Baby wearing has gotten a bad rep in recent years, due to all the baby sling recalls and infant suffocation cases. This shouldn’t deter you from baby wearing, though.
In many of these cases, parents were not wearing their baby correctly and not reading the sling instructions. Baby wearing is safe when it’s properly done and you keep safety in mind. (Remember that mothers have been wearing their babies for centuries.)
It is sad when baby sling manufacturers have to give common sense warnings. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Do not wear your baby in a moving vehicle. Slings are not approved safety seats.”
“Use caution around equipment.”
“Fabric is not flame resistant. Do not wear the sling near open flames . . . Never wear your baby while carrying a hot beverage.”
“Do not bend over while your baby is in the sling, as baby could fall out.”
“Never bike or engage in vigorous activity with baby in the sling.”
The world must be full of parents without common sense with a baby sling company has to print warnings like these.
The CPSC Warning against Baby Wearing (Baby Slings)
In 2010, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning for parents to be careful when using baby slings in infants who are under four months old. The CPSC issued the warning after it investigated 14 deaths associated with sling style baby carries. Twelve of the deaths involved young babies less than 4 months.
The governmental agency did say that most of these baby wearing deaths occurred in babies of low birth weight, premature infants, and those who had colds and breathing issues. The CPSC urges parents of premature infants and sickly babies to use extra care and consult the pediatrician when using a baby sling.
Baby slings can pose a suffocation hazard to young babies. Because infants cannot control their heads (due to weak neck muscles) in the first couple of months, these babies can suffocate if the sling fabric presses against their nose and mouth. Slings that keep a baby in a curled position, bending their chin toward the chest, can restrict the baby’s airways and limit their oxygen supply.
As you can see, slings can pose danger if not properly used. To keep your baby safe, the CPSC recommends that your baby’s face is not covered and visible to you at all times. The baby’s nose and mouth is free and away from the sling fabric.
The CPSC also recommends breastfeeding mothers change the baby’s position in the sling after nursing. The baby’s face should be above the rim of the sling or baby wrap. Your baby’s face should be visible and clear of fabric or your body. You should always check how your baby is doing in the sling.
Baby Wearing is Safe – but Follow these Rules
Baby wearing can be safer than carrying your infant in your arms. You just have to follow a few safety tips. Use common sense, and read all the instructions for the baby carrier that you choose. As a caring parent, you do need to frequently check to make sure your baby hasn’t buried her face toward the fabric.
Follow these safe baby wearing practices to keep your baby safe:
1. Make sure your baby has plenty of breathing room.
This is really important. Baby carriers, baby slings and wraps allow you to be hands-free, but you have to always remember that you’re carrying a baby around! Companies do their best to ensure your baby’s safety when you’re wearing him or her, but it is your job to make sure your child has plenty of breathing room.
You never want your baby to be worn or held in a way that allows her chin to be curled against her chest. This restricts your baby’s ability to breathe and can lead to suffocation. When you are baby wearing, your infant needs good back support so that she doesn’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.
2. Don’t jog, run, or perform any activity similar to shaking or bouncing.
This type of motion can damage your baby’s neck, spine, and possible her brain. This rule should be common sense.
3. When driving in a car, place your baby in a car seat. Do not baby wear.
This should be another common sense point. Baby carriers will not protect you the way a car seat can in the event of an accident.
4. Use a baby carrier that’s suited for your baby’s age and weight.
You should only use a baby sling or carrier that’s appropriate for your baby’s weight and age. For example, front packs typically have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds. If your baby is smaller, she may accidentally slip out of the carrier. A larger baby might cause you back pain.
5. Always inspect the baby carrier before you use it.
Baby wearing is wonderful, but you need to make sure the carrier or baby sling that you’re using is structurally sound. Always check the fabric, seams, buckles, and other fasteners to make sure they are not damaged in any way.
6. Don’t wear your baby during pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, you are more prone to falling – due to your center of gravity shifting and dizziness being a common pregnancy symptom. To protect the baby in the womb, as well as your child, avoid baby wearing when pregnant.