Babywearing education has always been paramount to us at Birdie’s Room. We value and respect the wonderful individuals that selflessly devote their time and energy helping new parents and caregivers learn how to wear their babies and children in carriers.
We have started a campaign to give a huge shout out to the Babywearing Education Community. Without this education, modern babywearing would not be be where it is at today. We are kicking off this campaign with our first spotlight on Rachel Robitaille of the Brantford & Woodstock babywearing groups.
If you know an educator or group that you would like to see featured in our newsletter and blog, email us at email@example.com!
Spotlight on Rachel Robitaille
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a stay at home mom of two handsome boys and a baby girl on the way this summer. I never planned on following this path. I completed university with a degree in Engineering and worked for many years in the pharmaceutical field. When I became pregnant with my first, I fully intended on returning to my career. I had loaded up on all the baby gear and gadgets that I thought I needed. Then my son arrived and completely changed the vision in my mind of what I thought parenting looked like. He showed me the path of more of an attachment parenting approach. My priorities shifted and I found myself wanting to be home with him rather than working long hours around the clock. My husband is also an engineer with long hours in a stressful position. I feel very fortunate that we were able to make changes to our lifestyle that allowed me the opportunity to be home with our children. It’s also afforded me the time to volunteer to various community organizations like the Babywearing groups! I’m now a Babywearing educator and run 3 meetings each month. I also volunteer time to the La Leche League and sit on the Breastfeeding Initiative committee in my city. I always joke that I’m the worst stay at home mom because we are always out and on the go, but I love it!
How did you embark on your babywearing journey?
My eldest was a NICU baby. He had a rough start and when he came home he had a need for constant touch. My doula suggested wearing him and pointed me in the direction of my local babywearing group. Wearing my newborn allowed me to meet his needs and still retain some independence. It helped to strengthen our bond and aided in our breastfeeding journey. It’s become one of my greatest and most enjoyable parenting tools!
How has Babywearing helped you as a parent?
Babywearing has become a part of my everyday life and routine for the past 5 years. Having a carrier with me is just as critical as having my purse! My 2.5yr old knows that my back is his place. It keeps him safe and comfortable. I don’t have to worry about him running off or getting into things he shouldn’t or even having a meltdown because he is happily contained. He talks to me and points out what is happening around us as he’s at the same vantage point as I am. When my third baby arrives, I couldn’t imagine what parenting would look like without a carrier to keep her close so I can easily attend to my older children. I look forward to going out with the three of them, baby on my chest and a child in each hand. Babywearing has given me so much confidence in my parenting abilities. I know I can do this!
Do you have a preference for a style of carrier and why?
I honestly use and love them all for different reasons and different stages. Ring slings are a favourite for newborn snuggles and quick trips when they want to get older, especially when they need to nurse. Buckles are my go to for back wearing older children when there is lots of ups and downs. Mei tais are great for those days when you want the comfort of a wrap, but the ease of a buckle. I especially prefer them for front carries. Then there’s woven wraps which are my all time favourite. I use them from birth well into preschool years! Not just for wearing either but for blankets or towels too! They are the most versatile and comfortable carriers as they really do provide the most customized fit. The learning curve takes practice, especially for back carries, but the time invested is well worth the pay off!
Why did you become an Educator and Babywearing Group Leader?
I quickly feel in love with babywearing! After regularly attending the Brantford Babywearing meetings and broadening my carrier knowledge, I was asked to join the admin team. Not long afterwards, I took it upon myself to take the babywearing educator courses to further my knowledge, appreciation, and skills. As the past admin team aged out of wearing, I took over the group and we added new admins. The group has grown exponentially in the past few years and it’s wonderful to see so many caregivers wearing their children in the community! The look on a new mother’s face as her baby snuggles in and falls asleep is all the thanks I need!
What Groups do you lead and/or volunteer at?
I have been a leader of the Brantford Babywearers since 2012 and started the Oxford County Babywearers (Woodstock, ON) with a close friend of mine in 2014.
How has teaching enhanced your babywearing experience?
Teaching has kept me current and up to date in the world of Babywearing. The community has grown and with the increase in demand, supply has also increased exponentially! There are so many more options available today as compared to just 5 years ago. I want to ensure the information that I am giving is following best practices and the carriers I suggest are easily attainable and affordable options. Our carrier libraries have been turned over and updated regularly as well to ensure they are current as possible.
When a new parent asks why Babywear, how do you explain it to them?
A newborn has spent their entire lives living inside of you. They know your voice, your movements, your heartbeat. They know your warmth, your comfort and your constant nourishment. The transition into the outside world takes times and is often referred to as the 4th trimester. Having that time skin to skin and tummy to tummy allows the caregivers body to regulate their newborns’ temperature, breathing, heart rate and nervous system. It can help with bonding and attachment and aid in establishing a successful nursing relationship. Additionally, it may help curb the baby blues and post partum depression as it builds confidence in the caregiver’s ability to respond to the needs of their newborn. Wearing your infant allows for all these benefits to happen, while giving you your two hands free to do as you need.. like eat!
What are your core teachings to new wearers at your meetings?
The teaching focuses on safe babywearing and optimal positioning for both the wearer and wearee. We then look at the carriers the caregiver already owns (if applicable) to ensure they feel confident and comfortable with their use. If there are other carriers they want to explore, we ask some basic questions to and try and make some suggestions that fit into their needs. Both groups have carrier libraries to cater to a vast array of criteria; carriers that can carry infants or toddlers, single shoulder or double shoulder, higher or lower price ranges, petite or plus size wearers, short or long duration wearing, etc. There are very few “one size fits all” carriers, so we try and find the one that fits the caregiver and child the best.
How has Birdie’s Room assisted in your wearing and teaching experiences?
I have always been a fan of Didymos wraps! They are the pioneer brand and a trusted name in the babywearing community for many decades. I have owned quite a few Didymos wraps throughout the years, many of which are far older than my children and I cherish them as they have snuggled the babies of my friends and are full of love and sleepy dust. Birdie’s Room has been extremely generous in donating carriers to both our libraries. We feel very fortunate to be able to offer our members the use of gorgeous Didymos wraps and ring slings! They have quickly become favourites amongst our members for both their aesthetics and wrapping qualities! I also appreciate that they are easy care and hold up very well with being washed and worn so often.
Any other words of wisdom for a new wearer?
Seek out your local Babywearing groups. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to try carriers on. Just because one carrier didn’t work for you doesn’t mean there isn’t the perfect one out there… You just need to find it 😉