Sunday, March 26, 2017

BestSeatIBW2016- Dayak Ba*

*This post was originally written as a Facebook post for Babywearing International of Cleveland for International Babywearing Week 2016.   Some edits have been made for clarity.

Art historian checking in with a carrier that functions like a work of art! The decoration on this ba, by the Dayak people from Borneo, serves to beautify AND protect the baby carried within! This one comes from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2014.839), and features a protective symbol on the back panel.  I admit this is outside the scope of my study, so I've quoted some background information on these carriers from an expert below:

“Dayak baby carriers, called ba, resemble small chairs without legs, supported on the mother’s shoulders from straps, like a backpack. The seat is made of a semi-circular plank to which the woven basketry back is attached. This wood and rattan basket is usually lined and covered with hand loomed cloth and finished with a beaded panel at the back depicting powerful protective symbols and further embellished with tassels, bells, teeth, claws, or cowry shells and strings of large beads.

The Dayak beaded baby carrier or ba was created for two reasons – to display the prestige and wealth of the family, and to protect the baby when it left the safety of the communal longhouse and compound. They were used only when mother and baby were away from home.

The source of the protection offered by the baby carrier was primarily the beaded panel called the aban, which faced outwards from the rear of the ba. The Dayak are animists and their world is populated by powerful spirits, many of which are dangerous to humans. The designs of most women’s art are defensive, designed to erect barriers between their families and the malignant spirits and this is a particularly important role of baby carriers, which guard the baby from the rear.”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

BestSeatIBW2016- Babywearing Hare*

*This post was originally written as a Facebook post for Babywearing International of Cleveland for International Babywearing Week 2016.   Some edits have been made for clarity.

Hi all, I'm Wendy, one of your resident art historians and volunteer babywearing educators! This is the first in a series of images of a work of art that features babywearing, or a carrier that's also a work of art!

To start off, here’s an image near and dear to my medievalist heart. This babywearing hare comes from the margins of the Pontifical of Guillaume Durand, produced near Avignon before 1390. A pontifical is a book containing rites and ceremonies to be performed by the pope or a bishop, a very rich book, indeed! A manuscript of this type (“manu” meaning hand, and “script” indicating written) was painstakingly copied by expert calligraphers, artists painted in images, and gold leaf was applied to enhance the beauty and luxury of the final object. It took a whole team of skilled workers to produce a single page. The images and decorations (especially the gold) make this an illuminated manuscript, one enhanced by pictures that often related concepts from the text within, or revealed the sense of humor of the monks who labored over them. No one’s sure why or how this puppy-wearing hare made it to the edges of the text of this holy book, but I’m sure glad it did!

(Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, ms. 143, fol. 174r, originally sourced from discarding images)

Friday, December 30, 2016

BWI of Cleveland Inclusivity Statement

Babywearing International of Cleveland Inclusivity Statement
Babywearing International of Cleveland (BWI of CLE) strives to be an open community that is a welcoming for everyone. We believe that in order to be a healthy hub of babywearing knowledge, we must acknowledge that there are many issues that affect babywearers of certain backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, and cultures. As a unified community, we do not shy away from or deflect these topics. We acknowledge the disparities that exist in our babywearing community, and BWI of CLE chooses to uphold and amplify the voice of oppressed and marginalized babywearers. In order for there to be an understanding of our expected community standards, we have compiled a list of our official chapter position on certain nonnegotiable social justice issues. The below mentioned community standards are fully upheld by our chapter’s Board of Directors, educators, and volunteers. If you wish to learn more about any of the individual topics listed below, please feel free to explore our pinned post for links and articles to educate yourself further.
Topics of Inclusivity
AGE/CAREGIVER STATUS: We do not discriminate based on age or caregiver status. Anyone who cares for a child is welcome at BWI of CLE meetings and events. We strongly encourage our members and attendees to refrain from assuming a person’s role in a child’s life based on the age/appearance of the person that is with the child. We receive many caregivers at our meetings, so it is best not to assume if a person is mom, dad, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, babysitter, foster caregiver, or adoptive parent. Please be courteous and do not ask questions to others based on assumptions.

FEEDING METHODS: BWI of CLE will not partake in any aspect of the “Mommy Wars”. Comments and judgments based on someone’s chosen feeding method will not be tolerated. Formula feeders, breastfeeders, EPers (exclusive pumpers), and caregivers who receive donor milk are all welcome. BWI of CLE prides itself on teaching all forms of feeding while babywearing. As such, all BWI of CLE meetings are breastfeeding friendly. For children who are exclusively breastfed, the breast is their sole source of nutrition and comfort. Caregivers are encouraged to nurse their babies and toddlers as they feel comfortable (covered or uncovered). BWI of CLE fully supports their right to do so.

ABLEISM: People with disabilities (physical and mental) rely on the services of BWI of CLE. Ableist language and behavior is not tolerated at BWI of CLE meetings and events. While some people may feel that censoring certain words is restrictive, we recognize that words have power and language is one of the tools of oppression. We ask that you please choose your words carefully. Ableist words that are flippantly used in everyday conversation can cause serious emotional harm to others and we seek to avoid excluding anyone based on their abilities. By putting thought behind our words we can avoid unintentionally targeting our fellow babywearers and their children with disabilities. Many people have become desensitized to much of the problematic ableist language used in everyday conversation, so please be open to education and familiarize yourself with this very important issue so we do not offend out of ignorance. To learn more about ableist language, we encourage you to visit:
Ableism is more than just the words we choose to use. Ableism includes assumptions as well. Disabilities cannot always be seen. Do not assume anyone’s ability to use a certain type of carrier. Dexterity issues, fine motor control issues, motor control issues, muscle tone issues, and flexibility issues cannot always be seen from the outside. We support everyone and can meet you at the point of your babywearing need. Additionally, some of our members with visual disabilities use screen readers to access the internet. You may notice some of our educators adding [Image:] to their posts describing the image included for screen reader users and we encourage members to do the same to allow all to participate.

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS: Babywearing is as old as time itself. Caregivers from all levels of class and society have worn their children throughout history and we continue to do so today. At BWI of CLE, wearing our children is what brings us all together despite our social and economic differences. As Westerners, sometimes we tend to fall victim to consumerism and brand marketing by companies that promote their product as “the best”. At BWI of CLE we strive to overcome socioeconomic barriers and do not see the value of a carrier based on how much was paid for it. We do not tolerate bashing carriers, prices, or resell value. We encourage caregivers to bring their DIY carriers, their hand-me-down carriers, their thrift store find carriers, their “someone gave me this at a baby shower” carrier, their BST (buy, sell, trade) carriers, and their $30, $300, or $1000 carrier. We welcome you all without judgment and love to hear the stories about your fluff (babywearing slang for a carrier)! If you don’t have any carriers at all, YOU ARE STILL WELCOME AT OUR MEETINGS! BWI of CLE has a library of our own carriers and anyone is welcome to practice with our carriers during the meeting. 

GENDER IDENTITY AND GENDER EXPRESSION: At BWI of CLE, we welcome caregivers who of all gender identities and expressions. We affirm any outward manifestation that best reflects one’s gender identity, including preferred pronoun usage. We do not tolerate bashing, hate speech, rudeness, or intolerance of any kind. BWI of CLE is a welcome place for babywearers of all genders.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: BWI of CLE affirms and recognizes our LGBTQIA babywearing community. We do not discriminate based on sexual orientation and do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech at any of our meetings, events, or online forums.

FAMILY ORIENTATION: Families are made just like jigsaw puzzles and BWI of CLE delights in all of the many pieces that can make up a family. We welcome single parents, married couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, polyamorous families, adoptive families, surrogate families, common law marriage families, extended families, and all families in between. There is no judgment here and we welcome all into our space.

TONE POLICING: Many of the day-to-day interactions of BWI of CLE happen online. We have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, as well as our website and blog. There are lots of comments and discussions that occur on our sites. Sometimes when dealing with topics of social justice in the babywearing community, emotions can run high and discussions may become heated. BWI of CLE does not condone nor enforce tone policing. As stated above, language is one of the many tools of oppression and we will not silence our marginalized babywearers. Tone policing is a silencing tactic and derails the conversation from legitimate progress. It is not tolerated. To learn more about tone policing, please visit: 

RELIGION/PHILOSOPHY: BWI of CLE prides itself on being a community of diverse babywearers. Our educators, volunteers, and members are made up of many different religions and philosophies on life. We respect each other’s differences and do not tolerate hate speech. While we recognize that different religions may have different days that represent their Sabbath or holy day, we try to have meetings and events available for everyone at varying times throughout each month. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and any other type of prejudice or religious bigotry is not allowed at our meetings, events, or online community.

RACE/ETHNICITY/NATIONALITY: As aforementioned, BWI of CLE prides itself on being a community of diverse babywearers. We thrive on our differences. Our experiences gained through our unique cultures makes us who we are and adds to our babywearing knowledge. We do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: When a dominant culture “borrows”, “adopts”, “imitates”, or is “inspired” by a disenfranchised minority people group that is not their own, it is cultural appropriation. How does this apply to the babywearing community? Unfortunately, we see it all too often with different carriers and brands. When cultural appropriation is brought to the attention of the babywearing community, the marginalized people groups are oftentimes silenced and dismissed. At BWI of CLE we seek to be a voice for marginalized communities when their ideas, carriers, prints, or patterns are “discovered” (a.k.a. stolen) by Western culture. We also encourage our members to buy from legitimate native sources when purchasing a carrier that is from outside their own culture. We believe in putting people before wraps and carriers and will not tolerate problematic carriers in our lending libraries. If you have any questions on whether or not the history of your personal carrier is problematic, please educate yourself on the history behind its making and design. Also, as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to carriers’ origins, we encourage the use of a carrier’s proper name and not its Western nickname (e.g., podaegi instead of simply “pod”, onbuhimo instead of simply “onbu” or other variations creating portmanteaus). A carrier’s name is part of its culture. When we strip down the name, we lose some of the culture and history behind it. This is an excellent primer on why cultural appropriation matters: 
Yet another resource on cultural babywearing: 
A tumblr on decolonizing babywearing with a collection of information: 

PRIVILEGE: Nowadays whenever someone hears the word “privilege” they automatically get defensive, shut down, and tune out any further conversation concerning this topic. One thing that we don’t tolerate is the assertion that privilege doesn’t exist. That simply isn’t true. As Westerners and as Americans we all have some type of privilege. Whether it is white privilege (or white-presenting privilege), Christian privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc, etc, (the list goes on) everyone benefits from at least some type of privilege. Some of us benefit from privilege more than others. It is nothing to be ashamed of or to become defensive about. It is simply a fact of life. However, we do encourage our members to learn how to use your privilege to stand up for the rights of others.
We encourage everyone to unpack your privilege. Some excellent spaces exist for this purpose: Inclusivity Basics: Babywearing and Beyond (

RACISM: BWI of CLE understands that racism is alive and well and thriving in our society. We do not subscribe to theories that we live in a post-racial society. We do not condone the promotion of one race over another. Our meetings and events are welcoming for people of color (PoC) who babywear or care for a child. We recognize and acknowledge that the experiences of a babywearer of color can be vastly different from those of a non-PoC. We do not tolerate hate speech, slurs, bigotry, or prejudice of any kind.
For a more in-depth discussion on what racism is and the principles behind it, consider this link for further reading: 

Babywearing International of Cleveland will strictly enforce all aspects of our statement of inclusivity and will uphold our community standards. We value each of our members and pride ourselves on providing a welcoming environment for babywearing education. If you would like to educate yourself further on any of the aforementioned topics, please feel free to visit any of the links, articles, and blogs provided on the topics above. Violations of our community standards will result in a warning, a counseling statement, and possibly removal from our babywearing community. We love our carriers, but we value our people most of all.
Happy Babywearing!
Volunteers and Educators of Babywearing International of Cleveland
Babywearing International, Inc Nondiscrimination Policy can be found here: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#bwicleveland102 Perfecting the Babywearing Selfie

Wanna learn how to take the perfect Babywearing Selfie, capturing pretty chest passes, knotshots, and of course the infamous Pfaupose?! Well you are in luck! This months 102 is Perfecting the Babywearing Selfie! Bring your cell phone and your biggest smiles to your next meeting and we'll have you spamming the world with your pretty faces (and carriers of course!) in no time!

But let's have some fun and start practicing now at home!! I am going to go over basic lessons here today and then when you come to your next meeting this month you can be one step ahead of the game.

Lesson One: Know Your Angles
By having your camera too low you will result in giving yourself a double chin, a view of up your nostrils and a rounder then usual face. No one wants a double chin! By simply raising your camera upward and moving nothing but your eyes, voila! No more double chin!

In this picture on the left you can see the top picture I had my camera down low and I was looking down at it. I didn't move my head in any of the pictures, I just slowly moved the camera upward, only moving my eyes to gaze at the screen. When I got to the camera positioning where my double chin disappeared I stopped. This is your sweet spot. 😊

You will notice you will also be in the best positioning to getting your little one in the camera line of vision. (My little one was in bed so I did this selfie solo.  So as you can see these lessons work for all selfies, not just babywearing ones! Lol) 

Lesson Two: Use Your Timer
Don't you just hate it when you have a great photo, but it turns out blurry because either baby moved, or my usual problem, my hand shakes when I hit the volume button for the camera. I just can't hold the camera still enough when I need to use those side buttons! Solution- use that self timer! Most cameras allow for a 2 or 3, 5 and even 10 second pause before automatically taking the photo for you. 2 or 3 seconds is my favorite for selfies. Just enough time to get your angle (see lesson one!) and get baby's attention. 

In the first picture here you can see that I did not use my timer and it resulted in a blurry photo. In picture two I used the timer which gave me time to compose the picture a wee bit better and took away the blur. Some cameras will take a "burst" of 3-5 photos. This is so that you can pick the best of the bunch! Just delete the ones you don't like! 

Left: iPhone- On the iPhone, the timer looks like a little stop watch at the top right of your screen. Click that and it will get you to the timing options. the second photo you can see across the top the different timing options. Right: Samsung Galaxy- On the Samsung you need to first click the gear in the upper left of your photo screen, this will take you to your picture settings.  The timer is in the bottom row.  Turn this on. 

If your camera does not have a self timer, like my old phone, the App Selfie Cam is fantastic! I actually still use this app a lot even with my newer iPhone 6. It takes really nice front camera pictures and softens the lighting just right. 

Now let's practice! Join us in our Facebook Group today for Try it Tuesday and show me those beautifully composed, non-blurry, Self Timed Selfies!! You can also tag us in Instagram at @bwiofcleveland and be sure to use the hashtags #bwicleveland  #bwicleveland102 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Thank you Tula Baby Carriers!!

Babywearing International of Cleveland is overwhelmed with the generosity that Tula Baby Carriers has shown to us this week!  And what perfect timing being that it is International Babywearing Week! To include all of our members in the excitement Erin Fabian, our President, recorded a Facebook Live of the BIG Unboxing and boy was it FUN! We wanted to share it here as well for all of you that may not be in Facebook or if you just wish to watch it over and over again (because seriously how adorable is Erin's daughter Alisz?) and see the awesomeness to your hearts content.

You saw that right, Tula donated to us EIGHT carriers- 4 baby sized, 3 toddler sized, and one ring sling plus FOUR infant inserts!  Now each one of our Lending Libraries will have a Tula in each size and an insert (which is a hot commodity)!

These six carriers will be making it into our Lending Libraries :

Baby Size
 From left to right: Bliss, Montana Sunset and Betty

From left to right: Trendsetter, Shenandoah, and Trillion 

In celebration of International Babywearing Week, Babywearing International of Cleveland is excited to offer a Tula Coast Seafarer Soft Structured Carrier (Standard Size) and a Petit Love Fraise Wrap Conversion Ring Sling (size L/XL) for raffle. Funds from this raffle will go towards the purchase of new carriers for current and future lending libraries!

From left to right: Coast Seafarer Soft Structured Carrier, Petite Love Fraise Ring Sling

Each raffle ticket you purchase will get you one entry into our drawing for a Tula Coast Seafarer Soft Structured Carrier or a Petite Love Fraise Wrap Conversion Ring Sling. Tickets cost $10 each (winner will be responsible to arrange for pick-up at a BWI of CLE meeting, or pay for shipping).

To enter the giveaway for Coast Seafarer Soft Structured Carrier please click HERE.

To enter the giveaway for Petite Love Fraise Wrap Conversion Ring Sling please click HERE.

Thank you Tula Baby Carriers from the bottom of our heart, our members are going to fill these carrier with so much love #IBWwithTula. Happy International Babywearing Week!

Introducing our new Partners, Baby Boot Camp of Cleveland!

I am excited to announce BWI of Cleveland's very first Partnership! We have teamed up with the local organization Baby Boot Camp Cleveland! Baby Boot Camp is an innovative stroller and babywearing fitness program that helps moms regain or enhance pre-pregnancy fitness levels and meet the physical challenges of parenting by emphasizing strength training in a supportive environment.

Through this Partnership we have so many fantastic opportunities opening up to all of you! BBC is offering a 10% discount to ALL BWI of Cleveland Sustaining Members for her classes! We will also be holding regular joint classes for both BWI of Cleveland and Baby Boot Camp!

Instructors, Suzanne Caraballo and Connie Kowal, have created a unique program that is much more then just exercise. With regular playdates, a supportive online community, cooking demonstrations and recipe swapping she has fostered a beautifully strong support system to women in our community. We are proud to be working alongside you!

So stay tuned for lots of FUN ahead!

Did you get to check out our Babywearing Bachata class yesterday in celebration of International Babywearing Week with Baby Boot Camp?  Don't fret if you missed out on the fun because Monday evening you and your littles can join us for Babywearing Yoga in the park!  See you there!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Thank you West of the Fourth Weaving

We would like to offer a heartfelt Thank You to West4thWraps for this stunning woven wrap they have graciously donated to our Chapter! "Tribute" made her debut partying at a Mardi Gras Shindig and will making its way to one of our Lending Libraries soon! Be sure to come to our Potluck Picnic on October 8th for IBW to play with her and give her a whirl!

#bwicleveland #wovenwrap #bwiofclelendinglibrary