The CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) has identified 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers. Three infants died in 2009 and 12 deaths involved babies under 4 months of age. The highest risk babies are those with low birth weight, were prematurely born, or babies experiencing breathing difficulties due to issues such as a common cold. The CPSC has issued official directions on the correct way to use a sling carrier such that babies will not suffocate. In addition, the CPSC has recalled 3 baby sling devices due to manufacturing issues.
Infant baby slings present two suffocation dangers. Since babies cannot control their heads in the first few months of life due to weak musculature, the sling can press against the nose and mouth. This can lead to suffocation within one to two minutes. Also, the sling may rest the baby in a curled position with the chin bending toward the chest. In this scenario, airways are restricted and the baby cannot cry for help while slowly suffocating.
The CPSC has issued simple steps to prevent these avoidable tragedies. The 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 (is) 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.” Frequent checking of the baby’s position is urged, especially after nursing.
In related news, the CPSC in cooperation with Ellaroo LLC, has recalled 1,200 units of the Ellaroo Ring Sling baby carrier because the aluminum rings can bend or break. This may cause the fabric to slip through the rings and infants may fall out of the carrier. Manufactured in India, this recall is limited to lot numbers 03/07 and 07/04. The lot number can be found printed on the sling’s label. The CPSC, in cooperation with Infantino LLC, has recalled approximately 100,000 units of the Infantino SlingRider with item numbers: 141-210; 151-210; 151-528; and 151-534. Manufactured in China, Infantino has received 10 reports of the plastic adjustment sliders breaking. In eight cases, the the babies fell out of the carriers due to this issue. The CPSC, in cooperation with Zolowear Inc., announced a voluntary recall of ZoloWear Infant Carriers/Slings. Manufactured in the US, only 165 units were affected in the recall. One report of an issue related to the stitching that attaches the webbing to the carrier/sling prompted the recall. No one was injured and this recall was a preventative measure.
Below is a diagram released by the CPSC displaying the correct method for resting a baby in a baby sling and four incorrect, and potentially dangerous, positions.