Firstly, we believe that carrying safety is paramount. We as educators, in our many and varied roles, support carrying infants and their parents/carers in ways to be safe as possible. As an industry we are collectively heartbroken every time we hear of an injury or loss of life that occurs. Babywearing is and can be done safely. It can of course be done in ways that can be dangerous much like many daily activities.
However, we would like to express our concern about the abstract for the following reasons.
The title, “A Dangerous Fashion Trend” and the following: “Baby-wearing is an old practice that has seemingly undergone a revitalization…BW is an old childcare technique that has received new life”.
We would like to state our belief that babywearing is an inherently human way of caring for our infants and children. It is not a new fashion trend, as the title suggests, and is not a practice owned by peoples “giving it new life”.
We are concerned by the wording that states “They found a wide variety of products on the market, with most designed with additional space in the bust for breastfeeding women. This may increase the risk of injury to children when the product is worn by men”.
Yet this is not reflected in the data that is then presented regarding the type of injuries.
We are concerned about this lack of inclusivity, with the abstract suggesting that babywearing can only be “safe” if you are a breastfeeding woman of a particular bust size”. We believe babywearing is, and can be suitable, for all bodies, shapes, sizes and genders, and a safe way of carrying a baby regardless of the size, shape and gender of the person carrying. The human body regardless of gender or identity, varies and this lack of inclusivity is just not acceptable.
By only releasing the abstract, with a lack of context, it has meant that this has been taken by the press and sensationalised, and it is scaremongering people, parents and carers, who read these headlines without knowing the detail and context, and who of course want to be able to care for their babies in the safest possible way.
“…shows that young children are not only more likely to sustain injury related to babywearing but have a higher frequency of being hospitalized after the injury”.
More likely than what?
No context has been provided here. No numbers of total children carried in a sling without injury. And no comparison to in arms carrying, carrying a baby in a car seat or pushing a baby in a pram or buggy. More information is needed for parents and professionals to be truly able to weigh up any “risks” of babywearing compared to other modes of transporting their baby.
We take safety seriously, but we reject the suggestion that carrying is dangerous. We believe that any body can carry a baby safely. The author references the many different products on the market, as professionals, volunteers and experienced users and manufacturers in this industry, we know that it is most often NOT about the type of carrier used, but the way it is used which makes it safe or unsafe. We believe in empowering parents and carers to be able to ensure their carrying experience is a safe experience each and every time they use a sling/carrier.
We would like to address the wording “Yet for all of its suggested benefits…there is a catch”. Firstly, this does a disservice to all of the evidence based research that has demonstrated the real, life altering impact closeness, responsive parenting and as part of that, carrying can have on the development of babies brains as well as the better outcomes especially maternal outcomes. As well as the fact that for many it is a way of living, in many cultures around the world. It is not about a simple choice to carry or not. There are risks, and there are ways to reduce those risks. The abstract lacks this nuance and is steeped in white privilege.
Secondly, the suggestion that these benefits come with a catch is deeply concerning. It suggests that to have the benefits to both baby and parents (not to mention the impact on the family and wider society as a whole) we must accept that babies will be injured because of this practice.
We do not accept that the two must go hand in hand.
We urge those doing research in these areas to reach out to the babywearing community to those with experience, in order to ensure it is useful and helpful to all.
Babywearing (carrying) is and can be a safe way to care for infants and children regardless of body shape, gender and size.
Zoe and Chiara
Founders of Brilliant Babywearing Business
You can read the Abstract here