Disclaimer: I type this as a mom who survived parenting newborns largely because of her baby slings. I type this as a mom who LOVED wearing her babies close to her, loved the way it felt, loved how soothed my babies were by it, and just treasured he experience of “baby wearing” (though I don’t quite love the term). I type this, not wanting to scare any new parents. So I type this with hesitation, but feel that the information could be very important for parents of young infants.
Though the tradition of wearing babies has been popular around the world in cultures all over the globe for ages, “babywearing” has become much more popular across the US over the last decade. Once primarily seen cruising by in car seats and strollers, now more babies have another option for travel: being “worn” by a parent or caregiver. This is often great news for both baby and caregiver… hands are freed, nursing is simplified, and baby is often soothed by the closeness. However, as more and more unregulated products for “babywearing” hit the market, young babies can be at risk for suffocation in certain types of positions and particularly in “bag” type slings (photo below).
Two slings have recently been recalled by the CPSC for safety:
The Infantino Sling Rider and Wendy Bellissimo slings:
and the Sprout Stuff Infant Ring Sling:
If you have either of these slings, the CPSC recommends that you discontinue use immediately.
Since babies around the world are carried safely in slings, there are generally agreed upon ways to enjoy the benefits of using slings or any baby carrier while avoiding the dangers of improper use:
*Make sure your child’s face is visible at all times. It shouldn’t be covered by any fabric.
*Be able to see your child’s entire face when he or she is in a sling.
*Make certain your child isn’t hunched over so that his or her chin touches the chest.
*Make sure your child’s face is not pressed tight against you.
*Have the baby “close enough to kiss”.
*Be vigilant about checking on your child while he or she is in the sling.
“Bag slings” are currently the focus of recalls and warnings, but the chin touching the chest, a newborn being in too “folded” a position, and material covering the baby’s mouth and nose appear to be the biggest risk factors when either carrying or wearing babies.
I sincerely hope that this information is taken in the spirit with which it is offered… to help get the word out about safer use of baby slings. As I stated at the beginning of this post, I know personally about the benefits of wearing baby close, and I hope this information allows parents to make informed decisions about how to do that safely. However, because of the recent recalls and lack of regulation for these products, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute is currently recommending that parents discontinue sling use for babies under four months of age, yet many other groups are instead advocating for parent education about the safe use of baby slings.
Good Housekeeping Research Institute Warning:
Excellent Safety Information from Babywarer.com:
Wonderfully illustrated article that covers safe sling use for newborns: