Guest Columnist
Are Slings Getting a Bad Wrap?
Mar 25, 2010 - 7:17:05 PM

( - One of the earliest inventions of humankind is now under scrutiny- the baby sling. On March 12th the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), issued a warning stating that “slings can pose suffocation hazards to babies” coming uncomfortably close, in the eyes of many babywearing advocates, to staining all slings with the same stigma which may only prove to scare parents away from using any slings.

It seems the CPSC was alerted by Consumer Reports, an independent, nonprofit agency that tests and rates the quality of a wide range of products. Consumer Reports raised valid concerns when they reported thirty-seven infants who were seriously injured in the past eleven years from falling out of slings and seven deaths from suffocation. They specifically cited the Infantino “SlingRider” and the “Wendy Bellissimo” carriers as a major culprit in the suffocation deaths of two infants (largely due to its pouch-like design) and asked the CPSC to issue a recall noting that it had previously been recalled in 2007for the breaking of shoulder strap adjusters. Such a recall was not included in their March 12th statement; however Consumer Reports insists that “Because of those incidents, and the lack of safety standards, infant slings are on our list of products not to buy for your baby.”1 They do so without considering product design or track record and without assessing the relative risks (in other words comparing the percentage of babies worn in slings to the considerably small percentage of deaths.)

Hold on! Compared to the hundreds of infants who have died in cribs (remember they used to call it “crib death”) car seats, and playpens never once has an agency suggested these products be completely banned. The process has always focused on making these products safer and educating parents and caregivers on using the products safely. It’s true that there are no sling safety standards in place and some parents use slings improperly, neglecting to read the instructions or in some cases the instructions may not be clear, so watching a visual demonstration is the most helpful. Most baby carrier manufacturers now include demonstration DVDs with the product or parents can go to where demonstration videos are available on most popular carriers. Better yet, check out local maternity stores and ask if they sell slings and if there is anyone available to provide a one-on-one tutorial.
Some researchers consider the United States a very “low touch” culture where newborns are held or touched only 25 percent of the day and by nine months of age they are touched only 16 percent each day.2 The consistent increase of plagiocephaly or “flat-head syndrome” indicates that babies aren’t being held enough and spending too much time on their backs in infant seats and strollers. With “due diligence” babywearing remains one of the safest and best ways for all parents, whether you work or not, to build strong connections with your baby that can last a lifetime.

Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker are the founders of Attachment Parenting International (API), a grassroots, nonprofit organization that advocates for the overall health and welfare of children and families by providing evidence-based information on the core principles of parenting that contribute to the optimal development of children. They are also authors of the new book, Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children. For more information, please visit and

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