Lori Post of Babywearing International of Greater Austin is a wonderful person to have in my life. Conversations with her always help me challenge and clarify my existing ideas while leaving me feeling optimistic about the work I’m trying to do. Plus, she’s an incredible listener, educator, and babywearer.
She interviewed me for the Babywearing International, Inc. blog, and I hope you’ll visit the site and read the resulting post, which also contains links to video tutorials I created for other educators.
Below is the start of a gigantic project that I believe is important for my field of work. I hope this page may help make it easier to recruit more participants with their diverse perspectives for this project. Thank you for your help.
More and more people are working, whether paid or unpaid, as babywearing educators. As the field has matured, several of us who have connected through our work realized that we were having many separate conversations all over the world about ways that we as educators could better support families and each other.
Several of us were able to meet in person early this year in Chicago, where we discussed our concerns about and ideas for improving the industry. A few volunteered to begin working on pieces of a shared vision, all fully expecting that we would modify this vision as the community evolves, that others would be included at different stages to make their contributions in an organic way.
I’m asking for your input on the piece I have in my hands: drafting minimum standards for professional babywearing education.
I believe such a list would be useful on its own for several reasons. It could help distinguish anyone who shares information relating to babywearing from those who identify as professional babywearing educators, with the professionals *voluntarily* committing to practicing in alignment with these standards. The standards could help educator training programs and schools establish or refine curriculum and help even non-professional babywearing educators understand where to start if they are interested in this career field.
These standards, which I hope to present as a draft in the next few months, have the potential to interlock with and strengthen several other components. One example of a component of the vision that would connect with these standards would be an academic journal specializing in babywearing research, which in turn would help support, refine, or drastically change the standards.
I am asking for your input in a survey linked below. Once I have collected your input and used them to as a basis for the standards, I intend to formally propose the draft to our community. What I hope will happen immediately afterward, is that a few educators would voluntarily begin practicing with these standards in place, publicizing the fact that they do, and offer feedback (the collection method will be announced upon the draft’s proposal). At a next good opportunity to gather many of our industry’s thinkers and leaders, I would then present compiled feedback from these educators, a revised draft of the minimum standards, and seek to adopt that draft as the first version of what I hope will be a stable, though improvable document.
I would hope that educators would in actuality to practice to much higher standards than what may end up on this minimum standards list. In addition to describing what you think *all* professional educators should teach, I am therefore also also asking you to describe the practices and skills you believe exceptional educators would use, even though I perceive that establishing best practices will be an immensely more complicated (but still worthwhile) project.
I would appreciate your sending me your input by September 5: http://bit.ly/PracticeStandards **
If you would like to edit your submission after sending the form, you are welcome to submit another or contact me so I may amend your original submission. I will leave the survey open after September 5, but I plan to begin reviewing responses at that time.
* Thanks to Beco for hosting the survey.
** Some respondents have reported that the “Submit” button was only visible from a desktop.
Texas will be hosting its first retreat for baby wearing educators and group leaders, open to all those working in our field regardless of affiliation. The educational and networking event is to be Texas-focused but open to any who wish to attend.
The planning committee has just announced the sessions, and I’m part of the program. Please don’t make too much of the high praise they’ve given me; I’m just exited to participate, collaborate, and get to know more of my regional colleagues. And participate in that pillow fight. It’s been too long.
Please read more and register here!
Thanks to Laura of ErgoBaby and Alex of Beco (I’m imagining fanfare and heraldry), I’m going to talk my head off at the Babywearing 101 class at MommyCon this coming Saturday, March 21. Let’s see how much information I can spit out in less than an hour!
I’m looking forward to joining Bayou City Mamas again to talk about babywearing and focus on soft structured carriers: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March at Babies ‘R Us (9730 Katy Freeway, Houston TX). I think the VIP ticket ($55) is an incredible value, if you’re interested in buying a soft structured (backpack-style) carrier. I understand there are a limited number of these. The class itself, which also includes a meal, is $15.
The “who” update
Good-bye, Oneiroknots. I’ll be working under my own name. Thanks to the insight of friends, I learned I was ready to drop some emotional baggage and take a sweet and simple approach to naming my business. Ahhh, refreshing. For now, angeliquegeehan.com will simply redirect to the old website. Complete relocation will wait a bit.
What I will be doing
As before, I will work directly with families, both through the nonprofit Babywearing International of Greater Houston (BWIGH) and as a private consultant for those who prefer to meet in their own homes or hospital rooms, in the company of people familiar to them.
I will be reconnecting as a guest speaker with some the amazing parenting support groups, doulas, midwives, and organizations I worked with last year. I am also planning to keep training more professional babywearing educators, whether babywearing is to be their primary practice area or a skill that supplements a related profession.
This year, I have also begun working as a brand ambassador for different manufacturers at trade shows, conferences, and special events. These public-facing experiences should prove at least as informative as the more behind-the-scenes work I have done with retailers and manufacturers, which also continues.
However, sadly, I do not plan to hold more babywearing educator certification trainings for Babywearing Institute (BI) in Texas, where regulations from the Texas Workforce Commission now require that either I or BI be licensed in order to offer certification. I may be able hold certification classes in other states, but I also believe it sensible to delay teaching BI certification courses until the curriculum has been updated and operations stabilized. (I’m open to ideas on this direction. As my students may wish to know, I did submit feedback about the material last year, though with the management transitions the organization is working through, I understand that materials updates may take a while.)
In the meantime, I will continue to work with businesses and individuals, whether in Houston or other communities, to hold independent training sessions tailored to attendees’ needs. In a future post, I’ll describe my ideas for how the community of babywearing educators can build a way for our experience and skills to be more easily recognized by those who value credentialing, even without certification.
When I will be teaching next
I hereby declare I will work to keep this page about upcoming events and classes updated better this year. I also have it on my list of personal aspirations to blog more, both to document the cool stuff people are doing and to reflect on what I’m learning and doing.
To discuss current and future classes and workshops, please request admission to this closed Facebook group or send me a message at ag [at] angeliquegeehan.com.
Where I see this all going
I imagine that in a few years, perhaps less than a decade, every caregiver who wants to use a carrier with their child will be able to. This means they will have access to a carrier and support on how to use it.
To make this happen, I believe Houston needs more people able to teach babywearing, both on a volunteer and a professional basis. Before more people want to teach babywearing professionally, I think our community needs to see babywearing educators better recognized for their work (both paid and unpaid) and better able to support their families by working in this field. And as I cannot imagine our ever having enough volunteer educators, I am recommitting to training more educators through BWIGH every year until we do (or until someone else relieves me of that commitment).
Babywearing is a practice that can help caregivers better meet the needs of all the individuals in their families. It isn’t the only way, and it isn’t required, but it is one awesome way that can be made easily accessible. I believe families that have more of their needs met grow individuals who are happier and better able to fulfill their own lives and contribute to improving their own communities. So, MOAR BABYWEARING, please!
How did you make it to the bottom of this post?
If you did, thank you. I appreciate your time and attention. I appreciate all who have been understanding of my delays in getting this update out and the conversations I’ve had with colleague-friends who have helped me clarify an approach that feels right for now. It’s a work in progress.
…And some took notes! I love it.
Thanks to family counselor Stephanie Frey, who I met through Shenequa Aranda of Premier Baby Planning, I was invited to speak to some Bellaire Young Mothers about babywearing. I found the welcome warm, the space at Village Executive Suites beautifully tranquil, and the group full of good questions.
Some resources I mentioned during our discussion follow below.
- Babywearing International’s resource page, with tutorials
- An old but pretty thorough ring sling tutorial of mine
- TheBabywearer.com, which requires registration but is free to join
I also mentioned Sleeping Baby Productions, Comfy Joey, Maya Wrap, and Zolowear ring slings, though buying through local businesses Woodland Babies and Nurtured Family may be more straightforward and allow for help shopping.
Whatever I’ve forgotten to include, please let me know. I’ll update this post as needed.
Thank you all for the opportunity. I hope to see many of you at BWIGH meetings, events around town, and anytime you may need further support.
This year, I’ve joined the staff of Brilliantly Baby to offer a Babywearing Basics class on the first Saturday each month from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at their office just near Gessner and I-10, across the highway from Memorial City Mall. The cost is $35 per couple or $25 per person. Please visit the Brilliantly Baby site and click on the link in the calendar to register.
I cover best practices for safety and optimal body positioning and explain why those choices make sense. I also demonstrate how to use the major types of carriers available on the market and review their possible benefits and drawbacks.
Since the first time I met the company’s founders, I was impressed with their professionalism, experience, and passion. We also have in common a desire to present common-sense information that is medically sound in a way that empowers families.
I hope you’ll join me or send a friend you think would enjoy the class.