I have always been a Consumer Reports fan. I’ve used their recommendations to buy washing machines, dishwashers and car seats. I’ve always thought of them as responsible and thorough, and liked the fact that they had tested all of the items they reviewed (unlike say a lot of magazines who recommend items that are paid placements – grrr).
So I was extremely disappointed to see this article on their blog. In it, the author condemns baby “sling- type carriers” and recommends against using them WITHOUT ANY DECENT EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER. They also reference their article in another post “5 products not to buy for your baby.” Given the documented benefits of babywearing for both parent and child, this is disappointing to say the least.
First of all, he doesn’t even define what a sling-type carrier is! The only picture shown is of the Infantino Sling Rider, which is much different from all the great ring slings and pouches available on the market. True, the Infantino carrier is widely advised against in babywearing circles, due to not providing proper support for baby’s head and back. We call them “bag carriers” because they position the baby much as you would in a bag, rather than in natural holding positions such as a tummy-to-tummy carry or a semi-reclined cradle carry (both of which are safer for baby and more comfortable for the wearer). This article effectively creates a category of “sling-type carriers” and then lumps them all together.
Secondly, unlike the usual Consumer Reports articles that I have always respected, the article cites absolutely no testing, trying or examining any of the so-called “sling-type carriers” on the market. Instead, they mention a couple of recalls (Infantino, Ellaroo and Zolowear ring slings) and the fact that over the last 10 years there have been 22 reports of serious injury from using slings.
As to recalls, I can’t speak to the Infantino recall, but I know that in the case of both Ellaroo and Zolowear, these recalls were voluntary and pro-active on the part of the companies and involved no injuries to any children whatsoever. And when you compare the recalls listed to the reams of recalls for car seats (which they recommend), it’s amazing to me that the CR would recommend carrying your infant in a car seat carrier instead!
Obviously it’s terrible that any child was injured, and that it happened while wearing a carrier. But I must say, 22 incidents over 10 years doesn’t seem like a huge number, and especially when you realize that most of the injuries were due to the parent tripping and falling. I wonder if they have any numbers on the number of babies injured due to caregiver trips and falls while carrying the baby in-arms? I imagine that number is equally high, if not higher. Regardless, this comparative information was not included and thus it makes it impossible to really evaluate the information provided.
Apparently ASTM-International, a voluntary standards-setting organization is going to be starting a standards-development process for evaluating the safety of baby carriers. I think this is a great idea! It is important that parents and caregivers be assured that the carriers they are using have met a safety standard.
Mothering.com has come out against this irresponsbile Consumer Reports article, and in favor of babywearing. In their recent newsletter, they write: “here at Mothering.com we believe that babies are born to be worn.”
Hear hear! Babies should be worn safely, instructions should be followed, common sense should be used, but babies should definitely be worn!
If there is interest, I’ll post some more information on safe positioning of babies in slings, in future posts.