Pardon the lack of posting -- we've been traveling! This past week I attended the International Babywearing Conference in Washington, DC. It was our first long car ride/road trip as a family, but the event was well worth braving the confinement of the car, and -- once we arrived -- 100+ degree temps coupled with insanely turbulent midnight thunderstorms.
We set out on our journey well-stocked with things to munch on (the Roasted Seaweed snacks were inhaled within minutes), songs (the 2009 and 2012 Birth Mixes via iPod), and of course Mad Libs (Outer Space-themed). We arrived in DC none the worse for wear, and in good spirits, the kids having slept for over half the trip!
I loved being at the conference (I took Hazel along with me each day while the boys hung out with Grandma, who lives in the area). It was so cool to be surrounded by babywearing families and knowledgeable experts on everything from breastfeeding to cloth diapering to the history and science of baby carriers. I took the above photo while sitting in on a class called Psychological Outcomes of Babywearing which spanned primate research, child development, attachment theory, brain development research and the effects of neurotransmitters and hormones on the attachment and development process and included a review of the current scientific findings on the psychological effects of baby carrying and skin-to-skin contact in full-term infants. Taught by Dr. Henrick Norholt of Copenhagen, Denmark, it was utterly fascinating, and I could have listened for much longer than the allotted hour. Beyond the fact that Dr. Norholt presented incredibly convincing scientific research on the benefits of babywearing, it was just so darn cool to see a University lecture hall filled to the brim with mamas and their nurslings (many of whom were standing in the aisles rhythmically bouncing, taking notes on smartphones while he spoke).
Another class I loved was called The Culture of Babywearing, which delved into how time, place, climate and human behavior influence babywearing tools and practices. It was so much fun to be able to see beautiful examples of traditional carriers from an array of different cultures from an Inuit Amautik to a West African Kanga to a Welsh shawl, among others. It spoke to my inner Anthropologist in a big way. In Free Form Wrapping it was a delight to be in a room filled with parents sharing ideas and geeking out over the nuances of different improvised wrap techniques. I learned valuable information about the power of our external nervous system in Touch: The Mother of All Senses, and amazing tips for braving hot and cold temperatures in Extreme Weather Babywearing. For every class I took there were several others I hated to miss (I was so bummed to have to choose between Belly Dance With Baby and The Culture of Babywearing, let me tell you!)
The whole thing left me longing for more. With only a couple hundred attendees, I have a feeling that there is a huge population of babywearing devotees, novices, and even the carrier-curious that were not present at this year's conference who would benefit greatly from the class offerings and sense of community. I look forward to attending in the future and helping to spread the word in the meantime!
If you're reading this now and are someone who practices babywearing, I'm wondering: how did you get started? Have you ever taken a class on babywearing or attended a babywearing support group? Would you attend a babywearing conference? I'd love to know your thoughts!