You may have heard about potential problems with baby slings-that they can suffocate the baby. Well, it seems the problem has to do with only some of the baby slings-not all of them. I have two slings. I only used them when my babies were tiny. They always hurt my back. So I snuggle my little fellows while sitting:)
Anyway, here are two articles about baby sling dangers. One from Consumer Reports and one from the manufacturers of some safe baby slings.
Honestly, I think it's common sense. You have to make sure your baby can breathe while he is in the sling. Duh! If the sling covers the baby's head and there isn't a wide opening at the top for him to breath, don't use it. The slings in question are called "bag-style" slings and many of them have already been taken off the market. The light green sling in this picture does not suffocate the baby. The black/white one can cause problems. You can see all the elastic and heavy material right near the baby's face. That's a bad idea. Although, I would hope the mom would be checking to see if the baby's breathing if she is wearing the baby. Again, duh!
Baby Sling Problem: From Consumer Reports
Baby slings may be fashionable among Hollywood stars and other new parents but at a recent meeting I learned about some safety concerns that made me shudder. Over the past 10 years, there have been at least 22 reports of serious injury associated with the use of sling-type carriers. The injuries include skull fractures, head injuries, contusions and abrasions. Most occurred when the child fell out of the sling.
In addition to the injury reports, which were gathered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a number of recalls of sling carriers in recent years (including the Infantino pictured) has prompted ASTM-International, a voluntary standards-setting organization, to hold its first organizational meeting to start a standards-development process for sling carriers to address safety problems. Concerns raised by manufacturers, who requested the review, included not only the fractures and bruises but the risk of smothering. The CPSC information documented a risk of death caused from “positional asphyxia” caused by placing the infant in the sling in a head-forward position that can cause the airway to close.
Some of the incidents with sling carriers were likely due to improper assembly, improper wearing, or failure of rings or other hardware. Most of the sling carriers demonstrated at the ASTM meeting seemed complicated to put on and prone to user error. Clear instructions and perhaps video demonstrations might help prevent mistakes. But, as we all know, consumers may not read the instructions, and misinterpretation or misunderstanding can lead to errors that can endanger precious cargo.
It’s uncertain how an ASTM standard can help make these products safer or error proof. We caution parents who do favor the sling carriers to frequently check the hardware and adjustments—and to do so without the baby on board. For now, we think there are better ways of transporting infants including strollers, hand-held infant carrier/car seats and even other types of soft infant carriers. For additional information on our Ratings for these and other products visit the Babies & Kids section of the Web site or read the Babies & Kids blog. -- Don Mays
Sling carriers recalled by the CPSC
- Ellaroo Ring Sling Baby Carriers (2008)
- Infantino SlingRider Infant Carriers (2007, pictured above)
- ZoloWear Infant Carriers/Slings (2005)
Good Baby Slings: FROM HOT SLINGS
With the publication of an Associated Press article regarding the CPSC government warning on baby slings and the Consumers Union’s concerns about “bag-style” slings, the companies co-sponsoring this release are taking a stand to help educate the public on the differences between safe vs. unsafe baby slings and carriers as detailed below.
The ancient practice of babywearing made its way into western culture in the 1960s and its popularity with American consumers has grown because of its vast benefits. Unfortunately, this has led to the creation of several potentially unsafe baby slings and carriers. Slings and carriers of concern are popularly categorized under the token term “bag-style” slings. In “bag-style” slings, the deep pouch where baby sits puts the baby in a potentially suffocating curved or “C” like position. Also, excessive fabric with an elasticized edge may cover baby’s face inhibiting breathing. Furthermore, the design may cause the baby’s face to turn in toward a caregiver’s body, potentially smothering the baby.
In contrast, shallow pouch-style slings, ring slings, mei tais and wraps hold baby in proper alignment and they fit snugly by design and instruction. They have been engineered, developed and tested by parents, often the manufacturers themselves with their own children. These carriers are often simple and without gimmicks. Dedicated and concerned manufacturers of these types of safe slings and carriers have sponsored this release.
Because of the popularity and gaining market share of small baby carrier companies, a few years ago the Juvenile Products Manufactures Association (JPMA) was approached by a handful of these companies asking for a standard to be created. These companies were initially alarmed by the creation of some carriers, mostly by home crafters, fashioned from materials unsuitable for baby products. Soon after, M’liss Stelzer, a pediatric nurse, did an oxygenation study discovering a potential link between infant deaths and “bag-style” style slings therefore creating even more need for the standard as well as further study.
Upon this need the ASTM, an internationally recognized creator of standards for consumer products and test procedures, created a subcommittee for Sling Carrier Standards. The ASTM Subcommittee is made up of manufacturers, consumer advocates and government officials from the US and Canada including members of the CPSC. The subcommittee started writing the standard two years ago. In this time more deaths have occurred, all linked to the “bag-style” sling being reported by Jennifer Kerr, a writer for the Associated Press in the article referenced in the first line of this release. This has alerted the CPSC to take necessary action and issue this warning.
In well-designed products, babywearing is not only safe, but is actually very beneficial when done properly. Studies have shown that quality baby slings and carriers have been shown to save lives, improve health, decrease crying, increase IQ, and facilitate breastfeeding and bonding. For examples of these cases and further reading see “Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial” an article written by Urs A. Hunziker MD and Ronald G. Barr MDCM, FRCP(C), “Saving My Baby” a blog post written on Fierce Mama’s Blog by Sarah Kaganovsky and Dr. Maria Blois’s book Babywearing.
Studies have also shown that worn babies are happier and spend more time in the quiet alert phase. In this phase they benefit more than their non-worn peers in language development and knowledge acquisition. Babywearing also helps babies sleep better, and physical needs, including breastfeeding, are met more quickly by a close, responsive parent. Millions of babies over time have been worn to their benefit making baby slings and carriers more of a necessity than the often-publicized fashion accessory. (Source La Leche League International)
The vast benefits of babywearing should not be disregarded with the report of incidents from “bag-style” slings. The sponsors of this release make safer baby slings and carriers and have been active in the standard writing process and are dedicated to safety through engineering. “We see this as an opportunity to reach out and educate American consumers. We hope to provide valuable information allowing parents and caregivers to not only make informed buying decisions, but also to increase the awareness of how to properly wear children, especially babies, in baby slings and carriers,” says Kristen DeRocha, ASTM Subcommittee Chair. The Associated Press article regarding the CPSC warning gives proof to the growing popularity of baby slings and carriers and validates the need for education.
Several trusted websites exist to aide in the education of babywearing for caregivers and new parents. To name a few: TheBabywearer.com, the Facebook fan page for Babywearing Safety, Mothering.com and LaLecheLeague.org.
This press release was sponsored by:
Hotslings, Maya Wrap, Moby Wrap, Wrapsody, Gypsymama, Together Be, Kangaroo Korner, Taylormade Slings, Scootababy, Bellala Baby, Catbird Baby, SlingEZee, ZoloWear, HAVA, SlingRings and Sakura Bloom
For comments or questions regarding this release please contact Kacy Jones, Director of Marketing for Hotslings, Inc.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org-NewsAnchorMom Jen
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