On behalf of the industry, the BCIA wishes to respond to the recently published AAP news release and research abstract ‘Baby Wearing Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments, 2011-2020: A Dangerous Fashion Trend.’
Baby carriers and babywearing have and continue to be, one of the safest ways to transport and interact with your baby, and come with immense physical, emotional, attachment and cognitive benefits. Like other baby gear products used and enjoyed by millions of parents worldwide, carriers require education. We encourage caregivers and professionals who work with caregivers to familiarize themselves with carrier styles including benefits and usage.
Carrier data as categorized in the NEISS reporting system covers soft carriers, sling carriers and frame carriers, and also includes handheld infant carriers (aka ‘bucket seats’) which is a fundamentally different product category. There is an additional ‘baby carriers-other’ product category that covers products of unknown detail. A significant portion of the incidents reported under ‘carriers’ pertain to handheld carriers. The conflation of these product categories is also seen in the CPSC Nursery Products Annual Report (2020). It is irresponsible and disingenuous of the media to promote sensationalist headlines without an accurate understanding of the data being presented.
International (ISO, CEN) and US-based standards (ASTM), regulations and industry messaging is constantly evolving to address incident concerns, notably trips, falls and suffocation hazards. This includes modifying test methods, on-product and instructional warnings, and the way the industry as a whole adjusts their product use and educational messaging to caregivers. The compliance community, who examines the incident data every 1-2 years, has not identified hazard patterns around baby carrier use that demands further intervention beyond the existing standards at this time. Consumers should ensure that the carriers they purchase meet current compliance and legal requirements. Purchasing direct from manufacturers or from authorized retailers is a good place to start. For more information on purchasing safe carriers, see our FAQ: Compliance for Consumers – Baby Carrier Industry Alliance
The research abstract suggests that there is a need for consumer education around carrier use, and we couldn’t agree more! The safest carrier is the one that fits you and your baby, and that you are confident in using. There are a number of sources available if you are seeking further information about safe carrier use:
- Written and online manufacturer instructions. If you are having trouble with a specific product, contacting the manufacturer directly should be your first course of action. Many manufacturers offer troubleshooting assistance and baby carrier education.
- Babywearing is a living tradition practiced by most cultures around the world for centuries. Look to traditional teachings.
- Consult with a babywearing educator. While in person assistance is invaluable, many educators are also available to assist online. A practiced eye can often help you tweak your carrier from not quite safe to optimal.
- Peer education. There may be a local parenting support group in your area with baby carrier knowledge. There are a number of helpful online communities as well.
Concerned caregivers can use the following tips to ensure carrier safety:
- Practice using your carrier, including putting it on, loading baby, and taking it off, over a soft surface to gain confidence.
- Inspect your carrier regularly for any rips, tears, broken components or stress areas.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Trips and falls often occur when a caregiver’s line of sight is impeded or an additional hazard (icy conditions, stairs, items on the floor) is introduced.
- If a baby is getting bigger and is harder to see around, consider a hip or back carry. It will improve your visual range, center of gravity and ability to respond in the event of a fall.
Media inquiries, questions or comments can be directed to:
Linnea Catalan, Executive Director, BCIA