I was searching on line for any photos that might have been taken of my family's farm through the years, and I stumbled onto this beautiful one taken by "Danae09". This is my grandparents stone barn, the road they lived on was named for the barn. This is exactly how I remember it when I was a little girl. I'm homesick.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
A few months ago, I was contacted by an Associate Press reporter based in the Washington, D.C. area. She had found an article I had written warning about the concerns associated with using the Infantino SlingRider™, and she wanted to know more. We talked on the phone a few times, she wrote an article, and within just about two weeks time, the CPSC called for the recall of the Infantino SlingRider™, as well as another similarly styled baby carrier.
Within just minutes of the AP article being released, and for weeks thereafter, our website was slammed by literally thousands of hits and my business email inbox was inundated by hundreds of emails, most from concerned parents, wanting to know if the baby carrier they were using with their little one was safe, many from potential customers, and a few more unique emails. It was one of these more “unique” emails that immediately caught my eye, and what I want to talk to you about now.
This particular email was from a woman named Pat Havener, a nurse, who is working with a group called Cristo Salva that serves people in rural Honduran villages. Pat contacted me for help with a unique project that she is undertaking, and she shared her story with me. Pat has been working very hard (with the local midwives) to reintroduce healthy pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and babywearing practices to the women of these Honduran villages. The women in these villages have gotten away from the (healthier) more traditional practices of using a midwife for prenatal care and during childbirth, they are using formula instead of breastfeeding, and as Pat put it so succinctly in an email to me, “These women are asking for strollers for their babies in an area where there is no place to stroll.” Somehow these isolated women have taken on some Western practices that have had very negative influences on their families, and on their society as a whole. In addition, poverty is a tremendous problem in these villages; many of the women have taken on prostitution as the means to supporting their families. I was deeply grieved—here I and my 4 children have enjoyed the excellent prenatal and birthing care of several midwives, unmedicated births, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and all the amazing benefits of babywearing, all practices that originated in societies similar to the one that Pat is working among.
Pat asked me if I—Baby So Smart—would be willing or able to help her with this project. I was immediately brought to tears, for several reasons. First, I was humbled to have been asked to be able to share in such an awesome undertaking as this one that Pat is involved with. Second, because a project like this is, to me, the major reason why I started Baby So Smart back in 2004. A little personal history: Prior to meeting and marrying my husband of almost ten years, I worked with a Christian medical humanitarian organization for over two years and had the amazing opportunity of traveling to almost 40 countries (including Honduras!) and providing medical, surgical, and spiritual care to hurting people all around the world. I remember seeing the women in these countries carrying their babies in indigenous carriers of all sorts, breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere for very long durations, and noticing that their babies seemed somehow more content than the American babies I was accustomed to working with in the American hospitals I worked in. I didn’t understand it completely then, but a few years later, after getting married and giving birth to our oldest child, I bought a ring sling and our lives were changed forever. Baby So Smart formally came about in 2004, providing breastfeeding, babywearing, and infant development classes at the local level, and manufacturing high-quality baby carriers for parents around the world, primarily in response to what I remembered seeing all over the world and because implementing these practices in our own family brought about such a tremendous positive change.
But I digress. We here at Baby So Smart are thrilled to be able to announce that we are partnering with Pat as she continues her efforts with these Honduran women. Here’s how we are going to help:
1. We are going to provide Pat with a batch of ring slings to take with her on her next trip back to Honduras, to be used by the mothers in these remote Honduran villages.
2. We are providing Pat with our ring sling pattern, to be used by several of the women of Honduras, for the manufacturing of their own ring slings, giving them a means to support themselves. These are women who have been using prostitution to support their families.
3. We have put Pat in contact with World Vision; World Vision is in the process of qualifying this outreach branch of Cristo Salva to receive micro-enterprise loans, so that more Honduran women can start their own businesses to support their families.
4. We are providing Pat with our printed educational material, which she will take with her to Honduras for translation by these same Hondurans, who will be paid for their work in translation services.
5. We have provided Pat with the information needed to help these people of Honduras purchase the equipment necessary to start up their own sling-making business. Several Honduran men will be trained in sewing machine maintenance repair, yet another skill that can be used to support themselves and their families.
Our main slogan at Baby So Smart is “Could wearing your baby change the world?”™ I believe this is yet another opportunity to see the practice of babywearing make a huge positive impact on families around the world, and not just seeing the critical physical and emotional benefits that come from the practice of babywearing, but also giving women a way to leave a life of prostitution. But I’m limited in my efforts, just as Pat is. She is one woman, striving to affect some massive change, and I’m one woman with a small business, trying to support her as much as I can. We are both limited in our physical resources.
Here’s where you come in: I would love to send Pat back to Honduras with a sizeable financial gift to help get this project off the ground, with some funds left over to meet the business needs that will be ongoing—purchasing of rings, fabrics, etc. It’s not practical to send her with all the materials needed to start this sling making business—sewing machines, a serger, fabrics, thread, needles, rings, etc. The cost of transporting all these materials through customs and then deep into the country of Honduras would be prohibitive. I believe that moms enjoy helping other moms, and this is an opportunity to do just that, by sending a small financial gift of $5, $10, $15, or $20. This money will be given directly to Pat Havener, who will use it to help get this sling making business off the ground by providing education about the “Benefits of Babywearing,” and training in sling making and sewing machine maintenance and repair. Monetary gifts can be sent via PayPal, to email@example.com. Please indicate that your gift is going to “Pat Havener” or simply mark it “Honduras” and we will make sure that all these monies get turned over to Pat.
I look forward to seeing this project come about, and I thank you for your help in this wonderful opportunity.
Tiffany Speck, RN, BS, CBE, Owner
Could wearing your baby change the world?
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The products we create at Baby So Smart, ring slings and Mei Tai style baby carriers, were designed to help parents implement Attachment Parenting with their children, while also allowing the parent to continue their own sense of style. The seminars and classes we offer were designed to help inform and educate today's parents about the many benefits of babywearing (and other topics pertinent to Attachment Parenting), our ultimate goal being parents reshaping their parenting style into one that is more gentle, nurturing, high-touch, and respectful of the children with which they have been blessed and entrusted. Psalm 127:3,5a—"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
So Why Baby So Smart?
We believe Smart Parents actively seek out information and education in an attempt to equip themselves to be better parents. We believe Smart Parents seek out products: proven to facilitate and promote the healthy physical, emotional, and neurological growth and development of their babies and children; that promote the growth and development of the parent-baby bond; that facilitate the breastfeeding relationship; and promote the physical health of the parent.
Smart SlingsWe believe Smart Slings, and other styles of safe carriers, prevent the development of physical problems in the infant, such as hip dysplasia, plagiocephaly, over-stimulation, and spondylolithesis; minimize the physical and emotional demands intrinsic with caring for and carrying an infant, particularly in our Western society where we are generally without the benefits of the proximity of the extended family; place no physical barrier between the parent and child, but instead promote closeness; are easy to use; and are very stylish.
Smart Babies, the result of smart parents who choose smart carriers.
Recent research has shown that carried babies grow up to be less aggressive, more independent, more confident, more nurturing, and more others-focused than their non-carried peers. It seems to us that our world could use more people like that. And today's Smart Babies grow up to be tomorrow's Smart Parents.
Could wearing your baby change the world? We think so—one family at a time.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Let me be one of I hope many who will assure you that babywearing is, indeed, safe--with two caveats--when the parent chooses to wear a safe baby carrier, and when they then use that safe baby carrier correctly. Clearly there are styles of baby carriers that are not safe, the Infantino SlingRider being the one that is currently getting the most press. And I may not be the only babywearing educator who hopes to see a few more similar bag carriers being brought to public attention in the next few weeks.
So what styles of carriers are safe? Well, there are four very basic styles of baby carriers-- simple pouches (think: HotSlings), ring slings (which we manufacture here at Baby So Smart), wraps (think: MobyWrap), and Mei Tais (again, another of our beautiful baby carrier styles). And then from these four basic styles of carriers you see a few "hybrids"-- SSC's, Baby K'Tan style carriers, adjustable pouches, etc.
A great deal of what I focus on here at Baby So Smart is babywearing education; more specifically, the "Benefits of Babywearing" classes that we offer and also babywearing safely. I've been working with parents and their infants/toddlers for over 4 years, specifically in regards to babywearing and infant development. And I've been a nurse for the last 15 years, most of my experience being in the pediatric and maternal-child health arenas. One thing that I continue to find over and over again with parents who are just venturing into the world of babywearing (and even with quite a few who have been using carriers for some time), is that rarely do parents actually wear their carriers correctly, or even choose the right size and style of carrier for themselves and their babies. So I want to use the next few posts to talk about babywearing safely using the four basic styles of carriers.
Let's start with pouches. They are the most simple of all the carrier styles, have the shortest learning curve, and have been fairly popular for the last few years. And for sake of simplicity and because they are probably the most familiar of the pouch brands, I'm going to use HotSlings as my example pouch. At least 90% of the local parents that I work with, when choosing a pouch style carrier, choose a pouch size that is far too large for them and their baby. And when I attempt to educate them about how important sizing is when wearing safely, especially when choosing to wear a simple pouch, many of them get frustrated, a bit angry, reluctant to consider that this beautiful pouch that they've recently purchased really doesn't fit them, and because of poor sizing could potentially compromise their baby's safety. Pouches that are too large for the wearer pose several risks: most basic, and least concerning, would be that it can cause back pain or discomfort to the wearer if it is too large; a baby could potentially fall out of a carrier that is too large; and most concerning of all, a young baby can fairly easily slip into the "chin-to-chest" position that is being warned about currently in a pouch that is too large. I've seen it time and time again, mom insisting upon using a pouch that is a size or two too large for her, little baby just curling up inside the dark recesses of a too big pouch, in the dreaded "C-position," little chin dropping onto their chest.
Can this potential compromise be blamed on the baby carrier in this scenario? Absolutely not. As parents, we have to take responsibility to contact the manufacturers of the pouches we use to assure that we are sizing ourselves correctly. Or better yet, if you're in the Greater KC Area, sign up for one of our babywearing classes or contact us for a one-on-one consultation.
So how should a pouch fit you? I've included this photo of a fairly young baby in a HotSlings organic pouch because I think it very clearly demonstrates a very nicely fitting pouch. Note specifically where the baby's bottom is located in relation to the model's body-- baby's bottom is roughly at or slightly above the wearer's navel. This is key to a properly sized pouch. Mom's tend to complain that a baby being worn in a pouch that fits them this way feels "too tight." They often request a pouch that's at least one size larger, sometimes two. But this is how a pouch should fit. Baby should be fairly high on the wearer's body, and they should be fairly tight. The parent should have to work a little bit to get the baby inside the carrier, and then work a hair more to get the baby positioned correctly. If your pouch fits you in such a manner that you can very easily open the pouch, slip baby inside, and then baby slides down to the bottom of the pouch and curls up with pouch fabric covering over his face, your pouch is too large. Period. You need to exchange it for a smaller size.
And I may be alone in this next thought, but several years ago I began to become more concerned about parent's inability to correctly position their infants in their pouch carriers, so I began teaching a slightly modified cradle hold position for people using this style of carrier. Note the baby in the pouch photo above: I'll venture a guess that that baby is roughly 3 1/2 months old-- it appears to have a larger than newborn body and head, appears quite alert, has good coordination (fist in mouth), and appears to have the tone and upper body/head strength of a baby roughly between 3-4 months of age (and a more rigid airway as well). Hence, that baby is perfect in that pouch exactly as s/he is. Now imagine a much smaller, more weak (less muscle tone and strength), probably somewhat sedated (due to maternal pain medication during labor), newborn in that same pouch. The baby's head almost always slips all the way inside the pouch, parents love to pull the fabric of the pouch together to close it over baby's face (think: do we lay baby down for a nap and pull a blanket over baby's face??), weak head and neck muscles do nothing to prevent baby's chin from resting on his chest, and he just kind of ends up "swooning" into the pouch, for lack of a better word.
Because of all of this, I've been teaching a modified cradle hold, as I said, with these littlest of the little babies. When we're done positioning baby in the pouch, their little heads are resting high up on mom's shoulder, face exposed with baby resting his cheek against mom's body, nose and mouth extremely visible, their backs are kept well-supported by the fabric coming down the lateral (or outside edge) of the pouch, and really nothing but their
feet are resting in the lowest part of the pouch. Imagine cradling a baby upright in one of your arms, your baby's head resting high up on your shoulder, cheek laying gently against your upper lateral (outside edge) chest, little bum snuggled into the crook of your elbow, and feet resting on the upper part of your lower arm. I've tried to demonstrate this modified cradle hold in my little diagram, shown above.
Let me end with this tidbit about pouches: these are great carriers, when sized and worn correctly. End of story.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I've recently read some articles commenting on the safety of baby carriers. Some articles represent sides clearly against the idea, citing a few mishaps at the cost of a baby's life. While the loss of ANY baby is tragic, what is just as tragic is the interpretation of information (or misinterpretation) leading to unfounded panic and ignorant opinions about the safety of baby carriers.
We've all heard the baby carriers by many different names: slings, wraps, pouches, bags, and on and on. Somehow, the negativity in the articles regarding safety use the term "slings" as synonymous with baby carriers that are compromising, giving the specific Sling a bad rap. I'd like to put in my two cents as a father who was very hesitant about babywearing from the get go.
My wife got into the idea years ago and has become a guru. She chastises me when I don't use the carriers with our children as often as she does, suggesting that I am bad PR. Well, I just take longer than most to adopt a better idea. I will admit that they were awkward for me at the start, but I have tried several different styles, finding my sweet spot with the right carrier and position. I have to say, my favorite and most comfortable to me, is a traditional sling (only one made with the very comfortable and patented shoulder by BabySoSmart.com). It is my favorite because I know how to use it and it works for me. I feel safe with my child in it, though it took some coaching to get me to that comfort level.
Now, back to my point about the safety of slings. Slings are as safe as the person operating them. I would like to make a parallel to a bathtub. More children die by drowning in a bathtub than die from being smothered in a baby carrier. There aren't these freak articles on CNN citing the recall of ALL bathtubs because a parent used poor parenting techniques with the tub. Authorities or ignoramuses don't throw up banners calling for the boycott of bathing a child. You don't stop bathing a child just because a parent neglected their kid. Bathtubs and bathing a child are more dangerous than carrying a baby in a baby carrier. All water can drown a baby, and all cloth can smother a child. I have to say that my wife is safer with ALL her baby carriers than I am at bathing our children. Let me say that a different way; I would sooner trust my wife with your child in a baby carrier than I would trust you to bath my child. Babywearing is like bathing a child; it requires prudent parenting techniques and education. That's right, education. I wouldn't know about not leaving my child unattended in the bathtub if someone hadn't pointed it out to me at some point along the line, despite it being common sense (and I even need reminding, to this day, four children later, as success breeds complacency). Even with a two-year-old, who can sit up in a small amount of water; I'm tempted to walk away with them in the tub sometimes, even just for a minute. And I know from education, that babywearing is just as critical to a baby's health as a simple bath. I'm not going to stop babywearing no matter what people say or recommend based on safety (I'm just going to be smarter about it). So, the next time someone wants to knock all babywearing and all baby carriers for their safety, tell them to stop giving their kid a bath.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Most of the time I struggle to find something positive to say about any of the more mainstream front-pack style baby carriers and their respective manufacturers. Recently it was brought to my attention that parents in Australia will have a truly new and improved Baby Bjorn to consider when looking to purchase a safe, or in this case, safer, baby carrier for their baby.
Enter the "Baby Bjorn Comfort Carrier." For those of you familiar with babywearing and the different styles of carriers, you will probably note the major difference in this new Baby Bjorn immediately. For those of you not so intimate with babywearing, let me briefly explain. Look closely at the photo above, paying specific attention to the baby's leg position. Note the nice, wide hip spread. Look familiar? It should, it's the position in which a well-made, correctly worn Mei Tai places a baby's hips. Like this photo of our own Baby So Smart Basic Mei Tai.
I know there has been much to say about hip positioning in regards to the practice of babywearing; I don't want to get into all that here. Suffice it to say that I'm of the opinion that hip position does matter, and if a baby is incorrectly positioned due to the design of a carrier, there is a very real possibility of hip impairment.
This Baby Bjorn improvement is exciting to me because many families are not comfortable trying out a style of carrier they are not familiar with or that they don't routinely see in the major baby supply stores. How often I have tried to counsel parents to consider trading in their poorly designed mainstream front-pack baby carriers for a style of carrier that will support their babies in an anatomically healthy position without success. Now Australian parents will be able to make better choices for their babies when choosing from the mainstream baby carriers.
A word of caution, however. While this new front-pack carrier from Baby Bjorn has the ability to be worn correctly, it also still has the ability to be worn incorrectly. Directly from the Baby Bjorn website in regards to their counsel as to how this carrier can/should be worn: "Carry your child facing inwards with the legs in a normal position" (italics mine) and then they show a diagram of an infant being carried with their legs in what I refer to as a "dangling" position, or in the manner that the other Baby Bjorn carriers position babies. I would advise parents against using this "dangling" position with their infants; the only exception to this would be those babies that are affected by Down's Syndrome. Another word of caution: while the new Bjorn style carrier provides a healthy sitting position for an infant, this still would not be the position of choice for an infant under 3-4 months old. Infants from birth to roughly the 3-4 month mark would be more appropriately carried in the tummy-to-tummy position, with their legs under them, slightly pulled up, hips wide in what can only be referred to as a "frog-leg" position. Here's a great photo of a very small infant in the frog-leg position on a caregivers hip (borrowed from the Didymos website, which is an excellent source of information regarding infant positioning in baby carriers, BTW). Leave the sitting on the bum for the bigger babies, when they are more developmentally ready to be safely seated and not be in danger of taxing little spines in a position their body is not ready for.
Let me end by extending a pat-on-the-back to the manufacturers of the Baby Bjorn style carriers for making this long overdue change. Now let's make them available everywhere, not just Australia.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Most of these pretties still need names, so if you have any ideas, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
In addition to adding quite a few new Mei Tai fabrics-- which you will be seeing added to the website over the next few weeks, so check back often-- we've added a new Mei Tai style. First, check out some of the beautiful new fabrics:
These pretty summery polka dots will be called "Del's", in tribute to my absolute favorite summer beverage.
I finally got a chance to see this black-and-white print from Alexander Henry in person and just fell in love-- I hope you do, too! This beauty is called "Yoko."
And then there is "Lucinda & Jane," in tribute to some of my favorite characters from Beatrix Potter's children's stories, a striking chocolate and orange retro-style floral.
And let's not forget our interpretation of some of the beautiful new prints from Amy Butler's latest fabric collection-- "Siobhan," a striking deep periwinkle and orange print, and it's ruby sister, "Valentine."
In addition to all these beautiful new Mei Tai fabrics (and there are many more, just not enough space to show them all here), we've added a new Mei Tai style! This awesome addition to our Mei Tai family will make babywearing even easier for parents! This Mei Tai is called the "Click-It," and it features a buckle waist and a padded (but not bulky) structured waistband, along with our other great Mei Tai features. Look for photos coming soon!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
If you're like me, you've been in shock by what you have seen and heard on the internet, the news, the newspapers. If you've visited Haiti, like Adam and I have, then you've been sick, numb, and felt helpless because of what appears to be an impossible situation to fix. Haiti was a mess, quite frankly, when we were there back in 2002. Lack of clean water, poverty, lack of jobs, pitiful housing and living conditions, lack of education and medical care, and nearly impassable roads back then made Haiti a disaster, and placed Haitians into the "Third World" bracket. It's worse now.
While only God Himself can provide the true relief and miracle that Haiti and it's people will need to recover from this disaster, you and I can help by giving and praying (if you pray; and if you don't, this might be a nice time to start). Baby So Smart has decided to help by taking on the monthly sponsorship of two Haitian children via the wonderful organization, World Vision (you can visit their site by clicking the title of this blog post). One of our main goals at Baby So Smart has been supporting healthy families, healthy babies, and healthy bonding through the manufacturing of high-quality baby carriers and the provision of parent education. We feel like this is a great way to continue working toward that goal. World Vision has many, many ways that you can get involved to help the Haitians during this time of crisis. I encourage you to give generously to a quality organization that has the ability to help the people of Haiti.
And now meet the two Haitian children we will be sponsoring:
Adania is 8-years-old. She lives with her parents, 3 brothers, and 1 sister. Adania is in primary school and she enjoys coloring. She helps at home by carrying water. She likes to play with dolls. She is in satisfactory health. Both of her parents are farmers, but struggle to provide for the family. Despite their best efforts, it is difficult to meet the family's needs. Adania and her family live in a community severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis.
Mikelson is 4-years-old. He lives with his parents and 4 brothers. Mikelson is in primary school and he enjoys writing. He helps at home by carrying wood. He likes to play soccer. He is in satisfactory health. His parents are also farmers, and struggle to meet their family's most basic needs. He also lives in a community severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis.
Please join with us at Baby So Smart as we both pray for relief for the people of Haiti and give as we are able to help them in this desperate time.
To sponsor a child now, click here.