That didn’t take long.
I’ve only published five blog posts so far and already I got my first negative email about one of my pictures! I think that must be some kind of blogger milestone, right? So I feel honored!
It wasn’t a very harsh or abusive email, thankfully. More just condescending and critical. I’ve been active on internet discussion groups and forums long enough to know how nuts people can get. Over things nobody would normally use much energy on at all. I’ve learned a lot about what level I’m comfortable with sharing myself, although I can see that with a blog this comfort level might end up stretching and shifting and I’ll have a new learning curve to surmount as I deal with feedback (aka criticism) on more personal levels. But I like the discussions brought forth by sharing thoughts, for me it’s part of the point of writing a blog. Putting thoughts out there and hearing what other people think about the subject. Dialogue. So it doesn’t shock me to get a negative email, I just wasn’t expecting it so soon. I’m not naive enough to think it will be the last, or the worst! Bring it on, I’m ready to hit delete! 😉 (Or maybe I’ll answer, if I think there’s something constructive and worthwhile about continuing the conversation.)
The negative email I got was because of this picture:
In which, according to the email, my baby is too low, I’m wearing the baby carrier wrong, I’m promoting unsafe babywearing practices, and I should have just used a stroller instead! Ok, I added that last part. The whole email was just “educating” me on why I was wearing my baby wrong and why I should take more responsibility to show babywearing in a better way. Ok.
First point, my baby is too low. Her head should be “Close enough to kiss” which you can see it isn’t. Well, ahem, she’s being carried at this height for the simple reason that this is where my boobs are. My baby breastfeeds, on the beach, in the house, with a mouse, in the air, and everywhere. This is the beauty of babywearing for me. I can meet her needs with breastfeeding while exploring an awesome magical beach like this. Amazing. But it requires me to wear her “too low”, like this, so she’s where the boobs are. Yep.
Next point, I’m wearing the carrier wrong. The waist belt should be up around my waist, not resting on my hips. And the shoulder straps should be tightened more. This is of course related to the comment about wearing my baby too low. And my answer again is this carrier positioning is mostly about putting the baby at boob level. When I’m not breastfeeding and I’m walking around more actively I usually do tighten up the shoulder straps more and pull the baby in tighter to my body to prevent her from swinging back and forth which is uncomfortable for both me and her. But I don’t always bring the waist belt up higher and I don’t agree that wearing it down on my hips is Wrong. I like transferring some of the baby’s weight down to my hips and carrying it there. That’s comfortable to me. I see this a lot online, people critiquing other people’s baby carriers based on their own bodies and preferences and not being open for the fact that varying the carry position can be both more comfortable for some people. Not to mention the fact that if we use baby carriers a lot it can be a good idea to vary which type and how we wear them so we activate and use different muscles in different ways. Better for our bodies.
I’m all for babywearing safety. Unsafe things include anything where the baby’s airways can be compromised. A sloppy wrap job which lets the baby slump and curl down so their chin is down on their chest. Babies carried in “cradle position” where the chin again can get pressed down to the chest and block their airflow. Poorly designed “bag slings” where the baby can roll inwards so their face can be pressed in to the adults’s torso, leading to possible suffocation. Jackets and sweatshirts closed around and over the baby’s head, obstructing airflow.
A small baby slumping down in a front-pack carrier of this type can also be dangerous. And that’s what my emailer tried to teach me and said I shouldn’t “promote”. Because wearing the carrier this loose could lead to a small baby slumping down and not getting correct support for their body or airways. I must say my first (somewhat sarcastic I admit) reaction was to thank this person for giving me so much credit, to think I could actually be promoting anything and influencing anyone with this blog at this point, since I have about 10 regular readers (half of which are my family).
But anyway, I agree, if a very small baby is worn in a front-pack carrier like this, and the baby’s body isn’t fully supported with for example an infant insert or another solution, and especially if the carrier is worn loose and low, there is a risk that the baby will slide down, curl up, the airways can be compromised, it can be bad for their spine and hips, and they can even fall out the sides of the carrier if the positioning is really bad and the parents don’t pay enough attention. So yeah, scary.
*But that’s not what’s happening here.* In this picture my baby is a year old, with excellent control over her head, torso, and legs. I’m also an experienced babywearer, this being my fifth child and probably my 500th baby carrier. (Haha, yes, I’m serious. I ran a babywearing shop for 8 years, I’ve tried most of them.) I know when I need to tighten up the carrier because the situation demands better balance and control, and I know when I can loosen up and let her hang a bit (down where the boobs hang, I just like writing that). I agree that from this one picture you can’t tell anything about my experience level or other specifics of the situation, but I didn’t write that post to teach anyone babywearing skills or “promote” babywearing in any way. When I do teach babywearing I firmly believe in teaching people the Hows, and then the Whys, and then letting them tweak and adapt the skills so they work best for their lifestyle. If someone looks at this picture of me wearing my one-year old “too low” and then says “hey! that means I can put my newborn in the same carrier and adjust it exactly like that and go stand on a beach!” I can’t personally take responsibility for that. There’s unfortunately a lot of stupid in the world, but we can only combat that with information. Getting good information out there so people can make decisions that are appropriate for their own circumstances. Babywearing can give people great freedom and let them include their babies in so many wonderful experiences. But as it becomes more popular it also develops more and more “rules” which can end up scaring people off from even trying. There has to be a middle ground of giving people the information they need to wear their baby safely while still being able to trust in common sense to adapt to their own specific needs and situation. Yeah, maybe I should write some blog posts on Hows and Whys of babywearing, I do have lots of thoughts and ideas about babywearing, as may be clear at this point. But there are already tons of resources for this information online. I hope anyone who feels the incredible influence and inspiration emanating from my amazing photo (haha) will google a bit and find those resources and that they won’t base their whole babywearing practice on one picture they saw on a blog. One can hope.
Those were my thoughts and reaction to the email I received. I’m gonna keep posting pictures of myself, probably babywearing pictures too, and I guarantee there will be many more imperfect situations involved. I’m generally quite imperfect. And dialogue is great, I look forward to it. But my answer in many cases will be this. I do the best I can with the information I have. I make things work for me and I take responsibility for my life and my children. And I trust that those around me do the same.
Bonus! I was looking for something else and found this picture. Bad (yet still safe) babywearing at its best! Hint: Boob location is involved in the positioning here too. 🙂