Natasha Restuccia – A Calming Effect

by Natasha Restuccia

natasha-testimonialFrom the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to babywear. The idea of having my child close and my hands free sounded amazing. I did a little research and decided on a linen ring sling as my first carrier. Long story short, we hated it! Even though I watched countless youtube videos I didn’t know what I was doing, and trying to put a screaming baby into a ring sling was not fun. Fortunately I had friends who were already deep into the babywearing world and bought me a membership to BWI of Gainesville. The first meeting I went to was a newborn wearing workshop. It was at this class that I learned how to wear using a woven wrap. Our lives changed that day! When we were both at wits end, I could wrap my baby up and it was like an instant calming effect! After borrowing a woven wrap from a generous friend I bought my first one followed by an SSC. Once I went back to work, babywearing gave us a chance to be close and snuggle after being away from each other all day, and some days I needed it just as much as she did! Continue reading

Kristin Birdsey: The Easy Button

by Kristin Birdsey of Education Station and Preschool

You know those commercials where they ask where the easy button is. I truly connect with those silly 30 second spots because as small business owner, I’m always looking to make elements of my work easier, streamline processes, and still provide the highest quality of service for my customers, who can be some of the most difficult around. They don’t always ask nicely or stay on schedule; they literally scream for their needs to be met, often without warning. You see, I own a daycare/preschool, and when a baby needs something her only method of communication (in the beginning) is crying.

Kristen1I’ve not yet had the experience of being a mother, yet those baby cries can still pull on my heartstrings. It’s visceral and it can be almost overwhelming if you really start to think about the importance of your interactions with these brand-new humans. I want so much to be responsive to each individual child and her unique needs; however, much like mothers everywhere, small business owners wear a million hats. In my search to do it all and do it all well, I discovered baby wearing and it has been a game changer.

My adventures in baby wearing began with a hand-me-down baby Bjorn (the baby-backpack as I lovingly refer to it) and a very practical need. All licensed childcare facilities in the State of Florida are required to maintain a ratio of 1 adult to 4 children when infants are involved. The first time the 5th baby arrived a full hour before the next infant teacher was scheduled to be there, I first thought no-big-deal, I’ll just go in the room and be the second teacher. Then I remembered the reality of: the breakfast that still needed to be made and distributed to 50+ other children, the ringing phone, the walk-in tour, and the 37 emails I needed to answer. Some of us call it life.

Kristen3Baby-backpack to the rescue! I took the most fussy infant at the time, very inexpertly strapped up, and went on about my business. The infant settled down almost immediately as I made breakfast. I talked to him about all the ingredients I was combining. He listened intently when I answered phone calls marveling at the buttons on the cordless phone. He drifted off to sleep as I typed away responding to emails. An hour had passed in no time, the second infant teacher came in as scheduled and took him. Everyone won. I couldn’t believe it, but I found the easy button!

At first, I almost felt guilty that I was dragging this kid around with me to do my business chores. Then, I did what good teachers are trained to do and reflected on the strategy I implemented. Wearing this little guy gave him the individual attention he needed in the moment, exposed him to different forms of enrichment (yes, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of breakfast preparation and listening to adult phone conversation can be enriching activities for infants!), and I felt both empowered and productive as a caregiver (self care is critical for all caregivers). This baby wearing thing wasn’t a one-time fix; this was a legitimate tool! The babies loved it, their parents (the paying customers) loved it, and I loved it!

Kristen2 Flash forward a few years, I learned the lingo, read some of the research, obviously grew my stash (which has grown to include a few SSC and a woven wrap), and routinely espoused the virtues of baby wearing. I have even mastered transferring a baby from being worn to being buckled up in a car seat. When I keep my niece and nephew, we don’t go anywhere without some baby wearing device. Even my boyfriend feels comfortable and confident wearing my 6-month-old niece having seen first hand how convenient, practical, and beneficial it can be. As I begin to envision what my life will look like when I become a mother, baby wearing is an integral part of the story.

Mitzy Kemp – My Babywearing Journey

Life’s a journey. As time, circumstances, and age evolve, so does one’s journey. This evolution, of sorts, can be apparent in education, careers, relationships, and especially parenting. My Babywearing journey, funny enough, began fours years before I even became a parent. On a “Girls” vacation with all the women in my family to Savannah, GA, my 5 month old niece was in tow.  She was the first grandchild in our family and was of course, doted on by her three aunts, grandmother and two great-grandmothers on this excursion. Many of us took turns holding and carrying her.  Then, as we took a tour of the city, my sister pulls out her Baby Bjorn and wears her around.  Being quite curious, I took a turn. My little niece loved being so close to loved ones and enjoyed being able to see everything from an adult’s viewpoint. It was so easy and freeing to have her strapped to my chest. I only wore her for a few hours, but from those moments, I was hooked.  

Fast forward four years and when my first child, a daughter, was born, that same Baby Bjorn was gifted to me to keep her close and both of us happy. From vacuuming our home to hiking the Stone Mountain in Atlanta, GA, that little carrier helped baby Eden enjoy the world around her. I wore her for about 5-6 months, because she became too heavy and the straps of the Bjorn became too uncomfortable for me.  My husband did the majority of Babywearing on our many hikes of Northern GA until Eden was about a year old.

When was just two years old, Eden became a sister to a baby brother, Will. Since my sister had another baby at the time, it was time for myself to buy my own carrier. So of course, I purchased a brand new Baby Bjorn (not knowing of any other options). I also received a newborn sling as a gift. Even with these two options, Will was only worn for about four months or so because of his size (9 lbs at birth and continued to be in the 90th percentile until he was a year old). Looking back, we both could have benefitted from a longer Babywearing relationship. He was a tough baby and had I known of other more comfortable Babywearing options at the time, we both would have been happier.

The stars aligned just two years later and my true Babywearing self evolved when I happened to find a barely used Organic Ergo carrier at a yard sale for only $35. That month, I found out I was pregnant with baby #3 and I would be nannying a 1 year old full time until my baby would be born. Three mornings a week, I would strap Wyeth to my back and sign Eden in at preschool. That Ergo became super helpful when I had both of children by the hand! And it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to have 3 children.

Now I have a 4 month old, who has been blessed to be worn in so many carriers, wraps, and ring slings thanks to the generosity of others. My younger sister has let me borrow a Solly wrap, which is lightweight and super comfortable. My friend, Liz, gifted me a membership to the Gainesville Babywearers group and I have been so grateful! Rhys is by far, my most content baby and I owe it all to Babywearing. We have tried SSCs, ring slings, and mei tais, and all have been magically donned with sleepy dust. Thank goodness, because his older siblings are quite loud.  

My eyes have been opened to a wider, more broader and more knowledgeable Babywearing world. And I have my sisters, my friend, Liz, and many new friends in the Gainesville Babywearers group to thank for that. My baby (and possibly future babies) are grateful, too!

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Woman crouching and smiling with baby in ringsling next to older toddler. Everyone is wearing sunglasses.

Sarah Landsman – Unexpected Sanctuary

by Sarah Landsman

I always planned to babywear. Even before I knew it was called babywearing. I was excited to be able to have my hands free while holding my baby close. I still remember the first time I wore my son. I did some laundry and felt really accomplished. What I didn’t know that day was that sometime in the future I would be wearing my son in the pediatric ER because it was the only thing that would calm him down when he got suddenly sick (suspected pneumonia – he’s fine). I didn’t imagine how helpful it would be to babywear while traveling with my son. I also didn’t know that one day I would have a second baby with reflux. I was so grateful for the relief that babywearing provided him and me in the early months because it allowed me to keep him in a more vertical position and close to me. Today both of my boys are healthy and happy. We babywear while shopping or while walking the dogs. It is a normal part of our life. We also use a stroller, bikes, and wagons. All of these things help me to enjoy each day with my boys but only babywearing is there for both the highs and the lows, helping me soothe a sick or sad child or carry my children across the hot sand towards the ocean for a day at the beach.

Woman crouching and smiling with baby in ringsling next to older toddler. Everyone is wearing sunglasses.

Woman on low-surf beach holding young boy's hand wearing infant in blue and white woven wrap.

Carly Canion – All wrapped up

by Carly Canion

I knew I wanted to babywear before I was ever pregnant. Then four years ago, when I was pregnant with my older son, I began looking into babywearing and quickly found out there was a whole world beyond Baby Bjorns!  When William was born I tried several carriers (stretchy wrap, ring sling, mei tai) and settled on an Ergo. I loved wearing William in it and used it every chance I got.

I think what originally appealed to me about babywearing was the convenience aspect: hands free, baby close where you can keep an eye on them, no heavy stroller. But I had no idea just how sweet it would be. Because of babywearing I now have precious memories of walking through a park, or a grocery store, or a festival, whispering to William about what we were seeing and watching the world go by together. We have always had a close bond, and I know wearing him played a part.

Last year, while pregnant with my younger son, Shepard, woven wraps began to catch my eye and I bought one, telling myself that it would be my one wrap and I wouldn’t need or want any others. I attended a BWI Gainesville meeting when I was eight months pregnant and the VBEs taught me a beginning carry. I first wore Shepard when he was ten days old, nervously checking his breathing and his feet to make sure I hadn’t cut off any circulation. I got such helpful responses when I asked questions and posted newbie pictures to the Facebook group, which helped boost my wrapping confidence, knowing I had support.

Of course, I quickly got wrapped up (he he) in babywearing on a whole new level. Trying new wraps is fun and there is always some new beauty to be discovered. Wrapping is also very comfortable, both for me and my baby! He seems to love it as well, and when he was only several months old, he recognized when I was getting a wrap ready to wear him and would get excited. Second babies seem to grow up even quicker than the first, and I truly cherish being able to hold him close, breath him in, and feel him sleep against my chest, knowing that he will be off and running far too soon.

In addition to the sweetness, wearing Shepard is invaluable to keeping up with my three year old. It is wonderful to know that I can wrap Shepard and take William anywhere and be able to interact with him with Shepard content on me. I really think it helped the transition to having two children. We have been able to keep doing a lot of what we did before, now I’m just wearing Shepard as we go.

Being part of the babywearing community has enriched my life, as I have made dear new friends and really look forward to the meetings. It’s rare to find a fun hobby that also makes you feel like a better parent! I encourage everyone to take a look at what BWI Gainesville has to offer; you won’t be disappointed.

Woman on low-surf beach holding young boy's hand wearing infant in blue and white woven wrap.

Woman wearing baby on back in pink and white woven wrap with geometric pattern. Baby and mother are both smiling at camera.

Kathleen Weinert – Lucky Encounter

by Kathleen Weinert
I was initially attracted to babywearing because i thought it would allow me to incorporate my baby into daily life. My husband and I enjoy hosting friends and family, we are passionate about serving in our community and we enjoy exploring locally and beyond. Bringing our children into this lifestyle was and is important to us. However, we had no idea how much our lives would be changed by our precious little boy. We would never be the same and our lifestyle would never look the way it did before him, but we are ok with that. In fact we are thrilled by that.
My babywearing journey began with a stretchy wrap. I wore my boy in a boba to soothe him during the sun downing hours when he was a few weeks old. We would walk around in the house or the yard. I developed the “bounce and sway” that babywearing moms know well. But the boba was hot and we were limited to only a few carrying options. I was excited when he was big enough at six weeks old to fit in the Ergo 360.
When I met Alexandria Sutherland at Lucky’s Market in Gainesville she told me about BWI of Gainesville, Fl and gave me a card that had the Facebook group info on it. I checked out the group online and was introduced to the wide world of babywearing that’s more than stretchy wraps and ergos – it includes woven wraps, ring slings, many brands of soft structured carriers and parents with an amazing love for their children. I learned a lot from the babywearing posts in the Facebook group and much more from the first meeting I attended. I previously had no idea that I could continue to wrap my baby after he outgrew the boba. I was intrigued by woven wraps and quickly learned how to wrap with one.
By this time I wanted to wear my baby not simply because I wanted to incorporate him into my lifestyle, but because life with him is just better than life without him and babywearing enables me to do life with my boy. Exploring and taking walks while wearing him is more fun because I experience up close his wonder as he sees the world for the first time. Hosting with him brings an element of delight into every gathering. Comforting him is soothing for both of us because I can offer him physical closeness that is good for a growing baby and good for my mommy heart. Babywearing has also allowed me to tend to the necessities of daily life like cooking, walking our dog, and cleaning house while keeping my child close. One of the things that has been most beneficial is that babywearing allows us to reconnect after I’ve been at work all day. He reaches for me when I walk in the door in the evening and most days into the wrap he goes until bedtime. It’s rejuvenating for both of us.
Babywearing and BWI of Gainesville have deepened my relationship with my son and kept me sane in these early months of motherhood. I’m thankful for babywearing and the group of people that has encouraged me and equipped me to develop this life-changing “skill.”
Woman wearing baby on back in pink and white woven wrap with geometric pattern. Baby and mother are both smiling at camera.
Dark-hared woman standing in a field wearing a baby with leg braces in a MeiTai with a triumphant Expression.

Courtney Trooper – Unique Challenges, Common Need

by Courtney Trooper

My son since birth hasn’t exactly been easy. He was born with club feet, which means he was in need corrective casting and heavy metal braces. I was a new mom with tired arms, and all my baby wanted was to be held close and comforted most of the day. I wanted  more than anything to be able to give that to him. BWI showed me how to safely carry my son despite his disability. Being showed how to safely babywear has made our bond stronger, and I cannot thank these amazing volunteers enough for all their hard work and dedication

Dark-hared woman standing in a field wearing a baby with leg braces in a MeiTai with a triumphant Expression.