Can baby slings actually hurt baby?

The government is warning about baby sling dangers. (AP)

The government is warning about baby sling dangers. (AP)

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it will likely issue a warning this week to parents about using baby slings.

The concern is that will babies could suffocate in certain positions in the slings and the agency says several already have suffocated.

From The Associated Press:

“ ‘We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies,’ said Inez Tenenbaum, head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. ‘So, the time has come to alert parents and caregivers…’ ”

“Tenenbaum did not single out any specific baby slings or discuss the number of deaths linked to them. But there have been complaints for a couple years now about some baby carriers.”

“In 2008, Consumer Reports raised concerns about the soft fabric slings and some two dozen serious injuries, mostly when a child fell out of them. A follow-up blog warned about a suffocation risk and linked the slings to at least seven infant deaths.”

“Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, complained about the “SlingRider” by Infantino. The “bag style” sling wraps around the parent’s neck and cradles the child in a curved or “C-like” position, nestling the baby below mom’s chest or near her belly.”

“It’s the “C-like” position that causes safety advocates to shudder. They say the curved position can cause the baby, which has little head and neck control in the early months, to flop its head forward, chin-to-chest — restricting the baby’s ability to breathe.”

“Another concern: that the baby can turn its face toward mom’s chest or belly and smother in the parent’s clothing…”

“Tiffany Speck, a nurse who owns BabySoSmart and sells her own baby carriers, has been warning about slings where the baby falls into a chin-to-chest position in the classes she teaches at hospitals, stores and doctors’ offices.”

” ‘You wouldn’t want to put a baby in there,’ Speck said during an interview with The Associated Press. ‘The baby is curling, head toward toe, and what happens is the baby occludes its own airway.’ ”

“Speck recommends that babies in slings remain in an upright position, with the baby’s tummy facing mommy’s tummy.”

I am so upset and shocked by this report and upcoming warning. I loved my baby sling and used two different slings with all my babies. It is one of my all-time favorite gifts to give to new mommies!

I do think the sling is calming to the baby and a wonderful way to keep the baby close and to nurse privately.

I always kept one hand on the baby in the sling. I never felt it was as secure as the Baby Bjorn but you could use it when they were smaller. But now they’re saying that is a problem.

I did worry about the fabric riding up so high next to their little faces. I was always checking to make sure they were breathing when they were in that laying down position. I did use the tummy to tummy position that but was when they were a little bit older.

What do you make of this impending warning? Did you use a sling? Did you like it? Did you ever worry about suffocation? Will you stop using slings now or just be more aware of positioning?

98 comments Add your comment

new mom

March 10th, 2010
7:00 am

The sling was one baby product I always said I needed to get, but honestly just never got around to getting one! I did wonder about the safety of wadding up said baby into a ball, but so many mothers swore by them….
Instead, we used our baby bjorn carrier with both girls, even when they were as little as just a couple of weeks old. They are so secure in them, especially with the extra button to go around their legs when they are less than 10 lbs (I think, going by memory…)
I also liked the bjorn because: I could easily glance down and check on them. I could be completely hands-free, which allows me to grocery shop easily. They love being so close to mommy, usually they fall asleep. I think the pressure on their tummys by being so close helped their acid reflux too. (that’s my opinion, not science or anything!) There’s a little flap that protects their head. Plus, you can very easily kiss the top of their head at any given moment.

new mom

March 10th, 2010
7:04 am

Forgot to also mention–I think the slings, like so many products, are likely safe when used properly and carefully. Theresa, you were smart to check on your babies…sadly, there are lots of moms out there who think that if a product is sold as a baby product, it can be completely trusted.

motherjanegoose

March 10th, 2010
7:18 am

I used one with my son YEARS ago but my daughter hated it. Such a long time ago, that my opinion today will not be worth much.

hi there

March 10th, 2010
7:32 am

I loved the sling and honestly if it wasn’t for that darn thing I think my daughter would have cried all day long. I would put it on and just walk around the house with her or do chores. I’ll be honest, when she did fall asleep I would take it off and hang it from a pulled out drawer (when she was like 10 lbs or less so don’t go crazy on me) and let her continue to sleep since she was always so fussy. Once the baby was done with it, the cat used to love crawling in and sleeping herself. ha ha

I think it is with everything else related to your children/babies you have to check on them and make sure they are safe and you are using things correctly. It’s nothing new and slings have been used by mothers around the world since women started having babies.

PS. I can’t wait to see the new movie all about babies that follows them from birth to the first year. I think even my honey would like that one since it is all about babies and he was just crazy over our daughter.

Michelle

March 10th, 2010
7:40 am

Well, I think it’s just like everything else, you have to actually pay attention to your child!

Belle

March 10th, 2010
8:14 am

I used one called a Hotsling for my son. It was great and at 18 months I can still use it. I had the one that is in the picture…and it was not comfortable to me at all.

Like Michelle said….Pay attention to your child.

deidre_NC

March 10th, 2010
8:17 am

where i work i constantly see mothers with babies in a sling type thing and the ones that really bother me are the ones where the baby is facing out-i see these babies with their heads tilted down right against the sling and i always think oh god please dont let that baby smother…i never used one just because i didnt find them comfy..that was many years ago maybe they are better now…but seeing them ‘in action’ they do look unsafe..i have thought that many times….as was said earlier tho, i see lots of parents with the baby in the sling thingy and they never even touch the baby or look at it…and when the babys face is pointing outwards the mother cant even see it…the head is just lolling there…i can see where these can be unsafe…

JJ

March 10th, 2010
8:24 am

I used one about three times. It was so hot it darn near killed me…….I’m naturally very warm and having that courdory contraption, and a hot baby up against me, I practically melted in Target.

TechMom

March 10th, 2010
8:35 am

I never liked the sling I had. I have seen some that hold the child much closer to you and can be used for a couple of years in different positions but the boy was a big baby so by the time he was 4 mos old and pushing 15-16 lbs, there was no way I could handle that weight pulling on my neck & back. I did use the backpack once he could hold his head up but that was typically when we were in place that weren’t conducive to strollers.

Becky

March 10th, 2010
8:41 am

I never used one, even with twins..Both of them were small in size, so it wasn’t a major deal to carry them..When they were born, we were told that the girl might not ever walk by herself and she didn’t start walking (really good) until she was 17 months..I have always hated those things and would never have used one anyway..I just think that you should hold them in your arms, not in a “sack”..Different strokes for each of us though..

Lady Strange

March 10th, 2010
8:51 am

I never used one. Luckily my son didn’t care if you carried him around or if he sat in the little bouncy seat. And i just got used to carrying him if I went anywhere. I had 2 of the backpack type carriers but i think i only used one once. Just wasn’t comfortable to wear.

Blue

March 10th, 2010
9:12 am

We never had one of those. Ouur son stayed in his car seat almost all the time unless we were sitting holding him.

New Stepmom

March 10th, 2010
9:50 am

Interesting, I had not considered getting a sling because they look cumbersome. I think this will really make my decision easy. I am going to get a baby bjorn (a friend is loaning it to me) and see how that goes.

[...] Can baby slings actually hurt baby? http://bit.ly/9MfDvm [...]

MomsRule

March 10th, 2010
10:11 am

I never used a sling. I enjoyed holding my kids too much!

Women have been using “slings” forever. My impression would be that most of the horrible accidents are a result of the sling not being used properly. Babies have died in bouncy seats, swings, etc. A lot of people don’t bother reading instructions or following them. Sad but true. I had a friend that refused to put her rear facing infant car seat in the back seat (mini van). She insisted on using it in the front and she had passenger airbags. I could not get it through her head that it was not safe.

mombiealert

March 10th, 2010
10:13 am

Yet another example of how the brain-dead mombies rely on the internet to raise their kids. use a sling, dont use a sling, if you cant figure out on your own whats safe for your kid, then STOP having them!

YUKI

March 10th, 2010
10:20 am

Can’t really comment because I never used a sling, I had the Bjorn as well. I didn’t really use that thing much either, even though it would seem to be a little more comfortable for the baby than all curled up in a sling. I often see that and wonder how the baby can breath in those things…

and um, Mombiealert…nobody is relying on the internet to raise their kids. It’s merely a forum for discussion. What an idiotic thing to say. Sometimes it takes other peoples experiences to really point out things you may not have noticed, thought about, etc. Get a clue.

Blue

March 10th, 2010
10:26 am

Some middle eastern women in my neighborhood use pieces of flowing cloth that is similar to these slings.

Wayne

March 10th, 2010
10:39 am

*MomsRule: Seriously? Don’t the instructions for the carriers say don’t put them in the front seat – they (the airbags) might kill your kid? How about if you’re in an accident and the seat goes right out the front window because it’s it the front seat? How about the police? If she should get stopped and get arrested for being an idjit? That’s just, well, stupid.

I get incensed when I read something like that. There’s a reason why it’s in the instructions. You think you know better than the people that wrote up those instructions? Sheesh.

Oh man, I have a headache.

When MA decided to implement seat belt laws, I worked with someone (young lady) that said I don’t wear them and they aren’t necessary. Well, wouldn’t you know a couple months later she hit some black ice and got bounced around her car a bit. She wasn’t seriously hurt, thank goodness, but after that? She wore her seat belt.

What’s Tom Hanks character say? Stupid is as stupid does?

mom2alex&max

March 10th, 2010
10:45 am

As many have said, baby “slings” in some form or another have been around for eons. Women still have things to do after the baby was born, and it was a natural way to carry a baby that will leave hands free to work.

However, I always HATED it. It was hot, it pinched my back and shoulders, and they were so darn heavy! I used several different designs, since my sister in law is a staunch proponent of attachment parenting and she was determined to help me with it. She made one herself, she bought me two different types…and I hated them all. They were never comfortable for me. But to each their own. I think the KEY here is (wait for it..) watch the baby!!!!!

mom2alex&max

March 10th, 2010
10:46 am

Wayne: I like “You can’t fix stupid” better.

Wayne

March 10th, 2010
10:50 am

Mom2alex&max: That works too! I’m going to go buy a hot coffee at McDonald’s and put it in my crotch and drive off. See ya…

***

March 10th, 2010
11:04 am

Wayne I have some good ones for ya……..

I have a friend who NEVER wears a seatbelt, neither does her child. Now that he is 19, he drives with no seatbelt.

Same friend, while teaching her son to drive on his learner’s, handed him the phone while HE was driving, to get directions from ME as to where they were going. Her response, when I yelled at her for handing him the phone, was “Well he needs to get used to talking on the phone while he is driving”. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

Same friend’s son is now smoking cigarettes and pot. Said kid steals her cigarettes and her excuse is “he doesn’t have a job”…….she also gives him his own car, she pays the insurance, gives him gas money and money for food. Why should he get a job? What incentive does he have? Mommy gives him EVERYTHING!!! He will be one of those people who lives with Mommie until he is 50 and she will support him every step of the way.

MomsRule

March 10th, 2010
11:12 am

@Wayne – unfortunately, I am completely serious. I even showed her on the visor where it specifically stated “do not place rear facing infant seats…risk of death…blah, blah.”

JATL

March 10th, 2010
11:12 am

I never used a sling, but honestly I didn’t like the looks of them and the way the baby looked all wadded up in there! I know some swear by them, but I enjoyed the Bjorn with both of mine (especially the second when I really needed to be hands-free to grab the first!) I have wondered about the possibility of babies smothering in the slings. Some of them just look so covered and wadded up, I can’t help but think at the least they’re not getting much fresh air!

Wow -momsrule and Wayne -you’re so right -you just can’t fix stupid! MomsRule -you’re a nice friend -if a friend of mine was that stupid, I don’t know if we sould still be friends! Not only does it say in several places on car seats that they MUST go in the back seat, but if you look on the flip side of your car visor, the auto companies warn against placing a carseat in the front because of airbags. What a moron! Maybe you need to print these responses out and anonymously mail them to her…

Wayne

March 10th, 2010
11:37 am

@… To go off on a tangent just a bit; my wife constantly gives my son ’stuff’. I get upset about it because I don’t want him to be a 19 yo who gets everything. Fortunately, she’s come to her senses and doesn’t do it anymore – he has to earn it. That’s how I grew up. I had a paper route (225 Sunday papers – a boatload!) and if I wanted something I had to save. And this kid probably isn’t in school either?

@MomsRule: Ya can’t fix stupid. Ya just can’t. It’s to bad too. If something does happen (and let’s just hope it doesn’t), she’ll probably blame someone else.

Stephanie

March 10th, 2010
12:11 pm

I used the Maya wrap with both my kids. Loved it as both wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. With the sling you can at least get some things done while holding them. Im like Teresa though, I used one arm under it because it made me nervous and constantly checked to make sure their mouths were not coverd or in aposition where they couldnt get air.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 10th, 2010
12:21 pm

27 comments by 12:30 today vs. 100 comments by 12:30 yesterday.

Shocking. ;-)

Wayne

March 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

Everyone is tired from having sex.

Bun in the Oven

March 10th, 2010
12:40 pm

I used a Maya wrap with my daughter. While I loved the idea of it, I felt like I could never quite get the hang of it. I used it a few times once she had head control and experimented with different positions. She seemed to enjoy it, but it was so heavy and hot! Now that I’m pregnant with #2, I don’t know if I’m going to use one or not.

Becky

March 10th, 2010
12:41 pm

@Wayne..Or having 3 coworkers out..Which is my excuse..Also sex is more fun..

Tara

March 10th, 2010
12:43 pm

I have to agree with several earlier posters : any baby product has to be used correctly and parents must still watch their children in order to keep them safe. And sadly, there are always going to be accidental infant deaths no matter how cautious parents are.

I like slings to distribute a bit of the weight of holding an infant and to make a parent’s hands free for chores and such while still keeping baby close. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep them laying in one for long periods of time without a hand on them. I like the upright ones better personally. And I love the Moby wrap because it’s basically just a huge piece of fabric you can do anything with. But it’s no good in warm weather. It’s a LOT of fabric to wrap around yourself.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 10th, 2010
12:47 pm

@Becky…picking up the slack for 3 co-workers…you’re going to be WAY too tired for sex tonight!!!

Ellen

March 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

I absolutely loved using my Maya Wrap (technically not a “sling”… but tantamount to the same thing) and my babies loved it too. Just like anything, when folks aren’t paying attention, harm can occur. But, to issue a warning about this just reminds me of the kind of society we live in. This is NUTS!

Sarah

March 10th, 2010
12:52 pm

I have a 3 month old son and received a Boppy sling from friends at one of my baby showers. I have to admit that I tried to use it once and it made me nervous when I saw how curved he was in it. The next day I went out and bought a baby bjorn and haven’t been happier. I definitely recommend those over slings any day.

Ellen

March 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Loved the baby sling with all three of my kids. Like any other item, it’s not appropriate for inattentive or ignorant parents. Use COMMON SENSE, for crying out loud!

Mommatoomanytimes

March 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

Sex — what’s that?
No babies — no worry on slings or wraps!
Be safe — keep your knees together!

momagain

March 10th, 2010
1:04 pm

Well duh ! I was immediately concerned about the position the SlingRider by Infantino placed my last baby in. It seemed there was no other way for them to be except in the “C” position. As an NICU nurse I sensed that was not safe….heck as a plain ole mom common sense told me that wasn’t safe. Sold the thing at a consignment sale. Probably won’t be able to buy one there ever again..not that I would want to ! Just hold your baby, swaddle it..whatever…if it takes time out of your day..don’t have any more !!

mommy to three

March 10th, 2010
1:09 pm

I used slings with all 3 of my children and they were a life saver. HOwever, I constantly checked to make sure they were breathing! i used-and still use one from Kangaroo Korner that cannot come apart. With 3 children under 3 this was the only way I could ever get anything done

Mommatoomanytimes

March 10th, 2010
1:10 pm

Sorry to be so cynical — thank goodness I had my babies spaced apart so I could just concentrate on one at a time in holding them. Let your chores go and just be a momma to that baby — it’s such a short time they are babies. When the baby is bigger then you can hoist baby on your hip and tote them around.
No slings please!

JJ

March 10th, 2010
1:15 pm

I hope my children will look back on today
And see a mother who had time to play.
There will be years for cleaning and cooking
But children grow up while we’re not looking.
Dusting and scrubbing can wait ’till tomorrow
For babies grow fast we learn to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 10th, 2010
1:27 pm

@JJ…so you live in a dirty house with cobwebs?

JOKE..just a joke…couldn’t help myself. ;-)

JJ

March 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

Tiger – no worries…..:)

NewMama

March 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

I never liked the idea of those slings. However, I’ve used the Moby Wrap since my daughter was 6 weeks old. That thing is a life saver, especially when I took a domestic flight a few weeks ago. Walking around the airport and getting through security was a breeze. Now that she’s almost 5 months, I just purchased a BabyHawk Mei Tai carrier and that should be a little cooler for this summer. My daughter is not a happy camper being lugged around in her car seat all day. These carriers are a life saver IF used correctly! But that sling pictured in the article? Not a good idea.

Monica

March 10th, 2010
1:30 pm

Someone gave me a sling when I had my first child, but he was a long baby, and I have a rather large bust, so it did not work out very well! We didn’t like the front baby carrier either (though I had a cheap one, not a Baby Bjorn). I just held him lots and let the house go to pot!

Male Chauvinist And Proud Of It!

March 10th, 2010
1:32 pm

You women with your “slings” and your Baby Bjorns are WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA! All of your kids are going to be emotionally weak cry-babies because of your incessant coddling. “Oh it’s so good to keep your baby so close to you at all times”—–are you f-ing serious??? You all have heard of Momma’s Boys, right? Not necessarily the most strong-willed group of people. And the more you try to convince your girls that they are little “Princesses”, the harder it is going to be to raise a self-sufficient woman. Jeez, you idiots make me sick!

And get the hell off the phone while your driving! And make your kid read books in the car instead of doping them with Disney DVDs.

My properly raised child will crush your little Mommas Boys and Princesses. Get ready to nurse their disappointment when my daughter becomes their boss.

HeavenlyHold

March 10th, 2010
1:39 pm

Babywearing has been around since the beginning of time…nothing new, and there are some carriers on the market that are not safe or healthy for babies…however, there are MANY brands of carriers that both moms and babies can and will benefit from using! Don’t knock babywearing just b/c of the cheap/unsafe products out there…

Mamamia

March 10th, 2010
1:44 pm

I am a mom of a 15-month old. I always thought those slings were unsafe. People need to STOP BEING LAZY. If you want to have a child than you need to care for that child not just put a newborn in a piece of cloth and wrap it around you. Come on people! Have some common sense. Be a parent and hold your child.

JJ

March 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

Male chauv – that’s exactly why men don’t have the babies…….

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 10th, 2010
1:47 pm

@Male chauv…..wow…with a rant like that, I think someone could have used an extra hug or two as a kid!