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Episode 49: Demystifying Babywearing with Karla Castro

, , June 30, 2021

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:32

Welcome back to Breastfeeding Talk milk motherhood mindset. Today we have a brand new guest on the show and her name is Karla Castro. And I’m really excited to do this episode because this is a topic that I don’t feel like I have a ton of expertise in I have some experience with but I really would love all the listeners out there to get some awesome education tips and feel more confident with this. And we’re gonna be talking about babywearing today. And Karla is actually a trained babywearing educator and consultant. And she got her training through the Center for babywearing studies. And welcome to the show. I’m just happy to have you here. Karla.


Karla Castro  1:15

I’m really happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me today.


Jacqueline Kincer  1:18

Yeah, absolutely. And a fun fact about Karla since you all can’t see her right now she’s actually wearing her baby right now who’s asleep. So I have no idea when we like first hopped on here to record and then she showed me and that’s the fun thing about babywearing is that you can like just do other living things and not have to hold your baby in arms all the time.


Karla Castro  1:38

Yeah, I was very nervous. I thought it might get to be able to time it just right. But honestly, when it’s ready for her nap, I can just put her in the carrier. I know she’ll fall asleep. So


Jacqueline Kincer  1:49

it’s perfect. And as she wakes up, you know, we have a bunch of moms listening who might be wearing their babies right now too. So hey, that’s just how it is. Real-life? Yes. Well, I would love to know, how did you get into baby-wearing? Obviously, it’s something that you do. But not everyone ends up, you know, becoming someone who’s a baby-wearing educator and knowing so much about it. And probably a lot of our listeners don’t even know this is like a thing. So I’d love to hear more.


Karla Castro  2:18

Yeah, so baby-wearing has actually broken tradition for me. And nobody in my family wore their baby, that at least I could remember looking back at some pictures, I did find a picture of my dad wearing my younger sister. And I was 10 at the time. And so perhaps that seed in my mind, but I don’t have an actual memory of it of anybody around me doing it. My first I remember reading about it, you know googling things. And I was like, Okay, this is something I want to do. This is something holding her in a carrier. That’s what I’m going to do. And when she was born, I had a Stretchy Wrap, which I think so many of us have started with one of those. Just a really long piece of fabric that’s really soft and stretchy. And we loved it. We loved it. Because I’ve got four Velcro babies, I say they always just wanted to be stuck on me. And it was just such a practical thing for me to do put her in the carrier, and just go about my day. So I started with my first baby 10 years ago, she just turned 10. And it was just kind of a natural progression with the second I just, you know, put her in the carrier. And when I had my second a friend introduced me to different kinds of carriers which was just mind-blowing. I was like, Wow, it’s really amazing to you know, feel different fabrics, woven wraps, Magi structured carriers, all kinds of things. And so it was really eye-opening to see that there were so many options. And it’s around the time that I got involved with my local babywearing group just you know, online listening to conversations or reading I should say conversations or joining in on conversation posting questions, joining meetups, which is really huge back then back when we could get together


Jacqueline Kincer  3:55

with people. Oh, yeah, I remember those days.


Karla Castro  3:59

Yeah, you know, just meeting up with people who are like-minded and who are interested in something like these were all kind of in the trenches with you. It was a really amazing time to connect and bond with other people. So babywearing became more than just carrying my baby became about community and became about a hobby for me too. You know, just learning how to use different carriers borrowing from the lending library and just having something new every couple of weeks to try on. It was a lot of fun. And then a few of our leaders locally thought well, you know, there’s so many of us that are into this, why don’t we look into getting you know, certified or trained through the Center for Babywearing Studies? And we brought in as the educator out here, where we’re located and she came trained and quite a few of us took the training, but only a few of us have left or left I should say. Still doing it as a teaching, you know, or as a job basically teaching others. That’s kind of been my journey. So I went from, you know, being taught myself learning and then just helping other parents around me and then just seeing that more parents needed help. So getting trained was the next step.


Jacqueline Kincer  5:10

Yeah. Hmm. Yeah, that makes so much sense. And it’s amazing that you are this resource for your community out there. And I feel like that’s, you know, kind of how I got into what I did is, you know, I needed help with breastfeeding. And then I started going to La Leche League meetings. And then I decided I wanted to help other moms. And I did it informally, and then I made it something formal. So yeah, that’s how a lot of us end up doing what we do. Yeah. And I still remember to I don’t know, I guess I just early on got on the babywearing bandwagon, someone. Maybe it was in my Bradley method class or something. Somehow I just knew about it. And I think I have like a Moby Wrap or something. But I got on my What do you call it a baby registry, my brain got that word. So that was cool. And then I got an ergo and a ring sling. And, you know, there’s all these different types, but I do remember many times I would be out I’d be wearing my baby. And I’d be at the grocery store or Target or the park or wherever. And these women, particularly older women would come up to me even older men. And they would say, Wow, that is so cool. I wish I had that when I have my babies. And I’m thinking, I’m pretty sure this is like rooted in some very old traditions. And they did have baby wearing but you just weren’t aware. So I, I would love you’re probably really good at this. You probably know a lot of the history of babywearing it’s not new. And this is something that has been practiced in cultures in many places around the world. So please, please enlighten us on that.


Karla Castro  6:41

Well, something I like to say is that baby-wearing is as ancient as humanity. Because I think a lot of times, new parents, like you don’t know what you don’t know, right? And when you come into parenthood, it’s a whole new world, literally, you’ve never been exposed to this before, most of us anyways. And so it really feels like you’re discovering things for the first time. But in reality, babywearing is a practice that’s been around. Since humans were around, you know, for centuries, and centuries. All over the world, there’s evidence of babywearing being practiced, and just people using materials that were on hand around them. You know, depending on the climate, that’s the kind of wearing that they would use, you know, in warmer climates, you would see thinner cloth or even netting, you know, things woven into nets so that babies have a lot more air, you know, airflow. In colder climates, you see, like the amount T and amount to babies being worn like in a parka in the hood of a parka, you know, so right up against your skin so that the body heat helps to keep them warm.


Just all over the world. We see it on every continent, and it’s really beautiful. But it’s also something that makes you think well, okay, so it is a broken tradition for all of us. And what does that mean? Well, it means that for some people, babywearing is a way to kind of reclaim your roots to say, Okay, I’m kind of now reclaiming this practice. And having this connection with my ancestry. Sometimes you’re able to use very similar carriers that your ancestors used. In some places, you no longer find them, especially if they were, for example, baskets, like I’m thinking in Europe, they use baskets, for example. You won’t find those anymore. People don’t really make those. But in places like Africa, Central and South America where they’ll use cloth, you still find people using the same cloth nowadays that they use hundreds 1000s of years ago. So I think it’s important to recognize that it is not new. It’s not a trend, it’s not something that people in the last 50, 60, or 100 years have discovered. It’s something that is now becoming more mainstream for sure, especially in Western society. But it’s something that everybody should do because as my instructor Joanne always says it’s a baby’s birthright to be carried close. And whether it’s a broken tradition or not for us, it’s really important for the baby-mother dyad to have that closeness to each other and babywearing helps you with that.


Jacqueline Kincer  9:21

Oh, wow, that’s just such a beautiful kind of explanation and a summary of where this all comes from. And yeah, I remember I went to a babywearing meeting like you’re describing and someone there had traveled and they got an actual sort of wrap the woven fabric from Africa. And they brought it and I remember that we all sat there at that meeting and we had no idea how to use it. And even the Behringer educators were like, I think this takes some special skill like we want to make sure we use this safely and we don’t know it does not come through instruction book like the ones you buy In the store, and I remember the leader of the group was like, you know, I’m gonna take this home, and I’m gonna play around with it with my baby. And I thought, wow, that is so cool. That was my first experience knowing like, hey, this isn’t just something that, you know, has taken off with some sort of trends, you know, in, in our culture here. So thank you so much for diving into that I love what you said about just, you know, sort of reclaiming it and that connection to the ancestors, because it’s not just one culture, so many. And I think sometimes people have these images in their head, that they may have seen, like you mentioned, the baskets, I know, I’ve seen that like old black and white images of babies and baskets. So that’s really quite known where that came from.


Karla Castro  10:41

Yeah, all over the world. And in a lot of cultures, like you’re saying, you have this carrier here, and you’re like, I don’t know what to do with it, I don’t have instructions. But in a lot of these cultures, it’s something that you see growing up, you see your aunties, you see your grandmother, you see your uncles, your cousins, everybody takes a turn carrying the babies. And it’s something that you kind of grew up having almost like a sixth sense about, and you don’t even think about it, you grow up, you have your own babies, and you know how to do this. Here in our culture, again, because it’s that broken tradition, we’re having to learn it from written manuals, we’re having to learn it from YouTube videos, or we go to meetups, you know, to learn from other people who’ve got maybe two, three years of experience ahead of us to teach us. But it’s really important to realize also that, there’s this kind of community aspect to babywearing this passing down of knowledge. It’s something that you can watch all the YouTube videos, you know, you can or want, you can read all the instruction manuals, but sometimes, a lot of the time really, for some people, it’s just really important to have that one on one in that group kind of learning experience and learning by watching somebody else doing it, especially here. And I think that that is where maybe a lot of the concern with safety comes into play like oh, no, I don’t know how to use this. Is it safe? And I always say that babywearing inherently is safe, you know. But because we’ve lost that instinct in us here, then we kind of second-guess ourselves. And we think, Okay, we have to have all of these instruct patients and all these kind of protocols so that people can kind of almost wake up that sense in them that okay, this is how you do it. Oh, and as you practice it, it becomes second nature to you. But yeah, it’s a really neat thing to be able to learn from other people. And to learn something like this and that community aspect.


Jacqueline Kincer  12:41

Yeah, I think there’s so much value in that for so many things related to parenting and breastfeeding, especially when you can watch these YouTube videos. But when someone actually helps you latch the baby or you see someone else doing it. Well, it makes such a difference. And, you know, I will say, for anybody who’s on the fence about this, and you know, if you’re reemerging out to the worlds with the pandemic, there is so much value in going to community groups like this. I definitely felt like I found my tribe, as a new mom really kind of being the first among my friends to have children going to babywearing meetings or meetups or moms groups and other people wearing babies and be learning those nuances from people where they would say, the kindest way possible, got carriers stuck, quite positioned optimally, let’s help you out with that. And I’m like, great, I don’t know what I don’t know. You know, and then and then inevitably, we will be talking about you know, some other stuff, right? And we’d become friends and we’d, you know, do playdates and things so it’s I loved feeling so supported by something as simple as babywearing. And I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves either here, but I think there might be a lot of people who kind of get overwhelmed by the topic where they feel like you know, this something that they know is good for their baby, and they want to do it and they like the idea of being hands-free. And then sometimes they end up choosing a carrier that you know, they read some online reviews kind of a thing or a friend loved it. But maybe, you know, in this case, this parent doesn’t love it, or this baby doesn’t love it or, or whatever. Right? So there’s so many out there and I feel like sometimes it’s like decision fatigue.


So maybe we could talk about what are kind of the basic different types of carriers and then maybe what kind of situations or not even situations but you know what kind of person might benefit from different types or do better with those, like demystifying it a little bit for people because I have definitely had questions from clients especially when they’re pregnant and they say you know, I want a carrier I can feed the baby and I’m like, Well, for me personally, I wasn’t one and done. I feel like once you get on the babywearing bandwagon it’s like it’s kind of an addiction and you end up buying a lot of carriers or checking them out from your babywearing Library. like I did, but um, I just Yeah, I don’t know. And then I live in Arizona where it’s like hot for a lot of the air too. So some of the some of the other ones like a Moby Wrap didn’t seem very comfortable for me or my baby. So I went with a linen ring sling, for instance. But I’m throwing all these words out here, assuming our listeners know them, and they bite you like, what is a real sling? So would you tell us a little bit about the different types?


Karla Castro  15:24

Yeah, we tend to kind of group them into five main types. So the first type would be stretchy wraps. So those are things or wraps, I should say, long fabric wraps that are made of knit fabric. So think t-shirt material. And the stretchiness varies. Some of them are a little bit less stretchy. Some of them are very, very stretchy. But the idea is still the same they’re long pieces of fabric that you wrap around yourself and your baby and it feels just feel like you’re wearing a shirt. And you almost think that you’re never going to fit a baby in there. But the fabric stretches and it just kind of holds babies snugly. Think of it like a swaddle, you know, the squat. Why do we swaddle babies, right? Because they kind of like feeling that compression and it helps with the with the whole Moro reflex and so babywearing has that same effect, the Stretchy Wrap, especially because it stretches like that it kind of hugs them to you. So stretchy wraps are one but like you said, if you’re in a hot climate, those might not be ideal, because you need three layers of fabric for optimal security, because it’s so stretchy, as baby gets older and they’re able to push up. And we all know babies are a lot stronger than we imagined when they’re little, they can push away from you. And so you need three layers of fabric and it can be very, very hot. So if you live in a cooler climate, something like that is wonderful. And a lot of people like them for the newborn stage. Because you can leave them on throughout the day and literally just take the baby out, and put them back in without ever having to take the carrier off. So it’s what we call poppable you can pop baby in and out of the carrier without having to tie it all up again. So


Jacqueline Kincer  16:59

I did that with my sling so much. Yeah, it’s I feel like it was like a scarf that I wore. I have a picture kind of works as a nursing cover to the


Karla Castro  17:09

ring sling is fantastic for nursing care, but I still use it when whenever I feel like I need to cover up I just use the ring sling for sure. Now, the Stretchy Wrap also is kind of tricky for breastfeeding, but we’ll get into that afterward in Sure. So we’ve got the stretchy wraps and we’ve got woven wraps. So woven wrap, I like to compare the feeling of it to like a tablecloth. It’s made of woven fabric, whether it’s cotton or cotton, linen, or goodness, they could be made of I mean, I’ve heard of some with camelhair in them right you can get really fancy with them silk, hemmed, bamboo, all kinds of things, tensile all kinds of fibers get woven into these long wraps that are very similar in length to a Stretchy Wrap, or short like a scarf. And in that case, we can call those either a short wrap or if it’s specifically made in a place kind of, you know, like Mexico or another place in Central America where they make rebozos We can call them rebozos. So they’re shorter wraps and you can tie them on the front and on the hip on the back. And the same with the longer wraps you can do a multitude of carries with those I prefer those because they’re the most versatile. You can carry a newborn on your phone, you can carry a newborn on your back with it. You can do hit carries, you can carry toddlers, I had one rap that I used to carry two babies, and at the same time with one single long wrap. So woven wraps are fantastic. They have a very high weight limit.


They’re very supportive. And they’re very versatile. They also can be a little overwhelming because of the length. You know, depending on how long it is. Some people might think, Oh, that’s a lot of fabric. But like anything in life, it just takes a little bit of practice. So that’s the second category of stretchy wraps woven wraps. The third one is out-ministered carriers or s. SC structured carriers are buckle carriers, right? They’re the ones that we kind of see at big box stores. They have a padded waist belt with a buckle. They have shoulder straps and a little buckle that you clip on your back. And it kind of looks like a backpack kind of and they’re really designed for older babies and nowadays are making them more adjustable so that you can accommodate a newborn in it too, which is really cool because you don’t have to worry about our inserts.


So if you are in a place that is pretty hot and you don’t want to fiddle around with a hot insert, you can get one of those adjustable ones that become more narrow and shorter to accommodate a smaller baby but can also expand as your baby grows. So it really grows with you so you don’t have to feel like oh I have to get another carrier now because maybe we outgrew this one. A lot of those will last you a year and a half at least so It’s really worth the investment. And I like to look at it like it’s an investment, right? Especially if you’re going to get one that’s going to grow with you and your baby. So that’s the third one. The next capital category I’ll mention is Magi. And the Magi is an Asian-inspired carrier. So it’s similar to a buckle carrier because it has a built-in panel. But it kind of has a feel of a wrap because it has long straps. So you’ve got this kind of the best of both worlds, I like to say, because you have a built-in panel, so you don’t have to worry about making a seat or baby straightening their legs or anything like that. You tie it at your waist, sometimes there’s a buckle at the way, and sometimes it’s just strapping at the waist. And then these shoulder straps are used to wrap around you and really get a very custom fit for yourself. So this is great for people who perhaps are having a hard time finding a buccal carrier that doesn’t fit their frame, right, maybe that’s because they have a long torso, or they’re wide-shouldered or, you know, for various reasons, soft structured carries might not fit, ideally. But a magi just gives you you know, a custom fit every time. And they’re fantastic. I always feel like they’re underutilized and under-recognized as being a really great option for people.


Jacqueline Kincer  21:22

And I wish that they were used more, and I find that you can actually get them fairly inexpensively. I’m sure you can go very expensive as you can with any of these types of carriers. Yeah, I know, I spent a lot of money ordering some very fancy woven wrap from Europe at one point. And it was so gorgeous. Because that’s how we get right. We get all excited about these. It’s because it’s like an attachment to us too, right? It’s a piece of us when we wear this thing. So it’s not like a piece of clothing that you may wear once every couple of weeks. You may be wearing this every day. But yeah, but I love that because yeah, it’s Magi is how you say this wrong all these years?


Karla Castro  22:04

Well, well, this is what happened, right? So we westernized things. And of course, many of us don’t know how to speak Cantonese or Mandarin. It’s very different than English. Right? So we we started calling it Muy Thai. But a few years ago, I want to say four years ago or so, the Asian members in the beadwork community said listen, it’s actually not pronounced Muy Thai is pronounced Magi or bear die, depending on the dialect that you’re using. So we’d really appreciate it if you you know, just be sensitive to that and respectful and use the appropriate name. And also they asked manufacturers not to kind of chop up the names and like make up their own mashed up versions of names, just call it what it is. It’s uh, you know, company ABCs Magi, you know, instead of mashing it up. And so in an effort to support that, cause, you know, we’re trying to make sure that we use the right name. So it’s Magi and other Asian inspired carriers that onbuhimo We used to just call it an Anbu. But Anbu just means back carry onbuhimo means back carrier. So again, an effort to be respectful and honoring the tradition and the culture. We call it what it is. And so yeah, for a lot of us, and a lot of people who started babywearing a few years ago, they still call it a Muy Thai but you’ll see now a lot of companies have made the shift and it’s pronounced Magi or Bajaj depending again on the dialect. And honestly, we’re never going to get it 100% Right. We don’t if you don’t speak the language, right. So we just have to do the best that we can.


Jacqueline Kincer  23:39

Yeah. Well, now anyone who listens to this is going to know and so yeah, people and and, you know, spread the word because I do important on or that. Yeah, thank you.


Karla Castro  23:50

Yeah, and the last one I want to mention that you actually mentioned already with the ring sling, which is another great. I think they all have such amazing pros, right. But with the ring sling, it’s fantastic because it’s a shorter piece of woven cloth. So it’s like the woven wrap. And a lot of times it will be made from a woven wrap. A lot of people will cut it down and so we’re a couple of rings into it, but it has one and where there are a set of aluminum rings sewn in. So think of those D ring belts that were really famous, you know, years back where you kind of just thread through the rings and then it secures itself like that. That’s how a ring sling functions. you thread the one end into the rings and through both then over one and then it locks into place. And by lifting the ring you’re able to loosen it or by pulling the fabric you’re able to tighten it and it’s a great carrier because it’s lightweight. You can usually find it made of linen which is really breathable fabric. It’s one shouldered and it’s one layer fabric over you and baby so it keeps you really a lot cooler then A lot of other options, but it is just one shoulder. So for some people, they find it puts too much strain on one side because it’s not symmetrical. So a trick that some people use is just switch sides every you know, once in a while, 30 minutes, half an hour, however long on you’re wearing, you kind of switch sides and then you give your body more of a symmetrical experience throughout your babywearing time. So yeah, those are the five main categories. And then you can get into hybrids. And I mean, it’s a whole, you know, again, it’s a whole world out there. But those are the main types of carriers.


Jacqueline Kincer  25:37

Yeah, that’s not so helpful. Karla, thank you for giving such excellent verbal descriptions of those two lines. I kind of even forgot about one of the types that you’ve mentioned. So that was so neat to get like a little refresher in my memory. And no, I think one of the biggest things is, you know, I think they’re, I don’t think there’s anybody that would say there’s a downside to babywearing. But if they’re struggling with it, you know, they might just say, Oh, it’s not for me, or my baby doesn’t like it. And there’s a learning curve, like you said, right. So that’s, that’s important to just acknowledge and kind of be patient with, I remember pulling up YouTube videos, and having to pause, I’m like, this lady is going too fast. What did she do with this, you know, strap over here. And so it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re like a sleep deprived new mom, and you know, you’ve got all these things going on. But once you get the hang of it, I promise you guys, it’s so worth it. But there is also the aspect that we’ve kind of touched on here and there, which is safety of baby wearing. And I like how you said baby wearing is inherently safe. And I love that because I think that if we look at it through that lens, great, you know, but I think that I’ve had questions from people, especially dads who may be, you know, they haven’t they haven’t carried the baby in the womb, and they don’t, they don’t quite have that same initial connection that a mother might have. And they’ll be just kind of fearful, you know, what if what if the strap comes out? Or what if it buckles? What if, what if baby just falls out? Like, well, unless you’re doing something really wrong, it’s probably not going to happen. And I can attest to this, that I have used a buckled soft structure carrier. And I, I don’t know if this is just because it was an older model if they’re still this way, but I have several times realized that I actually didn’t buckle the carrier fully. But it’s almost like a double click. So even though I did get that last click, I was still secure and safe. And nothing ever unclick ger unbuckled. And I only realized it when I went to unbuckle it. So I feel like they kind of built in some things for us in those carriers. But I’d love for you to talk about safe babywearing a lot of people wonder, you know, is it okay for the baby’s legs to be spread so wide? Is that bad for their hips? That’s a common question I get. So you know, I know that it’s okay. But I guess I just don’t know why. So maybe you could tell us?


Karla Castro  27:59

Yeah. So yeah, just to reiterate that babywearing in itself is is safe. But I was as I was mentioning, you know, we’ve kind of lost that sixth sense about it right to know what it should look like how it should feel. And so we have guidelines. But let me answer that question first, before I move on to like the guidelines that I like to recommend. But with regards to baby’s hips, so we know from you know, research done on healthy hip development, that having a baby in a deep seated squat is developmentally appropriate, developmentally healthy for them. And what that looks like is a baby, if you’re just holding your baby in your arms or on your chest, you’ll see that they curl up and their knees will they’ll bring their knees up to their tummy. And so their lights will form this kind of an M shape, where it goes from the ankles up to the knee down to the bum up to the other knee and down to the ankle. So it looks like an M. And so that M shape is what you’re trying to preserve with a carrier. So when we’re thinking about a carrier and fitting a baby into a carrier, it’s better if you think of it as making the carrier support baby in their natural position. So you’re not trying to stuffed a baby in a carrier, you’re trying to accommodate the carrier to support baby and the position they’re already in. So you’re never going to try and put baby into the carrier you want baby on your chest. And then you’re going to bring the carrier up and around them. So that will help us maintain that posture that they naturally go into which is that deep seated squat, and that nice soft curve to their back and in a way that they’re just resting on your body so that their airway is open as well. So if you look at it that way, as opposed to Okay, I’m gonna make this baby fit into this carrier, then that kind of helps because sometimes what we’re trying to do is the opposite. And then we disturb the shape that baby has and we can get into you know, issues of it. not feeling right and not fitting right baby being uncomfortable baby protesting. So making sure that the carrier respects baby’s shape is super important, which is also going to mean that not every carrier is going to work for you, especially with a newborn. as your baby grows older, you can use more of a variety of carriers. But if you’re really wanting to preserve that shape, something that is more moldable softer, that allows you to mold the fabric to fit baby will be a lot more convenient, I suppose, or make it a lot simpler. And in regards to safety, there are a lot of different acronyms that people like to use to kind of remember these key points. Some of you have heard of takes, for example, ti CK s tends to be long, and people tend to forget what it is. So there’s another one called the ABCs. And it’s three things I really like the ABCs, because it’s super simple to remember, when it comes to baby wearing comfortably and securely. A stands for airway. So his baby’s airway clear Is there any fabric that is covering their face, you never want to have anything covering their face, you want their chin to be off their chest, always if baby’s chin is touching their chest and their airway is compromised. So if they do slumped down, you want to make sure you elevate that chin up again and make sure that their back is supported. So as for airway, clear way airway all the time that you can see at all times. And that is why we were baby. So high up on our chests, we say


Karla Castro  31:35

a lot of times you’ll hear tummy to tummy but it’s really more tummy to chest, you want them nice and high so that they’re kissable, you can easily kiss the top of their head. And that way, you can easily make sure that their airway is clear, because you can see them, you can feel them, you can hear them. The second part is B. So B is for body positioning. How are they position? Are they slumping? Is there back supported is there is a carrier supporting their legs in the natural end position to deep seated squat. That’s all going to ensure that baby is nice and secure in the carry that you have. And for yourself as well. Are you having to arch your back to compensate for baby being too low? In that case being bring baby up? Are your shoulders rounding? Is your hips or your hips tucked in under you or are they aligned properly. So your body positioning is also very important because that’ll make sure you’re not getting sore, you’re not getting a sore back or so shoulders, it’ll make sure that you’re able to wear for longer periods of time, and that you won’t, you know, sustain an injury from straining yourself in an uncomfortable position. So the next one is C which is comfort, comfort for you and comfort for baby. You mentioned people saying Oh my baby hates being worn? Well, I would ask What do you mean by that? I would ask what is baby’s behavior that is making you think that they hate it? Or what are you referring to and just keep asking questions. And then you usually we get down to the root cause of it. And it could be something as simple as their toes were being scratched, because their pajamas were, you know, too tight at the feet. Oh, well, in that case, you just make sure that once you’re all secured, you’ve got all the buckles done up or everything tight off, you make sure you pull out some of that fabric that got bunched up in the legs and pull that out and make sure their toes are free to wiggle. And for some people that does the trick. It could be that baby has reflux, it could be that baby’s too hot. You know, it could be that perhaps the fabric is a bit too scratchy on baby’s neck, perhaps baby is tongue tied, and they have a lot of tension in their body. And it’s kind of uncomfortable for them to be curled up in this position. So then seeing somebody for that is going to you know, help release a lot of that tension in their body and be more comfortable in that tuck tuck position. So if you keep those three things in mind, the ABCs airway, body position, comfort, and then you start to ask questions, despite all of these things being okay, something feels off for babies, behavior is still concerning. Then we ask more questions, and we dig deeper to find out what’s causing it because ultimately, babies want to be held close. Right? It’s their innate desire to be close to you for safety, for comfort for nourishment. So if they’re protesting, there’s a reason behind it. And you know, having people to support you in that and help you figure it out is going to make a big difference.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:37

Oh my gosh, such excellent points. I love it. These are all so great. So I feel like people can just like listen and take notes. Or just know listen and just take it in. It’s funny say that because I mean I you know, I guess my babies for the most part, you know, I must have been wearing them well or whatever and they were fine. I learned good habits early on. So I never had to like, you know, just kind of was like someone helped me But I did find, you know, I still to this day, shed tons of hair, but somehow have lots on my head, but especially postpartum, we get a lot of that hair shed. And most of them said there was like a hair that got twirled around a finger or toe. And I would later discover that and it just, you know, it gets stuck in the fabric of the wrap or something. And it was always one of those funny things like, Oh, I thought they were fussing. And there’s a little hair wrapped around here. So it’s, you know, it could be one of those little things like you said, it’s usually not the baby wearing itself, right. It’s something else. Yeah.


Karla Castro  35:34

And it’s good to ask questions. And to not give up too early, you know, there’s been very, very, very few cases where babywearing has just not worked out for someone. But usually when we’re able to kind of dig a little deeper, we’re able to find the root cause that’s causing the issue and help support that, that family out right to find the more suitable position or carrier, whatever it is, that’s going to help them out. Because it just reminded me there’s this one time, my baby was fussing and crying, we could not figure out what it was. And then you do the whole, like, undress them thing, right, there’s something Well, we found, you know, little tiny baby socks, they come all in little bunches. And there was a piece of that plastic tag still in that one sock, and that was poking her foot. And we just felt so bad. But yeah, it just, you just never know what it is right? It could be something so small, something that you’ve completely overlooked. And usually it’s something very minor. But sometimes it could be something more like like tongue ties, lip ties, or even food sensitivities, right, because their tummies are upset and things like that, but usually resolves itself, and you just kind of have to be determined to plug through those kind of hard times or if teething is a factor. Yeah, quite a few things. But ultimately, they want to be close to you. They want to be held close it, it really helps them calm down. And so there are options out there. And there are lots of people willing to support families in this area. So


Jacqueline Kincer  37:07

yes, I love that. Well, it’s just like, you know, we have, you know, sleep coaches or consultants, we have lactation consultants, and then there’s you know, babywearing Coaches and Consultants. So, I love that because there’s all these different aspects and because like you said, it’s this forgotten tradition, you know, now, we need to relearn these things, so that there’s help available. I do want to touch on the hot topic of nursing while baby. Because I mean, it was definitely a learning curve when I did it. Because when I was nursing, I was very large breasted. And so you know, kind of initially had like the boob that was two times the size of my baby’s head, and it did not even attempt it early on. But, you know, I did end up mastering it. And it was to the point where I’d be out, you know, somewhere in public, right? And I’d be just yeah, all the baby’s hungry, cool latch on, and the carrier just kind of adjust. And then inevitably, someone would come up to me, like, usually an elderly person, and they would look at your baby’s sleeping in there. And their face is like over the baby’s face. And they still wouldn’t know that I was nursing. Like it was so cool. And from my view, I had a full view, like I thought the whole world could see what’s going on. And that carrier, no, they had no clue. And sometimes they would even get close enough where they were like, oh, sorry, sorry. It’s fine. Like, you really didn’t see anything you know. And so that was kind of cool, because it was like I could nurse anywhere anytime I didn’t have to stop my life to continue breastfeeding, which was great. And that’s like the Holy Grail of breastfeeding by the way is that you don’t need to sit down and get the nursing pillow and all of that. But to and that connection that super responsive parenting that I could develop between myself and my child. And and yeah, just so many things. So there’s a lot we could talk about. I will let you take the reins on that. But tell us more about that. I feel like that is just something that most parents tell me they want to learn.


Karla Castro  39:11

Yeah, when it comes to breastfeeding and babywearing when you’re able to master both together and again, not everyone can do that. But but if you’re able to do that, it’s just it’s life changing. But even just having the ability to use your carrier as a nursing aide even or like you said the ring sling as a cover things like that are super helpful. But the one thing we will say is that we recommend that I want to see we this is just kind of in baby wearing in general, we recommend that you master breastfeeding first and baby wear like separately and then baby wearing separately before you try and combine the two because they’re two totally separate skills that if you’re trying to learn both things at the same time, it can be a little overwhelming and then That postpartum stage, that fourth trimester stage, you’re learning so many things already that you don’t need that added stress of trying to combine them right away, right. So master breastfeeding, first, get a hang of that first, and, and just take your time with it. And once you’ve got that down, and you’re confident that you can breastfeed outside the house, you know, without all your gear, that you can do it without, you know, feeling stressed out, then introduce the carrier. And there are some carriers that are a little bit more adaptable to this than others. A Stretchy Wrap, for example, is one of the most tricky ones to do. Just because of the nature of it, and how many layers you’ve got, you can’t really just loosen it up to bring baby down to, you know, breast level and bring them back up. It’s the nature of the Stretchy Wrap is just doesn’t lend itself very well to that, you can do a cradle style hold in it. So you’ll have to take baby out partially adjust them and then hold them in that position. But other carriers will be a little bit more convenient for this. And I should say that baby wearing while breastfeeding is also not necessarily a hands free situation, especially for younger baby, older babies, toddlers, they’re going to be fine, hands free. But because they can support themselves, they can support their airway, they can, you know, move away from the breast if they’re feeling a little bit smothered. But a younger baby doesn’t have those skills yet. So you really need to be fully aware of what you’re doing. And always one hand either supporting baby or supporting your breast. And especially if depending on your size, that might be a little bit something to consider, right. So just adjusting for that. So just something to keep in mind because you don’t want to have baby buried in there or you’d still need to be conscious of what you’re doing. But it’s great to you know, have one hand free at least. So you could be you know, at a restaurant or something and you’re using your carriage support baby and just one hand to kind of gently support their head, and you’re still you know, eating your meal or you’re helping a child out, you know, you’re holding your other child’s hand or at the park or whatever it is you’re doing, you still have one hand free to do that. A ring sling is a great one for nursing, even for bottle feeding, right, because you can do a cradle carry. So just adjust baby into more of a reclined position. And there, they can nurse they can or you can use your bottle to feed them as well. And then you bring baby back up to that upright position close enough to kiss readjust the carrier. So


Karla Castro  42:44

yeah, so make sure you master both skill separately. It’s not a hands free activity. The other thing is that when you are adjusting the carrier, don’t let go of like the buckles or the knots to quickly lower baby down gently latch them on re secure your carrier, Nurse nurse nurse once they’re done actively nursing on latch baby, bring them back up. Secure your carrier readjusted so that it’s nice and snug again, and then tie it off or buckle it off and you’re good to go. Sometimes you might want to take a minute to burp your baby if if your baby needs to be burped. But usually that’s all you need to do. And it makes things it’s a game changer really when you can do it. And for some of us like I didn’t master it with my first or my second it wasn’t until my third that I was really just feeling okay, I can do this. And I had I was using a ring sling mark more regularly and that was a lot easier because again, it’s just one layer of fabric, just a flick of the just a little lift of the sling of the sling ring. So those aluminum rings and your baby quickly latch them on. And you can use the tail to cover if you need to work as shade or you don’t have to if you don’t want to. But this is really convenient. That’s my ultimate favorite. If you want to really get really good at breastfeeding, and baby wearing I suggested rings and for sure,


Jacqueline Kincer  44:15

huh, yeah, no, I love what you said about you know, mastering both skills separately. I think that is such great advice really, really necessary. So don’t, don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s think you can just like do it all at once. And the other thing I think is worth mentioning too is like you said, you know, your baby’s there. You just adjust the carrier, you lower them, nurse, you know, birth, whatever, and then you know, kind of bring them back up and then readjust the carrier. The cool thing for me was always that, you know, it’s really normal for babies to breastfeed to fall asleep. And so if they nurse and they fall asleep and then they’re right there and you don’t have to move them, then they stay asleep. And that is such a gift especially if you know You’re you’re not able to just go home and take them for an app or what have you, right. So I, I feel like my babies pretty much never napped at home because I was just always somewhere with them in a carrier, especially once I had my second child. You know, I’m taking him to the park and on train rides and this and that and all the things and you know, just nurse and sleep nurse and sleep with the little squish in the carrier. So it’s such a great thing if you’re able to do it. And you do master it, because that is so nice. And then I’ve always found with the ring sling, I would use it less as of nursing cover, but more of a sunshade for my baby, if they did fall asleep, I could kind of hold it over their head if I was, you know, walking in the sun was in their face or something like that. And just, you know, so many great awesome features. I also loved any carriers that had pockets on them like little zippered pockets. Because you know, you just you just put your things in there, right? So they’re so convenient, so convenient. Um, are there any I love how you said the wrinkling can be great for nursing in. I also found the strop soft structure carrier worked while I did find the Stretchy Wrap did not that was yeah, yes. Not easy for me. And now I know why would there be any that are better if you’re maybe smaller breasted or larger breasted like one versus another? Or is it about the size of the carrier? How, you know, I’m just curious for people who might have just different variations, different body types, like what tends to, are there trends of something that works better for someone versus another person?


Karla Castro  46:37

Um, well, I think that if you’re able to try things out, because we like to say NMSC, we just in general babywearing, we say that carriers are like jeans, right? They’ll fit everybody differently. And so even though, say two people are very large chested, one might have a longer torso than the other. So everything plays a role in that. So not just your chest size, but also your torso length. Also how broad your shoulders are, that’s how the carrier will fit on you like that will affect how the carrier will fit on you. So I think it’s not so much the carrier as compared to your breast size. But more still, I would also consider something like your flow as well, right. So if you’re able to, like, for example, this particular baby, I had a very strong letdown and nursing her in any position other than reclined or laying down was very difficult at the beginning for the first few months, because even just cradling her in my arms was too much for her. So for some people, they’re going to have to maybe place baby in that upright position seated, kind of like in front of you. And so something like a buckle carrier will work for anyone regardless of your chest size, because then you just kind of lower baby in that upright position, and they just literally come down to that to the breast. And they’re neither below the breast or at level that could be a little bit above. And so that kind of helps. So they don’t choke on the milk. So things like that you also have to consider. So and I’m not necessarily you know, that large, but I just that was something I had to consider was the flow. So it took a while to be able to nurse her in a carrier, she had to be a little bit older and able to handle milk. And also, I couldn’t do a cradle carry where she was below the milk had to be either at the level or just a little bit above. So things like that will play a part. So that’s why it’s important to kind of master both. So you kind of get a feel for Okay, what’s your breastfeeding relationship? Like? What does baby prefer? What do you prefer and then the carrier will adjust to that. So if you guys like a cradle, something like a woven wrap, or ring sling will be great if you prefer kind of keeping baby upright, a soft structured carrier or a magi will be fantastic because you don’t really need to readjust them, you just need to let out the straps lower baby down, and they’re already there. So I think it’s looking at the whole picture and then finding the carrier that works for you. However, if if all you have is a structure carrier, then you know having someone to help you make that work is is going to be key. So I always say if you’re not plugged into your local babywearing group get plugged into that because the leaders are going to be a wealth of knowledge for you. If you have a local babywearing educator to you get plugged in with their courses or classes or workshops, whatever they’re offering, or one on one consultations to help you get a good fit or there’s lots of us also doing online stuff that even online we could kind of do a fit check and kind of help you figure out the best positioning. And if you don’t have a carrier yet if you have a lending library Buy, that’s a great resource, because then you’ll be able to find the right fit before you invest into one. So you can see what will work best for your situation, you know?


Jacqueline Kincer  50:10

Absolutely. Oh, I love that so many good tips. And I’m going to link this up in the show notes. But Karla has a free guide, How to Choose a carrier that’s perfect for you. And it’s beautiful. So even just for that, like, go and download that. But it’s really great. And of course, she’s available for more help through the babywearing club and everything as well. Because, as we all know, like, you know, if you’re struggling with something you can’t get on your own, then, you know, seek out that help seek out that community aspect. And it’s just so powerful. And, you know, the funny thing is, is I guess I don’t pay attention to it as much anymore, just because I’m not wearing my own kids. And I’m so sad. I probably could I probably could pop my five year old into something.


Karla Castro  50:55

She’s absolutely


Jacqueline Kincer  50:58

busted out do that. Well, yeah, actually, she might, she’s probably right about at the weight limit of one of them that I have. But speaking of which, you know, there are there are, like more toddler carriers, too. So it’s not like, you only have to do this for a short time. Like you said, it grows with you a lot of the time now. Are there are ones that way. And I feel like I don’t know, I don’t wanna make generalizations. But a lot of families I work with, you know, we’ll just, you know, spend all this time reading reviews, Consumer Reports, whatever about, you know, baby strollers or car seats, or whatever. And those things are important too. But then we’ve, you know, baby wearing a soul. So great. And I know I found out the hard way. Thankfully, the stroller was a hand me down. I did not spend a bunch of money on one but that my first baby hated the stroller. Like I thought I’d be able to put the baby and we go on a little walk around the neighborhood, it would be fine. No, that is not the way it worked out. My second baby. She loved the stroller. And she also loved being worn. So the only way I eventually sold the stroller, I think when he was like six months old, because we had just never used it. I kept trying and it was a no go. So sometimes we get all these things on our baby registry, and it seems they’re gonna work great. Oh, God actually doesn’t work great at all. We don’t need the wipe warmer. You know, we didn’t, we didn’t need, you know, this or that or right, you know, or you end up with all these bottles you never use and all kinds of stuff. So if anybody is, is listening and thinking of, you know, how do I know what kind of carrier to even start with or whatever Carlos guide is fantastic. And especially if you’re thinking of like, if you want to add one to your registry, because who doesn’t love other people buying new cool baby stuff,


Karla Castro  52:34

it’s an amazing thing to add to your registry, you know, because I think not a lot of people think of it. But it’s good to have right right away, you know, because you just don’t know how your baby’s going to be. And they might be like I call mine velcro babies or koala bears, because they just want to be on me all the time. And having it handy is, is so important. And, you know, the top three benefits that I love to share with people is you know, freedom, it gives you freedom to be able to go anywhere, do anything within reason, of course, right. But literally it gives you that freedom to be hands free to be able to feed yourself, wash your face, brush your teeth, pour yourself a cup of tea, or help your older children or take out the trash just for some fresh air go to the mailbox, you know, just these little things that we often take for granted that once we have a baby, we realize that we can’t necessarily do it one handed or because maybe he just wants to be with me, you still have that freedom to be able to have body autonomy and just get up and go. Also just built, you know, confidence in a parent to be able to read your baby’s cues and to be able to respond to them in a way that is appropriate to what they’re asking of you is huge for your for your self esteem as a new parent, you’re like, Okay, I actually can do this because you can. And it also just lends itself to creating that calmness in your baby, because that’s what calms them as being close to you knowing that they are safe knowing that they will be comforted knowing that they are close to their nourishment that all their needs are going to be met makes them more calm. So having a calm baby builds confidence. Being confident means that you’re able to just go about your day and do the things you want to do. And just babywearing as a really great resource, a great tool for any parents, you know, and, and not not to think of it in the short term like Oh, only my newborn. Like you mentioned five year olds, two year olds, you know, some kids for whatever reasons for all kinds of reasons might still need to be carried once in a while every day. You know, it all depends on your child but there are lots of carriers out there that are preschool sized even. That will go up to like 75 pounds, you know, a lot of 6575 pounds for lots of different reasons. They’re out there. Some of us live in in the urban areas where, you know, we have to take transit, we have to take a train or buses, and it might just be more convenient to just take baby in the carrier than a stroller and mentioning strollers I think we have to also remember it’s not, you know, stroller or baby wearing, it’s okay to use both. You know, it’s a ktd. to, to, to have both, you know, and then if the stroller doesn’t work out, it’s okay to not use a stroller, you know, and then it’s okay, if a particular carrier didn’t work, but another one did. So, yeah, just knowing that there are options, I think is so huge for new parents knowing that there are options, and that there are people, communities out there willing to support them, you know, is so important.


Jacqueline Kincer  55:42

Hmm, yes. Wow, you’ve covered pretty much any question and more than I could have ever answered. It’s like when I checked out at Target, and they’re like, did you find everything? I’m like, Yeah, I came for two things. And I got like, 20 things, or the dollar store. That’s my other like faith. So I mean, I had some questions, but you just nailed it. So


Karla Castro  56:02

you ask good questions.


Jacqueline Kincer  56:05

Well, I try. I’m like, Well, I want to know, as a new pair, what do I wish I knew when I had my first baby, you know, and that’s kind of where I put myself out, but know your wealth of expertise. And so for anybody who wants to keep in touch with Karla, she’s on Instagram at the babywearing club. And then you do one on one consultations, like you mentioned on video and whatnot. So yeah, I love that. I’ll link everything up in the show notes. So it’s really easy for people to find you. And then this episode will be posted on social media, and you can just follow the tags and stay in touch with her. But is there anything else you want to add? Before we let our listeners go, Karla?


Karla Castro  56:46

Um, no, I think I think we covered a lot today. And I think just being patient with yourself and giving yourself grace as a new parent, because I think we’re mostly talking to new parents here. Just just being patient with yourself, you know, as you’re learning a new skill, not just a new skill, but as you’re learning how to read a new person, how to, you know, you’re learning about a new person and learning what they like, what they don’t like, you know, what makes them you know, calm and all of these things. Just give yourself grace and patience, because it’s a lot. It’s a big, it’s a big a big thing to jump into parenthood. But you’re not alone. And there’s always support around. Just reach out. No, we’re


Jacqueline Kincer  57:35

here. Yes. Oh, that’s such a great way to close our wonderful conversation now. And your little ones slept through the whole thing she


Karla Castro  57:43

did. I am amazed. She’s been wiggling a little bit. I just, I’m just kind of swaying.


Jacqueline Kincer  57:48

Like I remember that sway. Like, oh, stay


Karla Castro  57:54

sleeping. But yeah, she’s, I’ve got the fan pointed at her swaying, we’re good.


Jacqueline Kincer  58:00

See, you too, can record podcasts.


Karla Castro  58:05

Where your baby it’s good for you and for baby.


Jacqueline Kincer  58:10

It is, is I also feel like you know, I don’t know if this is like a true scientific benefit. But I do feel like it really helps me with my core strength to wear baby because it got me off my butt a lot more. And then you know, you really you don’t want to be hunched over and you don’t want to be arched back and all those things. So you want to be cognizant of your posture and make sure it’s a well fitted carrier for you and your babies. So I feel like you know, I’m not an advocate of doing the whole get your body back thing but just for your strength for you feeling you know more energetic and whatnot. It’s important to have that core strength and honestly babywearing helped me so much with that. So I think you babywearing because you just were great for me.


Karla Castro  58:52

You make a great point, though, because as baby grows as well, it’s this slow increase in weight that your body is now marrying. And that make brings me into another thing that we didn’t mention but for social aspect for you know, health aspect of it too. There are baby wearing dance classes, baby wearing workout classes, like amazing stuff out there things that and again, not not so much for the whole idea of like getting your body back but for the idea of staying active and healthy and not just physically but for your mental health too. It does a world of good to us to be out in fresh air going for a hike, I mean, or walk around the park with other moms you know who with an instructor who’s able to show you how to take care of your pelvic floor postpartum show you how to do gentle exercises to strengthen your body to help your body recover. It’s amazing. Well, you know, keeping your baby close to you, you know, you don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter or you know if you can go during the day if your partner is at work, you know, you can just take your baby with you. So yeah Ah,


Jacqueline Kincer  1:00:01

yes. So beautiful. I remember I think they, you know, they’ve rebranded it to fit for mom, but it used to be called stroller strides. And I remember having a bunch of, you know, kind of people in my mom’s groups that would go to that. And like I said, my first baby hated the stroller and my second, we could do stroller carrier didn’t matter. And so I felt like kind of excluded because of the name strollers race, which I’m assuming is why they ended up changing it because I found out months later that you can wear your Baby and still come to classes. So I thought the class was like, you need like a jogging stroller, you know, jog around the park or the mall photog kind of thing? No, it was, you know, doing those kinds of exercises, like you said, you know, all supportive for just postpartum health, pelvic floor. And I was like, Oh, I could wear my baby and calm. Okay. Yeah. So there are so many cool things out there, like you said, and dads and my mother in law. Were our son when we went to visit her and went on hikes and stuff. And it was like everybody wanted a turn. So I know sometimes, you know, other family members might be struggling with, you know, how do I bond with the baby baby wearing such a great tool?


Karla Castro  1:01:08

It is it is and grandparents love it. Like just to see a grandparent light up. When you were able to help them put a carrier on it’s it’s amazing. Absolutely that other family members can join in on that.


Jacqueline Kincer  1:01:20

Yeah. Well, I don’t want to push our luck with your little one waking up on us. So I will let you go. But it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you, Karla, you’re amazing. Thank you for sharing all of your expertise with us. Well, I know that wasn’t all of it. But it was certainly a lot and a great head start for anyone who listened. So thank you.


Karla Castro  1:01:38

Well, thank you, Jacqueline. I’m so happy to be here. And I’m just I’m glad that your listeners are interested in babywearing, and I just wish them all the best in their new parenting journey.


Jacqueline Kincer  1:01:49

Absolutely. Did you know that most moms struggled to produce enough breast milk for their babies or wonder if they’re able to provide enough as a mom of two who struggled with my own breastfeeding journey. And this led to become a lactation consultant who now supports fellow moms and their babies. I created a product for breastfeeding moms who struggled with the frustration of trying it all but still weren’t able to make enough breast milk for their babies. I’ve taken years of research and clinical experience to create a natural organic herbal blends to holistically support breast milk production, to balance your hormones and to restore nutrients back to your body postpartum. This is called the Advanced lactation formula by holistic lactation, and it’s now available on Amazon. If you’d like the link to this product. To learn more, just head to the show notes and check it out. Also, you can visit my website at holistic To learn


Unknown Speaker  1:02:54




As a former babywearing mom myself (insert sad face that my kids are growing up!), I just had to bring a babywearing expert on the show to discuss safe babywearing, babywearing benefits, and nursing while babywearing.
Karla Castro is a Trained CBWS Babywearing Educator & Consultant and came on the show to teach us all the things about babywearing! From it’s history, it’s many meanings, and reframing the conversation around it.
I honestly cannot do this episode justice in the show notes–just go listen!