Here are some Tips for starting/running and promoting a Babywearing group in your area!
Hello! I’m going to run through all the tips and tricks I have developed over the years to help keep a babywearing group lively and growing and active in a community! I hope it helps anyone looking to promote babywearing. Please feel free to comment below with more questions and ideas that have worked for your group. Thank you all and Happy Wearing!
First – Communication and Networking.
A group needs to communicate with its community in as many ways as possible.
Ann Arbor babywearers has a Yahoo group, a facebook group and a website, and a blog.
I think all of these are really necessary. when new mothers first have their babies sometimes they need help right away, and not all of them know about the babywearer.com and the yahoo group connects them to women who might be around the corner waiting to help them.
Everybody seems to be on facebook these days, your group should be too!
the website has a comments section that is constantly receiving submissions. its a great way for people to find out if you are meeting tomorrow if they just found your group yesterday. Lots of pictures, and safety info is a must also, its a good place to list your resources (the carriers in your library) and always have a map to your location.
the blog: the more the new moms see pictures of other mothers making babywearing work for them the more they think it is what they need to master, and part of mothering. It wasnt really on tlc, ya see? and media creates perception. bombard your community with media. (thats the next part
you cannot run a big group alone. If you are planning on promoting and running a big group you need help. I think a team of 2 is a minimum. three is awesome!! In our group we have so far
1 facilitator/website manager (me)
and 1 person to run the facebook/yahoo group
It works really well. We cant all be at all the meetings, so we share helping people as best we can. when one of us has a sick kid. there is always someone there to help facilitate.
(for the record i never announce my consulting service at the group but i do talk with people one on one about it if they are asking questions)
The Structure of an Ann Arbor Babywearers Meeting
Ann arbor babywearers runs from 10-12, but people walk in leisurely through the entire meeting.
10:30 -done we sit in a circle and go around and say our name, our childrens names and ages and what brought us today. I always say “I came today to help others get comfy!” Thats when i find out who new moms are and in my head I break people up into groups based on what their goals for the day are.
11ish-12 People break up into groups, usually a back wrapping group, a ssc/meitai group, a ringsling group, and a few new mamas who need one on one help. all except the youngest babies needs are facilitated by other members I always tend to the youngest babies first and spend my time making sure I greet each first time attendee. if I can.
Sound like lots of work? it is!!! But Its worth it!!!!
Tips for promoting babywearing in your town, and helping to bring it into the mainstream:
Go to vistaprint.com. (i swear I dont work for them, this is really just my personal account of ongoing success, and vistaprint cant be left out, I’m sorry)
Over the years of doing this I have made the following pieces of media through vistaprint.com and I have no college degree, website design degree or anything. they walk you through setting up a website step by step. its really easy and managing it is too!
The ann arbor babywearers website (as well as closeathandbaby)
They have a whole section of “Free for shipping” products.
the business cards are great. put them in every supermarket, baby store, playpalce, toy store, kindermusik class etc.!!
the postcards have a free for shipping option too. I always make my safety info cards on those.
the big question!! How do I turn a Bjorn mama into one of us?
I have found that a really friendly safety card is the best start. The basic message is “Hi!!! You are a babywearer like me! Come join my group!”
All moms need help and acceptance. They will absorb the message in time with a gentle approach. They key is to meet people where they are at, and let them work their way towards where you are at their own pace. You will be surprised how many people you will convert with this approach. The worst possible thing you can do is talk to a bjorn wearing mom about how bad her carrier is. She will think “well this woman isn’t like me and I won’t belong in her group.” They will never show up, and that is sad, because every baby/mom needs to be worn/wear longer than a bjorn can handle. we all know that here. Acceptance. help them feel that they are already part of your group and they are much more likely to show up. Once they see the better options, they usually want them!!
Just Be A Leader in Your Community!!! Contact Babywearing International for information on becoming an official chapter once you have some people interested in leading your group with you. They will provide you with the next level of help to insure your library, insure your leaders and give you materials to help you celebrate International Babywearing Week, Like the Picture at the top of this post! I hope this little essay helped you all, and if anyone ever has any questions, please feel free to comment here!
Happy Wearing to all!!