Archive for Tips and tricks

Carrying a Toddler on the Back or Hip – Our Newest Video is Online!

While using my Beco Butterfly II to carry Finn, who is 2 and is at my house during the day two days a week, it dawned on me that a lot of Beco users probably don’t know their carrier can also be used for an assisted hip carry. Finn had been riding on my back but wanted to walk for a while, and then slowed down considerably – if we were ever going to make it to the library, I needed to pick him up for a while! Without a carrier, that would mean throwing him on my hip, or with the carrier, normally I would have gotten him back on my back. Plus, I’d be carrying the carrier in my arms when he walked. This is one of the things I love about the Beco Butterfly II – when he got down to walk, I rolled it up, secured it, and buckled it around my waist. Then when he got tired, I picked him up and he rode on my hip, with my arms around him – the same as carrying him on my hip, only with my spine in proper alignment, so much easier on my back! I wanted to share this great feature with our clients and with people who might be shopping around for a carrier. Of course, the Beco Butterfly II also works great right from the newborn stage.


How to Get Rid of Yeast in Cloth Diapers

by Jaime Sanderson – co-owner of Babes In Arms

I’ve had several emails recently about removing yeast from cloth diapers.  Here is my advice:


So… for yeast…the  magic ingredient is Grapefruit Seed Extract.   (I bought mine at Community Natural Foods here in Calgary, in the vitamin section.)

If you don’t have a top-load, I’d recommend visiting someone who does — it will make the rinsing process so much easier.

(1)  Turn up your hot water heater — the hotter the water in the wash, the more effective it will be. (I’ve read that the temp in the machine should be at least 124F, but I just crank the heater, wait an hour, then fill my machine.)

(2)  Fill the washer with hot water & some Oxygen Bleach (1/2-1 cup). ( Nature Clean & Oxy Clean are brands on the approved detergents list.)

(3)  Soak your diapers for a few hours (I wait until the water is cool enough to stick my hand in comfortably).

(4)  Spin it out.

(5)  Do a 2nd HOT wash with your regular detergent (I use 1-3 Tbsp of Rockin’ Green Hard Rock) AND a few drops of the Grapefruit Seed Extract.

(6)  Do a double rinse, both hot.

(7)  Ideally, you should to do a full sun dry (UV rays help kill the yeasties), but in winter, you could use the hottest setting your dryer has, & dry COMPLETELY.

How to Cure Ammonia Build-Up in Cloth Diapers

by Jaime Sanderson – co-owner of Babes In Arms

There are couple tell-tale signs of ammonia build-up in diapers:

  • Do your diapers smell fine when they’re clean but stinky after the first pee?
  • Does your child have a red bum (mild rash) everywhere after a wet diaper?

Both are signs of ammonia build-up (also known as urine residue).

* For me, once I do a heavy soap wash (I recommend Rockin’ Green’s Hard Rock for Calgary’s hard water) followed by multiple (3-5) hot rinses & a hang dry in the sun, it usually eliminates the problem.

* One of the key things I find though, is that I need to INCREASE the water level with my rinses — it’s not enough to just do multiple rinses with a small load water level, the key is to use a full tub of water.  (I have no idea why this works, but it REALLY does!)

* Another thing to try is bleaching your diapers.  While we don’t recommend this on a regular basis, you can use an oxygen bleach (such as Oxy-Boost or Nature Clean Oxygen Bleach) to get rid of stains (but no more than once every month or so).

* Also, here’s a link to the Residue instructions that Bummis offers:

My Diaper Washing Routine (to Avoid Ammonia Build-up)

by Jaime Sanderson – co-owner of Babes In Arms, cloth diaperer since March 2006

Calgary has hard water.  With hard water comes stinky diapers.  Hard water makes it very easy to get an ammonia build-up.  Over the last several years of cloth diapering, I’ve tweaked my routine enough that I no longer have a problem with ammonia build-up.  Here is *my* routine:

(1) I use a top-load washer.  Top loads use more water and therefore rinse diapers more thoroughly.  You can use a front-loader, but you may find you need to “trick” it into using more water, or you may need to do an extra rinse or two.

(2) I use a magnet ball in my machine.  Don’t ask me how it works, but it does — it somehow changes the calcium molecules so that the water isn’t quite as hard.  To me, it’s magical… & a key part of my washing routine.


(3) I do a cold rinse to help prevent any stains from setting.

(4) I wash my diapers (in hot) with a heaping Tbsp of Rockin’ Green Hard Rock (which is formulated to help with hard water — I think the secret ingredient is sodium percarbonate).  I usually let them sit for at least 20 minutes in the water & detergent before spinning them out.

(5) I do a double rinse.  Usually, I just start my cycle over after the diapers have first been washed — this means it ends up being a hot rinse then a cold rinse.

(6) About once every 4-6 weeks, when I do my wash, I use 3 Tbsp of the Hard Rock detergent & let it soak for over an hour.  One these days, I do yet another extra rinse.

That’s it.  That’s how I keep the ammonia away.

My biggest comment to people with ammonia is “Use MORE detergent!”  We’re always told to use less detergent when washing diapers, but sometimes we get a little too cautious.  With water as hard as it is in Calgary, it’s difficult for the detergent to work effectively, so we need to use more.

A quick note:  You can buy both the Rockin’ Green detergent & the Magnetbal at Babes In Arms, although that’s not why I mentioned them — they really are amazing products!

Why We Don’t Recommend a Forward-Facing Carry

by J. M. Cavanagh, staff, Babes in Arms

(revised Feb. 14/11)

When I am out and about with my family, or having a break by myself, I often see parents or caretakers wearing a baby facing away from the wearer’s body. Many babies seem to really enjoy this position, and parents often want to use this position as long as they can. However, based on a number of factors, we recommend that babies should always be facing the body of the person wearing them. Here are some reasons why:
As humans much of our body is still developing after birth. At birth our eyesight isn’t top notch yet; we don’t have kneecaps made of bone (they are cartilage until age 3 to 5); we can’t manage without someone to care for us; and our spines are not straight. Well, our spine is never truly straight — it has a slight curve to it at both ends, like a drawn out “S”. At birth, babies’ spines are a convex curve, or a long open-ish “C” shape. They straighten as we get stronger and bigger. When a baby is carried facing in, in a “froggy,” half lotus (a yoga pose, basically crisscrossed legs, but still sitting on bum, not sitting on legs) or seated position, with the bum lower than the knees, this convex curve is kept. But when a baby is in a facing-out position, not only is the spine straightened, it can actually become concave, the opposite of convex.
What is this like? Because an adult breastbone (which the baby is held against in this position) is quite hard, we can imagine that this position, legs dangling with back to the parent’s chest, might feel similar to being an adult in a climbing or safety harness, unable to really move or readjust your body, with your back against a wall.
Something to be taken into account when thinking about the spine, is that it determines the function of the nervous system, and the nervous system controls all body systems. Therefore, a nervous system stressed by a compromised spine will affect the body’s overall ability to be healthy. Having baby in a facing-out position runs the risk of putting undue stress on baby’s spine, which can lead to a medical condition called spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is defined as the forward slipping of a vertebra on the one below it. Basically, when a person’s back is forced into an unnatural angle, especially with the added stress of gravity, the vertebra in the back can become compressed and slip. A young baby’s spine and back muscles are not actually developed enough to bear all of baby’s body weight. Compare this to a facing-in position in which it is possible to place baby’s knees higher than their bum – for newborns, in a supported squat, or for older babies, with legs coming around the parent’s waist – where baby’s weight is spread across their bum and things instead of being held by their lower spine.
For me, one argument in particular against forward facing carries is especially compelling. While the studies I am quoting for this paragraph were done on adults, the possibility that there is even a chance the same effects could happen to a baby in a carrier where their legs are dangling must give us pause.
The University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital has done a couple of studies on orthostatic intolerance in astronauts, and on safety harnesses used by workers, or others needing fall protection. Many employee safety organizations have also done such studies. They have found that when a person is suspended in a safety harness, with legs dangling relaxed beneath their body, it seems comfortable; and actually the test subject never really experiences any discomfort. Then, in as little as three minutes they start feeling warm. Often the next symptom is unconsciousness, the next sometimes death. This is called suspension trauma. Most of the time the trauma isn’t as severe as death. In the best case scenario, no permanent damage is done; but it can lead to nerve and or tissue damage, sometimes in as little as five minutes, and sometimes permanent.
Let me reiterate that to my knowledge the above research has only been done on adults, the worst damage occurring when the person is dangling with their legs hanging freely under them in a relaxed position, and that these are worst case scenarios, unlikely to happen to a baby if only because the person carrying the baby would hopefully notice something was wrong before it could get that bad. To my knowledge there have not yet been any studies on the subject of babies being carried in a similar position. As an added concern for the legs-dangling position in general,  thinking of baby boys in particular, there is the concern that their weight is resting on their crotch, a position that seems to cause discomfort for quite a few baby boys based on our observations.
Thinking of the wellbeing of the parent or wearer, when baby is facing out, it also changes the weight distribution for whoever is carrying baby, placing the weight on your shoulders instead of the core of your back. You should never lift or carry weight with your shoulders, as it can quickly lead to discomfort and disalignment of the vertebrae. For mom this change in weight distribution also puts a lot of pressure on her pelvic floor: baby’s weight is pulling her forward, away from her centre of gravity, causing her to lean back to compensate. This in turn causes her to push her hips forward, which does not allow her to give her pelvic floor proper muscular support – right at the time her pelvic floor should be regaining strength.
One of the common reasons I am told by parents that they want to be able to carry their baby facing out is that the baby “likes it,” and seems to want the stimulation. The problem with this is that facing out can often lead to over-stimulation for baby. Unfortunately over-stimulation is not always crystal clear for us to recognize as parents — what seems like happiness, excitement and engagement in baby may be over-stimulation, and upon placing the over-stimulated, seemingly happy baby facing-in in an ergonomically correct position many times we see the baby go straight to sleep.
When facing out, baby can hear the voice and the heartbeat of the caregiver or parent, and can smell that the caregiver or parent is there, but can’t see them. This may be disconcerting for baby. Add to that all the other sounds and sights, many of which may not even be clearly in focus, and disconcerting can quickly become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
All of this said, some babies are more likely to crave interactivity and periods of stimulation. For short periods, as an alternative to a forward-facing position, we recommend a seated cradle position in a ring or pouch sling for babies with good head control who cannot yet sit on their own; a hip carry in a ring or pouch sling for babies who are able to sit on their own; or a high back carry for babies with good back strength who can bring their legs comfortably around the body of the parent wearing them. Each of these positions will support baby’s back in its natural curvature, spread their weight through their bum and thighs and allow them to alternately see their surroundings and retreat toward the safety of their caregiver’s chest or back, while keeping baby in the wearer’s centre of gravity, allowing them to maintain proper posture.
So with all of these concerns, why bother wearing our babies? Why not utilize a seat or carrier so we don’t have to worry about any of these problems? Well, besides the fact that there are concerns over safety and health issues with baby spending extended amounts of time in these carseats and on hard surfaces, wearing your baby is good for them. It just needs to be done correctly — and knowledge is power. The optimum way to carry your baby is chest to chest, facing in, in a “froggy” position or supported squat, a half lotus (a yoga pose, basically crossed legs, but still sitting on bum, not sitting on legs) or in a seated position, with the bum lower than the knees. Also, baby’s bum should always be above your belly button in order to keep their weight within your centre of gravity.
There are many benefits for babies. When in the seated position, with the legs lower than the knees, your baby is basically doing the tummy time that doctors recommend occur daily – just in your arms. Building brain synapses, muscle development, nerve development, and hip development, just like if they were lying on their tummy on the floor. This position is also often used to correct minor birth trauma, like hip dysplasia. Neurological development happens the way it should, because of the continued contact, touch and motion which mimics the time baby spent in the womb, turning what has the possibility to be an alarming environment into one that feels familiar and safe. A baby that is worn instead of spending the majority of the day lying flat or at a slight angle is also less likely to end up with a flattened head. Carrying baby helps with bonding; helps baby regulate breathing, temperature, and heart beat; helps enhance learning and social development and emotional health; can lessen crying and colic; allows baby mild stimulation through interacting with the person wearing baby; and enables the wearer to have their hands free.
J. M. Cavanagh
As sort of an afterthought, I just wanted to add that this article is in no way meant to be me saying you are a bad parent. I believe that we all do the best we can with the information that we have available to us. Please take this as a sharing of information, rather than a judgment. My oldest child is 9 years old, I didn’t have this information when she was a baby; I did wear her in a bad carrier, facing out. She is okay, but I wish someone had told me why it could be dangerous.
Works Cited and Bibliography

Effect of Forces on the Growth, Development, and Maintenance
Physical Therapy December 1984 vol. 64 no. 12 1874-1882

Craniofacial Pain: Neuromusculoskeletal Assessment, Treatment and Management,  By Harry J. M. Von Piekartz

Neuro-developmental treatment approach: theoretical foundations and principals of clinical practice, By Janet M. Howle

Baby Spine Development, Bridget Coila

Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress, by Rochelle L. Casses, D.C.; 1996 by The Liedloff Society for the Continuum Concept;

Hensinger, R. N.; Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis in Children and Adolescents; Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, August 1989 71A: 1098-1107

Baby Wearing – Suggestions for Carrying Your Baby: A Chiropractic Perspective;  Jeanne Ohm, DC; ICPA, Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #10

Why Wear Your Baby?; Sharon Reuven;  ICPA, Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #05

New class series for new parents in Calgary

Some of you may know that we partner with a variety of local, mom-owned businesses who share our values and vision. These include, among a few others, Room to Grow, First Step Nutrition, Little Wonders, Full Circle Parenting and Baby Busy. With these businesses we work together to offer our clients discounts, and we also do trade fairs together and share marketing at times.

Our newest shared initiative was dreamed up as we discussed education options for new parents in Calgary. As an expectant or new parent you can take classes on breastfeeding, basic baby care, and bonding, as well as baby sign, baby massage, babywearing and cloth diapering. But if you take a class series you will generally learn the basics – how to bathe, feed, change and care for a new baby. These basics classes do not delve into post-partum fitness, baby massage, baby sign, babywearing, cloth diapering, and so on, at least not in much depth. For those topics you could choose to take a bunch of separate classes… or what if there was one series that brought all these topics together? You could learn all these extra skills that make life as a parent so much easier and more enjoyable while getting to know a close-knit group of other new parents and parents-to-be.

Thus was born Beyond Basics for New Parents, the class series that takes you beyond the basic survival skills you need, into the skills that will help you thrive in your new role as a parent. Not only will you meet other parents with babies around the same age (or who are due around the same time), you’ll save by taking the classes as a series instead of individually at different locations.

Beyond Basics for New Parents is a 7-week series that includes the following topics:

  1. Bonding and sleep
  2. Babywearing
  3. Infant massage
  4. Post-partum fitness (and a dad’s pub night!)
  5. Nutrition for breastfeeding, starting solids
  6. Cloth diapering
  7. Series wrap party with Miss Natalie of Little Wonders (including early literacy and baby sign language)

The class is open to expectant parents and parents of babies six months and under. More information can be found at Room to Grow and interested parties can register here.

2010 International Babywearing Conference

Last week I (Lindsay) had the privilege of attending the 2010 International Babywearing Conference in the lovely town of Rigby, Idaho. I learned so much and met some really awesome people! We will have a DVD at the store of our favourite sessions; and if you have any questions about any of the sessions, please ask! It was an awesome experience and I learned so much. Our babywearing instructor and leader of Babywearing Calgary (or on Facebook), Jen Wadleigh, also attended and taught a number of sessions.

Me and Jen at dinner at IBC 2010

On Wednesday, June 9 I first attended Back Carries with Giselle Baturay of Slings I Love. It was great seeing some of the back carries out there that I don’t see often, as well as witness how Giselle taught the carries. I learned some new tricks and was also reassured that we are teaching a lot of the same great tips in the store and at our events!

Giselle helping a babywearer with a back carry.

Giselle helping a babywearer with a back carry.

Next was Now What! Babywearing Assisting the Transition to Motherhood with the wonderful Arie Brentnall-Compton of Tadpoles and Butterflies – a fellow Albertan! Arie informed us that because of the skin-to-skin contact and the pheromone and hormone exchange involved, Kangaroo Care often corrects even complicated breastfeeding issues. She also discussed postpartum depression and it’s causes – poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of support and a feeling of not having control over one’s life – and outlined how babywearing helps with all these causes, thereby reducing or preventing postpartum depression. When a mom wears her baby she is more able to get out and find support, her hands are free to grab a decent meal, and she can be active, get outside and maybe even have a shower! All of these factors help with the depression.

The last class of the day for me was Emergency Babywearing with Kristi Hayes-Devlin of Wrapsody and Sam Tower, police officer and husband of the conference’s organizer, Kimber. This class was so cool!! The first half involved Kristi showing us the four carries you should know in case of emergency which will allow you to make a carrier of random items you have lying around. These four carries were the Ruck, the Strap, the Rebozo and the Torso carry. With these four carries you can turn a blanket, scarf, shirt, any piece of clothing and more into a carrier for your baby or child. In times of natural disaster or emergency (running off the road during a snowstorm, for instance), emergency babywearing can save lives.


Kristi showing us some emergency babywearing tricks.

The second half of the class consisted of Sam outlining a long list of ways we can use our carriers for first aid or other tools during an emergency. This included as a water filter (with the addition of sand and black hardwood charcoal); fire tinder; a harness to lower a child from a window (during a fire or flood, for instance); and a variety of first aid tools – a splint, tourniquet and more.

A great quote came out of this class from Kristi, as she spoke about the power of babywearing to save and enrich lives. She was telling us that we can now go out into the world and teach others what we know, and she said, “As long as you know one carry with proper positioning, you are an expert to the person next to you who doesn’t know. Just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you can’t share the information you have.” So true, and it makes teaching others a lot less intimidating!

I have a favourite quote about writing that is similar – “If you write, you are a writer.” If you wear your baby, you are a babywearer!

On Wednesday I also got to see the new babywearing coats from Ergo – they are awesome!! I don’t know yet if or when they will be available in Canada, but definitely keep an eye out.

Next up: I’ll write about Thursday, June 10, when I attended Babywearing Safety and ABCs and SSCs, and supported our instructor Jen in teaching Traditional Babywearing; met Jess and Robin of Babyhawk (so exciting!); and met with a bunch of awesome people to discuss Nurturing Across Cultures (formerly The Rebozo Way) and the formation of the Baby Carrier Industry Association – also so exciting! Also on Thursday was the dinner and some hula hooping with Arie, Jen, and Susie Spencer!

Cloth diapering a newborn

I was looking at our packed-full consignment section today, thinking about how you could buy all the diapers and accessories you needed for fairly cheap, and consequently be able to diaper a newborn without a huge investment. Then you could keep the diapers for a subsequent child or sell them back to us. Here are a couple of options:

#1) 18 Kissaluvs Size 0 (5-15 lbs) @ $11 + 1 each @ $9: Prorap (6-10 lbs), Bummis Super Whisper Wrap (4-9 lbs), 3 Motherease Rikki Wraps (6-12 lbs), Thirsties cover (5-12 lbs) = $252 (compare to 8 weeks of whichever brand of disposable diapers you would be using).

Amount you would receive to reconsign in same condition = $126 (total cost of minimum 6-8 weeks of cloth diapering = $126).

#2) 12 organic cotton prefolds (10 @ $2, 2 @ $1.50) + 1 each @ $9: Prorap (6-10 lbs), Bummis Super Whisper Wrap (4-9 lbs), 2 Motherease Rikki Wraps (6-12 lbs) = $59 (again, compare to 8 weeks of whichever brand of disposable diapers you would be using).

Amount you would receive to consign in same condition = $29.50 (total cost of minimum 6-8 weeks of cloth diapering = $29.50).

I could have fun all day making up starter packs of diapers for different ages! But I thought this shows with just what we currently have in stock, what you can get to start off – talk about savings!