When there are deaths associated with a crib, the crib is recalled. When there are deaths associated with a product that is outside of the comfort zone of the mainstream, an entire industry takes the hit.
Infantino designed “bag slings” that were unsafe, and which managed to lose most of the benefits associated with babywearing by slinging the babies down by the hip like an accessory, rather than making them the center of your world tight against your chest and in your line of vision.
When the Infantino bag slings in question were recalled, strangers began warning me that I was endangering my baby when I wore her in the grocery store, on a walk, or at the park. Well meaning advice, I’m sure, but it illustrates the problem. The recall threw babywearing into a bad–a deadly–light. So much so that one of the oldest, best, and most popular brands of SAFE, COMFY, BEAUTIFUL mom-designed baby carriers is off the market. Hotslings has officially closed its doors, not due to any fault in its products, but because of that misunderstanding that could lump such disparate carriers as the bag sling and the pouch carrier into one, harmful, category.
With Infantino taking the lead on creating industry standards, every other good baby carrier is in jeapardy of becoming illegal. Infantino has no concept of what contributes to safe babywearing or the benefits that can be derived from it.
And that is when the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) was formed by the mothers and fathers behind some of the most innovative and well-loved baby carriers available, to set the standards for babywearing devices before the companies that are home-based, and which started out home-based (like Hotslings) can be edged out of the market leaving us with such slim pickings as you can find at your local BabiesRUs store . . .
If we let Infantino run this show, parents’ choices in the United States will narrow to Infantino style carriers. We can do better, our babies deserve better. This organization can save lives.
The end is a happy, thriving child; a relaxed, loving mama; and a strong bond between them. The means is the baby wrap.
Wrapping made mothering less stressful and more fun. Let’s face it, this society isn’t exactly tailor made for women with children. Sometimes it’s a pain to function with children in this society. Wrapping made it easier.
I love wrapping, and I love helping other moms and babies get wrapped up together. But lets be clear here, not wearing your baby is not a problem for me. If you think I looked at you askance when you said you didn’t want to wear your baby, it’s likely because I was trying (and failing) to imagine how that would work. I wasn’t passing judgment, just hoping it worked out!
When I promote babywearing, I am doing it because it can help moms. I believe we all want to keep our babies happy. This is the best and easiest way I know of doing it. So it helps babies, too, because babies are kept happier, easier.
This article cites these reasons why car seats are not safe:
babies have been injured when car seats fell off of high surfaces
babies have been injured when carseats turned over on soft surfaces (like a bed)
babies have been injured falling out of car seats when not properly buckled
more babies have “container syndrome” or weak muscles and flat heads due to being carried in a car seat
it can be difficult for babies to get enough oxygen in a car seat, according to some studies
And here are some reasons why a baby carrier is superior:
babies cannot be worn without being supervised so they can’t fall out when you leave the room
the babywearer has hands free to catch self in case of a fall, so that baby is not dropped
a worn baby is getting the perfect physiological workout just by being held against you
worn properly, a baby’s face will be clear of the baby carrier, with head supported to ensure easy breathing
The fact is, babies are designed to be held, and study after study has shown that the more they are held, the more they thrive. Whereas studies are also finding that babies in containers are subject to the above disadvantages.
Hanna Vogel wrote me this very nice letter that I wanted to share:
“I am so happy I stumbled across your website the other day. I am so passionate about babywearing, and now that my youngest is three have not been doing it much…and I miss it! Almost enough reason to have another baby, but when I started looking at your site it reminded me that she is still small enough to go in her sling. I got it back out last night when she was having a rough time, and popped her on my hip while making dinner. She loved it and so did I. It is amazing how light 30 pounds feels in a sling. I can’t carry her too long anymore otherwise. I am training to be a doula, and am hoping to buy more wraps and carriers to lend to my clients and help them practice with. Thank you for your wonderful website!”
I love letters like that. Thank YOU, Hanna! I hope you can spread the babywearing love, and I’m so glad there are women like you helping women bring babies happily into the world!
I don’t have a picture of Hanna and her daughter (wanna send me one, Hanna?) so here I am wearing my beautiful god-daughter in a one-shouldered back carry (oh, and I’m pregnant in this photo!):
Take a deep breath and remember that some people are completely unfamiliar with babywearing. The most important thing is not to let them upset you. The best thing would be to let them see how wonderful babywearing is. But the key is “let them.” People are rarely persuaded by force!
Sometimes a casual, heartfelt comment hits a lot deeper than a list of resources or a defensive rebuttal.
Try out these simple, non-confrontational explanations of babywearing, and make them your own by talking up the biggest general benefit that you, personally, have enjoyed.
My baby’s happier this way, and that makes me happier!
Babywearing makes things easier for me.
I love showing off my baby and this way I can take her everywhere with me!
My baby enjoys this so much more than the stroller.
This way I don’t have to lug around that heavy carseat.
After going through labor, I think I deserve to keep my baby close!
Wearing her is so much easier on me, physically.
And, in response to any suggestion of a negative effect of babywearing (ie spoiling), you can always reply that babywearing is working great for you right now and you’ll make any changes if and when they become necessary!
Due to the seventeen thousand obscene spam comments posted in one day to this article in it’s original incarnation, I had to delete the original post and am reprinting the text here. AND, all comments will now require approval prior to posting! Here’s the blog post again for all the real readers:
It’s not that I don’t think moms everywhere can use all the help they can get. As far as I’m concerned, mothering is the most valuable job there is and I don’t know a single mother who thinks it’s easy.
So I apologize in advance to all the moms who carry around the infant car seat, but I don’t think we should make it easier to carry!
Flying Falcon Car Seat Harness
Holding your baby is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Sure, this culture makes it difficult sometimes. While driving, for example. And that’s why the car seat was invented. But putting a handle on it was going too far, and putting a strap on it is another step in the wrong direction.
Instead of making it easier to keep your baby at arms length, maybe we should brainstorm ways to make it easier to hold your baby. Instead of making it more convenient to mistreat your body by carrying one of these heavy, unwieldy contraptions, perhaps we should rethink the lifestyle that requires it.
I do not condemn a parent for using the infant car seat to carry their baby. But it’s an inconvenience that should remain inconvenient to encourage us to find a better way
Arguments for the car seat harness:
It won’t increase infant seat use, just make it easier for when it is used. I disagree–new moms are bombarded with gadgets to make their lives easier that really won’t. And those gadgets get in the way of their finding out about the simple things that can make a difference…like a functional baby carrier.
It’s easier on mother and baby to let the baby continue sleeping peacefully when you get to your destination. Easier, maybe, but not better. Most babies can be transferred easily from carseat to a wraparound baby carrier without waking up, or will settle right back to sleep with their heads against our hearts. For those who insist that their baby will wake up and scream through the entire errand, may I recommend learning to nurse in the wrap? It’s a rare baby who isn’t appeased by the boob.
With more than one young child, the infant car seat is a necessity. I applaud parents of multiple children. I want a herd myself. But the more kids you have to wrangle, the more you need your baby content and your hands free. It is the wrap, not the carseat, that will provide that. In the wrap you are not carrying significantly more weight than your baby. You have two free hands. You are able to run if need be. You can pick up an older child. You can hug other children.
You can’t wear a baby when you are pregnant. Yes you can! Much more comfortably than you can carry an infant carseat, which I would not think would be advisable while pregnant!
It makes eating in a restaurant so much easier. First, I find it very easy to eat in a restaurant while wearing my baby. If I’m eating with family, I usually don’t even get to wear her because everyone wants a turn and she is passed around. Second, even if it made it easier, it is not worth it to me. Being there for your baby, physically, is so much more valuable!
There’s no sense taking baby out of the warm carseat in frigid weather. This is the argument I am most sympathetic with. But I still wouldn’t do it. The wrap is a very warm place, and transferring baby into a pretied front carry takes less than a minute, so unless it was really cold, I would do this, and close my coat over both of us. When it’s seriously cold, I suppose one could climb into the car to transfer the baby with the door closed, if possible. Or carry the carseat inside and then remove baby, but if you’re at the mall, you still have to carry the carseat at this point! So I would expect to limit mall trips on freezing days.
Using the infant seat allows me to put my baby down and get some chores done. Hey, the wrap allows you to hold your baby AND get some chores done!
I don’t actually hold my baby constantly. I pass her off to friends and family. I put her down on a blanket on the floor or on the grass. She sleeps in our bed, not on my chest. But when we’re running errands? That’s not a time to put her down. That’s a time to keep her close.
And for those parents who find the occasional use for the infant car seat, that’s fine. But let the inconvenience of the thing give you pause to consider whether the situation really warrants it!
Saturday my mom took Ada to spend the night with her, and David and Annabelle and I cleaned the living room. It was so nice to just dedicate myself to cleaning for an hour or so, without distractions or interruptions and it was VERY nice to have a clean living room. I’ve been taking pains all week to keep it nice because I think we’re all happier when our space looks lovely.
Wrapping Belle meant that I wasn’t interrupted by a baby needing to be picked up. Wrapping her on my back meant that I was even able to lean over the washing machine, and there was no bundle in front of me to interfere with sweeping! It also meant that Belle was a happy baby, cuddled up to her momma. Having just nursed, she happily went to sleep and my body movements kept her asleep for the duration. Lucky kid woke up to find all of the work finished!
Sweeping while Belle snoozes in a Reinforced Rear Rebozo Rucksack.
The term is brand new to me, but it turns out I already practice ecological breastfeeding!
I came across it in my search for an acceptable birth control method. Ecological breastfeeding is free, comfortable, and natural–it fits all my criteria!
Wikipedia reports that it has a 1% failure rate in the first six months of a baby’s life, and only 6% failure rate after that until the woman’s period returns. Pretty good rates for something I was doing anyway.
According to Wikipedia:
Breastfeeding must be the infant’s only source of nutrition – no formula, no pumping, and (if the infant is less than six months old) no solids or water at all.
The infant must be pacified at the breast, not with pacifiers or bottles or by placing a finger in the mouth.
The infant must be breastfed frequently. The standards for LAM (lactational amenorrhea method) are a bare minimum; greater frequency is better. Sucking should include non-nutritive sucking when the infant cues the mother, not just breastfeeding as a means of nutrition. Scheduling of feedings is incompatible with LAM.
Mothers must practice safe co-sleeping as it is the proximity of the child to the mother that increases prolactin.
Mothers must not be separated from their infants. This includes substitutes for mother such as babysitters and even strollers or anything else that comes between mother and physical contact with her child. Babywearing (using cloth carriers) means tactile stimulation between mother and child and increases access to the breast. Any separation from the mother will decrease the efficacy of ecological breast feeding.
Mothers must take daily naps with their infants.
A mother must not have had a period after 56 days post-partum (bleeding prior to 56 days post-partum can be ignored).
I don’t nap with Annabelle (I would if I didn’t have a five year old to keep up with) but she does nap on me, and I assume it is the proximity, not the sleep, which contributes to the effectiveness of ecological birth control.
And so I have discovered another benefit to the family of babywearing: it contributes to convenient spacing of babies and helps avoid the use of dangerous or inconvenient birth control methods!
Does it seem to anyone else that so many “modern conveniences” (strollers, pacifiers, cribs, and bottles) end up being more of an inconvenience than anything else?
I recently watched the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD which offers five techniques to calm a crying baby:
side or stomach lying
shushing, or white noise
If the author is correct that these five things trigger a baby’s calming instinct, it does explain why so many of us have had such fine results with wrapping which holds our babies close like a swaddle; which presses our baby’s tummy against our bodies just as with a stomach lying position; which exposes our baby to the constant sounds of our heartbeat, breathing and intestinal machinations; which bounces our baby with incessant human motion; and which contributes convenience to nursing-on-demand.
At five weeks old, Annabelle’s sleep routine is not yet predictable. We have better nights and less better ones. The biggest problem I’ve encountered is that after waking up to nurse, she sometimes doesn’t fall asleep again!
At times like these, I discovered that the one sure way to lull her to sleep, is to wrap her on my front and bounce on the birth ball pretty actively. If I keep it up for a good ten minutes she’ll be sound enough asleep to stay sleeping when I put her down in our bed.
While I’m VERY grateful to have this tool that works such a charm, getting up to wrap and bounce is a bit more of a disruption to my sleep routine than I care for! It would be great as a technique to put her to sleep at the beginning of the night, but that has not been necessary (she usually nurses to sleep while we watch a movie before bed).
Well, someone introduced me to the concept of swaddling and I instantly saw that a good wrap job is similar to a swaddle in that it surrounds the baby’s body with fabric, holds the baby tightly, keeps the baby’s limbs from thrashing around, and emulates the womb-environment. So it makes sense that they would have a similar calming and lulling effect.
Last night I swaddled Annabelle in a Miracle Blanket (loaned to me by my wonderful friend Evelyn) and she slept VERY well. When she woke up I was able to pull her legs out of the pocket in the swaddling blanket so that she could pee in the potty. Then I pulled the pocket back around her and nursed. When I lay her down, she went right back to sleep–awesome!
Annabelle swaddled, 5 weeks old
And wrapping to sleep . . . is still great for daytime! It’s wonderful to have other ways to parent Annabelle to sleep. Wrapping is a great way for fathers to provide comfort too.