STILLWATER, Okla. – Lots of parents and caregivers prefer to transport babies snuggled against their bodies using infant sling carriers. Recently tightened mandatory federal standards for the devices are designed to increase their safety and prevent possible injuries or death.
According to the new standards, sling carriers are required to support up to three times the manufacturer’s maximum recommended weight. Additionally, the devices must prevent children from falling out during normal use, and after all testing, must not sustain any seam separations, fabric tears or breakage.
Sling carriers also are now required to include warning labels and instructions about potential suffocation hazards and prevention strategies; children falling out of slings; and checking buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware to ensure all parts are viable, unbroken and in full working order.
Made of cloth and designed to hold a child upright or in a reclined position while supported by an adult caregiver’s torso, sling carriers can pose several different suffocation hazards.
The sling’s fabric could hold the baby in a position that blocks her breathing or in instances where the sling keeps the infant curled in a position that bends the chin toward the chest, the airway can be restricted.
In both cases, children could quickly suffocate.
“Sling carriers can be a great option for caregivers when they are used safely and cautiously,” said Laura Hubbs-Tait, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension parenting specialist.
Sling carriers should hold babies tightly against the torso with the baby’s face, nose and mouth uncovered by the sling and the caregiver’s body.
When using the device, caregivers should frequently check the baby’s position and breathing. A child’s face should be visible and kissable.
For more information on sling carriers, contact the county Extension office, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov and visit www.osufacts.okstate.edu to download free of charge OSU Fact Sheet T-2383, “Protecting Infants and Toddlers from Positional Asphyxia: Car Seats and Sling Carriers.”
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