Today CPSC released their warning on the hazards of the popular infant sling carriers. CPSC is currently investigating 14 deaths in sling-style infant carriers, three of which occurred in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than 4 months old.

Sling carriers pose two different types of suffocation hazards: because babies have weak neck muscles in the first few months of life, the sling fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, cutting off their air supply; also, the sling can put a baby in a curled position where their chin bends onto their chest, restricting their airway.

For these reasons, extreme caution should be observed in using slings with preemies, babies with low birth weight, respiratory problems or other health problems, and babies under 4 months old. Parents of babies with these risks should consult their pediatrician about using a sling.

Infant sling carriers have been added to the list of infant and toddler products requiring mandatory safety standards. CPSC is working with ASTM International to immediately develop a voluntary standard for sling carriers.

CPSC recommends when using a sling carrier to make sure that the baby’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the wearer, and to check the baby frequently.

One of the products involved in at least three of the deaths, is a bag style sling by Infantino. KID is calling on CPSC to continue to investigate that specific product, as well as others involved in deaths, to see if they should be recalled. The new database required by CPSIA would have brought these deaths to light much sooner. We look forward to its full implementation by next March.