You may have heard about CPSC's baby sling warning in 2010. Rumors and misinformation surrounded that warning, and some parents believed that all baby slings were recalled. That's not the case, though, and it's possible to use a baby sling or other baby carrier safely. You just need to follow a few baby carrier safety tips, and be aware of the potential risks.
Bag-Style Baby CarriersThe bag-style baby carrier was at the heart of the sling warning from CPSC.
These carriers have a fabric pouch for baby, usually with elasticized top rails, and a top shoulder strap that is often adjustable. The shape of these baby carriers makes it easy for a baby's face to be pressed against the inside of the sling, which makes it hard to breathe. The shape of the bottom of the carrier also can force baby into a C position with chin to chest, which also makes it hard to breathe. The tall sides of the carrier reduce fresh air flow, and, on many bag-style carriers, the top strap doesn't adjust enough to bring baby up high enough. Steer clear of this baby carrier style.
Baby Carrier Safety StandardsAt this time, there are no mandatory federal safety standards for slings and baby carriers. Those standards are coming soon, as part of a sweeping federal change in the consumer product safety laws. Several baby products, such as cribs, bath seats and play yards, have already received new standards as part of the changes. Until the new baby carrier safety standards are put into place, though, it's up to you to check and double check your baby carrier for safety.
Fasteners & SeamsAny manufacturer can have a recall, whether they're big or small.
One baby carrier company had to recall a soft structured carrier because of buckles that could un-latch during use. Another sling manufacturer once used metal rings that were too thin and not sturdy enough to bear baby's weight, and had to issue a recall for that problem. Problems with the design or parts of the baby carrier cause the most problems for baby-wearing parents.
When you purchase a baby carrier, whether from a well-known company or a craft mom in your town, check the buckles, rings, seams and other attachments. Can you pull on them without causing damage? Do the seams look like they will tear out before the baby gets to the maximum weight limit? If it's a ring sling, check for sturdy one-piece rings versus rings that have a seam in them.
The check-over shouldn't stop there, though. Every time you use your baby carrier, give it a quick check to make sure something hasn't worn out or become damaged. Tears in the fabric, seams that are starting to unravel, or buckles that are cracked may not hold your baby safely.