Baby slings are a popular and convenient way to carry your infant around – easier in tight spaces than strollers, and more cuddly than other types of carriers. But babies have died in these slings – three in 2009 alone.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning last week explaining that the risk is greatest to babies under 4 months old. Infants this young have neck muscles too weak to let them control their heads. This means the sling’s fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth and block her breathing. Babies riding low in slings can also be hunched, with the chin bent toward the chest, making breathing difficult. With their oxygen supply reduced, these babies can’t cry for help, and slowly and silently suffocate. If you carry your baby in a sling, here’s what to look out for:
- Make sure the baby’s face is not covered, and is visible at all times.
- Do not let your baby ride turned toward you, with her face pressing against you.
- Do not let your baby slip into a hunched position, with her chin touching her chest.
- Check on the baby frequently while she’s in the sling.
The CPSC study of sling-related deaths over the past 20 years (there was an average of more than one per year) found that many of these babies were low birth-weight twins, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. So ask your pediatrician whether it is safe to carry these babies in slings, and take extra care if you do.
Tags: baby slings