At Consumer Reports, we’ve raised concerns about slings before. Last fall, we noted that CR knew of at least seven babies who suffocated in baby slings over the prior 11 years, and 37 infants who were seriously hurt. Those injuries included skull fractures, broken bones, and serious bruises. Most occurred when the child fell out of the sling. Because of those incidents, and the lack of safety standards, infant slings are on our list of products not to buy for your baby.
We also reported that our research uncovered two deaths associated with one sling model, the Infantino SlingRider. According to government investigators, two newborns died from anoxia, or lack of oxygen, while their mothers carried them in Infantino slings. On November 4, 2009 we wrote to the CPSC and said that “we believe that the Infantino SlingRider poses a substantial product hazard” and encouraged the agency to consider a recall on the product before more babies die. But on December 23rd, another death occurred. A representative for the family told us that a 3-month-old infant suffocated while being carried by her mother in an Infantino SlingRider during a shopping excursion. We called the company for comment on the latest incident but received a statement saying that they believe the SlingRider is a safe product and that they are working with the CPSC to address the agency's concerns and those of any parents and caregivers.
We are repeating our call for the CPSC to consider seeking a recall for the Infantino SlingRider because it poses a suffocation risk (it was recalled in 2007 for breaking shoulder strap adjusters). And we encourage the agency to investigate any similarly designed slings. We’re continuing our own research and will publish additional information in the coming weeks.
If Consumer Reports has reason to believe that these slings are a safety hazard, that information should be on the informational page about Soft Carriers and Slings, which doesn't look like it's been updated since 2007. For CR to have this sort of information, and then leave it off the page that most people would go to for information about these very products is at best a dereliction of duty.
Dear Don Mays,
What are you comparing your death statistics too? Being a human is inherently risky. Yes, it would be ideal if no babies died while using a particular product. Ideally all babies would grow to adults unmarred. This is the goal. However, there is a back ground danger level just inherent in existing.
A 'dangerous' product is not one in which deaths or injuries occur. It is one that in which more deaths/injuries than this back ground level. And even then it is not necessarily the product's fault as some products are associated with more dangerous times or activities (that are still necessary).
For example, babies die in bathtubs a lot. But it's not the tub's fault. It's the fact that bathing is one of the more dangerous activities necessary to life. It should not be inferred that a bath product that babies die near is dangerous unless more babies die near it than in general during bathing activities.
Babies die while eating. Because eating is also a semi-dangerous activity. But if we just stop feeding children to avoid letting them choke, then they will starve for sure.
So I ask again, what are you comparing your death injury statistics too?
Seven deaths in 11 years compared to how many deaths in cribs in eleven years? in car seats? in play pens? strollers? in bouncy chairs? in bath tubs? on the floor? outside?
Thirty seven injuries from babies falling from slings compared to how many falling from parental arms? from being put down and getting hurt by climbing, getting stepped on, spilled or fallen on?
Consumer Reports have become a very respected name and people listen to you. From the information you have I think CR can only say 'this model of such and such is more/less safe than this one.' If you do not take into account the background level of danger for the activity then you have no way to determine safety of a general type of product at all.
You may want to say that a product type encourages unsafe behavior (For a sling it might be: running errands w/ the baby). You still cannot. You need to ask: What are the alternatives that would be pursued w/o the product (For a sling: holding baby in arms, leaving the baby in a car, in a home, with a baby sitter that, if you thought you could cope in the store with the baby you'd not trust with the baby, but since you can't then probably the baby sitter will be OK this time?) It is not always obvious or measurable what activities are being replaced.
Please be careful in your evaluations.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I am disheartened that Consumer Reports, while specifically mentioning the Infantino brand, then goes on to warn against ALL slings.
The Infantino-style sling (bag or duffle style) cannot ever position a baby in a safe way. All slings in this style should be taken off of the market. These manufacturers have been contacted in the last several years but have done nothing to change the shape of their slings and more deaths have occurred.
Babywearing is SAFE and has countless benefits to both parent and baby, but of course there are safety guidelines that should be followed, which were more accurately outlined in the CPSC's guidelines for positioning. Babywearing has been going on since the beginning of time.
There are plenty of children who have died or been injured in accidents involving strollers, car seats (which can cause similar suffocation risks), etc. but now those are the recommended way to "carry" a baby?
There are babywearing groups across the country who educate families on how to properly carry their babies and there are many online resources for education about this as well.
http://babyslingsafety.blogspot.com/ - blog from almost 2 YEARS ago outlining the risks associated with Infantino-style slings
I think issue is more with the user, and not the slings themselves. I once saw a woman running through the airport carrying a baby in the same sling that is shown in picture...the baby was literally bouncing off her knees. She didn't have the sling in the proper position, across her chest/upper waist.
It is not user error. It is IMPOSSIBLE to position these bag/duffle-style slings properly. They do not allow to be tightened up enough to come up to the chest and do not allow to sit babies upright. The shape and design of the sling itself forces the baby into the "C" position.
From a safety perspective, it is also irresponsible to lump all baby slings and carriers together without warning parents of the hazards of NOT holding their babies and leaving them in carseats, swings, bouncy seats, strollers, and cribs all day.
Setting aside the fact that there have been many more infant deaths reported in carseats, strollers, or cribs (per category) than in baby slings over the past 10 years, human babies need to be held by their caregivers for significant amounts of time every day for their physical and emotional well-being.
Although baby containers are useful and have their place when used appropriately, overuse of baby containers is associated with container syndrome, which manifests itself in weak or unevenly developed neck muscles, flattened skulls (potentially harming brain development), and delayed motor skill development. It is simply not developmentally appropriate or safe to leave babies on their backs all day.
Moreover, bucket carseats themselves put babies into a chin to chest position and cause lower oxygen levels. Researchers have found that chronic or intermittent hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) is linked to developmental delays and behavior disorders in the long term.
See, e.g., http://bit.ly/cFs5xH
Consumer Reports needs to take a more nuanced and balanced look at the big picture here on infant safety and health, and stop tarring all baby slings and carriers with the same brush. The Infantino SlingRider and similar duffel-bag style carriers are the carriers that cannot be used safely at all, and should be recalled. As far as well-designed baby slings and carriers, proper use is key -- just as it is for baby strollers, carseats, cribs, and other devices that are safe when used safely and not safe when not used safely.
Safety is always the most important thing when you're carrying your baby, and mums need to be aware of the need for ensuring that their baby, when carried in a sling or carrier, is in a comfortable position with free-flowing air. Slings aren't dangerous when used correctly, and are a fantastic tool for keeping your baby close to you and content. They are generally much more supportive for the baby than fixed front carriers but parents and carers need to use their common sense, they need to check at regular intervals that the baby is secure and happy, and hold onto the baby when bending. The Close Baby carrier doesn't rely on one strap to hold the baby in place, the baby is held by a cross over of straps so is very secure, and has an additional wrap tied around the baby too so that the baby is completely enclosed, unlike the bag style slings. In the main position used, upright facing in, the baby lies with their cheek against the wearers chest, so there is no chance of baby suffocating. Many other slings hold the baby in a similarly safe and secure way, and it would be unreasonable to dismiss all slings based on problems with one style of sling.