Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dangers of Bag Slings

All baby carriers have the potential of being unsafe if not put on correctly. However, if a carrier’s construction is such that it is impossible to get a correct positioning that does not compromise the worn baby’s breathing, is not worth taking the risk with.

Recently in the news, a family whose 6 days old infant suffocated in an Infantino Slingrider last spring, filed a lawsuit against the company. The case has brought attention to the dangers of bag type slings, a topic M’Liss Stelzer, former registered nurse, has been researching for quite some time.

M’liss covers the various design flaws in her research:,

1. Bag slings are roughly triangle shaped; flat bottom and two sides that slant upwards toward the elastic top. This “triangle” means that the pouch fabric is always angled very close to the sides of baby’s face. If baby rotates even slightly he ends up with his nose within a ¼” of the side, or even pressed against the side of the pouch. Once baby has his head pressed against the side of the carrier and/or against the parent's body there is a risk of him becoming oxygen deprived or even suffocating.

2. It is difficult for the parent to closely monitor their infant unless the top of the sling is pulled open. Bag slings are generally deep, plus they sag when baby is placed in it, further increasing the depth of the carrier. The gathered top, and the fact that the sling hangs so low, obstructs the parent’s view of baby. If a newborn were to have difficulty breathing, and/or rotate until his nose and mouth was pressed against the side of the carrier, the parent may not be aware of the baby’s respiratory distress for some time. Compounding this problem is the difficulty of feeling the baby's distress through the thick fabric of the sling.

3. Although there are bag slings designed with large mesh panels placed near the infant’s head, others are not. There is a possibility that, with only a very small opening at the top of a non-mesh sling, an infant may not receive an adequate amount of fresh air. There is the concern that carbon dioxide levels could rise the longer the infant remains in the sling.
4. The design of a bag sling causes baby to curl chin to chest, larger babies more so because their heads are positioned further up in the carrier. This position kinks baby's airway causing the baby to work harder to breathe.

“In October of 2006 I emailed Infantino with my concerns,” write M’liss. “I included a file with all the information I have concerning adverse events or infant deaths in fabric carriers, a copy of my "Correct Positioning" article as well as photos illustrating the differences in positioning in fabric carriers like pouches, RSs, MTs and wraps versus their product. In the spring/summer of 2007 I resumed researching the SlingRider and all additional sling tests and photos were emailed to Infantino as soon as they were obtained. In June 2007 I mailed all pertinent information to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Infantino has added a mesh panel to the upper half of the SlingRider. This should improve airflow to the newborn but does not, IMO, address other problems inherent to the design.
“The CPSC, to my knowledge, has not taken any action.”

Many parents do not realize that “grunting” is NOT normal, as was the case with one of her guest parents. Grunting means the baby is having trouble breathing, either in or outside a baby carrier. It happens most commonly if the child is laying in a position that pusher her chin to chest. "The analogy I use, to help explain the difference, is that a newborn’s airway is like a straw and when the “straw” is kinked it is a lot harder to get air through," writes M’liss. "Once the baby’s breathing becomes more labored the baby starts forcing air through the 'kinked straw'/airway and that is why the whistle or grunting noises are with every, or almost every, breath. "

Compare the SlingRider with a shallow fabric pouch or adjustable open-tailed sling (or mei tai or wrap). In these types of carriers an infant is easily monitored and visualized. Also, a newborn's head is effectively sandwiched between the sides of these carriers, preventing the infant from rotating his/her head into the sides of the carrier.

"Using a bag sling is, in my opinion, just playing russian roulette." --M'liss

More of M’liss article and observations from her research are found at http://www.blogger.com/www.%20babyslingsafety.blogspot.com

M'liss Stelzer is a former registered nurse and now a babywearing educator and now mother of two.
Author "Correct Positioning", September 2006
Author "Babywearing Bliss", Mothering magazine January - February 2007
Instructor Chicago Babywearing Conference, June 2008

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our First Featured Babywearer

Babywearing mama, Jillian has a lot to say about babywearing and natural parenting! She is a busy mommy to 5 kids under 7, and WAHM (work at home mom) of PAXbaby.com & SproutSoup.com. Usually she lives in Southern California, but right now, she and her tribe are in Australia, soaking up summer sunshine & working long distance!

"I carried my first 3 babies in slings, but it wasn't until I was pregnant with Baby #4 that I really started to research the different types of carriers. I discovered that the babywearing world was MUCH bigger than the 2 Maya Wrap Ring Slings that had been handed down to us and the 1 DIY Ring Sling that my mom made me. This discovery was life changing since it meant that I could be truly hands free with my new babe while continuing the attachment parenting style that I know is important is raising healthy kids. By the time Baby #4 arrived, my stash had quadrupled in size, I had watched every YouTube video available, and I was ready to WEAR my baby! Babywearing wasn't very prevalent in my town, and I saw the perfect opportunity to share my passion with moms who relied on the Bjorn to make it through their baby's first few months. I celebrated my 4th baby's 1st birthday by opening my store, PAXbaby, bringing my favorite ergonomic yet stylish baby carriers to the attachment moms in Santa Barbara. Little did I know that my online store would be a hit also, resulting in my partnership with Alissa Derouchie in Columbus, Ohio, and a new store, Sprout Soup, was added to my resume in time for my 5th baby's 1st birthday in 2009! You may be wondering, how does she manage all this? 5 kids and 2 businesses? The answer is easy! Babywearing ;)"

Jillian's Babywearing Do's and Don'ts

Do wear your baby every day!
Don't worry that it will spoil your baby!
Do shop until you drop to find the perfect carrier!
Don't worry about spending too much! It's worth it!
Do choose a pattern that you LOVE and colors that match your wardrobe!
Don't assume that babywearing will come naturally to you or baby!
Do practice, before baby is born, with baby, in the mirror, watching online tutorials!
Don't worry if you don't get right away!
Do practice, practice, & practice again!
Don't take it personally if you get weird comments or stares!
Do take the weird comments or stares as a compliment!
Don't forget to take your baby carrier everywhere you go!
Do encourage your husband to wear your baby as well!
Don't worry if he doesn't get it right away! He will!
Do talk to other babywearers you see out & about!
Don't be mean to them if they are using a Bjorn!
Do chat about the virtues of your (more comfortable) baby carrier!
Don't stop wearing your baby until they are too heavy to have on your back!
Do keep your carrier as a keepsake or hand it down to a new mom!
Don't be sad when your babywearing career is over!
Do encourage other moms you know to give babywearing a try!

Be a voice for good, and spread the babywearing love!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

When will you stop wearing your Toddler?

Recently at a religious conference that my family and friends attended, we fished out our carrier so I could keep Monster safely with me, while I got food from the crowded buffet area. My 19 month old chuck-a-Monster was getting quite a few looks from the women, most of the reactions however were positive as it was obvious it was either this or I would be running around the Flash-reincarnate and totally miss dinner.

At the same conference, I commented to a friend whose almost 3 year old (hmmm could have been older) was refusing to get off her lap that she could use a carrier. She and her own mother responded with a laugh and told me they felt the kid was too old to be carried. I considered pointing out the fact that she hadn’t put her son down for the duration of the day…so maybe he doesn’t agree with her logic there. Well, I passed the opportunity but I’m sure after this post she’ll hear about it haha.

Toddlers generally do not need to be carried all the time: they are active and curious enough that they will probably prefer to be on their own.

I stopped wearing my daughter when she started screaming and running away from being wrapped/worn.

Occasionally however, a new place, strange places, may cause anxieties in some children and they turn from Diego/Dora to super clingy kids. At times like these, it is essential to reinforce a sense of security and trust between child and mother.

My friend’s remark made me think about the future when I too would completely stop wearing Monster and as expected, the thought saddened me. I cheered up quickly though imaging more children and newborn snuggles in our future.

For a general feeling of when to stop baby wearing, I turned to the trust moms on The Baby Wearer and just as I had expected, this was a long standing discussion in one of the forums. I’ll try to break down the reasons and requirements according to developmental stages.

Stopping because of weight/height:
If you’ve been wearing your baby for the last 1 year, your muscles have already become used to adjusting and developing tone to support the added weight and gravitational center. With continued baby wearing, you wouldn’t register a great difference in wearing a toddler day to day. However, if you have only worn your child sporadically throughout the weight gain and loss stages, a heavier toddler would definitely register as aches and pains the first few times your wear her. Therefore, not many consistently baby-wearing parents feel the need to stop baby wearing merely because a child is getting heavier. They however, still end by cutting down on Up-time drastically, as you’ll read below.

Stopping because of increased activity of toddler:
This in fact is the main reason baby wearing times get shorter and scarcer in toddlers and preschoolers.

Wearing is much less now. N is 22 months and about 22lbs. She prefers to walk, screaming "no wrap, Norah WALK!" but once she's in is usually happy. I can wear her for about an hour without any pain these days, but mostly it's for sleeping when we're out

At one point they just want to be on their own. This is the time where baby wearing becomes rarer and rarer, mostly because of the toddler’s own choice. Certain (adorable) 4, 5 year olds will occasionally ask to be carried and you can indulge them for a little while just so they can enjoy the novelty of being carried in a new carrier. There is no need to carry the toddler at this point, but you can continue dabbling in using carriers just for the ease and convenience of it. Believe me, holding a 19 month old in arms for two blocks is a lot harder than carrying one on your back in a good carrier and hiking a mile or two. Trust me on this one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mother's talk about the Top Reasons to Baby Wear

This topic cropped up in TheBabyWearer.com and we read some very interesting and consistent opinions. Here are a few direct quotes from what the mothers are saying.

michelle_pettiohn says: Stairs! For me, I love being able to go up and down stairs easily while carrying DD instead of having to go out of my way to find an escalator or a ramp. That would be on my top ten list, with snuggles being #1.

Emmsmama makes a list:

1. Keeps baby close to mom or dad for snuggles.
2. Baby sees more because he's up at the level where things are happening.
3. Baby gets more eye-to-eye contact with you and others because he's at adult eye level.
4. Good for baby's developing balance because of the movement they experience in a carrier.
5. Mom and dad can build up their muscles carrying baby
6. Can breastfeed discreetly.
7. Don't have to lug an awkward and heavy baby bucket seat around.
8. Carrier can be tucked away in diaper bag when not in use.
9. Keep baby safe/out of danger's way in parking lot, airport or other busy areas.
10. Can carry baby all day if necessary when they are feeling unwell but you still have to tend to other children or get household chores done.

Lachicalocates says and Minaku agrees: Blessed silence; I don’t have a screaming baby all the time.

thtr4me shops and finds baby wearing a great help: No need to attempt maneuvering a stroller through a crowded shopping center!

mama2blee says: No wheels to get stuck in snow or uneven pavement, and we have plenty of both here. Seriously I found getting stuck so maddening it was a top reason why I started wearing so much.

Not taking up so much space when out in public. Not getting stuck in store isles.

Nichi points out the obvious: Getting a carrier in and out of the car/house is MUCH MUCH easier than getting a stroller in and out of the car/house!!

Lilknitter sings praises: Travelling naptime!
Mommy-fitness: I lost my pregnancy weight waaaay faster than all my stroller-mom friends. My other babywearing friends had the same experience, plus my core myscles are really strong now. It's constant weight training!

And my favorite was from mom2howmany: The 4th trimester, you know, in those early months when they sleep a lot you can literally sling them and forget them as if you were still pregnant!

[Editor’s comment] Oh yes, I literally laughed out loud at this, as this is absolutely true!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baby's Perspective

Ever wondered what do Babies see from the bucket stroller?

Watch till the end to see what Babies see when they're worn on a moma's back! *Love!*

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ergo--the new kid on the block?

Thank Goodness for Ergo

It used to be that new moms would drool over a Baby Bjorn and carrying their newborn past the 6 month stage would be the long and short of owning a baby carrier.

Ergo’s better marketing and product placement has brought a considerable change in today’s mainstream baby wearing scene. It’s wonderful to see a mom carrying a bigger baby in their Ergos, and spotting a secret hug shared between the two is even sweeter.

Yesterday while trying to hunt down eye pins at Michaels, I ran into this lady wearing a grey soft structured carrier that looked like an Ergo but was unlike any I’ve seen before. Apparently, Ergo came out with new carriers with appliqu├ęs and embroidered designs. They can be found here.

Since many of the new moms now are diving into the more comfortable zone of baby wearing with Ergos, I want to put out some things I’ve learned about making the Ergo work.

The three generations of Ergo:
The company has evolved the baby carrier over the years, improving features as they went.
A comparison of the three generations of Ergos can be seen here.

Finding a comfortable fit on the Ergo:
*In any baby carrier, by rule of thumb we assume that the tighter it is, the more comfortable it would be. With the Ergo this proved to be wrong the few times we gave it a try. For us, it was most comfortable when worn with a loose fit. We assumed we had to have a different fit because of our builts (tall torso, broad shoulders). Later on, while surfing threads on TheBabyWearer dot com, I came across many mothers having experienced the same thing.

*If you’re feeling strain on your hips and neck muscles, go ahead and loosen it up a little. You may find out that it is really a lot easier on your posture and spine.

*The waist band on Ergos do sometimes restrict the parent from sitting down while front carrying. Sitting on the edge of the seat with the legs tucked under or off to the side works for a comfortable seating posture.

*Don’t try to hike up the waist band too high on your torso. The band is built to distribute weight across the hips and that is how the parent will find it easiest to carry their child. Ergo is one of the best carriers for this purpose when worn correctly.

*Don’t forget, Ergo makes waist extenders, so if you’re finding the waist band too tight for your liking, you can attach the extenders for a more comfortable fit.

If you like keeping the carriers clean, think about ordering the suck pads made by Ergo. These can keep the straps from fading and can be washed more regularly than you would the carrier. You can even get custom suck pads here for a more unique look. Solid colored Ergos can get boring after a while, and who doesn’t want to accessorize anything that is worn this regularly? Buy one or buy a few; one for mom and one for dad.

Personally, I liked the Ergo for its ease of use. Monster’s dad was wrap and mei tai incapable and the Ergo was the only carrier he truly enjoyed carrying Monster in. We’ve since then found love with custom soft structured carriers made with taller bodies for toddlers. For the ease of finding in retail stores readily and for its affordability, Ergo is really the way to go.