Thursday, March 25, 2010

Notes on Babywearing Safety

I don't usually post about baby-in-the-news stuff, but I thought this was too important not to mention. I am a big advocate of babywearing; wearing Elan in a Zolowear sling and Ergo carrier worked well for both of us throughout his first year and beyond (as recently as last November I was carting my gigantic 37-pound 3-year-old around New York City on my back in the Ergo).

I have often helped friends get their babies into carriers, which can be intimidating the first few times. When Elan was a baby, I did a lot of research about types of slings and carriers and proper positioning for babies being worn. I had some of my own concerns about positioning and still do when wearing a young infant. Recently there's been a big news splash about "bag-style" baby carriers being recalled for safety concerns after several infants died. Hopefully this will not result in an overall backlash against baby wearing but instead will help parents more easily find resources to get them babywearing properly -- comfortable for parent, safe for baby.

Probably the single best piece of advice I got from a babywearing expert was to use a chest-to-chest (also called tummy-to-tummy) upright position even for a very young baby. This flies in the face of the image of a baby happily reclined in a sling like an adult in a hammock. I wore Elan in a cradle hold like that, but he would often slip down into a more lying-down position and I would worry about his chin getting compressed into his chest and making it difficult for him to breathe. Once I tried the chest to chest position, it did feel safer to me, so long as you can arrange the sling or carrier to provide enough neck support for the baby.

Much like breastfeeding, babywearing is a skill that requires patience and practice to develop. You have to find the tools and positions that work for your body, your personality, and your baby.

Here are some good resources I've found online to help choose a baby carrier and position a baby properly inside a carrier:
My ring sling is from Zolowear, which has a great website full of how-to photos and videos applicable to many kinds of slings.

Elan in the Ergo back-carry position, 8 months old.

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