All About… Onbuhimo Carriers (old style vs new style)

All about our Onbuhimo style baby carriers, also called an Onbu.

8/28

Our Onbu carriers in general

The Wallypop onbu is a comfortable and quick option that particularly excels at back carrying. It’s also suitable, of course, for wearing a baby on the front, but it can’t be beat for its ability to get a baby on your back quickly and with little fuss.

An onbu is a square of fabric with a padded waistband, two shoulder straps, and two rings at the waist instead of a waist band. The shoulder straps are threaded through the rings and then tied.

The Wallypop Onbu features a separate, padded waistband made from two layers of canvas, a sturdy body made from two layers of canvas plus one or two decorative fabrics, padded canvas shoulder straps, and two medium-sized rings at the waist.

We sew our carriers carefully and thoughtfully. I do not use a “panel” design (where the front of the carrier is made of several panels and looks like a quilt block) because each seam is a potential weak spot in the carrier. Fewer seams = more safety. We reinforce all of our seams – topstitching around the perimeter of the carrier to give those seams extra support, and we sew down the straps in several places, ensuring that they will never pull loose.

And of course our Onbuhimos have passed ASTM certification to the high safety standards set by the federal government.

Why would I use an Onbu?

The onbu is not the world’s most popular carrier, that’s true. And it’s not for everyone. If you mostly carry a baby or toddler on your back, however, it’s definitely an option I’d recommend considering. Like I said, it can be worn on the front, but if you’re primarily a front carrier, there are better options, in my opinion. But if you’re looking for something fast and comfortable for back carries, it’s hard to beat an onbu.

Old Style vs New Style

We were already working on a few minor design changes when the ASTM regulation became final and mandatory earlier this year (2014). That new requirement forced us to choose one way to make Onbus from now on. The pictures below outline the main changes from the “old style” to the “new style” of Mei Tai.

Old Style Onbu New Onbu

All About… Mei Tais Old Style vs New Style

I haven’t done an All About post in a loooong time. :)  All about our Mei Tai Baby Carriers.

Sleepy BabyDSC_0819Nonstop Fun (Iowa State Fair)

A bit about our MT Carriers in General

MT carriers are a great all-around carrier. Two shoulder straps distribute baby’s weight evenly, which is a blessing for the wearer’s back. The two-knot design is quick and easy to put on, with no fancy adjustments needed. And the carrier is simple enough to still be quite versatile – there are several ways to tie the carrier on depending on what you’re going for. I love the MT for the high back carry, and how easy and fast it is to throw a baby on my back.

A bit about safety

Are MT carriers safe? Of course, the answer is yes. I wouldn’t sell you something that I thought was unsafe.

Wallypop Mei Tais are made with two layers of canvas throughout. That canvas is then covered with a pretty decorative fabric on the front and sometimes also the back of the body. The straps are two layers of canvas for non-wrinkly, non-diggy performance.

We sew our carriers carefully and thoughtfully. I do not use a “panel” design (where the front of the carrier is made of several panels and looks like a quilt block) because each seam is a potential weak spot in the carrier. Fewer seams = more safety. We reinforce all of our seams – topstitching around the perimeter of the carrier to give those seams extra support, and we sew down the straps in several places, ensuring that they will never pull loose.

And of course our Mei Tais have passed ASTM certification to the high safety standards set by the federal government.

As with any baby carrier, check the seams before use. Fabric can wear out pretty quickly, particularly in the washing machine, so taking a few seconds to make sure everything’s holding up well should be part of your babywearing routine.

Star Trek MTWrap/Mei Tai HybridNew Asian Carrier

Now about Wallypop MT carriers

In our Basic Mei Tai, the straps are unpadded. In our experience, most wearers are quite comfortable with unpadded straps, once they try them. (There’s a strong bias towards thinking you NEED padding, but many are pleasantly surprised to find that unpadded straps are also quite comfortable.) The unpadded straps are also markedly less bulky! For those who do prefer padded straps, we offer our Luxury Mei Tai, which has padded straps, as well as a pocket to hold a few items, a hood to help corral a sleeping baby head, and a toy ring to hold a small toy for baby.

We sew our waist straps on straight, and the shoulder straps at an angle coming out of the top corner of the body.

Our straps are pretty long, and will be perfect for most wearers. We do recommend chatting with us before purchasing your carrier if you have any concerns about fit – I can always make longer straps for you! I can also shorten straps of instock carriers if you’re really small.

The body of our MT carriers is roomy, without being too overwhelming. It can seem like a lot of carrier when you’re toting around a 6 lb newborn, but we recommend rolling the carrier at the waist to shorten the body when wearing a small baby – that’ll solve the roominess problem.

Old Style vs New Style

We were already working on a few minor design changes when the ASTM regulation became final and mandatory earlier this year (2014). That new requirement essentially forced us to choose one way to make our Mei Tais from now on – it’s expensive to get a carrier through the testing process, so we needed to have only one model of mei tai. The pictures below outline the main changes from the “old style” to the “new style” of Mei Tai. (Now, if you’re wondering if I can still make you a Mei Tai in our “old style,” the answer is yes – but it’ll cost you approx $500. I’ll throw in the actual carrier for free; that’s the cost of testing the carrier to the new ASTM standard.) (please note, the “new style” MTs are the ones that have passed the lab testing. The “old style” is still safe based on 10 years of zero-incident selling, but has not been lab tested, and does not have the required safety labels. We’re just selling through what we have left in stock and then only “new style” will be available.)

OLD styleNew Style

We love our Mei Tais and hope you do, too! :)

At the Farmer's MarketOur Family

Sale on Babywearing Stuff

Today through October 10, all of our Babywearing Stuff is ON SALE (except Wrapsody wraps, which were just on sale in August). You’ll need to check the individual product pages to see sale prices, but they range from $20 off to $5 off.

Mei Tais

Ring Slings (including wrap conversion ring slings)

Girasol Wraps

 

This actually ALSO includes our custom Mei Tais, Onbus, and Ring Slings BUT..
– The discount is 15%
– Only NEW orders, not existing orders.
– Only the first five people to sign up.
– You have to sign up by messaging Wallypop on Facebook.
– Orders will be added to the current project queue, and may not have completion dates until late November.

Wallypop on Facebook

 

    

Homogeneous Marketplace

That’s what bugs me the most about all the regulatory changes in the last 10 years. They’re making a more homogeneous marketplace.

What do I mean? It obviously only makes sense for companies to get into compliance products that are selling well enough to justify the additional expense (actually, products that they think will continue to sell well enough once the price goes up to account for the expense of compliance). This means companies – particularly smaller ones – will be cutting their less profitable product lines in favor of their most profitable product lines.

One could argue that this is just good business sense, as well – except that the regulatory environment discourages companies from taking risks on new products.

What we’re going to end up with is a marketplace full of only what’s most popular right now – wraps, mei tais, and ring slings – with less popular carriers available from an ever-decreasing number of makers.

As an example: I’ve kept Podegis available as custom-made items for the last 8 years, since I sold my last instock Pod. They’re not super popular. But they are a niche product. Some people REALLY like them. The last Pod I made was for a customer who contacted me with this: “I’m so happy I found you!! I wore out my first Podegi a few months ago and have been looking for a replacement, but so few people make them! I love my Podegis and prefer them to any other carrier, and I was sad thinking I might not be able to replace the one I wore out.” (OK, that’s a paraphrase, I didn’t actually keep the email.)

But now, because it doesn’t make any kind of sense to shell out the money to bring Pods into compliance with ASTM regulations, since I sell about 2 a year, I’m dropping them from my product line-up.

Same thing with pouches (which you can still get on our clearance page). They’ve fallen out of favor. But many people still love them, and still more people love them once they have a chance to try them. But because they’ve been unpopular for the last 2-3 years, I don’t sell enough to justify the cost of compliance. So I’m dropping them.

And because of the huge expense involved in compliance before I could ever bring them back to the market again, I’m not likely to ever be able to offer pouches again.

And most smaller makers are in the same boat. Sure, if you’re pulling in tens of thousands of dollars a year like the “big name” brands are, you can take a risk on a product that might be less popular. (Though in the babywearing world, most of the big name brands aren’t taking risks, either.) But if you’re pulling in considerably less than that, risking $500 on a new product is… well, it’s risky.

So I, and countless others, are becoming stores that sell the same three products: Wraps, Mei Tais, and Ring Slings. (Most stores add SSCs to that list, but I don’t generally like them so I don’t sell them.)

It’s also creating a homogeneous marketplace in that it limits customization. Do you want your custom Mei Tai with a slightly shorter body? Slightly wider body? Contoured body? You want the waistband wider? Narrower? Seat darts? Too bad. Because each of these modifications changes the relationship of the carrier to the baby and the wearer, they’re changes that would require another round of testing at the lab. ($500.)

And again, while larger businesses with a greater volume are going to be testing each of these variables, smaller businesses are forced to either cut these options or continue to offer them and hope they don’t get “caught.”

The end result is fewer choices for you, the consumer.

And I’m not convinced the end result is actually going to be safer carriers. This process would definitely have weeded out the terrible Infantino bag carriers that killed several babies. But it will NOT be addressing the many hundreds of small sellers who either don’t know or don’t care about the new regulations. I’ve personally talked to a few babywearing makers who have told me that they’re aware that there are regulations, but they haven’t bought them and they don’t intend to. They just assume their carriers are safe and they tell their customers they’re safe. One actually advertises that their carriers are in compliance – and how is the consumer to know the difference?

Less choice, no better safety. Sounds great.

Wrapsody’s 10th Birthday Celebration – Trade In and SALE

Wrapsody is celebrating its Tenth Birthday (just like we are!) and has set up some really fun ways to celebrate.

TRADE IN

The Birthday celebration I’m most excited about is their trade-in program. For a limited time, you can mail in an old Wrapsody carrier and receive a coupon for 25% off a NEW Wrapsody!

Is your old Wrapsody a little beat up? Faded? Stained beyond repair? Or are you just ready for a new one?

You’ll need to print and fill out the Tradeback form (here), then mail your wrap back to Wrapsody along with the completed form. Once they receive it, I’ll issue you a coupon code for 25% off a NEW Wrapsody. :)  (This coupon/discount INCLUDES the 10% sale below.)

As an alternative for local customers, I’m also happy to take back your old wrap in person, give you the 25% discount on the spot, and mail back your old wrap myself.

This promotion runs during the month of August – August 1-25.

 

SALE

I’m also going to be putting Wrapsody wraps on sale for 10% off during the month of August. I’m getting in a new shipment of wraps hopefully either by the first or shortly after (my fault, I let July get away from me!) for your shopping enjoyment.

 

Want a private house party/Babywearing class led by our local Babywearing International group?

Our local (Des Moines IA) BWI group is offering a new service as a fundraiser for the group – BWI of CI House Parties! A VBE (Volunteer Babywearing Educator) will come to your house and demonstrate each kind of carrier and give hands on help to attendees.

They are asking for a $20 donation for groups of 5 or fewer and $5 per person for larger groups. This could be a perfect shower activity, a wonderful introduction to babywearing, or just a way to practice in your own home with your friends!

If you’re interested, you can PM Katherine Gamble on Facebook. If you’re already in the BWI of CI Facebook group, you can find Katherine by clicking “Members” and then selecting “Admins” from the dropdown menu. Not on Facebook? Contact me and I can hook you up.

They’re limiting the parties to the greater Metro area – not sure if they’ll come to your location? Ask!
 
This is a REALLY awesome service the group is offering. Many of you have asked me when I’m going to go back to offering in-home classes, and I’ve been putting you off and putting you off and putting you off. The reality is, I’m probably never going to do it again – so this service from our local BWI group fills that hole awsomely! :)

Wrap Conversion Deadline Approaching – is there hope?

Here are my current thoughts on the future of wrap conversions at Wallypop.

1) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using new wraps. I can still do this, sort of. Current industry thinking is that converters need to have each brand/weave tested separately, but the final decision rests with each converter. THIS converter doesn’t see how she can realistically make a decent argument that she does NOT have to test each brand/weave separately, and until the CPSC issues further guidance (which we’ve asked for), I’m following that guideline. So, I will be converting a new Girasol wrap to a standard mei tai with wrap straps and sending it in to the lab for testing. I’m *not* doing this right away – my first priority is to get my regular instock fabric MTs tested/passed. Once I’ve finished the process with a regular fabric MT, I’ll proceed with the wrap conversion. (The MTs could fail the test for any number of reasons. I’m not concerned about the structural integrity, but worry that they’ll fail over my having overlooked some minute detail about labeling or packaging. So I’m going to get ONE carrier through the process before sending in the rest.)

2) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using used wraps with wrap straps. No. After September, no. Not even as a favor.

3) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using used wraps with regular MT straps. For the last year I’ve been saying that I’ll have to stop conversions with used wraps entirely. Recently, though, I’ve started to think differently. For my regular instock fabric MTs, I’m changing my method somewhat – I’m making all of the MTs (from September on out) with two layers of canvas throughout – the “base” of the MT will be a two-layered canvas carrier with two layers of canvas straps. That’s what’s going to pass the testing at the lab. Then ADDING more layers to that carrier will NOT, in my opinion, require additional testing, since I’m adding to, not taking away. So the base carrier, the plain canvas, will be inside every MT that I make. Then I can add decorative cottons or canvas or silk or whatever else ON TOP OF that layer. That’s already basically what I do, but I use twill at the present time. Canvas is just a bit sturdier, and my twill prices have doubled in the last decade, making canvas a more appealing choice on all fronts.  I don’t see how a used wrap would differ from any other fabric in this particular application, as it would not affect the underlying structure. At the present time, I make the straps on WCMTs with JUST the wrap material, and with just one layer of canvas inside – this would change so that all WCMTs would have two layers of canvas throughout. But I should still be able to do it, legally. :)  Yay!   *edited to add: there will be significantly fewer options available. Anything that affects the relationship of the carrier to the wearer will have to be tested separately, such as different waistbands or seat darts. I won’t be able to offer these options until I have them tested to the tune of $400 each. I won’t be offering some of those options ever again, and I won’t be offering some right away but may add them later.

4) Wrap conversion ring slings. These are still OK for the time being. The ASTM standard for ring slings is in the review period, meaning we’re still realistically 6 months or more away from compliance being mandatory. Once we pass the compliance period for this standard, wrap conversion ring slings using USED wraps will no longer be legal (for anyone). Wrap conversion ring slings using new wraps will be OK. I will, just as with MTs, be starting with the Girasol wraps I carry and will be converting those. If those do well, I’m planning to add to the wrap brands/weaves I carry.

A little break

I’ve been working some pretty long hours recently in an effort to move through my Customs list and also manage to get a few items finished for inventory. But! I’m going to be taking a little break in a few weeks and I wanted to let you know how that will impact you.

Truth is, it won’t impact you much. :)

I’m going to process orders this weekend as usual. Then next week, I’ll process orders on Wednesday (June 4), and then I’ll turn off my computer that night and I won’t turn it on again until June 14 or 15. I’ll similarly ignore (or try to ignore) posts to Facebook and private messages on Facebook.

I cannot possibly imagine anyone needing anything urgently that cannot wait for a week, but if there’s something you feel needs to be addressed immediately, Facebook is probably the best way to reach me. (https://www.facebook.com/wallypopIA)

Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy making as many wrap conversion ring slings and mei tais as I can before the compliance deadline cuts me off, lol. And I haven’t generally been taking the time to take pictures of the finished products, either.

But I’ve also made time for a few personal projects, which I thought I’d share with you today.

PJs
Princess Jammies for Miss Genna. I used an old baseball uniform pattern for the shirt. :)

Shirt
Collared buttondown Cars shirt for Teddy (who has an obsession with all things Cars)

Rabbits
And a totally new set up for the rabbits, with a new watering system that I think I love. (The previous system used flexible hosing, which was nice, but the spigots were just push-in, which meant that the rabbits constantly were biting them off and enjoying a brief but evidently very fun shower. This new system, the valves are screw-in.)

Tornado (or other disaster) Prep

I’m a big believer in the idea that families should be prepared for whatever emergencies might come their way. In Iowa, that means tornadoes and floods. With a storm that went through central Iowa on Sunday came a spate of posts on Facebook: “wow, I’m so unprepared for tornadoes!”

So, in the event this is useful, here’s what our family has done to get ready for tornadoes or any other small-scale local disaster:.

 

Emergency Kit. Our Emergency Kit sits in a large Rubbermaid under the stairs. Under the stairs is the sturdiest part of our house, also the creepiest.

  • Bleach, 1 gallon
  • Candles
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Utility Knife
  • Rope
  • Scissors
  • Nails
  • Saw
  • Bucket
  • Matches, 1 large box
  • Duct Tape
  • Lighters
  • D Batteries that expire 12/16
  • AA Batteries that expire 12/16
  • 2 thick dropcloths
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlights
  • Corded phone
  • 3 toothbrushes (evidently, I think we can share in a disaster? I wonder if I have forgotten to update the toothbrush quantity with additional kids? Or maybe I added more toothbrushes but didn’t update the inventory sheet.)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • WOrk Gloves
  • Water Treatment Tablets
  • Toilet Paper
  • Soap
  • Purell
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sewing Kit
  • Notebook
  • Phone Numbers
  • Documents (this is photocopies of important documents we might need, in addition to photocopies of pictures of all family members)
  • Pens and Markers
  • Food (Peanut Butter, Crackers, Ramen, 2 MREs per family member for 3 days, some canned meals, and a few freeze dried family-size meals)
  • Our camping stove and fuel
  • Basic OTC Meds
  • Change of clothes for all family members
  • Bug Spray
  • Paper Towels, disposable plates and tableware
  • Laundry Soap
  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Plastic Tablecloth
  • Emergency Teddy Supplies (feeding tube extras, etc.)
  • 2 lengths of fabric (to use as baby carriers or whatever else)
  • Flashlights and head lamps.

 

On the way to the basement, we pass our shoes, and everyone grabs a pair. If I can, I grab Teddy’s Prograf and syringe.

 

PLEASE NOTE that we don’t rely on getting ANYTHING other than ourselves to the basement. The only thing we really need to grab on the way down is shoes, which are literally stored on the stairs, and if it were really an emergency, we’d forgo those.

 

Then we have our “it’s not an emergency, we’re heading to the basement as a precaution list”:

Teddy’s Meds, all of them. This extends the amount of time we have before his health becomes a bigger emergency.
Teddy’s food, as much as I have prepared, as well as the syringe and tube for feeding him.

Electronic devices (for boredom, as well as because they’re expensive and I’d rather not be without them if our house gets smashed to bits), and children grab whatever they want to do in the basement, but the basement also has toys in it.

Our 72 hour kits and our guns/ammo. (No judging – not only are these expensive items that I’d rather not have to replace, I’m also not going to rely on this being Iowa and a friendly neighborhood in the event the area gets seriously plowed by a tornado.) Also my Machete, which could be handy during tornado aftermath.

More flashlights.

I don’t plan to grab pictures. Most pictures that are priceless to me have been scanned and are safely stored on a cloud drive, so I feel like I’m good there.

 

So that’s it.

I go through our box and our 72 hour kits twice a year, usually at the time change. I make sure the clothes are still of appropriate sizes (I only store winter clothes in any of our kits, figuring that I also have cutting utensils in there and if it’s too hot, we can cut arms and legs off the clothes). I rotate out the food to keep it fresh. I check battery expiration dates, and turn on all the flashlights. Check drug expiration dates in the first aid kit. Make sure the tape and bandaids are still sticky and not old and gross. It takes maybe an hour to update and double check the box and all five 72 hour kits.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,238 other followers