Those of you who follow me regularly know that I never blog on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday are my family days. Stephen works his tail off during the week so I can stay home with Olivia. Consequently, I only see him briefly in the mornings and in the evenings, all the while juggling my momma duties. So the weekends are our time and his time with Olivia. However, after reading some frightening news via Twitter and a few blog entries, I told Stephen I had to write a blog. He asked what about. I told him. He shook his head in disgust at the subject matter and told me to go for it.
Today’s endangered species? Babywearing.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, babywearing is the act of, almost quite literally, wearing your baby on your body in a carrier – be it a ring sling, a wrap, a Mei Tai, a Podegi, an Ergo, or any one of many various types and configurations made by European companies. Perhaps you’ve seen a mom like me wandering about the grocery store with her baby tied to her chest by yards of fabric. Babywearing has immense benefits to both mom and baby and has been practiced by mothers all over the globe for centuries. This isn’t a new thing, people. And it is safe. There is no “if done properly” – soft baby carriers are safe and wonderful.
Unfortunately, the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) thinks otherwise. Due to the heartbreaking tragedy of death that occurred with ONE TYPE of soft carrier (bag/pouch slings are bad, folks) (and my heart breaks for those parents) in 2005, the CPSC has suddenly, in 2010 (with no new evidence or any provocation), deemed ALL soft carriers to be unsafe and is making a move to recall ALL types of soft baby carriers from the market. This means, the only carriers you will be able to legally buy in the US will be the molded, metal-framed, full of buckles and straps, rigid carriers typically used for hiking.
Not to say those are bad in any way.
Neither are Ring Slings, Wraps, Mei Tais, Podegis, Ergos, and the like.
The response to the incidents is maddening and a bit confusing in my opinion. We have seen hundreds of recalls of various products over the past few months and what’s the typical mode of action? Brand X of crib is deemed to be unsafe due to a defect. Brand X crib is recalled and consumers are given instructions to either contact the company for replacement parts or to just buy a new crib.
Do they recall ALL cribs from the market for the defect of ONE brand?
Why punish the whole group for the actions of one? They recalled bag/pouch slings of the particular brand that was at fault and issued statements about proper babywearing safety. Many babywearing experts from doctors to bloggers stepped up and wrote about their experiences, their favorite slings/wraps/carriers and provided simple to follow tips for wearing safely. That should have been the end of it.
Suddenly, with no other provocation, ALL carriers are under attack.
The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance has issued an emergency call to action asking for all moms and dads alike to step up and voice their support for babywearing. Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing has provided a place for everyone to gather and share their story as well (along with a giveaway!)
For me, babywearing has been a wonderful experience. I have two soft carriers – a ring sling and a woven wrap (both from BabyEtte on Etsy) – and a more structured (yet still pretty soft) carrier from Lillebaby. I have my eye on a Mei Tai next.
My wrap is my go-to for errands. I did some research, found an awesome website for various ways to carry a baby in a wrap, and happily wrapped up Olivia in a front carry. She loves it. And I love it. She is never fussy in public. I have never had any crying fits or squirming while running errands. More often than not, after quietly looking around, she falls asleep. And it is not complicated. I know many of you will look at a wrap and go, “How in the hell do I use this thing?” and will be daunted by it. I was. But, after watching someone else do it then trying it myself, I was amazed at how simple it is and how secure it feels and how safe it is.
My sling is mostly for the house and the evenings when she goes through her post-dinner-nursing / pre-bedtime fussy period. I sling her and she immediately quiets down and will, more often than not, fall asleep. I walk her around the house, I rock in the glider, we venture out onto the back deck in the coolness of the evening and she, all the while, quietly looks around from the safety of my arms.
The benefits to mom and baby are immense. And not just the calming effect that I mentioned above. When babies are awake and just quietly looking around, they are learning. They are experiencing the world around them. And this is new. It’s all brand spanking new and can be (as we’ve discovered with Olivia) very overwhelming. And the best teaching tool you have when you can’t communicate with words yet? Your heart.
Yep, your heartbeat.
Wrapped up or held against your chest or back, they are right on top of your heart and can feel/hear your heartbeat. They gauge everything around them using your heartbeat as a measure and, as long as your heart doesn’t speed up, they stay quiet. Your steady heartbeat tells them the firetruck siren screaming by isn’t something to be frightened of. Your steady heartbeat tells them that guy in the cereal aisle hollering down to his wife isn’t a threat – he’s just annoying. Your steady heartbeat tells your little one that they are safe, they are secure and they are with you.
Nothing is more reassuring than momma and daddy’s heartbeat and arms. Nothing.
So, if someone from the CPSC happens to read my little blog or any of the countless stories being posted either on Facebook or Adventures in Babywearing, I urge you to not recall ALL soft carriers. Instead, talk to the hundreds of mothers and fathers that wear their babies everyday and have so for years about the benefits. Work with the BCIA and the ASTM in the effort to always manufacture safe soft carriers as you do with every other product you recall.
I, for one, no matter what happens, will always wear my baby proudly.
Important update 10/4/10: Action needed: (via Babywearing It Up!)
A recall of a major baby carrier is being forced through this week in a very underhanded way. Word on the babywearing street is that this is not an unsafe carrier and the CPSC has overstepped their bounds in how they’ve gone about this. If you are represented by any one of these legislators listed here, PLEASE call and write them. More details over at the link, please take the time to read and act. If this can happen to one carrier, it can happen to them all. All our carriers are in jeopardy.