Thursday, June 03, 2010

Should You Use a Baby Sling? Advice from the CPSC and the Good Housekeeping Research Institute

Are baby slings safe? Recent infant deaths attributed to their use would make me wary about using one. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) just announced a recall of Sprout Stuff baby slings, which follows an earlier recall of one million Infantino baby slings due to infant deaths.

While cribs, high chairs, and strollers are certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA), thereby offering consumer guidance about their safety, the JPMA does not certify baby slings. Also, there is no American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International standard for the category nor weight recommendations for baby sling use.

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which is Good Housekeeping’s product testing laboratory with a staff of scientists who are dedicated to consumer advocacy, strongly urges people NOT to use baby slings for infants under 4 months. The baby who died after suffocating in a Sprout Stuff baby sling was only 10 days old!

A child should be old enough to have control of his or her head before being carried in a sling. If parents do choose to use a sling for an older baby, the Research Institute recommends the following:

1. Make sure your child’s face is visible at all times. It shouldn’t be covered by any fabric.

2. Be able to see your child’s entire face when he or she is in a sling.

3. Make certain your child isn’t hunched over so that his or her chin touches the chest.

4. Make sure your child’s face is not pressed tight against you.

5. Be vigilant about checking on your child while he or she is in the sling.

Message from CPSC: On March 12, 2010, CPSC issued a warning about sling carriers for babies. Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate. CPSC has determined that a mandatory standard is needed for infant sling carriers. While a mandatory standard is being developed, CPSC staff is working with ASTM International and concerned companies such as Infantino to quickly develop an effective voluntary standard for slings. There currently are no safety standards for infant sling carriers.


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