Babywearing in the News: Safety and Style

March 12, 2010

Sling type baby carriers have been growing in popularity in the US for years, and while their use has often been associated with the growing subset of parents practicing attachment style parenting, the media is beginning to recognize the diverse array of families who make the choice to sling their children.

In a Fashion & Style piece released on March 10, the New York Times revealed the breadth of this trend and reported that “…”wearing” one’s baby has taken on a certain cachet, with celebrities like Brad Pitt and Keri Russell pictured in star-gazing magazines and blogs with their babies strapped to their bodies.” 1

It’s not just celebrities who have caught on, however. the New York Times interviewed a myriad of babywearing parents, including an obstetrics nurse who is “quite passionate about [slinging]“. 2 In an accompanying image Natasha Ossinova, 33, looks stunning wearing her baby in a fashionable wrap style sling the NYT calls “a five-yard stretch of woven fabric in shades of burnt orange and burgundy”. The article doesn’t forget dads either-one mom is quoted as saying (about a popular type of baby backpack carrier), “All the dads are wearing it.” 2

Sling wearing in the media isn’t all fun and fashion, however. On March 9th and 10th several media outlets, including the NYT, began reporting on a forthcoming release by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on the safety of sling use. While news agencies used headings such as “Baby Slings Deadly? Consumer Safety Commission Readying Warning“, the actual safety warning, issued today, is more balanced.

In a press release dated March 12th, the CPSC reports findings of 14 sling related deaths in the last 20 years and advises “parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age.” The release states that some types of baby slings, when used improperly, can potentially cause a suffocation hazard and calls for a voluntary standard for infant carriers until a mandatory standard for safety can be issued. And, while the release offers diagrams demonstrating suggested safe poses for an infant in a sling, it also states that “Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold, ” -directing the press release more heavily to parents of babies with existing weight and health issues. 3

For more information on sling use, check out the following articles from Mothering.com and the Mothering Magazine reprint “Babywearing 101“.

Slings, by Joylyn Fowler

Hold Me Close: The Many Advantages to Wearing Your Baby, by Christine Gross-Loh

Babywearing Tips, by Christine Gross-Loh

 

References

1. Bleyer, Jennifer. The Latest in Strollers? Mom and Dad. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/fashion/11BABY.html?src=twt&twt=nytimesfashion. March 10, 2010, Accessed March 12, 2010.

2. Bleyer, Jennifer. The Latest in Strollers? Mom and Dad. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/fashion/11BABY.html?src=twt&twt=nytimesfashion. March 10, 2010, Accessed March 12, 2010.

3. Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml10/10165.html March 12, 2010, Accessed March 12, 2010.