Rebozo Wraps … And a Giveaway!

rebozob“Traditional carrier” is a problematic term in the babywearing world. We use it to refer, generally, to babywearing methods that predate Didymos and Snugli-type carriers in Europe and the Americas. Excepting the welsh shawl carry, most of these methods are practiced by non-European people of color, usually from the lower economic classes: caregivers who wear as a necessity, not as a researched parenting choice. The terminology becomes sticky; “traditional” can translate to “not white” and “not expensive”. The cultures who developed these carriers may see their widespread use as appropriation rather than admiration, especially when their authority is usurped by so-called babywearing experts from the developed world.

That said: I really, really, really love rebozos.

Babywearing in a rebozo is becoming a lost art in much of Mexico, where women see strollers as the more modern option: rebozos are for poor people. But rebozos will never go away. They’re a scarf, a blanket, a prayer shawl, a baby carrier, a device for pain relief in labor, a burial shroud, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Some people claim even Our Lady of Guadalupe worn one when she appeared to Juan Diego in the 16th century. Basically: rebozos are multi-use, woven pieces of art. Possibly endorsed by the Virgin Mary.

Babywearers tend to call any short wrap a rebozo (it’s also been co-opted as a term for a backwrapping pass, as well as the traditional  slipknotted carry). True rebozos are handwoven in the home, and sold in local markets. Their designs vary regionally. Mexican women use them in a one-shouldered, slipknotted carry – babies on the front, and toddlers on the back, though the toddlers are often scooted around to nurse. Generally, like this:

There are lots of rebozo companies out there. However, most of their wares are mass-market, poorly-woven, and almost certainly the product of sweatshop labor (or at least wildly underpaid workers). So it’s great to have Rebozo Wraps, a company selling direct-from-the-source rebozos for fair wages.

Rebozo Wraps started when an American woman asked her mother, a missionary in Mexico, to find her some rebozos. The company snowballed from there, and continues to buy all its wraps from the same family in San Cristobal De Los Casas. They’re crafted in traditional  Tsetzal and Tzoltsil designs, and never purchased for bulk discounts – the owners insist on paying the asking price or more.

They retail for only $50. So of course I totally had to get my hands on one.

They sent me a gorgeous blue rebozo, 85% cotton and 15% synthetic, according to the weavers. The length surprised me: I expected a standard 2.7m (Didymos size 2); instead, it measured about 2m (76 inches). Very, very short. When I put up 20 lb Sunny, I had juuuuuust enough fabric to eek out a rebozo carry. The owners recommend using sling rings fora  no-sew ring sling.

Complaints? Well, it feels kind of acrylic, and it holds heat. The blend is super soft, and perfect for squishes (as is the length). I’d have loved to have this when Sunny was teeny, rather than now.

But even if it wasn’t perfect for beast baby, I used the heck out of it as a fashion accessory. It goes perfectly with my Minnetonka-hippie aesthetic; it can cover my shoulders in church; I can cuddle it in over-air-conditioned rooms. I’d love it as a scarf and emergency Sunny carrier (or regular carrier if he was smaller). It works like this:

Like a Didy indio, it pulls easily. I found that out the hard way.

Basically: fair trade practices, pretty, soft, and great for squishes. Plus it’s only fifty bucks. Buy one to use for your teeny, and then keep it as a scarf/blanket/Frieda Karlo-esque awesome accessory.

My wardrobe needed this wrap.

And so does yours, because unfortunately for me, this is a giveaway carrier. See Facebook for details, but you know you want this (and yes, I fixed the pull).

Want to read more about babywearing, attachment parenting, and social justice? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Keppeke Bollekes: Another Budget Option from 5MR!

Sleepy Sunny

Famous for carrying budget handwoven Inda Jani, 5 Minute Recess has done it again: they’re the sole US distributor for Keppeke, a new Belgian brand just hitting stateside. This is typical of 5 Minute Recess, a company committed to making babywearing affordable for all types of caregivers. One more reason they’re extra awesome, along with the handwritten fluff-mail notes – owner Rachel signs the Tyvek packaging. I don’t even think she got the idea from Pinterest. She’s just that nice.

5 Minute Recess is committed to making babywearing sustainable, too. Inda Jani weavers are paid fair wages for their fabric, and Keppeke follows the same model: their wraps are woven, sewn, finished, and washed in Belgium. Keppeke has a serious commitment to supporting the local economy with sustainable manufacturing practices. And a size 6 retails for only $120. Bonus!

So budget-friendly, civic-minded, sustainable, and sold by 5 Minute Recess. These wraps are already winning, people.

I was sent a Keppeke Bollekes, which I assume translates to polka dots or something, in a size 4. The tapers look and wear about standard (i.e. around Didy size), and it comes in the standard European sizing we’ve all learned to mentally convert.  (I could make cracks about American mamas and metric systems and the only reason the former knows about the latter, but I’ll refrain from bitching about our pigheaded stupidity in maintaining the imperial British measuring system. Throw off the colonial shackles, America!).

Anyway, I wasn’t thrilled out of the box, for two reasons:

  1. I hate polka dots.
  2. It wasn’t particularly soft.

kwrongsideLet me explain the polka dots: these are big polka dots. At times, one will do a double hammock. Circle-shapes on your boobs run the risk of obscenity (either “Lookit these g-cups!” or “Hey, look, these dots are exactly where my nipples would be.”). Old school mamas call this “shell boob” in honor of the Didymos Nautilus that spawned the phenomenon. So I worried about shell boob.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

The regular pattern prevented the dreaded shell boob. It also created something awesome: that perfect bounce and stretch that comes with a large, repetitive pattern woven in whatever magic Bollekes shares with Poe Woven’s Harlequin weave. It has to be something about the large-scale diagonal pattern on a jacquard weave.

Because Bollekes has bounce. It has stretch. These two things combine to give you a great, tight carry that molds easily and sticks in place. It’s great for beginners and fun for experienced wrappers. It’s more grippy than slippery, so you have to work on the passes, but I really enjoyed it in a kangaroo carry. Seriously, this is my favorite kangaroo wrap ever.

Bollekes is medium-weight, and while it wasn’t my first choice in the blistering heat, I wore it for over an hour at the Farmer’s Market/Latin Festival when the heat index climbed into the 100s. I sweated. Sunny sweated. But he also fell asleep and neither of us died of heat stroke, so I name it a cautious success.

augustkI didn’t find it super cushy, shockingly. I assumed the bounce and stretch would translate to cush, but it didn’t; Bollekes is more solid than floofy. If I screwed up a wrap job, I knew it in the long term, though pressure points weren’t a terrible issue. Bra pressure points bugged me once, and I don’t know if that was an issue of overtightening, weird bra straps layered under a tank top, or a combination of the two. This only did happen once, however, so I’ll name it an anomaly.

My local babywearing group liked it. We all felt the off-side was a little beastly, though, and kept it for an extra two weeks to abuse it. It softened up for us, but the gray side never attained the super-softness of the white.

I liked Bollekes when Sunny fell asleep on my back for an hour, thus turning into a limp bowling ball of twenty pound baby. He felt decent. I adored it in a kangaroo with him, and put Baby Bear up a time or two. While he didn’t stay up for hours, he stayed up long enough to make sure Bollekes is a decent toddler choice in a single-layer carry.

It’s definitely thicker than a Colimacon et Cie, but I wouldn’t call it a thick wrap. Maybe on the thicker side of medium. Beginners may need to wrestle with Bollekes a bit, but as an experienced wrapper, I didn’t feel like I was taking this thing to the mat.

Overall, I liked Bollekes. I got over the dots, though I would have preferred gray over blue and worn it more, but the gray matches with everything. With some abuse, it’ll snuggle a newborn decently and last you up to the toddler years. It’s a great choice for bowling ball babies, what with the stretch and the bounce and the support.

So welcome to the US, Keppeke! As budget wraps go, this is a good one: I like it better than Inda jani’s binni weave for newborn to toddler, and while I adore Tekhni’s Arche and Aplos, they are meant to work in tandem (Arche for babies, Aplos for older kids). So if you’re looking for one wrap to do it all, like C&C, Keppeke is a great choice. The craftmanship is impeccable, and I’m happy to patronize a company that cares about its workers and its manufacturing process. Hoping this sticks around and more mamas find the Keppeke love: I can’t wait to see what else the company has in store.

Want to read more about babywearing, attachment parenting, and social justice – with a side of snark? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook! 

10 Ways for Parents to Fight Racism

swingsI grew up in the 80s, near a Philadelphia still cratered from the MOVE bombings. Reading Comprehension meant “Famous Black Americans,” Mary McLeod Bethune and George Washington Carver. There were Black History Month Celebrations and Harriet Tubman lectures. Coretta Scott King herself appeared at an assembly.

66% of my class was white. We received these earnest efforts with a mixture of boredom and resentment.

Then my fourth-grade teacher explained Jim Crow. Under a banner ordering us to “Accentuate the Positive”, Miss Crutchfield told us of a childhood of segregated train stations and bathrooms. And I thought: when you and my mother were girls, you could not drink from the same water fountain. You were separate-but-equal. I cared about Miss Crutchfield, and I cared about the injustice she’d suffered.

February recitations of “I Have a Dream” can’t obliterate three hundred years of oppression. But how do we teach kids to care about racism? In the wake of Ferguson, more parents want to start talking. We know we want our children to have a personal stake in fighting injustice.  But that’s about as far as we get.

There are a few things we can do to help kids of all colors understand racism in America. Some tokenism? Probably. But we’re battling ingrained cultural assumptions, and we have to start somewhere.

1. Talk about race.
People of color talk and think about race all the time. White parents can choose to ignore it – one more benefit of white privilege. Stop ignoring and start talking. We don’t sit our kids down at sixteen and explain the birds and the bees. We use proper terms for body parts, answer questions, and discuss sexuality in age-appropriate ways. Do the same about race. Use appropriate names: Black, African-American, Native American, Latino/a, immigrants (rather than illegals). Open the door and let your kids’ questions take the lead.

2. Integrate the toy chest.
You want your child to see people of color as valued, important parts of their world? Make their toys reflect it. Yes, it’s an old liberal cliche for the hippie kid to drag around black Barbie. But kids need to see possibilities beyond whiteness. Children learn through play. And if we want them to learn diversity, they need to play it.

lloa3. Integrate the book shelf.
Find books that show characters of color – especially when their color isn’t a significant plot point. Corduroy and Lola at the Library both have black main characters; Mama, Do You Love Me? features an Inuit mother and child. Read Chinese fairy tales and African folklore. Yes, there’s a place for hero-biographies of Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama. But save room for Iktomi and the Buzzard. Our world is larger than white-washing would let us believe. Give your kids all the possibilities, not a narrow sliver.

4. Talk about absences. 
The town of Chewandswallow isn’t exactly swarming with minorities. Hogwarts is run by white people, and let’s not touch racism and Tolkien. Where are the South Asian superheroes? The black people in Dr. Seuss? Make sure your kids know the world they see has missing pieces, missing people, and missing stories.

5. Talk about racism they can see.
I hadn’t watched Peter Pan in decades when “What Makes the Red Man Red?” jolted me out of Disney nostalgia. We had a long talk about Native Americans that day. Kids understand that more black kids get called to the principal’s office; that more black kids populate the lowest reading group. Call racism and racial discrimination by name. My four-year-old doesn’t need to know that the police shot Michael Brown in cold blood. But he can understand that people might not like his friend’s dreadlocks.

6. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Nothing makes you love a culture like its parties, and nothing brings people together like food. Go to Greek festivals, heritage celebrations, and Juneteenth block parties. Eat and drink and dance. Yes, these show only the positive parts of a culture. But you have to start somewhere, and somewhere can look a whole lot like empanadas.

7. Diversify your friendships
This is uncomfortable. It can smack of tokenism of the worst sort. And it can be a hard question to face. But how diverse is your group of friends? Do you regularly interact with people of different races? Do your children? If not, how can you change that? It can be as simple as going to a different playground. You cannot expect your children to value people of color as authentic community members if they aren’t actually part of your community.

8. Watch yourself. 
Parenting well takes self-evaluation: it’s gutting to hear your own worst self speak in your child’s voice. Examine your own prejudices. Be careful about how you speak about people of color – do you see African-American boys as rowdier and more aggressive, for example? Does your language reflect that?

9. Let your kids hear you. 
Angry at the events in Ferguson? Conflicted about the Washington Redskins? Don’t hide it. Let your kids hear your speak about racism and white privilege. Find it in the little things, in the way a clerk rolls his eyes at a black kid or Grandpa complains about “illegals.” Talk, and keep talking.

10. And don’t stop. 
Talking about race can be uncomfortable. It’s frightening. It’s fraught with grief and sadness and rage: the legacy of race in America. Feeling these things means you’re getting somewhere. Push through. Keep going. Make discussing race a part of your everyday life. See it. Say it. Listen to stories and tell them. Because it’s only when we start to speak, when we join our voices to the chorus of others, that racism will finally disappear.

How do you help your kids confront racism? How do you work to help them recognize people of color as important parts of their own world?

Want to read more about social justice, attachment parenting, and raising socially conscious kids? Check out Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Lovin’ the Ladies: Didymos Blue Nino

For all of you who are here for social justice and race stuff, thanks for coming! I do both social activism and attachment parenting, which is sort of social activism in itself. If you’re interested in the intersections between race and babywearing, you can check out my post on the subject, and the Facebook group Babywearers of Color. On with the regularly scheduled wrap reviews!

Note: If you’re here for social justice stuff, this review will be utterly unintelligible, and you’ll probably think babywearers are insane.

meblueBirdie’s Room knows I love the ladies. Owner Barb said I was getting a standard-line (i.e. not a limited edition) Didymos to review, but I didn’t know which one. I frankly expected one of the striped ones. But instead, Barb and her lovely assistants sent me a blue nino. I’ve been seriously lusting after a friend’s rose nino lately, and ruing the day I sold my heaven and earth nino since the day I mailed it, so I was super excited to have more ladies in my life.

See? Not dementors.

Let’s go back to old school, mamas: Birdie’s Room was once the sole place to buy Didymos in North America. Didy’s signature  “nino” isn’t “neen-yo”, or Spanish for baby. Remember, Didy’s German, people, and Germany and Spain are indeed different countries. Instead, nino  (nee-no) is actually an acronym standing for “Nine In, Nine Out”: a reference to how long a baby spends in utero, and how he needs close cuddles after. Ninos have been accused of looking like dementors, sperm, skeletons, and a host of other things. But the nino symbol is a lady and her child. Just in case you can’t see it, I included my bad photoshop rendering.  See? SEE?!

Ninos are straight-up classic old-school Didy. Back in the day, mamas collected whole stashes of them. Some went for up to a thousand dollars – pflaume, limone, chocolate, and others. Now the secondary nino market has regulated (ie returned to a little less than retail), and Didy releases designs as both standard line and limited edition. Collectors hoard them.

Most cotton ninos wrap similarly. Some are thicker (heaven and earth in particular), and some thinner, but they all have some basic characteristics in common. They’ve got more slip than grip. They have a touch of bounce, with a mostly solid feel on the shoulders. They break in soft as your favorite t-shirt. They wrap easily, and they teach you how to wrap well.

pfau pose!
pfau pose!

Here’s what I mean. Ninos are typical of the type of wraps Didy released in the past. Remember, we used to consider 260 g^m unwrappably thick. Ninos are what we considered medium-weight, like blue nino’s 190 g^m. They wrapped solidly, and they wrapped well. But because they aren’t the super-thick beast wraps of today (I own some, y’all, so don’t go hating), you have to wrap a nino carefully. Sloppy wrap job? You’ll know it after a half hour at the farmer’s market. So ninos teach you how to take your time to get a good carry.

And this is an easy-to-wrap carrier. The passes glide smoothly into place; no one wrestles ninos. Ladies are more refined than that. If you place your passes well, you can take them anywhere. And they love hot weather.

babgyblueI used blue nino primarily with Sunny (9 months, 20 lbs). He stayed up there for more than two hours at a time on occasion. As long as I wrapped carefully, over the long haul, the wrap felt great. Not a bunch of cush on the shoulders, but no digging. If I screwed up and over-tightened, or let one rail sag, my shoulders knew it quick. In a multilayer carry, I’d rock these ladies with a babe up to about 30 lbs. pretty happily. Especially when it’ s hot out – this is a wrap that excels in hot weather. It keeps you about as cool as a 4.6 meter piece of fabric can.

Blue nino’s the one you buy when you have an itty-bitty and you’re just figuring out babywearing. You learn to wrap as baby gets bigger. When it comes time to back carry, the passes slide easily into place. It’s a fantastic practice wrap to use when learning new carries. Plus, it’ll break in to feel like the old tshirt you stole from your high school boyfriend. You seriously will want to cuddle this wrap forever.

When I brought the ladies to the local babywearing meeting, everyone got misty-eyed and petted them. True story.

And it’s a Didy jacquard. That means no pulls, no fuss: this is the wrap you use as a picnic blanket, window shade, pillow, handkerchief – you know you’ve got that beater you’ll wipe noses with! – and then toss in the washer. My kids love ninos as hammocks. I’ve used them as actual-for-sleep blankets in a pinch. They’re that cuddly, and that washable. It’s hard to get such cuddles and class at the same time.

Basically: if you learned to wrap a few years ago, you learned on something like these ladies. And they’re awesome. Perfect for a newborn, good for a bowling-ball babe, and even workable for your beast toddler. You can’t get softer than a nino. Wrapping with this one makes me want to hoard them all.

Plus they’re on mega-sale right now. Like, super mega sale. So you ought to probably go get some before they sell out.

Want to read more about babywearing, wrapping, and attachment parenting? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook! 

After the review, Birdie’s Room generously donated blue nino to a chapter of Babywearing International. So cool! Want to win a Didy for your local lending library? Stay tuned for a special lending library giveaway!

A Mother’s White Privilege

What if my son was black? How would you see this picture?
What if my son was black? How would you see this picture?

As the ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri show us, America’s racial tensions didn’t disappear when George Wallace backed down from the schoolhouse door. Dr. King didn’t wave a magic wand, and we never got together to feel all right. White America remembers this at ugly flashpoints: the Rodney King beatings, the OJ Simpson trial, the Jena Six, Trayvon Martin’s death. White America recoils in horror not at the crimes – though the crimes are certainly horrible. It’s not the teenagers gunned down, the police abuse, the corrupt trials. It’s this: at these sudden, raw moments, in these riots and demonstrations and travesties of justice, White America is forced to gaze upon the emotional roil of oppression, the anger and fear and deep grief endemic to the Black American experience. Black America holds up a mirror for us.

And white America is terrified to look.

To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice. It’s to see a world different than your previous perception. Acknowledging that your own group enjoys social and economic benefits of systemic racism is frightening and uncomfortable. It leads to hard questions of conscience may of us aren’t prepared to face. There is substantial anger: at oneself, at the systems of oppression, and mostly at the bearer of bad news, a convenient target of displacement. But think on this.

threatI have three sons, two years between each. They are various shades of blond, various shades of pinkish-white, and will probably end up dressing in polo shirts and button downs most of the time. Their eyes are blue and green. Basically, I’m raising the physical embodiment of The Man, times three. The White is strong in these ones.

Clerks do not follow my sons around the store, presuming they might steal something.

Their normal kid stuff – tantrums, running, shouting – these are chalked up to being children, not to being non-white.

People do not assume that, with three children, I am scheming to cheat the welfare system.

When I wrap them on my back, no one thinks I’m going native, or that I must be from somewhere else.

When my sons are teenagers, I will not worry about them leaving the house. I will worry – that they’ll crash the car, or impregnate  a girl, or engage in the same stupidness endemic to teenagers everywhere.

I will not worry that the police will shoot them.

If their car breaks down, I will not worry that people they ask for help will call the police, who will shoot them.

I will not worry that people will mistake a toy pistol for a real one and gun them down in the local Wal-Mart.

In fact, if my sons so desire, they will be able to carry firearms openly. Perhaps in Chipotle or Target.

They will walk together, all three, through our suburban neighborhood. People will think, Look at those kids out for a walk. They will not think, Look at those punks casing the joint.

People will assume they are intelligent. No one will say they are “well-spoken” when they break out SAT words. Women will not cross the street when they see them. Nor will they clutch their purses tighter.

My sons will never be mistaken for stealing their own cars, or entering their own houses.

No one will stop and frisk my boys because they look suspicious.

My boys can grow their hair long, and no one will assume it’s a political statement.

My boys will carry a burden of privilege with them always. They will be golden boys, inoculated by a lack of melanin and all its social trapping against the problems faced by Black America.

soldierFor a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the door. It means you don’t worry that the cops will shoot your sons.

It carries another burden instead. White privilege means that if you don’t school your sons about it, if you don’t insist on its reality and call out oppression, your sons may become something terrifying.

Your sons may become the shooters.

Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook to read more about social justice issues, race, and attachment parenting.

Negotiating the Swamp, Part Deux: Selling a Wrap

insioIt’s finally happened. You have to offload a baby carrier. This happens for a few reasons:

  1. You need more money.
  2. You need another carrier.
  3. You need more money to buy another carrier.

It’s okay. Churning happens to the best of us. So do things like, you know, the need to pay your mortgage or electric bill or shamanistic Buddhist doula. But the swamp is a scary, scary place. What if you miss a pulled thread and then the postman smokes all over the wrap and it gets there pulled and smokey and the buyer poops all over your feedback?

It’s not that bad. I promise. Take a few more shots than you would if you were buying, some more if you really love the carrier, and start listing.

Because selling is a little more involved than buying, I’ve broken selling into several posts. First: the preliminaries.

Check your carrier.

Do not skip this step, or you’ll end up refunding a buyer because your husband used a wrap without telling you, and he let the toddler eat a Red Dye 40 Special Popsicle in a back carry. (Sorry, lady who wanted that BBSB of mine.)

  1. Check for stains, spots, suck marks, or discoloration. If you find any, wash according to instructions and check again. Tide-stick or oxyclean if you must, but if you do, don’t label it fragrance-free. If you can’t get it out, take lots of pics and remember to disclose. Small marks or spots, especially if not visible on the carrier, don’t matter so much. Large stains or suck marks will seriously affect your resale value.
  2. Make sure there are no pulled or broken threads, fraying, loose seams, etc. Check everywhere. You can list with these flaws, just make sure you disclose. I usually say they’re there and that I’ll fix before mailing (in the case of wraps).
  3. Measure it with a soft tape in hand (STIH). Make sure it’s the length or size you think it is.
  4. Check for thread shifting, wrinkled hems, loose tags, fraying seams, weaving flaws, slubs, nubs, and curses. Disclose them in minute detail, especially if listing on the Swamp.
  5. Wash it, dry it, and iron it. It’s only polite. De-fur if you have pets.
Do your damn research.

Figure out the market value for your carrier. No, it’s probably not what you paid. You sweated on it, and so did your baby. Assume you’re losing about 10-20% in value, plus shipping.

Yes, you’re eating the shipping. If everyone added shipping to a wrap every time they sold it, there’d be tussah silk ninos out there going for a thousand bucks. So suck it up. Ten bucks shipping is the price you pay to play.

There’s several places to research carrier prices. Start on forums. Search the FSOT threads and see if the same carrier has sold lately. Check the ISO (in search of) forum – you might not have to list at all! It’s against policy on TBW to ask about pricing, by the way. Save that for …

Facebook. That means combing through various swaps. Too lazy? Me too. Just ask your local babywearing group, a brand-specific group, or a general forum like Babywearing Love and Support. Someone will tell you about what the ballpark price should be. Make sure you include any flaws into your equation.

Drop at least five bucks off that, because you don’t want your carrier to sit and sit and sit and sit. Otherwise you have to keep bumping the thread, and it’s a pain in the ass. Seriously. The people who list for purchase price + shipping are the ones bitching that the swap’s slow.

Include shipping and paypal fees in the listed price, unless you’re from Europe. Usually mamas offer to cover the first $10 in international shipping. Usually it’s written as “ppd” – “postage paid”.

Yes, you need good pictures

You need really, really good pictures. These pictures will theoretically only a) catch the eye, and b) prove you own the wrap. However, assume the buyer is a Chinese national unable to access Google for fear of the secret police.

  1. Use a good photo in natural light that shows the wrap more than the baby. Try a pfau pose, or something from behind.
  2. Find a flat pic that shows both sides of the carrier in good lighting.
  3. Do not use bathroom selfies, florescent lighting, flash, or stash shots (unless you’re having a stash sale – and even then you need individual pics).
  4. Include pics of all relevant issues, flaws, or invisible demons. Because you’re going to get asked for them, so take pics now, while you’re good and drunk.
  5. If there’s something special about the carrier – it’s a black tag Didy, or it’s fringed, or an older Ergo, or whatever – take pics of that too. You can never have too many pics on hand.
Make Your Listing

Make it short and sweet. Maker, weave/design/style, material, length/size. Describe the carrier’s condition, typically:

  • BNIB (brand new in box): you didn’t wear or wash. Probably didn’t unfold.
  • BNIB, used once or twice, or washed and not worn. If you touched the wrap, qualify it.
  • EUC (excellent used condition): you used it, but there are no stains, shifting, broken threads, or other issues. An indio or a pull-prone wrap may have a picked thread or two. This is normal.
  • GUC (good used condition): anything less than listed above to super abused but usable.
  • Not for use as a carrier, scrap only, etc.: use under penalty of death or dismemberment.

Add your qualifiers. Buyers want to know about smoking, pets, fragrance and detergent. Don’t forget this, because otherwise people will presume you smoke, and that’s the kiss of death to any sale.

Link to any relevant reviews online, and include a sentence or two about the carrier’s qualities (cushy, thin, thick, etc.). Don’t get wordy. It should read something like this:

FSOT: Didymos Mineral indio, size 5 (4.3m STiH). GUC.  Pretty wrap, thick, toddler-worthy and cushy. $130 ppd in the US, first $10 of int’l shipping. Non-smoking, German Shepherd friendly home.

Oh, Feedback.

You need this. Otherwise people think you’re Jeffrey Dahmer. So get some.

The gold standard for BWing feedback is, and always will be, feedback from the iTrader system on TBW. If your number’s above 50 on there, you’ve been around the block. No, I won’t reveal mine. But it’s firmly in wrap slut status.*

If you don’t have that – and even if you do – you need to get some FayBo feedback. There’s The Babywearing Swap Feedback; Babywearing on a Budget Feedback; and High End Babywearing Feedback. You might only need the relevant one. Or you might need them all because you’re listing in multiple places. Either way, you gotta have something.

  1. Join the designated feedback group.
  2. Make an album with your name on it. Use a picture. You’ll agonize over this for too long, but don’t worry – no one cares about it but you. Link to anything relevant that shows you’re an actual real human (eBay, TBW, some cloth diaper swap, whatevs).
  3. The link to this album is your “feedback” or “feedback link.” You have to post it when you list, either in the original listing or in the first comment. No actual feedback, just a link? List it anyway. Otherwise you’ll be deleted sans merci.
  4. Do this right. Read the rules for how to add feedback on each page, then read them again slowly. Do not f&*( this up. Admins have too much to do to hold your damn hand – someone is selling the same handwoven six times, and someone else is posting pics of a wrap they don’t own in the first place. Go with God, Swap Admins.
  5. Screenshot your feedback every single time you get new feedback. Then when it gets Zucked up and erased again, you won’t be back to default newbie.
Where to List?

Locally. It’s easiest. You save shipping. You likely know the person you’re selling it to. I will always knock 15-25 bucks off a listed price for a local mama. Truth.

My next choice is The forums. They have the best FSOT boards, the best feedback, and the best community on the internet. Sweet admins will help you out. Your listing won’t get immediately buried under an avalanche of others; you can add unlimited pics. And seriously? Carriers sell best on TBW.

You can also list on brand-specific or price-specific pages. Buyers there tend to know what they want. You’re targeting your audience, and that’s always helpful. Some brands will sell quickly on their pages – the Didymos page moves fast – and others will sit. Carriers in the budget range sell more quickly on the Budget Swap than the regular Swap; High End carriers can go either way. Put extra pics in the comments to the original post.

Finally, there’s the site of last resort: the Swa(m)p. It’s not the admins. It’s not the format. It’s the sheer freaking size. The percentage of crazy on the Swamp is probably the same as the percentage of crazy on the rest of the internet. But the Swamp’s so damn big, the crazy’s Texas-sized. That doesn’t mean your carrier won’t sell, or you’re bound to get scammed. It just means it’ll take longer to sell, and you may have to deal with more weird questions than you wanted.

And since the Swamp is so huge, there are very, very strict rules about formatting, bumping your listing, where to post, and number of pics allowed. If you violate these, they will delete your listing. This leads to people posting something like: “U KEEP DELETEING MY POSTS AND I DONT KNOW Y ADMIN PLEASE PM MEEE.” Which just makes the poster look illiterate, because:


Then read them again to make sure.

  • Did I just stash shame myself? Or is “wrap slut” an empowering term? You can argue this out on Facebook if you want. Points to the first person who uses the word “patriarchy”, and bonus points to the first person to misspell “oppression”. First one to work Hitler into it wins #allthethings.

Stay tuned for the next part in “Selling a Carrier” – dealing with buyers, shipping, and disputes.

Want to read more about babywearing and attachment parenting with a side of snark? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Negotiating the Swamp: How to Buy a Used Carrier

wrapsforsaleCongratulations. You’ve decided to buy a used baby carrier. But then you clicked on “The Babywearing Swap” Facebook group, saw over 40,000 members and a billion carriers and a sharp admonition to read the rules, and you backed away slowly.

But despite the utter terror you felt when confronted with screen after screen of used carriers and inscrutable acronyms – TTTFTO? BNIB? BWDAP? – you can do this. Take a deep breath, a few shots, and remember: it’s cheaper than buying new.

Despite the constant sellers’ complaints (the market sucks! I’m sick of the stupid questions! damn kids get off my lawn!), most mamas are pretty nice. But there’s a definite hierarchy of niceness. My preferences for buying?

Where to Buy
  1. The Babywearer,com forums has the oldest community and the most reliable feedback system (iTrade) this side of eBay. While BWI has taken control of it, the community feeling hasn’t changed. TBW mamas tend to be very honest, helpful, and sweet.

  2. The Budget Swap, High-End Babywearing FSOT, and brand-specific facebook swaps include more knowledgeable sellers and less random stuff to wade through. Be sure to check for feedback – some groups don’t require it.

  3. The Babywearing Swap, AKA The Swamp, is by far the largest and scariest FSOT around. Despite lovely admins, this 40,000 strong group is known as the Swamp for a reason. Fairly reliable with feedback, and with tireless admins ready to mediate disputes, The Swamp has some good points. But its sheer size and scope make it super daunting. A last resort for most experienced sellers.

What to Buy

Do your research. No, seriously, research. Do not be distracted by the shiny unicorn hair. Figure out what you want and look for it.

Don’t know what you want? That’s okay. Narrow it into a category (size 6 wraps, for example), and start looking at what’s for sale. When you find your chosen magic puffskein wrap, research the hell out of it. 

Check out the search function on forums. Someone has gone to The Babywearer to ask about a puffskein wrap, and someone answered them. Don’t message the puffskein seller and ask if the wrap will work for your toddler; they may want to sell you a wrap more than they want to educate you (Puffskein fur’s only supportive enough for fat babies in multilayer carries, in case you were wondering, because it’s so thin and fine). Find this stuff on your own. Some mamas will be honest, but some just want a sale.

Can’t find out if Puffskein fur is prickly? Ask in any of the catch-all babywearing or brand-specific Facebook groups. Better yet, ask on TBW. Someone may answer you.

Your research should turn up not only reviews, but also information about common flaws. Puffskein wraps don’t felt like wool, but get permacreasing. Cotton blends from Rivendell are prone to shifting because magic unicorn poop makes the threads slippery.  Persian minotaur has normal slubs and nubs; wraps spun from the fire tears of a sorrowful Incan sun god commonly come with wrinkled hems. Knowing these flaws will save you a lot of panicking when you find them after purchasing. You’ll also know what to ask a seller.

Research will also do something else: Google now has a picture search. More importantly, there’s enough babywearers out there to turn up pictures. So go looking for them, because then you don’t have to ask the seller for 18,000 more.

Assume that the photographs on a listing are designed to a) catch the eyes, and b) prove the seller actually has the wrap. For anything else, just google. If you can’t find it post-search, thenandonlythen ask the seller.

When to Buy

When tax returns come in and teachers go back to school, people start buying and price start rising. Various fabrics also fluctuate by the season. As a rule of thumb:

  1. Buy around and after the holidays, when the post-Christmas credit card statements arrive.
  2. Buy in August, when some teachers are totally broke.
  3. Buy woolies from April to July, linen and thin hemps from October to March.
  4. Buy what isn’t trendy right now. It’ll be cheaper.
How to Buy

I just wrote a post complaining about getting five bajillion questions when selling, most of which could have been answered with a freaking google search (satire alert: if you believed this one, let’s all solve the hunger crisis by eating babies). But there’s some questions you can’t farm out.

  1. Ask about smoke/pets/fragrance/demons. If a mama doesn’t say it’s a non-smoking home, you better damn well ask, because it probably isn’t. If you’re allergic to goldfish, make sure you ask about goldfish.
  2.  Ask if the carrier has any flaws. Remember that research you did? Ask if that Rivendell unicorn poop wrap has any of the classic thread shifting.  Because then you know, and knowing’s half the battle. EUC and GUC mean different things to different people. Don’t know what those stand for? Go read some of the acronym translation documents in the Facebook groups.
  3. Ask when the seller intends to ship. Some mamas guarantee within 24-48 hours of listing. They are saintly and not me. Don’t feel bad about asking, post-purchase, if the carrier’s shipped. Delays happen, but a good seller will communicate.
  4. Ask for a tracking number. Don’t freak out if it takes her a few hours to pull it up, because some people don’t ship via paypal.
  5. If the listing isn’t explicit, ask if the wrap includes shipping and paypal fees. Americans usually add them into the price; Europeans don’t.
Money and All That

Paypal exists to protect you. Do not ever ever ever pay gifted, unless you’re sending money to your mom. No one should ever ask you to pay gifted, unless they’re your mom. If they do, and they are not your mom, run away. Then report them to admins. Only mark payments as goods. 

Research current market value. Paxbaby had a giant sale? Those wraps will hit the swap three days later and seem like the hottest deal ever, except they’ve been marked up 25 bucks. Mamas regularly buy Little Frogs for more used than new – because they didn’t google. Google that shit. Don’t be that person.

Pay promptly. The influx of mamas from the cloth diapering community has led to buyers asking for invoices to their paypal address, which offers the seller some protection. Some mamas do it. Some don’t. Whatever you decide on, pay up quick: either answer that invoice or send that money along to the seller’s paypal within about two hours, unless you’ve agreed otherwise.

If your carrier doesn’t come, and your seller isn’t answering, open a dispute. Don’t dither. Bitch to paypal, who will bitch to your seller, and you’ll either get your money back or get your carrier.

This is a baby carrier, not gold speculation.

Do not buy wraps expecting to get your full resale value when you sell. It’s a baby carrier. Your kid chews on it. As my friend Patrick said, expecting to get retail plus shipping when you sell is a Mac user level of delusion.

This is not three years ago, when you could buy wraps just to try them, then sell a week later for what you paid, minus shipping. Expect to get 25% less than you paid, more if you abuse the carrier or suddenly need  a quick sale.

Things that are unsuspectingly totally insulting:
  1. Asking a million questions and then not responding to the novel-length reply. At least say, “No thanks, mama!”
  2. Asking for a discount more than 10% of the listed price. This isn’t the flea market or a yard sale, y’all. 25% less is insulting, and 50% less means she’s bitching about you in a secret Facebook group.
  3. Asking what she paid for the wrap. Even if she got it for free, you cannot call her out publicly or via PM for  wrap scalping. It violates rules in the big swap, and is generally shitty everywhere else.
  4. Commenting that the wrap is too expensive. You can say, “A mama on x swap is selling the Rivendell Elrond Exclusive for ten dollars less. Would you take that?” That’s polite. “OMG your price is off!!” Not polite.
  5. “Subbing for price drop”
  6. Offering trades that are explicitly not what she’s asking for. If she says “No pink,” don’t offer her your pink wrap.
  7. Offering trades when the listing says “FSO” (“for sale only”).
  8. Getting a good deal on a wrap and immediately flipping it for more than you paid.
It’s coming!

Your seller has shipped. You’re super excited. You want to stalk the postman! But here’s a few things to remember:

  1. Generally, stuff isn’t lost forever. So if it takes a long time, or the tracking disappears, or it gets routed to Outer Mongolia instead of Duluth, don’t freak. Talk to the seller and have her make inquiries.
  2. Tracking say delivered when it’s not? Talk to your post office.
You’ve got (fluff) mail!

When your precious finally arrives, check it out before using. Look for anything atypical (don’t use a magnifying glass, people), and don’t wash or wear before you do. Talk to the seller immediately if you have any issues. Insurance is the seller’s responsibility, not the buyer’s. Paypal will side with the buyer if the item does not arrive, and you will be refunded. The seller’s on the hook, not you.

What about returns?

Y’all, the swap is not Target. You have to have a damn good reason to return a wrap. These include:

  1. The wrap measures substantially more or less than advertised.
  2. The wrap has undisclosed flaws that are atypical.Thread shifting is expected in some wraps; it’s abnormal in others. This is where research comes in.
  3. The typical flaws are excessive. An indio with a few pulls? Normal. An indio with 60? Not okay. If you can slip a digit through the weave, the thread shifting is excessive.
  4. The wrap has holes, or more than 2 broken threads.
  5. The wrap has stains. While sellers should disclose any discoloration at all,  don’t freak out about a tiny dot on the tail. Do not wash the wrap – that means you can’t return it.
  6. A dyed wrap bleeds excessively, therefore discoloring the wrap. Always ask about dye fixing when buying a dyed wrap.
Then leave feedback.

It’s the buyer’s responsibility to leave feedback first. Be honest about the transaction. If something went wrong but the seller fixed it quickly, or communicated well, be sure to note it.

You shouldn’t have to worry about retailatory feedback. If your deal went South and you’re freaking out, contact an admin of whatever group you dealt with.

Some people will inevitably tell me how very, very wrong I am on every single point here. That’s okay. Opinions are like – you know. But if you feel it necessary to freak out over a strange internet lady’s opinions, take a deep breath and go parent or something.

Want to read more about babywearing and attachment parenting? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Ten Truths about Tandem Nursing

photo by Blue Silk Photography
photo by Blue Silk Photography

It’s lazy. Yes, you can learn other ways to soothe your pissed-off, supplanted toddler. But boobs work so well. Plus nursing two kids at the same time means bonus Internet time, because you have to sit down.

You lose even more weight. If you’re the type that loses weight when baby nurses, you’ll lose even more when you nurse two of them at once. Go on, eat those cheese fries. Just nurse the toddler a few extra times before bed.

You win the nurse-in. When the boob police make some poor new mommy nurse in the bathroom, the Breastapo storm in to protest. Everyone else gets to bare one boob. You can basically take your shirt off. Fight the power!

Sometimes your kids hold hands while they nurse, and it’s super cute. Mostly they ignore each other other in favor of sweet, sweet boob.

If you don’t want to nurse the toddler for long, you can foist him off on the mostly-empty boob. He will quickly learn to foil you by pointing at the other and saying, “I have that one now.”

Say goodbye to toddler constipation. Breastfed toddler poop is a sight and smell to behold. Consider hazmat gear.

Shock and amaze the general public. Learn to relish the looks you receive when you nurse one kid after the other. You’re a walking science lesson: Yes, you can get pregnant while nursing!


Beat engorgement before it starts. Just ask your toddler for help – he’ll take care of your oversupply. He’ll poop like a grown man on a taco binge, but your boobs won’t hurt anymore. Bonus?

You’re the hit of nursing photo sessions. Everyone wants pics of the double-boobing mom for their portfolio. Just smile and remember: looking up will hide that postpartum double chin.

Your toddler still gets to be a baby. Sure, he’s a big boy now, but sometimes, he just wants to be your baby again. Tandem nursing mean that even though baby’s taking one boob, there’s always one left for him. Lots of things have changed in his little world. But boob’s always there.

At least until you get knocked up again.

Want to read more about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and babywearing? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Swamp Listing: The Fine Print

 tagpic2FSOT: random indio in EUC, size 5. Used lightly in a large stash; selling because it’s just not my color. Soft enough for littles but supportive for bigs in a multi-layer carry! Asking (insert less than I paid here) ppd in the US. :goodvibes:

Please read all fine print before PMing or buying.

Before you send me inevitable PMs:

I have posted at least two pictures. No, I will not take an action shot for you. No, I will not take other pictures in sunlight/florescent light/candle light/the magic glow of a unicorn horn. I do not have a close-up of the pattern on my phone right now. I do not have a tag photo. I hear forums actually have a search function, too.

I do not want to trade for your Ergo/Moby/wrap worth a hundred dollars less than mine. I do not want to trade for a pink wrap when I explicitly listed that I hate pink wraps.

I lied. I do have a tag pic.
I lied. I do have a tag pic.

I told you how it wraps in the listing. No, I will not send you a full-length review. No, I will not answer questions about whether it’s squish-worthy or toddler-worthy or an adequate tow rope in a pinch. I will not compare it to other wraps, and once I do, because I really really want to sell it, I will not compare it to the three wraps you’re familiar with that have absolutely nothing in common with it whatsoever.

I don’t know if it matches the g^m listed on the database. No, I’m not weighing it for you.

I measured it with a soft tape in hand. I do not remember if I measured pre-wash or post-wash or post-wearing or on a full moon Saturday night under the stars. No, I will not take a full-length picture for you, either.

I do not know if the middle markers are in the exact fucking middle. Nor do I know if the taper length is the same as the weird brand you’re asking me about.

Yes, I’m 100% sure it’s wrap X, not wrap Y.

indioNo, I will not drop the price thirty dollars because that’s all you have, especially after I just listed at twenty-five bucks less than I paid in the first place. No, I won’t tell you what that was, either. Fifty bucks less is insulting and I am not answering you.

  • Terms and Conditions*

All sales are final. I am not Target.

All wraps have been inspected visually without the use of a magnifying glass. Indios get pulls. Linen and hemp wrinkle. We call them “permacreases.” Some thread-shifting is normal in this wrap and you’d know that if you bothered to freaking google. Slubs and nubs are totally normal and will not affect the resale value you so desperately obsess over.

No, I will not refund you ten bucks for the normal flaws described above. Neither will I refund for the “wrinkled hem.”

Wraps have been washed in a fragrance-free household. Cannot guarantee freedom from your postal worker’s smoking; Tyvex smell; amorphous, nonexistent murky smell detectable only to bloodhounds; evil spirits. Wrap has not been cleansed with sage, as the resulting fumes will affect resale value.

Wrap was previously used by actual human children who barf, pee, smear jam, eat spaghetti sauce, and defecate. Sometimes at the same time.

Comes from a cat-free, German Shepherd loving household. Everything we own is covered in hair and even if I furminate the wrap with a special magic hair removal thingie and then put it in the dryer and then take it carefully from the house, touching nothing in the process, this wrap will have a dog hair on it.

This wrap has, at one time, been crumpled up in the back of my car.

fuzzyThere is a millimeter-long grey spot on the tail hem from where I once – horrors! – wrapped in a parking lot. I know, I’m a horrible person. This millimeter mark will not affect resale value. Stop asking me that.

My post office operates like that of a banana republic, because my state is basically a banana republic but without the benefits of a rainforest, so inexplicable shipping delays are not my fault. I also cannot refund you because the US government decided to keep the wrap in customs for six weeks. You never know where someone’s going hide a brick of heroin.

I will not lie on the customs form.

I will not invoice you. Send me your damned paypal as goods. And no, I’m not talking you through how to do that.

I’m not sending to an address that’s not on your paypal, Scammy McScamerson.

I have three small children, two dogs, a husband, and an actual life outside of selling wraps. I cannot guarantee a post office trip within 24 hours of a sale. Do not PM me every hour on the hour asking if I’m there yet.

I double-bag in Tyvex. I will not triple-bag, quadruple-bag, or swathe the wrap in saran wrap and good wishes before mailing. I did not include a cutesy note or gift. I am not your fucking Secret Santa. Nor am I Pinterest or your sorority sister.

No, I will not take it back after you washed it and wore it twice.

No, I will not take it back because the color isn’t quite what you envisioned.

No, I will not take it back because after I mailed it the goblins told you to buy a Natibaby instead.

If you’re still interested in buying, please send me a PM.


Want to read more about babywearing with a side of snark? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!

Amish Ladies Out-Crunch You

Recently, we visited Nana’s Amish  next-door neighbors (and by “next-door,” I mean “the next farm down the road”). And somewhere in between the pickle-canning, the organic turkeys, and the barefoot herd of children, I realized something.

I will never out-crunch the Amish.

An abundance of zucchini.
An abundance of zucchini.

Subtract the black dresses, entrenched patriarchy, and the stifling Protestantism. Bam. Aside from a few parenting practices – they thought my woven wrap was a backpack – I will never be as crunchy as the Amish ladies. Neither will you. And here’s why.

Most of us aspire to a few raised beds, and some of us can even manage to keep a plant or two from dying. Amish women have epic gardens. They don’t consult the internet/local agricultural college/clueless dude at Lowe’s for help about zones and north-facing hills and frost dates. In fact, you should bypass all that crap and just ask an Amish lady.

Want that garden to teach your kids about the circle of life and seeds and photosynthesis and crap? Amish kids are already weeding that garden. In fact, they started the seeds. The two-year-old ate some, but he got most of them in the right holes. They didn’t even use wet paper towels to visualize root structures.

All that gardening means Amish mamas eat local. Like, hyper-local. That backyard pig is next year’s bacon. While you fret over whether your freezer can fit a quarter of a grass-fed co-op cow, she’s packing Bessie and Bossie off to slaughter.

Unless they’re milk cows. You buy your raw milk under the table? The Amish lady’s selling it. Her husband woke up at 4 am to milk their dairy herd. You aspire to one day own a goat.

And when it comes to crunchy, everyone knows a mama needs a daddy with willfully interesting facial hair. The proper crunchy daddy adopts semi-ironic beard fashions from GQ and/or Civil War generals. Amish Dad not only has facial hair, but his facial hair has a secret code. He’s cleanshaven ’til marriage, then wears a beard only ’til death do us part. No mustache, because they’re associated with the military (of the 19th century. You can’t even touch that level of retro).

You can't take pics of the Amish, so here is a horse in Amish country.
You can’t take pics of the Amish, so here is a horse in Amish country.

Your Nissan Leaf doesn’t stand a chance against her horse and buggy. Worried about emissions? Her vehicle’s not only carbon-neutral, it actually poops fertilizer.

 She cans; you’re scared you’ll kill yourself with botulism.

She probably had her baby at home, attended by a midwife and relatives, with no epidural. This wasn’t an agonizing decision her in-laws thought would kill both the baby and herself.

If Amish department stores are any indication, most Amish families cloth diaper, because Weaver’s has the best selection of cloth this hippie’s ever seen in real life. They even sell special narrow Amish flats, which involve a special Amish fold, which you only get to learn if you’re Amish (I think). Some of the cloth diapers for sale were actually locally made – by Amish women.

This same store stocks more Melissa and Doug than you’ve ever seen outside of a co-op buy, because Amish kids never own plastic beeping stuff ever (You’ve still got that one your mother-in-law snuck in for Christmas). And they don’t own branded toys, because they not only don’t watch TV, they don’t own a TV.

Amish mamas don’t lie and say the flat screen only works on rainy days. On rainy days, her kids probably go outside. And barefoot, too. They call this wearing their “birthday shoes.”

Amish children go to school only with pre-selected other children who share their beliefs. Just like your preschool co-op, only with Jesus and black dresses. Which Amish women sew themselves, for the most part, Amish women sew most of their family’s clothes. An Amish sewing machine doesn’t sit broke on the dining room table for months. She actually uses both machine and table on a daily basis. Boo-yah.

Amish women mostly breastfeed, too. And in public without a cover, but somehow without showing any skin.

Amish women all have chickens. You’ll never have chickens.

They braids hair better than you, look good in black, and have probably stepped in cow manure this week. Barefoot.

The Amish win everything.

But they aren’t on Facebook to tell you that, so it doesn’t count.

Like reading about attachment parenting with a side of snark? Like Manic Pixie Dream Mama on Facebook!