There is a scene in the 2009 film Away We Go, an under-the-radar film about impending parenthood, involving the benevolent gift of a stroller presented to two sanctimonious parents, who would rather carry their baby until their spinal column crumpled before they would ever consider the use of a stroller in their parenting regimen. “I love my babies,” insists the character LN (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) after receiving the objectionable gift, “Why would I want to push them away from me?!!” This tense, but comic, exchange was presented to illustrate the sometimes drastic differences between parenting ideologies. For many, dropping your infant into a stroller provides a much-needed brake from carrying around 20lbs of human all day. For others, wearing your child, close to your heart in a sling, is the definition of attachment parenting.
Now in the real world the debate of whether to “wear your baby” or push your baby is hardly this heated or contentious. The majority of cultures throughout the world practice (and have since the dawn of time) some form of baby wearing, whether it is carrying your baby in a sling contraption or possibly the more restrictive (and somewhat controversial) Native American approach of cradle boarding. But in the United States, strollers have been the popular option for years, with slings and baby carriers relegated to the minority. That has changed over the past few years with a greater number of parents opting for slings, Baby Bjorns, and all manner of innovative baby-wearing gear. But a recent warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding a particular style of sling (best known as “bag slings”) has put doubt and dread into the heart of many parents of newborns.
The CPSC claims that there is a significant risk of slings suffocating infants who are younger than four months old, and that caution should be used when carrying babies of this age group in slings. The CPSC is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009.