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A Guide to Baby Slings and Carriers

Mothers have been carrying their children around for centuries if not millennia

Mothers have been carrying their children around for centuries if not millennia, using a variety of methods to hold the child. For a while it went out of fashion, but now babywearing is very popular and sales of various slings are booming

 

Mothers have been carrying their children around for centuries if not millennia, using a variety of methods to hold the child. For a while it went out of fashion, but now babywearing is very popular and sales of various slings are booming.

Using a baby carrier or sling continues to grow in popularity. Research in 2008 by Nursery Insights for Wilkinet Baby Carrier found that 45% of mums/pregnant women said they had never used a baby carrier and had no plans to. A re-run of the research in 2010 showed a 10% reduction with now only 1 in 3 mums saying the have no plans to use a baby carrier/sling (two-thirds are now using or plan to use one).

Among first time mums, the industy's life-blood, there was a similar improvement. In 2008 almost half of women (48%) who were pregnant for the first time said they had no plans to use a baby carrier/sling while in 2010 that dropped to 39%. Whether it's through celebrity citings or recognition of the benefits to baby and parent, there is more enthusiasm for people to use them

Sales would be even higher if it hadn't been for the scare earlier this year when it was realised that a certain style of sling often called a bag sling could, in certain circumstances, result in the death of a child. The slings concerned were quickly recalled.

“Infantino are happy to report that the recent SlingRider recall does not appear to have had an adverse effect on retail sales of their other carriers or toys as their business continues to grow. Infantino would also like to thank their customers for their understanding and cooperation with the recall. If any retailers are still waiting for a credit note or still have stock or returns of the SlingRider they are asked to contact Infantino who will be happy to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Looking ahead Infantino are planning a completely new range of carriers for 2011, so look out for further news in due course.”

The Nursery Insight research was conducted before the Infantino Baby Slings product recall. Nursery Insights' Buzz Monitor saw a strong, but short-lived increase in concern around baby slings. Online searches for 'baby slings' increased by 175% in the week after the story broke and searches for 'Infantino' increased by a massive 282%. It also became a big topic for discussion among mums. Word-of-mouth mentions of baby slings increased almost four-fold among mums with many expressing concerns about the implications for their baby. As with many scares, interest (and concern) quickly passed. The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers acted swiftly to highlight the safe way to use baby slings. The levels of search and discussion of baby slings has returned to pre-recall levels. The over-hype turned into a well-managed opportunity to discuss the broader merits of carrying your baby and safe ways to do it. The incident also suggests that parents now see 'baby slings' and 'baby carriers as two distinct products. During the height of the recall coverage, online interest in 'baby carriers' remained stable, with no change in interest levels.

 

So for the record here are the areas which were of concern:

 

In these bag type slings, the deep pouch where baby sits puts the baby in a potentially suffocating curved position. Excess fabric with an elasticised edge may cover baby's face and inhibit breathing. The design may cause the baby's face to turn in toward the carer's body, potentially smothering the baby. It also obstructs the baby from the parent's view because of the high and gathered side panels.

Carers carrying a baby in a sling should be aware of T.I.C.K.S.–

  • Tight
  • In view at all times
  • Close enough to kiss
  • Keep the chin off the chest
  • Supported back

We shouldn't allow parents to be put off carrying their babies as it does so many benefits. It is an easy way of soothing a fractious baby; it helps babies sleep better and physical needs are met more quickly leading to a more contented baby. Naturally this increases the bonding between baby and his or her carers.

Many new mums are initially reluctant because they see using a sling as complicated. Rarely is this true and a few moments explaining how a particular sling is worn can easily result in a sale. Certainly sales of slings at the various baby shows show high conversion rates.

A baby sling is often these days a fashion statement with a number of celebrities photographed with them, and certainly the colour and style can influence a purchasing decision – but this is usually confined to which sling to buy, rather than whether to buy a sling at all.

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