Setting up a new babywearing group
Families really benefit from having sling libraries and babywearing groups in their local community. Babywearing groups are run by experienced users of baby carriers, who can offer personal experience, expert advice and encouragement. They are also be a lovely supportive community and a place to make new adult friends on the new parenting journey.
If you are thinking about setting up a babywearing group in your area, we are here to support you!
Does your region or city need a babywearing group?
There are many things to consider when starting a baby wearing library in your area. Firstly have a good look at what services and groups are already in place for parents.
- Does anyone or a group already cover babywearing services and support?
- What current parent support groups are set up that you could join with or worth together?
- Do you want a stand alone group?
- What services do you want to offer your community?
Is it practical?
- Do you have someone willing to take on the lead role in the library?
- If you'll be the leader, who can help you?
- Will you be lending out the carriers or just demonstrating how to use them?
- Are there any suitable venues?
- You can always start small without a library, just coordinate meetings for new and experienced carrier users.
If there is a need and you feel that you are up to the job of filling it, then now you need to think about how to get it up and running. Here are some tips to get you started:
Where to start:
- Come up with a name, this will help with advertising.
- Having something easy with your location in the name helps people in your community find you and make advertising so much easier.
- Many libraries go with “Babywearing (town name)” and this works well.
- Also look at starting up a Facebook page and Instagram for the library for keeping people updated with events and details.
Decide what kind of library you wish to run.
Are you planning on loaning out the carriers or are you just wanting to have the options available for people look at and to try on. Either option is fine and will be well utilised by the community.
If you are going to just have a looking library then you will only really need one of each style carrier in stock. You will need to decide if you want to charge people to try on the carriers, as unlike a lending library, you would otherwise have no incoming funds to cover hiring costs.
If you are wanting to start a lending library then there are quite a few things to consider to make it run smoothly and to ensure that the carriers are kept track of. You need to come up with ways of keeping track of carriers, terms and conditions of hire, cleaning of carriers, membership, cost for hire, duration of hire and where to return the carrier to. This may sound like a lot of work, but once set up it is easy to manage.
Building a library of carriers.
You can stock any carries that you wish, but it is best to stock carriers that can be purchased easily in New Zealand. Having a range of carrier styles is also idea so that families can see an example of each style in person.
These carriers include a
- stretchy wrap
- ring sling
- short woven wrap (size 2, for slip-knot slings & other simple carries)
- long woven wrap (size 6 is common) woven wrap
- meh dai
- buckle carrier or two
- Having a toddler sized carrier is also a bonus.
These can be bought second hand or bought new. You can also reach out to vendors as they may be happy to loan you some carriers for your library with the idea that you return them if you decide to close down your library. You could offer to promote their carriers in return.
Reach out to us if you need help to source carriers for a new library.
Time and frequency of meetings.
This is completely up to you. Most babywearing libraries go with monthly meetings and pick a particular day i.e. third Thursday of each month, and choose a time that works for them. You are not going to be able to accommodate everyone, so choose what works best for you and make changes if needed. Some libraries also run a coffee group during the month as a bit of a social get together without taking the library of carriers along.
How much to charge
This is something that differs between all babywearing libraries. Most libraries ask for a gold coin donation for attending babywearing meetings to help cover the venue hire cost.
These are different for most libraries with some charging an annual membership fee, and others charging a lifetime membership fee. The latter is much easier to keep track of for members, although it does mean saving information for quite some time. Some charge $30 for a lifetime membership, where as other charge this for an annual membership. This is completely up to you.
Carrier hire fees:
You want the fee to be enough to help recuperate costs, but low enough that it is accessible for families who wish to try a range of carriers overtime. Some libraries offer free hire of stretchy wraps for three months, where as others charge $15 per month to hire a carrier including stretchy wraps.
Choose a venue.
- You need somewhere child friendly as your target audience are families.
- Some libraries offer their meeting rooms for free for community groups.
- You could team up with other parent groups and run the library as part of their regular events.
- You could also run it from your home as long as you are happy to have people come into your home. This option is quite good for libraries that do not do hires as you won’t have the venue hire costs and you will have the flexibility to work it around your own schedule.
Keeping track of carriers.
Set up and email address for your library and choose one with the ability to utilise files such as a Gmail account.
You can make use of Google Docs for keeping track of carriers, hires, membership details and finances.
When families attend the meeting and hire a carrier, you can take down their details and input them into google docs to keep track of them. This will also give you another way to contact people to let them know that your next meeting is coming up as social media isn’t always reliable.
Or you can go the paper route and develop sheets to be filled in at each meeting. These include sing in sheets, membership forms and hire forms. The problems with paper forms that you may encounter is that the volunteer looking after them might be absent meaning that they are not available, or you have people fill in the forms and their writing might not be legible. Many libraries use this method with no hiccups at all.
Some information that you will want to grab from new members includes: name, email address, phone number, home address and drivers licence number. You will also want to number the memberships as they come in to make it easier to check on membership details when doing hires.
You will be surprised how many enthusiastic babywearers there are out there in the community!
Put your feelers out in your local groups to see if anyone would like to join you. It is also absolutely fine for you to run it solo. You do not need to be the master of all carriers, just confident with one of two of them.
Advertising your meetings.
To get people coming along you will need to advertise. This doesn’t have to cost! Do up an event and share it in your local Facebook groups. If you have a local newsletter, ask if they would put a little advertisement in there for you. Do up posters and drop them off at the library, Plunket, community notice boards, playgroups and childcare centres.
Where you can seek help.
We have so many knowledgeable babywearing volunteers here in Aotearoa. You could reach out to one of the local babywearing libraries to ask for some help with any questions that you have.
We also have several babywearing groups on facebook that you can join, as well as some babywearing leader/educator groups.
Babywearing Aotearoa is here to help with training, administrative support, guidance on the most suitable way for your group to operate. Volunteering can be as big or little commitment as you can manage, and we can help connect you with others in your area who may want to get involved.
We can help you establish a small local sling library of the most popular carriers in NZ - it is important that people can rent and try out carriers that they can easily purchase rather than older models or obscure brands from overseas.
We can help your local families by them borrowing from our National Sling Library - then you can do small group sessions or one of one help to fit your carrier.
Reach out to us if you want help to get started!