Derrik's wasn’t the first infant death in an Infantino sling this year. Three months earlier, a 7-week-old Philadelphia boy suffocated while being carried by his mother. She discovered that the child wasn’t breathing when she opened the sling to show him to a friend.
We know of at least seven babies who have suffocated in baby slings over the past 11 years. The cause of other deaths in slings were undetermined or may have been misclassified as SIDS. Additionally, we have reports of 37 infants who have been seriously injured in incidents with slings over the same time period. Those injuries include skull fractures, broken bones, and serious bruises.
We have warned readers about baby slings before and put them on our list of products not to buy for your baby. The response: Strong criticism from advocates who believe that baby wearing is the healthiest way to transport a baby and builds mother-baby bonding. But the growing number of fatalities and injuries associated with slings makes us even more resolute in our position on this product. We’re in no way opposed to baby wearing, but there are soft, wearable infant carriers that we believe are safer to use than slings.
Participants at last week’s ASTM-International meeting on sling carriers discussed the design of the Infantino “bag-style” sling and how it could contribute to suffocation and obstructed airways. That can happen for two reasons—either the baby’s face turns inward and becomes covered by the mother’s clothing or breasts, or the baby is placed in a position where the infant's head falls so far forward that the airway is closed off.
The ASTM sling committee is not alone in its concern about the Infantino design. Customer reviews on Amazon.com include a slew of comments about potential suffocation risks.
The Infantino Slingrider (at right) has been recalled in the past for breaking shoulder strap adjusters; it has not been recalled for suffocation hazards. We are writing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to suggest another recall on this product before more children die.
The label in the Infantino sling and on its box says that it “Meets or exceeds ASTM F2236.” That’s the voluntary safety standard on soft infant carriers, but that standard specifically excludes slings. There is no current ASTM safety standard for slings, so such labeling is very misleading. The warnings and instructions on the label also apply to regular infant carriers, and are inappropriate for slings. We fear that those instructions could be misinterpreted and that a baby could be at risk as a result. Our calls to Infantino about its labeling have not been returned.
Our Take: There may be safe slings on the market, but until ASTM adopts a safety standard that addresses the injuries and fatalities we’ve seen with these products, we’ll stand firm with our advice.—Don Mays
I was gifted an Infantino for my last baby. They are absolutely terrible. The sling hung almost to my knee, was not really adjustable to my body size, and felt like a large sack. The baby inside wasn't held closely and was at a dangerous angle. If that is what Consumer Reports thinks a sling is, then no wonder they aren't recommended. The Infantino is junk.
I went on to purchase a wrap sling and a pouch sling from different manufacturers. Wraps are marvelous because you tie them to fit your body and hold the baby closely to you. Pouch slings are sized and should be purchased accordingly. I absolutely loved my pouch sling because it held the baby closely, so I could nurse, yet without the volume of the wrap.
I'd urge Consumer Reports to re-evaluate it's "no slings" position, because there are such a variety of really fantastic products. After all, CR doesn't recommend that parents avoid cribs during crib recalls/dangers. Slings are no different.
I can't believe CR is calling slings dangerous due to 7 confirmed deaths in 11 years? Is that supposed to be a monumental number when thousands are seriously injured or killed every year in strollers?
As an experienced babywearing mom, I can tell you that most slings (and other carriers, like Baby Bjorn) available at the popular baby stores are total garbage. Natural parenting stores or online stores are the only place to shop for the worthwhile brands, like Zolo Wear, Maya Wrap and Mamma's Milk. All of these slings come with detailed instructions and warnings about ensuring proper positioning. The tremendous physiological, emotional and logistical benefits of wearing of my son were well worth the effort to learn the proper technique, and there was no safer place for him to be.
Outright dismissing all slings after reviewing a handful of poorly made ones is not unbiased investigative reporting and not helpful to consumers. Sling-wearers, just like those who use car seats, cribs or strollers, need to be given proper safety instructions and tips for puchasing safe products, not unhelpful bans based on a lack of information.
I am happy to see this warning on bag slings, however the wording could be refined. These slings are generally referred to as 'bag slings'. Since many people refer to all baby carriers as 'slings' this report could be confusing. There is much more information on the hazards of the bag sling as well as info on much safer and more comfortable carriers at thebabywearer.com
An experienced registered nurse and babywearing educator put a great deal of passion and energy into testing 'bag slings' -- specifically the Infantino SlingRider.
Infantino did nothing with her findings to improve the safety of their product.
Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. The Infantino Slingrider bag sling and similar flawed designs are a real risk to babies' safety, as babywearing advocates have been stating for years. M'Liss Steltzer, a registered nurse, has a blog describing the results of her testing babies' oxygenation levels in these bag slings:
The parents of the babies who died in the Infantino Sling Rider should know that M'Liss Steltzer contacted Infantino with her safety concerns about the poor design of their product in October 2006, so Infantino was on notice that its product was not safe for young babies.
That said, Consumer Reports should not condemn all sling carriers out of hand because of the inherently dangerous design of the Infantino Slingrider and similar bag slings from companies such as Premaxx, Lamaze, JJ Cole, Munchkin, and Boppy.
Just as with car seats, strollers, and other baby gear, the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater. Any bag sling such as the Infantino Slingrider or similar design is an inherently dangerous design because, *when used as directed,* it forces baby's chin to his chest.
However, there are a large number of adjustable ring slings and fitted pouches that are safe and comfortable babies and parents alike. These do not suffer from the design defects of bag slings, and they should not be condemned out of hand by Consumer Reports.
The growing number of fatalities Mr. Mays speaks of are in "bag slings" - specifically the Infantino Sling Rider. I have seen the actual incident reports. It's VERY, VERY poorly designed and nearly impossible to use properly.
Most independent sling companies make products that are very safe and beneficial for infant development when used properly. I recently did a small study of 5 sling companies and in a 3 year period, the 5 companies sold over 600,000 slings and had 0 incidents.
Agreed, Infantino sling rider is DANGEROUS. The babywearing community has been doing research and contacting Infantino about the risks from this carrier for 3 years now, one woman has even done oxygenation studies that show even healthy babies tend not to oxygenate well in this carrier. Any carrier which hides the baby from the mother and pushes the chin down against the chest (and in the infantino, there is literally no other way to wear the child in it) violates fundamental rules of safety in babywearing.
MOST carriers are not dangerous this way. Properly fitted simple "pouch" slings will hold a baby up, support the head (baby goes in at a slight diagnonal, with the head near the edge of the carrier an and the bottom deep in the pouch) and keep baby's face where the mother can see it. Infantino's sling rider hangs down, fixes the baby parallel to the "rails" of the sling, hides the baby from view, and is extraordinarily uncomfortable. I am a large woman and could not tighten or adjust the sling tight enough to hold my baby close to me in it (I traded someone with an Infantino for a better sling just so I could see how it fit.) It is, simply put a faulty design which even when used according to directions can cause problems for even normal newborns.
In general, we who advocate slings and baby carriers advise people to be VERY safety conscious of their children. It is not okay to just stick a baby in a sack and ignore them, the biggest BENEFIT of babywearing is that the baby is held close so that the parent can see them, feel their breathing, and care for them quickly and easily. A properly worn sling will, for most babies, improve their oxygen flow, prevent plagiocephaly (flat head from constant back-lying) and help the baby gain weight better than being put down in a crib, playpen, carseat or stroller, and will allow for much more carrying than if a parent does not have a proper sling or other babywearing device.
Adjustable, open tailed ring slings are the easiest to fit properly of the one shouldered carriers. It is not necessary to have extreme padding in the sling, indeed, most people find something simpler more comfortable and attractive.
Mei tais and structured soft carriers based on the mei tai design (not including Baby Bjorn, which is a mediocre carrier at best) also bring the baby upright, close, and visible to the parent. They also have the benefit of being much more comfortable than the majority of offerings in the one-shouldered carrier category, and far more comfortable than the "front packs" one sees so often.
I had a special needs, failure to thrive baby. Growing and gaining weight was very difficult for her due to a genetic problem. The only time she was in a car seat was when she was actually in the car. I did not own a stroller until she was 3 years old and over 30 pounds. I had to position her carefully, she was floppy and low-tone and had an immature nervous system which meant her breathing was iffy at the best of times and downright frightening at the worst.
Mei tais (rectangle of fabric with padded or wide straps coming out all four corners) were a godsend. They supported her, distributed her weight evenly on my body, and put her close enough to me that I could always feel her breathing without even thinking too much about it. When she was tiny, the idea of sticking her in a crib in another room, or leaving her in a carseat when we were not in the car was just not an option. She was held most of the time, Kangaroo care at its best. She is exceeding all expectations compared to most children with her syndrome. Not all slings worked with her, ring slings and pouches were not the best when she was tiny because of her floppy tone, and when she was larger she could arch out of them. But my older daughter practically lived in pouches when she was an older baby. Every family and every child is different, and I would hate to see people dismiss all babywearing because ONE brand or one type of sling is not safe or working for them.
I wear my babies, but I always use ultra-breathable material. Even with breathable material, I make sure that there is room around the baby's face to breathe, and that the baby's head is secure so they won't move away from the "breathing hole". I think it's important to note that any child product can be dangerous if not used properly. The material for the sling above looks incredibly thick and not very breathable, so it would have been imperative that the mother ensure that her child's breathing would not be obstructed by the material. Unfortunately, many moms assume that a product is safe (despite the multitude of recalls that occur every day) and don't read the instructions. I think it's also important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and not condemn all slings, only the ones that actually are unsafe (ie not breathable, babies able to fall out, straps not strong enough, etc.).
Finally! The media reports on the very real dangers of the Infantino Sling Rider! The manufacturer was presented with all of this data re: their product several years ago by a third-party "review board," if you will, and the best the manufacturer could say was, "Has their been a documented death in one of our carriers?" Until that happened, they were unwilling not only to make any changes, but unwilling to listen. I've spent the last several years warning parents to stay away from this carrier, hoping to God that there would not be a baby that died because of the risks associated with this carrier, namely the fact that it places the baby in the chin-to-chest position, thereby occluding their airway. My heart goes out to those families who's lives are forever devastated by this totally needless tragedy.
I agree with a lot of the fantastic comments already made. This is a very very sad occurance and i feel for the family. There are so many benefits to babywearing, we just all need to research and be educated on what carriers are suitable and what safe positions baby needs to be in while being carried.
This is such an utterly sad story :-(
But like the above posters, it's poor journalism to state that baby slings are dangerous. Not all slings are created equal! Fifteen years ago I had a similar bag sling for my first born baby. I'm so grateful we never had trouble with it but then again, we didn't use it that much. I have been wearing my youngest, who is 3 1/2 in a variety of safe baby slings & baby carriers for over 3 years now and now know how different and way more comfy these other carriers/slings are.
I haven't got anything new to add but want to second that it's the BAG SLINGS, like the Infantino, that are dangerous. Please don't rubbish the other styles, in which a baby is carried close to the wearer's body and able to breath properly.
Isn't it ironic really that it has been the babywearing community who has been warning against the bag slings for years?!?
Any time a child dies it is a tragedy. We are saddened by these incidents and our hearts go out to the families and loved ones. We were notified of the latest incident just last week (October 28th.) We’re working hard and urgently to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can about it. Based on the information available to us, we do not believe that our product caused either of the two tragedies where mothers said they used our product. In addition, we are working closely with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
We believe the Sling Rider is a safe and secure method of carrying a baby when used as the instructions describe. More than750,000 Sling Riders have been sold and safely used in recent years. We simply will not make or sell any product that we wouldn’t use with our own children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
We also want to respond to your comment about the need for ASTM standards for slings, which is an industry issue, not just an Infantino issue.
Infantino tests its products to numerous ASTM and international standards. It has been our practice to have our slings tested to those portions of the soft carrier standards that we feel are applicable and could help us ensure the product’s quality and safety. For example, we use the strap standard under section 6.3 of ASTM 2236. We exceed that standard by incorporating three levels of redundancy in the strap. Furthermore, some of our retailers insist that we use the ASTM 2236 standard to ensure that we meet any and all applicable aspects of the soft carrier standard. The statements on the packaging offer clarification for our consumers.
We support and encourage the efforts of ASTM to develop additional standards for slings and we expect to participate in the ASTM’s committee that is charged with that responsibility.
At Infantino®, we spend every day working to make safe products for parents and kids that enrich a family’s celebration of childhood. We continually evaluate and improve our products, test criteria and labeling to ensure our products are compliant and safe.
Not recommending fabric slings because of one supremely faulty, poorly designed one that is mass distributed is simplistic to the point of being outright wrong. It speaks volumes about your unwillingness to educate yourself on a topic and market that you clearly know nothing about.
Americans are used to their baby equipment and their gadgets. You can't really test a long swatch of strong fabric in the same way that you test other baby equipment. And yet when used properly is is perfectly safe. Is it the fact that customer use can't be regulated as easily as when they purchase a stroller that just makes you throw up your hands and discourage them entirely? People manage to misuse those all the time anyway.
Instead of discouraging a practice that has literally been around for centuries and worked quite well, perhaps looking at successful carriers and discussing the proper use of slings and wraps would in the long run create safer results.
This is so sad on so many levels. It is so sad that yet another baby has died because of the poor design of the "bag sling". Sad (disgusting, actually) that Infantino new about the dangers and did nothing about it and still refuses to do anything about it. Sad that this article may sway parents from using a sling or from babywearing at all.
Like many aspects of parenting, babywearing is a skill that must be practiced and learned. You cannot just put your baby in a purse and be on your way (which is pretty much what you do when you use a bag sling).
Infantino's rep says, "We believe the Sling Rider is a safe and secure method of carrying a baby when used as the instructions describe." I am really curious to whom he is referring as "we" and on what possible basis those people have formed a belief that the Sling Rider is safe and secure. They can't have been actually wearing any actual babies. In fact, EVERY experienced babywearer (and babywearing is a SKILL, not a product) who has ever tried the Sling Rider reports that it is IMPOSSIBLE to use safely and securely with a small infant. (Not to mention that it's uncomfortable!) Even most inexperienced users reach the same conclusion, if the Amazon reviews of this product are anything to go by.
Infantino manufactures a lot of different baby products, and some of them are quite good. The Sling Rider isn't one of the good ones. General baby-gear companies seem not to understand how to design a good baby carrier (perhaps because in most cases, simpler and less structured is better). And unfortunately, the companies that are dedicated to making just baby carriers are usually small, undercapitalized, and unable to spend a great deal of time and money on things like developing "official" industry safety standards. Of course, that's not to say that there aren't any widely recognized industry safety standards. There are. (Ask any five baby carrier manufacturers who are well regarded in the babywearing community to compare different types of rings for use in a ring sling, or how the straps should be stitched to the panel of a mei tai, and you will get very similar answers.) But there's no formal organization publishing them in a way that Consumer Reports would recognize.
And that's too bad for parents and babies, because if the parents are led to think the products of those small companies can't possibly be as good, or as safe, as the ones produced by the "big names" like Infantino, then, like Consumer Reports, they will end up concluding that there's something intrinsically unsafe or uncomfortable about babywearing itself. And that is just plain wrong.
Infantino, we beg you to take the Sling Rider off the market. Stick to teething toys. Or if you must sell a sling, design a real sling: an unstructured pouch, ring sling or wrap. And Consumer Reports, we beg you to learn what a "sling" is before you spread your anti-recommendation any more. It's wonderful that you're helping to call attention to the problems with bag slings, but conflating that type of carrier with all other baby carriers that could possibly be referred to as "slings" is inappropriate and dangerously confusing.
Anyone have any opinions about the Dr. Sears baby sling before I give it as a gift? I am nervous!
RE: Dr. Sears Baby Sling. There are much better options. If you want to give a ring sling as a gift, my two suggestions are the Maya Wrap lightly padded sling, or a ring sling from SleepingBabyProductions.net .
The "Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling" endorsed by Dr. Sears is not quite a bag sling; though it shares some of the problematic features of bag slings, it's not impossible to position a baby safely and securely in it. But there are a lot of more comfortable, more attractive, easier to fit pouches and ring slings available. Try shopping at an online retailer that specializes in baby carriers, instead of at mega-stores like Babies R Us, and you will find a much better selection of much better carriers. For a wealth of information including reviews and recommendations for a plethora of different brands and styles of all types of baby carrier, as well as vendors who sell them all over the world, check out www.thebabywearer.com
I have worn the sling since my son was born July 21, 2009. The 1st thing I told my husband was that I felt the need to watch the baby's face because it looked like he could suffocate. The 2nd was that the baby's neck was sinking in to deep & it looked like he couldn't breath. I still used the sling however remained very watchful when using it. My son is almost 4 months still using the sling.
Always check the straps for wear before using it. Always look at the baby, its only meant for carrying baby with ease never trust any product fully.
Check all your items before using carrier, swing, stroller, etc.
Wow, so sad. I used the "Over the Shoulder Baby Holder" and love it. I used it for my now 4yr old and my now 1yr old. I NEVER however carried them laying down in it. I put them face to my chest and cinched it over their buttocks/back and had them in a sitting up position. I could not let them lie down like that, knowing the possibilities of problems breathing. I cringe when I see people carry sleeping infants that way.
The bag style slings are not real slings to start with and recommending against slings because one company (or perhaps a couple) have come out with a ridiculous design in these 'bag slings' makes no sense. If there is a bad product, report it as such and don't right off all the other good products in that category. Like anything you first need to know HOW to use a product. In a regular ring sling you can cradle a baby much like in your arms whereas the bag slings are much more likely to have the baby with their chin tucked down and them laying in an unnatural position that could lead to positional asphyxia. The comment about the one baby that was found to be dead after the mom 'open' the bag and found the baby wasn't breathing is a HUGE issue. You should be able to see your baby in the sling! How else are they going to be getting a good supply of oxygen around them and you be able to monitor them?
It doesn't lend credibility to your reports when you give an example of one bad product and then some examples of how they clearly weren't even been used well at that and then suggest the entire category of products are bad.
I personally used the Infantino sling for my daughter, for about five minutes. She was absolutely miserable in it, as she was completely enveloped in the sack. I read that the Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling was designed in part with Dr. William Sears, which gives me a greater sense of comfort knowing that more than aesthetics was taken in to consideration when designing this sling.
Wow. This is tragic. However, common sense must be applied. If I can't see my baby, and the baby is completely covered by fluffy material, why would I use that item? Sorry, but....DUH. A ring sling, under the baby's bottom and across his back, is just fine for an infant. They sit upright, lay their head on your chest (face to the side), and sleep soundly.
I have the slingrider and it works great. The first few times she was a little fussy. I get her calm first and then put her in with a pacifier. She falls asleep quick. I worried about the positioning of the neck but it really doesn't seem to be a problem. The adjustment thing is exactly as the company rep said 'redundant.' So redundant in fact that is actually impossible to adjust while the baby is in the sling and nearly impossible to adjust without a baby. The instructions show a person reaching up behind and pulling on the strap and the word instruction simply say to support the baby and pull on the strap. It doesn't work.
I want to know why this women was shopping with her 6 day old and why she did not leave him in the car seat and did she check on him when he was in the sling the hour she was shopping I have not heard any thing that states that she had checked on him the whole hour while she had went shopping. oh and ate lunch
I just wanted to answer the comment posted about using a infant carseat instead
"I want to know why this women was shopping with her 6 day old and why she did not leave him in the car seat ..."
Infant carseats have produced similar instances of asphyxiation as the "bag sling" and are not necessarily safer to use, unless used carefully and for short periods (studies have been undertaken in Canada and New Zealand recently). As others have commented, whilst bag slings are exceedingly dangerous, there are other products used for infants that can cause injuries or death, yet Consumer Reports do not condemn them all out of hand.
I'd like to say to those whom commented on why. Studies show SIDS risk being lower in countries where babies are always carried close to their moms hearts. SIDS has no explanation. And far as the baby being in the sling you can nurse them while you shop. I carried my 12 yr old in a sling all the time. But it was so much better than the infintano. I now have a 2yr old and a 10 month old and had the infintano for them. I never liked it. I spent so much time trying to readjust it. It never fit right. I never was comfortable with the baby in it. I kept comparing it to how my older one fit. I stopped using it because it just wasn't right. My prayers go out to those famlies whom lost their babies
I used a sling similar to the Moby Pack. My kiddo was a preemie, and was unable to use any other type of baby carrier b/c he was just too small. I absolutely LOVED my sling, and would recommend it to anyone!! I agree that you should not put down the entire notion of baby wearing just b/c one company (or a few) have tried to ruin things for everyone else. But it is good to see that the government is actually attempting to set standards for things involving small people.
Not all baby slings are created equal. The whole point of babywearing is to keep your baby close, secure and SAFE. Just look at those "bag slings". The baby is totally lost in them and hanging down at Mama's hips. That just screams unsafe and uncomfortable.
WOW i have this sling, lucky i never used it wish i could get my money back!!! I now use an ergo and love it