After 1 officer stuck her head into the sling to see the baby, she noted that they baby was fine and said so. They then continued to lecture this man about parenting informing him that it was too hot to wear the baby (under 30 degrees with a cool breeze in a suburb by the sea), that it was unsafe to have her on his back, that she was at risk of dying of SIDS, they requested he remove the sling and carry the baby home, which he refused to do because it would wake the child. 1 officer reached their hand into the sling and removed a small toy the child was holding in her sleep and stated "now there will be better airflow" the officer also loosened the hood which was supporting the sleeping baby's head.
(from the parents)
Is Babywearing safe? I certainly believe so. So do my friends, customers and many other informed parents. Is it possible to do it in an unsafe way? Yes. That is why we have information for people about how to be sure to do it safely. The question for today though, is whether it is ok for the police to stop someone who is safely wearing their child and demand that the baby be removed from the carrier, and that from now on the parent use a pram.
We all understand that keeping children safe is the responsibility of all of us. That is why we have created organisations specifically to remove children from dangerous environments. That is why we have laws about carseats and seatbelts. But once the police established that the child was safe they continued to harass the parent. And remember – no law had been broken here. There isn’t a law about wearing your child only in cool weather. Or only on your front. Or only in certain types of carriers.
When my friend shared her story on facebook this afternoon there was shock and upset among many of us in the babywearing community. And though when I asked around I found that most people had received very few, if any, negative comments about wearing their babies, the stories I did hear bothered me. Stories of people being followed around the shops by someone convinced the sleeping baby on the back was dead, the story someone shared about a stranger pulling the wrap down off a sleeping baby in order to check that the baby was indeed alive and breathing – those stories scare me. Because they suggest yet again that parents are unaware of their baby’s needs, that strangers care more than parents do about said baby. That personal space is not something we are entitled to as parents.
Was the baby in the original story in any danger? A 12m old child sleeping comfortably on her father’s back in a soft structured carrier (known also as a buckle carrier)? The child was sleeping. The hood was up, supporting her neck. It was less than 30 degrees Celsius, and there was a breeze. And yet the police (who are unlikely to have had ANY training in early childhood care to or to know about baby safety) declared the carrier to be a sids risk and demanded that the baby be removed and that from now on the parent use a pram.
I'm going to repost the TICKS poster to remind us all about safe babywearing practice. This poster talks only about front wearing, but when back carrying, many of the same rules apply. However, rather than keeping your child in view one should aim to use other senses to check that the baby is healthy and happy. And it is a good idea to check in passing windows/mirrors that your child is still in a good position. Or to use a slingview mirror. Like the one attached to the carrier in the picture.
for more information on safe babywearing please look here.NOTE: After reading the comments here and elsewhere I want to clarify the advice about keeping baby in view. As many people have pointed out, most babies spend much time in cots, prams and carseats out of their parents view. The advice on the TICKS poster is relevent because every death that has occured in a sling has occured when a baby was being worn in a deep pouch, on the front, in a way that precluded anyone from being able to see the baby's face. In a safe back carry the child's face may not be visible to the person wearing, however it will be visible in mirrors and to others.