# Babywearing

Leave your baby's car seat in the car

Infant car seats have saved thousands of babies who otherwise would have died in traffic accidents, but a new study suggests that using the seats too much outside cars can be dangerous.

More than 8,700 infants end up in the emergency room each year because their car seats are used improperly outside the car, according to study presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual meeting in Washington.[…]

Most of the injuries in [pediatric orthopedist Shital] Parikh’s study occurred when car seats fell off tables, countertops or other high surfaces. In some cases, babies who weren’t securely buckled fell out of the seats. Babies also were injured when car seats flipped over on soft surfaces, such as beds and couches, where infants can suffocate, he says.

Injury isn’t the only risk for babies who spend too much time in their car seats:

Physical therapists are seeing more babies with “container syndrome,” or weak muscles and flat heads caused by too much time spent lying on their backs, says Colleen Coulter-O’Berry of the American Physical Therapy Association.

And a study in Pediatrics in August found that car seats can make it difficult for babies to get enough oxygen, which led the authors to suggest that the seats be used only while infants are in cars.

If your baby falls asleep in your car or van, it’s fine to bring the car seat inside (as long as you place it in a safe place on the floor). But for the most part, car seats belong in motor vehicles. Wearing your baby in a soft carrier “meets a baby’s need for physical contact, comfort, security, stimulation and movement, all of which encourage neurological development.” Babywearing is also more comfortable for parents than lugging around a car seat or holding a baby in your arms for long periods. I wrote about my favorite types of baby carriers here.

A fantastic resource on the connections between touch, motion and brain development is What’s Going On In There?, a book by neurologist Lise Eliot.

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Mother's Day open thread with lots of links

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the Bleeding Heartland community. The new thing I learned today is that Julia Ward Howe envisioned Mother’s Day as an anti-war day of action by women of all nations.

We are going to a picnic and nature walk instead.

Good resources for pregnant women or mothers:

Attachment Parenting International (includes discussion forums on lots of topics)

Mothering magazine’s site and Mothering.com discussion forums

International Cesarean Awareness Network (and more resources for women wanting to reduce their risk of surgical birth)

La Leche League


Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers

Here are a few good reasons to wear your baby and some benefits of encouraging your children to play outdoors.

Good blogs for mothers: Mother Talkers (a community blog) and Momocrats

If Mother’s Day is painful for you, either because your mother didn’t provide the childhood you would have wanted, or because you are the parent of a child who has died, I recommend this diary Cronesense posted at Daily Kos two years ago: Mother’s Day – the other side of the coin. Frankenoid’s diary, Mother’s Day in the Land of the Bereaved, is also very moving.

Please use this thread to share any thoughts about this day or pay tribute to any inspiring mom in your life. Last year I wrote about my friend LaVon Griffieon.

UPDATE: Good post by DarkSyde at Daily Kos.

Marriage Equality Day in Iowa and other events coming up this week

Today same-sex marriages become legal in Iowa, as the Iowa Supreme Court will issue a document putting its Varnum v Brien ruling into effect.

If you are planning a same-sex marriage in Iowa, One Iowa has resources for you. You can also sign up to follow One Iowa on Twitter (@oneiowa). One Iowa is organizing volunteers to be at county recorder offices during the day and attend various events this evening. If you can help, please call them at (515) 288-4019.

Equality Iowa and I’M for Iowa will be giving wedding bouquets of flowers “to couples applying for their marriage license and getting waivers to marry immediately at courthouses in Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Mason City and Davenport,” according to an e-mail I received from I’M for Iowa.

Groups opposing marriage equality will also make their presence known today outside courthouses and county recorder offices. My advice is to ignore these people, not argue with them. They will be looking for any opportunity to claim they are being oppressed for their religious views.

After the jump I’ve posted information about other events planned for the coming week, including the annual conference for Iowa Rivers Revival and the annual dinner for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

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Iowa State Fair open thread

The State Fair opens on Thursday morning and runs through Sunday, August 17.

This is an open thread for sharing any advice or memories related to the Iowa State Fair. What’s your favorite thing to do at the fair? What food can’t you resist at the fair?

As I wrote earlier this week, my number one tip is to buy lemonade from the Iowa honey producers on the second level of the ag building. They usually charge about half of what the kiosks around the fair charge.

For ice cream at the fair, hit the Bauder’s truck that is parked near the ag building.

I also like the popcorn with real butter. Food on a stick is not my thing.

The fair is an ideal place to carry your baby or toddler instead of using a stroller. First, your baby will get a better view of everything when riding on your back, front or hip.

Second, you won’t have to worry about animal excrement getting on your stroller wheels if you take your kids to the animal barns (always a highlight of the fair for my family).

Third, you won’t have to worry about your preschooler stepping in poop when you’re in the barns. Just bring a soft carrier (like an Ergo or an Asian carrier) in your bag. It doesn’t take up much space. Your child can walk around the fair for most of the day and just ride on your back while you’re in the barns. A lot of young kids get tired anyway and appreciate the break from walking.

Speaking of the fair, I got this e-mail from the Polk County Democrats today:

A group of Democrats are informally organizing a protest for the McCain event at the state fair and asked that we send this out:

Sen. John McCain will be speaking at the Iowa State Fair on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. He will no doubt proclaim that he is a friend of rural Iowans in spite of his opposition to the farm bill that Sen. Harkin recently worked so hard to pass in addition to his well-known opposition to ethanol production, which has become a major Iowa industry.

If you’re planning to attend the fair on Friday, or are able to do so, we’d like to invite you to show up at the Des Moines Register’s “Soapbox,” located at the Northeast corner of the Varied Industries Building, with an appropriate sign.

A few ideas:

McCain Rejects Farmers, Iowa Rejects McCain

McCain is No Friend of Iowa’s Farmers

We Don’t Need A Third Bush Term

John McCain — Just Like Bush, But Older and Shorter

Be creative and have a little fun!

Thanks for your help.

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A few good reasons to wear your baby

Along for the Ride is holding a contest to give away “the Essential Babywearing Stash” (a pouch, a ring sling, an Asian carrier, a wrap carrier, and a soft structured carrier that can be used to carry older babies and toddlers on your front, back or hip). Click the link to enter the contest and see photos of the carriers they are giving away. Hurry, because the deadline for entering is midnight on July 31.

I haven’t used any of the brands they are featuring, but I have extensively used a pouch, a ring sling, a wrap and a soft structured carrier with my two kids. My husband is an expert at carrying babies in a sling and toddlers or preschoolers in a backpack. Many of my friends swear by Asian carriers as well–I haven’t tried then, because my wrap and soft carrier serve the same purpose.

If you’ve met me at a political event in the last five years, you’ve probably seen me using one of my carriers. I am a huge advocate of “babywearing.” In fact, my husband and I never bothered to acquire a stroller.

When you’re out and about, babies tend to stay happier (and quieter) when they are in a carrier. They’re up higher off the ground, with a better view of the world and more opportunities to see other people’s faces–a lot more interesting than looking at a bunch of strangers’ knees.

When being “worn” in a sling or other carrier, babies can smell mom or dad and feel a heartbeat, warmth and nurturing touch that is reassuring. If you don’t believe me, next time you’re at the mall or some public place, count the number of people pushing an empty stroller with one hand while balancing a baby on their shoulder with the other arm. Babies like to be up high, close to a caregiver’s body.

A good baby carrier allows you to meet a baby’s need to be held without killing your arms or throwing out your back. The best ones are designed to distribute the baby’s weight without putting strain on your neck and shoulders. At a family wedding a few years ago, my four-month-old spent most of the weekend snuggled in a wrap carrier. I remember joking with parents of a newborn at the wedding reception, “See, my arms are free!” The dad, who’d been walking and holding his baby for ages, said, “I can no longer feel my arms.”

What about toddlers and preschoolers? In our family, once a kid can walk, we let him walk. When he gets tired, we put him in a comfortable baby carrier. It’s a lot easier than lugging a big stroller with you all day long.

I’ve used a ring sling to carry a baby over 20 pounds on my hip. I’ve used a wrap carrier or my Ergo to carry small babies as well as toddlers weighing up to at least 35 pounds. My family went to the Omaha Zoo in May, and when my two-and-a-half-year-old got tired after a few hours, I put him in my soft back carrier for an hour or so. He’s too heavy for me to carry in my arms for more than a few minutes, but a good back carrier puts the weight on your hips, like the quality packs hikers use.

The Attachment Parenting International website has lots of articles about babywearing and its benefits.

I recommend the Tummy2Tummy instructional DVD (which shows how  to use slings, pouches, Asian carriers and wraps), but there are excellent babywearing resources available for free. TheBabyWearer.com has tons of reviews of different carriers, as well as links to peer-reviewed academic articles and more informal essays on “Great Things About Babywearing.”

Videos and detailed explanations about how to use different kinds of carriers can be found at Mamatoto.org.

Motheringdotcommune has a forum on babywearing (scroll down–it’s in the Natural Family Living section).

If you go to Askdrsears.com and search for “babywearing” you will find links to good advice, including general benefits of babywearing and special advantages for parents of “fussy babies.”

I’ve written a document about types of carriers I particularly like and what kind of carriers are most useful for newborns, larger babies or toddlers. Anyone who wants a copy can e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com. I prefer not to recommend specific brands on this blog.

That said, I can tell you that I do not recommend front carriers that have baby facing out, dangling from the crotch. Brands such as Baby Bjorn and Snugli are very popular, but unfortunately, carrying a baby in this position puts too much pressure on developing spines. I don’t deny that many babies love to be carried in these, but I think those babies would equally enjoy other carriers that would be better for their developing spines. Also, the Baby Bjorn and Snugli put too much weight on the parent’s neck and shoulders.

You want a carrier that holds the baby in a more comfortable, seated position. Would you rather be carried around in a chair, or dangling from a parachute harness?

If your baby is becoming aware of the world and no longer likes to be against your chest facing in, use a sling, pouch or other carrier that allows you to comfortably hold your child on your hip. They get a great view of things that way. People who met me at political events in 2003 or 2004 often joked later that they didn’t recognize me without a baby on my hip.