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Spent the afternoon at the Green Festival in Denver.  Exhausting but inspiring!  And of course….we’ve got a great new find from the fest:ecodough1

Eco-dough from the good peeps at Eco-Kids.

What is eco-dough you ask?  Simply the coolest, best smelling, best feeling play dough that you can imagine.  Its all natural, made from plant, fruit, and vegetable extracts.  Doesn’t dry out at all, and even comes in eco-friendly compostable packaging.

In addition to all this eco-goodness, it passes the kid test 100%.  My two kids sat down at the eco-kids table and dove right in, rolling out the dough with fabu bamboo rollers and cutting out cool shapes with cookie cutters.  5 year old R made 8 tie-dyed hearts and 21 month old L went freestyle with yellow eco-dough.

Smells heavenly and, so I’m told, is edible if your kid pops a bit in their mouth.  They even have a gluten-free version if you have a wheat-averse child fond of dough!

They also have cool eco-fingerpaint, and with the promo code PAM receive 20% off your order!

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Linen or Silk? We thought that decision was about as controversial as it got when it came to baby slings. This past week, however, an advertisement for Motrin has sent the blogosphere spinning. Why? For, among other things, suggesting that using a baby carrier might not be comfortable.

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Here at Sakura Bloom, we obviously disagree. We pride ourselves on making baby carriers that are comfortable for mom, dad, and baby. We’re not sure what carrier the folks at Motrin were using, but want to assure them that there are many comfortable baby carriers available these days. In addition to our ring slings, there are lots of comfortable carriers available in a range of styles: pouches, mei tais, wraps, soft structured carriers, and more.

If you’re using a baby carrier and not finding it comfortable, then ask for help. One great resource is The Babywearer website which has detailed information on how to choose and use a baby carrier, including active discussion forums with members from around the world.

Babywearing International is also a wonderful resource, and they publicly posted their response to Motrin on their site as well as a detailed analysis of the ad.

For their part, Motrin has pulled the ad and issued an apology, for which we say Bravo. In the future, should anyone at Motrin need a sling for research before launching a new mom-focused ad campaign, we’d be happy to send one that we know you will find comfortable.

In the midst of all this, though, let’s not forget what’s most important: snuggling with your children…..in or out of a sling.

Welcome to a special edition of our Men In Slings feature! Sakura Bloom is a family company owned by two sisters, and here we present an interview with our brother Eric in Boston. Eric has been slinging his now 11 month old son, Gus, since he was just a few days old. Here they are in the Storm sling from our new Sakura Bloom Men’s Collection.

Your two sisters (Lynne and Carole) own Sakura Bloom, so you pretty much had to try out a baby sling with your son. But, even with knowing how much they loved slings, what surprised you about using a sling?

The biggest surprise was probably how effective it was. I am still amazed how the simple design of the sling works so well at carrying and calming a baby. A calm, relaxed baby equals calm, relaxed first time parents, so the sling quickly became a key part of our daily routine.

How long does it usually take for your baby to fall asleep in your sling?

Usually 10 minutes or so. Walking with Gus in the sling seemed to help settle him down, so I would take laps around the inside of our house- around the 8 or 9 minute mark the snoring would inevitably begin. It took a little practice to master the transfer of a sleeping baby out of the sling, but it soon became second nature.

How long can you carry your baby barehanded? how long in a sling?

I never realized what a workout it is to carry a baby. After 15-20 minutes barehanded, the biceps start to burn a bit and I’ll need to start switching him from arm to arm. Big difference with the sling- I can carry him as long as needed and still do other things with my hands free.

What would your ideal sling look like?

I’ve been asking Lynne and Carole to work on a nice Scottish plaid sling that looks like it could’ve been used on the set of Braveheart, but as of yet, no luck…

What’s the strangest thing you ever found in the pouch of a sling?

A bunch of Cheerios and a quarter. The quarter went right into Gus’ college fund.

(Thanks to Eric and Gus from the whole SB family!)

Still trying to get rid of all the plastic items in your kitchen?  So are we.  And perhaps like most parents, I’ve concentrated on items for my kids, especially my just-turned-one daughter.

The easiest, funnest thing to get rid of so far?

All those colored plastic spoons and forks that seem to multiply when you’re not watching.  If you haven’t already traded them in for stainless kids’ flatwear (check out these from Williams Sonoma), then try these: Bambu kids’ spoons and forks.

We got some from Sprout Soup and my daughter absolutely adores them.  They’re just the right heft for her little hands, the spoon has a great depth to it, and (much to my surprise) she can actually use the fork.

Bambu also makes gorgeous bamboo bowls for little ones (and big people too).

Thanks, Bambu!

Do you live in or near Massachusetts? Have an adorable baby? And are pretty photogenic yourself (or have a friend who is)?

We are looking for parent and baby models for the next Sakura Bloom photo shoot. If you’re interested in being considered, please send contact information, child’s age, and current photos of both you and baby to info@sakurabloom.com

Mothers and fathers both welcomed!

We just got back from a wonderful four days in Chicago at the 2nd International Babywearing Conference.

Babies everywhere. More baby carriers than I’d ever dreamed seeing in one place. And wonderful, wonderful women (and some men, too!) from around the world!

The conference organizers held a gigantic raffle to benefit thebabywearer.com which is the world’s largest resource for information about baby carriers. A Sakura Bloom signature Blackberry Stripe sling was one of the prizes.

Here I am with the lucky winner—Genevieve from Pittsburgh, PA. Blackberry Stripe looks just gorgeous on Gen and her adorable son!

Congratulations to Genevieve and all of the other winners. Thanks also to the organizers for a fantastic conference!

Welcome to our first installment of Sakura Bloom’s Men In Slings!

Our first father is Marco from Fremont, California, pictured here with his beautiful daughter. We love how comfortable they look, his daughter’s sweet polka dot pants, and that West Coast foliage in the background!

Read on for Marco’s insights on why baby slings are just as good for dads as they are for moms:

What is your favorite thing about a ring sling?

This is a bit selfish, but I love the freedom and independence it gives me. I’m able to do things without lugging around a huge stroller or worrying about accessibility.

Describe the moment you *got* it.

My wife has worn our daughter from her second week of life, so I’ve always seen that she was happiest that way. At first we had a Bjorn, but it pulled on my shoulders. I used it for a bit and then my wife did a lot of research and found out that Sakura Bloom ring slings are much more ergonomic and enjoyable. So after many conversations and trying out her slings, I got a Sakura Bloom of my own.

What do you wish other fathers knew about baby slings?

I wish other fathers knew how wearing your baby helps you to carry on doing the same things you did before you had the baby. I think a lot of dads think they’re stuck on the floor playing with their kids without being able to do anything else. I do chores, I am on the computer, I cook, I work on the garden, and I know exactly where my daughter is.

What is your Sakura Bloom sling of choice?

Although we own several Sakura Blooms, there is one that is just mine: its a Storm Simple Linen.

What do you use your sling for most?

I use it to put my daughter to sleep at night. When she’s really fussy and in a mood, cradle carry and a song puts her to sleep in 10 minutes!

(A big thank you to Marco from everyone at Sakura Bloom!)

Just in time for Father’s Day, we are launching a new feature on our blog:

Men In Slings!

People often assume that its just women who use baby slings, but no. Slings are for fathers, too.

So, starting this week, we’ll be showcasing fathers carrying their children in Sakura Bloom slings.

Dads who use slings will tell you that they can be like magic: soothing an unhappy child, perfect for nap time, and fun for a walk.

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered baby slings, here’s some encouragement from the SB Men In Slings home team:

Top 10 Things a Man Can Do While Hands-Free in a Sakura Bloom Sling:

10. Walk around Home Depot.

9. Play Tiger Woods ’08.

8. Watch the Red Sox.

7. Clean bottles.

6. Fix stuff.

5. Tie flies.

4. Make a sandwich.

3. Read the sports page.

2. Play at the park with your toddler.

and

1. Cuddle with your baby.

Joyful. Soulful. Absolutely delightful.

We’ve been rocking out to Dan Zanes’ music for kids–for the whole family, really–for over four years now and still do not get tired of it. Tired, actually, is probably not a word in the Dan Zanes vocabulary. This is music to make you smile, sing, tap your feet, and get up and dance.

It crosses all genres and each CD is just as wonderful as the one that came before it, making it next to impossible for me to pick a favorite.

Rocket Ship Beach and Family Dance have a special place in my music heart as they were the first two we got, but we all also love House Party and Nighttime too. And Catch that Train! of course. Its easier to pick songs than CDs, so here are some of my highlights:

1. Welcome Train with the Blind Boys of Alabama, on Catch that Train!

2. Pigogo, an absolutely beautiful and haunting song on Catch that Train! sung by a children’s choir from South Africa.

3. Pay Me My Money Down and Rattlin’ Bog from Nighttime.

4. In the summer and fall of 2005, my son refused to listen to anything other than Hokey Pokey from Family Dance.

5. Polly Wolly Doodle, Go Down Emmanuel Road, and Father Goose from Rocket Ship Beach.

Our current favorite is the new CD featuring Father Goose: It’s a Bam Bam Diddly! Try, just try to put this CD on and not start smiling, if not dancing, the minute the first track “Bam Bam” starts playing.

We’re big reggae and dancehall fans around here, but can’t imagine anyone not loving this CD. As they say on their website, its a “rollicking mix of west indian folk music, rock, gospel, and father goose original tunes.”

In March, we went to see Dan Zanes and the band here in Boulder with some friends. They opened with Welcome Table, my son’s favorite song, and put on a wonderful show, but we were sad that Father Goose wasn’t there.

So, after the show, we asked one of the band members where he was, and heard that he and his wife were expecting a baby any day. Of course, we couldn’t think of a better reason for Father Goose not to be there, and we hope that he, his wife, and their new Baby Goose are all doing well!

There’s something simply amazing about communicating with your infant via sign language.

The first time they sign to you just stops you in your tracks. Did my baby just sign to me, you think? Could it be? Wow! My baby is brilliant!

I signed some with my son (okay, confession: he really only signed one sign—“more”) and am now teaching my infant daughter to sign. We started when she was about eight months old, inspired by seeing Rachel from Signing Time perform at Baby Celebration LA.

L’s first sign was the one to nurse, and its still her most consistent and used sign (well, along with bye-bye). She’s also made up her own sign or two which we are working on deciphering.

There are many claims made about the benefits of signing. I don’t doubt that its beneficial to some degree, but mostly I just think its fun. Pamela Paul has an insightful article on Babble about infant sign language: Hands Across America: Is Baby Sign Language Essential or a Rip-off? Will it make your kid ace the SATs and get into Harvard? Probably not. Will it be a neat way to communicate with your infant? Yes, or at least, it has been for our family (albeit in our own limited, ad hoc way).

Today I decided to teach her the sign for baby sling. Turns out that you use the signs for “baby” and “carrier.” Click here to see a very serious woman demonstrating this sign for you.

Do it like she does, but please, add a smile and have some fun!

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