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Government Urges Caution With Use Of Baby Slings Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 March 2010

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 here.

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 months.

using the insert
Written by baby carrier on 2010-04-05 11:19:32 IP:
Iíve also seen the insert at work, and I have to tell you, Iím sold Ė it keeps the babyís face clear at all times and isnít as all-encompassing as a sling.
I too love my ergo
Written by office icons on 2010-04-11 01:03:33 IP:
The Ergo comes with an optional insert to make it workable for newborns and the moms Iíve interviewed with it give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.
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