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Are We There Yet?

Baby Slings

When my children were babies, my husband and I "wore" them wherever we went. Babywearing -- also known as carrying one's child in a sling -- enables infants and toddlers to experience their surroundings. For parents, babywearing promotes bonding. It's also practical for busy moms since slings leave their arms and hands free to do chores and take care of other children. Babywearing gave me the freedom to move while also staying close to my child.

"Babywearing means changing your mindset of what babies are really like," wrote Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and advocate of "attachment parenting."  "New parents often envision babies as lying quietly in a crib, gazing passively at dangling mobiles and picked up and carried only to be fed and played with and then put down. You may think that 'up' periods are just dutiful intervals to quiet you baby long enough to put him down again. Babywearing reverses this view. Carry your baby in a sling many hours a day, and then put her down for sleep times and tend to your personal needs."

At our house, we used four different slings -- two that were adjustable and two others made by New Native, Inc. Lesley Doyle, a mom in Los Angeles, has 10 different baby carriers, according to a recent LA Times story, "Baby Carriers: One size does not fit all." Some moms make their own slings but others also purchase well-known brands including Ergo, Maya Wrap, Moby and Peanut Shell.

Slings and other baby carriers have grown in popularity in recent years, but some experts caution against them. Earlier this month, the Consumer Product Safety Commmission issued a warning that baby slings may be harmful to babies younger than four months of age.

The CPSC is investigating 14 deaths in the last 20 years that have been associated with slings. Twelve of the fatalities involved babies younger than four months. Most of the infants were born prematurely or had breathing issues such as a cold.

When using a sling, the CPSC recommends that parents make sure the infant's face is not covered and remains visible at all times to the sling's wearer.

I'm still a huge proponent of slings, especially the non-adjustable kind (without the rings) because they fit me better and there wasn't a lot of excess fabric.

Do you or did you use a baby sling? What are the benefits and disadvantages? What advice do you have for moms learning to use one -- especially with newborns?

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