are baby slings a thing of the past?
Following recent warnings by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1 million Infantino slings were recalled yesterday. The CPSC advises consumers to immediately discontinue use for infants younger than four months old. The recall comes in response to many complaints and three infant deaths in the United States last year alone. Now the question arises, is a sling safe for baby?
One of those complaints came from yours truly after my daughter turned blue and almost suffocated while in the Infantino ”Sling Rider.” I bought the Infantino sling with the purpose of caring my baby with me as I completed daily tasks. According to the instructions I placed my, at the time, 8 pound baby in the sling and strapped her in. I double checked the diagram to make sure she was properly in the harness. While I was adjusting to this new feeling of independence and terrifeied that I was going to slam her into a wall or door I looked down to check on her. She was steadily turning a concerning shade of blue. Of course, any shade of blue is concerning. I then immediately took her out. Days later thinking I had done something wrong I tried the sling again. Following the instructions to a tee, it happened once again. Third time’s not a chance for this lady and I returned the product the next day for a full refund. I also wrote an e-mail to Infantino describing what had happened. I did not get a response.
What had happened in my case was that my daughter’s airway became restricted due to the curled position of the Infantino sling. I was convinced that the episode occurred due to the age and prematurity of my baby. Yet, nowhere on the packaging did it state that there was age or weight limits other than to carry an infant up to 2o pounds. This is where the CPSC had concerns earlier in the month and issued a warning about sling style baby carriers on March 12, 2010 stating:
Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies… 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 warning goes on to state that the babies who are at greatest risk are the ones under 4 months, at low birth weight, or have a cold. This is where I have to chime in. Really? If you want to carry your baby around in a sling are you really going to wait 4 months? Why use one at all? Seriously, look at this sling. After using it I can’t imagine how a 4 + month baby would comfortably fit in this thing and neither did they because every product photo that was on the box was of a young baby. At the time the CPSC did not specify brands and said that 14 deaths in the last 20 years were under investigation. After the three deaths this year, all involving the Infantino ”Sling Rider” or the Infantino “Wendy Bellissimo” the CPSC was prompted to announce the official recall of the brand.
The question still remains. Are all slings unsafe? Baby experts and breastfeeding advocates insist that slings that keep a baby in the upright position and solid against the mother’s body are safe. Not only are they safe but are a way to bond with child and an ideal way to calm and sooth a cranky baby.
There are currently no safety standards for infant slings. The CPSC has determined that a mandatory standard is needed and is working with ASTM International and concerned companies like Infantino.
I wanted to get the thoughts of real moms and surveyed 20 close friends and random strangers. Yes, that was me calling your house asking about baby slings. The overall reaction was 60% in favor of slings or baby carriers. For those in favor said they could not live without them and found them invaluable with no complications.The favorites were the Moby Wrap and Mei Tai which can act more like front carriers than a sling, Hotslings and the Maya Wrap. All of these are vastly different from the Infantino Sling models. I can see how they fit snug to the parent’s body and do not form the compressing shape that is causing the suffocation problems. As for me, my daughter would not look at another sling after that so, we said forget it and carried her the old fashion way without any problems.
What should you do if you have an Infantino ”Sling Rider” or “Wendy Bellisimo” sling? Infantino and the CPSC ask that you stop using these products immediately and contact Infantino through their website or (866) 860-1361 for a free replacement product and a rattle.
All babies and their parents are different. It’s up to us to know what is best for our children. After our experience I am glad that these Infantino Slings are off the market because they are truly a potential hazard. As with the other “wrap” models I can’t see the obvious hazard as I did with the Infantino and don’t believe we need to ban all slings and baby carriers. I do agree with the CPSC that there needs to be a standard for corporations that make baby carriers and slings to follow so we don’t have a reckless product on the market.