Monday, October 4, 2010
Close to My Heart
I have written about a couple parenting issues I feel very strongly about. There are car seats, of course, and I wrote about the nurse-in in Arizona. Another issue I strongly believe in but don't think I've written about yet is baby-wearing.
Baby-wearing is gaining in popularity, but a lot of people still don't understand it, let alone practice it. Most of the comments I get are positive, although some people look at me like I have two heads. (To be fair, most of those looks came when I was wearing Anna in a sling facing out, with her legs tucked under her, so it sort of looked like I did have two heads. Push, the talking trash can at Disney World, told me that I looked like Signorney Weaver from Alien.)
Baby-wearing got a much-unneeded setback a couple months ago when some carriers were recalled due to baby deaths. These particular "bag" carriers are very padded and do not properly position the baby, who is worn low on the parent's body. The padding can cause suffocation, and it was possible for baby's head to tilt too far forward, cutting off his airway. Most baby-wearing advocates were happy to see that particular type of carrier recalled.
Babies worn in slings should be worn up high, at chest level or above. They should be worn close to the parent's body, and a good, properly fitted sling will allow that. The baby's head should never be tilted toward his or her chest, and fabric should not flop over the baby's face. The recalled carriers do not allow any of that to happen, and were, therefore, inherently dangerous.
However, many people don't understand that there is a difference in types of carriers. They are quick to assume that all carriers are dangerous, even though the reality is that most carriers are perfectly safe if used and fitted properly. Unfortunately, among the people who don't quite "get it" is the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency in charge of urging/forcing recalls.
According to the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, the entire industry is in jeopardy. Supposedly, a popular manufacturer of (safe) slings was recently approached by the CPSC and told to cease operations immediately. The CPSC, supposedly, claimed that although they had no proof that this company's products were dangerous, it insisted upon a recall anyway. The CPSC has, allegedly, threatened legal action against the entire industry.
I put a lot of "supposedly"s and "allegedly"s in there because apparently the company in question doesn't want to go public right now, so there's no way to verify all that. The story sounds both implausible and completely believable at the same time.
Without being able to confirm details, I have no way to know what--if anything--has been embellished or misunderstood. What I believe, without a doubt, is that it's very likely that CPSC plans on targeting the baby-wearing industry because the agency can't or won't understand the differences.
There is a campaign to get people to write to/call elected officials in position to stop any unnecessary action CPSC might be taking. (see list below) I'm in a bit of a quandary in that Barbara Boxer isn't technically my senator anymore, and I'm ashamed to admit I don't know who my congressperson in Texas is. So I'm figuring out how to proceed.
What I am sure of is that the government should not be taking away our ability to keep our babies close to our hearts, where they belong.
If you live in one of these states/districts, and you are concerned that safe baby carriers might be targeted for unnecessary recall, please contact your representatives. If you don't live in one of these areas, contact your reps anyway.
SENATE: Mark Pryor – Chairman, AR (202) 224-2353
Byron L. Dorgan, ND (202) 224-2551
Barbara Boxer, CA (202) 224-3553
Bill Nelson, FL (202) 224-5274
Claire McCaskill, MO (202) 224-6154
Amy Klobuchar, MN (202) 224-3244
Tom Udall, NM (202) 224-5941
Roger Wicker – Ranking Member, MS (202) 224-6253
Olympia J. Snowe, ME (202) 224-5344
Jim DeMint, SC (202) 224-6121
John Thune, SD (202) 224-2321
Johnny Isakson, GA (202) 224-3643
David Vitter, LA (202) 224-4623
HOUSE: Bobby L. Rush, IL, Chairman 202-225-4372; 773-224-6500
Jan Schakowsky, IL, Vice Chair 202-225-2111; 773-506-7100
Ed Whitfield, KY, Ranking Member 202-225-3115; 270-885-8079
John P. Sarbanes, MD 202-225-4016; 410-832-8890
George Radanovich, CA 202-225-4540; 559-449-2490
Betty Sutton, OH 202-225-2266; 330-865-8450
Cliff Stearns, FL 202-225-5744; 352-351-8777
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ 202-225-4671; 732-571-1140
Joseph R. Pitts, PA 202-225-2411; 717-303-0667
Bart Gordon, TN 202-225-4231; 615-896-1986
Mary Bono Mack, CA 202-225-5330; 760-320-1076
Bart Stupak, MI 202-225-4735; 231-348-0657
Lee Terry, NE 202-225-4155; 402-397-9944
Gene Green, TX 202-225-1688; 281-999-5879
Sue Wilkins Myrick, NC 202-225-1976; 704-362-1060
Charles A. Gonzalez, TX 202-225-3236; 210-472-6195
Tim Murphy, PA 202-225-2301; 412-344-5583
Anthony D. Weiner, NY 202-225-6616; 718-520-9001
Phil Gingrey, GA 202-225-2931; 770-429-1776
Jim Matheson, UT 202-225-3011; 801-486-1236
Steve Scalise, LA 202-225-3015; 504-837-1259
G. K. Butterfield, NC 202-225-3101; 252-237-9816
Robert E. Latta, OH 202-225-6405; 419-668-0206
John Barrow, GA 202-225-2823; 912-354-7282
Joe Barton, TX 202-225-2002; 817-543-1000