The New York Times goes on a “babywearing” trip to 2 of the biggest babywearing stores of NY and Brooklyn: Boing and Metro Minis. They report that, for a lot of these parents, the “last decade’s coveted Bugaboo or Maclaren stroller has been largely supplanted by baby carriers.” Has babywearing become fashionable? That’s what the article posits. As we see images of celebrity parents carrying their babies more and more, “wearing one’s baby has taken on a certain cachet.”
Sales of baby carriers have dramatically increased. “Between 2006 and 2008, overall sales of industry-certified carriers rose 43 percent to $21.5 million, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. The ERGObaby, a soft carrier structured like a backpack that was introduced in 2003, has seen sales rise 200 percent since 2007, according to Karin Buck, a company spokeswoman. The Moby Wrap, a length of stretchy cotton that attaches babies to their caregivers with a series of origami-like tucks and twists, has doubled in sales almost every year since it was introduced in 2003, said Marisa Frantz, a company spokeswoman, and it is poised to debut this month in retail locations of Babies “R” Us.”
Regardless of the upswing in sales, the Consumer Product Safety Commission believes that certain carriers are not safe. Specifically, bag-style slings have contributed to the suffocation of several infants. “On Tuesday, Inez M. Tenenbaum, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a forthcoming warning about slings, saying that “we know now the hazard scenarios for very small babies” carried in them. Many specialty stores, like Metro Minis, do not sell bag-style slings whose safety has been challenged, and instructs buyers to position babies in any sling upright and tight against the caregiver.”
Will the “cachet of wearing your baby” supplant the stroller?
There are a group of parents who believe it should. This group defines themselves as “anti-stroller”, like these commenters on a mothering.com forum:
I have seen so many children crying and ignored in their strollers- never leaving the contraption the entire playdate. They are huge, expensive, and are EVERYWHERE anywhere you go.
admitt I am anti stroller. I have used them before, I am not going to lie.. But I am horrible now, I catch myself wanting to run over and talk about babywearing to stroller pushers sometimes, I think I tend to look down my nose a little at them which is snobby and wrong, but only cause they look at me like I have 10 heads for wearing my 16 month old on my back all the time..
Others see the advantage of using a stroller, like another commenter on the same mothering.com forum:
I personally never understood why people needed strollers until my daughter got heavy enough that my joints were affected on long walks (we walk as much as we can, to the grocery store, etc.). Slinging a 25-lb toddler is just too much stress on my knees and hips– it remains comfortable otherwise. The stroller has also proved to be a wonderful way for me to get some exercise. Walking slowly with a toddler on my back isn’t that strenuous, really (except to my knee joints), and I can get my heart rate up nicely while pushing the stroller.
I am happy to see babywearing catch on. It’s a tradition for many parts of the world and been done here for decades too. I don’t know why it has to be an argument about carrier vs. stroller. I own both and use them for different situations. Carriers are becoming more fashionable- and why not? Strollers have been going that way for some time. Whether we like it or not, fashion and design has become enmeshed in our lives. It’s only natural that it would spill into the design of the carriers.
P.S.- there is a Babywearing class this weekend, in Carroll Gardens at Madison Rose Maternity. Here are the details:
Babywearing Class: March 14th at 10:30AM, 313 Court Street between Sackett and Degraw.
This class is perfect for those who are new to baby wearing. They will go over the 5 different types of carriers (available for you to try on) and the specific brands available. From Mei Teis, wraps, ring slings, pocket slings, one shoulder vs. two shoulder carriers, soft vs. structured …They will concentrate on discovering the best carrier for you, your partner and your family’s needs. Class will be taught by Megan Davidson and Tanya Wills of the With Woman Doula Coop. To RSVP to the store through their website www.madisonrosematernity.com