CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers

On March 12, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a statement advising people to “be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age.” They looked at reports involving deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers from the past 20 years and determined that slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards:

1) Baby can suffocate from the fabric being pressed up against his or her nose and mouth
2) Baby can be asphyxiated from the neck bending the chin to the chest, restricting the airway

Two months ago, slings were added to the “list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard” by the Commission (still undeveloped or in place). Interestingly, over the past 20 years, 14 deaths associated with a sling-style infant carrier were documented. Fourteen, and that puts slings on the warning list…

Until slings are a bit more regulated, the following safety recommendations has been given to parents regarding wearing a baby in a sling:

Now, I’m glad that there are regulations on children’s products and that people are paying attention. With that said, though, I’m wondering what sort of slings have been causing these problems? I don’t think it’s fair to lump all slings into one category. For instance, after having my daughter, I put her into a commercial Wal-Mart bought sling (it was an Infantino brand, if you’re wondering). The sling lasted for about 30 minutes until I couldn’t stand it any longer–her neck was tucked in, I couldn’t see her, and she couldn’t possibly have been comfortable! My homemade ring-sling on the other hand is awesome–it lets me keep my child’s head where I can see it, her body snug against mine, and safe as far as I can tell. As a careful parent, by golly, I want to know what sort of slings seem to be the problem!

I’m also wondering what was going on in these deaths that the parent didn’t realize that the baby couldn’t breathe. Weren’t they able to see the face of their child? Doesn’t everyone think to check that the airway can be maintained at ALL times? I’m pretty sure this is my mommy-instinct and not my paramedic training that causes me to think of these things. Now, I don’t want any of my readers to become paranoid parents who don’t let their child experience anything in life because it might be dangerous. I do want all of my readers and parents everywhere though to use common sense and keep their children safe.

Please, when using a sling or any baby carrying device (which you should do since studies show numerous benefits of babywearing!), be safe. Be smart. Don’t rely on what a government or any other agency deems to be safe or appropriate, because as we know with a lot of the recalls lately, something that we think is safe may not be. Watch your child and always remember that whatever you place your child in is just an object–it’s not going to call out to you if there’s a problem!

My guidelines for slinging a baby:

1) Face must be unobstructed and visible at any time.
2) Head must be kept in-line or in a “sniffing” position with chest. This keeps an infant’s airway open but not hyperextended.
3) Baby must be securely attached–I don’t want to feel like she’s going to fly away on me!
4) Baby must be in an upright position (head above bottom).
5) If nursing, head is OUT of the sling and I use the tail to create a modesty cover (which I can peak under).

*NOTE: I am not a sling-safety professional. This advice is purely my own and unresearched. I will not be held liable for any problems you have while wearing your child in a sling!*
Have you gotten your extra entries for the
Baby-Mama Shower starting in 17 days?

2 thoughts on “CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers

  1. Thanks for posting this. I saw a headline about this and never looked into it further. Your recommendations make sense! I am planning on using a Moby Wrap w/upcoming baby, but also wanted to try out other babywearing options 🙂

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