Although the infant and toddler’s slings have become extremely popular over the past decade, between January 2003 and September 2016, 159 incidents were reported to CPSC involving sling carriers; 17 were fatal and 142 were nonfatal. Of the 142 nonfatal incidents, 67 reports involved an injury to the infant during use of the product. Among the 67 reported nonfatal injuries, 10 involved hospitalizations.
The CPSC is warning parents and caregivers that the slings may pose a serious and sometimes fatal situation when used improperly. The agency warned that during a child’s first few months of life the babies cannot control their heads due to the lack of neck muscles, leaving them vulnerable when wrapped in a sling.
Reports have indicated that the slings fabric can hold the baby in a position that either bends their chin to their chest or wrap around their necks, restricting airways that could pose a fatal suffocation incident within just a minute or two.
The new law, which goes into effect in 2018, includes the mandatory standards requirements for sling carriers includes:
- loading to ensure that the sling can carry up to three times the manufacturer’s maximum recommended weight,
- structural integrity to ensure that after all testing, there are no seam separations, fabric tears, breakage, etc., and
- occupant retention to prevent the child being carried from falling out of the sling during normal use.
- In addition, the standard requires sling carriers to come with warning labels and instructional literature. These requirements include:
- pictures to show the proper position of a child in the sling,
- a warning statement about the suffocation hazard posed by slings and prevention measures,
- warning statements about children falling out of slings, and
- a reminder for caregivers to check the buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware to make sure no parts are broken.
The CPSC is urging caregivers that the infant’s face should be uncovered and visible at all times, and if nursing a baby in a sling to change the position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing upward so they do not choke.
For full details about sling hazards and new sling standards visit: https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-approves-new-federal-safety-standard-for-infant-sling-carriers