By now you have probably heard about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s impending warning about baby slings. The internet has lit up with blogs and tweets,
facebook pages and forum posts about “bag slings” and safe babywearing techniques. We’re even in the process of adding additional safety information on our own website. The increased attention to safe babywearing is fabulous.
I want to take a moment and turn our attention to the opportunity this gives us, as a collective group of babywearing parents. Most of us are used to the occasional odd look, a concerned comment as you put your little one on your back, or even the rare remark that borders between rude and grossly uninformed. With recent news coverage that is often obscure, uses broad terminology and completely unrelated photos, we should expect public comments to increase in both frequency and passion. As babywearers it’s to our advantage to prepare ourselves a bit for what we will say if and when it happens, to think through our “word tracks” if you will.
Acknowledge Their Concern
First of all, the deaths associated with the Slingrider are tragedies to be certain. As far as I’m aware these parents were using a product in accordance with the instructions and lost the life of their precious child. I cannot imagine their heartbreak. And the concern of the public for the safety of babies is to be commended. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge this!
You might start with something like this:
“It is so sad to hear about those babies and I truly appreciate your concern.”
Address the Problem
The second point is to quickly and accurately identify:1) The potential problem – positional asphyxiation, what it is and how it happens.
2) How your carrier and babywearing position protects against positional asphyxiation.
This may be the only opportunity the concerned party has to see babywearing techniques up close and in person. It’s important that the information is accurate, clear, and not inflammatory. We are all passionate about babywearing and safety, but people will be most receptive to what you have to say if you are clear and professional about it (another great reason for thinking these situations through before they happen).
You might say something like this:
“The slings you are seeing in the news are very poorly designed. They’re often worn too low on the adult and can position the baby so their chin can fall forward into their chest and hinder their ability to breathe properly (this is a good time to show them exactly what you mean with your chin and chest). But you’ll notice that my ring sling is designed differently. I have the ability to adjust the depth and height of the pouch where the baby goes so I can support his neck and back properly. By wearing him high enough to kiss him, I can always be sure his face isn’t covered and his airway is clear. “
Finally, be prepared to share resources if the concerned party wants to learn more about babywearing safety. Perhaps your local babywearing group has business cards or you may want to consider printing up small business cards with online resources yourself. The manufacturer of your carrier may also be a valuable resource to share.
You might say:
“I’ve put together more information about babywearing if you’re interested in learning more. Please feel free to pass this information on to other Mothers you think might be interested as well!”
Here are just a few resources you may wish to share:
The death of yet another baby due to poor sling design is a sad and preventable tragedy. While we can all hope for the recall of “bag style slings” we can also recognize the opportunity this presents for public education about babywearing. After years of living an attachment parenting lifestyle, it is very easy to forget just what I didn’t know before I had children. Through classes, personal relationships, groups like Le Leche League and a variety of online communities my parenting experience continues to grow in diversity, knowledge and understanding. Let us as a community of babywearers continue to share the joys and benefits of safe babywearing with the new parents who are just beginning this amazing journey!