As much as I love both garage sales and babywearing, I also love featuring others who have even more passion and education than I do, so Lindsay DeGroot joined us for this blog on two of our favorite topics!
Summer in Portland means beautiful weather, garage sale season, and plenty of second-hand baby items lining our driveways. I mean, come on, who doesn't love to score a great deal on baby gear? For those of us that have new babies or already love babywearing, a good second-hand carrier is one of the first things we look for at a garage sale.
I found this carrier at a garage sale, but how do I know it is safe to use?
When choosing a used baby carrier from your friendly neighborhood baby-purge there are some important things to keep in mind. Most importantly we need to consider the safety of the carrier. If the carrier appears to have any stitching that's come undone, holes, or other signs of obvious wear and tear that may affect safety it's not an ideal choice for your baby.
Another important safety issue is manufacturer recalls. It's always important to make sure that you're not choosing a recalled carrier, like the Infantino bag sling, which I see a lot at garage sales and on Craigslist. This bag-type sling holds babies in a low-slung position in the "cradle hold." Sadly, it was recalled because it had caused infant deaths due to improper positioning and positional asphyxiation.
The good news about these carriers is that you can send them back to the company for a safe and ergonomic replacement so I always snatch them up when I see them and send them in for a better carrier! This way you get the best of both worlds, a safe ergonomic carrier and you're taking an unsafe one out of circulation.
Ideal ergonomic positioning allows for the optimal development of baby's hips and spine and is more comfortable for the wearer and for the baby. An ergonomic baby carrier supports the natural “C” shaped curve of the baby's spine, the spread squat position of the hips/legs where the knees are raised slightly higher than the bum (the "M" shape), and has the fabric spread from the hollow of one knee to the hollow of the other knee. It also provides ideal head and neck support (no slumping), holds the baby upright, tight, close enough to kiss the top of the head without straining, and keeps the baby’s chin off of the chest to open the airway completely.
The carrier needs to encourage the natural positioning of the baby in a way that is appropriate to the baby's developmental level (smaller babies with less trunk control need more vertical support), be constructed out of breathable, non-toxic materials, support the weight of the baby evenly, have correct placement of knots or buckles, and be secured firmly against the wearer.
For optimal comfort the carrier should feel like an extension of the wearer’s body and be individually adjustable for the size of the wearer and baby.
What should I look for?
With all of these safety and positioning criteria in mind you'll most likely be able to find plenty of garage sale carriers that will fit the bill. Some examples of great garage sale finds would be a soft structured carrier (SSC) like an Ergo or Beco, a ring sling, a Mei Tai, or maybe even a stretchy Moby wrap if you have a smaller baby.
What is not really a great deal?
Another readily-available garage sale carrier type to beware of is the narrow-based carrier like the Baby Bjorn or Snugli carriers. These carriers don't follow the ergonomic positioning guidelines and won't provide ideal support or comfort for you or your baby.
Found something that seems great…now what do I do?
If you find a carrier and you're having a hard time figuring out correct positioning you can always attend a local Babywearing International meeting for free hands-on help.
Babywearing, when done safely, has so many incredible benefits for both babies and for caregivers.
Finding a great deal on a safe and ergonomic carrier is a great budget-friendly way to take advantage of those benefits, keep your child close, and conquer your daily life hands-free!
For more information (and awesome visuals) on ideal positioning check out Babywearing International's Optimal Positioning Cards at http://www.babywearinginternational.org/2014/12/29/optimal-positioning-cards/
Lindsay DeGroot is a trained babywearing educator in Portland, OR. For more information please visit www.lindsaydegroot.com or UpHold Babywearing on Facebook