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Triangle babywearing group offers carrier lending library, advice, support

Babywearing International of the Triangle offers regular meetings for new and babywearing parents, along with a lending library featuring more than 40 different kinds of carriers.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

The babywearing industry has come a long way in the last eight years. Back then, as I was expecting my first child, nearly the only carrier you could find at your traditional big box baby store was a Baby Bjorn or a similar style.

And when my daughter was born, it was clear that the Bjorn wasn't going to work for either of us. She cried when I put her in and I was never comfortable with it on. I tried it several times during those first few months before it got pushed to the back of the closet. I wore it a bit more with my second daughter, but it never became part of our routine.

Still, I've always been a bit envious when I see other moms confidently walking around with their newborn snuggled in a carrier on their chest or their toddler slung around on their hip or back.

Meredith Sinclair, a mom of two and volunteer with Babywearing International of the Triangle, tells me my experience is far from unusual. In fact, it can take a few tries before mom, dad and baby land on the carrier that works best for all of them.
"There is no one best carrier," she told me during our interview at The Family Nest in Morrisville where I met up with her. The parents' personalities, child's preference and age, and how long the carrier will be used at one time are all factors.

And lucky for today's new parents in the Triangle, the local chapter of the international group offers a carrier lending library where members (dues are just $30 per year) can check out different carriers to find the best fit. The group has more than 40 different carriers that represent the four main kinds of carriers: wraps; mei tais; buckled and soft structured carriers; and ring slings.

For Sinclair, whose two kids are under age 4, it was all about convenience at first. It just seemed easier to strap on the baby then haul a stroller and all the other accessories around too. Once the baby arrived, she realized how well her infant responded when held so close.

"Once I had a baby, it was really an invaluable parenting tool," she tells me.

Babywearing International of the Triangle also has meetings a couple of times a month for parents new to carriers and others who enjoy getting together for tips, advice and just to chat.

The group focuses on teaching new parents how to safely wear their babies. The practice of babywearing got a bad wrap after one brand of baby slings was recalled a couple of years ago because of reports of infant deaths. But, as babywearing supporters point out, babies have been safely carried in carriers for thousands of years.

Sinclair says that babies should be carried in a carrier just as they would be supported in your arms - in an upright tummy to tummy position with knees slightly higher than the bum and the carrier offering support to the knees, according to the group's website. An infants little head should be close enough for mom to kiss, they say.

The big rule for babywearing safety, Sinclair tells me: Make sure the baby's airway is protected.

The group's website is full of all kinds of really helpful information, tips and advice, along with its meeting schedule. Its meetings are held at SmartMomma in north Raleigh, Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique in Cary and the Women's Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill.

To hear more, watch my video interview with Sinclair. She'll be back this Wednesday and next Wednesday with some more babywearing tips.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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