Baby slings are all over the news lately. After three deaths in the last year caused by improper use of the Infantino sling-like carrier, the product is being recalled. But it is important to realize that these deaths are linked to a specific type of carrier (a bag sling) and not to all slings. Click here to see the latest story and video from the Today show on the type of carriers being recalled.
With this recent news, it’s normal to be concerned about the safety of babywearing. I’m glad to share that Babywearing is and continues to be a safe and positive way to care for your baby. On Sunday, Mothering Magazine released the following statement,
SANTA FE, NM (March 18, 2010) — On March 12, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a Federal Agency, issued a warning in regard to the use of baby slings. The CPSC asserts that there is a risk of slings suffocating infants who are younger than four months old, and that caution should be used when carrying babies of this age group in slings.
Mothering puts the CPSC warning in perspective: Babywearing is safe, but some slings and positions are not. While baby carriers are as old as civilization, modern babywearing has exploded in the last four years. Along with this rapid increase in use has come the creation of some unsafe carriers, in particular bag-style slings that have a deep pouch, excessive fabric, and an elasticized edge. These deep, bag-style slings can be especially dangerous for premature or small babies.
Some general guidelines for safe babywearing:
1. Only choose a sling that allows you to see your baby’s face.
2. Be sure baby is not curled up tightly, chin to chest. This position can restrict breathing, especially in newborns or in infants who cannot yet hold up their heads.
3. Make sure that the sling fabric is “breathable,” and keep baby’s face clear of fabric.
4. Do not press baby’s face tightly against the sling wearer’s body.
5. Position the baby’s face upward.
6. Reposition baby if there are any signs of respiratory difficulty: rapid or labored breathing, grunting or sighing with every breath, restlessness.
For more information, see Mothering’s Special Report on Babywearing
On Monday, Parenting Unplugged Radio hosted a radio show with Mothering and Babywearing International to discuss babywearing safety and answer questions (listen here). And several articles have been published recently to help parents choose a safe sling or wrap for their baby and reassure them that babies can be worn safely. Please note that today, the bag slings by Infantino and Wendy Belissimo have been recalled.
Here is the press release from Babywearing International.
And here is a wonderful post from Dou-la-la that includes a video and very clear illustrations (including the ones above and below) on safe babywearing.
It is important to remember that anything used incorrectly can be unsafe. Read this October 2009 article on car seat injuries occurring outside vehicles, for example. Used correctly, Babywearing is still safe and a wonderful way to parent and bond with your baby.
If you have a sling and are concerned about its safety, please take a look at sleepingbaby.net for some safety guidelines and pictures of slings that are not safe. If you have an Infantino SlingRide or Wendy Bellisimo carrier, please note the recall information, which can be found on the Today show link at the top.