Babywearing: my view.

My wife and I are coordinating posts today.  Babywearing is an important topic and deserves more than a five minute "fashion" segment on the Today show that lacked substance and was dangerously irresponsible in it's paucity of information.   Rarely do I ask people to pass on a blog, but please, if you find anything below helpful, pass it along! 

My wife's blog is much more reasoned.  As usual, mine is a bit more bombastic.

Babywearing.  If you watch the Today Show you are now probably of a mind that baby's should never be worn for the first four months or they will suffocate and die.  You are also perfectly up to date on the most fashion forward way to coordinate your baby sling with your outfit! 

Babywearing is more than a way to keep your hands unburdened with your child.  It's not about you.  It's actually about your child... who is not a burden.

Dr. William Sears, noted pediatrician and author of the Sears Parenting Library, includes babywearing in his seven B's of attachement parenting.  You can find a month's worth of reading on the subject at http://www.askdrsears.com.

This is a serious subject and the viewing public would be better served with some information.  Rather than an editor from iVillage.com who comes on with a string of models, why not bring in a babywearing instructor from one of the local shops to demonstrate the best and safest ways to wear your baby.

I'm sorry, but a sales associate at Buy Buy Baby or Babies R'Us is not going to know the ins and outs of every carrier and, as their selection of carriers shows, that's certainly something they don't specialize in.  On our last trip to one of the big baby stores, I counted nearly 150 different strollers ranging in price from $30 to the pimped out Stokke at $1000.  There were five baby carriers.  They were all of the low bag sling type, exactly like the Infantino that was recalled. 

These bag slings ARE dangerous to young babies.  It's true they do not have the head support they need and can suffocate.  While these slings have a serious design flaw, as a parent you should be constantly in connection with your newborn.  Putting them in a sling is not an out of sight out of mind exercise.  There's no excuse for that.

But rather than copping out and advising you to never carry your baby, maybe they could tackle why these are unsafe and what kinds of carriers are safe for your baby and best for you - at all ages.

When the sling controversy first occurred, my wife and I were understandably upset.  We had been given slings as gifts and were anxious to use them.  They were low slings, though and we were unsure of their safety with a newborn.

A good sling should be worn high with a newborn and proper positioning is key.  But how?

I did a google search.  It took me five minutes to find the following and it gave me more information in less time than the entire Today Show segment.


A google search!  It's like iVillage and the Today show researched this by going through a catelogue.

Having worked ever so briefly in tv, I know how partnerships and branding work.  Bring out parents with kids in carriers, focus on the logo of the product.  We needed more.

Now, don't get me wrong, the slings they brought out were great!  I love the moby wrap.  We were persuaded to avoid it only because it is summer and 12 feet of fabric wrapped around you in August in New York City is... well... I'd rather be hit by a bus.

Full Disclosure:

We have a Baby Bjorn - it was a gift and we have not used it because it does not support his head as a newborn and he has to be old enough, or big enough, to put his feet out.   He will be soon.

We purchased the Mei Tai carrier that allowed us to carry him as a newborn.  It's almost like a kangaroo pouch, which is an entire parenting style - Kangarooing!  It promotes skin to skin contact with your baby, especially preemies.  My little man was born three weeks early and while technically not a preemie, he was darned close.  I can and have put him into the Mei Tai and we've walked around skin to skin.  His head is supported, he's in a position where his head is directly under mine and I am fully aware of his positioning at all times.  (I should add that he is with his mother, this morning, nursing in his Mei Tai.)

It's very similar to the Boba they showed on the segment but without all the bells an whistles and clasps and clamps and hooks and things...  It's just fabric that you tie. 

We also have the smaller version of the Kelty they had on the segment, the Kelty TC-2.0... TC as in Toddler Carrier.  The Today Show listed it as being usable "up to 50 pounds."  That's dangerously wrong. The instructions for the carrier specifically say, "warning!  do not use carrier with an infant weighing less than 16 pounds." 

We can't put him in it yet, however in about a year, look out... we'll be trekking in it everywhere.  (Thanks Justin and Lindsay!)

So, yes, we have some of the carriers they showed, but the point isn't the carrier - it's how you use them!   Let people know that they are safe for all babies.  Teach them.  How do you put the baby in there?  What's the safest way to carry them?  Where can I find resources like free babywearing classes

And stop spreading misinformation!

Almost all these infants were facing out in their carriers.  You can't carry them facing out until they have complete control of their heads and that may not happen until four to six months! 

In fact, every baby they showed on the Today Show was around 6 months or older.  Babies do not show up at your doorstep six months in.

Any bets out there on how many new parents are going to try putting their babies in one of these carriers that they rushed out and bought on the internet with no idea what they're doing - and put them in there facing out?  Any takers?

And it's not new parents' fault.  According to author Michael Levine."Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist." 

It's true.  You have to have a liscence to drive, but not to have a child.

We want - we need - information.  

It does nothing for the public good to have a parade of babies in cool, hip carriers when you still have not shown people how to use them.

Information is power.  Right?  But we are utterly powerless when the places we trust to spread information, to spread news, fail us.

Seriously, all it took was a google search. 

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