I’ve always been told that ‘wearing your baby’ is the best thing you can do as a mom, or dad. Babies like to be close to their parents. The warmth and heartbeat of mom and dad are soothing, calming, and parents have been carrying their infants since the beginning of time.
With each of my three children, I tried the baby sling- the one that goes over one shoulder and acts like a little sack that they can sit in.
I had seen moms and dads carrying their babes (and toddlers) in these contraptions, and I was impressed. Two hands free with your baby on your hip. The problem was that my infants just didn’t take to it. They didn’t seem to like the ‘C’ shape that was forced on their little bodies and arched their backs in protest. They seemed to get lost in there, and the top of the sling would cover their face, which made me more than a little nervous. It hurt my shoulder. I couldn’t get it to be comfortable for either myself or my kids. I eventually gave up- feeling defeated and not quite up to snuff compared with all my hippy-mama friends who seemed to sling with ease.
I did wear my babies- with one of those front carriers where they sat upright. I often wondered if the kids were uncomfortable with their legs just dangling there. (Have you ever sat on the back of a bike where someone else was pedaling and had no where to put your feet, so they just hung there, and it was very uncomfortable in a very short period of time?) I really wished I could get the hang of that darn sling. Kids looked so comfortable in them. But it didn’t happen.
Fast forward to several days ago when the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement saying that baby slings are responsible for at least 13 infant deaths, and are not recommended for infants under four months. I felt a bit vindicated, but also sad of course. Had these mom’s not realized that covering your babies face with cloth, or have them sit in a strange “C” position might block the airway? Maybe they just didn’t know. The commission said that most of the deaths were infants who were premature, low birth weight or had a cold. So sad.
My concern is that based on this report, parents might stop wearing their babies. Often I see parents carrying their kids around in those car seat things that my husband and I used to call ‘the bucket’. We had one of those too, but only used it when we went out to eat- otherwise we carried or wore our kids. It drives me crazy to see people who keep their kids in these things all day long. Babies need to be held. It’s good for their development. It helps them build trust in their parents and other people.
Although the traditional over one shoulder sling may not be good for young infants, they can work well for older ones, or you can get a different style sling (like the front wearing kind). Just remember to touch and hold your infants often. It’s what they need.