Archive for Babywearing

Mothering magazine responds to the CPSC sling warning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mothering Responds to CPSC Sling Warning: Babywearing Is Safe

PRESS CONTACT: Elizabeth Carovillano 505.984.6289 | Office 505.690.0040 | Cell elizabethc@mothering.com | E-mail

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.

For more information, see Mothering’s Special Report on Babywearing

For babywearing safety tips, see “Babywearing 101”

Tune in to Mothering Radio at 11:30 PST on Monday, March 22, for an exclusive one-hour show featuring Glenda Criss-Forshey, president of Babywearing International; M’Liss Stelzer, author of “Babywearing 101”; Jane McClintock, of Quirky Baby, an online baby carrier distributor, and Alma Gordillo-Webb, moderator of Mothering.com’s babywearing community. Look for our feature article on slings in the July–August 2010 print edition.

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Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies

I just received this alert. I met it with mixed emotions. What do you think?…

NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2010
Release #10-165

CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age. In researching incident reports from the past 20 years, CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.

Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.

Two months ago, the Commission added slings to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard. Additionally, CPSC staff is actively investigating these products to determine what additional action may be appropriate. Until a mandatory standard is developed, CPSC is working with ASTM International to quickly complete an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers.

CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.

CPSC is interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are directly related to infant slings. You can do this by visiting http://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

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My babywearing experience (and making your own)

I’m a few years out of my babywearing era but I thought I’d toss a few things out as well.

When Svea (who is now 6) was born, I was attending La Leche League meetings and their carrier of choice at that time was the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite carrier ever, I did find it comfortable and easy to use. It was pretty padded and I liked that I could tighten each rail by pulling the fabric differently. I did find it a bit bulky, especially for carrying in my diaperbag, so I moved on.

My next carrier was a Maya Wrap Pouch (which I’m guessing they aren’t selling any longer because I don’t find them on their website). I LOVED a pouch for a little infant because I wore Svea pretty much all the time, not just while out and about. I wore her while doing dishes, laundry, chores around the house, at the computer, etc. The pouch kept her very close and I easily nursed with her in it as well. As she got larger and heavier, it became uncomfortable as it is unpadded.

I used a variety of other carriers through my remaining babywearing days. I’m with Lisa on the Ultimate Baby Wrap…I found the fabric to be too stretchy and it was rather cumbersome to get on. My favorite carrier ever was a Calyx by Mama By Design. It was specially made for me and combines many of the features that I liked about the Ergo type carriers with a less bulky design. They are BEAUTIFULLY made.

I was always on the quest for the best carrier for me for the period of babywearing that I was in (a tiny infant, a nursing baby, corralling a toddler, etc.) and I began making some of my own carriers. Many were disasters and I got into a routine of making pouch carriers for friends and family using this pattern. I literally made dozens of these and they were rather disposable to me. We’d be out somewhere and someone would walk up to me and say, “Wow! I really like that thing you have your baby in. Where can I get one of those?” and I’d strip it off and hand it over…I guess I was on my own little babywearing crusade! 🙂 I usually used whatever cotton woven struck my fancy (sometimes matching it to my outfit) and occasionally experimented with fleece, which has a slight stretch. Making your own has some drawbacks…the best carriers have more structure that the beginning or average sewist could easily construct. But the freedom of design was a big draw for me. There is a wonderful page of free web-based baby carrier patterns here .

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Babywearing Resources

Websites & Blogs:

The Baby Wearer — website on babywearing; has reviews, articles, forums, products for sale, and much more

Ask Dr. Sears — babywearing information from Dr. Sears’ site

Babywearing International — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support.

Peppermint —  group dedicated to babywearing. Site has carriers by age, position, brand, and more. They have many resources including how to choose a carrier. Great resource!

Magic City Slingers — blog dedicated to babywearing

Articles:

NINO handout — Nine In Nine Out (NINO) organization’s handout on babywearing; great at a glance brochure

Bliss of Babywearing — brochure on the benefits of babywearing

Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress — article on spinal stress caused by some baby carriers

“Babywearing Tips” — article from Mothering magazine

Accessories:

Ergo sucking pad — babies will suck on just about anything and everything so this is a cloth to put on the straps

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Babywearing Basics

Babywearing is carrying your baby close to your body in a sling, pouch, wrap, or other baby carrier. It fosters trust and attachment, frees up your hands, and is much more comfortable than carrying your baby in your arms. Research shows that babies who are carried cry 40-50% less. Just as newborns love to be swaddled, babywearing gives the same feeling of closeness.

If you are getting ready to choose a carrier, you should know that not all soft carriers are created equal. Some soft carriers have been linked to hip dysplasia because of their design (i.e. Baby Bjorn), so it’s important to choose one with an ergonomic design that disperses most of the baby’s weight between the hips and thighs, which helps to eliminate compression of the spine.

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If you are new to babywearing, here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Review babywearing terms or have them nearby. Keeping everything straight in the beginning is important.
  2. Narrow down what type of carrier is right for you. Consider how old your baby is, what position(s) you want to carry him in, what activities you will mostly be doing, and whether or not you have any physical restrictions. Using those thoughts, compare babycarriers. A list of all carriers can be found at TheBabyWearer. The chart is not very easy to read, but it’s the most comprehensive I’ve found.
  3. Once you have 2 or 3 choices narrowed down, ask family and friends what they know about your choices and see if you can borrow one of theirs for a short time. If no one you know has the carrier you’re interested in, contact the girls at Magic City Slingers. They have a lending library of carriers that members can try.
  4. Purchase your carrier at a retail store, ebay, or yard sales. I got my Mei Tai from ebay much cheaper than the list price from EllaRoo. It was $30 with shipping. My Ergo came from a consignment shop.

There are several contributors to the site who are avid babywearers. If you have any questions, any of us would be happy to share what we know about them. It took me almost 6 months to settle on my final choice, so if we can help you get it right the first time, by all means, ask questions. Best wishes!

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My Babywearing Journey

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I have loved “wearing” my son since birth. I think it’s mostly because I can be out and about doing the things I love and he is contently with me taking it all in. I tried 4 different soft carriers before settling on my favorite. I tried the Mei Tai first and loved it while he was small. As he got heavier I noticed that the knots “settled” and the straps seemed to loosen, often causing back pain. It was a nuisance to stop and retie the knots while we were out, especially if he had fallen asleep. I then tried the Ultimate Baby Wrap. I liked that it had a ring for easy tightening, but the material naturally sagged and it too hurt my back. I was constantly pulling to make it tighter and tighter. Next I tried a friend’s sling, but my son hated it. Finally, my chiropractor suggested the Ergo. I went to the website and read the following:

“The ERGObaby carrier’s ergonomic design supports a correct sitting position for the baby’s hip, pelvis and spine growth. It disperses most of the baby’s weight between the hips and thighs, which helps to eliminate compression of the spine when hanging by the crotch which most other designs require. The ERGO also balances the baby’s weight to parents’ hips and shoulders, and alleviates physical stress for the parent.”

That sounded great coupled with the fact that there was a lumbar type support with a buckle and safety strap and a sternum strap. I then found a retailer who would let me try it on. I put my son in it and walked around the store and knew I had to get it. Ergos are expensive, but they are well made and worth every penny. I also liked it because it was a solid neutral color that my husband wouldn’t balk at wearing. I should admit though, that he still isn’t too keen on wearing it. I don’t think it has anything to do with the carrier itself. He prefers a framed hiking backpack. I think he thinks it’s more manly to have a hiking backpack, which is fine because it’s too bulky to take everywhere which means that I get to wear Blake in the Ergo!

If you like the idea of the Ergo, a relatively new carrier that others say is very similar to the Ergo is called the Beco Carrier and they are really quite stylish! They seem to be built in the same ergonomic way. All in all, when deciding on a carrier, I found it helpful to borrow friend’s carriers for a short time to see what I really liked. Recommendations are great, but everyone has different body types and annoyances, so what’s great for me, may not be great for you. Granted, I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t like their Ergo, but it’s still great to give it a try before taking the plunge. Good luck and happy babywearing!

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