Wonderingwilla emailed me a couple of days back with this link to a recent Consumer Reports article titled “Five products not to buy for your baby”. The mention of two AP-related paraphernalia – cosleepers and slings – has, like the babywearing Motrin ad last November, raised the ire of the AP/NP crowd. It hasn’t quite yet reached the proportions of that particular storm yet (see Twitter activity), but it may still.
Unlike the Motrin ad, in this instance I think the AP/NP crowd has a valid point: instead of a blanket recommendation against the use of all slings and cosleepers, Consumer Reports should probably have looked more closely at these deaths and recommended against the use of specific slings and cosleepers, perhaps with certain dangerous features. Unless there is more information that isn’t mentioned in the CR article, it doesn’t look like the evidence is enough to claim these items should be considered inherently dangerous, in the class of bath seats and baby walkers.
However, some of the responses from APers in the comment section are what you’d expect of hysterical ninnies, not grown women with a point to make:
Posted by: Jennifer | Apr 25, 2009 9:57:46 PM
Sounds like these folks are most likely being paid to print this negative propoganda by the crib manufacturers and such.. In what way are cribs any way ‘safer?’ People have co-slept with their infants since the beginning of time. When it comes to parenting, our society needs a serious wake up call. (My comment: Ah, the ‘pharma shill’ – or in this case, ‘crib manufacturer shill’ gambit. I was wondering when this would come up.)
Posted by: Brandy | Apr 25, 2009 1:16:14 PM
Practices at work for thousands of years are now dangerous because of a handful of idiots?
Great. Thanks Consumer Reports for fueling the flames of others having control over what I can do or do NOT do with or to my child.
CR has so much clout in the consumer market, they really should use more common sense when they want to start their fear mongering. I could understand thousands of deaths, or a true defect in the product, but using a product INCORRECTLY is not the fault of the producer but the USER. (My comment: Here we go again with the ol’ “If it didn’t work for you, you must be doing it wrong” argument.)
You know, I’m sure there is a study out there that shows how many babies die from being dropped by their parents. Does that mean that we shouldn’t hold our babies at all?
No, it means use common sense.
If these deaths were due to suffocation or posture in the carrier that cannot be avoided due to the design of the carrier, bathseat, crib, cosleeper etc, then I could see a legitimate concern.
Let’s break down their claims:
Bassinet/CoSleeper: The bar shown in the photo shouldn’t be seen or in place at all when using it as a co sleeper. It should be covered up in the fabric running around the product being used as a bassinet. Again, not the products fault 2 babies died due to parental stupidity. [snipped fpr length]…
…Sling Carriers: Saved my life. I loved tucking my little one into her little pouch. I even went so far as to go to a local sling clinic to get instruction on how to use it properly. MILLIONS of women and babies have used slings in their lifestyles for THOUSANDS of years. And yet again, the lack of common sense parents ruin it for many.
Posted by: Christine Mehl | Apr 24, 2009 12:10:08 PM
I am saddened to read this list. How dare Consumer Reports undermine babies! Co-sleeping and sling-wearing (baby-wearing) are the fabric of our existance! Read the research from Dr. James McKenna of the Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab for information about the co-sleeping facts (through scientific method not through opinion as stated in this blog). Here is the link: http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/ (My comment: James McKenna’s studies in no way constitute proof of the safety of cosleeping, as anyone who’s actually read the studies should know. Not that I expect any APer to have done so, as opposed to merely parroting what all the other APers and Mothering Magazine say on the subject.)
Let’s stop the scare-tactics in our society, the health and wellness of mothers, babies, and families depend on it!
Mom of 4 (breastfed, co-sleeping, babywearing)
B.S. Degree in Public Health
Doula & Lactation Counselor
To be fair, there were many less hysterical and much better-reasoned responses as well. But all too many responses had the , “OMG! You have committed AP sacrilege!! How could you?!!” tone about them.
Mind you, while I can somewhat understand taking offense about slings, I really have to wonder about the colseepers. These are usually the same people who allege that sharing an adult bed with your baby is perfectly safe, thus making a cosleeper unnecessary. One or two of the responders actually did mention this. There were also cries of “formula kills babies, why not recommend against it?” and the usual railing against death in cribs (“They call SIDS crib death, and many more babies die in cribs!”) and infant seats (“Plastic buckets”).
I’ve already covered the “science”, or rather lack thereof, behind the practice of babywearing in my Motrin post; the risk/benefit balance of bedsharing is covered in multiple posts, mostly here and here. The inanity of the “But cosleeping has been around for thousands of years!!” argument, expressed by all too many AP responders, is addressed here. Note that I endorse cosleepers as a rule and think they are safer than having a tiny baby in bed with you; however, I wouldn’t dismiss offhand that some, or even all, cosleepers may be dangerous. If the evidence actually pointed that way, I would recommend against using them. But that’s because I try to remove my ideological blinders when assessing reports such as these. Unfortunately, it seems many AP/NPers just can’t. There is all too much paranoid thinking in the AP/NP crowd that goes, “I am right, my way is inherently superior. Any evidence you might present to the contrary means you are either in error, or you must have been paid off by evil people to persecute me”.
So while I would personally prefer that Consumer Reports qualify its blanket recommendation against slings and cosleepers, I can’t help thinking that this hysterical outburst isn’t the way to do it. And I can’t help hoping that one day, some organization – be it CR or some other company that runs afoul of the AP/NPers – will tell them, perhaps not in so many words, to go screw themselves if they can’t react in a mature manner and back up their dislike of a company’s practice with cold, hard science.