Monday, May 4, 2009

Consumer Reports helpfully shows attachment parenting is dangerous

danger sign

That was a sarcastic title, as I'm sure you'll figure out as you read on.

Here's a blog post that tells you "Baby sling carriers raise safety concerns."

Ready? Wait for it. According to this CR blog post: "Over the past 10 years, there have been at least 22 reports of serious injury associated with the use of sling-type carriers. The injuries include skull fractures, head injuries, contusions and abrasions. Most occurred when the child fell out of the sling."

What does CR then recommend? "For now, we think there are better ways of transporting infants including strollers, hand-held infant carrier/car seats and even other types of soft infant carriers."

Yes, those stupid plastic bucket things are sooo much safer.

Here's a PDF handout from the CPSC on the safety of plastic infant carriers (yep, the same anti-AP "experts" that caution against cosleeping): "CPSC knows of at least 5 deaths a year involving various types of carriers used to hold infants.In addition, there were over 13,000 estimated injuries in a recent one-year period. (This does not include incidents involving motor vehicles.)"

Hmmm...22 injuries over 10 years vs. 5 deaths and 13,000 injuries PER year. I realize I don't have the relative population sizes here, but come on! I wonder which would be safer?

Not being content to let this inanity lie (or retract it!), the blog recently published "Five products not to buy for your baby" and included, again, "slings" (which I think we can all agree is a generic, catch-all term that might include some very shoddy box-store specimens) as well as cosleepers (such as the reputable Arms Reach).

The blog backs up its assertions that cosleepers are more dangerous than cribs with...well, nothing. The author points out that one cosleeper (that I've never heard of) was recalled. How many gazillion cribs have been recalled? There's no point of comparison here, either.

I'll forego further commentary because so many of the commenters on both posts have done my job for me, as well as on a follow-up post that the blog author felt compelled to write: "Readers respond to advice on unsafe baby products." Since his follow-up post says something along the lines of "If you're so intent on using your crazy 'sling,' you hippies, at least go for a BabyBjorn!" several astute commenters have pointed out that the BabyBjorn itself has been subject to recall and has been criticized for poor design and value (standards that CR generally evaluates). In further unrecognized irony, the next post in line is about Jardine recalling more cribs! (Note that two babies had died using the recalled cosleeper, and there were 92 incidents reported to prompt the recent Jardine crib recalls.)

I'm not calling anyone to get into a flame war with this poor blog author, who's probably highly sick of APers by now, but a few reasonable letters to CR wouldn't go amiss, asking for true journalistic investigation instead of speculation, and backed up by research statistics on the hazards of cribs (SIDS, suffocation, etc.) and plastic baby carriers (falling, suffocation, etc.) as compared with keeping your baby close to you through safe babywearing and cosleeping. I'm all for increasing the safety standards of infant products. I would never recommend, for instance, using weak craft rings on a ring sling, or using soft bedding around a sleeping baby, whether in a crib or in a cosleeping situation. And I realize that CR's objective is to test and recommend products and point out flaws in design and practice. But CR's blog goes too far in giving blanket statements that safe slinging and cosleeping will always be trumped by putting your baby away from you into plastic isolation. That's not product evaluation — that's a parenting philosophy disguised as concern for safety.

I would like to highlight one hilarious response by Meg on April 30:

"This just in: Consumer Reports warns that carrying babies in arms is not safe. Parents want to hold their babies. And babies love to be held! Unfortunately, human arms come in many different sizes and strengths. There is no corporate funded testing facility for arms. Many new parents feel unsure of how to hold their babies—and we know they won't listen when Grandma tries to tell them how to do it. Injuries have occurred when parents doing a 'spit-up handoff' miscalculate distance and slipperiness and one of them drops the baton (so to speak.) And baby-induced sleep deprivation causes clumsiness—a parent carrying a baby might actually trip or even fall! ... Hold [your] baby when you absolutely must, but for [their] own good they really should be left screaming for love in a nice safe crib or slumped over in a $20.00 umbrella stroller.
Next story: Has your uterus been recalled? Is this untested device really the best place to grow a baby?"

In related news, I watched a pretty cool-looking father in line ahead of me in a deli yesterday. He had multiple piercings and dressed like he was used to bucking the status quo. But he had his newborn in one of those plastic seats that everyone uses, being driven by peer expectations and reinforced by thoughtless hype like that from the CR blog posts above. The newborn was mildly fussy, so the father bounced, bounced, bounced the seat by the handle while we stood in line for about 10 minutes. Then we all ended up on chairs outside the deli, and I looked over and the father had the plastic carrier on his lap, still jiggling it and trying to get the baby inside to hush. He looked like a good dad, like he was really trying to connect and soothe his baby. And all I wanted to do was scream, "Pick the baby up! Can't you see he just wants to be held?!" Poor baby, poor daddy. Poor missed connection. Thanks a lot, CR.

Photo courtesy Asif Akbar on stock.xchng


Jenny said...

That recall on parents' arms bit is too funny! I hope it doesn't give the government AP-haters any ideas, or we'll be Brave-New-Worlding it soon. I read that "5 things not to buy" garbage too, and left an ugly comment. It's sad that many parents are so easily duped by manipulated, underexplained stats that they'll put their babies in real danger by leaving them unattended in a hands-off parenting device. In our boutique, a dad once sat his infant on the floor next to our table in one of those car seat buckets. There was a big, heavy two-hole punch in the way on the table, and my coworker accidentally knocked it off. It landed on the floor RIGHT NEXT to the kid! She was little enough that it could've really hurt her. Babies don't belong on the floor. Countless other parents have left their babies sitting in the bucket a few feet inside the door and then browsed around the rest of the shop, totally carefree. The babies could've been tripped over, stepped on, or anything. So clearly these buckets give a false sense of security!

Lisa C said...

I just left a comment on that blog. I had to. The reasoning is ridiculous. Might as well to everyone to avoid cribs and carseats, too, because those get recalled. Not to mention that people ignore the safety directions on those products, too. Consumer reports has way too much influence on people...they are going to scare people away from wonderful products.

Melodie said...

What a great post! And hey? What about recalls on car seats? How many times have I heard about those handles falling off the infant car seats in Healthy Baby classes at the local public health unit. To many... Slings are by far the safest place to be, next to its parents arms. Too funny!

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