Babywearing is simply the practice of using a wrap or sling to carry your baby close to you, allowing you to keep your arms free.
Babywearing has been long associated with attachment parenting, breastfeeding, and a slew of benefits for parents and babies, from less crying to having smarter babies.
I'm not so sure that babywearing will really make your baby smarter, but it is a fun and convenient way to hold and carry your baby.
Babywearing isn't for every parent or every baby, though. While I loved carrying our twins in our Maya Wrap sling, my wife didn't like using it. I was ready to use the Maya Wrap again when our next baby came along, but she really didn't like being in it much at all. And none of the kids liked the front-pack type carriers.
Like other baby products, there are many different types of baby slings and sling carriers, including baby slings with rings, like the Maya Wrap Ring Sling, and cloth wraps that you simply tie yourself, like the Maya Tie and Moby Wrap.
Pouch or bag slings are another popular type of baby slings. These are easier to use, since you don't have to worry about any adjustments, but since you can't make adjustments, many babywearing experts think that bag slings can be dangerous and can leave babies in positions that can interfere with breathing.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning in March 2010 about baby sling carriers.
According to the CPSC, they are 'investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009.' Most of the deaths were in infants under four months of age.
In addition to falls out of the baby slings, a big problem with some baby slings is that they can pose a suffocation hazard to some babies if:
- the baby sling's fabric presses against and blocks his mouth and nose
- the baby sling puts the baby in an unsafe curled, chin-to-chest position
Those most at risk for suffocation in a baby sling include 'infants younger than four months of age, premature, low-birthweight babies, and babies with colds and respiratory problems.'
To be safe in a baby sling, the CPSC recommends that you:
- Make sure you can see your baby's face or eyes in the sling and that your baby can see you. Also, you should place the baby's face at or above the rim of a sling or wrap so that their face is visible.
- Make sure that your baby's face is not covered by the sling.
- Don't let your baby get into a curled position, with his chin touching his chest.
- After nursing your baby, change the baby's position in the sling, so that the baby's face is at or above the rim of a sling or wrap and that their face is visible and clear of fabric and the carrier's body. You should be vigilant about frequently checking the baby in a sling.
It is also important to make sure that you know how to use your baby sling before you attempt to put your baby into it. Read all of the instructions, stick to age and weight recommendations, watch videos on the manufacturer's website, and if possible, have someone who has experience with babywearing show you how to do it.
In addition to baby slings and sling carriers, other types of baby carriers include hip carriers, front strap-on carriers, like the Baby Bjorn baby carrier, and backpack carriers.
Baby Sling Recalls
As with other baby products, register your baby sling with the manufacturer so that you will be notified if it is ever recalled. Previous recalls of baby slings include:
- March 2010 - Infantino SlingRider baby slings and Wendy Bellissimo branded sling carriers
- June 2010 - Sprout Stuff infant ring slings
- March 2008 - Ellaroo Ring Sling baby carriers
- March 2007 - Infantino SlingRider infant carriers
CPSC. CPSC Educates New Parents on Safe Babywearing. November 2010.
CPSC. Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies. March 12, 2010. Accessed November 2010.