Welcome, Catbird Baby

We hope you'll join us today in learning all about a company with a passion for the babywearing industry and promoting healthy infant attachment. We are pleased to introduce you to this BOND sponsor....

Catbird Baby

Getting to Know Catbird Baby

I am Beth Leistensnider, and I founded (2005) and own Catbird Baby. We manufacture ergonomic baby carriers for newborns through toddlers. More recently, I also helped found and am a current board member of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA), and am a certified babywearing educator through Center for Babywearing Studies.

As the owner of Catbird Baby my duties touch just about every aspect of the business; we are still a small family-owned and -operated business. Since the birth of my first child in 2003, I have been very involved in the babywearing community, first as a parent, and then later as both a business owner and parent. I attended a meet-up of City Slingers which was the precursor to what eventually became BWI of Chicagoland. After helping to organize the 2008 International Babywearing Conference, Chicago became one of the first Babywearing International chapters and I was one of its first Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBE). My co-leaders and I turned over the chapter to new leadership in 2010, and they have grown the organization into a robust network of Chicagoland area meetings providing free peer babywearing education to hundreds of caregivers per month!

My vision for Catbird Baby has always been to offer simple, comfortable, and beautiful options for babywearing, to help parents utilize this tool that makes it easier to soothe babies. Everyone knows the stress of being unable to soothe an upset child and I found that babywearing was an amazing way for me, as a parent, to connect with my child in a way that calmed both her and me at the same time. 

What Inspired Beth to Get Started?

I started Catbird Baby after the birth of my first child, in 2003. I learned about babywearing from Mothering.com and there truly were very few places to buy carriers as well as quite a small variety back then. When I learned about mei tais, and made one for myself, I really clicked with the simplicity of that style. Mei tais really sum up so much of my design philosophy, which is streamline when you can, take away what's unnecessary, keep it simple, and focus on the function. I started my business because I knew that many many parents like me would want to use these kinds of carriers, and I wanted to be a part of making that happen.

Mei tais are still my true love, and our most popular carrier is actually a buckle mei tai: the pikkolo! As buckle carriers with structured waists have been become very popular and widespread, the pikkolo is often seen as being in this category, but it is truly a hybrid carrier. You wear it the same way that you wear a mei tai, like an apron that hangs down from your waist and then it comes up between baby's legs and over the back. Your upper torso and the carrier work together to form a U-shape, holding the baby close in to your center of gravity, high on the body. Since many parents expressed a desire to have a buckle carrier that they could use with a newborn we designed the pikkolo with an adjustable-width panel, so that it cinches up small for a little baby (or for facing outward later if desired), and incrementally grows as baby grows.  

What brings you the most joy in your business?

When a parent watches me demonstrate our carriers and then says "oh, that's so simple." And then does it themselves and you can see their expression change as they realize what a great tool this is going to be for them in their daily lives. It's really very gratifying when you make that connection and see that someone else clicks with the carrier and with babywearing in the same way that you did. It's very satisfying when you find someone who sees the value in what you're doing and believes that it will enhance their lives, especially at an exciting-yet-vulnerable time in their lives. 

Coming Together: Why Catbird Baby Wanted to be a Part of BOND

For a long time babywearing has been sort of marginalized as fringe, or thought of as a parenting philosophy that you have to ascribe to. I want that to change. Babywearing is something that every parent and baby can benefit from, and part of how we make that shift is by connecting the professionals who work with new parents in their daily work to the science of why babywearing (and other aspects of bonding and attachment) helps families. I think that the goal of BOND, to bring together those working with infants who may not be as familiar with babywearing, and helping them learn more about the current landscape and what is available will definitely help make a positive impact on the parents that these professionals see on a daily basis.

I think BOND is incredibly important because it is going to bring together professionals from multiple fields to help create a more comprehensive picture for any professional who is working with parents and infants and toddlers. BOND is forward-thinking, focused on currently available research and best practice, and I think it will be an incredible learning experience with practical implications for a wide variety of professionals. I hope that the conference offers a chance for people to meet others from outside their normal field and engage in conversations that will help them challenge their thinking in order to gain a clearer picture of what they believe and why, in order to help them clarify the why behind the information that they share with parents.