Buying WAHM / Handmade Carriers: General Guidelines on What to Look For

Tucson Babywearers loves that you are choosing to keep your baby close, and understand that some carriers seem out of reach due to cost and attainability (for those on a budget), or want of a custom carrier (when many of the more popular custom carrier makers are booked solid!). Many babywearers turn to local, micro-businesses for these options (otherwise known as WAHMs (work-at-home-moms), and we just want to take a moment and provide you with some general guidelines on what to look for when considering a WAHM-made and/or handmade carrier.

From the highly-experienced admin team at Babywearing 102:
“There are many fantastic work at home moms (WAHMs) who make quality baby carriers, both on a small scale and a large scale. There are, however, certain things to look for from both a safety and a legal standpoint.

First and foremost, the maker should be completely transparent about the materials and construction used and be happy to answer all your questions. Please see Jan from Sleeping Baby Production’s site on what materials are safe (and unsafe) for use in carrier: http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/fabric.html

There are legal requirements a business owner must meet, whether he or she sells one ring sling or a thousand mei tais. The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) breaks down the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) requirements every carrier maker must meet here: http://www.babycarrierindustryalliance.org/content.php?r=174-Baby-Carrier-Manufacturing-101

Questions to Ask:
■ What materials do you use? What kind of rings do you use (if it is a ring sling/carrier with a ring waist)? How many rows of stitching do you use? Be aware that phrases like “100% cotton” are vague. Quilter’s cotton, for example, is not a recommended material to use in baby carriers. Fabric comes in various weights and quality– some may be safe, some may not. Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics. Ask how many layers are used. Ask what thread is used. Check the link above to Jan’s site to make sure the materials used are safe.

■ How is it constructed? In the case of mei tais and soft structured carriers, ask if the carrier is made with reinforced stitching/x-boxes and how much seam allowance they use. Ideally a carrier will have 1/2″ to 3/4″ minimum seam allowance on all seams with the body sunk into the waist 2″ and the shoulders sunk into the body 4-5″. Find out more about safe carrier construction and why x-boxes are important here: http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-to-choose-a-safe-mei-tai/10000000008833948/g.html

■ How long have you been making carriers? Please note that just because someone is new doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing. However, some WAHMs have been doing this for 15+ years and completely adhere to the highest level of safety and quality. Even an experienced seamstress might not take into consideration some safety aspects that are specific to baby carriers. A baby carrier must hold up to a lot of weight and use. It’s quite different than making a dress.

■ Are you CPSIA compliant? Do your products come with tags and registration cards with all the necessary information? Please see the link above to the BCIA site to find out specifics on the current requirements. Please note that just because someone is part of the BCIA does not necessarily mean their products are safe or compliant.

■ What is your return policy if I am not happy with the product? Look for a business that stands by their product and will accept returns within a reasonable time frame if you are not satisfied with the construction of the carrier.

Read reviews! We have reviews here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/doc/488323047922545/ but also check reviews on the Babywearing Retailer/WAHM group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BabywearingRetailerWAHMReview/) as well as on TheBabywearer.com (Product Reviews here: http://www.thebabywearer.com/cgi-bin/reviews/review.pl?product and Vendor Reviews here: http://www.thebabywearer.com/cgi-bin/reviews/review.pl?vendor.All). Don’t forget to leave an honest review once you receive a product!

Final Notes: We all want a good deal. There are many reputable WAHMs out there who make safe, quality products. While there are currently no regulations on materials or construction, it’s important to make an informed decision on what carrier you use. It is not a handbag carrying your cell phone, it’s carrying your child a few feet off the ground. We are not suggesting that you have to spend $200+ to get a safe carrier. There are many inexpensive, safe options out there that abide by the legal requirements and general safety guidelines. Never be afraid to ask us if something looks safe. If we don’t know, we’ll track down people who will know!”

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us on the Tucson Babywearers Facebook page with any questions or concerns about WAHM-made carriers!!

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COTW: Double Hammock (DH)

DH1 DH4 DH3 DH2

COTW for the week of July 15th is: Double Hammock (DH)

This week’s carry is one of the most popular (and supportive) back carries. The Double Hammock (DH) – also called a Chunei Back Carry – is a great back carry that keeps both toddlers and babies nice and secure, and most woven wrap babywearers will tell you how much they love a Double Hammock! This carry uses a longer wrap and includes two rebozo passes across baby’s back, a horizontal chest pass, and ruck-style shoulder straps.

Why we like it…the Double Hammock centers the weight to your chest so you aren’t using just your shoulders for support. It’s multilayered, making it fabulous to support a heavier child or carry for lengthy periods of time. The DH is also great for those wiggle worms and ideal for small babies and bigger ones alike.

Generally considered one of the most comfortable carries, the Double Hammock has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s one back carry definitely worth learning! The key to a good Double Hammock is a nice snug chest pass. It may take a few tries, but once you get this carry down, you’ll love the support it gives!

We have featured not only the classic carry to learn and review, but also a few interesting variations and finishes. A different finish or chest belt can redistribute weight and change the feel of the entire carry. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Check back in next week to see what wrap carry we’ll feature next!

Safety: Stretchy/Knit Wraps must not be used for Back Carries. Please keep in mind that if this is your first time doing a back carry, or even this particular carry, you should have a spotter and/or practice over a soft surface such as a bed or a couch. You can even practice with a doll or stuffed animal first until you feel comfortable.

Double Hammock with a Woven Wrap

Double Hammock with Tips for a Snug Chest Pass

Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder (DH TAS)

Double Hammock Tied at Shoulder (DH TAS)

Double Hammock with a Toddler

Double Hammock: Alternate Finishes
Double Hammock: Tied Tibetan and Sternum Strap Chestbelt

Double Hammock Double Rings (DH-DR)

Double Hammock Rebozo

Double Hammock Rebozo with Sling Ring Finish

“Golden Rule of Babywearing”

“The Golden Rule of Babywearing: Treat all babywearers with the respect we would like to be treated with. Whether new or experienced, all babywearers are parents that love their babies and want to wear them. They deserve to be treated kindly without judgement.”

Please take a few moments to read the wonderful article entitled “Golden Rule of Babywearing” linked below. It is a great reminder for new and experienced babywearers alike about what babywearing really means. So often, new-to-babywearing parents feel judged or belittled for not using what others in the babywearing community deem to be the “ideal carrier.”

As a group, we at Tucson Babywearers are in agreement with the ideas expressed in this article…babywearing is not just about which carrier you choose to use, it is about keeping your baby close and wearing your baby safely. That is all. Simple as that.

We do feel that many carriers are more comfortable than others and would love to show you what options might work best for your family, but we do not wish to exclude or judge any parent based upon the carrier they have right now, at this moment.

We think it is beautiful that you have made the choice to have your little one close…to hear your heartbeat and to feel your warmth, and we wholeheartedly support you on this journey into babywearing!

“Golden Rule of Babywearing”

“Wrapping 360” by Babywearing 102

Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC)

Check out this amazing collaboration from the Facebook group, Babywearing 102! Tucson Babywearer’s is also proud to say that two of our members, Cybil and Chyna, were a part of making this fabulous project happen, and we couldn’t be more excited!

“Wrapping 360” is a pictorial illustrating some of the most common woven wrap carries from all angles including clickable links to videos and tutorials for the individual carries.

Click on the link below for a full view of the Wrapping 360 PDF file and let us know what you think!
Wrapping 360 by Babywearing 102

Welcome to Tucson Babywearers!

The Tucson Babywearers page is designed for the education, discussion, and encouragement of safe and comfortable babywearing. Destructive or hurtful discussion, or comments that are not in the spirit of our mission, will be deleted without warning.

Please feel free to respectfully ask questions and participate in discussions…we are all here to learn from each other! Most importantly, have fun wearing your newborn…infant…baby…toddler…preschooler!