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Making your own baby carrier can be a fun and affordable project. Whether you are interested in a DIY baby carrier because of budget constraints or you just enjoy creating things, here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your own baby carrier:

Safety first. You should have a good understanding of babywearing basics and safety before you start. Here is a link to Babywearing International’s Babywearing Safety page. In addition, you should have a good understanding of how to make a safe baby carrier. Don’t re-invent the wheel; there are good instructions available for making baby carriers. Here is a link to the Sleeping Baby Productions’ page with information and instructions for several baby carriers. Keep in mind that, just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a baby carrier is only as strong as its weakest seam. Every weight-bearing seam and construction point should be reinforced, and every buckle or ring should be carefully chosen to bear significant weight.

Keep it simple. If you are new to babywearing or to making your own baby carrier, there are many reasons to keep it simple. One is cost: it is easy to be “penny wise and pound foolish.” You could try to make the ultimate baby carrier, using nice fabric and hours of time, only to find that your project isn’t as comfortable or as functional as you hoped it would be. (Ask me how I know!) It is not legal to sell homemade baby carriers. (Actually, it’s not the “homemade” part that’s the problem … you could open a home-based baby-carrier sewing business, but you’d have to comply with regulations which require, among other things, third-party testing of products, which is expensive. There’s no exemption or waiver for small, home-based businesses.)

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No-sew stretchy wrap

Consider a no-sew stretchy wrap. The simplest carrier to make is probably a no-sew wrap. Buy 5 yards of cotton knit jersey or cotton interlock (in other words, t-shirt fabric) (6 yards if you’re plus-sized). This fabric is usually sold in a 60-inch width. Cut it into two long strips 30 inches wide or three long strips 20 inches wide. The end. Use it as you would a commercially made stretchy wrap. BWI has a great resources page with stretchy wrap wearing instructions. There is no need to hem the edges; they won’t unravel. Each strip is a wrap. This is my favorite DIY baby carrier! 

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DIY “Ball Baby Overall” mei tai

Not into the wrap idea? Consider a “Ball Baby Overall” Mei Tai. A DIY “BBO” mei tai uses two yards of print canvas or denim fabric (more if you like extra long straps), matching polyester thread, and no special items such as rings or buckles, so it’s still pretty affordable and there’s probably a fabric store near you with what you need. There are many great canvas prints in our local fabric store’s home decorating fabric section. This project takes one to three hours or two to make, depending on how much sew-fu you bring to the project. Here’s a link to the instructions. 

Last, but not least, consider a ring sling. Two and a third yards is a good length of fabric for most people. Personally, I like a double-layer dupioni silk ring sling, because who cares if you’re covered in spit-up when you’re wearing a fabulous silk sling? I’ve found good deals on silk ($10.99/yard sale price for some colors) at fabric.com, but shop around. A 54″ width of fabric will yield two layers and result in a sling about 26.5″ wide, which is a good width. You will need good rings for this project, and those are probably not going to be found at the fabric store. Craft rings can break or bend and are not suited for this project. Rings from SlingRings.com are made for baby slings. Here’s a link to ring sling instructions. 

Often at meetings we are able to help someone be a lot more comfortable in a carrier with a really quick tip. Today, we made a couple of one-minute videos showing some ring sling tips that address very common issues: how to get the baby well seated so you can be hands-free in a ring sling; and how to do a hip carry without having the rings move down your body to an uncomfortable position. It seems we give both tips at every meeting, so we thought we’d share them with a wider audience.

Let’s start with getting a good seat, because it’s fundamental to using a ring sling:

Sometimes, in order to make a point, we have to make an analogy. Sometimes, the analogy involves the way us womenfolk don our, um, “foundation garments.” Sorry about that, but the analogy is apt and is the most effective way I can make the point. :-)

When you’re ready to do a hip carry in a ring sling, try this trick for getting your baby on your hip without moving the rings:

Happy ring slinging!

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

How to Make a Bed Sheet Sling

Click on the above link to watch a video to learn how to turn a twin sheet into an adjustable baby sling with no sewing, no cutting, and just a simple fold and knot.

This video was taken at a training session for the Birthwell Partners Community Doula Project. Sharing the knowledge of how to use a shawl or a sheet as a safe and comfortable baby carrier is a wonderful gift to a new parent, and we were delighted to have the chance to work with a group of doulas who want to share the gift babywearing with their clients!

These days there are lots of cool buckle carriers a/k/a soft structured carriers a/k/a SSC’s on the market. We have a good selection in our lending library, so if you’re local, you can try several of the major brands at our monthly meetings. You may also get a good idea of the differences among brands from this comparison chart by OnyaBaby.

Photo Contest Winner: Karla

Karla wearing two of her children

Karla Lindquist is the second winner in our International Babywearing Week photo contest. Here are a few words from her:

The Beco that you so graciously awarded me is a huge blessing to my whole family!
I love wearing my babies and do so on a very regular basis. Babywearing makes having four children 4 and under possible. ;-) By that, I mean it’d be pretty much impossible to go anywhere without help if I couldn’t wear the baby. I wear Levi (9wks) when we go grocery shopping, and so far shopping with four kids is no different than with three because Levi sleeps the entire time he’s against mommy’s chest.
Babywearing is a huge part of my motherhood! I really couldn’t imagine trying to do all I do without wearing them. Attaching my baby to my body is not only enjoyable but often very necessary. When I had my third child, my oldest was only 2, and I had to wear the baby to keep him safe. Sure, his brothers loved him very much, but they were still only babies themselves and didn’t know how to be careful with him. I didn’t have the option of putting the baby down because it was not safe — they would smother him with their kisses or bang him in the head while sharing their toys.
I also love that I can nurse while wearing my babies and I don’t have to sit down to feed them if we are out and about. I’ve nursed my boys in a carrier while shopping, during worship at church, fishing on a boat, walking at the park, on an airplane and the list goes on because wearing and feeding our babies can be very easy and simply done most anywhere.
My husband has even gotten into wearing our babies. He has worn them to do everything from mowing the lawn to cooking dinner. My oldest son (4) was also excited about the Beco because he’s pretty sure it’ll work just right for him to carry baby Levi.
We are a babywearing family and the Beco is a wondeful tool that we will use often! Thank you again for your generosity! God Bless You!
Karla

To celebrate International Babywearing Week, we had a photo contest on Facebook to give away a Beco Butterfly 2 baby carrier. Although we intended to give away one Beco, we had so much participation that we ended up giving away TWO Beco Butterfly 2 carriers!

Everyone has their own babywearing story. Here’s what our first winner, Leigh Ann Hernandez, has to say:

Leigh Ann and Rio in a borrowed ErgoBaby carrier

I have 3 sweet children; Dalton (15), Sophia (just turned 2) and sweet Rio (8 months.)  I had never even thought about wearing Dalton when he was little. :-( I just wasn’t as educated then, and being in my early 20’s I had no idea there were so many options.  Things have come a long way in the last few years in educating mothers on many subjects.

When my little Sophia was born I bought a Moby.  Needless to say she LOVED it.  I loved the freedom it gave me to be able to do other things while I was still able to hold and cuddle with her.  She seemed to be a very calm and satisfied baby.

When I found out I was pregnant again with Rio I had no idea how important babywearing would become.  Sophia still wanted to be worn, but with my protruding belly I had to find a new way. I found a sling that would let her rest comfortably on my hip and not disturb my belly. It worked really well. Once Rio arrived I wore him in the Moby as well.

It is very difficult carrying around a 25+ lb 6-month-old without the help of some type of carrier. In the last month I’ve needed a more confident way of carrying him around. I posted on Babywearing International of Birmingham’s wall asking people to recommend carriers to me. In doing research I found out how expensive some of the carriers are. :-(  I was very bummed because I just couldn’t figure out how to fit that into my budget. I have an awesome friend that was sweet enough to loan me her Ergo. The first time I used it was in the picture I entered in the contest. It seemed so perfect, but I just couldn’t figure out how I was going to manage buying one. I began searching for used ones, but they were still pretty expensive. I was even talking to the winner of last year’s contest and I told her “maybe someone will have a contest sometime soon and I can win one myself.”  I believe that was said on Saturday and I saw the contest on Sunday evening and entered our picture! It was the most ironic, God-sent thing I could imagine! I was determined I would win the Beco!

The only thing that made winning that Beco for myself and Rio better was you guys giving one to me and to Karla! Thank you Babywearing International of Birmingham for making two mommies and several babies very happy!

You’re very welcome Leigh Ann! Your letter really highlights why our group exists: to educate parents about babywearing and to remove obstacles to babywearing, all so that families can reap the benefits. We have donated carriers to a Women’s Shelter, taught people how to make carriers, and given away several carriers in contests or drawings. We also maintain our lending library as a benefit of membership, which at $30 per year provides an affordable way for many parents to always have access to a baby carrier.

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