Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are Baby Slings a Threat to Your Baby’s Safety?

By Corky Harvey, MS, RN, IBLC & Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC Co-Founders of The Pump Station & Nurtury™ & Jesse Ziberstein, MPA, CLE

Yesterday one of our clients was shopping with her infant tucked up in her sling when she was confronted by a fellow shopper who angrily demanded: “Don’t you know that you are going to suffocate your baby in that thing?” Fortunately, our client was a second-time mom with lots of experience in baby wearing. She was able to calmly respond that she was a master at multi-tasking and was quite confident that she could manage to use her sling and keep her baby alive.

What prompted this verbal attack were the current headlines shrieking that infant slings are the new baby killers. Just mention babies and death in the same sentence and people understandably get very excited. Can slings be harmful to babies? Sadly, yes. However, I would argue that it is the ignorant adult using the sling that is largely the problem.

Mothers have been tying their babies to their bodies with some type of cloth or fur for thousands, perhaps even millions of years. This parenting style disappeared in many industrialized countries. With the resurgence of breastfeeding and the growing popularity of attachment parenting, “baby wearing” has once again become very popular. Manufacturers of infant gear are very aware of trends in the market place and are quick to produce their own version of whatever product parents appear to be purchasing. To date, there are no standards for manufacturing baby slings. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association has formed a subcommittee to work on these standards.

Slings can be detrimental to infants in several ways. A baby can fall out of a carrier. If carried deeply in a sling with excess fabric, a baby could have difficulty getting enough oxygen. If a baby is positioned low in the sling with the chin forced into the chest, breathing becomes more difficult. It is important to note that many of the babies who died in slings were low birth weight, born prematurely, or had a cold.

All slings are not created equal. The subcommittee working toward industry standards for slings has been concerned about the “bag-style” slings. These carriers typically have a deep pouch and sit low on the parent’s hip or pelvis. An example of such a sling is Infantino’s “SlingRider.” It is important to understand that sling use is safe, when the following criteria are met: 1) the sling must fit the parent; 2) the sling must be appropriate for the infant’s current size and neurological development; and most importantly, 3) THE PARENT MUST KNOW HOW TO CORRECTLY USE THIS DEVICE.

We at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ are strong proponents of sling use or “baby wearing.” Carrying your baby in a sling has numerous advantages to you and your infant. Studies have shown that the benefits include less crying, more time spent in a quiet alert phase, improved sleep, and higher IQ. Sling use can facilitate breastfeeding and bonding.

As education is key to safely carrying an infant in a sling, we offer free sling clinics in all three of our stores several times per week. At our clinics, you will have the opportunity to practice with well-designed products. Our trained staff will ensure that your sling is of proper fit and appropriate for your infant’s developmental stage. You are also welcome to bring any slings you currently own with you.

The well being of babies has always been, and always will be, our number one goal at the Pump Station & Nurtury™. That will never change.

We know that baby wearing is good for babies as well as their parents, and we are committed to continuing to help parents do this safely.

For more info on our Sling Clinics click here. . . .


Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a positive response. As a new mom, I truly appreciate the Pump Station's positive feedback and support - in so many aspects of motherhood! Keep up the great work!

Unknown said...

I just knew you would have positive comments on this news story. :-) I'm looking forward to attending one of the sling clinics soon. My husband & I are already signed up for the Childbirth Preparation Class (Westlake) & we're looking forward to working with you!

Anonymous said...

I loved carrying my son in, first, a Moby wrap then a Baby Bjorn and now in an Ergo. We both love the intimacy and connection.

All purchased through the Pump Station.

I cannot recommend highly enough the bonding that you will get from carrying your baby. My son is also an early speaker, with a vocabulary that is about four times the average - I am sure it is from being up in the "conversational plane" with adults from the very beginning.

Anonymous said...

While I loved my sling, if there are parents who are uncomfortable with them there are many other options.
As a previous poster said, there it the Baby Bjorn and for larger babies I highly suggest the Ergo carrier. Both have the babies upright and there is little to no chance of the problems associated with incorrect sling usage.

Baby wearing is great for bonding, multitasking and traveling. Each parent should use a method they are comfortable with, it is not a one size fit all.

espy jane said...

I would just like to note that when I bought my carrier at The Pump Station in Hollywood, the staff was incredibly helpful and knowledgable. I felt as if I was getting my own personal clinc right then and there as slings were demonstrated for me, and then as I myself tried them on. Leaving I felt confident I knew how to correctly place my newborn son in our Moby sling, something I cannot say about two other slings I had but never used with my first son. It was a great experience.

Anonymous said...

My husband was wearing our second baby in the baby wrap sling and an older couple made that same comment to him. I have never seen my husband turn that shade of red before - he was furious. Not only was he frustrated by the couple's ignorance of the benefits of baby wearing, but outraged that someone would think he intentionally would cause harm to his own child. We have both worn our two sons and I truly believe that they have benefited greatly because of it. They are warm, loving and affectionate boys with good self confidence and identity.
It's just another case of people speaking before they think. But lots of people like to give advice to parents on what they "should" or "should not" do.

Anonymous said...

I feel it is my duty to sing the praises of the Pump Station's complimentary Sling Clinics. I've been twice so far and will go again soon, because my sister has offered to purchase another sling which will be useful for me. It's wonderful to have such an amazing resource available right in my neighborhood. Thanks for covering this story.

baby hawk said...

Leaving I felt confident I knew how to correctly place my newborn son in our Moby sling, something I cannot say about two other slings I had but never used with my first son.