The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months, especially parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health, and those with low weight.
CPSC recommends that 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 in a sling, the CPSC says to 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.
Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, a sling that keeps the infant in a curled position, bending the chin toward the chest, can restrict airways, limiting the oxygen supply.
The CPSC has identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths (within the past 20 years) associated with sling-style infant carriers (three in 2009). Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age, and many were a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues, such as a cold.
Until a mandatory standard is developed, CPSC is working with ASTM International to develop an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers.