Babywearing safety


You might have seen this article if you’re a member of the Babywearing Safety group on Facebook (and if you’re not, you should be!) or if you stumbled across it through another media source. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in what seems like a tragic accident involving lack of education.

However, the article quotes a doctor whose statements need some clarification.  Please keep in mind that mainstream doctors tend not to be very educated about babywearing in general, and Dr Lasser’s comments show precisely that, and please keep in mind that the term “harness carrier” applies to the “crotch dangling” brands such as Infantino and Jeep, not any of the baby carriers sold or recommended at PAXbaby:

“Dr. Michael Lasser, a Cortlandt pediatrician on the staff at Hudson Valley Hospital Center, said harness-type carriers shouldn’t be used for newborns.”

“I wouldn’t recommend them for someone so young,” he said. “Anything that might constrict the ability of a baby to breathe is a problem. At that age, I tell my patients to carry the baby in their arms or use a bassinet.”

He said newborns breathe at a rate of 40 to 50 times per minute and that their breathing is very shallow.

“It doesn’t take much to influence that, so I would advise against using any kind of carrier that might make breathing more difficult,” he said.

Harness carriers are appropriate for a baby at 2 months old, depending on his or her size, he said.

“If you have a very small baby, you’ll want to wait longer,” Lasser said. “I tell parents that the harness carriers are a good thing to use at 2 1/2 or 3

Harness carriers (sometimes referred to as “crotch danglers”) such as the Baby Bjorn or Infantino can be a safe option for newborns provided they’re used according to the instructions provided with specific reference to infant size and positioning. They are not always the BEST option, but they are not necessarily an UNSAFE option. ANY carrier can be used in an unsafe manner, which is why it’s imperative that caregivers be fully aware of the instructions for use for any device (bassinet, car seat, carrier, sling, etc.) that they’re entrusting to hold their precious baby. For a healthy, full-term newborn, a carrier can be a loving and safe option to keep mom (or dad!) and baby close and snuggly.

Dr. Lasser also makes another statement which requires clarification:

“There should be enough space for the baby to be comfortable while upright and still able to curl sideways.”

Babies without enough torso control to sit unassisted should NEVER be left to “curl up” in a carrier by themselves. It is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that the positioning in the carrier be done only by the parent to ensure that the baby is in a safe position that will allow for proper airflow!

He does make one very important point regarding any baby-holding device, though.

“The most important thing is to always monitor your baby. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see if he or she is uncomfortable or is having trouble.”

From the limited info available, it seems that this infant passed due to lack of airflow from a loving and well-meaning parent trying to keep her warm. Winter babywearing is a GREAT way for wearer and wearee to stay warm and snuggly, but as mentioned above, it is critical that the carrier and positioning be monitored to provide for clear airflow for the newborn, even if it is cold air.  Many people who have had winter babies in cold northern climates say that wearing an infant as opposed to carrying her in a bucket car seat is entirely doable and extremely convenient, but that care must be taken to keep baby warm and to ensure good airflow.

Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragedy, and to all of the parents who are now worried that their newfound love of babywearing may be unsafe. Educate educate educate, not only yourself, but those around you! For more info on SAFE babywearing, see the above Facebook group or The Babywearer or refer to these safety tips:

*Make sure you are following the carrier manufacturer’s recommendations and have read the available instruction materials.
* Make sure baby doesn’t get overheated. Our bodies radiate a lot of heat and that serves to keep baby warm in the carrier. There shouldn’t be a reason to wrap baby in a blanket while in a carrier. Dress baby in one layer less while using a carrier as your body heat and the carrier itself add an extra layer.
*Baby should be high enough for you to be able to kiss the top of his head. This way you are better able to monitor his breathing and make sure baby’s head is to the side.

*happy and SAFE babywearing*

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