Friday, March 5, 2010

Kudos to Baby Bjorn

Most of the time I struggle to find something positive to say about any of the more mainstream front-pack style baby carriers and their respective manufacturers. Recently it was brought to my attention that parents in Australia will have a truly new and improved Baby Bjorn to consider when looking to purchase a safe, or in this case, safer, baby carrier for their baby.

Enter the "Baby Bjorn Comfort Carrier." For those of you familiar with babywearing and the different styles of carriers, you will probably note the major difference in this new Baby Bjorn immediately. For those of you not so intimate with babywearing, let me briefly explain. Look closely at the photo above, paying specific attention to the baby's leg position. Note the nice, wide hip spread. Look familiar? It should, it's the position in which a well-made, correctly worn Mei Tai places a baby's hips. Like this photo of our own Baby So Smart Basic Mei Tai.

I know there has been much to say about hip positioning in regards to the practice of babywearing; I don't want to get into all that here. Suffice it to say that I'm of the opinion that hip position does matter, and if a baby is incorrectly positioned due to the design of a carrier, there is a very real possibility of hip impairment.

This Baby Bjorn improvement is exciting to me because many families are not comfortable trying out a style of carrier they are not familiar with or that they don't routinely see in the major baby supply stores. How often I have tried to counsel parents to consider trading in their poorly designed mainstream front-pack baby carriers for a style of carrier that will support their babies in an anatomically healthy position without success. Now Australian parents will be able to make better choices for their babies when choosing from the mainstream baby carriers.

A word of caution, however. While this new front-pack carrier from Baby Bjorn has the ability to be worn correctly, it also still has the ability to be worn incorrectly. Directly from the Baby Bjorn website in regards to their counsel as to how this carrier can/should be worn: "Carry your child facing inwards with the legs in a normal position" (italics mine) and then they show a diagram of an infant being carried with their legs in what I refer to as a "dangling" position, or in the manner that the other Baby Bjorn carriers position babies. I would advise parents against using this "dangling" position with their infants; the only exception to this would be those babies that are affected by Down's Syndrome. Another word of caution: while the new Bjorn style carrier provides a healthy sitting position for an infant, this still would not be the position of choice for an infant under 3-4 months old. Infants from birth to roughly the 3-4 month mark would be more appropriately carried in the tummy-to-tummy position, with their legs under them, slightly pulled up, hips wide in what can only be referred to as a "frog-leg" position. Here's a great photo of a very small infant in the frog-leg position on a caregivers hip (borrowed from the Didymos website, which is an excellent source of information regarding infant positioning in baby carriers, BTW). Leave the sitting on the bum for the bigger babies, when they are more developmentally ready to be safely seated and not be in danger of taxing little spines in a position their body is not ready for.

Let me end by extending a pat-on-the-back to the manufacturers of the Baby Bjorn style carriers for making this long overdue change. Now let's make them available everywhere, not just Australia.

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