Carried Away Spring 2015 - Page 18

Risks vs Rules Manufacturers recommendations and real life babywearing Renae Farrington investigates what those manufacturers recommendations really mean and interviews experts in the field. When you become a parent you get bombarded by guidelines. Guidelines for sleeping, guidelines for growth, guidelines for feeding, guidelines for play - all based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific research for safety and optimal development of babies. Some parents will follow these guidelines to the letter; others will find that their family situation, baby’s temperament or even simply their own ‘intuition’ leads them to adapt or bend the guidelines to fit. In a similar fashion, babywearing has guidelines, which some will follow scrupulously and others will adapt as they see the need. However, there are potential consequences of adapting babywearing guidelines which are not of ten explored, and it is important to fully understand what they are before you attempt to change the rules to suit your situation. instructions. These are the weight ratings, sizes, usage instructions, and recommendations for the usage of accessories such as infant inserts. Although there are currently no legal standards for baby carriers in Australia, carrier manufacturers are required by law in both the European Union and United States to be tested to mandatory safety standards. Most companies test their carriers thoroughly using special equipment, and make their recommendations faithfully using the data gained from testing. It is very important to read the manual of every separate type of carrier you use and learn exactly what the manufacturer recommendations and limits for that particular carrier are. The first type of guidelines for babywearing are the generalised safety guidelines which are appropriate to all forms of babywearing such as TICKS and “visible and kissable”. These are standards by which all other guidelines can be judged, and yet there are times when they can be bent - for example, a low torso carry by a very experienced wearer will not have the child “close enough to kiss” or “in view at all times” but these are guidelines that should be very strictly followed by most wearers in most situations. It is very common to see new wearers given advice by babywearing peers that contravenes either safety guidelines or manufacturer’s recommendations. An often-seen example is the usage of infant inserts. Some carriers such as Ergobaby and Tula carriers are recommended to be used with specified infant inserts for newborn babies up to either weight limits or developmental milestones (such as good torso control). These inserts are designed to work correctly with these carriers to provide optimal support for a developing baby. Often the advice given by fellow wearers that the infant insert is in fact not required, and can be substituted with a ‘rolled up blanket’ to boost the infant up to the correct height. Ergobaby Head Office says “We always recommend that parents follow all instructions for use of our carriers and only use Ergobaby accessories made specifically for our carriers. In the example of the rolled up blanket, each blanket differs in terms of the thickness, quality and how that blanket may be folded and such Kate Carvey has been babywearing for 8 years and confidently uses torso carry. 18 There are also manufacturer recommendations and carried away | Spring 2015 | Risks vs Rules blanket may not properly fit into our carriers, which could increase the hazard of that blanket falling or sliding out from the carrier. Our infant inserts were specifically designed to provide additional comfort and ergonomic performance. We can only recommend an infant insert which was tested with our carriers in accordance with JPMA test protocol and relevant safety standards.” There are many other examples of this, including using carriers with waistbands ‘flipped’, bases ‘cinched’ with a ribbon or strap (features which are recommended on some carriers but not others), ‘toddler’-sized carriers adapted to use with younger babies, using carriers for children who exceed specified weight limits etc. Misuse of any item using