Bring or take something, no need to do both at Oct. 15 swap

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The idea behind bartering is an exchange of goods: give something to take something. But that won’t be the case at the second Baby & Toddler Clothes & Gear Swap on Oct. 15.

Vanessa Arnold of Cranston is the woman behind the swap, and she said it’s fine to arrive empty handed and leave with an armful of clothes.

Arnold is basing the swap on a national model called the “Really, Really Free Market” that she ran every month for two years while she lived in Ohio.

“It’s about giving and community, not a one-for-one trade,” she said.

Parents and friends of babies and toddlers may participate by bringing clothes and gear in “useable” condition. Clothes should be sized newborn–5T and clean, folded and size-sorted. Gear should be in good shape and can include toys, books, carriers, etc. Participants are asked to bring extra bags or boxes if they’ve got them.

People are allowed to browse and see what goods are available even if they arrive without a donation. The event is free and will last from 2 to 4 p.m. at the William Hall Library auditorium in Cranston.

The first swap took place on July 14, and because of its success, Arnold decided to have another.

“I guess I saw a need for it,” she said of her initial idea to bring what she learned in Ohio to Rhode Island. “It’s about sharing resources and not having to pay for stuff.”

She also said it’s about building a community for parents to get to know each other, which she sees as an important part of parenting.

“It’s necessary for my sanity,” laughed Arnold. “And I thought it would help other moms meet.”

At the event, local non-profit KangaMamas will have a table where director Kristen Silvia will be on hand to offer knowledge and information on baby carriers. KangaMamas promotes and educates caretakers about the benefits of “wearing” their baby in a specially designed child sling.

“It offers tremendous benefit to social awareness [for the child],” said Silvia. “Because the baby is higher than it would be in a stroller, it gets more eye contact with adults, and picks up on social cues earlier.”

She said the position of the baby in the sling is ergonomic, and promotes better physical development as well.

For the mom or caregiver, it allows a sense of freedom, since the parent can use their hands, walk freely and accomplish tasks they might not otherwise be able to if they were holding the baby in a traditional manner.

There will also be a raffle at the swap, as a fundraiser for the group.

Arnold hopes this month’s swap will be as successful as July’s, which she said about 30 people attended. She hopes to continue the events seasonally.

Arnold also has a following on Facebook: the “Parenting for Free” community. The page is an umbrella network for the swaps and is updated by users to include local free do-it-yourself parenting events, advice, ideas and questions.

For more information about the swap, you can search “Baby Toddler Clothes & Gear Swap” on Facebook. Information about KangaMamas can be found at www.KangaMamas.com.

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