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Baby carrying: Are sling-type carriers safe?

There are more slings, wraps and belted-type pack designs than ever for mothers who want carry their babies. They range from high-end packs that require waiting online and hundreds of dollars to a basic sling that incorporates a ring and a large swath of material.

A warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission should give new parents pause before deciding on a carry solution. The federal agency recently approved new standards and labeling requirements after receiving almost 160 incident reports since 2003.

Suffocation dangers

Seventeen of the reports were fatal. Ten of the 67 injuries that occurred during use required hospitalization. Slings pose two suffocation dangers for babies:

  • In the first months when baby’s neck muscles are still developing, they cannot control their heads. A sling’s fabric can keep a baby in a position that blocks breathing and suffocation can occur within a minute or two.
  • Slings that allow infants to stay in a curled position may restrict their airways and limit oxygen supply. The baby may not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.

Making sure that a infant’s face is always visible is one way to prevent these dangers. Falling out of a sling is another issue associated with this style of carrier. 

Tougher standards and modifications to warning labels

The CPSC has now added tougher standards and warning label requirements for sling carriers. Mandatory standards for sling carriers will require that a sling can carry up to three times the recommended weight and tests that ensure the structural integrity of seams and fabric. Other testing will be required to prevent babies and children from falling out of slings during normal use.

Warning labels will explain suffocation dangers and how children can be at risk of falling out of slings. Pictures on the associated instructional materials will show the proper position for a child riding in a sling.

When an unexpected injury occurs while using a product for its intended use, investigate the cause. It could be that a design defect or manufacturing problem allowed an unsafe product onto the shelf.

Remedies exist to compensate for medical bills as well as pain and suffering. One of the experienced attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse can provide more details during a free initial consultation.

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