Could your baby sling suffocate your infant? Only if you don’t practice common sense — in the absence of which almost anything could be a death trap for your child. Still, considering that we need to be told, repeatedly no less, that plastic bags should be kept away from babies, venetian-blind cords could strangle our children, and that hot beverages are actually—egad—hot, common sense doesn’t seem to be a widespread commodity. In which case the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s forthcoming general warning about baby slings could be a good thing. Although, haven’t we been down this road before?
Speaking to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association this week, CPSC head Inez Tenenbaum said that they’ve received complaints about certain baby carriers for a couple of years now. “We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies,” said Tenenbaum. “So, the time has come to alert parents and caregivers.”
For infants with little to no neck control, the “C”-like position the sling puts them in can cause them to flop their head forward and restrict their ability to breathe. Another concern, notes MSNBC, is that the baby could turn towards his or her parent’s chest or belly and suffocate against the clothing.
Our advice: Check with the manufacturer for the specific do’s and don’ts associated with your model of carrier. (Many come with written or DVD instructions.) We’ve also listed some general guidelines for safe babywearing. Common sense? Well you’re on your own with that one.
Managing Editor Beth notes: I safely practiced babywearing, as shown carrying my daughter above in the style of sling being questioned, until she turned 18 months old. I can definitely understand why there are suffocation concerns with regard to this shape of sling, but a parent who is aware and present would easily be able to see if suffocation was a risk for their baby, especially while being this close in proximity. This warning seems to be in the same vein as the co-sleeping warnings, and I would hate to see parents ditch the immensely rewarding attachment parenting route of babywearing and co-sleeping due to alerts based on the extreme exception and not the rule.