Navigating the Online Babywearing World of Buy, Sell and Trade (b/s/t): How to ship a baby carrier

by VBE Kirsteen

Our first installment of navigating the world of online buying, selling and trading will start with a question I am asked often.  How do I get a carrier ready for shipment? Since I have a lot of experience with this topic I will kickoff this series.

Choosing a mail carrier

The most common method is to use the United States Postal Service as the carrier (You can also use Fed Ex or UPS but pricing appears to be higher for small packages so many sellers tend to stick to USPS).  If you receive payment for your carrier via Paypal you have the ability to print a shipping label directly from a link within Paypal at home.  This allows you to have the buyer’s information automatically populated into the shipping label without any guesswork.  For any disputes with Paypal you need to have shipped to the buyer’s address as stated in Paypal (More on the topic of disputes in a later post).

Choosing your mailer

There are several shipping material methods to choose with USPS.

-The most popular are the free Tyvek mailers that are usually always available at the facility.  While they are lightweight and fit quite a lot they are not water proof so please do not use them alone to mail a carrier.  I use the Tyvek mailers inside the packaging with the to/from address section filled out.

-Another option is to order the padded flat rate bubble mailers, which are free to order.  You must first create an account with the USPS then you can order these mailers and they will be delivered to your door.  They are my preferred method for small/thinner wraps or ring slings.  You can choose this option on Paypal’s direct link to print a label and it cost about $5.25 to mail, if done online you also receive free confirmation and tracking as well as $50 of free insurance (NOTE: These are different than the recycled newspaper mailers you find at the facility which cost a few dollars.  Those mailers are discouraged from being used as they have been known to get wet or caught in the machinery at the post office which could cause damage to your carrier).

-The padded bubble mailers will not fit most soft structured carriers, mei tais or larger wraps so in those cases you have two more options.  First you can get the flat rate boxes at the facility. Usually a carrier will fit in the medium size which run about $12 to ship.  You can still use the Paypal label printing for these flat rate boxes.

-Or you can order online regional rate boxes for free.  Like the padded bubble mailers these will be delivered to your door.  Regional rate A is good for carriers up to 2lbs after that weight you could use regional rate B box.  The shipping rate will depend on destination but for me has run about $7.55 to the east and west coasts and $5.55 for closer states. You unable to  pick the regional rate box as an option when printing a label through Paypal but you can login to the USPS site and choose this option.  You must enter a weight and value and these boxes will come up in the displayed options for shipping.  They come with priority status and the same free delivery tracking and confirmation and $50 free insurance.  I really like this option for expensive items since I feel the box is the best protection for my carrier to get to its destination.

Packaging your carrier

With all these options I always ziplock my carrier with a note or card that has the to/from information, then usually a Tyvek mailer with the to/from information, then the outer mailer with the information again.  It may seem redundant but it is worth it to make sure your carrier arrives where it is intended.  As a seller it is your responsibility to make sure it gets there and Paypal will refund the buyer if you can not prove it was sent with utmost care and tracking.

Should I get insurance?

Often  people will ask the buyer to pay extra for insurance but as the seller it is protection for you if the item is lost.  You can use the USPS to add additional insurance or a company called U-pic will insure once you have a tracking number to enter. If you use U-Pic you must purchase the insurance within 24hrs from mailing or printing your label.  I have used both methods and thankfully have not had to make a claim with either service but my understanding is that U-pic can be easier to work with.

Choosing a shipping option

USPS will come to pick up your packages at your house if at least one package is being mailed priority.  All your carrier sales should be mailed priority if within the US.  Having the postman pick up at your home is a great benefit if you don’t want to pack up the family to take a trip to the PO.

Final thought

Lastly I would like to add that as a seller I like to include a little note and sometimes a chocolate (bagged separately) when sending my carrier off to its new home for baby snuggles.  It is always fun to connect with another mama in this way and really makes someone’s day when you are on the receiving end of that extra kindness.

 

 

 

 

Meeting Recap: Emergency Babywearing

by VBE Sarah

(note: a lot of the carries we demonstrated were inspired by this blog post)

For our special topic this month, we talked about the ways in which babywearing and baby carriers can be very useful in emergency situations.

 

1) First we talked about uses (other than wearing a baby) for wraps or carriers in an emergency

-you can use a wrap to cross a waterway or pull someone up, as a splint, or as a tourniquet

-you can use any carrier to carry supplies

-you can carry an injured pet (although as a side note, a pillowcase is a MUCH better impromptu cat carrier than a woven wrap (eek!)). In an emergency situation, you may not have free hands for your little bitty dogs, or what if you have a really large dog that you have to move? A carrier may be the easiest way to get to the vet.

 

2) Next we discussed some carriers that are useful to keep in an emergency supply kit, in your car, or even under your pillow or bed

-Has your child outgrown a carrier? Instead of selling it online (the market is super slow right now), what about keeping it as an emergency carrier?

-Maybe you want to buy a specific carrier just for emergency situations. A pouch sling is an excellent choice. Pouch slings are very inexpensive and compact. Remember, though, that they are not one size fits all – you have to size a pouch sling to the wearer (different brands have different sizing schemes, but the main rule is that the sling should fit from one shoulder to the top of your opposite hip). There are also some great sscs that fold up nice and tiny, like our lending library’s Bitybean or Connecta.

 

3) Finally, our VBEs demonstrated how to fashion carriers out of everyday materials.

(As a general disclaimer, none of these are tested for safety. You should always use your best judgment for whether something feels safe to you. Some of the front carries we demonstrated are not entirely hands free, so always be aware of your child)

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Jill showed how you can use a scarf to do a rebozo carry (or even just pretied it to fit from one shoulder to the opposite hip)

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Kirsteen demonstrated a strap carry. You can use anything strap-like (a bunched up long scarf, the belt from your robe, or even some nylon rope) to carry your child on your back. This carry is exactly like a ruck tied under bum, just make sure that your child cannot get their arms under the straps, or they could fall out

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Kirsteen also demonstrated how to use a bed sheet, folded lengthwise, for a rebozo carry

This isn’t pictured, but Kirsteen also threaded the scarf through a shirt for a makeshift podaegi. Sarah showed how you can also thread a scarf through the sleeves of your shirt that you are wearing to make a pocket for a newborn. Tie the tails under bum and you’re good to go!

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Sarah showed how you can put a belt over your shirt for a newborn carry (not hands free, by any means!)

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Sarah also demonstrated a torso towel carry

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Finally, Sarah wore Jill on her back in a strap carry, to show how you can even wear an injured or infirm adult in an emergency situation

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Hopefully none of us will ever need to test these skills in an emergency situation. But in the meantime, it’s not a bad idea to think about how babywearing could help you in a disaster. Do you have an emergency plan?

 

Breaking in a Wrap (Pavo Gotham)

by VBE Sarah

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So, Jill has already talked about breaking in a brand new hemp wrap here, but I thought I’d talk about some of the ways I have been breaking in my new Pavo. Pavos are known for being VERY beastly wraps. People with heavy toddlers and/or sensitive shoulders tend to gravitate towards Pavos because they are known for being very supportive wraps that nevertheless are also stretchy (a lot of wraps offer rock-solid support, but they usually compromise on stretch in order to do so. So, for example, linen is a great fiber for offering support, but it does. not. stretch).

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My amazing husband (proudly modeling our new pavo bag ^^^) was able to score a Pavo Gotham Onyx for me (that’s the other thing – Pavos are very difficult to buy new, since they sell out in a matter of seconds. Used is a great option, however, since you can often skip the difficult breaking in period!). When the wrap arrived to us we were able to stand the fabric straight up, it was THAT stiff!

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Since the wrap came to us in loom state (never washed), we first set about washing it. It’s never a good idea to wrap with a brand new unwashed wrap, since this can cause thread shifting to occur (There’s my husband again ^^^ breaking this rule for a quick test run before washing). Thread shifting compromises the safety of the wrap and decreases its resale value. Anyway, after washing the wrap, I put it in the dryer on delicate with some wool dryer balls. This is a fantastic way to break in a wrap, and is the least labor intensive!

After drying, I busted out my iron. With the iron set to “cotton” and, on the highest steam level, I got to work steam ironing both sides of the wrap. I could already feel it softening up. Steam ironing is also important because it can help prevent premature wearing at the rails of the wrap and can also prevent permanent creases (“permacreases”) from forming. Which direction do you iron your wraps? I prefer to iron the short side, moving it incrementally towards me and folding it, accordion style, on a small stool or chair in front of me.

Now the hard work began. Oh, and by the way, you can always just USE your wrap and continue to wash, dry, and iron it, to break it in (NOTE: the kind of fiber your wrap is made with will determine whether or not it is safe to machine dry and/or steam iron). If, however, you’re wanting to speed up that process or have a super beastly wrap (seriously, this Pavo will not break itself in in a million years …)

you can try … super coiling:

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Start at one end of the wrap and just start twisting the crap out of it. I would do this at night (hence the dark lighting of that photo) while watching TV. Once it’s coiled you can also gently pull and tug on the different sections to help move things along. Just like with braiding a wrap, the breaking in happens by the action of supercoiling, not by the wrap just sitting there super coiled. In other words, you don’t just do this once and let the wrap sit, you do it, uncoil the wrap, and start coiling again.

Another thing I did was run the wrap through two medium sling rings. (Sling rings are best purchased online from http://www.slingrings.com/ – do not use welded rings, for breaking in a wrap or (especially) for wearing a baby)

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Finally, I wove the wrap through our baby gate and pulled sections of it back and forth. Be careful that there’s nothing that can snag the wrap (so, we were careful to avoid the hinges on our baby gate). After awhile my arms got really tired, so my husband (and son) started helping me. People also use the slats of baby cribs to achieve a similar effect.

Gotham is breaking in nicely. She’s gotten very soft to the touch and is not NEARLY as stiff as when she came to me. She’s still not “floppy”, though, but for now I think I’ll just enjoy wrapping with her and give my arms a break (Let’s fact it, if I was after some guns, I would carry my son, not wear him!)

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TBT – Beginning Babywearing

For Throwback Thursday, we’ve compiled some great posts for those just beginning their baby wearing journey!

Looking to purchase a carrier? Here are some tips for you.

New to wrapping? Here are some good carries to try: Front Cross CarryFront Wrap Cross Carry, Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (best carry to start with if you have a stretchy wrap, aka a “moby-style” wrap)

Trying a back carry for the first time? Here’s an easy and safe way to get baby on your back.

Having trouble getting a “good seat”? Check out these tips!

Wanting to come to the next meeting for some help? Here is a link to our upcoming events.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Feel free to poke around on our blog – there’s some good stuff there!

Breaking in a wrap (Didymos THI (Turqoise Hemp Indio))

by VBE Jill

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I recently had the opportunity to purchase a new Didymos that was released in October. As some of you saw on our Facebook page, I bought turquoise hemp indio (THI). It took some convincing of the husband and some site stalking to find one in a size I wanted that wasn’t sold out but I found a size 4 from Baby Adorables. I must say, quick shipping and everything was great! Anyway, I immediately opened it, dying to see my new wrap. It was gorgeous… and then I picked it up. It felt like burlap. I knew about stiff wraps – you always hear about them – but this was my first NEW wrap purchase. I started questioning if this wrap was really going to be as awesome as I had hoped.

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I wrapped with it and it was loose because it wasn’t moldable. I tried wrapping my 7 year old. I brought it to the meeting and the color was a hit. So I was determined to soften it up as quickly as possible! I washed it on hot (please check the care of your wrap before washing as not all material can be treated the same; hemp loves heat) and hung it to dry. Felt a little better but still rough. I steam ironed the heck out of it, which helped a lot. Then when I had company over, I mindlessly started braiding it. I have twisted it with my husband over and over. Basically, anything to get the fibers to loosen up. It is so much softer but I know it still has a way to go. But the key is, don’t be afraid to wear a wrap that isn’t broken it. It will only help the process along. To make sure I don’t give up on it, I have tried to make it my sole carrier.

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If you’re wondering what else you can do to break in a wrap, there are plenty of things to try. You can tie it around your table and create a hammock for your child(ren). Putting it under your fitted sheet and sleeping on it will also help loosen it up. Have a crib or banister? Try feeding the wrap through the slats. The more you move the carrier, the softer it will become.

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Buying new can be daunting due to the amount of work that goes into breaking in a wrap and buying used from a b/s/t group is a wonderful option. But hopefully my experience will help those of you who choose to buy new.

Review: Comfy Joey Toddler Width Ring Sling

By SS

 

I wore my 24# 15 mo in this carrier for several up/down trips and one longer nursing session. I like the extra width on the carrier for a tall toddler (like my guy). He loves to bounce himself in carriers, so with ring slings I always make a VERY deep seat for him (like, the bottom rail comes up to his bellybutton deep). With the extra width on this carrier, I can do that with no problem and still have plenty of fabric for a snuggly nap, if that ever happens.

 

I love the black and white look of the fabric. It’s very classy, while still making a fashion statement. For men with an aversion to anything slightly girly, this is a great option!

 

I was surprised to find out the fabric is silk! It’s thin and strong, with little to no stretch or bounce, but with some cush. The texture is a little rough to the touch (not silky, by any means), but not at all irritating.

 

The shoulder is a simple gathered shoulder. Shoulder style is always a personal preference kind of thing. The advantage to a gathered shoulder is being able to cup the fabric onto the outside of your shoulder. This spreads the fabric (and baby’s weight) out more.

Meeting Recap: Saturday, November 16: How to Get Baby on Your Back

by VBE Sarah

Our VBEs demonstrated several ways to get a baby on your back.

VBE Kirsteen demonstrated the chair method with a soft-structured carrier (can also be done with a mei tai or a wrap):

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VBE Beth demonstrated the hip scoot, straps in front method with a soft-structured carrier (can also be done with a mei tai):

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VBE Jill demonstrated the hip scoot with a mei tai (can also be done with a soft-structured carrier or a wrap):

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VBE Courtney demonstrated the Santa Toss method with a woven wrap:

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VBE Sarah demonstrated the Superman Toss method with a woven wrap (can also be done with a mei tai or a soft-structured carrier, either already fastened around the waist, or with the straps of the carrier around baby’s shoulders):

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VBE Sarah also demonstrated the Over the Head method with a woven wrap (can also be done with a mei tai or a soft-structured carrier already fastened around the waist):

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Meeting Recap: Saturday October 19th 2013 : Winter Wearing

This past Saturday’s meeting was on the subject of Winter Wearing! With the cool weather already starting to approach this meeting could not have come at a better time. The topic was lead by  VBE Beth with some insight from our other VBE’s Courtney, Sarah and Jill.

Beth first let everyone know that it is perfectly fine to wear a coat, sweater, fleece whatever you keep warm with under your carrier, and for your baby to do the same in the carrier. This is probably the easier, cheapest option for winter wearing but can easily become very bulky.  So Beth went on to explore the other winter wearing options available for both front and back carrying. Another easy option is to buy an over-sized coat or sweater and just zip baby right up into a front carry with you. For back carrying Beth suggesting buying a slightly over-sized fleece and cutting a head hole for baby.

Obviously company’s saw there was a need for such products so the first Coat  made for babywearing is Suse’s Kinder (http://www.suseskinder.com). Our library recently got a very nice winter wear vest made by Peekaru which is now part of the Boba family of products (http://store.bobafamily.com/outerwear). Beth next demonstrated a product she owns called a Monkey Pocket which just covers the carrier and baby.  She demonstrated a toddler sized Monkey Pocket but it does come in other sizes (http://monkeypockets.blogspot.com). CatBird also makes a winter carrier cover which our almost local to us store Once Upon a Sling carries (http://www.onceuponasling.com).

Another issue with winter babywearing is baby’s exposed legs. Typically you may have your baby in pants but with most carriers, wraps, slings whatever your using, the babies pants end up hiked up and ankles are then exposed. Beth suggested babylegs, or similar products to keep those ankles warm (http://www.babylegs.com)

Many people are interested in other DIY options. One of the easiest DIY options is a No-Sew Fleece Poncho. The Materials needed for this are 1.75 yards of fleece and a pair of scissors! More information on how to make this no-sew fleece poncho can be found here: http://www.fineandfairblog.com/2013/09/diy-no-sew-babywearing-poncho-coat.html . As discussed earlier another option is to turn a regular coat into a babywearing coat. DIY information for this project, which does involve sewing can be found here: http://thepurebaby.blogspot.com/2010/09/homemade-babywearing-coat-for-pure-baby.html .

Other winter babywearing Tips that Beth suggested is to pre-tie your stretchy or woven wrap to help keel the tails from dragging in the wet and snow. Also with a wrap you can  use the pocket method and attempt to keep your tails tucked in your pockets while wrapping. Beth said her favorite method was to just to tuck baby in her coat and then wrap once inside the store. Also using a SSC or a ring sling might be a better option for particular wet winter days as there is not much risk of dragging the carrier on the wet ground!

 

Welsh Nursing Shawl Tutotrial

by VBE Kirsteen

For International Babywearing Week I will show the traditional Welsh Nursing Shawl Carry that my Scottish mother used to carry  my sister and I when we were wee.  I am  on location at Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick, England.

First you take your shawl and fold it in half to form a triangle.

 

Put across your back with both ends coming over your shoulders.

Pick up your baby onto your hip you wish to carry on.

Take the opposite side under your arm and tuck between your legs to hold tension.  This is similar to a rebozo carry.

Take the side the baby is on over their shoulder and around their legs.  Tuck the shawl  under babies bum.

Take the piece between your legs, pull out all slack and bring that piece over babies leg and tuck up and under the opposite side.

The babies weight will keep tension on the shawl keeping them in place.