Another day, another negative Meghan Markle headline, right?
Unlike much of Britain, we kinda like Meghan round here, but when I saw those paparazzi pics of her wearing baby Archie out on a stroll with her dogs, I admit I winced.
As a babywearing mama myself, I know how good it is for parents to wear their babies. Keeping them close after birth, into the 'fourth trimester', includes benefits like strengthening the bond between the baby and their caregiver and promoting healthy physical and emotional development, as the baby feels safe and secure close to their primary carer. Not to mention having your hands free!
So in this regard, Meghan is 100% on the right path.
The problem, which many who saw the pics have been discussing, is that baby Archie appears to be badly positioned in the carrier.
He's dangling a bit, although he does appear to be asleep which explains some of it. This could be unsafe though, in some instances, and also uncomfortable.
I might not suffer the same level of public scrutiny as Meghan, but I do know what it's like to be out in public with a baby and have people make comments or assumptions based on a single witnessed moment in time.
And I'm sure Meghan has access to babywearing experts who have advised her on best practices, and that she is doing her best - as are we all.
So I reserved judgement and instead chatted to local Slingababy (UK) trained babywearing consultant, Eilidh Venning, for her insights.
She shared some of her conclusions about what is happening in the photos, as well as her top tips for an optimal experience of wearing your baby.
Too quick to judge
"In those pics doing the rounds, Meghan Markle is carrying baby Archie in her Ergo 360 Omni while out walking her dogs, and I think it is wonderful seeing babywearing being done by celebrities," Eilidh told Parent24.
"However, we are all too quick to judge others, especially new celebrity mums. What we see in these pictures is a tiny snap shot of what is happening and we have absolutely no context either."
Eilidh explains that the carrier Meghan is using is designed to be used both facing towards and facing away from the wearer. "For all we know, two seconds before these pictures were taken, she had Archie facing outwards, spotted the paparazzi and quickly turned him towards her - while still holding on to her dogs, which is no easy task!" she says.
Another explanation that any babywearing mom will relate to is that Meghan could have been feeding Archie in the carrier and when she saw the cameras decided to quickly pop her boob away, Eilidh says, to get to somewhere away from the eyes of the paps. She may have been in the middle of changing his positioning and a few minutes after this picture was taken the positioning was totally optimal."
There are numerous scenarios that could lead to her carrying Archie in this way, but, despite the positioning not being perfect in these snaps, she is still carrying him safely, Eilidh says.
"She has a supportive arm around him, his airways are clear and her choice in clothing (thin layers, hat and those cute booties instead of a bulky snow suit) shows that she has probably done her research into safe babywearing."
Real life babywearing
"This is real life babywearing in a brief moment of time. We all experience moments like this, but we just have the choice whether to share the pics - or not," she says.
The most important thing to remember when carrying your baby is to remain aware and responsive to your baby’s needs for safety and comfort as well as your own. It seems like Meghan is doing exactly that, Eilidh says.
It's unlikely that you'll have a pack of judgy paparazzi following you around the park, but here are some safe babywearing tips to help you get it right next time you head out with your baby in a carrier:
Eilidh says an easy way to remember the important elements to to remember the ABCs of safety:
Airway, airway, airway: Face clear and visible, airway clear and free airflow, chin off chest, supporting head.
Body positioning: Supported knee to knee, head supported.
Comfort: Baby's comfort, carrier positioning, wearer's comfort.
Another popular method is the TICKS rules for safe babywearing:
TICKS stands for:
I: In view at all times
C: Close enough to kiss
K: Keep chin off the chest
S: Supported back
Another useful graphic guide comes from Baby-Doo, and clearly shows how to position baby inside the sling or carrier as they grow:
Share your thoughts with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325
Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com