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Hula baby on board

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Christie Echeverri gives 14-month-old son Alex a ride on her back as she dances a hula at Babywearing Hula, a class taught by kumu hula Maile Loo at Baby Awearness at Manoa Marketplace.
  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Lani Lee and her 21-month-old son Joshua.
  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Lani Lee and her 21-month-old son Joshua, top photo. After finishing class, Loo holds her daughter, Kupuoha, 21 months old.
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The swaying motions of hula can have a calming effect on an infant, and Hawaiian music can be as soothing as a lullaby.

Babywearing hula

Four-week class starts tomorrow:
» When: 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays
» Where: Baby Awearness, Manoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 5-209
» Cost: $40, or $12 drop-in fee per class
» Info: E-mail bhula@hula.net or call 988-0010

So why not carry your baby and hula at the same time?

Welcome to Babywearing Hula, a class for moms who can bond with their babies while learning to dance. The class, taught by kumu hula Maile Loo on Wednesday mornings at Baby Awearness at Manoa Marketplace, draws moms with babies from 7 weeks to 2 years old.

Participants "wear" their babies in all different styles of front and back carriers, ranging from ring slings to Beco Butterflies, Baby Bjorns, wraps and Ergos. Loo says any style of carrier will work, as long as the baby is comfortable in it.

"It’s a natural thing to dance with your baby, being with them and moving with them," said Loo. "It’s about having fun with the babies and each other. You’re in Hawaii, so why not?"

Class starts with stretching, an introduction to some basic steps and a good 40 minutes of dancing, followed by a little talk-story time.

Previous hula experience is not necessary.

Loo, who is the hanai daughter of the late Nona Beamer and founder of the Hula Preservation Society, says the class is more about bonding with babies than perfecting hula steps.

But it’s also an opportunity for some moms to learn about hula and get some exercise.

During a recent class, moms were learning Beamer’s "Pupu Hinuhinu," a lullaby about finding a shiny shell by the ocean. Loo teaches the meaning of the song, along with hand and foot motions.

By the end of class, some of the babies had been lulled to sleep.

Loo says the idea for Babywearing Hula started when her daughter, Kupuoha, was born. She was teaching hula, but her daughter, then 10 months old, still needed to be with her, so the solution was to carry her in class.

"She loved it. I loved it. So it was a win-win," said Loo.

There came a time when many members of her halau also had babies, and they would dance together with their infants.

Christie Echeverri of Pearl City recently brought 14-month-old Alex to class for the first time. She discovered that carrying him helps quiet him down during the class.

"I think it’s the swaying movement," she said.

Echeverri said it’s nice to have a place you can go with your baby without having to bring a bulky stroller.

Repeat student Katy Launert of Ewa Beach makes the long commute to Manoa just for the opportunity to take the class with her baby girl, Emily, who started around 2 months old.

"This is the only thing she will let me do," said Launert, adding that it calms Emily down. "She likes to move her hands around; she normally does what mommy does. It’s fun."

If a baby gets particularly fussy, moms can always take a break.

"I love it. I think it’s a great idea," said Jyoti Kandell of Manoa, mother to 10-month-old Makua.

"I did hula before but not for a while," she said. "It’s nice to do it with the baby."

It’s also good for Makua to see other babies and socialize, she said, and he pays attention to kumu Loo during the entire class.

After learning "Pupu Hinuhinu," Kandell said little Makua remembers the song and plays with shells at home when he hears it.

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