Not a Babywearing Nerd

Welcome to the final instalment of the Carrying On Campaign. We’re part of the blog carnival at Kanga Collective and we’re looking forward to what everyone else has to say!

Does babywearing get your family? Even if you’re not a babywearing nerd?

Babywearing isn’t about being able to fill a cupboard full of baby carriers and have to shove the door closed. It’s not about carrying more kids at once, or back carrying younger (or at all), about doing a complex wrap job or using the most expensive pair of buckles ever invented. Babywearing is about you and your child and the means you use to carry them.

Although there are now a wonderful, dizzying array of brands, options and ways to carry your baby, it doesn’t matter what you use. Babywearing Gets Your Family- if you’re a front-pack carrier family (Bjorn, Snuggli etc.), a buckles or SSC kind of family, a simple pouch family or a “tie a knot in a cot sheet and call it good” kind of family- you’re babywearing.

Some of us consider babywearing a lifestyle choice- we live, breathe and love it. We carry our preschoolers, we carry our newborns eight hours a day. Our kids sleep on our backs and we can turn just about any piece of cloth lying around into a baby carrier. Make no mistake: we are the babywearing nerds.

But most people who wear their babies don’t think of themselves as babywearers. They have an Ergo, or Manduca, or Maya Wrap, or Hotsling, or Bjorn, or Kanga, or… and they use it when it’s useful to them. Not necessarily 8 hours a day, not even every day. But they use it when they and their child want to. That’s it, all it takes. Babywearing Gets You.

It’s not a style, a fashion or a trend: it’s a parenting tool that’s useful.

How do you use it?

Top Five Tips for Spotting a Website Selling Fake Carriers

Fakes are being sold in unprecedented numbers. We’ve talked about them before in this community, whether it’s our Top Five Tips for Avoiding A Rip-Off or BCD’s I think I bought a Fake, What do I do? we are always looking for ways to become more aware.

But how do you know if a website is retailing the genuine product or not? It’s hard to tell from a digital-distance.

Here are our tips:

  1. The website should be listed on the distributor’s page. The main problem is with fake Ergos, the Australian distributor is Babes in Arms. If the website you’re interested in is not listed on distributor’s site, don’t buy until you’ve contacted the distributor to check they are legitimate. Savvy scammers often mention the correct distributor as a way of increasing their apparent legitimacy: don’t trust that alone, or any number of “safe and secure” website icons.
  2. The legitimate distributors of these products spend a lot of time and effort shutting these sites down: as a result the new replacement sites (that come up like mould) are often shonkily constructed, have poor copywriting and obvious spelling mistakes. This doesn’t make them a bargain!
  3. Look for unrealistic discounts. Anything selling at 40% or more off needs to be questioned. No one can sell at a loss permanently.
  4. Even if the web address looks official – “Ergosonsale.com.au”, “officialergobaby.com.au”- that doesn’t make it legitimate.
  5. Use your community! Head to BWBSS and ask. There are several advantages to this: 3000+ members including vendors know what’s legitimate; someone is there 24/7 answers come fast and, lastly, they’re always keen to score someone else a bargain.

Happy, safe shopping!

Save Yourself From a Fake: Top Five Tips for Avoiding a Rip-Off

Unfortunately, fake carriers are becoming more of an issue in this community. New parents are being scammed with disturbing regularity. The issue is not only one of ethics and intellectual property: fakes are often made with poor quality materials and are untested. Although there have been no injury reports that I am aware of from using a fake carrier, when you are spending money on something that’s supposed to be good for your baby, most of us prefer the good-quality, well-tested version that will withstand the test of time.

Here are my top five tips to avoid being ripped off by a fake carrier:

  1. Know which brands are being most regularly faked. Ergo, Beco and Freehand are the most-targetted brands. They are not always faked under their own brand names, be aware of new and suspiciously cheap products- if a brand is unfamiliar, check with your local community about its quality and design.
  2. Avoid eBay if you’re new to babywearing. It’s a wonderful place to grab a bargain. It’s also the most common place for clearing fraudulent goods and there isn’t much you can do to tell the difference.
  3. Be aware that scams involving these products are occurring not only on the Internet, but in real life transactions too. Exercise caution in both areas. When purchasing second hand, use non-gifted paypal so you have protection. If you are buying secondhand from someone you meet with in real life, be aware of the scam where the real item is shown to you so you can check its authenticity. Then it’s taken away to be “put in its packaging” and a fake one put in the box for you to take home. People are not always as nice as they seem.
  4. Don’t hesitate to contact the distributor and confirm the legitimacy of the reseller: their customer service on this point is usually stellar. Usually the distributor’s websites will have lists of authorised resellers. If they don’t, a phone call or an email is worth the wait. Don’t be concerned about missing out on a great sale by taking your time: this is a common scam-artist trick. There will be another sale shortly, but it’s hard to get your money back if it’s lost to a scammer.
  5. Don’t hesitate to use your online babywearing community as a resource. They are filled with people keen to point you in the direction of safe carriers, legitimate resellers and fabulous deals.

How do you stay safe from fakes?

Getting There

Welcome to the Carrying On Campaign (COCAM) blog carnival week two! Hosted by Kanga Collective, we’re excited to read about getting to, around, over and under this morning with our fellow bloggers!

One of the things we get asked about the most on Babywearing Buy Sell Swap is: what bag works for babywearers? Babywearing is freedom- freedom to use stairs, escalators without imminent danger of losing the pram, rough terrain, grass, crowds, narrow aisles between merchandise in the department store… but you still need to carry things.

If you prefer front carries, then many baby wearers like a backpack. You can stuff loads into it and you probably already own a few. However, many of us prefer the back carry: what to do?

Generally a messenger-style bag worn across the body works well. One with an easily adjustable strap will give you a great deal of flexibility no matter which carrier or carry you’re using. However, be aware of its construction. Bags made of leather or other heavy materials can add a substantial amount to the weight you’re already carrying.

My best tip for any new babywearer is: pack light! What do you really need? If you are out and about using your car as a base, then I find that packing two bags: one with nappies, wipes, clothes, drink bottle and the long etc. to stay mostly in the car and another with just keys, wallet and phone makes life a lot easier. If you’re just going to the park: do you really need a change of clothes? In event of a massive nappy eruption, will you just be able to come home? If so, then don’t bother packing things you don’t really need.

Some carriers like ring slings and SSCs come with pockets which can be handy to stuff those important items like keys and phones into when you’re out for a short time. A small over-the-shoulder bag works well in these situations too.

The difficulties start when you’re out for a long period away from the car and you need snacks, drink bottles, clothes, tissues, nappies, wipes, medications etc. Add to that other essential out-all-day equipment such as hats, sunscreen and equipment for whatever you’re doing (the ball for the park, swimmers and towels for the pool…) and you’re lugging quite a bit of stuff!

Some babywearers love their nanna trolleys in these situations. Others find the pram indispensible- after all, there’s only so much you can carry! If you’re going on a long trip, then here’s a babywearer’s view on that. In any of these situations, if you have older children who can carry their own items, then this takes a lot of the load off your shoulders- literally!

In short, though, the lighter you pack, the freer you are. Babywearing Gets You There!

The Ultimate Guide to Babywearing Safety: Baby Carriers Parents Worry About

This is Part 7  in our guide to babywearing safety. You can find the other articles here and articles on safe baby carriers here.

This article covers slings that babywearing parents commonly worry about. They include clip slings like the Mini Monkey, Babasling and Bubba Moe and front pack carriers like the Baby Bjorn, Snuggli and a long list of similar carriers. We will look at the known safety risks, the theorized safety risks and leave it to the parent to decide whether they should be used.

Clip slings look a little like bag slings, with several important differences. Firstly, they are adjustable. They are not as adjustable as ring slings such as Sakura Bloom or Maya Wrap, but unlike the bag slings, it is possible to adjust them. They also tend to have a shallower pouch for the baby to lie in so its face is not covered and oxygen is flowing freely over the baby. However, they are difficult to use in the correct newborn cradle position without which a newborn may be at risk of asphyxia or apoxia. It is sometimes possible to use these slings correctly in tummy-to-tummy upright carries which pose less concern for newborn positioning, but keeping the TICKS guidelines in mind when using them is paramount. As long as TICKS are followed, the slings are fine to use, albeit not necessarily comfortable.

Common brands of clip-slings are Babasling, Bubba Moe and Mini Monkey.

There is a common perception in babywearing circles that front pack carriers such as the Baby Bjorn, Snuggli and other brands of this kind are damaging to babies. These concerns center around the sub-optimal positioning of these carriers in regards to hip and spine development (see here).

It is certainly true that these carriers can become very uncomfortable for parents over a long period of time, especially as the baby becomes heavier. They may be uncomfortable for babies as well; although attentive parents are usually responsive to this.

It is also true that front pack carriers like the Bjorn promote a positioning of the hips and legs that are suboptimal for a baby’s development, see here.

It is unlikely, however, that these carriers are damaging babies on a widespread basis. In almost 30 years of use by a large group of babies, there is no documentary evidence that there has been an increase in hip and spine problems in these babies. Other baby items have resulted in an increase in Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) in the general population, for example, a swaddling nappy used in Japan during the 19080s on a large scale was deemed responsible for an increase in DDH (see here for details); but there is no confirmed evidence that front pack carriers have caused similar outcomes.

If you have one of these carriers and you and your baby find it comfortable to use, there is probably a very minimal risk involved. Whilst not ideal, the problems caused by the carrier may in fact be self limiting due to the short time periods that the carriers can be comfortably used. In those societies where DDH has been linked to the use of baby carriers (cradle boarding in some Native American groups, see link above), these carriers were probably used daily for extended periods over the early years of an infant’s life. The front pack carriers such as the Bjorn are rarely used in such a manner.

There are many baby goods that place the hips and/or spine in a similar position (see here) – it is clear that a short period in a car seat is better than no car seat at all. The same probably goes for baby carriers.

The obvious exception is in children or families where there is a family history, diagnosis or suspected case of hip or spine problems. In this case, it would be wise to discontinue use of such carriers.

Overall, there are a number of slings that, while they may be suboptimal in terms of positioning and comfort, are not dangerous as such. Not all parents will feel that they are suitable for their child’s needs. However, if you already own one of these slings and you can follow the TICKS guidelines when using it, then it is probably not dangerous to use it so long as both you and your baby is comfortable.