Sunday 1st July, Washington DC
The third day of the International Babywearing Conference started with another morning packed full of workshops. In Free Form Wrapping, Kelly Laffin of the Canadian Babywearing School talked everyone through the principles of using a woven wrap without worrying about using the ‘right’ names for carries or ‘doing it right’ as long as baby & babywearer are safe & comfortable.
Next, I was part of the panel for a BCIA (Baby Carriers Industry Alliance) discussing how we had turned a babywearing hobby into a business. Fellow panellists included Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions and Ann Hubbard of Once Upon a Sling. We had some great questions and discussed how the BCIA can support manufacturers, retailers & educators looking to turn a hobby into a business.
We had a short break after the panel, the chance to try on some more slings and for Alexander to meet some other babyworn babies and play! It was great chatting to fellow educators from Canada and to some of the US conference attendees.
After lunch, we listened to the keynote speaker, Rachel Coleman, the founder of Signing Time, a series of DVDs and television programmes featuring baby signing. She has a fifteen year old daughter who was born profoundly deaf and a twelve year old daughter with spina bifida who has been babyworn all of her life – and still is today!
Then I was invited to take part in the BCIA Retailers workshop, a fascinating chance to listen to the issues faced by retailers in the US, Canada and Norway. It would be great to compare these with the issues for retailers in the UK.
Monday 2nd July, Washington DC
The final day of the Conference included workshops on Traditional and Modern Babywearing in Japan. Masayo Sonada, the owner of Hokkyoko Shirokumado, spoke about cultural aspects of child-rearing in Japan and the effects of this on babywearing practice, concluding with a demonstartion of how to use an obi (linen kimono tie) to carry a baby – in a very similar way to using a woven wrap.
In Emergency Babywearing, Judy Robertson showed us how to use a variety of everyday objects to carry babies in emergency sitautions (think tornado/natural disaster). Then we got to practice using objects we’d brought (I had a suitcase luggage strap).
In Babywearing Culture, Arie Brentnall-Compton of the Canadian Babywearing School talked about how culture and practice has affected different styles of babywearing around the world, showing us an amazing range of traditional baby carriers and allowing us to try some.
After a shared lunch & conference closing, it was time to say goodbye to all of our new friends from the babywearing world and to look forward to our own European Babywearing Conference in July 2013 – see you there, I hope.