Every month, we have our meeting at the main library in downtown Portland. It features our full learning library and several volunteers to assist with all your carrier needs. You can learn more about meetings here.
In addition to our meeting, we have another type of gathering: playdates.
Whats is a playdate? How is it different than a meeting? Let's find out!
Our playdates are similar to other types of parent/child playdates. We gather a public place (a free place, our meetings and playdates are always free). We pick child-friendly locations. They range from library rooms to parks to play places.
Babies, toddlers, and children are always welcome. The best way to find the perfect carrier and get it fitted right is with your own baby! We just ask that you supervise your child at all times. And make sure older children do not disrupt the playdate.
Meetings have a set schedule to make sure we get a chance to help everyone. However, playdates are less formal. You are welcome to join and leave any time during the scheduled time. But, keep in mind that if you come too late, we may not be able to give you all the help you need.
Unlike our meetings, playdates are hosted by a one or two volunteers. While we are happy to teach and answer questions, the main goal of playdates is to create a community. Time to socialize wth other babywearers and let your kids play.
You are welcome to bring your own carrier for assistance. Volunteers usually bring a small selection or carriers for try-on only. We do not bring the learning library and no carriers are available for check-out.
Chat with other wearers . Ask about their babywearing experience. Or chat about anything. Just enjoy the adult conversation while your little ones play.
Even if you don't need any babywearing help, you are absolutely welcome to come! Your experience could help other wearers. And you may learn something new anyway!
You can find our full list of events on our Facebook page. We have them all over the Greater Portland Area---including Beaverton and Vancouver! Come join our community!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
A baby carrier is more than a simple piece of fabric to carry your baby around in.
It is a parenting tool. A way to connect and nurture your child as you navigate your life together.
It is also a way to connect to others. At babywearing gatherings, like our meetings and playdates, you can meet other caregivers who are also trying to figure out babywearing---and parenting.
The phrase “it takes a village” is what Babywearing International is all about. Babywearing is a learned skilled. It takes patience and support to begin your babywearing (and parenting) journey.
It's true the main focus reason of our meetings and playdates is education. Our volunteers want to teach anyone and everyone how to use any carrier safely.
Our true goal is to create a community where wearers can continue to be supported as their child grows. It can be your village for all your babywearing-related parenting needs.
Come to learn how to get your newborn in a stretchy wrap. Experience that joyous moment when you realize you CAN do this (babywearing and parenting). When baby is snuggled on your chest happily, and you can't help but smile.
Stay and talk to other members about how Babywearing helped them with their perinatal mood disorder. Share your experience postpartum as well. Walk out with a new friend.
Come back to share your progress each month. You nailed that back carry in your SSC? Woohoo! We want to know!!! Now chat with other members about their back carry tricks.
Join our Facebook Chat Group and become part of a wearing community. Share how that new hip carry got baby through cutting those canines. You will be surprised how many caregivers did the same!
Socialize with others at one of our many events. This is a great opportunity to get out of the house for a bit and talk to adults for once! It's always fun to explore new things with family and friends----especially ones who might bring their new onbuimo for you to try!
Come to our meetings for education. Stay for the village. We'd love to call you part of the BWI of PDX family!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Babywearing has SO many physical and psychological benefits for both wearer and baby.
There is one benefit that often is overlooked or criticized: fashion. A carrier can make you look and feel good.
A carrier is not merely a trend or fad though. It's a way to express yourself. A way to remember who you were before baby and who you want to be with a baby. A way to thread together your life.
Your favorite carrier is probably your favorite for a reason. Maybe it was your first carrier.
Maybe it's your favorite color.
Maybe it's your favorite pattern.
Maybe it's your favorite carrier type.
Maybe it fits you just right.
Maybe it suits your needs perfectly.
Maybe it's a work of art.
Maybe you wore it on a special day.
Maybe it allows you to do what you did before baby.
Maybe it completes your outfit.
Maybe it just makes you smile.
Whatever the reason might be, babywearing can bring out your beauty even on your toughest days.
Show us how your favorite carrier expresses who you are with #BWIofPDX.
Samantha Reddy, ABE
BWI of PDX is all about hiking with your baby. The wearer gets some good exercise (it's both cardio and strength training!). You are spending quality time with your little one. You get to enjoy the beauty of Pacific Northwest. And you can look good doing it!
One of the most commons questions our educators are asked is “What is the best carrier for hiking?!?”
Short answer: whatever carrier makes you and baby happy that day.
I know, this is not the answer most are hoping for. You want an educator to magically hand you the perfect carrier as soon as we look at you. Sadly, that's probably not going to happen (but wouldn't that be cool if we could!)
Instead, what we can do is make solid suggestions based on your body type, baby’s size, baby’s milestones, and your family’s needs. This will greatly narrow down the choices and take the stress off. Instead of being overwhelmed with options, you can compare a few more closely to make a better decision.
And, if you are a member you can borrow each one of these suggestions before you buy. That you can try on them out on the trail and decide which one truly suits your needs.
Even though there is no universal best hiking carrier for everyone, there are a few guidelines to picking one best suited for hiking.
Once you find the best carrier for you and baby’s trail needs right now, let nothing stand in the way of hiking goals!
Be sure to show us all your babywearing hiking with #BWIofPDX!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Babywearing is not just for moms.
I repeated, babywearing is NOT just for moms.
Babywearing is for all types of caregivers. Anyone that cares for any child of any age can wear.
For aunts and uncles.
For older siblings.
For babysitters and daycare providers.
For best friends
Babywearing International of Portland welcomes ALL these wearers.
All these people need carrier education, support, and community. We are here to provide all this.
Show us who wears in your family with #BWIofPDX!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
“Have you tried a ring sling?” is a very common phrase you will hear at one of our meetings. These versatile carriers can are a wonderful option for newborn to preschooler.
What is exactly is ring sling? What makes it so wonderful? I am glad you asked!
BWI defines a ring sling as:
“A more-or-less rectangular piece of cloth with two rings sewn to one end, used as a baby carrier by threading the “free” end through the rings and wearing the sling looped around the wearer, generally from shoulder to hip.”
It’s pretty much a piece of fabric with rings sewn into one end.
What make it so special? Let’s find out....
They are easy to pop baby in and out. “Pop” means remove baby from and carrier and place them back in the carrier easily, without having to undo the entire carrier. Imagine you are out grocery shopping and baby poops. You can take them out in the bathroom, change the diaper, and put them back in sling without ever taking it off.
They are more easily shared between users. The fabric molds to individual body shapes. So if the carrier is shared between wearers, they will probably find the sling comfortable even if they have different body shapes.
That being said, you do need to keep individual body shapes in mind. The “shoulder” of the ring sling---the spot where the fabric is sewn around the rings---can come in different styles. Certain styles fit certain body types better. Check out this post for a great visual.
However, “standard” lengths may not fit some plus size wearers. Some manufacturers are making longer length ring slings to be more inclusive. Likewise, petite wearers may have too long of tails with “standard” lengths. Many manufacturers make shorter length ring slings as well.
Ring Slings are simple. Just one piece of fabric over baby. There are a few variations you can try for comfort, but they are fairly simple. No need to memorize sequences and pass types like with wraps.
They can be prepared beforehand. You can easily put the sling on your body before you leave the house and pop baby in when needed. For example, you walk to the park with your toddler. They play hard at the park and then are exhausted for the walk home. You can easily pop them in the ring sling without fuss and walk home with a happy kiddo.
As awesome as ring slings can be, threading can be difficult to learn. Learning how to thread a ring sling can be a major turn off for some wearers. Once you master this skill, I promise you will find the ring sling love! Think of them as a giant D-ring belt (remember those from the 80s and 90s?) around your shoulder holding your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, most “expert” babywearers struggled learning to thread, too! We would be happy to show you how to use your ring sling at our meetings or playdates.
In the meantime, here are some tutorials to help you learn:
Ring slings also might not be the best option for wearers with back or shoulder issues. When tightened properly, the ring sling should even distribute baby’s weight over the wearer’s upper body, focusing on more on one shoulder. This could aggravate an already existing injury or illness. So you may not be able to wear a ring sling for a long time if this is the case. Or you may be just fine with some variations. Give it a try and ask for advice before you brush this carrier type off completely.
Your ring sling should never be completely, unbearably uncomfortable. If this is the case, please contact us for some advice or come to a meeting for help. With some minor tweaks, most of the time we can help you find that ring sling love.
Whether it is some kangaroo care with your newborn....
Rocking your baby down for a nap....
Helping your toddler calm down from a tantrum....
Or, exploring the world with your preschooler....
Ring slings are a wonderful carrier option.
Show us your ring sling adventures with #bwiofpdx!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
“Isn’t she a little bit old to be in a carrier?”
“He can walk. He should be walking.”
“They are so big! Your back must be hurting!”
There are so many good reasons to wear a toddler, that all these common comments don't matter!
Even though this organization is called Babywearing International, we support wearing a child of any age. This includes toddlers.
Walking, talking, sassing toddlers. Those sweet little ones who are angels one minute and screaming monsters the next.
Just like when they were little, wearing can be a very useful tool for parenting your toddler.
First of all, you still get all those sweet snuggles. When they tuck their head onto your chest and look at you sweetly like when they were a baby. Feel that rush of love for your sweet baby. Plus now they can express that love with a kiss or the words I love you. Why would you not wear your toddler?
Also like when they were a baby, a carrier can help calm your toddler down when they get upset or overwhelmed. To calm their cries, soothe the tears, or fix an ouchie. Or contain the tantrum if all else fails. Why would you not wear your toddler?
When your toddler decides they no longer need naps, but their grumpiness clearly says otherwise, you can rock them to sleep in a carrier. Or when it's midnight and they are doing the chacha on your bed like there is no tomorrow. Why would you not wear your toddler?
The reason could even be as simple as their little legs are tired from too much fun. Put them on your back and continue the adventure! Why would you not wear your toddler?
Here are some tips for toddlerwearing, so both you and tot are happy and safe:
All the rules of babywearing still apply, even when your baby is no longer a baby!
Clear, visible airway at all times. Keep fabric away from tot’s face and chin off chest.
The carrier should support tot in a natural, spread-squat position. The carrier should hold tot tight and close to your body at all times.
As your tot grows, they may start to lose knee-to-knee support in carriers that have built in seats ( i.e. buckle carriers). This is not a major concern as long as their spine is still supported, tot is comfortable, and you are comfortable. However, knee-to-knee is the optimal position, so if keep this in mind if either of you isn’t happy. Might be time to size up your carrier or try a new type.
Speaking of sizing up (using a larger carrier, usually designed for a toddler), this is a common concern for caregivers as baby grows.
There are no set guidelines or milestones for sizing up. It really depends on each individual child and caregiver.The general suggestion is when your tot is comfortably wearing 2T size pants. This is when most kids are tall enough to clear a higher body panel and have long enough legs for a larger width.
Kids grow at different rates, and it is not possible to make a truly accurate blanket statement on what age/weight/height moving to a toddler size carrier is best. For example, my oldest moved to a toddler-sized Tula at 18-months-old (wearing 18 month clothes) because his torso was so long that he could easily lean back in a standard sized Tula. Likewise, my niece is 2-years-old (wearing 2T clothes) and her knees are uncomfortably hyperextended in a toddler-sized Tula.
It also depends greatly on the manufacturer. My oldest (now 3) did not fit well into a toddler-sized Beco until a few months ago. But, as stated above, has needed a toddler Tula for over a year.
It’s more important to follow your tot’s needs than to follow a trend. When in doubt, there is no harm in waiting to size up!
Wear those toddlers with pride! The reasons are numerous, you don’t even need an excuse to keep them snuggled like a baby on your chest for as long as possible. Please show us your toddlerwearing adventures with #BWIofPDX!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Portland has two seasons, rain and sun. We already covered wearing in cold, rain, and mud. Now we need to talk about those 3 to 4 glorious months when that bright yellow thing graces the sky in Oregon.
As you soak-up your Vitamin D for the year, you will probably get hot. And sweaty. And baby will get hot and sweaty. Does this mean you need to hide indoors all summer if you want to wear your baby? No way! Here are a few tips to keep you and baby cool while you wear in the hot months.
Keep both of you hydrated. Make sure you bring or have access to enough water for yourself at all times. Especially if you are nursing. You will overheat quickly without enough liquid. Replace all the water you sweat out right away. Just as important, make sure your baby stays hydrated. Their tiny little systems overheat more easily than an adult. Nurse them as much as they demand. If formula feeding, make sure you bring/make enough feedings to keep them hydrated. If they are old enough for water, make sure you bring enough for them as well. Learn more about hydration from the American Heart Association and La Leche League.
Dress both of you in cool clothes. Think lite, loose clothes. Pull out your sundresses, shorts, and tank tops. Buy those cute little baby shorts you’ve been eyeing. Pick your favorite short sleeve onesie and let those baby legs go free. Better yet, who doesn’t love a baby in just a diaper! Also pick cooler fibers. Summer is not the time to show off that cute wool vest you knitted. Try linen or cotton.
Pick the right carrier. Along the same lines as cooler clothes, pick a cooler carrier. Again, think lite and airy. Summer is not the time to try breaking in your new thick wool wrap. Linen, lightweight cotton, mesh, and lightweight jersey are the way to go. There are many that designed to keep you cool as well!
Pick the right carry. Try single-layer carries with your woven wraps. A Front Wrap Cross Carry without the passes spread, a Traditional Sling Carry, Robin’s Hip Carry, Ruck, and Torso Carry are support without all the layers. Also, a Front Carry Carry and Double Sling Shoulder To Shoulder can be airy.
Stay in the shade as much as possible. Check out this video to see how much cooler it can be in the shade. In addition to physically being cooler, you will be out of the sun’s rays, lowering you and baby’s risk for a sunburn.
Hats. A big hat on you can also help keep the rays from beating down on baby as well.
Don’t worry about a little sweat. Sweat is your body’s natural cool down mechanism, so a reasonable amount of sweat cools you both down. As long as you are both well hydrated and not in the direct sun (and have one some good deodorant), a little sweat never hurt anyone!
Reduce irritation. Two sweaty bodies rubbing against each other can be uncomfortable. To reduce irritation, try a cooling towel between the two of you. It wicks away the sweat and acts as a barrier. Please only use towels or cloths designed to be against you skin. If the fibers are too absorbent, it will remove too much moisture and cause further irritation. Also, never put ice or anything frozen between you. You and especially baby could easily get a burn.
Know when it’s time to go in. If you feel like going in door to some wonderful air conditioning, don’t hesitate. Know your limits. Know your baby’s limits. Watch carefully for signs of heatstroke and dehydration. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. There will be plenty of sunny days that aren’t too hot to wear baby outside, so don’t give it a second thought if today is not that day.
Enjoy wearing the babies in the sunshine! Don’t forget to #BWIofPDX so we can see!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
Sometimes referred to as a Buckle Carrier, Soft Structure Carriers (SSCs) are one of a variety of types of baby carriers available. More specifically, a SSC is defined as a "carrier which uses buckles to fasten the straps rather than being secured by tying or tucking. Includes soft structured carriers both with and without padding, half buckles, and frontpacks”.
There are many great brands on the market nowadays. Each one has its own fit, style, and design. This means there is one out there that can meet all of your needs and fit perfectly. This also means that you may need to try on a lot of SSCs before you find that perfect fit. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a SSC.
It is best to look for one that keeps baby in the optimal position at all times. You want baby to be high, close, and tight to your body. Baby should have a clear airway at all times.
The carrier should support baby from knee to knee, and put their weight resting on their bottom.
The body panel should come up to at least the back of baby shoulders and should never fully cover the head.
The carrier should be evenly distributing baby's weight across your whole torso. The shoulder straps should be tight and secure against your body but not so tight as to cause you pain or discomfort.
The chest clip should be firmly across the middle of your shoulder blades/chest. It should be tight enough to keep the shoulder straps secure, but not so tight to pinch or cause you pain.
The placement of the waistband will vary with each brand and individual body type. The general rule of thumb is to start at your natural waist and move up and down as needed. Please read the instructions to see where your carrier was designed to sit.
If you have a longer torso you may need to place the waistband up higher so baby is close enough to kiss. If you have a shorter torso you may need to place the waistband or down so baby's head is not obstructing your view (if on front).
Remember that most SSCs are designed for babies around six months old who can sit up unassisted. If your baby does not meet these requirements, you can still use these carriers if they have made adaptations for it. For safety reasons please do not try to put a baby who is too small in a SSC without the adaptation.
One such adaptation is an infant insert. This is a pillow attached to a soft shell. Since the panel is too long for a small baby, the pillow boosts baby up to the correct height so their head clears the body panel. This ensures that the baby's airway is always clear and that no fabric obstructs their face. Since small babies cannot hold themselves upright, the soft shell provides torso support. This will keep baby from leaning out the sides of the body panel.
Other carriers are designed with adjustable panels that can be adapted for a smaller baby. On such carriers the height of the panel scrunches/clips shorter so baby's head can clear the top. Also, the width scrunches/clips narrower so babies legs are not over spread and they can be supported in the optimal position. Making the panel smaller will also make the panel tighter on baby's body, decreasing the risk of tipping out of the sides.
There are also infant sized SSCs available, which are carriers that are designed for smaller babies. The body panels are shorter and narrower, but do not expand out as baby grows. These carriers can only be used while baby is still infant size so when your baby reaches about six months, you will need to move to a larger carrier.
We have many SSCs in our Learning Library to help you get started. We can help you find the perfect one for your family. Don't forget to #bwiofpdx to show us your SSC adventures!
Samantha Reddy, ABE
When you walk into a BWI meeting, you will hear phrases like "learning library" and "the library." However, we are not referring to a collection of books. We are talking about baby carriers!
A Babywearing International Learning Library is a collection of carriers available for members to borrow at monthly meetings. See our current selection here.
This collection contains a varied selection to choose from: soft structure carriers, wraps, ring slings, meh deis, and more. This allows you to compare types and see what works best for you and your baby.
It also features different brands of each carrier type. Since each brand is designed a bit differently, you can compare features and fit to find the perfect carrier for your needs.
It's called a learning library as opposed to a lending library because we are an education-based organization. Our ultimate goal is to spread the most current and accurate knowledge on babywearing. We want you to learn how to use baby carriers properly and safely, regardless of which one(s) you choose.
The library carriers are educational tools for Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBEs). As VBEs we are very much hands on teachers who use the various carriers when we teach. Additionally, having a variety of carriers is helpful as we try to meet the different needs of the caregivers who babywear.
Borrowing from the learning library is for members only---and it's the best perk to membership! As a member you can check out one carrier each month (except February when we do inventory). That means you can borrow 11 carriers a year! Think of all the possibilities!
Once you are a member, all you have to do is come to our monthly meeting. Take your time during the meeting to browse our whole library. Touch, feel, and try-on all you like! Even non-members are welcome to do this part.
Once you find a carrier you like, please set it back down on the table and put your name down for it at the check-out table. This will free-up your hand during the meeting and allow other people to learn with it as well. We also need all education tools available during the meeting.
Carrier check out is only during the last 30 minutes of the meeting. This is so all carriers are available to teach with during the meeting. Get in line with you carrier and check out with one of the tablets when it's your turn. If multiple people put their name down for a carrier, we will draw a name for the person who can check it out that month. We are also happy to suggest other comparable carriers as well!.
Then the carrier is yours to enjoy for the month! Wear it as much as you like and post pictures on social media. If it get dirty or damaged (Life happens, we understand!), please contact us first. We will advice you what to do.
Please remember that all learning library carriers are due back within the first 30 minutes of the next meeting. Again, we understand that life happens, if this is not possible please make arrangements beforehand if possible. We have volunteers all across the Portland Metro Area who can be available for a carrier drop off. All carriers received after the first 30 minutes of the meeting will be charged a late fee. We need all available teaching tools at our meeting and this policy helps ensure the livelihood of our organization. See policy here.
The lending library is here for you to learn and grow as a babywearer. It's also a great way to make babywearing accessible to everyone everywhere. Please come and try our carriers!
Samantha Reddy, ABE