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March 19, 2010

Are baby slings safe?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently issued a warning about infant slings, saying they can be treacherous for babies under 4 months old. The agency is investigating the deaths of 14 babies connected to the trendy sling-style carriers -- three from last year alone.

The soft slings pose a suffocation risk to small babies who can't control their neck muscles and whose mouth and nose can wind up too close to the fabric, the agency warns.

The warning has generated all sorts of chatter on parenting blogs and chatrooms, where some mothers swear by the slings saying when used properly they are convenient and comfortable for both mom and baby. Attachment parenting advocates, who recommend "baby wearing" as a parent-baby bonding tool, insist the slings are safe, saying they've been used for centuries with few injuries.

Others say that the sling warnings give them much pause and that many parents don't use them the right way.

And yet, the slings seem to be as popular as ever with celebs sporting their newborns in them all the time. 

The CPSC offers a few visuals on the safe way to wear slings as well as video. 

Do you wear your baby in a sling? Has the warning changed your mind about it?

AP photo

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 7:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Pediatrics


When my daughter requested one of these slings for her infant I was uncomfortable. There's something about it that just looks iffy. In retrospect, this sling was hardly used at all(as so many baby products are). But in defense of this particular product, I have seen babies transported in other carrier devices that looked just as precarious. The key is vigilance by the parents to exactly how the baby is positioned in the device and for how long. Bottom line, maybe it's just simplier to carry the baby in your arms or one of the bigger, bulkier carriers.

I find this disappointing. I don't obsess over baby-wearing or even attachment theory, but I found my soft, wrap style sling to be a life saver when my daughter turned colicky at about 3 weeks. It was literally the ONLY thing that worked to calm her and let her sleep. So counter to what they suggest, I'd only use a sling on a very small baby. When she was older we had a baby bjorn; and the slings aren't really that practical or comfortable to wear for larger babies. I don't think everyone using slings are just tragically hip and following the latest trend. They really serve a specific purpose when used carefully. Incidentally, it's not that easy, or even safe, to just carry your baby everywhere, either.

You should be aware that the issue is twofold. First, the carrier style as pictured above IS dangerous because it is nearly impossible to properly position a small baby in because the design promotes a "C" position that forces the infants chin to it's chest causing positional asphyxia. Other carriers can be adjusted to hold even the newest baby in a safe, high and tight upright position with a clear airway. Infantino has had a history of recall over this product- The Sling Rider and safe babywearing advocates have been lobbying for its removal from store shelves for 3 years. Please educate yourselves before discounting the enormous benefits of babywearing and kangaroo care.

As a mother of two, I have used baby slings extensively. From putting my baby to sleep to, nursing to doing chores around the house. In my opinion it is only dangerous when you don't use it correctly.

The issue is with one type of sling - the 'bag sling' or which there are a handful of brands, most notably the slingrider.
There are many other types and thousands of brands out there that don't force baby's head onto its chest and cover its face. The same risk applies in an infant car seat or stroller, or any situation where baby may get covered with fabric.
Shallow pouches, adjustable ring slings, wraps and mei-tais are all better options.
Also it is important for your baby's safety and your own comfort to learn how to use a sling properly.
Research on kangaroo care shows that done properly carrying a newborn or premature baby in a sling improves breathing and temperature regulation.

According to me baby sling is not safe that much for baby as a baby can't feel comfortable in it.Yes it is an easy and convenient way to carry your baby but still it is not that much good for baby.Well when you have some work it might be a good way.

The important thing for you as a parent is to feel comfortable in your choice. If you are comfortable, pleased and happy with a sling that is a good choice for you. Your baby will do fine with this means of conveyance as long as you use the necessary cautions that go with this carrying device:

I used a sling with the last three of my five children. The sling, a simple affair of little more than a length of fabric, served us well from birth to as old as three, when the babies would sit naturally on my hip with the sling supporting their bottoms and back.
Recently I kept my precious granddaughter for five days. Couldn't find the old sling, but a knotted shawl served the same purpose. four-month-old Annie and I had a wonderful time. She felt secure and still had some control over her own position rather than being tightly bound with her legs stuck through two holes..
Those things that have been recalled are not slings---they are curved, padded baskets with straps. This entire debate is specious.

Recently I kept my precious granddaughter for five days. Couldn't find the old sling, but a knotted shawl served the same purpose. four-month-old Annie and I had a wonderful time.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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