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Government Urges Caution With Use Of Baby Slings

This week the Consumer Product Safety
Commission, that helpful government agency which issues recalls on
unsafe products, sent out a press release this week on baby slings.
They’ve been researching infant deaths related to baby slings
over the past twenty years, and have found that an overwhelming
percentage of infant deaths – including three last year alone
– have been in babies under four months of age.

The CPSC states that:

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.

Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth
weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as
a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in
fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and
consult their pediatricians about using slings.

The CPSC is calling for mandatory standards for infant slings in
the US, and I’m sure more news will be coming on this front.
For now, they urge parents to make sure the baby’s face is
visible at all times and is seen to breathe easily. For the
complete press release, click href=" http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10165.html"

Now here’s my two cents on the thing –

I’ve used pretty much every baby carrier out there, with the
exception of the Moby-type, with the yards and yards of fabric.
I’ve tried the tight slings and the voluminous fabric slings,
the Bjorn, and the Ergo. And I can tell you that neither one of my
girls liked the sling as newborns – they looked folded in
half and seemed buried and bewildered. For newborns through the
first few months, I found that the Bjorn worked best – I know
they’re too small for the legs, but I would swaddle the baby
and slide her down into the carrier with legs wrapped up, head laid
to the side. I discovered the Ergo late in the game for me, but I
absolutely adore it. The Ergo comes with an optional insert to make
it workable for newborns and the moms I’ve interviewed with
it give it two enthusiastic thumbs up. I’ve also seen the
insert at work, and I have to tell you, I’m sold – it
keeps the baby’s face clear at all times and isn’t as
all-encompassing as a sling.

I’m not knocking the sling – I found it incredibly
helpful as they got a little older. Around four months old or so, I
could use it to help them “perch” on my hip and free up
my arms a bit. And as they got older, it was certainly handy for
them to lie in the sling in public and nurse, then fall asleep
there. Cora was doing that up to around five or six months. I was
definitely able to nurse the girls in the Bjorn as well, and in the
Ergo, so it’s simply a matter of what works for you.

So there’s my thing – I never found the sling to be the
best fit for newborns anyway, and always had worries about the
suffocation thing. That being said, I have several girlfriends who
swear by the sling from birth day on, and I’m guessing if
you’re careful and use it right you’ll be ok. The CPSC
hasn’t issued a recommendation to make them illegal for
newborns, so it’s not at that level right now. Just be
cautious, and perhaps check out other methods for the first few


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