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Our babywearing article for the Oregonian

November 19, 2008


Skip the Motrin, take a chill pill?

Posted by Helen Jung, The Oregonian November 19, 2008 05:00AM

A mei tai carrier

The makers of Motrin recently apologized for an ad that, in a failed attempt to be humorous, offended many in their target audience — mothers.In the ad, a female narrator breezily talks about babywearing — in which you carry your child in a sling or baby carrier. She notes that while it may be good for the baby, it’s not so good for her back. Hence — bring on the Motrin to ease the muscle pain, insert marketing yadda yadda yadda here.

But the ad prompted an intense outpouring of criticism from many moms who felt the ad made light of babywearing. Some were deeply offended.

Offended? Really? Well … everyone has his or her own standard. The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. First you have the people who are offended. Then, it turns out that other people are offended that people were offended in the first place. And so they have been lobbing equally intense criticism at the criticizers. Phew. Can we all just take a chill pill?

But it does however, draw attention to the fact that International Babywearing Week just ended. (Didn’t know there was one of those, did you?)

A rundown on some of the babywearing options open to you:

Lauren Allen, who runs Instinct Parenting, a babywearing consulting business, offered a brief line-up.

• A structured carrier, like a Bjorn or Ergo baby carrier

• Ring slings, like a Maya wrap – a long piece of fabric that secures near your shoulder. Generally, she said, these are the easiest to use.

Mei Tai – A panel of fabric with long ties to go above your shoulders and around your waist.

• Pouch carriers — like the New Native carrier or Peanut Shell. These aren’t adjustable, but are mostly like a long tube of fabric that has been folded in half, length-wise and where you fit the baby into the pocket. You wear the fabric like a sash.

• And a wrap carrier, like a Moby, which crisscrosses around your body and offers a number of ways to carry your baby.

Allen advises that you first think through the specifics of your own situation. Do you have bad back problems? Are you recovering from a C-section, and need to avoid pressure on your abdomen? Do you have to carry twins? How long do you want to be able to carry your child — some carriers can handle children as heavy as 65 pounds, she said. And finally, what’s your price point?

But overall, there’s no easy formula for figuring out what will work for you. She advises that you really spend the time to find the right option for you, she said. Your comfort depends in great part on how a carrier fits your particular height, build, bust, etc. Even though your neighbor or best friend raves about one sling, it might not be the best fit for you, she said. For her clients, she offers a lending library of sorts where they can check out a sling of one sort to see if it works for them. Several other babywearing consultants also offer their assistance for a fee.

There are other ways to see what’s out there. Several places around Portland offer babywearing help. Milagros, in Northeast Portland, hosts babywearing gatherings the third Sunday of every month. Next one is December 21 at 11 a.m.

New Seasons also occasionally hosts babywearing classes or seminars where parents can ask about slings along with other baby care questions.

And several shops, including Bella+Stella in Northeast Portland, can assist you with learning the ins and outs of babywearing.

— Helen Jung;

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