"Beach street, Frankston. 2 police cars stopped, 3 police got out and interrogated this Dad for wearing this 12 month old baby in this Olives and Applesauce soft structured baby carrier while she slept (with the hood on). They had received a call from someone saying a man was suffocating his baby while walking down the street.
After 1 officer stuck her head into the sling to see the baby, noted that they baby was fine and said so, they lectured this man about parenting, informing him that it was too hot to wear the baby (under 30 degrees with a cool breeze in a suburb by the sea), that it was unsafe to have her on his back, apparently having her on the front would "give her more room to breathe". They told him that his baby was at risk of dying of SIDS and requested he remove the sling and carry the baby home, which he refused to do because it would wake the child. 1 officer reached their hand into the sling and removed a small toy the child was holding in her sleep and stated "now there will be better airflow so she won't get so hot". 1 police officer loosened the hood which was supporting the sleeping baby's head.
After all this 1 officer asked why the was getting frustrated. The Dad was told to use a pram from now on.
We are very disappointed at this harassment from three individuals who clearly have no information about babywearing. We understand the need for police to investigate reports of child endangerment, however, there was no need for the intrusive behaviour that followed after the police ascertained that our baby was fine.
We have organised a public babywearing info session to spread the word about safe babywearing to try to improve understanding in the community. See here: https://www.facebook.com/
The focus of this event is promotion of the joy and safety of babywearing. It's a lack of general knowledge about babywearing that needs to be addressed on a wide scale.
There is a need for education. We urge babywearers elsewhere to organise sling meets to show the public what a range there is and how to wear safely. This is what will make change.
Remember our goal is to improve babywearing knowledge/awareness in the hope that no other parent will go through what Andrew did on Sunday :) and trust that Andrew (who is a Justice Officer with honours in criminology) will resolve any misunderstandings between himself and the three officers involved appropriately, through formal channels the police and vic gov have available to the public."
|6pm dinner on the beach*|
- a woman who yelled out her window as she drove past me: "You're an %*#@ing disgrace for having your child in that thing!",
- two women snidely remarking to one another as they passed me that my baby was probably dead, as she slept on my back,
- a man followed Andrew around a shopping centre asking him if our baby could breathe and not leaving him alone until Nell moved, so he was sure our baby was alive.
- Regularly passersby tell us they're worried about our baby's breathing, whether her neck is supported, if her arms and legs are comfortable.
While many of the people commenting on our babywearing are well-meaning, we do tire of the intrusion and assumptions that we don't know what we're doing and can't act in the best interests of our children. The police officer on Sunday was not the first person to touch Eleanor in her sling without our consent, or attempt to adjust a carrier in use (though the police officer was the first person who succeeded in adjusting the sling, members of the general public are met with "excuse me, what do you think you're doing? Please do not touch us"). Andrew did not feel he could say this on Sunday.
Having said that, we have also received positive comments and introduced many people to babywearing. We are often told by mothers whose children are grown "I wish they had those things when my kids were young", which is rather sad because babywearing is an ancient art in parenting. The most memorable positive comment I received came when I overheard a mother and her grown daughter talking about my sling and when I turned to introduce myself and tell her where she could find out more about babywearing she informed me that I had talked to her over a year ago and it was thanks to me that she has her very own mei tai she uses daily.
|Back and front carries with soft structured carriers, photo by Andrew Thompson|
|Babywearing 3 year old|
|Those of us babywearing at the start of the meet, photo by Bree Lamprell|
|Mummas on the short side wearing 4 and 5 year olds (that's how supportive carriers are of parental muscles!)|
|Talking to a member of the public photo by Andrew Thompson|
|Dancing photo by Melissa O'Dowd|
|I & L give a demonstration of how to do a back carry with a mei tai photo by Melissa O'Dowd|
|Continued demonstration, photo by Melissa O'Dowd|
|4 year old in a woven wrap, photo by Melissa O'Dowd|
|Mummas front carrying and back carrying 1 year olds|
**As far as Kidsafe go, I went to their website and found no information about baby carriers whatsoever, however I noted their Facebook page included a link to a pram recall story