Calgary: host of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth (the Stampede), hometown of
country music superstar Paul Brandt, and along with the rest of Alberta, sometimes
referred to as the “Texas of the North”. It’s a wonder that with all these prairie cowboy
distinctions, that our concept of babywearing doesn’t look like this:
Pinterest users, beware! This isn’t recommended babywearing.
I’m relatively new to babywearing (my son is just shy of a year old), but I’m not new to
Calgary. And over the many years that I’ve lived in this city, I honestly haven’t seen
much babywearing – at least not until I started looking for it. Many months ago, I got a
message from a fellow mama in Toronto. She wrote (of Calgary): “I sure felt like an
outsider wearing my baby there…hopefully it’s better now!” At the time, I wondered if it
really was better now – are we a city set up for babywearers? Do we embrace it? What
resources and assistance is available to babywearers in Calgary? It was around that
time that I really became immersed in the babywearing world, as well as the community
of babywearers here in Calgary.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re already aware of one of the greatest assets available
to any parent- the Babywearing Calgary group. When I first “liked” their Facebook page,
I didn’t know the difference between an Ergo and a ring sling, much less how parents
seemed to take the equivalent of a rainbow-hued table runner and use it to support a
30-pound child (sometimes two at once!). I’ve since learned the answers to these
questions, and much more, but the most valuable thing I have learned from
Babywearing Calgary is the power of support and encouragement from loving, likeminded
parents – especially for “newbies” like myself. Babywearing Calgary hosts
monthly meetings to learn about babywearing, has social outings to connect with other
babywearers in the city (which can be a novelty in our sprawling, car-commuting
culture), and a lending library from which to borrow a diverse range of wraps and
carriers. And their Facebook group of over 200 members offers an opportunity to get
answers to questions, troubleshoot problems, and even buy or sell used carriers.
One complaint I’ve heard from rural parents is the difficulty of purchasing carriers or
wraps in their hometowns. At best, sometimes only one or two types are available – and
even then, they aren’t always ergonomically sound. We are incredibly lucky to have
many places in Calgary that retail safe and comfortable carrier options (Posh Mommy,
Riva’s Eco Store and Baby & Me Maternity, to name a few) – with the greatest selection
being found at Babes in Arms (who just so happens to be one of our lending library sponsors).
I’ve found that visiting a store like Babes in Arms is about
more than just making a purchase. I’ve gotten education, advice, and support – both
from staff as well as from frequent customers. Not only that, but Babes in Arms offers
monthly classes as well (Babywearing 101 and Back Carries) for intensive education
from a certified babywearing instructor.
My sister-in-law recently told me that she had mentioned my varied collection of wraps
and carriers (a.k.a. “stash”) to a friend of hers. “Oh yes, babywearing!” her friend had
commented. “That’s really trendy right now.” I had no idea when I purchased my first
carrier that I was participating in any fad or trend – I was just trying to find a way to keep
my reflux-ridden baby happy, and get some housework accomplished at the same time.
And although there are new wrap designs and brands hitting the scene every month, it’s
hardly a modern phenomenon – babywearing has been around for centuries. And if
you’re in Calgary, fear not, you can participate without resorting to turning a Bjorn into a
hip holster a la John Wayne turned babywearer. Join the Facebook group, attend a
meeting, and get involved. I know I can tell my Toronto friend with confidence – this city
gets better and better for babywearers every day.
Caitlin lives with her husband, Scott, and their son Finn (just shy of one year old!). Although she loves the Calgary Farmer’s Market, the Rocky Mountains, and the Calgary Zoo, she generally avoids both country music and the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Caitlin also blogs athttp://propositionzen.wordpress.com.