Tote Your Baby in a Sling—Safely
Baby slings seem to be everywhere these days and for good reason! Wearing your baby
can help him or her stay calm while giving your arms a rest. If not used correctly,
however, baby wearing can put your baby at risk for serious injury. It's very important
that you read all of the safety materials that come with your baby sling or carrier
and become familiar with the recommendations of the Consumer Products Safety Commission
The biggest risk
The biggest risk of using a sling is suffocation. Babies do not have enough neck strength
to lift their own heads. An infant's chin can curl forward and touch the chest. This
could cut off oxygen to the baby. The baby can also press his or her face against
the fabric, blocking oxygen to the nose and mouth. If this happens, your infant could
suffocate to death.
Infants who are premature, low-birth-weight twins or triplets, or ill, are at a greater
risk of death with use of carriers and slings. Parents of preemies, low-birth-weight
babies, twins, or ill infants should consult their child's health care provider before
using any infant carrier.
Advice for safe carrying
The CPSC has this advice for parents who want to keep their hands free and their babies
Carry your baby so that you can see the mouth and nose at all times. Make sure that
the baby's chin is not curled forward into his or her chest.
Do not place any blankets or covers over the baby's head.
Carry your baby high so that you can see his or her face.
Don't let your baby's chin touch his or her chest.
Make sure the baby's face is not pressed close against you.
Choose your activities wisely! Many people like using baby carriers and slings so
that they can do other activities. So not do anything you wouldn't do with a baby
in your arms. Never do activities that could put your baby at risk, such as jogging,
jumping on a trampoline, participating in sports, riding a bike, driving, cooking
near a hot surface, or other dangerous activities with your baby in a carrier.
Never wear your baby in a car (babies should always be in an approved car seat). And
never wear your baby in a boat (babies should wear the correct personal flotation
Make sure to follow the guidelines in the sling or carrier packaging. Some carriers
are intended for older children who are able to hold up their heads.
Make it a habit to regularly examine your carrier before putting your baby into it.
Protect your baby from the environment. Make sure that the legs are covered and warm
in cool weather. When the legs are uncovered, make sure that sunscreen is applied
if you will be outside.
As your baby gets older, he or she might be interested in items that are close. Be
very careful that nothing unsafe is within reach.
To learn how to use your new carrier or sling, practice with a doll or ask for help.
You can also use a mirror to make sure that your baby appears safe and secure.