Slings in the news: how safe babywearing rocks my world

Today, I took Elsie and Delia to one of those bargain grocery outlet stores that has tons of random stuff (especially canned foods) for CHEAP.  I mostly shop at a few stores close to me that have the double (or triple/quad!) carts, so that all the girls can stay in the cart.  But I like a good bargain and you cannot go wrong stocking up the pantry at this outlet store, which sadly, only has one-seaters.  What to do?  I could use the double stroller, but that means pushing a cart and stroller,  a feat I’d rather not attempt.  And the stroller basket is just not adequate for a pile of cans and frozen goods. 

Easy solution!  I strapped Delia on my back in the Beco, and Elsie went in the cart.  Easy peasy.  We got our shopping done with tons of great deals and had time to go home and unload them all before picking up Emma from school.  

Recently, there has been tons in the news about baby slings, and the dangers some of them present.  I have seen lots of folks posting about the warnings, which is good, but it also seems many people are lumping ALL slings and carriers together, thinking that all are dangerous.  This is not true!  There are so many wonderful, comfortable and safe carriers for newborns all the way up to preschoolers, and it worries me that a few bad ones might turn off many new parents to the concept of babywearing all together.  

The recent warnings have been about a specific kind of sling, bag slings, that are pretty awful on all accounts, but sadly fairly popular and easy to find in all the big baby gear stores.   They are huge and deep (which I think make some folks feel safer about the baby not "falling out") and cover the baby way too much, so that they can get stuck in a bad position for breathing (chin to chest) or smother in the excess fabric.  The parent often can’t see the baby in there, and it can flop around because its not tight against the adult wearers body.  Not good!  I am so glad these carriers are finally being called out as unsafe — I know people in the babywearing community have been concerned about it for years.   

But!  There are so many great other types of baby slings and carriers!  That are shallower, that hold the baby upright,  body to body, close to the parent, who can see, feel, and monitor the baby continuously.   Babywearing in good supportive carriers have been shown to HELP regulate breathing, help decrease crying, promote breastfeeding and boost milk supply, raise IQ, among other great benefits.  In toddlers it helps calm or prevent tantrums and is a great way to curb other frustrating but common and age appropriate behaviors.  And with multiples or more than one child, it can allow you to go places and do things you otherwise just couldn’t do.     

Here are a few good links that respond to the current concerns and show the do’s and don’t of babywearing safety. This is an awesome sling safety overview by Jan of Sleeping Baby productions (one of my favorites) on the hazards of bag slings, with photos of the various "bad" brands.  The is a HUGE resource of babywearing info, and they have some useful links listed right on the main page, including this great how-to on proper sling and carrier positioning with helpful photographs.  I also found this response article cowritten by many of the major (safe) sling brands really helpful and reassuring, as well.   

We used a slew of different carriers with Emma, and each had its pros and cons.  I wore her a ton and I know it helped us tremendously with our breastfeeding challenges, fussiness and crying, and sleep.  It enabled me to get out easily, without a stroller.  It allowed for great bonding between Emma and me and her dad.  

With Elsie and Delia, carriers were critical early on to breastfeeding again.  Because of my low milk supply, very frequent nursings were critical to our success.  I was able to nurse a baby in a sling while shopping, at the park, or out on a walk without anyone even noticing.  Once when they were 10 days old I took both girls solo to REI, and was able to tandem nurse without most people noticing that, either, since both girls were hidden under the fabric of the sling (a few moms around me did, and were very supportive, which was nice!).  

In the first 6 months or so, I wore one or both babies frequently when walking Emma to daycare, or soothing them both to sleep.   How else could I soothe them both other than nursing?  Slings and carriers saved the day.   Nowadays, I don’t wear them all that often — but at times when they are driving me nuts, are sad, clingy or sick, or we are just needing to go somewhere not conducive to multiple toddlers, I am so thankful to have my carriers on hand.   

Here are some pictures I pulled out of our annals from the past 4 years.  It was fun to look back!  Man time flies.  

Breastfeeding in the sling was extremely helpful for me both around the house and out and about. 

Emma asleep in the sling at a Mariners baseball game.

A quiet moment with mama (Emma) 

Emma conked out after an evening walk — so helpful for sleep resistors!

Out for a walk at 1.5 weeks old.  Newborn in the stretchy wrap on my chest (under coat), another in the twin stroller with big sis! 

Daddy working his magic (I am thinking baby on the left is admittedly a little more "chin to chest" than is best, after seeing the current safety recommendations!) 

Elsie or Delia out for some fresh air with Daddy

This is the only pic I have of me wearing both twins, which I did a lot for awhile when they were small.  DIY K’tan carrier (thanks Heidi!) on front, Beco Butterfly on back. 

Easy to have fun with your other kids at the park even when one needs a nap…

Emma on my back in carrier @ 3.5 years 

I had to come back and add this one because Emma was THRILLED to be on my back after a grumpy, grumpy afternoon.  38lbs and counting and totally comfortable for me!  I gotta do that more often!  

Check out my babywearing gallery for a bunch more photos, too!   


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