I had a Babywearing Safety Statement come across my desk today and it was quite timely for me. I have never been one to babywear, with my first two children I carried them or had them in their pram but now that I am preparing for life with a baby once more I am thinking about things a little differently. This time round I will be at home with my baby and am planning a new approach, and one of the aspects of that is babywearing.
Earlier this year babywearing hit the headlines in the most tragic fashion with the death of a Brisbane baby. It is yet to be determined by a Queensland coroner whether a baby sling contributed to the baby’s death but it is a timely reminder for us all to be completely aware of the importance of babywearing education and safe sling use. I feel deeply for the Brisbane family who lost their baby, I can not imagine a more painful loss.
Babes in Arms director Anita Lincolne-Lomax says “I offer my deepest condolences to the Brisbane family who lost their baby, such a loss would be unimaginably painful. I would like to take the opportunity to remind parents and caregivers of important tips for monitoring babies while being carried or held in any other baby hardware, such as a baby swing, car capsule, or pram.”
Babes In Arms released the Babywearing Safety Statement that I’m studying at the moment. They are an award-winning distribution company that specialise in baby slings and carriers across Australia and New Zealand, they are committed to ensuring that parents and carers are well informed about babywearing safety so that all caregivers enjoy the benefits of babywearing with confidence.
The five important safety tips recommended by industry leader and advocate of babywearing, Babes In Arms, are as follows:
This one has a very large element of common sense but it is important to have it reiterated. If you wouldn’t do something while you were holding the baby in your arms then don’t do it while you are wearing your child. Be sure to avoid sources of heat, bumping and jarring, trip hazards and other risky situations. I did some extra reading before I sat to write and in one of the articles it specified that you shouldn’t jump on a trampoline – I would have thought that goes without saying. You should also avoid running, jogging and bouncing because they can put the developing neck muscles of your baby at risk.
Be sure that the fabric is not covering your baby’s face and the chin is not pressed against the chest because this compresses the airway. A good guide for easy breathing is to ensure you can fit two fingers between your baby’s chin and chest. If you are using a sling that is thin airy fabric check the airflow through the fabric by placing it over your own nose to ensure the flow is sufficient for your baby.
The baby needs to be kept high and tight against your chest, it is not safe for them to ride low on your hips. It is also a great way to make sure you can see them properly for monitoring.
Pay close attention to the instruction booklet, and the video if available, for your carrier or sling. Ensure the carrier is the right fit for your body shape and your baby’s age and weight.
The way your baby sits in the carrier or sling should mimic the way they would be naturally held in your arms. You should always be able to make eye contact and you need to remain vigilant, always checking their wellbeing, to ensure the baby is happy, safe and content.
Lincolne-Lomax adds, “Baby carriers and slings are the world’s most ancient parenting tools and are incredibly helpful when used safely. Using a sling incorrectly is like using an infant car seat without proper installation, infant positioning, and restraints. Although the incident rate with slings and carriers is very low, as with any baby product, safe practice is paramount. Always choose a brand that offers clear and thorough instructions to safeguard your family.”
Currently there are no Australian Standards applied to baby slings or carriers, however the ACCC is in the process of developing either voluntary or mandatory standards for this product category. While Australia is developing standards Babes in Arms only import products which comply with U.S. and European standards and from manufacturers with adequate product liability insurance.
“We are in the process of creating an Australian Chapter of the BCIA to form a body of key stakeholders of industry leaders and the babywearing community. We plan to work with the ACCC to develop much needed standards,” states Lincolne-Lomax. “As a mother of four, I want to know we are doing all we can to keep babies safe.”
The BCIA, Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, is an international body formed to increase awareness for the value of quality baby carriers and to see standards spread across the industry. They also promote education, research and business compliance with standards.