Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CPSC's statement on Baby Wearing: Brains, anyone?

Due to three tragedies resultant from improper use of the Infantino Sling Rider baby slings (which, with all due respect to Infantino, hardly qualifies as a sling at all), the CPSC has issued an official statement not only about the recalled slings, but slinging babies in general (see link below).

(Link to offical recall statement)

Here's a quote:

n March 12, 2010, CPSC issued a warning about sling carriers for babies. 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.

CPSC has determined that a mandatory standard is needed for infant sling carriers. While a mandatory standard is being developed, CPSC staff is working with ASTM International and concerned companies such as Infantino to quickly develop an effective voluntary standard for slings. There currently are no safety standards for infant sling carriers.

I appreciate this synopsis of the situation.

I feel this is a good example of a giant culture FAIL. People see a good idea, think it's neat, fail to properly engage brain and common sense precautions, commercialize something that should be carefully passed on through in-person instruction, and then condemn the whole of a very beneficial practice because people fail to engage their ability to think critically for themselves (ie, if Angelina does it and it comes in a box, it's safe automatically ).

(Don't get me started on how large companies like to jump on anything that they think might turn a profit, churn out crappy products, and then end up harming both mama and baby. This is why I support grassroots products and the cottage industry-these thoughtful mamas and papas take pride in their products and make it with the best interest of the infant in mind!)

(See how Eve's chin is tucked below? She needs adjustment!)

My sadness comes mostly from the knowledge and experience that baby wearing can be a beautifully bonding experience between mother and child, and can also serve to promote the baby's health and well-being, and one that has stood the test of time and many cultures. I'm also frustrated that now, instead of quizzical looks and the occasional ignorant inquiry, I'm more likely to be bombarded with non-information per this decree from the powers that be (whose job it isn't to make sure people are employing their brains when babywearing).

We all know that groups of humans tend to be rather sheep-like in their tenancy to both dumbly follow a practice without self-education and common sense (the assumption being that, because lots of others are doing it, it must be safe), and to run away from something in terror just because someone else is freaking out without critically examining the situation. Add in our cultures crass consumerism and love of horking down pop culture without thought to what they're swallowing, and you have the above mess. An age-old, beautiful practice gets dragged through the mud, because of the ridiculous assumption that, if it's in WalMart or Target, it's automatically safe regardless of how we use it.

The same concept can be applied to french fries, soda, electric sockets, blinds cords, fuzzy baby blankets, dogs, television, formula, kiddie pools, very small toys, and anything else that can enrich our lives when used thoughtfully, and turn deadly when we abuse it and don't engage our God-given intellect.

I'd love to encourage my fellow Sheeple to engage our collective minds. Instead of joining the craze thoughtlessly, and the next day running about like Chicken Little armed for a witch hunt, why not pause and inform yourself? Life is much, much more peaceful and drama free this way. Examine the construction of the carrier, read and watch numerous videos about safe babywearing, follow your instinct, don't stop being attentive just because your child is in-sling, and ask an experienced wearer to check your position. If you suspect your baby's breathing is compromised, or if they even look tab uncomfortable, shift them!

Here are some helpful links on safe baby wearing, different (age appropriate) positions for carrying, and time tested carriers. Even as a nearly six-year baby wearer, I find it useful to brush up from time to time.

Excellent, informative blog post I found simply through Googling.

Positions for wraps, and videos instructions for age-appropriate "carrys":

If you're a facebook nut, these are good constant reminders:


  1. yah how stupid! Babywearing saved me from depression!! My babies were such fuss pots and only happy in the sling so poo poo to naysayers!

  2. Agreed!

    Anecdotally, my third was prone to spells of not breathing while sleeping (while flat on her back), and I never noticed that happening once (and this mama paid attention!) while I was wearing her..I think the close stimulation helped.

    My second had reflux, and she did *much* better when she was allowed to sleep upright on mama's chest at that age.

    My first was what we call a "hold me, hold me", and yeah...ditto what you said!