Baby Sling Safety: New Standards to Keep Infants Safe

If you’re a fan of toting your infant around in a baby sling, or you’re considering getting one, be aware that these kinds of carriers may pose safety issues. In fact,  the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just released new standards for all infant slings made in or imported into the United States, aimed at increasing baby sling safety.

Are Baby Slings Safe?

Many parents use baby slings carefully and without issue, choosing a quality product and following the usage and weight guidelines. But if babies are not positioned correctly, they can slip out of the sling, posing a fall risk. And as noted by the Mayo Clinic, infants younger than four months old can suffocate in baby slings. With weak neck muscles and poor head control, new babies can’t adjust if their noses or mouths become pressed against the fabric or the caregiver’s body. They may also get curled into a C shape, which can push their chin to their chest and inhibit breathing. Premature and low-birth weight babies, and any with breathing issues, such as infants congested by a cold virus, are at increased risk. 

According to the CPSC, consumers reported 159 incidents related to infant sling carriers between January 2003 and September 2016.  Included in that number are 17 deaths and 67 injuries attributed to slings.

New Baby Sling Safety Standards

In order to make these carriers safer, the CPSC issued new federal safety standards, effective February 1, 2018. Slings must now include a permanent warning label about the risks of suffocation and falls. This warning must also include reminders for consumers to check the integrity of snaps, rings, and other hardware. Slings must be sold with illustrated instructions showing the correct ways to position a baby, and be designed to safety secure baby during normal use. Other new requirements include increased fabric durability and reinforced seams, and all slings must be able to support three times the stated weight capacity. In other words, they made significant revisions and additions to the existing standards!

Safety Tips for Baby Sling Carrier Use

While the CPSC didn’t issue a warning about specific brands of slings, or suggest that parents cease using their previously purchased slings, they did release some sling safety tips. These include:

  • Baby-wearing adults should always be able to see the infant’s face. A baby’s face should never be covered by the sling.
  • Sling users should make frequent checks to make sure baby is correctly positioned. Verify that baby is able to breathe freely with nothing blocking the nose or mouth. 
  • Moms nursing their babies in the sling should reposition their baby following the feeding. Baby’s head should be facing up and not smothered by the sling or against mom.

Do you carry your baby in a sling carrier? Have you ever had any issues with your baby sling?