Today in our Spotlight series, we’ll talk about a fabulous online resource: TheBabyWearer.
TheBabyWearer.com was founded in 2003 by Australians Jeni Norton and Denby Angus. Their first son was carried in-arms, without benefit of a sling, and Jeni ended up with severe tenosynovitis in both elbows. It wasn’t until she read The Baby Book (by Dr William and Martha Sears) that she realised there was a simple solution! Life with their second, worn baby seemed much less daunting. The baby was happy, her older brother got lots of attention, and mum and dad could get other things done. Jeni’s “parenting anxiety” was reduced by about 90%!
After discovering babywearing, Denby and Jeni were convinced that babywearing was great. At the start of 2003, Jeni was studying psychology and had decided to do a thesis on babywearing; her search for journal articles and information on babywearing had begun.
So, she and Denby were in search of more comfortable baby carriers, and information about babywearing. There was a bit on the web, but it took ages to track down the bits and pieces, and to find products. She had hoped to find some way to compare types of carriers, reviews of brands, a listing of retailers etc. Jeni bought a few different styles on-line to try them out; some that cost a lot of money, some were well-loved by others (according to testimonials on the vendors’ sites) but many just didn’t work for her or Denby. It was a frustrating and expensive process. She did find a Yahoo! babywearing email discussion group, which introduced me to lots of new friends and more carriers. So, there was that small saving grace.
After months of searching, buying, trying, sewing etc., in July 2003 the idea for a babywearing information website was born. The initial emphasis was to make it a place to list all of the vendors and products, and for consumer reviews. Denby agreed this was a good idea and volunteered his assistance as webmaster, having previous programming experience but no web skills. Babywearing-related articles were added as an idea, and work began. Jeni dropped out of University (deferred for one year) to give it her full attention, fully believing that once the site was up and running that would be it, no need for more work and I could move back to other projects. Ha!
In the first two weeks more than 300 people joined, and plenty of visitors were coming to the site. So many in fact that the bandwidth usage shot up drastically! TBW upgraded web hosting plans three times in the first couple of months, realising that their small-time Aussie host (wonderful as it was) was not going to be able to deal with the needs of a really busy site, and that’s what TBW was starting to look like! At the end of January 2004 TBW transferred to a BIG web host and hasn’t looked back.
In 2006, Jeni decided to resume her PhD studies and the ownership of TBW was passed on to Melanie, and then to Christy in 2007. It continues to be run be a dedicated group of babywearers who are passionate about providing information, support and a social network for all those interested in the wonderful world of babywearing.
So, while the site began as the idea of a quiet but useful information source, it soon became a fledgling community of dedicated babywearers, and finally, over the past eight years, turned into a large, thriving and vital community of wonderful people, sharing knowledge about babywearing, carriers, and all sorts of family-oriented information.
TBW currently has nearly 112,000 members, over 305,000 threads containing over four million posts! It’s free to join and a wonderful and necessary resource. There is a shop onsite, as well as an affiliate mall, both of which help defray the costs of running an active, volunteer-based resource website.
If you’re not yet a member, why don’t you go on over there right now and join? You’ll be glad you did.