Parenting Requires Reading the Instructions

by Anya Clowers, RN on March 26, 2010

The other day I received a new stroller to review. I was in a hurry when it arrived and pulled it quickly out of the box, snapped the wheels on and packed it in the back of my car. I was pre-occupied and didn’t even see the instruction manual in the pocket of the stroller.

Tonight my son fell asleep in this new stroller as we walked from our restaurant back to the hotel. It was only then I noticed the instruction manual and glanced through it as we walked. To my horror, I realized I had neglected to secure the safety straps when snapping the stroller together. I didn’t even know there were safety straps! My child was sleeping so soundly, completely depending on me to provide a safe environment, and there were the safety straps dangling uselessly.

It reminded me of the Maclaren stroller voluntary recall and the more recent  CPSC warning about slings. Read warnings carefully. Some may be due to product defect, but others may be due to parent distractions. And always be aware that the media loves to instill fear and gossip. Look for facts and trust only reliable expert resources.

All products can be dangerous if not used correctly. Just as electricity is a wonderful invention- it also can be deadly if we neglect safety.

Strollers, slings, highchairs, cribs – all these things can result in injury if not assembled or used properly. It also is essential that we continue to monitor our children while these products are in use. These products help us by holding our little ones while we are busy, but they do not act as a babysitter or monitor.

My stroller incident tonight was a good reminder to me that accidents and injuries can be caused by assuming we know how things work. I have assembled and used lots of strollers. But each one is unique and has different safety features. Reading the manual is ALWAYS a good idea and taking the time to understand the mechanics of a product and how it affects our children is essential before we use it.

The CPSC warning about the slings is a good reminder to parents to learn how to safely use a sling before placing a newborn in it as well as to check on them often and not assume all is well. Instructional resources are available – we just need to take the time to educate ourselves. Many slings/carriers are passed along to friends and family. The instruction manual usually doesn’t make it that far. Look online for downloadable instructions or call the company to request a new book be sent to you.

One comment about the actual deaths associated with this particular warning. According to the CPSC, “Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.” Parents of preemies or children with medical issues must be cautious about many things until their child is out of the danger zone. As a mother of a child with a heart condition, I was extra aware of things that would trigger his heart to beat out of control (such as a fever). That meant exposure to a simple cold virus could land my little infant in the ICU (and did). These babies need extra care and caution in life until out of the danger zone. Newborns are a bit like this just because of their inability to lift their heads. In car seats, slings, carriers, cribs, etc. parents must monitor their infant’s position.

Slings and carriers can be a wonderful thing for both parents and baby. The ERGObaby carrier is a favorite of mine and founder Karin Frost provides excellent resources on her site www.ERGObaby.com for safely wearing all different kinds of slings and carriers. When you purchase an ERGObaby carrier, it takes some practice to wear it correctly. The support videos on their website are fantastic and realistic, showing many different options for using the ERGObaby as well as how to use the Infant Insert Heart2Heart.

Stay informed. Do not be quick to rule out products because there have been injuries or deaths. Read closely the details, heed the warnings, and always monitor your child for safety and health. Remember there are all kinds of people (and distractions) in this world. Sometimes it is the user and not the product that is to blame for poor results or the potential for failure. (Yes, I am referring to my stroller incident!)

Finally, I feel this letter written by ERGObaby carrier inventor and baby-wearing advocate, Karin Frost,  is worth posting. It is inventors like Karin that make my work so rewarding. Dedicated to improving the consumer’s quality of life, these passionate and caring individuals are true advocates for traveling families. Their well-researched, quality tested, and durable products allow us to enjoy the wonders of the world while enjoying our children. Mahalo Karin!

A Letter from Karin Frost, Owner/Designer, ERGObaby

One of the greatest gifts anyone can be given is the opportunity to be a parent.  I remember when my son was only a few days old, sound asleep in his bassinet; my strong desire to pick him up and hold him close to my heart dominated any other need.  My mothering instinct to keep him safe, secure and content has always been my driving force, and when I started ERGObaby, my intention was to create a product that would promote and enhance the ability of parents to safely and comfortably keep their babies close to them as often as possible. Eight years later, my research into the science behind babywearing has affirmed my mothering instincts.  I know, beyond a doubt, that bonding with and nurturing our babies from infancy with the help of babywearing is absolutely the best way.

Hundreds of thousands of happy babies around the world are riding close to their parent’s heart in The ERGObaby Carrier, in much the same way that indigenous cultures have for thousands for years.  Whether it is a soft-structured carrier, wrap or sling, babywearing has always made it safe and easy for mothers to stay productive while tending to the needs of their babies.

As a part of our commitment to the safety of the children entrusted to our products, the ERGObaby Carrier has gone through rigorous safety testing and has been certified by the European testing agency TÜV since 2008, and by the Juvenile Products Manufactures Association (JPMA), according to the American Standards for Testing Materials (ASTM), since 2008, and, most recently, has met all the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Information Act) standards mandated by Congress in 2008.

At ERGObaby, we pride ourselves on superior customer service.  Should you have any questions regarding the proper use of our products, or any other questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service department at: 808-572-6953 or customerservice@ergobaby.com.  It is my sincere hope that ERGObaby can help enrich your family’s happiness and well-being.

With best wishes,

Karin Frost

Parenting is tough. All we can do is prepare in advance, allow extra time, read the instructions when possible, love our children, and pray about the rest!

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