Thursday, May 27, 2010

babywearing

The Today Show produced a baby carrier segment yesterday morning and I have to admit I was pretty disappointed. "Babywearing" as it's called (especially among attachment parenting experts) is a lifestyle choice. And the topic deserves more than a 3 minute segment in light of the recent controversy surrounding slings. 

The issue is that two sling types were recalled earlier this spring as a result of newborn suffocation deaths. (Click here to read more about the cases and the actual slings in question). To say these deaths are a tragedy is an understatement. They should be a wake-up call for parents everywhere. But the truth is baby carriers as a whole are not the problem it's just important that 1) parents have the right sling/carrier and 2) they are educated wearers.

When it came time for Chris and I choose a baby sling we went to Metro Minis on the Upper East Side (a mecca for semi-crunchy parents like ourselves). We had originally thought about buying the Moby Wrap which came highly recommended by friends. We actually ended up with a Mei Tai Asian inspired carrier. Though the decision was a personal one and either would have been an appropriate choice.

What frustrated me about The Today Show segment was that it approached the topic like it was a fashion decision. They also said that children younger than three months should not be carried or as we like to say, "worn." But it's infants who are in most need of the close body to body contact. I am sure the producers were just being conservative. And the warning was in direct response to the recent recall and lawsuit, but again the deaths of those children had, I expect, as much to do with the kind of carrier used and the way the children were being worn than anything.

The issue is that babies, especially those under four months have little neck control and curl up into a position where their breathing is restricted. If you're wearing your baby, you need to ride them high, support their neck, and keep their mouths and noses exposed. People have been wearing their babies for thousands of years, it is hardly a new concept but does have a bit of a learning curve. It's too bad The Today Show didn't do anything to help parents tackle that curve.

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