A Podcast About Babywearing & Fathers
Review: Lenny Lamb Florence
When Rachel over at 5 Minute Recess asked me to test out one of their new *Exclusives* woven by Lenny Lamb, I jumped at the opportunity. 5mr is known for carrying some of the lesser known budget wrap lines, and I am all for some more accessible woven wraps on the market. I haven’t wrapped with many Lenny Lambs. I have owned a Broken Twill Weave Bamboo & Cotton woven from one of their older lines, and it churned through here quicker than any other wrap I’ve ever owned. It just wasn’t my thing – too thin and slippery with a giant 2.5 year old toddler. I kept hearing all these rave reviews of them as budget carriers, and I wanted to experience it. I had some high expectations going in.
The Florence wrap had such an awesome pattern. It pictures these cute little flowery vines, creeping up into a smattering of polka dots and randomly placed leaves. I am a sucker for anything inspired by plants, so I was drawn to this wrap from the first time I saw it. I was shocked by the color palette. The Jewel Tones are so unexpected for a nature inspired wrap, it gives them this funky psychedelic feel that would be the perfect statement piece in anyone’s wrap collection. It is unique, and I am always into that. I took a 4.2 meter Florence Rosa home with me. I hate Pink, but I loved the boldness of this one against the Mauve weft, so I went for it.
It was nice and soft after just one wash, didn’t even need to be broken in or ironed. This wrap was nothing like the slippery Bamboo & cotton blend I had tried before. It had just the right amount of grip for some rock solid multi-pass carries, but was still very easy to wrap with. I got some of the easiest double hammocks I have had in a while, complete with fancy finishes. I was able to try it out in a few different SlingRing finishes too, and I loved the ease with which it slid through the rings. So much so that I was inspired to make a video tutorial while I had the wrap in my possession. It was just so moldable and wonderful in hand. All the things that I had heard about Lenny Lamb – that they were really easy to break in and supportive and lovely and easy to wrap with, and a fantastic budget wrap and on and on… well turns out they were true about Florence. That’s why I never shrug off a brand after only trying one of their wraps…. I am always having my mind changed by the new things coming out. At 280 g/m^2, this wrap is actually considered thick. Some others that weigh in right around this wrap are a few Didymos Hempies, and many wraps from Pavo’s form line – but this was waaaay easier to break in with the same amount of support.
I was able to help style the shoot for the launch of this wrap, and so I got to see the various colors in action. Lavanda, Turchese, Rosa, and Blu aptly called to represent the Italian city which they are named for. Against that warm mauvey background (a creative choice I feel rather than a plainer white or creme weft), the colors are inviting, not loud. At this shoot I also got to see multiple mamas with varying degrees of wrapping skills try on these wraps in different carries. All around, they were accessible and easy to pull off a comfortable wrap job with… even for the 20lb (& up) toddlers that many of us had up on our backs. It was smiles all around, even after a long day of wearing.
Thanks to 5mr for enlightening me once again. This Lenny Lamb really rises above many of the other budget friendly wraps on the market now. I look forward to seeing what comes next from you guys. You never disappoint me.
*** I was not compensated by 5mr or LL for this review. Views expressed were not coerced, not even for chocolate or Starbuck’s Cards. ;)***
Tutorial: Double Hammock with Xena Finish
I love this carry for hiking, back naps, museums, anything where I know that she is going to be up on my back for awhile. It is incredibly supportive, and has no ruck straps – which I am not a fan of for long term wear. This is also a great carry for long wraps, I can use up all the length with a size 6.
My toddler is 2.5 years old, and approximately 30 lbs. The woven wrap I am using is a Lenny Lamb Florence Rosa, woven exclusively for 5mr.com
Review: IndaJani Rebozos
From the very first time I laid eyes on an IndaJani, I was intrigued. My friend Rachel over at 5 Minute Recess had a box of them, and brought them to a meet-up for us to look at. She was going to become the U.S. Distributor for them, and wanted some honest opinions about the wrapping qualities. I saw this Fular Donaji Negro sitting in the stash, just calling me. I absolutely hate fringe on wraps, and I am not too big on rainbow wraps… so I have no idea why, but I bought it. A “budget handwoven” seemed like an impossibility to me, but I was anxious to see for myself.
At this point in my wrapping career, I had yet to try a handwoven. I didn’t really “get” why people were dropping a few months’ salary (for me) on these wraps… especially considering the vast majority of them looked so boring compared to the intricacies of the patterns on the machine woven wraps I was coveting. I’ll admit I was rather new to wrapping at that time. I was mostly hanging out in Camp Natibaby at this point, living it up in Rucks and FWCC. I was eager to try out one of these coveted handwoven wraps for myself. The IndaJani rebozos had a very timely look to them. They told me that I was looking at a traditional style of baby carrier, made by an artisan who had a lifetime of experience doing this weaving. Both of my grandmothers’ hail from Mexico, so something coming out of Oaxaca was particularly appealing to me. It spoke to the tradition of motherhood and Babywearing – a tradition that I was happy to be a part of. With all those warm and fuzzy feelings welling up inside me, I rushed home to try it out.
It was not love.
I found it difficult to keep tight, diggy on my shoulders, it sagged after a short time wearing, and it was really kinda coarse in hand. It was a light and airy weave, which I liked… but overall I just struggled to keep comfortable in the few carries I knew. I wore it a couple of times, held onto it for a few months, then ultimately sold it to a friend of mine who was really interested in it despite my cautioning. She ended up falling in love with that wrap, and bought a couple more directly from IndaJani, me shaking my head all the while.
Time went by. I tried out some traveling handwovens to get a little bit more of a sense of what they felt like to wrap with. Some local mamas let me borrow a few Turkish Towels, some Bebe Sachi, a Bristol Looms, a couple of local weavers’ testers came through here… I even tried a couple of Uppy’s on at some meet-ups. I tried and tried, but still found I wasn’t that impressed with the wrapping qualities of most of these wraps. Go ahead, shun me and throw me out of all the Facebook Groups… I just couldn’t get past the feeling that these things were more coveted as status symbols than they were comfortable carriers. Clearly some stood out over others in the market… but overall I wouldn’t be selling my whole stash of machine woven wraps to fund one any time soon.
IndaJani stayed on my radar though. There was something about the authenticity of these rebozos and the unpretentiousness of what they were trying to do, that just kept calling to me amidst all the other fluff I was rolling in. I decided to try out this travelling Fular Rayado that 5mr was allowing to make the rounds. I wanted to give it another shot, given I had much more experience wrapping now. I had heard that the Diamond Weave they were doing could stand up to some larger wrapees – I wanted to see for myself. Holy cow. Game changer. Never had I wrapped with something so thick and fluffy and blankety and cushy before! It reminded me of the Turkish Towels I had tried – oh so thick and forgiving in the laziest of wrap jobs, with a knot the size of my head. My 2 year old dragon child felt weightless, and that is no easy feat these days. I wore her in hastily tied FWCC’s, sloppy rucks, rock solid Taiwanese, and a couple Double Hammocks. Ah-maz-ing. I couldn’t understand how something could be both loosely woven and airy so I wasn’t suffocating us both in the California heat, yet still be thick and supportive enough to wear my 25lb toddler around hiking and back napping with no bodily repercussions. I loved it so much, it was really hard to let it continue on its journey. I immediately asked Rachel if she had another one for me to try out for an upcoming family vacation. I would never previously had considered taking a woven wrap (much less a handwoven) to an amusement park in So Cal, but I was convinced an IndaJani would be a good fit, and I wanted to give it a go. Such a budget friendly wrap, I didn’t have to stress out about the wear and tear that it was about to endure. I took a Binni Vino to the Happiest Place on Earth, putting it to the ultimate of toddler tests. Long lines, tantruming toddlers, back naps, and miles of paved ground to cover – all in the blazing hot heat. I couldn’t have taken a better wrap. It was the perfect companion for the journey, and made a great blanket when the evening chill set in. I wore her for hours. IndaJani had totally redeemed itself.
I got home and bought a Tiil Naranja, secondhand. It’s become my favorite wrap. It is one of their Herringbone weaves, which I find to be on the more supportive side. It’s the least expensive wrap in my stash, yet it is the wrap I reach for the most. It is a beater – I never worry about it getting dirty, so I am way more likely to take it anywhere I need to be. Whether I take the time to get a nice, tight multi pass carry, or I just throw my toddler up in a quick and sloppy ruck, I never regret it. Word of caution though, this beast makes a BIG knot, and has pretty blunt tapers. I got a size 4, but can only really do Size 3 carries with it. I don’t miss the length though, with all that c-u-s-h. I am so happy I gave these wraps another go.
Besides being amazingly comfortable and oh-so-cheap… there is yet another reason to like IndaJani! Turns out they are a really awesome company too. They are part of a Society of Rural Production, cooperatively supporting this community of Artisans making their living doing something that has been in their family for many generations. Check out my earlier post about the beginning of this small-town company in Oaxaca to hear more about the awesomeness that is IndaJani.
So, why did I have such a bad first experience with the Donaji? Well to begin with, I knew a lot less about wrapping. I made the amateur mistake of not washing it first, and that “loom state” isn’t ideal for wrapping… especially as a noob. Wash your wraps friends. And iron them. Lesson learned. Also, I just wasn’t great at multi pass carries – which those longer thinner wraps really shine in. If only I knew then what I know now… I’d still have that pretty. So don’t be intimidated if you are new to wrapping. IndaJani is for everyone!
**** 5mr and IndaJani did not ask me to write this, nor did they compensate me in any way for writing it. I fell in love all by myself. The rest is history. ****
Daddies, Wear Your Babies
(Partners, caregivers, and grandparents too!)
There are a lot of useless products out there marketed towards babies and new parents. Amidst the chaos of gadgets & gizmos promising you to watch your children for you, turn your child into a mini software engineer, train your children to sleep like adults, and to otherwise make parenting a virtual Walk in the Park… there is something already out there that can do most of those things. It is a modern day version of one of the most traditional forms of child rearing known to countless cultures across time and space.
If you have a baby in your life, it’s very likely that you have seen some baby carriers in your days. If you are extremely
unlucky, you have a wife/partner/co-parent that is obsessed with these things, and owns more than you own pairs of shoes. Well, the truth of the matter is that these carriers can be one of the greatest parenting tools you could ever have. Getting your hands on a *comfortable* carrier can be a life altering moment in your relationship with your child. You have the opportunity to be a happier, more confident parent, and to be exponentially more helpful to the other parent of your child. I will break it down into 4 basic reasons that Babywearing is such a benefit to your family, and for you specifically as the non-birth parent.
- Your Baby Will Cry Less
I put this as #1, because that seems to be the biggest preoccupation with new parents, overall. No matter what approach to a parenting philosophy you decide to follow… we can all pretty much agree that stopping your infant from crying is a large part of your motivation behind it.
A (1986) study by Hunziker and Barr, two Montreal Pediatricians, looked at a control group of 99 infants. They asked the parents of these infants to wear their babies in a sling (provided to them) for at least 3 hours a day. At the end of the study, they found that the babies who were worn regularly cried 43% less. Even more exciting, they cried 54% less during the evening hours. Bonus.
Countless caregivers have experienced this phenomenon. It can be especially helpful for an infant with colic, or one with Reflux, as it helps them to remain upright – the most comfortable position for babies with this condition. It has even been suggested that historically, in societies where caregivers had to hunt for their food – babies were worn to prevent them from crying, which would scare away the prey and draw the attention of predators in the area. It even makes sense from an anthropological standpoint!
- Your Baby Will be Smarter
When you wear your infant at the same level as other adults, you are constantly exposing them to conversation, dialog, facial expressions, gestures, and the tone of different expressed emotions. As a result of this, it has been found that babies that are worn, often talk much earlier than counterparts that are constantly being placed away from their caregivers. Worn babies can be more emotionally intelligent as well, because babies learn many things by mirroring their caretakers – which they have more of an opportunity to do if they are being able to observe everyday interpersonal interactions.
Babies have been found to absorb new information and skills much better in certain mental states. Attachment Parenting gurus William and Martha Sears had the following to say about babies that are worn by caregivers: “Sling babies spend more time in the state of quiet alertness . This is the behavioral state in which an infant is most content and best able to interact with his environment. It may be called the optimal state of learning for a baby.” We go to great lengths to teach things to our babies using outside stimuli – but the simple act of wearing them at our level, can teach them so much, with so little effort.
3. You will aid in the development of your baby’s mind and body
Developmentally, human babies are born incredibly immature. Whereas many other mammals give birth to babies that can walk, run, and soon feed themselves… human babies spend pretty much the first year of their life unable to walk or self-feed. Particularly perilous for babies, is what they refer to as the “Fourth Trimester”, the first 3 months of the life of an infant. Baby is meant to be constantly in the arms of their mother, using her heartbeat and her breathing almost as a metronome for their bodily functions. All of the central operating systems of the baby, their respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, eliminative systems, nervous system… they become easily disordered causing undue stress to a newborn. A small baby is quick to get overwhelmed and exhausted. Being held skin-to-skin against the parents’ chest, is the best way to help them to remain calm and regulated. Hospitals have been integrating this practice into their care routine for infants born preterm. It is referred to as Kangaroo Care, and has been found to be incredibly helpful in the survival and recovery rates of premature infants. (If you want to know more about this “Fourth Trimester” and human gestation, I recommend checking out the discussion on Exterior Gestation in Touching, The Human Significance of the Skin by Dr. Ashley Montagu. Great read!) Wearing your baby in a soft carrier close to your body (even without a shirt on!) is helpful in bonding with and regulating your newborn baby, soothing your infant to sleep, calming your fussy teething toddler, even helping your preschooler to decompress.
Sometimes I hear Babywearing scorned by people concerned that worn babies “will never walk” since they are used to being carried. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Contrary to what people may think, worn babies often walk sooner as a result of more developed core strength. The carrier is designed to aid them in maintaining an ergonomic, upright position until they can attain it on their own, but in the meantime… this is a tremendous way to engage those core muscle groups – which will later be very important in standing and walking upright.
- Your life will be easier
I call this one the “Your wife/partner will think you are super-hot and want to make many more babies with you” benefit to Babywearing.
Seriously. Maybe I should have put this one first.
Having a new baby is hard. It is especially hard on the mother. She has all these insane hormones shifting around inside of her, a wrinkly & helpless little human constantly relying on her for their every meal and breath (practically)… and there is very little that a dad/partner can do to help alleviate that feeling of being solely responsible for this life. But Babywearing helps. It helps the mother feel that she can trust that you will keep the baby close to you, and safe. It helps her to know her baby won’t be left to cry somewhere if she tries to take a shower or a nap. It helps your baby to become familiar with your smell and your sound and your heartbeat… so they will feel safe with you in their mother’s absence and are less likely to cry. It will help you to be a more confident parent, because you have one of the most tried and true tools in your parenting arsenal.
All that, and you get to be hands free too. Many parents express frustration that their baby “won’t stop crying” when they aren’t being held. Whenever I hear that nowadays… I always assure them that they have a Smart Baby. Your baby is asking for exactly what they need, and you can provide it to them without having to give up such luxuries as eating a meal. Safely wear your baby, and have your hands free for the rest of what life throws at you. Take your baby for a walk outside in a carrier. Take them to watch your older kids play sports outside, take them to the store, take them to the mall, take them to a park. Wear them on your back while you clean dishes or take out the trash. What could possibly be hotter than your partner doing housework with your child strapped to them? To a new mom…. Not much. Trust me.
So, you want to be one of the cool guys? In the running for “Father of the Year?” Where do you begin? Well, everyone knows about those front-facing backpack style carriers (some older Bjorns, Snugli, Infantino, to name a few of them). These are the most common ones in stores, but are actually probably the silliest looking and most uncomfortable ones on the market. Will your baby still get all the benefits of being worn? Of course. Will your back hurt like hell and make you not want to wear the baby anymore? Most likely. I have read so many blog posts or seen comments on Babywearing forums about how people stopped wearing because their kid got too big and it hurt their back. I totally agree that kids get big and heavy, but most people would likely be able to wear for a lot longer if they had a more comfortable carrier suited to ergonomically carry a baby/toddler. There are many different kinds of carriers out there! The most common ones you can find on the market, are Ring Slings, Meh Dai’s, Woven Wraps, and Soft Structured Carriers. You can buy these things online, and locally at many baby stores. There are actually organizations, like Babywearing International for example, that are out there to help you figure out what kind of carrier could work for you and have awesome Volunteer Babywearing Educators that are there to help you with using one. Some even have meetings with lending libraries where you can try on and borrow carriers. Amazing, right?
There are some places online where you can get some more information also. I have to shout out to The Babywearer.com which is the ultimate resource on all things Babywearing. Sheffield Sling Library has some great articles, and BOBA actually has one of my favorite compilations of articles on the benefits of Babywearing. Flashy. If you are a guy reading this and you are at all concerned with not looking *manly* enough in a baby carrier, I present to you some of my favorite Daddy Wrappers: Danny the Babywearing Dad and Slingdad Dom… holding it down on the Y side of the spectrum. These guys are out there spreading the message that Daddies can wear babies too. They both have some great You Tube Babywearing tutorials out there for your viewing pleasure.
There, I made it all easy for you and everything. Click on those links! Ask for some help! Let your baby’s mama pick out a carrier! Wear.All.The.Babies!
IndaJani Brings Traditional Rebozos to a Modern Audience
It seems like handwoven wraps are all anyone talks about nowadays, so with all the chatter on thesubject, I am always surprised at how little I hear about IndaJani. IndaJani is a brand of woven wrap that is coming out of the state of Oaxaca in Southwestern Mexico, based on a traditional rebozo shawl -common with many of the indigenous groups of Mexico, Peru and Guatemala. IndaJani has taken one of the oldest baby carriers out there and transformed it into something beautiful, simple, functional, and modern. Being of Mexican ancestry myself, I was particularly interested in these rebozos, and drawn to the idea of sharing in this tradition that had long been a part of the lives of the women of my family. I had to know more about how this company came to be, so I reached out to the owner Erika Mendoza. She was nice enough to take the time to share the story of her company with me, which I am happy to share.
Erika left her Philosophy studies and retail jobs in Mexico City, to escape to a more rural town called Miahuatlán of Porfirio Diaz in the state of Oaxaca, to focus on her jewelry making passions and start a family. She confessed that she was met with much confusion for this unconventional decision. Most people in her region sought the big city life, a return to rural life was seen as a very unpopular choice. Still Erika felt this draw to a simpler, more agrarian lifestyle, and decided to begin her family in this little town.
Before long, she became pregnant with her first child. Erika, like a lot of new moms, found that after the birth of her daughter, she was longing for a way to satisfy her babies need to be constantly held. Her husband came from a family of Artisan weavers, and he presented her with a traditional rebozo, a woven cloth used in many parts of Mexico as a blanket, shawl, and often as a way to carry babies. As excited as she was to use it, she found she was quite awkward with it. She jokes that the local women laughed at her as they watched her struggle to use the piece of cloth. She could never quite get comfortable using the shawl as a carrier, leading her husband to search for another option. He found a ring sling for her, and she immediately took to it. When she would wear the ring sling around in the streets, women in the town who were used to seeing more traditional carriers – would approach her and ask where they too could get one of these ring slings. Erika felt there was a growing interest in these slings, and she wanted to be able to supply them. She bought a bunch of Rod Rings from a hardware store, a sewing machine, and she went to Oaxaca to speak to her husband’s uncles about weaving her some longer lengths of cloth.
The large European style foot pedal looms that these rebozos are woven on were traditionally used by men, and still today you will find that the majority of Artisan weavers in Mexico utilizing these larger looms are male. In this tradition, Erika’s husbands Uncles (who she affectionately calls her own) wove the first lengths of cloth for her to sew into Ring Slings to sell. When Erika brought her finished product to the women who commissioned them, they were not interested in purchasing them because of their cost. Traditional rebozos could be bought for much less, it seemed. With all these slings and nobody to buy them, Erika’s husband suggested she post them for sale on Mercado Libre, a South American version of EBay. She explains how they decided on the name for their business. “I decided to name my shawls IndaJani, a Zapotec word meaning water born or spring. I chose this word for two reasons. The first is because I had thought of that name for my daughter and the second is because the Zapotec language is the language spoken by my Uncles, the artisans who make these shawls.” A business was born.
A month went by with no takers. Then… her first sale. It started slowly, but before she knew it…orders were rolling in. She stopped using the Rod Rings from the hardware store and switched over to Sling Rings, started asking the Uncles to weave wider shawls, and enlisted the help of her sister – a painter – to design the original Inda Jani logo. Retail and wholesale were really picking up. All the money they made would be used to pay her Uncles for the fabric, and the rest they invested heavily in their blossoming business. It was a family affair, with Erika and her husband handling all the back-end of the business. She would even sew the tags onto the wraps and take all the packages to post by herself. It was a lot of work, and when Erika became pregnant with her second child… she was starting to feel like it was time to lay the brand to rest. She was feeling exhausted physically and mentally, and her daughter was starting to demand more attention as she got older. They made the decision to stop, and made the trip to see her Uncles to tell them the news.
The news was not taken well by the Uncles. They told Erika that they were all relying on IndaJani for their livelihood. Not just them, but their families and community. They asked her to reconsider her decision. It was at this moment when Erika really took a look around and realized how much that IndaJani had grown. Instead of closing it… they decided to grow it. Everyone was depending on them. They started to create a corporate image. They designed a website for themselves, and she took a chance suggesting her mother leave her day job to come work full time sewing for their company. They moved their store to Mexico City, and began to incorporate more artisans into their production line. Many of the artisans that they included were working in areas with little to no tourist exposure, and their crafts were not otherwise available for sale on a larger scale. They made the decision to partner with all these artisans. Erika explains, “We decided that IndaJani would be one team. Because of this we are a Society of Rural Production, where we are all partners and all have the same rights but different obligations.” The Uncles continue to weave rebozos in the rural area of Oaxaca where they are from, and they continue to find new artisans to join their Society and benefit from the brand image that they have created.
And just like this, IndaJani has grown from their first sale in December 2010, to the company that they are now. Erika doesn’t have huge ambitions for the company. Rather than growing much bigger, she says that their goal is to improve the quality of what they are already doing. She expresses a longing for the simpler days, when they were just starting out. Erika shares “Sometimes I tell my husband I miss those days when I sewed two or three shawls in a week and took them to mail out and I ate ice cream with my daughter.” IndaJani has grown way beyond that now, with multiple people filling the positions that Erika once held in the fledgling company.
I can’t help but wonder about the future of IndaJani. With all the proposed United States Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations on the horizon, I worry that many of these smaller woven wrap and ring sling producers may be forced to close up shop… or at least to stop selling their wares in the U.S. market. Their U.S. Distributor Five Minute Recess has already expressed concern over whether or not they will be able to continue to carry IndaJani’s product once these regulations are passed. This is disappointing to think about, but what is the reality of these companies being able to come up with the resources to do this extensive (in my opinion exhaustive) testing and labeling on a product that has been safely made and utilized for hundreds of years? It seems kind of ridiculous to me. Beyond that, I have a lot of hangups with the way the handwoven market has blown up. Why is it that people are willing to mortgage houses over Uppy’s... yet have little to no interest in these Mexican artisans? They are making their livelihood practicing a trade that has been in their family for generations, which is something I personally feel I should support. How can their handcrafted work be valued so much less when it takes the same effort and skill? The average IndaJani rebozo retails right around $100. Anyway, don’t get me started on that. I know my feelings on this subject are not very popular.
I really hope that IndaJani can come up with the resources to keep doing what they are doing, because I love their work. I love being a part of the continuing tradition of these traditional carriers – and I love supporting the Society of Rural Production that they are a part of. This company is the backbone of an entire community – one that I hope can carve out a niche in this ever changing market. Erika has a very positive take on things. She had the following to say about the future of the company she helped to create. “That’s the story of a dream that we never planned. The story of a company that fills me with pride and has given me many joys and satisfactions. I do not know where or how IndaJani [will finish] but I am proud of having started it.”
*** Many thanks to Erika Mendoza for taking the time to share this story with me. The conversation between us relied heavily on Google translate. My 8 years of formal Spanish education was a friggin’ joke. I feel this post accurately depicts the sentiment of the story as it was told to me, though not an exact translation.***
The subways & sidewalks were no match for us in Nati Passiflora
Inda Jani for 5mr.com
A little pop of color makes this simple look an instant classic.
Keppeke for 5mr.com
This jeans and a t-shirt look turns heads when this simple yet beautiful wrap enters the equation.