Baby slings and carriers have become ubiquitous everywhere from the streets of Brooklyn to the pages of People magazine, with two predictable results: an imminent Consumer Product Safety commission warning and a front-page appearance in the NYT Style section. In spite of a few scaremongering headlines , baby slings and soft carriers appear to be safe if properly used, which puts them one up on strollers and cribs (both of which have been involved in injuries and even deaths that appeared to be utterly out of a parents’ control). The risk is that a very small infant, curled up at the bottom of a sling, might suffocate. It’s a horrible thought, but there’s something to be said for providing the new parent with something manageable to worry about. Most parents might want to be considering a more distant danger: that in eight years, they’ll be wandering the house, old and spent, bent over and clutching their backs.
I wore four kids all over in my sling. I loved it. As a New Yorker, losing the stroller was ideal-far easier on the subway and in store after downtown store with no ramp. I didn’t lose it once we moved-I hiked with a 2-year-old in it while seven months pregnant and used it to bond (and restrain) my newly adopted 3-year-old last summer in China. I say sling, singular, but I had them all, from the mei tai to the Moby wrap (someone warn the woman in the NYT pictures that it takes a village to tie one of those things) to the Ergo. And now I am paying the price. Years of yoga may yet save my posture, but if you’re currently a baby-wearing parent, don’t shun the stroller . Your back needs a break. Soon enough, you’ll be hauling a sleeping third-grader up the stairs. And mothers might want to consider another aspect-despite all those photos of Brad Pitt sporting one of his sprouts, the majority of people still strapped to their young are women. If you are the one wearing the trendy, adorable, patterned carrier, you will also be the one left carrying the baby.
Photograph of a baby in a sling by Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Creative Images.