As some of you may have heard, Motrin recently released an ad campaign (online video and print ads) promoting their pain reliever as a boon for moms who are in pain from wearing their babies. The ad is no longer available, but the text appears here courtesy of a transcription from yours truly:
Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front keepbabyclose baby carrier, the sling, the schwing, the wrap, the pouch, and who knows what else they’ve come up with? Wear the baby on … Read Moreyour side, your front, go hands free. Supposedly it’s a real bonding experience. They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others. But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t? I sure do. These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders, did I mention your back? I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain. It’s for my kid. Plus it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so, if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.
I welcome people to make their own interpretations of that ad, but to me it reads incredibly smarmy, self-centered, and ignorant. Thankfully, many other moms and dads agreed. When news of the ad campaign hit the internet this past weekend, an ad-hoc “Motrin Moms” group quickly formed and started flooding Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook with their reactions. Motrin has since removed the ad and posted a half-hearted, corporate “apology” letter on their website. I am not linking to it because I don’t want them to get any more press than they’ve already got, but you can feel free to find their website on your own and read the letter, if you desire. Chances are, their target audience probably wasn’t offended by the video, but due to the viral nature of internet video, a few views by the right people spread into a large and vocal campaign.
Rebecca and I support and practice babywearing. Ever since Catherine was born, we’ve carried her in all manner of ways, including a baby backpack, a front carrier, a sling, and the swankiest, a Mei Tai style carrier that Rebecca made by hand. A baby carrier is designed to make it easy for a parent to keep their child close to their body while leaving their hands free for other things like carrying bags, doing some chores, or (and I’ve seen this a few times) holding a drink at a bar. Keeping a child close to your body can help with fussiness, help get them to sleep, and develop a closer sense of security between child and parent.
Now I’m certainly not begrudging people their right to treat their pain with home neck traction devices and all kinds of tools. By all means, if you’re in unbearable pain, take whatever measures you are comfortable with, including natural methods like hot/cold compresses, relaxation, etc, or medication. But please consider the fact that, when a baby carrier is used properly, there should not be any pain. “Used properly” means not used for too long a period of time and properly positioned on the body so as to have the maximum distribution of weight. If you’ve got a single strap digging into your shoulder, or if the carrier is forcing you to strain or hunch over, then of course it’s going to cause pain. But it shouldn’t.
If you’re wearing a baby because it makes you look like an “official mom” (or dad), then it’s probably the wrong thing to do. But if you want to keep your child close to you (as in attachment parenting), it’s definitely the way to go.
If you’re in the North Shore area and have questions about babywearing, feel free to get consulting with a physical therapist!