Babywearing International of Birmingham was founded in 2006 under the name “Magic City Slingers” by Kristen Stewart and Susie Spence. Dana Gale joined as a leader in 2007, and Mandy Welch joined as a leader in 2008, by which time the group had become one of the first chapters of Babywearing International, Inc. Our librarian is Dana Bush, and the library helpers include Angela Shook and Christi Adkins.
I am a mom of 5 ranging in age from infant to pre-teen. I have worn all my children and I’m very excited to share the babywearing love with anyone who will listen! Since I am also a nurse who works with neonates, I have lots of opportunity to do so. Back in 2000, I didn’t know about ring slings or other soft carriers. I had a buckle-style carrier purchased from a big box store and I used it because it filled a need. I knew there must be a better way. In 2004, after the birth of my third child, I bought my first ring sling and a couple of weeks after that, my first Mei Tai. I was absolutely hooked then! I was able to hold my new baby tummy to tummy and also have my hands mostly free to care for my 2 other children. I began to wonder how in the world I ever lived without my carriers!
My experience with Babywearing International of Birmingham so far has been rewarding and so much fun! I attended my very first meeting in 2007 when I needed a fancier carrier for a bridal shower. I knew about the lending library and headed to the meeting at Homewood park on a gorgeous Saturday. I met so many friendly people and saw all the different carriers and content babies hanging out with their parents, I wanted to stay and mingle for hours! I started attending the monthly meetings as often as I could. Now as a card-carrying Volunteer Babywearing Educator you can see me spreading babywearing enthusiasm at the grocery store, at work, and at the meetings (well, pretty much everywhere I go since baby #5 is worn everywhere I go!).
I was 8 1/2 months pregnant when I came to my first slingers meeting and I knew, without a doubt, that I would become a babywearer. Trying on slings with a huge belly was tricky, but i was hooked. Once my daughter was born, I came back to meeting after meeting and ended up
becoming knowledgeable enough to start helping out the other parents in attendance. My daughter is now 3 years old and rarely asks to be carried. My babywearing days aren’t done, though, as I’m currently expecting her little brother or sister.
I can’t count the number of times that having a sling saved my sanity; the grocery store, family reunions, birthday parties, all were so much easier to navigate with the baby sitting snug in the sling on my chest or back. Seeing the look on a new mom’s face when she realizes just how easy it is to carry her baby is priceless and one of the things that kept me coming back to meetings even after my own daughter was a little to grown up to be carried.
I’m a stay-at-home mom to a daughter born in 2001 and two sons born in 2006 and 2008. As an infant, my daughter was definitely low maintenance. When she was about a week old, I got a Baby Bjorn because the book Baby Bargains recommended it and I thought it was the ‘gold standard’ for baby carriers. We used it for grocery shopping and a few other things, but she gained weight rapidly and we could only use it for a couple of months.
Unlike his sister, my first son was high maintenance from the beginning. As I struggled to find ways to cope with his generally fussy demeanor, a friend loaned me a Nojo padded sling. I tried it. He hated it. I gave up. He still wanted to be held all the time. So I did some research and tried the sling again, with a bit more success this time. The sling was too big for me to wear comfortably, but it was what I had, so it was what I used while I searched for alternatives. I searched and I searched, and I finally found good online resources with information about different kinds of baby carriers. I bought a pouch first and was delighted to be able to carry my baby securely in the tummy to tummy position. Our whole quality of life improved!
Because there were no local resources to help me choose or learn to use a carrier, I ended up spending many hours ferreting out information on the internet. I’m excited and proud to help give the Birmingham area a source of free, in-person help with learning to use baby carriers. I’m also excited to have helped start an organization that’s focused, in such a practical way, on helping parents more easily meet the needs of their babies so they can focus more on the joy of parenting than the job of parenting.