Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keep them close. Keep them safe!

In the wake of the reports from Australia of the tragic death of a newborn baby while being worn in a sling under his mother's clothing, I thought it was a good time to post a reminder of what safe babywearing consists of and what every current and future babywearer should keep in mind when using a sling or carrier.

Make sure:

  • your baby is worn upright, facing in with their chest against your chest.
  • their face is visible and close enough to kiss.
  • their airway is clear and their chin is NOT touching their chest.
  • the carrier you are using supports their natural stage of development.
  • you check your baby frequently!

If you follow these recommendations, wearing your baby and being in harmony with them and their needs will be as natural as smiling at them.

I'd like to comment a bit on the media reaction and subsequent reactions of the public.

I want to point out that the sling was not ruled the cause of death. The cause was actually listed as undetermined and the sling (not mentioning brand, style or improper use) had to be considered a possible factor as that was where the death occurred. Some media articles have been much less balanced than the one I linked and are doing some fear mongering over slings in general which is not warranted. I was glad to read the clarity of the KidSafe SA comments regarding there being risks *if misused* however I was not so happy to see the bold headings state "Warning on baby slings after newborn dies" and subheadings read "Baby dies while carried in sling...Experts believe sling was a risk factor...Parents warned to monitor babies".

Yes, the baby died while in a sling. Yes, the medical examiners listed the sling as a possible factor. Yes, parents should always monitor thier babies.

No, this does not appear to be a repeat of last year's Infantino recall of a product with deadly design flaws. No, all slings are NOT dangerous.

The report of the actual incident took up no more than a few lines as very little information is actually provided but the bulk of the article is filled with flashbacks to the Infantino recalls and references to U.S. sling deaths. There is no balance with comparison to statistics (many times greater than for slings) of infant deaths in car seats, cribs or any other location they may be in when tragedy strikes. Comments from readers support a lack of accurate information on the history or safe use of slings and the willingness to be "educated" by media scare tactics as people state repeatedly how 'unsafe' or 'scary' or 'dangerous' slings look to them and how much safer babies would be in strollers or other devices detached from their mother's body (the opposite of what studies have shown).

What little detail of the actual incident was provided would indicate that this tragedy, if not caused by an undetermined medical issue with the newborn, would likely have been preventable with proper babywearing education. I do not want to point fingers at this poor mama who has suffered an unimaginable loss but whatever carrier she was using was clearly not used in a safe manner recommended by any certified babywearing educator. She wore him under multiple layers of her own clothing making it impossible to check on him easily, restricting his access to fresh air, covering his face and he was in that position, unchecked, long enough to not only pass away (which can happen VERY quickly) but also to be cold to the touch.

I'm sure that his mama wanted the very best for him. I'm sure she wanted to keep him close and secure. I'm sure if she had known better she would have done better.

As always, education is the key.

Please make sure you are familiar with all aspects of babywearing safety before purchasing or using a sling or carrier for your baby. A certified babywearing educator is trained to help you with all aspects of babywearing and any questions or concerns you have. Please find an instructor in your area or contact me if you'd like help. The Babywearing Institute also has an open forum where you can talk with certified educators if you cannot meet with one in person. We are very happy to help you keep your baby close and keep your baby as safe as humanly possible.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Come see me at the Mother Earth News Fair June 4th & 5th

I'm getting excited to spread the babywearing love next weekend at the Mother Earth News Fair at the Puyallup fairgrounds! Bring your babies; bring your slings; bring your questions and join me in booth 908 right by the Kids' Treehouse stage and organic food court (could there be a better location?).

I will also have some carriers for sale from my personal stash (Didy Indios, MT, Ellaroos) as well as some Maya Wraps, GypsyMama wraps, doll carriers and maybe even some Babylegs from Attached to Baby.

Keep your fingers crossed and I may also manage to get my samples of Colimacon et Cie wraps from Sweet Pickles to start taking orders!

Hope to see you all there...Happy Babywearing!

Friday, April 8, 2011

No Recalls

This week's BCIA newsletter led with the wonderful news that they "are thrilled to announce that the recall crisis that threw us all together in 2010 has been averted."

So, Thank You babywearers! The combination of financial support for the BCIA and pressure placed on the CPSC by contacting your legislators and spreading the information to everyone you know worked. Over the past few weeks all 6 companies that were threatened by CPSC (re)investigation have received closure letters for their files. Unfortunatley, at least one of these companies was hit so hard by these events and the costs associated with them that they have closed their doors.

Although the loss of one babywearing business is a great one, this is definitely still a success story for babywearing as a whole.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Belated updates on CPSC news

I've been a bad blogger. I blame...ummmmm...homeschooling...my kids...busy business stuff...OK, Me. There's been so many things going on with none getting the full attention they deserve that I just realized I haven't updated this blog in months.

I'm sorry.

So, here's the scoop:

With a lot of hard work by the BCIA and support from babywearers concerned about not only the safety of carriers available to parents in North America but also the message that the safest place for a baby is close to it's mother, the CPSC has not issued any new recalls. In fact, in November they issued a statement indicating that they will be aiming for more education regarding babywearing safety instead of recalls. The Babywearing Institute and Dr. Evelyn Kirkilionis - preeminent babywearing researcher in Germany - are working with the CPSC on a babywearing education campaign. The BCIA has also issued a statement that they have pledged to work for this as well.

While this is great news and a great step by the CPSC, I still do not agree with the positioning recommendations illustrated in their November statement. Please remember to keep your baby in a vertical (upright) position in a carrier that supports their natural spread-squat position for optimal hip and spine development. The cradle carry position illustrated in the CPSC statement (and on many websites and manufacturer's instructions) is NOT an ideal position, puts a baby at too great a risk for potential positional asphyxia and does not support the hips/spine in the healthiest position possible. Proper positioning in a good carrier along with the education to understand what this is are key.

If you're unsure about any of the information you've found recently or if you're unsure how to use or choose a carrier for your little one, please feel free to contact me or a Certified Babywearing Educator in your area.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Becoming a Certified Babywearing Educator

A little belated, but none the less official:

I am now the first (and only) Certified Babywearing Educator in Washington. Yay!

In August I completed the Basic and Advanced training classes through the Babywearing Institute in Logan, Utah. In January I took another week to student teach the same series of classes to a group of great babywearers including the mamas from BabyHawk , as well as babywearing group leaders and store owners at Granola Babies in Orange County, CA.

I'm very excited to take the next steps in my babywearing education and in being able to more completely educate new babywearers. My journey isn't done and I'll be announcing some exciting changes, events and opportunities in the near future.

I did want to take a little bit of space to talk about my experiences in becoming certified.

Why'd I do it? Well, the simple answer is that I wanted to learn more. There were always those things that I tried to figure out on my own by reading through countless website posts, blogs, instruction manuals, asking questions and attending meetings but they just didn't seem to work for me or didn't seem quite "right". When I started running this library and helping people learn to wear their babies I passed on the best of what I knew. Now I know more, it makes more sense and I'll be passing that on to you.

The more personal answer is that when I had my first baby, 10 years ago yesterday, she needed to be attached to me at all times. There were no breaks and, what was worse, there didn't seem to be any answers about how to help her and help me live this new life. I searched every avenue I could think of, did the best I could with what I could find and wore her in a Bjorn for her entire babywearing career. When she was 2 and still desperate to be held and carried and attached at all times I went to an Attachement Parenting International meeting who's guest speaker was a babywearing "expert". This "expert" told me that there were no carriers that would fit a toddler and a fluffy mama like me. That's not true, of course - not even 10 years ago at the beginning of the renewed interest in wearing our babies in the United States. And, that was the sad end to our babywearing days - much too early for both of us.

I became a Certified Babywearing Educator so that the most current, full and science based information would be more easily available to parents and caregivers in the area. I also became Certified so that I could make sure that the information I was passing on was the best and most accurate available and so that new babywearers would be clear on where my expertise comes from.

How was it? It was great! A little bit hard - stretching the limits of my comfort zone in talking in front of groups. A little bit stressful - leaving my kids for the first time - Ever. A lot of great information. A lot of great experiences and new friendships. A lot of support for and validation of the concerns I'd been feeling about some babywearing advice I'd encountered.

Is it worth it? Simply, yes. If you have any interest in taking the classes but weren't sure if they were for you, I would highly recommend them. The research based methods taught at the Babywearing Institute are those that every babywearer should understand, practice and pass on - even if they don't intend to teach in any official capacity. The research is slowly making its way to the public forums, which is wonderful, but the in-person, hands-on experience really helped to make it concrete for me.

What's next? I'm working, slowly but surely, to become a Licensed Certified Babywearing Educator so that I can certify other new babywearing educators. I am available for private consultations, group presentations, consultations with parents and their child's physician, business trainings both locally and outside my area (if it works for my family). I'm also continuing to work on projects with the Babywearing Intstitute to spread the important messages of babywearing safety and optimal positioning and create a forum for babywearing educators to discuss these topics and build community.

What is most important to me is that you know that I started on this journey to do what I knew was best for my babies. I am continuing on this journey to try to make it easier for other parents to do the same. I want to pass on what I have learned through my experiences as a parent, my research and my education. I will only teach you what I have learned to be safe based on the best and most current research available. Just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. Babywearing is part of me as a mom and as a person. Right now it is one of the best ways that I can share who I am.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brace Yourself!

I'm copying this from The Babywearer and the original post can be seen here as well as on their FB page.

I'm sure you can imagine how upset I am. I don't really have much more to add as my thoughts just sound like this in my head: ARRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! REALLY???? UUGUHHHHHHHHH!!!

And, if this isn't enough for you, I'll add a few interesting quotes from the comments and responses to the original posts.

From Krisi Hayes-Devlin (owner of Wrapsody by GypsyMama and a founding member of the BCIA) in response to some questions:

"It is unclear whether SSCs will be impacted. One concern the CPSC has is babies in contact with mother's bodies, so possibly."

Yup, you read that right. They're concerned about babies being in contact with mother's bodies! The safest place on earth for a baby to be and the want to regulate it away!

"Why isn't the BCIA releasing more details?

Answer: Most importantly, the company at issue has not wanted full details released publicly. We are working hard to stop or at least delay this recall. It is unjust and unwarranted and makes a farce of the recall process. If we can stop it, we do not want to have created public problems for the company in question. We are acting on the company's wishes as well as legal and PR advice from experts. "

And from TBW on their FB page: "TheBabywearer.com The real "proof" will unfortunately come with the verbiage of the impending recall. If we wait for that, it may be too late to do any good."

Brace Yourself!
Dear Babywearing Enthusiast:

It is time to BRACE YOURSELF!

A recall of a major baby carrier is being forced through this week. We want you to understand how this has been handled and to appreciate the immediacy of the problem!

•Company was informed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that, after several years, a closed investigation of their product was being reopened.
•Company was told by the CPSC to issue a recall of every product back more than ten years, and to discontinue sales, while admitting that there is no product flaw.
•Company stopped all sales, with the intention of clearing up the matter and reopening shortly.
•Company asked for the Health and Science report that the CPSC later claimed to have, indicating the need for a recall.
•CPSC has NEVER complied; inside word is that there is NOT a Health and Science report.
•Company was sent two draft press releases and asked to voluntarily recall their product or the CPSC would issue a unilateral recall (a forced recall) which included inflammatory language as well as a threat to pursue action against entire class of baby sling products.
•Company held fast, knowing that the product is safe and a benefit to babies and stated they would be willing to work with the CPSC on a public education campaign about sling safety.
•CPSC asked for Company’s financials.
•Company complied.
•CPSC said to company 'You are no longer in business, we don’t need your cooperation in order to recall! Prepare to DESTROY all product next week!'

Next week is International Babywearing week!

The CPSC has overstepped their bounds, and are bullying small, family businesses who make safe products!

This is only the beginning, according to the CPSC’s own words they want to eradicate the whole class of product!

A line has been drawn in the sand! Will you help fight the good fight with us? If you care that these products are available to you, to babies, to families across our country, ACT NOW!

If you are represented by any one of these legislators, please call and write to them NOW, before this recall happens. We are asking just a few simple things:

1. Stop all recall actions against baby sling companies until
2. We can finalize the ASTM voluntary sling standards (scheduled for November) and
3. Force the CPSC to follow their own internal procedures, stop using bullying tactics, and use sound science.

SENATE: Mark Pryor – Chairman, AR (202) 224-2353
Byron L. Dorgan, ND (202) 224-2551
Barbara Boxer, CA (202) 224-3553
Bill Nelson, FL (202) 224-5274
Claire McCaskill, MO (202) 224-6154
Amy Klobuchar, MN (202) 224-3244
Tom Udall, NM (202) 224-5941
Roger Wicker – Ranking Member, MS (202) 224-6253
Olympia J. Snowe, ME (202) 224-5344
Jim DeMint, SC (202) 224-6121
John Thune, SD (202) 224-2321
Johnny Isakson, GA (202) 224-3643
David Vitter, LA (202) 224-4623

HOUSE: Bobby L. Rush, IL, Chairman 202-225-4372; 773-224-6500
Jan Schakowsky, IL, Vice Chair 202-225-2111; 773-506-7100
Ed Whitfield, KY, Ranking Member 202-225-3115; 270-885-8079
John P. Sarbanes, MD 202-225-4016; 410-832-8890
George Radanovich, CA 202-225-4540; 559-449-2490
Betty Sutton, OH 202-225-2266; 330-865-8450
Cliff Stearns, FL 202-225-5744; 352-351-8777
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ 202-225-4671; 732-571-1140
Joseph R. Pitts, PA 202-225-2411; 717-303-0667
Bart Gordon, TN 202-225-4231; 615-896-1986
Mary Bono Mack, CA 202-225-5330; 760-320-1076
Bart Stupak, MI 202-225-4735; 231-348-0657
Lee Terry, NE 202-225-4155; 402-397-9944
Gene Green, TX 202-225-1688; 281-999-5879
Sue Wilkins Myrick, NC 202-225-1976; 704-362-1060
Charles A. Gonzalez, TX 202-225-3236; 210-472-6195
Tim Murphy, PA 202-225-2301; 412-344-5583
Anthony D. Weiner, NY 202-225-6616; 718-520-9001
Phil Gingrey, GA 202-225-2931; 770-429-1776
Jim Matheson, UT 202-225-3011; 801-486-1236
Steve Scalise, LA 202-225-3015; 504-837-1259
G. K. Butterfield, NC 202-225-3101; 252-237-9816
Robert E. Latta, OH 202-225-6405; 419-668-0206
John Barrow, GA 202-225-2823; 912-354-7282
Joe Barton, TX 202-225-2002; 817-543-1000

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why I do what I do

Apparently it's been over 2 years since I started this blog. I have no idea how that happened. Father Time did not ask my permission for time to move on or my babies to become big kids.

Way back when, I posted an introduction to my babywearing journey here . For me, it was like yesterday. My first baby is now 9 1/2 - a bright, loving, wonderful, maddening girl who loves animals and will nurse and wear her babies as naturally as she will breathe. My second baby is 4 1/2 now - a strong, smart, snuggly, kissy boy who likes the color pink, Star Wars and anything he can "sword" you with. He wears his babies and wants to be just like his sister.

A little later in my journey, I posted this about how babywearing has changed me. It's given me a reason to come out of my shell. It's changed my life to such a degree that even though I don't have any more babies to wear (unless a certain big boy gives in for a short ride with his nostalgic mama or someone invents a way to comfortably carry a 9 1/2 year old) I'm still continuing on my babywearing journey. I've taken the Babywearing Institute's Beginner and Advanced courses and will soon be a Certified Babywearing Educator. I may even go a step further and become a teacher's teacher - creating more Certified Babywearing Educators to spread the babywearing love.

I'm continuing on my babywearing journey because babywearing holds such an important place in my heart. I want mamas to follow their instincts to wear their babies. I want wearing your baby to be as normal to everyone as kissing their warm, soft cheeks. I want you to know how to wear your little ones safely, comfortably, practically. I want you to have access to good, accurate information - and find it more easily than I did. I want my babies to wear their babies because...well, that's just what parents do. I want them to have access to wonderful, soft, squishy, safe slings and wraps and Mei Tais.

And now, at this point in my babywearing journey, I'm writing posts and making calls; writing emails and sending letters to make sure that these things will even be a possibility. You've seen my posts (and those of many others, I'm sure) about some vague and cryptic threats to our babywearing futures - to our choices in carriers - to our rights as parents to wear our babies. What's the big deal lately? Well, the specifics will come in the next week or so - the specifics being the name of the business currently affected as well as the details of how they were put in this position. But, the generalities are these (and I'll post these because they've been posted elsewhere by others): In the next few days you'll hear of another sling being recalled courtesy of the CPSC (the same folks who just saved your lives by recalling 10 MILLION toys because 7 kids got stitches). I don't know what the news will say about the sling or about the reason for the recall but I hope you come back here to find out what really happened. What I do know is that most of the parents out there won't find out the truth without searching for it...and that's wrong. I can tell you that the sling and slingmaker aren't at fault or faulty. There's no basis for the CPSC to recall this product. Babywearing is safe.

Your first good sling is often referred to as your "gateway carrier"...the one that get's you hooked, the one that opens the door to the world of babywearing. What I (and many others) fear is that this recall is the "gateway carrier" for many more (unjustified) recalls in our future - for reasons that will be commented on down the road. As someone in an online forum offered when speculating on which company is being affected, 'a Hotsling is just like a Peanut Shell' which is just like a...If it affects one pouch, it can affect them all. If it affects one ring sling, it can affect them all...and mei tais...and wraps...and... I'm all for conspiracy theories but, once the facts are available, you'll find this one is less theory and more conspiracy.

OK...this is leading to the beginnings of a rant and I've been so good so far :)...only one snarky bit.

I do what I do because I want all parents to have the knowledge to look at a sling or wrap or mei tai or SSC and make an informed decision and say "Yes, that one will hold my baby in a safe position and I know how to use it". So, I learn and I teach. Everyone from parents to lawmakers to goverment agencies to commercial giants has a lot to learn on this subject. There needs to be some logic employed and some resposibility taken. Maybe if their parents had worn them, certain decision makers would be able to make better decisions...