I first qualified as a babywearing consultant with Clauwi in March 2010. My main reason at the time for doing the course was in order to get a better understanding of slings and to learn to use a wrap properly.
I have worn my son in a sling since he was 2 days old (and a toy monkey since I was 6 months pregnant – we also learnt to put on a flat nappy with this monkey – lucky for the cat).
I had bought an Ellaroo wrap and a Kari-Me and it was the Kari-me that we spent most of the first year using. I tried to use the Ellaroo but could not make head nor tail of the instructions and even using a dvd and youtube videos I just did not feel confident with it. We soon progressed to a Mei Tai and ring sling but the woven wrap was still elusive.
I hate being foxed by things – I get kind of stubborn and belligerent and obsessed. So finding out that there was a Baby wearing Consultant course was very exciting. At the back of my mind was also the idea that I wanted to be able to earn money around being a mum and thought that this would kill the two birds with the one proverbial.
I can still remember the exhaustion after that course! It was long! From 6- 9pm the first evening and then two 9 hour days (and it has to be said a distinct lack of tea breaks!)
My head hurt – we learnt not only the benefits of carrying a baby in a sling but why babies are born needing this close contact and how the position of the baby in a sling emulates the position of a baby in the womb (and why this is important). We learnt how to tie a front, hip and back carry – how to break them down and how to teach them (but not while standing on a log like Patrick Swayze and Jennifier Grey in Dirty Dancing – know the scene?)
We learnt common problems and how to think through solving them and learnt the best way to use and teach a ring sling, mei tai and soft structured carrier. We practiced teaching each other and teaching a couple of the dads who had come along as well.
It took me a month of practicing after the course to really get to grips with all the carries and several months of reading as I began to have a deeper understanding of the physiology and emotional needs of babies.
I was excited to start passing on this information and knowledge to others and gradually built up a library of slings and got a few consultations under my belt. What I noticed though was that even though I taught a certain carry to people the next time I saw them they would be using a completely different carry. Sometimes I just could not work out how to explain exactly how to tie a certain carry or exactly why a mum was having difficulty grasping the idea. Made me wonder why – my teaching? Carry too complex? It was a puzzle
I then found an opportunity to take another course with a different school (trageschule UK). Funnily enough it was the same people who were in the Clauwi course and exactly a year since we first trained!
I couldn’t find the log picture – but this one is relevant. The voice over in the film says ‘Now the best place to practice lifts is in the water’ and the same applies to slings – not that the best place to learn is in the water but that there is better times to practice than others.
This course was just as exhausting – managing the slings was much easier this time around but this time we learnt to be a bit more flexible in what we taught and how we taught. Very much looking at the family and working with them rather than just teaching a specific carry.
We also learnt different ways of breaking down and teaching the carries. (still no logs involved) Little extras such as how to tie certain knots, how to really tweak ring slings and mei tais as well as wraps really made the course worthwhile.
I learnt a lot more about teaching this time – what made me feel comfortable, how to observe people as they tied to try and see where they were getting into problems and working WITH them to solve these issues – and much more active listening (a strong theme in my life at the moment and a very tricky thing to learn!)
I feel much more like a babywearing consultant now. Am amazed at how much I have learnt over the last 20 months and excited looking forward to next year when I plan to take the Advanced and hopefully the Certifcate courses. Each time I hear comments such as ‘he stoppped crying once he is in the sling’, ‘it’s made my life so much easier’, ‘it’s given us the closeness we needed because we couldn’t breastfeed, ‘it’s helped reduce sibling rivalry’ it gives me a warm glow – I am proud to be in a position to pass on this wonderful skill and to help parents and babies really enjoy not only their first trimester but their first few years together.
It is an exciting time in the babywearing world at the moment we have a British Association of Babywearing Instructors and the UK Sling Library Network are in the process of being set up. There is a growing number of sling libraries and babywearing consultants which of course is leading to a growing number of parents embracing the art of babywearing.