Monday, March 15, 2010

Sling Safety, Bag Slings, and the CPSC

Maybe you've seen some of the headlines or news stories recently...

So what does that all mean?  Is your carrier safe?  Should you continue babywearing?

Infantino Sling Rider Baby Carrier in Black ToileFirst, if you own the type of sling pictured, please DO NOT use it!  If you have one of these slings, please just throw it away - don't even donate it to a thrift store.
"The popular "SlingRider" by Infantino has been singled out for criticism because of the curved position that the baby can fall into while inside the sling. According to court documents, little Derrik Fowler was in an Infantino sling when he died and his parents are suing the company."

You can read more about these "bag slings" and their risks to babies here. I don't know what type of sling was being used in each of the 13 tragedies, but in at least two of them it was a "bag sling" like the one on the left.  These are dangerous because they put the baby in a curved position, with chin to chest, and make it harder for the baby to breathe.  Also, the elasticized sides can be a suffocation hazard, and make it harder to check on baby.  In one of the deaths, the mother was unaware that anything was wrong until she opened the bag sling. Your baby's face should NEVER be covered by fabric!

Moby Wrap Baby Carrier- OliveJan Andrea's page on sling safety notes, "You should always be able to see your baby's head and face, without opening the fabric to do so, and he should always be able to breathe freely and easily, with his neck straight and his head in a neutral position (not curled forward onto his chest)."

To the left is a photo of a baby being worn safely in a Moby Wrap.  Note that the baby is close to the wearer's face ("close enough to kiss") and has no fabric on her face.

Bottom line?  Slings, used safely, are safe. Here are some safety guidelines from Babywearing International:

 "A correctly-used baby carrier's positioning should mimic how you would hold a baby in your arms. A normal in-arms holding position is fairly snug to your chest and somewhat close to your face ("Close Enough to Kiss"). Babywearing advocates have been teaching about the importance of correct newborn positioning for years and warning against the use of slings that do not allow for safe wearing positions.

Here are some important guidelines to remember when wearing an infant:
  • Check to ensure that your baby is not curled up tightly in a chin-to-chest position; this compresses your baby's airway. Making sure there is a fingers' width or two between their chin and chest is a good guide.
  • Make sure your baby's back is straight and supported.
  • Monitor your child at all times. Make sure nothing is obstructing their face.
  • Be aware of how your movements affect the baby: avoid any bumping or jarring motions."
And here are some sling alternatives to bag slings, if you need to buy a safe replacement:
 Note that Beth can easily kiss her baby's head, and she can see baby's face as well...

Other great ring slings:
Original Maya Wrap Sling (NOT PADDED) BRIGHT STRIPE - MediumMaya Wrap Lightly Padded Baby Ring Sling (Med - CHOCOLATE BROWN)Original Maya Wrap Sling (NOT PADDED) Black - MediumZolowear Cotton Baby Sling Sage, X-Small

And there are lots of other safe carriers...
Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Solid Baby Carrier, BlackERGO Baby Carrier Cranberry With Soild Cranberry LiningBabyHawk Mei Tai Black Sophia on Tea Black Straps
Left to right: Moby, Ergo, Babyhawk

So... use a safe carrier, and learn how to use it safely.  Safe and happy babywearing!


Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? said...

I was given one of those slings and hated it.

natalie said...

Yeah, they look really uncomfortable for mama and uncomfortable for baby. My first sling wasn't a bag sling, but it had very padded rails, and that made it almost impossible to tighten properly. Every time I tried a cradle position we both hated it, so I didn't babywear very much for the first few months with Nathan. Makes me sad now that we didn't have a good sling or moby wrap... :(

Beth said...

We might have had the first kind of "first sling"... really padded, sewn tail, hard to adjust?
That's what inspired me to make my own!
Ah! I had no idea! :D

natalie said...

Yes, Beth! The tail was sewn, so there was no way to adjust it to do a tummy to tummy position with an infant. I usually did a tummy to tummy supported with one hand, but I felt like I was missing something. Then I saw a mom correctly babywearing- her little one was high, snug, secure, and happy in a great ring sling. It was like a light switched on for me, and I realized how it was supposed to be. In my area, I RARELY see another mom babywearing, and when I do, it is usually in an uncomfortable looking structured carrier like a BabyBjorn/Snuggli, or someone I know! So I had never seen someone correctly using a good sling before. Seeing that really lit a fire under me... I realized how big of a difference a good carrier can make! :)

Dionna said...

I put several links that were dedicated to this subject in my March Link Love post - I wish I'd have seen your post first, I would have just linked to you! :)

~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

natalie said...

Hi Dionna! Glad you liked it... I'll have to go see that post. :)