Monday, May 31, 2010

The Good and the Bad about Baby Slings

Part 2: The Bad

From reading part one of this post you would probably agree that there are many benefits to baby wearing. However, you may have also heard recent reports questioning the safety of baby slings. You may be questioning whether or not to buy a sling; or if you already have a sling, you may be wondering how to wear your baby safely. What follows is a summary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports on sling use along with links to their full text so that you can make your own informed decision about using slings. We've also included some important safety tips for sling wearing moms and a great link to more safety information from Baby Wearing International.

Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report in March 2010 (Click here for full text) advising parents and caregivers to use caution while using baby slings with babies less than 4 months old. The CPSC identified, and is now investigating, at least 14 deaths over the last 20 years associated with sling-style carriers (12 of which were in babies less than 4 months old). The deaths resulted from suffocation; however, most of the babies who died were low birth weight, premature or had breathing issues (including colds). Thus, parents of babies in these high risk groups should use extra care when using slings. Two types of suffocation hazard can occur with slings: 1) The sling fabric can cover the baby’s nose and mouth, blocking their breathing (in young babies who still have weak neck muscles) and 2) when the sling puts the baby into a position where the baby’s chin is curled into his chest (can restrict the airway). Currently, the CPSC is working to add slings to the list of infant products that require a mandatory standard.

A separate report was released by CPSC recalling the SlingRider brand baby sling. For more information about this recall click here.

CPSC Recommendations for Sling Use
The CPSC gives the following recommendation for sling use: “CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.”

The Key to Wearing Your Baby Safely: Correct Positioning
It is extremely important that your baby is positioned in the sling correctly. Follow any instructions given by the manufacturer and always position your baby so that she can breathe (make sure her chin is not curled against her chest and her face is not covered by fabric). There should be a fingers' width or two between the baby's chin and chest. Correct positioning is especially important for babies less than 4 months old because their neck muscles are still weak.

For a full list of safety tips, visit Baby Wearing International at:

Next time: Developmental Milestones in the Second Year

1. Safety Tips:
2. Consumer Product Safety Commission Reports about Sling Use:


  1. I think a lot of parents and caregivers are confused at this point as to which carriers are safe and which are not, despite the fact that problems have only been found with slings. Maybe you could add something to clarify this for people who are just happening by through google or something.

  2. In response to our comment from anonymous, I understand that parents and caregivers must be very confused about choosing a safe infant carrier. The only recalls I have seen recently are for the Infantino Slingrider and a ring sling made by Sprout Stuff (I just found this one today), but you can visit the following link for a comprehensive list of infant carrier recalls maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

    I would recommend checking this list before purchasing an infant carrier or borrowing one from a friend or family member. Also, follow the safety tips from Baby Wearing International when you do wear your baby, no matter what the carrier style or brand (see link in the above post). Thanks for your feedback!

  3. I cringe every time I see one of those bag style slings. They have always looked unsafe to me and it's a shame they are giving all the other baby slings a bad reputation. I wish more people would research baby wearing. I read tons of reviews, instructions, and video tutorials before I even purchased my first sling. My children are my everything and their safety is of the utmost importance.

  4. I read the bag style ones fill up with carbon dioxide and that's when things go wrong.