Safe Babywearing

Do you love wearing your baby? Have you been concerned after hearing about the new CPSC warning regarding baby wearing? Mothering magazine issued a press release earlier in the week debunking babywearing myths and sharing basic safety tips. Mothering Radio premiered with Parenting unplugged radio for their first live one-hour radio show to discuss this very issue. Their podcast was issued in response to the CPSC warning to show that baby wearing can be safe. I listened to the podcast and thought I’d share with you some basic points.

The podcast started with a brief history of babywearing. Baby wearing has ancient beginnings from Native Americans to Eskimos.Wearing your baby is a very intuitive, instinctual thing for many mothers. However, due to later parenting philosophies encouraging independence for infants this intuitive, instinctual practice became lost. These are the same parenting philosophies that introduced the ideas of babies sleeping in cribs, and, as a result, baby wearing became less popular.

One issue of concern for recent safety issues and CPSC warning is the bag sling. What is it? It has a deep pouch and excessive fabric around the edges. This is a concern for newborn babies sleeping chin to chest. Sling Rider by infantino is one specific sling mentioned, they have not been recalled but blamed for the death of 7-8 infants. The company is still standing by their product claiming they are safe.

Glenda Criss-Forshey, president of Babywearing International  based in NY, was the first guest speaker. She looked at the CPSC warning as an opportunity to educate people on safe baby wearing. Her organization is a great educational resource to turn to for finding what carriers are safe and how to get started in baby wearing. For any readers in the Idaho area, she mentioned the next international babywearing conference will be held June 9-12th .
Alma Gordillo-Webb is the treasurer for Babywearing International and the moderator for’s babywearing forum.  She commented on all of the false information and inaccurate statements have been shared by the media, having accurate information, in this case, is power. Research has showed that baby wearing,  and kangaroo care has been beneficial for failure to thrive babies, preemies,  and it helps mothers with low milk supply be successful in breastfeeding. The closeness in a sling with mother helps control infants heartbeats and regulate their breathing. Babies need to be close to their mom.  She stressed that just as any parent would be sure they chose a safe car seat, crib or bicycle, the same rules apply for choosing a baby carrier. You learn how to use it properly, and keep an eye on your child, this is key! Parents need to educate themselves on how to use these types of products safely. It’s not hard to learn, it is an art, but with a little practice, you can be successful. Dads can baby wear too. As Peggy Merritt has said in the past, there is nothing more sexy than a dad wearing a baby and vacuuming!  I have to wholeheartedly agree with that!

Jane McClintock spoke next, she is the owner of  the Facebook babywearing safety page. She encourages parents to look at the sling and become and educated consumer. She suggests asking yourself about the company that is making the sling: Was this sling made/designed by a mother or by a large company looking to get the product out as quickly as possible?  Some sling wearing basics she discussed are never to wear your baby in a C-shape in the sling where their chin is to their chest, make sure you can always see the baby’s face and can place two fingers under the chin. She suggests the tummy to tummy position, keeping your baby well supported, a semi-reclined position is fine for breastfeeding. The upright position seems to be the safest, easiest and most intuitive. I thought it was beautiful that she commented that baby wearing is an artform. However, she says it’s a cultural lost art, like breastfeeding. She encourages moms to find local baby wearing groups, just like breastfeeding you can figure it out on your own, but it’s a whole lot easier with some support.

Lastly, M’Liss Stelzer, a nurse and author of Babywearing 101 spoke. She shared the previous speakers viewpoint on keeping baby aligned and in an upright position for safety. She discussed another benefit of wearing  that I hadn’t thought of, she says it’s perfect because wearing your baby keeps them in kissing range, I love that! Really babywearing safety is a lot of common sense, she encouraged moms to carry your baby in your sling, like you would in your arms. Read the instructions that come along with your product.  She again addressed the issue of buying from mama run companies, these companies have an emotional investment and want your babies to be safe. She commented on the numbers of sling deaths, there have been less than one death a year, compared to circumcision which has approximately 229 deaths a year. They ended the podcast by encouraging everyone to snuggle your kids close and realize just as  suffocation happens in car seats, strollers there are  inherent risks. Keeping yourselves aware and educated makes a lot of difference. Following a few basic guidelines can mean a world of difference.
ChildOrganics carries several quality baby wearing products including wraps, slings and even baby wearing jackets. These products come with instructions and we even offer a DVD for further visual instruction.  We do not carry any of the bag, flat-bottomed style carriers that have caused recent safety concerns. On a personal note, I have had very positive experiences baby wearing all three of my children. I have found it to be beneficial for breastfeeding, bonding, and sanity! My middle daughter had Muscular Dystrophy and I was even able to be successful by wearing her in a Storchenweige wrap and keep her safe and supported. They are wonderful for quick trips into the store or even for older children when they are tired and just don’t want to walk anymore. Do you baby wear?  I’d love to hear from you!!
Here is the Press Release issued by Mothering Magazine:

SANTA FE, NM (March 18, 2010) — On March 12, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a Federal Agency, issued a warning in regard to the use of baby slings. The CPSC asserts that there is a risk of slings suffocating infants who are younger than four months old, and that caution should be used when carrying babies of this age group in slings.

Mothering puts the CPSC warning in perspective: Babywearing is safe, but some slings and positions are not. While baby carriers are as old as civilization, modern babywearing has exploded in the last four years. Along with this rapid increase in use has come the creation of some unsafe carriers, in particular bag-style slings that have a deep pouch, excessive fabric, and an elasticized edge. These deep, bag-style slings can be especially dangerous for premature or small babies.

Some general guidelines for safe babywearing:
1. Only choose a sling that allows you to see your baby’s face.
2. Be sure
baby is not curled up tightly, chin to chest. This position can restrict breathing, especially in newborns or in infants who cannot yet hold up their heads.
3. Make sure that the sling fabric is “breathable,” and keep baby’s face clear of fabric.
4. Do not press baby’s face tightly against the sling wearer’s body.
5. Position the baby’s face upward.
6. Reposition baby if there are any signs of respiratory difficulty: rapid or labored breathing, grunting or sighing with every breath, restlessness.