For many parents, babywearing promotes a positive bond between parent and child.
The key for any mom, dad, or caregiver who wears their baby is education. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. We at CPSC want babywearers caring for infants younger than 4 months old to keep this in mind.
Babywearers should place their baby’s face at or above the rim of a sling or wrap so that their face is visible.
When babies are placed with their faces below the rim of a sling, they are not able to lift their heads to breathe. This can lead to the following two hazardous situations:
- One risk occurs when a baby’s head is turned toward the adult. An infant’s nose and mouth can be pressed against the baby wearer and become blocked, preventing the baby from breathing. Suffocation can happen quickly, within a minute or two.
- When a baby lies in a sling, the fabric can push the baby’s head forward to its chest. Infants can’t lift their heads and free themselves to breathe. This curled, chin-to-chest position can partially restrict a baby’s airways, causing a baby to lose consciousness. The baby cannot cry out for help.
In addition, CPSC urges parents of infants younger than four months of age, premature or low birth-weight babies and babies with colds and respiratory problems to use extra caution and consult their pediatricians about using slings.
All of this information is consistent with what CPSC shared with parents in March. So, why raise this again?
Every day, new babies are born and new moms, dads, and caregivers may not be aware of the safety information we’ve given before. We want all new moms and dads who choose to wear their babies to know how to keep their babies safe.
Child safety experts at CPSC have looked at incidents and sadly found 14 reports of infants who suffocated and died in sling-style carriers during the past 20 years. To prevent any more deaths, CPSC staff urges parents to use extra caution with infants younger than 4 months old, premature, low birth-weight babies, and babies with colds and respiratory problems when using infant slings.
This warning is not intended to characterize all slings as being dangerous to babies. CPSC has identified (1) specific situations that can pose a risk of serious harm to babies, and (2) simple safety tips that we hope the babywearing community can share with new parents so that they have a safe, heart-to-heart bond while using an infant sling.
CPSC stands for safety, especially the safety of babies.