June 2016 - Baby Tula Blog

June 2016 Archive

Babywearing Educator Spotlight: Amber Kozak
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Babywearing educators are a wonderful asset to the babywearing community. Their experience, knowledge and passion for babywearing can help caregivers overcome challenges, find solutions, and gain confidence in wearing their baby. We appreciate the role that babywearing educators play in our community and we are excited to celebrate their role through this series of babywearing educator spotlights.

Our next Babywearing Educator spotlight is on a passionate educator we recently met at the 2016 BOND conference. We asked Amber Kozak, of Babywearing Unicorn, to answer some questions about herself and her role as an educator.

Where are you currently offering your services? 

Philadelphia PA and the surrounding areas

Tell us about your babywearing related work? 

I am a CBWS-trained babywearing consultant, and started my business called “Babywearing Unicorn” this spring. I offer in home babywearing consultations, and classes about kangaroo care and attachment parenting. I also work in a retail store in south Philadelphia called “CLOTH” that sells baby carriers cloth diapers. At “CLOTH”, myself and 3 other educators give free babywearing help to people who come into the store. I have been working there since February of this year. 

During consultations I teach about anatomy, physiology and the different types and brands of carriers, their differences and their history. For an in home consultation I bring about 20 carriers with me and the consultation lasts about 2 hours.

 I also volunteer with and co-created Philly Babywearing Group. With Philly Babywearing group, I help with free fit checks and co-host meetings for my community in a group setting. I will also be volunteering at a shelter for homeless pregnant women in Philadelphia. I am really excited about that!

How did you get involved with baby wearing? 

I started babywearing my daughter when she was born in 2014 and have loved it ever sense. Through babywearing with my daughter, inspiration from friends, and the huge babywearing community I was apart of in Denver, I decided to become a babywearing educator. I started a Facebook group, for local meetings in Philadelphia, to meet friends and to help people try on Tula baby carriers. I also would help friends get comfortable in other carriers and experimented with many carriers in my personal time. It is something I am very passionate about and I wanted to offer more information for my community. So, I made the decision to take an intensive (and thorough I might add) training course with Center for Babywearing Studies to become a certified babywearing consultant. Combined with my hands on experience and this course I now confidently teach babywearing on a professional level.

What do you find most rewarding as a babywearing educator?

Seeing that moment when it all “clicks” for the parent and they feel confident and comfortable. 

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What is one important tip you like to share with new or first-time babywearers?

 What works for one parent may not work for you. There is no one size fits all carrier and trying on multiple carriers will really help you pick the carrier that is right for you and your baby. 

To connect with Amber, visit her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Babywearingunicorn/).

If you would like to nominate babywearing educator to be featured on the Tula blog and Facebook, please visit: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1MXmdmoof68jhHn6n547gd-9iUJLNBj46kQhYlrtPzbQ/viewform

If you would like to nominate yourself to be featured in our Babywearing Educator Spotlight, visit: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1IMF9cr6on1G64nBCArY2Vih1kI1cP9K7LVNWRUBtjAM/viewform

 

CARRIED TO CONNECT: Meg Apperson and Avery
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At Baby Tula, we have seen, first hand, how babywearing can benefit families in countless ways; from basic tasks getting completed to helping a baby and caretaker create a lifelong bond. You share your stories and we learn of so many poignant journeys that embody our motto: Keep Doing What You Love. It’s these moments, simple and grand, that we celebrate and want to share with our community. Here, we share the special story of Avery through an interview with her mother, and blogger, Meg Apperson.

Can you tell us a little bit about Avery and your family?

We’re a military family. I met my husband through my brother-in-law while they were on a deployment together. We have 3 children- Macson, 7; Laura, 2; and Avery, 1. The girls are 15 months apart, which was NOT intentional so Avery has been a surprise in every way! 

We knew very little about her condition prenatally, so the first few weeks following her birth were especially difficult. We could see immediately that she had various craniofacial defects, but the full scope of her medical diagnosis unfolded over the next few months. Currently, she receives breastmilk through her G-tube; breathes through the tracheostomy; receives respiratory support from a ventilator during the night and has undergone 9+ surgeries (several of them performed emergently) in the last year. We have hope that we will be able to transition away from the ventilator, trach and eventually G-tube in the next several years. During one of Avery’s hospitalizations last year, we discovered that my son Macson needed heart surgery right away for a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Having a second medically involved child has made life THAT much more interesting! 

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When did you first discover “babywearing” and/or baby carriers?

Before it was cool, so 30+ years ago,  my crunchy, hipster mom wore all of her 8 babies! (Not all at once, of course.) It was a natural progression for me when my oldest was born. He was so delicious that I wanted to hold him every second of the day! We were co-sleeping and on-demand nursing, so babywearing helped us graduate from the “new mom/new baby cuddling in our cocoon” phase to the “new mom/new baby still cuddling but also able to accomplish things” phase! That was huge confidence boost for a first-time mom trying to find her footing! 

How has babywearing helped your family keep doing what you love?

For me, besides the obvious bonding aspect, babywearing gives me the ability to multi-task. Some days it’s as simple as being able to prepare dinner and pacify the littlest simultaneously. Other times, babywearing allows us to be more adventurous. We recently took Avery to the park for the first time EVER and wearing her in my Tula carrier allowed her to be in a familiar, safe place, but also slowly learn a new environment. 

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How do you utilize babywearing to help your family and Avery’s special needs? 

Some of the Avery specific ways that babywearing is beneficial is during the recovery period after her surgeries. Avery has had 4 major brain surgeries and skull reconstructions and there’s a lot of swelling that occurs after each one. Babywearing is comforting to her and sitting upright helps to drain some of the excess fluid to reduce the swelling. Like any baby, being close to her mama when she’s especially stressed out also helps stabilize her heart rate. 

Babywearing also makes traveling to appointments easier. Avery sees so many specialists that we commute to see her doctors several times a week. She has so much medical equipment that we have to bring along, wearing her is a must. 

Have you had to make accommodations to how you babywear or use you Tula baby carrier

None at all, though I’ve realized getting the positioning right is especially important to avoid upsetting Avery’s trach. Having her head “close enough to kiss” keeps her airway safe and her hips supported. The kisses are pretty awesome too. 

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What is something that you have learned being a parent to a child with special needs? 

I have learned the importance of being intentional! Life with Avery means we face the possibility of death every day, so I’ve learned to be meticulous; to have realistic expectations of myself AND her; to strategize; etc. She’s spent so much of her life in a hospital bed and/or on heavy-duty seizure medication that she hasn’t had the opportunity to build muscles or develop sensory processing. Now that she’s home, I have to make every second count towards her rehabilitation. She’s improving so quickly and in ways that her doctors warned us she might not. I credit that to our family being so intentional and vigilant with her care. 

What would you say to a new parent? Or a parent of another child with special needs? 

I would advise all parents the same. Make this time count! Not only are we not promised tomorrow, so we should make the most of every day with our children, but each developmental phase that they’re working through is so important! These memories, problem solving skills, habits and manners are things they carry with them for the rest of their life. And often, all the little things we model for our children and expose them to will be repeated for the next generation. Don’t just “survive” these years. Make the most of them. 

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What else has helped your family during your most trying times? 

We definitely rely on our faith in Jesus Christ and the hope and peace that comes from trusting Him with our lives. We also benefit from being a part of a wonderfully supportive family unit and community. It’s so important to find your support circle. People loving and caring for other people is what it’s all about. 

You can follow along Meg and her family’s journey on her blog: http://www.fourfinelives.com/

Kangaroo Care: The Research Behind the Benefits of Babywearing
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Decreased crying, increased physiological regulation, breastfeeding facilitation, improved bonding….the list of how babywearing benefits you and your little one goes on and on and – most importantly – is backed by real science.

Many may not realize that the majority of research used to advocate for babywearing actually stems from investigations of ‘kangaroo care’, which is a specific type of babywearing that involves dedicated time to skin-to-skin contact with the caregiver.

What is kangaroo care?

 Around the world, an estimated 4 million infants die during the first month of life, often due to the high risk of infection and malnutrition associated with low birth weight and prematurity.[1] Often, areas with the highest rates of infant mortality are those with lblog_KCowest access to hospital care – due to rural locations, economic hardship, and/or insufficient medical facilities to accommodate all at-risk infants. Kangaroo care was developed in Colombia in 1978 as an effective and low-cost alternative to standard hospital care for vulnerable preterm and low birth weight infants.[2] Because kangaroo care requires nothing more than a woven or stretchy fabric to secure the baby to the caregiver’s chest, this is a practical, low cost, and effective way to prevent neonatal mortality in high-risk communities by using an adult’s body as a quasi-incubator to regulate the fragile physiology of the new baby.

Benefits of kangaroo care

Though the original kangaroo care intervention required constant skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding, and early discharge with follow-up monitoring – because the combination of these treatments provides the strongest protective effect against mortality – most of the conventional research conducted in Western countries uses the term kangaroo care to refer simply to skin-to-skin contact, usually lasting several hours per day.[3] These randomized control studies – the gold standard of scientific research – demonstrate that skin-to-skin contact with preterm or vulnerable infants improves outcomes for their physiology (e.g., stabilizes the heart rate, respiration, and body temperature)[4], behavior (e.g., improves sleep cycles, decreases crying),[5] and social-cognitive development (e.g., promotes improved communication and bonding with caregivers).[6]  Though most work has focused on the first weeks or months post-partum, effects of kangaroo care seem to be long lasting. One study followed infants from birth until age 10, and found that infants assigned to a kangaroo care intervention at birth were more likely to have improved executive functioning at age 10 than those in the control group.[7]

Why these effects?

When taking into account the order of post-natal sensory development, it makes sense that physical skin-to-skin contact is most beneficial to newborn infants. The development of touch precedes the development of the visual and auditory systems, so excessive visual and auditory stimulation too early can be disruptive to the development of the sensory system.[8] Tactile stimulation – on the other hand – helps to improve the state organization, physiological maturity, and attention of newborns, especially in preterm infants.[9]

Kangaroo care isn’t just for at-risk babies. Follow the Tula Blog for updates on the benefits of skin-to-skin contact for all babies and for tips on how to incorporate kangaroo care into your current babywearing routine!

 

This Guest Blog was written by Emily E. Little, M.A.

Emily is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation research examines the social mechanisms underlying the benefits of babywearing, including how increased mother-infant physical contact facilitates higher maternal responsiveness. Her research program more broadly investigates culturally-mediated mother-infant communication, and she has collected data on early teaching in Vanuatu, infant emotional displays in Bolivia, and breastfeeding patterns in Guatemala. She is also specializing in anthropogeny, or the study of human origins, through UCSD’s Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), which has added an evolutionary perspective to her interests in culture, mother-infant interaction, and babywearing. She is passionate about making a positive contribution in the communities where she works, not just in San Diego – where she volunteers as a Volunteer Babywearing Educator in training with Babywearing International – but also at her international fieldsites, where she volunteers at community health centers and raises money for maternal and infant health services.

1 Lawn JE, Cousens S, Zupan J; Lancet Neonatal Survival Steering Team. 4 million neonatal deaths: when? Where? Why? Lancet. 2005;365(9462): 891–900

2 Whitelaw, A., & Sleath, K. (1985). MYTH OF THE MARSUPIAL MOTHER: HOME CARE OF VERY LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES IN BOGOTA, COLOMBIA. The Lancet,325(8439), 1206-1208. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(85)92877-6

[3] Boundy, E. O., Dastjerdi, R., Spiegelman, D., Fawzi, W. W., Missmer, S. A., Lieberman, E., … Chan, G. J. (2015). Kangaroo Mother Care and Neonatal Outcomes: A Meta-analysis.PEDIATRICS137(1), x-16. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-2238

4 Bergman, N. H., Linley, L., & Fawcus, S. (2004). Randomized controlled trial of skin-to-skin contact from birth versus conventional incubator for physiological stabilization in 1200- to 2199-gram newborns. Acta Paediatrica93(6), 779-785. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb03018.x

5 Whitelaw, A., Heisterkamp, G., Sleath, K., Acolet, D., & Richards, M. (1988). Skin to skin contact for very low birthweight infants and their mothers. Archives of Disease in Childhood63(11), 1377-1381. doi:10.1136/adc.63.11.1377

6 Feldman, R., Eidelman, A. I., Sirota, L., & Weller, A. (2002). Comparison of Skin-to-Skin (Kangaroo) and Traditional Care: Parenting Outcomes and Preterm Infant Development. PEDIATRICS110(1), 16-26. doi:10.1542/peds.110.1.16

7 Feldman, R., Rosenthal, Z., & Eidelman, A. I. (2014). Maternal-Preterm Skin-to-Skin Contact Enhances Child Physiologic Organization and Cognitive Control Across the First 10 Years of Life. Biological Psychiatry75(1), 56-64. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.08.012

8 Kathleen Philbin, M., Ballweg, D. D., & Gray, L. (1994). The effect of an intensive care unit sound environment on the development of habituation in healthy avian neonates. Dev. Psychobiol27(1), 11-21. doi:10.1002/dev.420270103

9 FIELD, T. (1995). Massage Therapy for Infants and Children. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics16(2), 105???111. doi:10.1097/00004703-199504000-00008

Grow with Care: Tula Baby Blankets

grow_blanket_1 Our line of Tula Baby Blankets has been a wonderful addition to the baby essentials we can offer families. We love that our blankets have allowed families to cuddle their babies with a high quality, stylish product! Our blankets have been so well received by our community that we have been unable to keep up with the excitement at our current production levels, and are so happy to confirm that after months of research, we have made exciting progress in expanding our production of Tula Baby Blankets.

Baby Tula has always held a strong commitment to quality, safety, creativity and strong company ethics when looking for production facilities for our entire line of products. When considering ways to expand the production of our blankets, we knew that these core values were our first priority, and yet we knew that our current production facility highlighted here could not produce many more blankets. While remaining dedicated to this facility, we are excited to expand our blanket production with the addition of another wonderful mill in Turkey. With this addition, we will be able to host more frequent releases and work towards producing larger quantities in the near future.

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This mill has been specifically focused on creating a variety of high quality baby textiles and products for over 11 years, including Oeko-Tex 100 class 1 material. Their innovative techniques and passion for high quality ensured us that they are able to help us expand our offering of Tula Baby Blankets in beautiful prints and supreme comfort. While using the exact same 100% Bamboo Viscose materials, they use a unique finishing process that offers a silky, sleek feel perfect for summer.

As a company who cares tremendously about the love and care given to each item, we were also happy to learn that the Turkish mill dedicates special attention to creating a comfortable, positive work environment for each of its employees. Outdoor tea breaks and lunch times are regularly enjoyed, along with special activities and social events that help sustain a united, motivated team.

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Our ultimate goal is to provide more high quality baby blankets for families to enjoy, and we are so happy that we could add another mill that upholds our superior standards. It’s with each small action done with care and love that we are able to expand in a sustainable way that celebrates the beauty and affection we share with our community. Look for more of our Tula Baby Blankets to release soon in fabulous new designs.

Baby Tula at WEAR 2016
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Last week, several team Tula members attended the first annual WEAR Conference, a conference dedicated to safe, comfortable and accessible babywearing education. We were delighted to be there to attend educational sessions, exhibit our products, and connect with our peers and fellow enthusiasts in the babywearing community.

Conferences and events related to babywearing are a wonderful way to celebrate gathering communities and share special items to commemorate the unique opportunity to interact with our loving community in person. To celebrate, Tula created a limited edition carrier ‘Wearfore Art Thou’ and also previewed our limited edition woven wrap ‘Tula Love’ Blanc; a ‘natty’ tencel blend woven wrap.

WEAR was a great opportunity for us to connect not only with exhibitors and organizations, but also so many educators and babywearing enthusiasts who shared their knowledge and personal stories with us. One special attendee that we were delighted to meet was the founder of ErgoBaby, Karin Frost. She spoke about her beginnings and how she now enjoys seeing her confident fifteen-year-old son – the first “ergobaby” – navigate the world with a calm, compassionate manner.

As sponsors of the event, we also had the opportunity to sponsor speakers and experts to present during the conference sessions:

  • Benefits of Babywearing for Non-Gestational Parents, presented by MaryEllen Olson; and
  • Using Babywearing to Support Breastfeeding Goals, presented by Jay McMillin

We believe that these types of informational sessions help us share as a community how babywearing truly goes beyond function. To see the other topics and speakers from the weekend, please visit www.wearconference.com.

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The WEAR conference also included a special awards ceremony that highlighted contributions made by individuals and organizations that were positively impacting the babywearing community. One particular award that stood out was the lifetime achievement award that went to the late Erika Hoffman, founder of Didymos, an early influencer and business woman that played a major role in introducing babywearing to the Western world.

Baby Tula was also pleasantly surprised to be awarded the Community Appreciation award for manufacturers in the babywearing industry! Ula and the team were so happy to receive this award because, as a community-voted award, it meant so much to feel the appreciation! We’re so thankful for each and every family that wears a Tula and allows us to be apart of their parenting journey.

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We look forward to our next event, the International Babywearing Conference and to next year’s WEAR conference!