Sling Safety: The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance

BCIA Baby Carrier Industry Alliance

The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) exists to increase awareness of the value of quality baby carriers and to support those in the baby carrier industry. The board members have each been deeply involved in the babywearing community, either as manufacturer, retailer, educator or a combination of the three. The core of the BCIA consists of:

  • Vesta Hartman Garcia, Executive Director – She founded Ellaroo Baby Carriers. Following that, she joined the board of Nurturing Across Cultures, and worked tirelessly toward a voluntary sling standard through ASTM International. Strengthening the voice of the babywearing industry through the BCIA is her current focus. She lives in McKinney, Texas with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and extensive edible gardens.
  • Kristi Hayes-Devlin, Chairwoman – Her babywearing journey began during her first pregnancy in 1999, when she read an article discussing the link between babywearing and increased IQ. She began using a sling as soon as she left the hospital, and loved it so much she never even bought a stroller. Kristi started Gypsy Mama, LLC in 2004, focusing on the manufacture of quality wraparound carriers in unique fabrics. Her company is now known as Wrapsody. Kristi lives in Maine with her four children, her husband, Jonas, and two cats, where she enjoys tying business and advocacy work together.
  • Beth Leistensnider, Secretary – She founded Catbird Baby in 2005 after her experiences wearing and making mei tai carriers for her first child, born in 2003. Since then the business has expanded to include the pikkolo soft structured carrier, a mei tai-inspired buckle carrier, and babywearing accessories. Beth lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
  • Christine Alonso, Treasurer – She began babywearing immediately with the birth of her eldest in December 2002. She is founder and CEO of Tender Cargo Inc. She lives in Berkeley, California with her three children.
  • Britt Pegan – She began Milkface Nursingwear Inc in 2001 six months after the birth of her first daughter. Milkface has grown quickly. It began as an online business and has expanded to include two brick and mortar stores in Ottawa, Ontario. Britt’s husband, Andy, joined Milkface in 2008. They live in Ottawa with their three daughters.
  • Arie Brentnall-Compton – She is a Certified Babywearing Educator & Lactation Consultant from Western Canada.  She co-owns Tadpoles & Butterflies, an online babywearing store, as well as operating the Parent’s Village Babywearing School.  She speaks at workshops and conferences with a focus on improving public health outcomes through babywearing.  Arie does freelance writing on a variety of parenting topics.  She lives in the country near Edmonton, AB, with her husband and their three children.
  • Alissa DeRouchie – She began babywearing in 2003 with her first child. Soon after she found herself educating and helping others with baby carriers and began selling online in 2004. She now spends most her time educating and promoting babywearing in her Columbus Ohio retail store, Sprout Soup, which opened it’s doors in 2008. She lives in Columbus with her husband and two boys.
  • Jan Heirtzler – She started sewing slings in 2000 after the birth of her first child. Her company, Sleeping Baby Productions was named in response to the fact she couldn’t get anything done unless he was sleeping (usually in a sling). She now sews slings out of her home in Durham, NH, where she lives with her husband and three children.
  • Joanna McNeilly – She’s a Licensed Babywearing Educator and a Die Trageschule Dresden Babywearing Consultant. She and Bianca Fehn own Speranza Enterprises, the parent company to Metro Minis. Joanna started her babywearing journey in 2004 while desperate to calm her fussy son. In 2006, she discovered the true beauty of what babywearing offers both mom and baby when her daughter decided to come into the world. She is dedicated to educating about safe, proper babywearing and has been teaching free weekly classes for three years. In her spare time she enjoys spending her time with her children and husband, alongside cats, fish, and her three gardens.
  • Paul and Rochelle Price – They began manufacturing and selling SlingRings in 2001. With backgrounds in manufacturing, robotics, engineering, and design they work to bring solid experience in safety and testing to the “work-at-home” world. Rochelle is also the chairwoman of the Sling Standards subcommittee for ASTM International. They live in Arizona with their five children.
  • Gillian Beerman – She is the founder and President of Moby Wrap Inc. Before starting Moby Wrap, she taught Parent Education at Parents Place in Pacific Grove, CA. While teaching and wearing her second child in other types of baby carriers, she was introduced to a wrap-style carrier. The experience moved Gillian to share this most close, secure and comfortable form of babywearing with more parents and founded the company in 2003. The name “Moby” comes from Mother and Baby – which speaks to the intimate feeling of wearing your little one in a wrap carrier. She lives near Monterey, California with her three children.

The BCIA was formed in 2010 in response to the need for a regulatory and advocacy body within the baby carrier industry. Prior to its founding, there were few, if any, safety regulations, standards or guidelines regarding the design and manufacture of sling-style baby carriers. Of course, this benefits neither the parent looking for a safe sling for their child, nor the manufacturer who adheres to and believes in strict safety guidelines for the design and production of the carriers they produce. Unfortunately, unsafe slings were in production and mass distribution. “Guilt by association” was rampant and the unsafe carriers were giving all slings (and carriers in general) a bad name. Many parents didn’t know how to tell a safe sling from an unsafe one. Not good.

The BCIA continues to strive to advance the well-being, growth, and interests of baby carrier manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and educators. It does so through advocacy, public relations, information sharing, industry research, and business development assistance conducted with appreciation for the needs of parents, caregivers, and children.

The BCIA has worked hard alongside the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to establish a voluntary standard for sling-style carriers. After nearly three years of collaborative effort between the baby carrier industry, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), Health Canada, consumer groups and other hardworking members of the subcommittee.

The BCIA is working with members in seventeen countries who share many similar challenges and problems.  The work they have done on the US standard is critical to maintaining the international market share of baby slings.  Without quality standards that are written in a way that are achievable for small home businesses, the baby carrier industry stands in grave regulatory danger. There is also a great need for education on the safe use of baby slings, wraps and carriers.

Are you interested in supporting the very important work the BCIA does? Are you a baby carrier manufacturer, retailer, distributor or babywearing educator? Or do you simply care about the safety and regulation of baby slings and carriers? Please consider joining the BCIA.  You have the option to choose to become a Business Member of BCIA, a supporter (as a Friend of babywearing), or you can become a Champion of the BCIA cause. The work isn’t done! Keep an eye on the BCIA website for more information, and you can do your part to spread the word about BCIA through your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other online communities.

Having your baby on you is the safest place for your baby to be. There’s no easier way to be in tune with your baby.

Let’s keep babywearing as safe as it should be!