Yes, you could buy a cheaper weighted blanket. But why would you?

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It seems like everyone these days is extolling the virtues of the weighted blanket. From people with autism or sensory issues to people with no known diagnosable conditions who just like the weight to parents desperate for something to keep their kids asleep a bit longer… everyone’s using them, it seems. (note: blankets are not appropriate for use with babies under 1 year of age.)

And why shouldn’t they be? I love weighted blankets. I’ve always preferred sleeping with weight on me. My two older kids don’t appreciate weight, but Teddy certainly does. It’s comforting to some people, and it provides pressure needed by others.

And you can certainly purchase some majorly expensive weighted blankets these days. And you can also purchase some really super cheap ones, too. Wallypop blankets are somewhere in the middle, in keeping with our philosophy of keeping our products affordable for average families. But I still get a large number of comments suggesting that weighted blanket prices merely reflect makers’ desire to take advantage of special needs families. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s take a look at the expenses that go into a weighted blanket, and why it might not be in your best interests to purchase a cheap one.

1. Fabric. Wallypop blankets are made from name brand fabrics that will last for years and years. This is potentially more important in a weighted blanket, because we’re asking the fabric to do something it wasn’t really meant to do – hold up a lot of weight. Particularly when blankets are washed, the addition of weights adds a LOT of strain to the fabric, so starting with quality fabric is a must.

2. Inner layers. Wallypop blankets are made with two full inner layers to hold the beads that provide the weight. Cheaper blankets typically omit these layers, which are crucial to blanket stability and lifespan. They also mean that an older worn blanket can often be repaired (if it develops a hole, or is ripped or rubbed thin in places) instead of needing to be completely replaced. If a hole develops in the outer layer, the inner layers still hold the beads safely in place.  These inner layers also make the blanket safer – if a hole develops in the outer layers, you’re not dealing with a bed full of tiny plastic pellets.

3. Pockets.  Wallypop blankets are sewn with relatively small pockets to keep the weight evenly distributed and also to help contain any bead loss should the blanket get torn. Many cheaper blankets either omit these pockets entirely, or use much larger pockets. This results in uneven weight distribution, and encourages all the beads to run to the edges of the blanket and shifts the weight off of the user.

4. Weights. Wallypop uses high quality poly pellets as the weights. The pellets we use are smooth and round (or oval, or sometimes a flat disc, it just depends on what our supplier has in stock when we order). Cheaper pellets are typically blunt -edged and aren’t as smooth inside the blanket. Some cheaper weighted blankets are made with other materials, as well – before purchasing, it’s a good idea to find out what exactly will be inside your blanket when you buy it. I’ve seen blankets made with metal weights (which can rust), and even some made with food products like rice or beans, which can attract bugs and mice and which also make the blanket essentially non-washable.

5. Time. A quality weighted blanket made with four layers of fabric, small pockets, and quality beads takes time. Cheaper blankets, sewn with fewer fabric layers, larger pockets, and less careful sewists, can be made much faster. But our blankets are sewn with care, and that just plain takes time. Compared to the other products I offer, weighted blankets are one of my most time-consuming products. (They’re also the second most expensive product I make in terms of direct materials cost.) I do not apologize for paying myself above sweat-shop rates for my work. That said, weighted blankets are not a huge money-maker for me, because I want to keep them affordable.

Hopefully that helps you understand where all the costs of a weighted blanket come from and gives you a little better understanding of why good you can expect to pay a bit more for good quality blankets.

weighted blanket

Weighted blankets – or any blankets – are not appropriate for children under 1 year of age. Please note, if you’re using a weighted blanket with a small child, please place the blanket on the legs ONLY. And Please make sure you’re using an appropriate weight.

New Design for Feeding Pump Bag Covers

After some customer feedback and thinking about design improvement on our wildly successful (seriously beyond what I imagined) insulated feeding pump bag covers, we’ve changed the design for them going forward.

OLD (this is the 1000/1200 mL size):
Feeding Pump Bag Cover

NEW (this is the 500 mL size):
Feeding Pump Bag Cover

Instead of one central snap at the top, the top snaps now mirror the bottom snaps – two evenly spaced snaps. In addition, we’ve added a hanging loop if you desire to use this to hang your feed.

Many Zevex/Moog users will find that they wish to continue hanging their feed by pulling the hang strap through their feeding pump bag’s top loop, but some will prefer to use the new hanging loop. Kangaroo users will likely wish to continue hanging both the feeding pump bag and the insulated cover from the IV pole – they will likely NOT wish to use the new hanging loop, as it could result in the feed bag hanging too low inside the insulated cover.

The change should not negatively impact your use of the covers, but could positively impact it. I expect most of our users will experience no impact at all, but for those of you who’ve asked for an interior loop – voila!

BWI Fundraiser – Beautiful Wrapsody Breeze wraps

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Wrapsody has created this beautiful wrap – Laguna – as a fundraiser for Babywearing International (BWI), and they’re allowing retailers to participate in the fundraiser.

So here’s what I’m going to do:

– For every Laguna that I buy from Wrapsody, they will donate a bit less than $9 to BWI National.
– For every Laguna that is purchased from me, I will donate $10 to my local BWI – BWI of Central Iowa.- In addition, for every 10 Wrapsody wraps (of any type) purchased from me between now and July 12 when the pre-order closes, I’ll donate 1 Wrapsody wrap to BWI of Central Iowa’s lending library.

Here’s the thing. The pre-order closes JULY 12. That’s in 3 days. So if you want one – don’t delay!!

If you want to pre-order, it’s a $40 non-refundable deposit, then the remainder ($46 plus tax or shipping) will be due within 10 days of the wrap’s arrival on my doorstep in October. You may place your orders here: babywearing.wallypop.net/wrap

Heavy Wetters

I received this via private message this evening:

“A few online discussions this week have me grateful that we discovered Wallypop fitted diapers! I have always called my DS a heavy wetter, but after trying your fitteds, I’m not sure if he is any more. He peed out of everything else we had – mostly pockets and AIOs – and we were growing desperate for an overnight solution Someone pointed me your way, and I love love love the fitteds we bought from you. Zero leaks overnight with our ‘heavy wetter’ DS. Thanks!”

It was interesting because a few online discussions I’ve read this week (perhaps the same ones, lol) have me wondering about the perception of having a “heavy wetter.” The email above isn’t the only time we’ve seen this happen – a mom calls her child a “heavy wetter” because he’s peeing out of everything they have, which is usually big name brand pockets, particularly on overnights. Someone points them my way. I give my suggestions for “heavy wetters” and they invariably end up trying out a fitted diaper or two. A few weeks or months later, I get an email or message saying the fitteds were working PERFECTLY!!

And that’s GREAT!

But it does have me wondering – has our perception of what constitutes a “heavy wetter” changed in recent years? I would not generally perceive of a child whose pee can be contained by one of our regular instock fitted diapers as a “heavy wetter.”

Ten years ago, our fitteds were pretty well-situated in the middle of available levels of absorbency in diapers – perhaps off towards the “more absorbent” end, but still in the middle third. Then we’ve had this trend toward trimmer and trimmer diapers – and those diapers are also getting less and less absorbent. Add the influx if China Cheapies, which aren’t renowned for being absorbent. And new parents are being advised that using just an insert or two with these expensive but not terribly absorbent diapers should hold their baby all night. Then when it doesn’t, the child is labeled a “heavy wetter” and the parents are understandably frustrated. The addition of the label “heavy wetter” really serves nobody but the people who sold/made the diapers in the first place – “hey, it’s not our fault – your kid is just a freaky heavy wetter!”

When I first started out diapering, it was not super common to hear parents describe their babies as “heavy wetters.” Now, a good 40-50% of the cloth diapering families I know believe one or more of their children is a “heavy wetter.”

Is it, perhaps, that our standards for what a cloth diaper should be able to do have just declined over time?

Because, truly, if Wallypop’s regular, nothing special, in stock fitteds can contain a child’s pee for a reasonable amount of time… that’s not heavy wetting. That’s pretty much a normal quantity of pee.  :)

Now, you were probably wondering what I’d suggest for heavy wetters.

– If you feel your child is a heavy wetter and you haven’t tried a good, absorbent fitted diaper, that should be your first step. Doesn’t have to be ours, but of course, ours are awesome and affordable.

– If you’ve tried a good, absorbent fitted diaper and that’s not doing the trick, make sure you pair it with a good quality (using Malden Mills brand fleece) fleece cover, or a nice thick wool cover that’s been lanolized well. If you buy or make knitted or crochet wool covers, make sure you make the fabric thick enough.

– If that’s not working, I have made for some kids an extra special super absorbent fitted. I’ve checked back with literally 100% of the families I’ve made these for, at intervals, and not a one has been unhappy with this solution. :)  It’s a hemp and sherpa fitted with a hemp and sherpa soaker pad hidden inside the diaper, then a hemp and sherpa soaker pad  attached at the front edge, and an extra help and sherpa soaker pad that snaps in to the back of the diaper, and then another hemp and sherpa soaker pad that’s available as a lay-in soaker if you really really need it. Pair that with fleece or wool. Poof, no more wetting.

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

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

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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 stylemt-q-301

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! :)
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