What to expect at a BWI of NYC meeting?

written by Marta Ginter

If you've never been to a babywearing meeting, or more specifically, to a Babywearing International of NYC meeting, you might wonder what it's all about! Is it for you if you're just starting to babywear? Will you feel welcome if you bring a stroller? I'll try to answer all those concerns here.

Babywearers at the Bronx meeting

Babywearers at the Bronx meeting

First, read the details of the meeting location that you're planning to attend. There might be specific information included that will help you find the space easily. Still can't find it? Post your question in the FB event and one of the volunteers or members will surely be ready to help.

Find events here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/babywearersnyc/  here: http://www.bwiofnyc.com/#/meetups/ or here:  https://www.facebook.com/BWIofNYC/

Secondly, every caregiver is welcome! We can't emphasize this enough! Expecting parents, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, nannies... Anyone and everyone who wants to learn how to use carriers with the baby they care for or is a babywearer already. Older siblings always welcome too :)

If you have particular questions, you might want to arrive on time to make sure you get the help you need. However, don't worry if you arrive late or even are able to catch only the last 20 minutes of the meeting - the volunteers will do their best to help you.

What to bring? You don't need to bring anything. If you come with your stroller and no carrier, you'll be fine! We have Lending Libraries and lots of carriers for you to try out. If you bring alllll the wraps for others to try out - great! If you can't bring your baby, we have weighted demo dolls at every location, so no worries!

part of the Bronx lending library

part of the Bronx lending library

When you arrive, you will be greeted by one of the volunteers, either a Voluntary Babywearing Educator (VBE) or Advanced Babywearing Educator (ABE) wearing an orange headband (or... wristband, some of us don't love the look of the headband ;) ) or a Chapter Support Volunteer (CSV). If we don't notice you come in, it's only because we are busy helping another caregiver. Apologies in advance! Please let us know that you arrived! Then you will be asked to fill out a sign-in form, we might use a kindle, a phone or a good old sheet of paper. We ask for your name, e-mail, your kids' age and we ask if you agree to our photo release (you don't need to agree in order to participate; sometimes we post pictures in our FB discussion group or on the website) and to agree to the liability agreement.

Most of the time the meeting will start with short introductions, volunteers will say a few words about themselves and members will say their names and tell everyone what they would like to learn.

If there seems to be a popular demand for one style of carriers/carries, the VBEs/ABEs may choose to do a general demo of what was most requested. Otherwise the VBEs/ABEs will likely split the group into smaller subgroups based on the carrier demand. A VBE/ABE will be helping each of the groups by demonstrating, troubleshooting, helping with the fit etc. Then that VBE/ABE will move on to the next subgroup. In the meantime, feel free to mingle, tend to your baby, chat with attendants or join any of the subgroups! We encourage peer to peer support but please remember that only VBEs/ABEs will teach and offer official advice. When in doubt - ask a VBE/ABE!

VBE teaching Front Wrap Cross Carry

VBE teaching Front Wrap Cross Carry

What if you don't have any questions but love babywearing? Please come! Meet other babywearers, make friends, try what's new in the Lending Library or just hang out!

Towards the end of the meeting members will be able to check out carriers. Please, let a VBE/ABE or a CSV know if you want to borrow a carrier! Make sure you know how to use it before you leave :)

We try to end the meetings on time to respect the donated space and volunteers' time. Help us wrap it up smoothly by collecting your belongings and setting a good example for the rest. We will see you next time!

Table full of carriers, room full of babywearers at the Bronx meeting.

Table full of carriers, room full of babywearers at the Bronx meeting.

Stroller Free Straphanger

Written by Vanessa Cariddi.

Babywearing. In some parts of America, Babywearing might be thought of as something reserved for attachment parenting. Or maybe a special thing to do with a very, very New Newborn. At the very least, the image of a woman (or a man) wearing a baby is something many Americans might recognize as belonging to another culture - certainly not America, land of the Car, where every expectant family spends time and worry finding the safest, fanciest, most comfortable car seat and stroller for their new bundle of joy.

Well, New York City is the land of the subway. And strollers, to be frank, are a DRAG when using the subway.


 

A little background, in case you aren't familiar with the NYC Subway system:

It is the largest metropolitan transportation system in the world, by number of stops, with roughly 469 stations, at time of writing.

That number continues to grow as new subway lines are added. In addition to subways, there are nearly 300 different bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. In 2015, roughly 5,650,610 people rode the subway on an average weekday. That's five and half million people A DAY. Most New Yorkers ride the subway at least twice per day, to and from work, and with the cost of living increasing all the time - currently averaging $3653 a month for a two bedroom apartment - people are living further and further out from their place of work, making the public transportation system an essential part of life.

And cars? Ask most New Yorkers about having a car in the city, and you will get a response roughly equivalent to: NOPE. Parking is impossible to find and expensive, and fender benders and break-ins are common.

So, back to Babywearing.....

Most NYC subway stations are not accessible by elevator. I counted 89 "accessible" stations on the MTA website, but many of these only have elevators in one direction, meaning you might be able to get your stroller onto the subway without navigating stairs, but on your return trip, you need to carry the stroller and the baby up stairs. And sometimes, there are a LOT of stairs - as many as 7 flights of stairs. And many of these stations don't make it possible to transfer from one train to another without stairs. And because the subway system is old, many parts of it are under almost constant repair, so it is not unusual to arrive at a station expecting an elevator, only to find it "out of service".

ADDITIONALLY, on buses, caregivers are required to remove their children and all their stuff from strollers, and fold and store them (strollers, not children), under the seats.

Remember when I said using a stroller on the subway was a drag? A DRAG.

BABYWEARING TO THE RESCUE.

While all the reasons usually discussed for Babywearing remain true in NYC, there's another big one: surviving the subway without a stroller!!

My personal experience with riding the subway while Babywearing has been overwhelmingly positive. We've gotten through cold and flu season while keeping baby away from sick fellow passengers and all the germ covered surfaces of the train,

we've gotten through construction rendering elevators and escalators out of service (not to mention entire train lines),

we've hiked our way out of power outages, unexpected route changes, snowstorms, "police activity", track fires, and, on a positive note, last minute changes of plan to enjoy some social visits with friends before returning home.

I've also worn a sleeping baby to cocktail parties,
 

music rehearsals (my secret identity is an opera singer),
 

and while traveling internationally for Opera Gigs, including a month in Europe. Did you know that all major airports in NYC are accessible by public transportation? Managing suitcases for three people AND a stroller is physically impossible in my opinion, but Babywearing got it done!

There are other NYC oddities that make Babywearing in NYC a matter of survival, like shopping at the neighborhood store with aisles so narrow they don't accommodate a stroller (in case you are reading this from outside NYC, I'm not kidding), getting laundry done - because you *might* have laundry in the basement of your building, but you almost certainly don't have it in your apartment, and oh, let's not forget about the MILLIONS of New Yorkers who live in walk-up apartments. Five flights of stairs with a stroller, your groceries, your laundry, and whatever else you might be lugging? NO THANKS.

I took my first subway ride with my now 17 month old daughter when she was just 10 days old.

I know families who rode the subway home from the hospital with 2 day old newborns. Babywearing has brought my family all the benefits one might imagine in terms of bonding, success with breastfeeding, a calm, happy, secure child, but what stands out the most to me when I think with gratitude on my Babywearing journey is how easily we have been able to get around the city and continue to enjoy the richness of city life without being hampered by a stroller.

Happy Babywearing!!

Lending Library

Babywearing International of NYC has 7 Lending Libraries: 2 in Manhattan, 2 in Queens, 2 in Brooklyn and 1 in the Bronx. Together there are over 160 carriers! We are constantly adding more, listening to our members' needs and requests.

Our members love the Lending Libraries, here's what they say:

"We don't borrow necessarily at every meeting, but we love that we can try out new carriers and wraps and really figure out what could work for us before making a purchase.

Last year we borrowed a Baby SaBye mei tai from the Woodside library and fell in love with the ease and comfort of mei tais.

We also borrowed a size 3 Silver Linings Sling wrap. I figured a size 3 would be a perfect size to wrap a front baby in a tandem front back carry, but I never imagined I would enjoy using a short wrap all by itself, specially for quick back carries. Borrowing that wrap was also helpful in starting to find out what attributes I like on my woven wraps (we're still exploring!)."

 

"Skin to skin made possible with the Bronx lending library wrapsody stretch hybrid."

"Skin to skin made possible with the Bronx lending library wrapsody stretch hybrid."

"Recently checked out at the Inwood library, Caprice!! And it's GOOOOOORGEOUS. Like..... I WANT TO KEEP IT. Risaroo. My 25 pounder feels weightless. It is cool to the touch. This is wrong side out. It's so pretty!! Easy to wrap with, comfy. It's like my favorite wrap ever."

"Recently checked out at the Inwood library, Caprice!! And it's GOOOOOORGEOUS. Like..... I WANT TO KEEP IT. Risaroo. My 25 pounder feels weightless. It is cool to the touch. This is wrong side out. It's so pretty!! Easy to wrap with, comfy. It's like my favorite wrap ever."

"Going to our first new mom group meeting in the Bronx! Bronx library bbtai. And first day baby wore his sunglasses. So torn between the bbtai I borrowed last month from the Bronx library and the surprisingly cool Lillebaby I have this month. Looking to buy my own bbtai now. I didn't want to return it! And as much as I dislike buckle carriers in favor of wrap styles I must admit this is not bad at all! Next up: try a shorter wrap so I can put baby in a ruck without a 3' tail wrapped around us midsummer!"

"Going to our first new mom group meeting in the Bronx! Bronx library bbtai. And first day baby wore his sunglasses. So torn between the bbtai I borrowed last month from the Bronx library and the surprisingly cool Lillebaby I have this month. Looking to buy my own bbtai now. I didn't want to return it! And as much as I dislike buckle carriers in favor of wrap styles I must admit this is not bad at all! Next up: try a shorter wrap so I can put baby in a ruck without a 3' tail wrapped around us midsummer!"

"Hanging out with a baby at two weddings last weekend! Catbird from Greenpoint library was a savior! My baby even fell asleep in it and slept when I sat at the table and enjoyed a crab cake (before loud music woke her up!;)))) and still after that my little girl enjoyed a party sitting in a sling! Yey babywearing!"

"Hanging out with a baby at two weddings last weekend! Catbird from Greenpoint library was a savior! My baby even fell asleep in it and slept when I sat at the table and enjoyed a crab cake (before loud music woke her up!;)))) and still after that my little girl enjoyed a party sitting in a sling! Yey babywearing!"

"Sleepy guy and daddy in the Bronx lending library's toddler Tula"

"Sleepy guy and daddy in the Bronx lending library's toddler Tula"

"I borrow A LOT from the library, mostly Inwood. It's been a great way to up my own knowledge of what's out there and what I find comfy. My first loaner was a stretch hybrid last summer. Since then, I've borrowed SSCs, a water RS, shorty wraps, a gauze wrap, and this month I've got the new onbu!'

"I borrow A LOT from the library, mostly Inwood. It's been a great way to up my own knowledge of what's out there and what I find comfy. My first loaner was a stretch hybrid last summer. Since then, I've borrowed SSCs, a water RS, shorty wraps, a gauze wrap, and this month I've got the new onbu!'

Judy: "On the 3 train, while sporting the Bronx Library's Ring Sling."  

Judy: "On the 3 train, while sporting the Bronx Library's Ring Sling."

 

Joanna: "Trying Lillebaby borrowed from Bronx Lending Library."

Joanna: "Trying Lillebaby borrowed from Bronx Lending Library."

Courtney: "The Andalusian in Greenpoint's library is one of my faves! Airy weave with a really cool texture, yet super supportive for my big kids (this is my 5 yr old!)."

Courtney: "The Andalusian in Greenpoint's library is one of my faves! Airy weave with a really cool texture, yet super supportive for my big kids (this is my 5 yr old!)."

Benedetta: "Didn't get a.chance to borrow it but had my first onbu experience in Astoria and fell in love. I still dont own one but being able to comfortably carry my almost 2 year old while 9months pregnant was great!"

Melisa: "Argh, no pics to share at the moment! I am, however, a 'borrow-a-new-&-shorter-wrap-at-each-meeting-I-attend' type of member. I cannot express how great it has been to learn more about each kind of wrap and am so glad to have discovered the shorty love! As of now the Didy Pfau from the Astoria lending library is my all time favorite. Can't wait to try out some more."