New Controversy Over Babywearing (Slings)
By Tine ReeseMarch 24, 2010
Last week the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning “advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age. In researching incident reports from the past 20 years, CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009.” The CPSC announcement concerns “bag” slings, a very particular style of baby carrier. It does not mean that all infant slings are dangerous.
In response to this warning, Mothering Magazine hosted a one-hour radio show this past Monday (March 22) to communicate that babywearing is safe when parents are educated and know how to use slings correctly. The radio show featured interviews with national babywearing experts who provided information on how to safely wear your baby and which type of slings should be used.
Just today more than one million bag slings made by Infantino were recalled. The Infantino slings being recalled were sold from 2003 through 2010 at several retailers, including Target, Babies R Us and Burlington Coat Factory. Consumers can call Infantino at 866-860-1361 to receive a free replacement product.
Most high-quality baby slings on the market have been developed by moms running their own small businesses…not by large corporations who need a product to compete in the market. Moms who design and make slings do so with their own baby’s well-being in mind. Safe slings keep babies in the same positions they would be in if mom or dad were carrying them. Babies should not be in curled or balled-up positions where breathing can be labored, but should be in upright (tummy to tummy) or slightly reclined (cradled) positions. Bag slings and slings with flat bottoms do not allow for safe positioning.
Knowledge is power! Some of the media hype is inaccurate and there is a lot of good, credible information out there that supports the benefits and safety of babywearing. Just like any baby gear you have (car seats, strollers, etc.), you have to monitor your child and be vigilant about the well-being of your child. Currently there are no federal safety rules for slings so parents who do wear their babies need to be proactive about seeking information on how to do it correctly. Don’t let the recent news or recall scare you away from the amazing gift of wearing your children.
Here are some great online resources with information on how to safely wear your baby:
- Babywearing International
- Quirky Baby
- The Baby Wearer
- Proper Infant Positioning in a Baby Sling (video)
Small locally-owned stores where you have access to babywearing experts who can show you how to use slings correctly are the best places to buy a sling and get a proper education on how to use that sling. Large retail stores don’t carry much in the way of high-quality slings and don’t have staff trained in the proper use of slings—you don’t want an 18-year-old store clerk at Babies R Us picking out your sling!
Here in the Spokane area, we have a wonderful store where you can get expert assistance in choosing a sling. Mothers Haven in Coeur d’Alene, ID, stocks a variety of high-quality slings and provides hands-on assistance to help you choose and properly use the slings they sell. You should also check out Sarita Star Designs. Local mom and sling designer Sarita Morgan makes beautifully hand-crafted slings that are out of this world! She sells her slings at Anemone in downtown Spokane.
As well, we have a couple of local parenting groups where you can find the support of other moms with a ton of babywearing experience.
Please let us know if there are other local or online resources we should know about here in Spokane. I am always looking for others in our community who can assist new and expectant parents in the ways of safely and naturally caring for their babies.