when we have to be out. When I get home I am so ready to cuddle and reconnect with my son, but it seems like there are so many tasks to get in the way of that quality time. Rather than coming home to put baby in the stroller, I would put my son in a sling or wrap right away and go for a walk around the block. Just strolling slowly and talking about everything we saw together. When I put him in a stroller I felt like this was wasted time…he might as well have been in another room! But in a carrier our relationship blossomed and grew and I returned home feeling close and connected to my little boy. My heart swells with love for him on these cuddle walks!

The art of wearing your baby.

The first time I felt the amazing comfort of a ring sling worn properly, I was attending a babywearing meeting for the first time. These groups are excellent for learning from other moms, finding a community of sweet families, and many of them also have “libraries” of carriers that you can check out and try before making a purchase. I learned a lot from these mamas but I also learned from online tutorials- mostly YouTube! Wovenwraps.com has a special channel for tutorial videos here.  There are hundreds more to learn from also! Here is me personally sharing one of the most basic carries with a wrap, I use this one all the time still. I think the most important thing about learning is just to keep trying- it doesn’t take very long to become a pro as long as you give it a shot- more than one time! And it is so worth it. I figure, if I have 2 children, that is at least 4 years of babywearing! So it is definitely worth it to practice a few times to get it down.

Learning what works best for you.

Try several types of carriers. Different types serve different purposes and you might find that you like a combination of a few! Soft structured backpack carriers like the Boba are popular because they are so easy to use and clip on in seconds. I use one of these for hikes and also keep one in the car for quick trips in and out of the store when I want my baby on my back. Ring slings are also very quick to get baby in and out of and are also very nice to nurse in-  baby can nurse in an upright position so it cuts down on reflux and gas. My personal favorite is a wrap- I find it to be the most comfortable with weight the most evenly distributed across my back and shoulders. It is also the one that takes a bit more practice, but really not that much if you keep doing it for just a week or so. I also find them to be the most beautiful and stylish…. since I am not shopping for purses so much any more, my wrap has become my new accessory of choice!

And the Winner Is…..

We just picked the lucky mama for the Tahoe+Ocah drawing…. the winner is…. #158, Erin Brown!!! Erin will have her choice of a toddler or standard size Ocah made from a Tahoe woven wrap! This is amazing news for Erin and also AMAZING news for Make-A-Wish foundation…. with this fundraiser we will donate to them $1500! I am honored to help and support such a worthwhile charity that really makes dreams come true!