The Sling Controversy

Consumer Reports has had it out for slings for a while.  And it looks as if they have made headway in their attempt to warn Americans about sling dangers.  They have succeeded in petitioning the CPSC to issue a warning on slings.

So, will we continue to have babywearing meetings and sling babies?  Of course!

The type of sling that caused this controversy is the “bag sling.”  You’ve seen them displayed at Babies R Us.  Infantino makes the most popular type.  The problem with bag slings:

  • Fabric and padding separate the baby from the wearer making the wearer less aware of baby.
  • The only position is the cradle position which is not the optimal position for a newborn.  It curves the baby’s chin to her chest which can hinder breathing.
  • The fabric and padding is likely to cover baby’s face.
  • It often positions baby below mom’s bellybutton which results in a less secure sling. 

The picture below shows all the wrong ways to wear a baby!

There is a heart-breaking story of baby placed in a bag sling during a shopping trip.  When the mother pulled back the fabric to show someone her baby she realized her baby was not breathing.  In a traditional carrier, I cannot imagine the wearer not noticing every breath her baby takes because the baby is held closely against the body.

Traditional slings are made from a single layer of fabric–no frills or padding or buckles.  They hold the baby close to the wearer.  Most newborns prefer to be worn upright against the wearer’s chest. 

Here is 8-day old Cedar in the tummy-to-tummy position in a ring sling. 

 I’m sure anyone can see the difference and figure out which sling is safe. 

Any baby’s death is a tragedy and if there are products responsible, there should be warnings and recalls.  There have been more deaths attributed to strollers,         shopping carts, and carseats but I haven’t seen a blanket warning on these products.  I’m happy to “ban the bag slings.”  Babywearers have been concerned about them  for years.  But I worry that parents will be hesitant to use any carrier after a government warning on sling safety. 

Slings have many benefits.  One of the most important, in my experience, is that it keeps baby so close that the parent is aware of her safety.  In the tummy-to-tummy position, heart-rate, breathing, and temperature is easily regulated.  Research studies show that babies who are worn cry less and spend more time in the “quiet alert” state–a valuable time for learning and development. 

Here is a great link showing proper positioning of baby in a sling or pouch. 

Let’s continue to spread safe babywearing information to our community!  My next post will be about our new babywearing location and new meeting day for the Greenville Group.


2 thoughts on “The Sling Controversy

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