Sunday, March 21, 2010

Still slinging

I'm a little annoyed about the Consumer Product Safety Commission's sling warning. Not because it's unwarranted -- three babies dying in one year is alarming -- but because it's not making any distinctions. The sling that keeps coming up in news reports by way of example is this one -- and I have to say, I breezed right past it when I was sling shopping because it looked chintzy. I've used this one and this one, and they've both struck me as being pretty well made and durable. I feel like the warning is lumping all slings together as being dangerous, which may be overstating the case.

The key to using a sling properly is the sizing. If it's too small, the baby doesn't have enough room; if it's too loose or hangs too much away from the mother's body, the baby is more likely to slide around or fall out. Reputable sling sites emphasize this and suggest you whip out a tape measure to be absolutely sure you're ordering the right one.

And even still, I refused to use one with kiddo until he more or less had head control, because it made me nervous. I started earlier with kiddette, for the sheer practical reason that I needed my hands free to corral kiddo. But I always stuck a small blanket under her head and neck to give her extra support, and I glanced down to check on her constantly, listening for her breathing.

Mothering magazine awhile back published a guide to babywearing that more or less sums it all up -- the different types, the pros and cons, some specific products to try out. And it specifically warns to make sure the baby can breathe properly. Among other things like, don't cook with the baby strapped to you, or bend over without holding the baby in place. As though you needed to be told that.

Here's what's frustrating: Apparently some people do need to be told that. I have absolutely no desire to trash parents who lost their babies, because that isn't right. But if you're going to carry your baby around strapped to you with a piece of fabric -- that's fabric, not armor -- you have to exercise more than the usual amount of common sense.

It reminds me of the Bumbo seat recall of a few years back. Seems some parents were leaving their babies in these things on top of tables and other such elevated surfaces, and then the baby would arch backward out of the seat, fall off the table and fracture their skull. Right. So why would you put your baby on an elevated surface for any reason, no matter what they're sitting in? We have a Bumbo. We used it with kiddo. We're using it with kiddette. On the carpeted floor. Like the instructions said to do.

Look, it frustrates me beyond belief how often products designed for children are cheap pieces of crap. But knowing that, I'm as careful as possible about what we use and how we use it. And maybe some people just grab whatever off the shelves and figure it's fine without reading the instructions, or researching it. Parenting = research. It just does.

There are apparently industry trade standards in the works for slings, and I think that's a good idea. All I know is, the next time kiddette and I venture out sling-style (she sits upright now, making things easier), if I get a fish-eye from someone about it, there will be an unpleasant scene.

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