Staying safe: Baby wearing awareness

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COLUMBIA - Babywearing is more and more popular because it can be a source of bonding and free-up mom or dad's hands while still being able to keep an eye on a little one.

But carriers have also gone largely unregulated.

Shanna Watson is a baby-wearing pro. Her son is child number three, and she's worn all of them.

Babywearing is so second-nature to her, she was even an educator for the local babywearing group

She says not to be too intimiated by all of the options for carrying your baby. "A bunch of people get the moby wrap when they're first carrying and there is a lot of fabric and they're overwelmed and they don't know what to do with it."

As babywearing continues to increase in popularity, so have the injuries and even deaths of babies and toddlers from falls from carriers. 87.9% of those injuries happen at home, the very place parents work so hard to babyproof.

If fact, the newest study by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published in March 2017 shows injuries to babies and toddlers jumped almost 25 percent in the last 20 years… 80 percent of those kids were hurt from falling… and the most common way they fell was from a baby carrier.

Lori Lampe is a registered nurse. She says there are good guidelines to know to be safe when you're wearing your baby. "If mom can kiss the top of the baby's head, without straining her neck. The baby's trunk needs to be tight, next to mom... tummy to tummy. She needs to be able to see the baby's face. If you can see the face, the airway is open."

The carrier you use most can change as your baby grows. The most common thing that happens when getting away from baby wearing is they're not comfortable. So, find something that works for you," Watson says.

So how do you know if the wrap, sling or carrier you pick is up to standards?

It may surprise you to hear the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association only establishes an industry standard after a safety issue comes up.

But researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database operated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission that monitors consumer product-related injuries. It looked at childhood injuries associated with nursery products such as cribs and mattresses, strollers, carriers and walkers and exercisers. CPSC announced new baby carrier standards in January of 2017. Those standards are being implemented by manufacturers now, and slings and wraps made after February 2018 will be required to be compliant. 

The Journal of Pediatrics study also revealed during the 21-year study period, an average of more than 66,000 children younger than 3 years-old were sent to emergency departments for nursery product-related injuries each year.

More than half of all injuries occurred during the first year of life, with the highest proportion among infants 6 months to 11 months old (35.5%). More boys (54.9%) were injured than girls, and a majority of injuries happened at home (87.9%).

The most common nursery products associated with injury were baby carriers (19.5%), cribs and mattresses (18.6%), strollers (16.5%), and walkers and exercisers (16.2%). Almost half -- 47.1% -- of the injuries were to the head or neck.

Also according to the study in Pediatrics, it's estimated up to 80% of recalled children's products are still in consumer households after a recall.

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