What is The Up Project?
The UP Project is a new enterprise, in which we give away free baby carriers or slings to disadvantaged families throughout the UK. We also ensure that these families are able to use their new carrier or sling safely and comfortably by providing help and advice in the best way to meet the needs of each individual family. This may be with standard instructions, adapted instructions, details of local support in their area or a private one on one consultation with a qualified and experienced babywearing consultant.
We are a group of around 70 babywearing professionals based in the UK and amongst us we have many babywearing consultants, sling library owners, sling manufacturers, sling retailers, trainers, website founders, magazine founders and babywearing school founders. We are passionate about baby carriers and slings and helping families to experience using them to carry their children.
Which families do we help?
These are the categories of people we help:
- family with a child or carer who is not reasonably expected to live for more than six months
- family with a disabled child or carer
- family with a seriously ill child or carer
- family affected by post natal depression and bonding issues
- family affected by domestic abuse
- family which includes fostered or adopted children
- family with twins, triplets or other multiples
- family with a child who were born before 37 weeks
- family with a carer age 21 or under when child was born
We chose these catagories as we feel that these are the families who will most benefit from a baby carrier or sling. To be eligible for our project a family should fit into one of these categories AND have a household income of less than £16,000. We decided to apply this income check so that we only help people who could otherwise not afford to buy their own baby carrier or sling.
Imagine your eldest child has a serious illness and is often in hospital for long periods of time. You have given up your job so you can care for them and so money is tight. A baby carrier provided by The Up Project means you can carry your youngest child to and from the hospital, keeping them close so that you feel you are able to 'be there' for both children at the same time.
Imagine you are disabled and use a wheelchair. You and your partner both work hard but there isn't any spare money once bills have been paid. Your independence is important to you. A baby carrier and a one on one consultation provided by The Up Project mean you are able to hold your child safely and comfortably on your lap and still have your hands available to manouvre your wheelchair. This means you can attend your local parenting group and make new friends.
How will a baby carrier or sling help?
"The single most important child rearing practice to be adopted for the development of emotional and social healthy infants and children is to carry the infant on the body of the caretaker all day long”, James Prescott, 1996.
The act of carrying our children is not a new concept. It is one of the universal things which unite individual nations and cultures. Babies and small children have a need to be held. Although the methods chosen to carry our children vary across cultures, their basic need to be held and to feel loved means, we as parents need ways of carrying them. A baby carrier or sling can provide a safe and comfortable way for a caregiver to carry a baby or child.
By enabling the carrying of babies we are allowing them to adjust to the outside world from the safety of a caregiver's chest, hip or even back. Carrying children has many proven health benefits. Using a sling had been shown to enhance growth and weight gain (Charpak, 2005), stabilize heart rate in baby resulting in lower cases of bradycardia and tachycardia (McCain, 2005), it mimics the environment of the womb so providing comfort to your baby, and eases the symptoms of GERD – Infant Reflux (Tasker, 2002).
Carrying a child can have profound benefits for the wellbeing of both child and carer. For mothers suffering from post natal depression a sling or carrier can be the tool which helps them bond with their child. Post natal depression can lead to a sense of dissociation and detachment. Research by Gribble (2007) concluded that close physical contact via the use of a sling and being responsive to child’s needs the caregiver would help the emotional development of child and promote attachment. Both Anisfield et al (1990) and Lonstein (2007) identified lower incidence of post-partum depression in mothers who carried their baby.
Baronel and Lionetti in 2012 found that adoption is “an intervention that assures the adoptive child the opportunity to catch up on emotional development and to partially resolve prior traumatic attachment experiences”, and using sling has been shown to promote secure attachments between caregiver and child, primarily because of the speed by they can respond to baby’s needs (Anisfeld et al, 1990).
There are several practical benefits of carrying children too. Carers do not have to be limited to accessible routes or waiting for pushchair friendly public transport for example. By using a sling or a carrier they are providing baby with the security they need to thrive but in a practical way. Disadvantaged families are more likely to suffer social exclusion and a baby carrier helps these families get out and about and get all of the benefits of interacting with their local community. Shopping, caring for other children or adults in the family, attending support groups or meeting friends are all a little less daunting when a carrier is available to hold your baby close while you do so.
We believe that offering disadvantaged families a free baby carrier or sling and giving them the knowledge to use it safely and comfortably means that more children will be carried and experience its many benefits.
Anisfield E, Casper V, Nozyce M et al (1990). ‘Does infant carrying promote attachment?’ Child Development, 61(5): 1617-1627.
Baronel L and Lionetti F, ‘Attachement and emotional understanding: a study of late adopted pre-schoolers and their parents’, Child Care Health Development, 2012 Sept 38 (5).
Charpak, N., “Kangaroo Mother Care: 25 Years After,” Acta Paediatric 94 2005: 5, 514-522.
Lonstein JS (2007). ‘Regulation of anxiety during the post-partum period’. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 28 (2-3): 15-141.
McCain, G et al. “Heart Rate Variability Responses of a Preterm Infant to Kangaroo Care,” 2005 Journal of Obstetrics.
Prescott, J. ‘The Origins of Human Love and Violence’, Pre and perinatal psychology Journal, Spring 1996, Vol 10;3 p. 155
Tasker, A., Dettmar, P. W., Panetti, M., Koufman, J. A., Birchall, J. P., and Pearson, J. P. (202). Is gastric reflux a cause of Otitis media with effusion in children? The Laryngoscope, 112:1930–1934.
What will we use the money for?
Our aim is to help 75 families in the first half of 2015. We have already had 75 baby carriers or slings donated to us so we now need to get these posted out to families in need and ensure that they are able to use them safely and comfortably.
- £9 to dispatch and post each baby sling or carrier to a client family in need. This is a total cost of £675.
- £15 to pay for a volunteer babywearing consultant's expenses so that they can help a family use their new baby carrier or sling safely and comfortably. We offer private consultations to those families who need them. We estimate 25 families will require a private consultation in the first half of 2015. This is a total cost of £375.
- £50 to recruit, check and train each volunteer babywearing consultant so that they are able to help our clients use a baby carrier or sling comfortably and safely. We hope to have 5 approved consultants in the UK by the middle of 2015 at a total cost of £250.
- £250 to run all our internal systems (application form processing system, website and training system) until the middle of 2015.
That's a cost of £1,550 to help 75 disadvantaged families carry their children. It's an average of just over £20 per family, and it can make such a big difference.
How can you help?
We work tirelessly so that disadvantaged children in the UK can be given a chance to experience the many benefits of being carried. We hope that you feel this is important too, and understand that we need your help to make our work go further.
Please have a look at our fabulous rewards on offer and make a pledge using the options on the right of the screen. We’ve got lots of rewards to say thank you for your generous support. Every single one of our rewards has been kindly donated to us so every single penny after crowd funding costs goes to helping disadvantaged families. Crowdfunder is an all or nothing platform so if we don’t reach our target we won’t get anything and you won't get your reward! So get involved and be part of The Up Project story from the beginning.
If you feel you would like to help, as a corporation or as an individual, please pledge now so we can reach our goal. If you'd like to see more of the work we do, please visit our website, or contact us to chat through things further.