Babywearing with Jess


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Why would I pay for a Sling & Carrier Consultant?

While the main difference in the experience you could have to learn about babywearing from a sling meet comparatively to a consultant does boil down to just “time and price” as I mentioned, it is a bit of an oversimplification again, so why would you pay for a consultant?

Starting with the two points I have already briefly discussed, time and attention.

With a paid consultancy service, I believe a large part of what you are actually paying for is the tailored or specialised information they are able to deliver to you. Whether it be in a one on one consultation or a small workshop setting, the ability to focusing on delivering what is most important to the specific audience means we are able to together reach a deeper level of understanding or learning.

Also obviously, as part of the cost of any business, the resources involved play a part in the cost they are charging to you. As I have mentioned previously, the babywearing dolls are a bit of a hot commodity in the among educator groups alone.

Clearly all of us will have at least a moderate stash or library (it’s a lovely perk of the job!) to teach, demo and/or wear! Most of us have started out in this line of work as first and foremost, enthusiasts of slings and carriers, so some of has have quite decent collections built up. Another perk is being connected to circles where people import, make or sell various wraps, slings or carriers so many consultants are able to dig up a “demo/test box” if you give them a bit of time.

The other thing that I really noticed was a difference in my process of supporting and helping people after doing the Slingababy consultant training as opposed to before I had completed it, was the level of thought and attention I am paying to the process of demonstrating and teaching.

Take for example the ring sling, something I have used quite extensively for years now and still have a different take and appreciation for post training. The way I would use it, differs only very little to the way I might now demonstrate or teach it. Essentially the process isn’t all that different, but my emphasis, words and method have all altered just so slightly.

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“The Price is Right” move 😉

 

Little tips and tricks from the course specifically, like “the price is right” move and being more clear and concise about the words I am using as I demonstrate are obviously great tools. More than that though, I think the thing I appreciated most about the Slingababy training in particular, was the emphasis of Lorette that this was just the beginning of our learning and training.

Being more equipped and empowered to understand the pedagogical and andragogic aspects of the subject matter is a great basis for helping others. It provides us the opportunity to reach a deeper level of understanding and learning with our clients.

 

teaching and learning

 

 

But it is an ongoing process of learning, training, upskilling, experience and work, which is what it is for us as consultants, a job and a business for many of us, as well as a passion.

 

To find a babywearing educator in your area, please see – http://babywearingeducators.co.nz/babywearingeducators/

 

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Doing some in store training with the lovely ladies from Baby on the Move Botany, Fri 30th Sep 2016

 

(Thanks to my Slingababy NZ Consultant training peers for helping with this article x)

 


 

Further reading on the topic can be found here:

http://peekabooslings.co.uk/dear-customer-yes-i-charge

http://www.tribalbabies.co.uk/babywearing-consultants/

http://www.theslingschool.com/2012/04/three-ways-to-learn-art-of-babywearing.html?m=1

http://thenortheastslinglibrary.weebly.com/blog-archive/difference-between-sling-library-and-consultancy1

 

 

 


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What’s up with the babywearing dolls??

 

So this is one aspect of this ‘babywearing consultancy’ gig that I guess I didn’t personally have a total grasp on before going through the training process myself. I mean I have noticed the emphasis on “babywearing dolls” among educators but I guess I just wasn’t really sure what it was about… or maybe I assumed that they may not have a child of the same age bracket as what they were trying to demonstrate…

But many of you know, I have a nearly four year old and a sixteen month old who I both regularly wear… You may also have noticed that I have been demonstrating more and more stuff using a doll lately…

Or maybe you noticed the reference to my “wee army of dolls” or have seen pictures I may have posted of them..? Or maybe you have no idea at all what I am even on about…

 

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So anyway, what’s up with the dolls?

So firstly, what are these dolls? Babywearing dolls are specifically design to be weighed in a similar proportion to the way your baby is. The smaller of these dudes, “Moritz” weights 3.5 kgs and is an infant doll, so approximately five months old say… The bigger one is David, he is a toddler doll, weighing 7kgs and is approximately in size two pants…

So David is pretty darn close to Jai’s size (though Jai weighs a heck of a lot more, David is a “dead weight” so feels pretty similar…) Yet I have posted videos and photos of me wearing David as opposed to Jai… So my thinking that babywearing educators didn’t have the “right” size model was totally flawed obviously…

NONONO tie using a ring sling from Babywearing with Jess on Vimeo.

 

There are plenty of reasons a babywearing doll might be used in the place of a child or baby to demonstrate, play or teach about slings or carriers, here is just a couple…

 

The wearer’s confidence;

When you are trying something new it can feel difficult to get your head around for any of us. Our kids are like little ‘energy’ sponges, they pick up very well on how we feel or perceive something.. That means if we aren’t confident about what we are doing, they sense that. If you feel more confident and in control, they also sense that.

I so commonly hear people say, “my child doesn’t like being in my sling or carrier”, the first question I would ask is, “how do you feel about it?”

So far not one of those people have said replied to me, “I love it, it’s perfect and comfortable and I feel so confident getting my baby into it”… I have no evidence that your feelings or potentially uncertainty about your carrier is a direct cause of negative associations for babies and children but my experience suggests there might be at least some correlation between the two…

 

Safety;

When I am giving people new carriers or techniques to try, obviously there is the aspect of safety which is another reason for using dolls. Particularly at my workshops or events where I ‘open my library’ up for playing with… I am not always able to be individually supporting people in a group setting when they are trying something new. If they use my dolls, we can all have like a “show and tell” kind of experience just playing with lots of different options.

 

Transitions;

So this is a big one when it comes to demonstrating several types of carriers in a short succession for me. As well as in a “library sampling” setting where people may have a limited time to try a range of options. Each time we pick up and put down our child, they are experiencing a period of transition. Same thing if I lay them down to change a nappy and pick them back up again, that’s two periods of transition they are experiencing.

Same thing for getting in and out of the car, pram or carrier. Each period of time we are moving them or changing their environment or experience, they are going through a ‘transition period’ which we often need to help them settle with, particularly as newborns.

If I am using a carrier for a child or baby, my process of going through each of the steps or stages is much slower than if I am using a demo doll. At each step I would take some time to sway and bounce and talk to the baby to settle them as I got them into the carrier. With a doll, I can just get them in position and move on to the next step..

 

Helping Learning;

When we are learning something new being able to go at our own pace often helps most of us. Also not having a moving and wiggling model definitely helps learning in my opinion! Plus my dolls ALWAYS smile and never complain or moan, so that’s also nice 😉

This also means that for people who don’t have a child of their own, maybe they are expecting a child, they could work with parents using carriers but not use them personally, in these cases I still think there is lots of benefits to learning about carriers and slings and the dolls help me to facilitate that in a hands on setting.

Children also have this thing about ‘own mind’ which my dolls don’t, meaning they don’t have a choice about if they “want up” in that particular moment or not! In a workshop setting, seeing someone using a doll instead of a child helps me to more quickly help troubleshoot or explain a new process or approach.

The only time in a workshop setting I would encourage someone to use their own child instead of a doll would be if we were trying to better fit a carrier they have already been using or that we have had enough of an opportunity to practise with something that they were sure they felt confident.

When I am trying to show someone a particular thing with a carrier, I also often find using a demo doll can make it clearer to them the steps I am taking, as the distraction from my model moving and doing their own thing is minimised.

 

 

So that is just a few reasons I am using babywearing dolls for work and teaching more and more, as well as carrying my actual real life children!

 

Just a note about handling… These dolls are bloody expensive, they have rotatable hips, arms and heads.. The are weighted and hand painted. If you are using a consultants doll, treat them like you would a real baby! Or at the very least grab them by their clothes no an arm or leg or you could rip it off! And my kids would certainly not be happy if anything happened to our “spare children” hahaha

 

 


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Slingababy Training School; an insight to my experience..

So my last post was really just me throwing out some of the huge ideas that where running around my head after the intensive training process I was just involved with but also after spending almost a week with some people within the babywearing community from all around the country, who have before now, many have just been names I know from being in the same Facebook groups and sharing connections…

 

There were lots of discussions about what we call the art of carrying our children as a result, which is all positive I think… Where I may have been misunderstood is that I wasn’t suggesting we all had to agree on a universal term.. More that it is ok to have different names and ways we refer to this as it means different things to each of us depending on our perspectives… and again, that too is ok…

 

I wasn’t trying to enforce or suggest there should be a “name change” broadly, just that I was actively considering how my language choice influences perceptions of these practises and what I am talking about…

 

And further more, I am still trying to get my head around a whole lot of new information.. I was just asking a whole lot of questions that were running around in my mind. I am grateful for the insight and input from all sides of this discussion and think its pretty cool we are actually talking about it… Just talking about… that doesn’t anyone person has to change something if they don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect and consider and potentially question things…

 

And when we do, it often takes a bit of time I find for my brain to catch up.. So this was probably closer to the “here’s a bit of an idea of what the consultant training was like for me” post that I originally had in my mind when I thought about writing about when I got home, that was before doing the training

(to be clear, this is just my take on this learning experience, I am not representing my process here to be that of a universal one or representing other trainees, its just my reflection of the process…)

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There was 18 of us completing the training, from all over New Zealand and also Australia. We all come from different areas and perspectives, businesses and organisations, this was not a one – size fits all kind of thing.. Its was an amazing opportunity though for lots of different perspectives, interests and takes about carrying children.. And we learnt a lot about that but also much more, in terms of baby physiology, mother physiology, child development… a whole broad range of related topics…

 

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I guess the best way for me to provide overview of my personal process for me is to follow the timetable we followed broadly, so on the first day, our focus was largely about this concept on “consultants” as we are all aware this is a relatively new concept to New Zealand and with so many of us in the room interested in this topic alone, this started a lot of conversations among us as individuals… I am not suggestion there where some special conclusions we reached or anything was “decided” on, this was just some interesting discussion…

 

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After a morning of various discussions, perspectives being sharing and learning from everyone around the room with their varied viewpoints and interests, we looked at baby physiology and anatomy and there where some very funny photos of us all pretending to be “babies” in our “chair carriers” to better understand some of the aspects of positioning and the perspective of our children being carried in a sling, wrap or carrier…

 

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The next day, we jumped straight into woven wraps… This day was particularly hard for me, I blogged about it at the time which you can read here, but essentially, wrapping is something I have only ever done with Jai, even then, not that much comparatively to my experience with other kinds of carriers but I thought I had got my head around it a bit in the last year and I essentially had to “unlearn” some of what I thought I knew from my self-taught process and that was really difficult for me… My learning in this aspect particularly is continuing to be “rewired” in my brain, if that makes sense…

 

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(Note the concentrating frowns in this picture hahah)

 

 

We spent almost two full days focusing on wrapping with a woven wrap alone… Not about pretty finishes and the “best” way to do things but rather understanding the differences of the properties of different wraps, the limitations and functions of different passes, how to handle a wrap to make it do what you want it to do…

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We learnt about ideas for troubleshooting when the wrap or carry isn’t achieving what you want it too…

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We learnt about some tricks and tips which might help demonstrate more clearly these concepts when we are teaching them to others…

 

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We learnt about the many various ways we could show people safely to get a baby onto our back….

 

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We learnt about the various back carries in a woven wrap and their various advantages and limitations…

 

 

We learnt some other tips and tricks about various ways we could hold tension in a wrap and other tips and tricks…

 

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(if you are someone who likes names for things, I am fond of the term “the wrap onesie” for this one where you hold tension in you knees by doing a little bow to grab the top rails as opposed to bending down hahah)

 

 

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We learnt lots off each other as trainees on the course as well, all bringing different interests, skill sets and experience with us from our own journeys…

 

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Like these three amazing twin mamas who all showed us more than a thing or two and provided a valuable experience for us all to learn more about tandem wearing from their experiences…

 

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And that was just the first few days!! Over the following days, we looked at ring slings, stretechy wraps, Mei Tai’s, Buckle carriers and a section called “weird and wonderful” where we looked all kinds of different things people could use to carry their child.

 

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We also did lots of talking and learning about mothers physiology and anatomy, about pregnancy, birth and the postpartum periods and lots of exercises and learning around planning and preparing for workshops, consultations and more again about what each of us thought about what being a consultant in this industry meant..

 

Again, there was no one answer here, this was a discussion of our various perspectives, directions we may want to pursue and where we could go to from here… And they where all different, and that is ok and really awesome and exciting.. my previous post wasn’t suggesting we all need to have the same understanding of, more reflecting on the many different perspectives and considering and questioning my personal use of language around it…

 

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(teaching Lorette about the importance and art of the “selfie” for Instagram here hahaha)

 

So to clarify again, my post was based in the premise I was exploring how I would like to refer to myself in a consultancy capacity and seeing as I am hoping to work with midwives, women’s health and other medical professionals, the conations around the title “babywearing consultant” where just something I was fundamentally reconsidering…

 

So to answer again the numerous questions, “Hi, I’m Jess from Babywearing with Jess and I am a Sling and Carrier Consultant trained through the Slingababy Training School” 🙂

 

Others who have been my peers and become friends in this process, have chosen to take different titles and names and that too is ok… It is the direction they have chosen for them, because it best suits them…

 

Just like what carrier you could chose to use, best suits you… 🙂

 

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What is a babywearing consultant?!?

Someone asked me the valid question recently, “what is a babywearing consultant?”

This is just my understanding of it, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, after all I AM NOT YET certified nor have completed any formalised training. I don’t have public indemnity insurance, I don’t charge people for advice….

I do have a shit load of carriers which are the basis of my library for hire once I do get certified later in the year, I do have years and a range of personal experience with babywearing and I am super passionate about the topic…

At the heart of my future business plan, my business mission or purpose if you like, is simply “to share the love and knowledge of babywearing with parents and caregivers, particularly within New Zealand”… And right now, if you asked me my “title” or “position”, it is simply ‘babywearing enthusiast with a shit load of carriers’ which my friends and people I know get to share the love of and try and use for loan…

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A babywearing consultant is someone who has been independently trained to teach others about babywearing, to provide advice and expertise on the range and variety of babywearing options available and/or to help someone fit and comfortably use an existing carrier they own. They are often utilised in special case scenarios (premature bubbas etc) where your sling meet educators and leaders may not have been trained in in certain cases, or where people can’t get to, or for whatever reason, don’t want to attend a sling meet, or, would prefer more intimate or personal guidance.

This is a relatively new concept to New Zealand, and aside from sling meets (ie Slingbabies; which are amazing and a great resource), there is no where for parents to learn about babywearing. Most big name baby stores sell largely limited ranges, often those notorious within the babywearing community for being either uncomfortable or not at all ergonomic, or both. The few “good” retail stockists still sell a limited range and the world of babywearing is often something many parents struggle to enter. Solutions that work for people are often very much a personal preference and fit kind of situation and most people benefit from trying before they buy.

I have always been the go-to for babywearing advice in my circle of mum friends and with a bit of encouragement from these ladies I set up a Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/babywearingwithjess/) and “opened up” my babywearing collection/library to friends and extended networks of new mums. I have already enrolled in training to become a certified consultant in September of this year and after then, I imagine I will be able to give you a much more through answer about the exact role of a consultant…

But for now, what I do know for sure, is that I wasted heaps of money buying slings and carriers that didn’t work for us and for some reason, stuck at it and found places like Slingbabies that helped me find my babywearing “sweet spot” and one of my favourite parenting tools for this age and stage of my life as a mum..

I think if I was explained more about different coping mechanisms and tools like babywearing much, much earlier – like in my antenatal class even, I might have been more aware of how to best cope with some situations that struck me personally as the hardest to cope with, particularly in that “fourth trimester” period…

That whole ‘my baby cries bloody murder if I try to put him down asleep’, ‘baby just wants to be held’, ‘baby wants to sleep only on me’ phase… Babywearing is such an amazingly invaluable tool for coping with that in my opinion and if someone could have told me, not only “it’s not uncommon for your baby to want to be held and sleep on you just generally, for at least the first three months of life”, but then also followed that up with “a stretchy wrap or ring sling is a great tool for such times”… I might have felt less generally overwhelmed and daunted by the process and maybe have felt like I had more potential “tools” in my parenting tool kit to call on in those times that first time around as a new mum… Instead I just spent a large portion of time, sitting in a rocking chair with a baby on me, for close to the first five months of Josh’s life!

The initial purchases and attempts we made into the world of babywearing where not comfortable or ergonomic but they were enough to encourage me to keep exploring my options… And I think so many people try one kind of ‘sling’ or ‘front pack’ and get put off the whole concept of babywearing which is unfortunate…

But for right now, the world of babywearing is a bit of a hard one for people to enter and embrace, the knowledge about carrying our babies and children, while shared far and wide spread many generations ago, has now in some ways become a bit of an exclusive club that you have to have “ins” with to even learn or know much at all.

I’m not by any means trying to suggest to people I am an “expert” or know everything about babywearing, far from it… I am just enthusiastic and passionate and keen to share with others who are interested, just how cool it is to utilise a pretty awesome parenting tool, used for thousands of generations of parents in history before ours, that makes some aspects of parenting and life with kids that little bit easier to juggle sometimes…

And let’s face it, parenting, particularly with little kids and babies can be bloody hard work, so I don’t know about everyone else, but for us anything that might make it that little bit easier has probably been tried if we thought it might help… And for my family, and lots of my friends, babywearing was a big help a lot of the time…

So while I write a lot of crap on this blog, sometimes babywearing related sometimes just general happenings about my life with my tamariki, and while I have a Facebook page and have plans for a business within babywearing consultcy once I have finalised my certification, insurance obligations and other factors… I just wanted to reiterate, right now, I am simply “Babywearing with Jess”, babywearing enthusiast 😍


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Wrap Parties of my dreams…

I was at a Tupperware party recently, as usual, knowing a few of the other people going along where fellow babywearing mums, I took a few carriers from my library along with me.. 

Someone commented, “Oh now it’s like a wrap party!” which is funny cause that it is just the kind of consulting I was hoping to focus on once I have become certified as a consultant….

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There are some pretty large overheads to cover as a private consultant, insurance alone is enough to drive consult prices through the roof! And that’s a practical reality of the market I will be operating in. But my overall objective is to share the babywearing love as far and wide as I can and help people have a better understanding of the options and range available to them.

Library hires is one good way of doing this (sorry these are currently only limited to existing contacts while my certification is still pending) which we already have quite an array of options. Another is “wrap parties” or group sessions which make the cost of a consultant much more affordable (obviously in some cases one on one support is going to be the more appropriate solution).

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Just a few of the different carriers in the library 😉

So for the now, my head is full of pipe dreams forming with practical realities to make plans and processes that create the structure and means for me to make this dream a reality. In the meantime if you are looking for some help with babywearing go to a local sling meet or contact a certified consultant in your area – http://nzbwingmarketplace.weebly.com/nz-babywearing-groups-and-consultants.html

Or feel free to message me on my Facebook page and I am happy to help with any questions or queries – https://facebook.com/babywearingwithjess/