Babywearing with Jess


Leave a comment

Summer carrying

 

So it seems summer is well and truly upon us!  Here is some tips about babywearing in the heat..

 

Layers

Remember that a carrier will act as at least one extra layer of clothing, if you are using something like a stretchy wrap this number could be as high as three with the extra passes. Dress baby in less clothes, even consider just having them in a nappy and then in carrier without clothes on.

 

Skin on skin is hot though, wearing a thin layer yourself will help wick away moisture. Something like a muslin cloth between you would also work and has the added benefit of being able to change it for another if it does become sweaty or damp.

 

Keep Hydrated

Dehydration makes us all grumpy, regardless of age! Breastfed babies will need to feed more frequently in the heat, this will also dehydrate you more, so make sure to keep up fluids.  Babies and children who are drinking water should be offered it regularly.

 

Cooling Aids

A wet cloth on pressure points (elbow pits, wrists, back of neck etc), a damp muslin in between you, water in a misting bottle, all can help cool you both down. One thing to be aware of is not being too excessive with cooling attempts for the baby or child, they struggle to regulate temperature at the best of times and going from one extreme to the other isn’t helpful when you are trying to encourage your body to handle the heat. Don’t use ice on a baby, it is too much. A cool, damp cloth is adequate in most cases. Another great idea is to think about evaporative cooling, wetting your hair as the adult will help keep you cooler for a longer period of time.

 

Airflow

 

Natural or artificially recreated, both will help keep you cooler. Fans and air conditioners are great when carrying in the heat but obviously not always accessible. Natural airflow is also really helpful in occasions when you can access it.

 

Do remember that at all times you need to provide access to fresh air for baby, this extends to providing shade in other ways you may transport or sleep a baby. Keep baby’s face clear of fabric, do not cover it with a carrier or cloth. Covering a pram or capsule with a blanket will build up heat and carbon dioxide and is not advisable.

 

Sun protection

Be mindful of the sun, for little babies who you might not want to lather in sunblock, shade is your best friend. A big hat on the wearer may provide some shade for baby, also consider something like a UV protectant umbrella or of course if the option is there, natural shade is brilliant.

https://www.facebook.com/PlayfulPukekos/

Thanks to Donna from Playful Pukekos for this photo of summer babywearing with her son Jack

 

Positioning

Back or hip carries can be cooler than a tummy to tummy position. We lose a lot of heat from our chest areas, regardless of how cool the outer layers of the carrier or any other factors, there is nothing we can really do about the heat transfer between two people. Steel framed hiking carriers which hold baby away from your body may have benefit in some hot hiking conditions for this reason. You can see from this picture taken in New Caledonia when we were hiking up a volcano that both wearer and wearee have corresponding sweat patches! Despite having a carrier with a mesh panel, taking breaks, keeping hydrated – there is very little that can be done to minimise this factor.

 

Take regular breaks

No matter what you do, there will always be a build up of heat when you are wearing in hot conditions. Always make sure to take regular breaks to let you both cool down, this will also give an opportunity to monitor and reassess the comfort of both you and baby, and make any changes that might help. Taking turns to share the carrying load with another adult may also be a great help if everyone is getting a bit hot.

 

This infographic is a summary and overview of these points:

 


Leave a comment

Talking to kids about death and loss, RIP Jazzy

 

We had to say goodbye to one of our family today, my fur baby, Jazmine.

 

She was 13 years old, she had a great run and has been part of our family since the beginning. Mr 4 told me she was his first ever best friend, which makes sense as she guarded him sleeping as a baby and their bond only grew as he got older and they would wander round the garden together.

 

Mr 2 has a limited understanding of what is going on. But for Josh (Mr 4, nearly 5) death has been a topic of conversation from as soon as he was old enough to talk. My dad died not long before he was born, I have never been shy about speaking about my dad, particularly with my kids, because I know my stories are the only way they will know him.

 

We have experienced several other significant people in our lives die in the short years of his life but none have quite had the significance of this one to this wee dude.

 

“This is the saddest day of my life” he said to me through tears this morning while we collected flowers from around the garden while my husband dug a grave for her.

 

Today I was grateful for the way we have talked about death with him so openly before. Today I saw the proof of the benefit of not hiding the sadness, of talking about different ideas of what death means, being open that no one really knows what it truly means, emphasising and explaining these ideas are quite a personal concept-that it can mean many things to different people.

 

Josh was with me when the vet gave our dog the shot that gave her peace, we were all three of us cuddling as the moment took her. Both Josh and I crying and reassuring her. We talked and cried as we took her body home about how she now can’t feel any pain or get sick anymore, about how much we will miss her and what she meant to all of us.

 

I believe if we hide or shield our children from these things, we risk the chance we could be robbing them of the opportunity for closure. I think this goes for including children at funerals just as much as I do for putting down a pet and burying them in the yard.

 

I think we can learn a lot from children about these things actually. Children experience things so intensely, all consumingly, with their whole selves; then sometimes before we as adults have even caught up, they are on to the next thought. Letting them live through that moment, acknowledging it, validating them – it can help them come to grips with it. It can sometimes be faster, and in most cases easier, that trying to fight them on the topic. If this applies for tantrums and general big emotions kids have, it makes sense that letting them experience sadness and grief how they chose to will also help them process.

As we buried our beloved family pet, we talked about how maybe she was going on one of the long daily runs my dad used to do with him or maybe she was chasing pukekos somewhere with no thought for the pain that had plagued her again from her hip in recent months. Then after placing flowers out, we went inside and read two of our favorite books which as so helpful with these conversations; Old Huhu by Kyle Mewburn and Water bugs and dragonflies by Doris Stickney.

 

We talked about the different concepts of death covered in Old Huhu, we talked about different understandings people have of heaven. We talked about our sadness and the things we will miss, we talked about our dogs favourite things and our favourite memories of her.

Then we played a game and did a few things that made us feel happy. While my husband and I spent the afternoon feeling drained, our son had moments of stillness and deep thought where he looked off into the distance then would say something like,“Jaz was really brave when the vet did all the tests and gave her the shot wasn’t she? This is such a sad day” followed just moments later with, “can I have an ice block?”

If you want more support dealing with trauma, loss and grief with children, Skylight provide an amazing resource, check out their website – http://skylight.org.nz/

 

 


Leave a comment

“Do you know what you’re having?”

Here is an outline of the conversation I have with every person who hears I am pregnant…

 

Them: “Oh congratulations! Do you know what you are having?”

Me: “Well, I’m fairly certain it is a human baby.”

Them: *sometimes awkward laugh* “You have two boys, right?”

Me: “Yep, they are awesome.”

Them: “Oh so you will be hoping for a girl then?!”

 

Huh?!

 

I swear I get asked this every single time. Look there are many things I hope for my kids.

I hope they will be happy and healthy above all else. I hope we can give them a secure, balanced and happy childhood. I hope they find their passions in life and have the courage to follow them above all else. I hope both my husband and I continue to have good, close, strong relationships with them.

I hope lots for them. But none of what I usually hope for is associated with a certain particular set of genitals.

 

You know what, I think when it comes to baby poo, it doesn’t hugely make a difference if you are cleaning it off little testes or out of little vaginas. It’s all poo.

 

So, no, I am not particularly hoping for a girl… I’m honestly not concerned either way.

They are children, not accessories… I’m not trying to collect the whole set…


Leave a comment

Trying to get the perfect fit!

We are obviously very fortunate that due to my work and library, we have more than a few different options to reach for when it comes to using a carrier with our own kids…


Jai (Mr 2 but in size 4 clothes) has well and truly outgrown most standard or baby sized carriers despite still wanting to go up quite a lot. I’ve been using toddler size carriers with him for a while but my husband is slower than me to make the shift…


He was religiously grabbing the Bitybean for Jai until long after his first birthday when I finally convinced him something more padded might make carrying our big boy more comfortable. 


From there he took a liking to the Lenny Lamb standard sized carrier… more recently he has been trying out the Toddler sized Lenny Lamb full buckle and commented to me that he didn’t feel like he could get the shoulder straps quite right to make it comfortable for him…


It wasn’t until I put the same carrier on myself that I realised what he meant (being my husband he is like the most unwilling client yet and never lets me help him with fit hahaha)… the Lenny Lamb carrier has two way adjustable straps which means you can tighten them by pulling upwards or down… one length of the straps, the downwards pull in a front carry, is considerably shorter than the other, the safety elastic strap is also quite close to these…



Depending which side of the clip you place on the safety strap, you may have slightly longer or shorter straps to start with. On the left the safety elastic strap is on the bottom side of the buckle clip, on the right it is thread through the top. The configuration on the right will allow for tighter buckles than the left in this case…


The other thing I noticed is the Perfect Fit Adjusters (PFAs), the bits right up near the shoulder straps where it joins the back panel was totally released… tightening these to the maximum will also shorten the straps but are commonly overlooked in fitting.


PFA straps totally loosened off in this picture. Not a bad carrying height for me but if I wanted to make the straps tighter, I can tighten these…

Tightened in this photo – you can see he is higher on my body in this picture


So you can tighten the straps from the buckles under your arms but also at the top of the carrier near the shoulders… 



Turns out after these two adjustments, the shoulder straps in the Toddler sized Lenny Lamb weren’t slipping anywhere near as much of my husband’s shoulders and he found he actually needed to let some more slack out, rather than attempt to tighten further, to make it a comfortable fit!


Sometimes just some small tweaks and adjustments can make the world of difference to fit in a certain carrier… though in saying that, it is such an individual fit and preference of buckle carriers particularly.. 


Who knows if he will stick to Lenny Lamb as his preference or if I can convince him to try one of the many other brands or styles we have! I guess time will tell 😉 


Leave a comment

The best bits of Christmas…

As I try not to stress out and lose my shit whilst dealing with some of my not-so-favourite parts of the lead up to Christmas- I tried to switch my thinking…

Trying to change the talk in my head from “you piece of shit paper, stay still! Argh where has the end of that fucking tape gone now?”

So putting on my big girl pants, I thought, take a breath Jess, what would you say to your bestie right now if you walked in and she was in that state?
(that’s a wee trick I got taught years ago about trying to be kinder to yourself in your self-talk…) 😛

I would probably say, “Chill out… Nobody cares that much about the wrapping paper-except for the toddler but he will just be concerned about trying to eat it! This bit is shit and a pain in the arse but… why don’t you tell me about some of your favourite Christmas traditions instead?”

I realised most of my favourites are ones we just made up! 😉

cHRISTMAS TRADITIONS.png


What are some of your favourite holiday traditions in your family?

I outlined some of what makes it special for us in this post, The Magic of Christmas

 

Would love to hear yours??


Leave a comment

The big black cloud that follows me…

There is a big black cloud that follows me along life in recent years… Like a storm front, it builds momentum and ramps up covering me in darkness sometimes, unable to see through it.

That sounds dramatic but its how it feels. Since my Dad died five years ago, the grief and loss I have been like the surf at the beach for me. The nature and extent of which I feel them changes, it isn’t just my Dad I have lost.. In the time I have been writing this blog alone my Nanna (Dad’s Mum) has passed away, I have had a miscarriage and lost three friends along the journey.

Like the surf, sometimes momentum builds. The waves crash and its like that cloud is over me again. Sometimes there is indicators and warnings, like anniversaries or events I know are going to trigger loss…

Other times there is no warning or reason at all. Like this morning.. I just woke up feeling sad… Before we had even had a morning coffee I was crying about something I wished I could tell Andy (a friend of ours we lost this year..)

While talking to the boys and changing Jai’s nappy, I started crying at the significance of their names and how I couldn’t tell my Nanna we put Percival in his name.. I know how special she thought it was that Josh’s middle name was Grahame, my Dad’s name.

And before I knew it I was screaming at James and the kids because no one could find the keys and because I felt pissed that the burden of responsibility of finding them was placed on me. I just wanted to send a few emails, I was just pissed off.

And now they aren’t here and I can’t remember who it even was I was meant to email. I just feel overwhelmed with sadness.

I guess sometimes I just feel like I need space to feel things without having someone there to feel like they are interrupting me…

I wrote this last week, not even realising what the date was or thinking about the fact I was probably feeling sensitive to things because of the looming anniversary.

Grief is an all consuming beast.  The death of someone close to you doesn’t ever really “heal”, I guess you just sometimes get better at coping with it, though sometimes you don’t… I guess sometimes you come to learn the warning signs and signals, like the date, but clearly, six years later, i still get that one wrong too…

14907798_10157904829570727_661370783_o

Launching paper boats for Dad with the boys..

I think we too often forget that grief doesn’t only come with death. I have grieved many processes, ideas and plans over the last few years not just people.. When we were landed smack bang into huge legal proceedings unexpectedly, I think all of us involved in that shit show grieved in some way or another. When after 18 months of blood, sweat and tears sunk into this fight, some of us grieved the end of it, it just fizzled out in the end.. we all had the “you won” call but it certainly didn’t feel like there was any winners…
Not that long later we were grieving one of our own who we lost along the way. Grief is complex and it’s messy and it’s difficult. It’s multilayered and multifaceted and sometimes it jumps up and surprises you.

I don’t think it really ever goes away.. Well that’s not my experience.. It just changes. And life happens. And further grief will happen… Its always hard, its always kind of raw…

14938069_10155331183762656_854255621_n

When our friend passed away, he left behind a four year old daughter and his partner.

Empathizing big time with these guys, I just wanted to do anything I could to help. I searched out resources and books people recommended in these cases once again, I had already been through the same process looking for books for my own kids that related to my dad and death in a way that might help them understand.

Skylight Trust is a great place for resources for the record and Old Huhu is a great book which is a favorite in this house. The first time I saw it was actually on a Playcentre visit when Josh brought it up to me to read and I turned into this sobbing mess of a random mother in the corner unable to control my emotions about how beautiful the book was.

But one of the things people said to me in this time again like the prior, that really doesn’t sit well with me, “your children will lift you up through your grief”…

I call bullshit.

Yes they give me a reason to try and battle through it. They give me a reason to try and get a more positive perspective on things. They give me a reason to keep sharing stories of my Dad, another reason to keep his memory alive. But they certainly don’t lift me up through it.

In fact, I feel like sometimes they pause me processing it.

When I had a miscarriage and the grief storm clouds really closed the horizon for a while there for me again, I had to hide from Josh to feel like I could process things. You can’t really be a blubbering mess in the corner the same way when you are caring for kids…

And yes, it is good not to get stuck in the blubbering mess stage but sometimes you need some of that. I feel like if I can feel it, like experience it, then it’s the first step to acknowledging it. To processing the emotions…

Well I am not a mental health expert but that is my take on it anyway…

14964014_10157904836720727_1047861843_o

Beautiful sunset tonight ❤


Launching paper boats for Dad on the third anniversary of his death, conciding with Josh’s first birthday party…

Skylight Trust is national not for profit trust that enables children, young people, their family/whanau and friends to navigate through times of trauma, loss and grief – http://skylight.org.nz/

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/01/grief-is-so-overpowering-it-consumes-you-readers-on-death-and-dying


2 Comments

Sling Meets vs Sling & Carrier Consultants

Navigating the differences between volunteer and paid roles in the Babywearing Community

 

 

Sling meets provide a great introduction to the world of babywearing which would suit lots of people looking to find out more. They are a free service, run by dedicated volunteers who give generously back to the community by sharing the babywearing love.

Sling and carrier consultants are another option. They are a paid service which just like any other business has overheads and operating costs to cover. That’s not to say that a sling meet doesn’t have those things but they generally use fundraising, donations, volunteer hours and sometimes membership fees to cover their costs of operation.

 

Before I look at the differences between the two though, I would like to first give an outline of some of the similarities and how these people and groups both act as a great resource of all kinds of information babywearing related.

Both will be able to provide you information about safety and positioning in a carrier. Both could be able to help you troubleshoot or work with you to find optimum comfort using your carrier. Both would be able to provide you some guidance about the pro’s and con’s of various styles and brands. And among both groups you will also find a lot of variety in the approach used and the specific service provided.

As a collective from both respective groups sat down and discussed the differences between the services offered, we came to the conclusion that the main differences boil down to just two; time and price.

Time at a sling meet is a very precious commodity. The time frame limitations is one of the main restrictions to the level and kind of support that is offered in this setting. These generous volunteers often have large groups of people wanting assistance and support. The time available to cover something in particular depth or in the case of a special circumstance is limited and therefore the information must be too.

Due to the paid nature of consultancy, often things could have more opportunity to be taken at an individual’s preferred pace or in their preferred manner. With more time and a tailored and specialized service, there is a depth of assistance and support that consultants could offer that can be outside of that possible in the time available in a sling meet setting.

Another aspect to the consideration of time is the time and place of the service offered. Sling meets are usually at a fixed time and place and commonly will have “holiday breaks” like other support groups do. In the situations where someone is maybe not able to make the time and date of the sling meet or would prefer to choose those factors, a consultant would be a better fit.

The aspect of price is obviously a big difference between the two. Sling meets run by volunteers are a free service in the community. Sling and Carrier Consultants all chose a different approach and focus for their business and services offered and many will have a different “specialty” in an area or approach that they are particularly passionate or experienced in, but all will provide this service at a charge. Training costs, ongoing upskilling, teaching resources and our time, both with you and in preparation of meeting, are all aspects of this charge.

As we discussed this relationship and dynamic, it was a Slingbabies leader, Natalie, who made an incredibly valuable comparison in my opinion. The La Leche League provide a breastfeeding support service run by dedicated volunteers around the world. Lactation Consultants also provide a support service for breastfeeding mothers.*

Together they help to boost the rates of breastfeeding in New Zealand by offering support, guidance and assistance in the area of breastfeeding. But the manner, approach and service offered by each is incredibly different but complimentary and more powerful combined.

Just like that of the babywearing world.

1208471_10151562230950059_485600556_n

Josh and I at a West Auckland Slingbabies meet on 13th September, 2013. 

 

To find an up to date list of Sling Meets and Consultants around the country here –  http://babywearingeducators.co.nz/babywearingeducators/

Another list can be found here – http://nzbwingmarketplace.weebly.com/nz-babywearing-groups-and-consultants.html

 

14358971_10153940874722602_6863185228854520354_n

As you can see, I was still screwing up my face at understanding wraps at the Slingababy Consultant Training in Christchurch just under three years later! While I have improved and learnt a whole lot, the learning never stops!

 

(Thanks to Sandy, Kelsey, Natalie, Sherylee and Amy for help with this article x)

 


 

*I have simplified the comparison to LLL and also the various tiers and levels of support and services within both the volunteer and paid sectors of the support available here. Within both LLL and sling meets there are various kinds and levels of support, group leaders and peer to peer educators are another differing level of support and guidance again. With the intention of being all inclusive and the limitations of my own lack of knowledge and experience within both sling meets and LLL, I am not able to do justice to the various roles or kinds of support. If you have any insight or feedback, I would love to hear from you – babywearingwithjess@gmail.com