Last year, baby slings and wraps were the center of controversy after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued recalls for millions of the sling-styled carriers. As part of the product recall, parents were warned that improper use of these soft baby carriers could result in suffocation. The CPSC, with the mission of protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products, has monitored these parenting products for the past 20 years and identified serious risk associated with their use. Consistent with its mission, the federal agency has issued guidelines to help parents make smart and safe choices about baby slings and wraps.
The agency has warned parents of premature or low birth-weight babies to be mindful of safety issues. Additionally, parents of infants under the age of four months or those with respiratory conditions should take extra precautions. While suffocation (asphyxiation) is a primary risk for babies being carried in these products-because the slings could block their breathing-but other risks includes fall-associated injuries.
The CPSC encourages parents to make sure that their baby’s face is visible and placed at or above the rim of the sling. In addition to checking baby regularly, parents should change their baby’s position so that baby’s face remains visible and clear of fabric or parent’s body.
In lieu of concerns about the safety of baby wearing, the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) has drafted voluntary safety standards for sling-style carriers. The proposed standards will provide guidance for manufacturers on producing safer products as well as recommendations regarding safety instructions and warnings.
The absence of CPSC standards for sling-style carriers does not absolve manufacturers from the injuries their products cause. If a parent has concerns about the injuries their child has sustained regarding a product, they should report their concerns to the CPSC and contact competent counsel to protect their own and their child’s interests.