• Tue, Aug 24 2010

Why I Hate Baby Slings

As a mother, you receive or buy tons of baby products that you never use. My favorite example is the wipe warmer that you plug in and it heats the wipes for your baby’s butt. Mine never came out of the box. For most who take it out of the box, it never gets plugged in. The wipe warmer is a stupid gift that someone who doesn’t have a baby gets you for your baby shower. But I don’t hate it, I just don’t use it.

Baby slings, on the other hand, I hate. It’s those stupid pouches that women wear to carry their baby cuddled close to their bodies. The most obnoxious thing about baby slings is that women try to make them trendy. You have an infant strapped to your chest, stop trying to be trendy! Buy a cute set of flats, not a carrier to hold a little human being!
I know what all those oh-so-trendy mothers are saying right now, “OMG Lindsay, these super cute slings are so useful! I can coordinate with my outfit, carry my precious bundle of joy close enough to feel their heart beat, and still use my hands to talk on the phone and sip my Non-Fat Chai Latte.” Let me address the issues here. If you weren’t trying to carry your baby around like a purse, you wouldn’t need it to match your outfit. Get a stroller. Yes, you can feel your baby’s heart beat. You can also suffocate it. In fact, Consumer Reports’ Don Mays says, “Don’t use slings at all. There are safer ways of carrying your baby than in a sling.” In you want to be close to your baby, hold it! If you want to do something that needs both hands, put the baby down. It will be ok.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still be attractive when you’re a mother. I have no problem with this. However, your child is not an accessory. They should never be worn like one.

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  • Gill

    This is such an ignorant and ill researched article. I totally agree that a child is not an accessory and should not be worn like one. But to wear your baby correctly in a safe manner with a well designed carrier is extremely positive for the child, as well as practical for the mother. For me fashion has nothing to do with it.

  • Kitty

    Really?? Were you stumped for a topic to write about and just lashed out wildly for a topic the cool kids haven’t knocked down yet?

    Wearing my child was a total matter of practicality for me. I loved having my hands free, but having him close. I could actually accomplish things to make my life easier AND keep him entertained and moving to make his life easier. I liked singing to him, talking to him about the world and watching him gaze up at me. I loved the nursing middle ground–being able to breast feed him without either hauling out one of those covers or bearing breast for all the world to see. I loved that I could go into a store without hauling a 45 lb contraption out of the trunk of the car. It was convenient, comfortable, and totally safe. Are some slings poorly designed? Yes. But if you do your research, know the features to look for and ask for help, it is perfectly safe.

    It’s totally cool if you aren’t into babywearing, but to snidely try to assert that it’s a trendy fashion choice misses the mark by miles.

  • Jean

    I see two very different sides of this issue. I agree with Lindsay that companies have attempted to make baby slings accessories with all their designer labels. And I am sure some moms want specific slings for that reason. Having had three children very close together I would have loved to have had my hands free while still having my child close to me and content. I also have read several horror stories of children seriously hurt or killed from suffocating in a sling. I personally would prefer not to put my child at risk just to keep my hands free.

  • Chelle

    LOL!

    I’m sure women in Africa who wear their babies are doing so as a fashion statement. What an ignorant comment.

    What is it with writers these days not looking past google’s first link for credible researched facts? Seems like every man & his dog can be a writer these days.

    For some credible sources, for your next article ;), on SAFE babywearing see here: http://www.mothering.com/green-living/mothering-responds-cpsc-sling-warning-babywearing-safe

    & here: http://babywearinginternational.org/pages/safety.php

    Wait… …what’s this? A DOCTOR talking about safe babywearing practices here: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/5/t051100.asp

    No need to thank me. Just doing my part to pass on correct information.

  • Brooke

    If you had done your research, you would know that there are actual cognitive and motor skill advantages to a child who has been LOVINGLY worn by their mother! The constant labeling a worn baby recieves, as the mother narrates their movement throughout the day, encourages verbal skills and the motion of the baby recieves as the mother walks and baby sways has a great effect on the bablance a baby develops. The other pros would be a sense of closeness and security a worn baby feels as opposed to a baby who has NO contact with anyone while being pushed in a stroller. If you choose not to wear your child that is fine, but at least make an informed decision. Women who wear their babies incorrectly pose a danger to their child just as anything done incorrectly could.
    Wearing your baby does give the Mom some advantages, but the ultimate advantage is for the child. Sorry yours missed out.

  • LeighC

    Um, it’s an opinion piece. I don’t think it needed any research.

  • Susan

    There are some rather ludicrous assertions in this article. I had a ring sling for my first baby, but he was a big boy, it was winter, and we never quite got the hang of it. It killed my shoulders. Those pocket slings also look really dodgy, as well as completely uncomfortable.

    But I was given a long strip of stretchy fabric for my second baby to use as a wrap. I carried her in it (tied in different ways) until she was well over a year old. Facing in when she was little, facing out when she got bigger. She loved it. I’m not sure how one could cope with a just-turned-2-year-old, a 6-month-old, a stroller, and a grocery cart. But I would put my son in the cart seat , my daughter on my chest, and away we went. I kept the same single stroller for 2 years, and with the wrap, we could still walk everywhere together. I know lots of women who carried their baby in the same kind of wrap (usually on their back) till age 2+.

    I did take the stroller to the mall in the car to go Christmas shopping once. What a commotion! Not for me. Hey, if you want to cart a stroller around everywhere, go for it, whatever floats your boat. But carrying my daughter in a wrap was the easiest and most practical solution for me. Believe me, she was NOT about to fall out, ever. She was completely secure. When she got bigger, I could carry the wrap in my purse and if we needed it, I put it on. You can’t keep a stroller in your purse. It cost about $15 to make. I’m pretty sure most strollers cost a lot more than that (ever consider that not everyone has $200+ to spend on a stroller?). And I could walk into any store or office or wherever and not worry about how i was going to manoeuvre a stroller through it without knocking something over.

    Did I mention she was happy as a clam in it? In my experience, anyway, the tally of ‘kids seen screaming in strollers’ and ‘kids seen screaming in slings’ is weighted about 99 to 1 towards the former.

    Using a wrap was practical, easy, and fun (made breastfeeding when out and about super easy too). The suggestion that an 8ft strip of buff-coloured stretchy cotton turns a baby into a fashion accessory–and that that is the desired aim of the mother who uses one–is just about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. It just helps you carry her around without killing (or even inconveniencing) yourself.

    (additionally, without any effort on my part, carrying my daughter everywhere did give me some pretty fabulously toned/nicely muscled arms and shoulders! Now that the kids are 6 and nearly 5, I am rather annoyed that I now have use free weights to maintain the results.)

  • Chelle

    @LeighC

    In fact, Consumer Reports’ Don Mays says, “Don’t use slings at all. There are safer ways of carrying your baby than in a sling.”…..

    This part made it become more of an opinion piece to the writer.
    An opinion piece states the opinion of the writer (usually with the inclusion that “this is my opinion”) not a loose quote that tries the writer has tried to pass off as fact (by making remarks to who he is & where he’s from) to back up her opinion.

    • Chelle

      *not a loose quote where the writer has tried* rather.

  • Lindsay Hartman

    First of all, this was an opinion piece. Thanks for picking up on that Leigh! Every mother has a different opinion, and I’m choosing to share mine. But actually, I wrote this article after reading that the Consumer Protection Safety Commission issued a warning about the use of baby slings, mainly that they can cause suffocation. Here’s a link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/12/earlyshow/living/ConsumerWatch/main6292012.shtml

    • Kitty

      The actual CPSC ( http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10165.html) warning is nothing more than common sense guidelines for using any baby product–make sure you can see your child face and be aware of the child’s well-being. The story got puffed up and turned into another piece about how everything we opt to do as parents puts our children in jeopardy. Based on other articles you have written for this site, I am surprised you fell for it.

      Ultimately, I still don’t get what your objection is. That they come in pretty colors and pattens? That some people like to have a couple different ones? That many people find them convenient and cozy? Yep. There’s a lot to rail against there.

  • kate

    @LeighC — Every good Op-Ed columnist knows that research is essential to writing a good piece. Everyone has an opinion, but how much that opinion is worth depends on the person’s knowledge of the subject. If you want to persuade anyone to your side, or start an intelligent discussion (kind of the point of opinion pieces), it sure helps to demonstrate that knowledge, don’t you think?

    The main problem I have with this article is it seems the biggest problem (she spends way more words on this than the suffocation issue) the author has with the slings is their trendiness. I understand there are valid concerns with the slings but she treats them as an aside. Sentences like this: “You have an infant strapped to your chest, stop trying to be trendy!” come off as catty and invalidate what she says in the end about not objecting to fashionable mothers.

  • lisa

    Wow. Just WOW. I guess it’s amazing I stumbled across this article in the first place, but I was looking into several large companies that employed a lot of MOMS that have recently closed their doors because of the sling warnings- which had nothing to do with their products and more to do with fear mongering from people who don’t support the industry and aren’t interested in the details of the cases involved. Every single baby product has experienced accidents resulting in the harm or deaths of infants–which is both horrible and tragic. Are you swearing off cute crib sets,……all toys………what about the strollers you recommend, have you looked into their safety ratings? Why don’t you ask the parents of the children whose fingers were cut off by their strollers? I am all for free speech and opinion pieces but when uneducated and catty people hide behind the guise of “an opinion piece” instead of taking responsibility for their lack of understanding it is not only sad but pathetic. Especially for a site that espouses “Pearl Twirl Bra Straps – $25 Part jewelry, part underwear, all adorable.” You tell me what is stupid, a pretty baby carrier or a pearl studded bra strap? How this for an opinion piece….I hate blogs that try to be relevant by picking up hot button issues and making blanket statements about things they have not taken part in or even understand? I am sure you would also be the first to laugh at a mom carrying her child in one of the “uglier” versions just as much as the “trendy ones”. I doubt anyone who has ever worn their baby in a sling has *ever* thought of their child as an accessory. So, why don’t you keep your topics to bra straps and nail polish, OH……and telling people not to wear black face to a fashion show…don’t be mad, that’s just my opinion.

  • carla lotta

    LOL – I loved the article and totally agree for me personally. As for the moms that love the slings – I am fine with that too! To each his / her own! I just always hated the way the slings felt – it was very uncomfortable to me like I was pregnant again carrying all the weight up in the front. Not to mentioned they freak me out when I see newborns in them cause they look like they are being suffocated at times.

  • lorabore

    What ill researched drivel.

    Don Mays spoke ONLY about bag-style slings, specifically the infantino slingrider which was recalled in 2007.

    “We are repeating our call for the CPSC to consider seeking a recall for the Infantino SlingRider because it poses a suffocation risk (it was recalled in 2007 for breaking shoulder strap adjusters). And we encourage the agency to investigate any similarly designed slings. We’re continuing our own research and will publish additional information in the coming weeks. ” Don Mays

    Proper use of slings actually helps develop the child’s hips and spine. And if a person is using a sling properly, their baby will have their face completely visible and kissable by the parent, and will be supported by their bum, with their knees even with their hips.

    children these days spend far too much time on the floor and in car seats and strollers and laying on their backs. It is actually bad for their spinal development, not to mention can cause flat spots on the back of their head and carrier carseats can cause positional asphyxiation (the angle they sit on the floor is not the same angle they sit on the base in the car).

    The sling shown in the photo is not a safe sling, nor is the infant positioned in an ergonomic way, and should not be used to represent baby slings.

    I’m posting this comment so that other mothers who are looking for information about baby slings don’t end up believing this piece is in any way accurate.