What is a babywearing international (BWI) meeting like?
You’ve probably heard talk of all these meetings, or seen one scheduled on our calendar – but how do they actually work? What happens at these meetings? Can I go?
Our meetings are free and open to the public. If you are a caregiver that would like to learn how to wear a baby – join us! If you are an experienced babywearer that wants to further their knowledge – join us! If you want to hang out and meet some other babywearing caregivers – join us! Meetings are centered around babywearing education, complete with trying on carriers from our lending library or learning to use carriers you may have brought with you.
What should I expect when I walk into a meeting?
There will likely be several volunteers finishing setting up the lending library, maybe chatting with a member while checking in their carrier from the previous month, a volunteer will likely be helping meeting attendees to get signed in and there will definitely be children! Find a spot in the room, we try to have a circle-esq shape of seating set up, and get yourself (and baby/kids if you brought them) comfortable. Can I bring my infant in their carseat or stroller? Absolutely! What if my baby is hungry? Go ahead and feed them – whatever that looks like for you. Meetings have a casual environment so take time to change diapers, feed children, take a bathroom break or have a snack yourself! We ask that all adults that attend fill out our sign in form – it’s quick and allows us to track attendance at each location. This also includes a media release. What’s that for? We try to take pictures at our meetings and post them in our private Facebook group.
A meeting will usually begin about 10 minutes after the start time listed – this gives time to people to arrive, get settled, sign in, or check in any carriers. Can’t get there for the beginning? That’s ok – while we like when people can be present for announcements and intros, we also understand that many people are working around babies’ schedules. (Leaving early is also fine.) We begin with short introductions (your name, who you brought with you and what you want to learn today), followed by a demonstration of our carry or carrier of the month. A volunteer may have some announcements about special events or programs going on that month. After introductions, we break down into small groups based on what the needs of the specific group are. Sometimes you will get one on one help from a VBE (Volunteer Babywearing Educator) right away, sometimes each VBE will be helping a group with a specific type of carrier. Don’t be afraid to ask your questions, some meetings can get a little chaotic, but we want to get to everyone.
Tips to navigate a meeting:
Not everyone who attends, or even volunteers, at a meeting is extroverted. If you are unsure of going without knowing anyone, ask around in our group to find someone to buddy up with!
Our volunteers give their time to be at these meetings and while we try to focus on our job while there we may need to take a quick break to attend to our own children. (Interruptions expected)
If you are unsure of where to even start – all the carriers look like lumps of cloth and confusing – don’t worry. We’ll take a deep breath with you and can show you as many as you want (or at least have time for). We don’t mind repeating or showing the same thing more than once.
I need to check in/out a carrier, what do I do? Find a volunteer – a CSV (Chapter Support Volunteer) is usually stationed at or near the admin table and can help you with this. If you’re a member, we ask that you have your member ID card out to make the process quicker. If you are not currently a member, that same volunteer can walk you through the process at any time during the meeting.
What if I didn’t bring my own baby or the baby I care for? That’s ok! We have weighted dolls at all our meeting locations that you can use to try on carriers and get an idea of how they fit and work.
Can my spouse/partner/friend/mom/grandpa/next door neighbor/etc come? Yes! Anyone who wants to learn about babywearing is great to bring along.
Blog post written by Adele W.
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