On Friday the official CPSC statement was released regarding the safety of baby slings. I think they did a pretty good job - focusing on correct positioning.
While they didn't name a particular brand or style of carrier to avoid, the bag sling I've posted and spoken about is the worst of the worst
on the retail shelves and, because it's in every mass retailer you walk into, it's one of the first of the firsts that parents run into when shopping for their new little one.
(Photo from the last SlingRider recall.)
There have been many many articles and news stories over the past week as a result of the CPSC warning. Some have been good - pointing out the differences in carriers and positioning. Some haven't been so great - lumping all carrier types together with a scary headline, quoting sources without much, if any, knowledge of babywearing. If you or anyone you know has questions or concerns about any sling that they own or are considering buying, please feel free to contact me with questions. I'm here to help. Babywearing is a great, bonding, healthy experience for parent and baby when done right - when done safely.
Babies can fall into a chin to chest position and die from positional asphyxia in the WRONG POSITION in even the best carrier. The difference between the bag slings and a good ring sling, correctly fitted pouch, mei tai or other carrier is that the bag sling CANNOT be adjusted to carry baby in a safe and correct position while the others can. Proper use of any baby carrier is critical. Correct positioning is the key. The CPSC warning did a fair job of depicting WRONG positions but didn't do much to show the RIGHT positions. So here's a quick rundown:
WRONG: BAG SLINGS
Notice that in all of these pictures, baby is either burried too deep in the pouch of the sling, the sling is worn too low, baby isn't even visible to the wearer, face is rolled into the parent or fabric of the sling and/or baby is forced into a chin to chest position. These are all UNSAFE.
WRONG: GOOD SLINGS GONE WRONG
This beautiful wrap is tied too loosely and is not supporting baby's back.
The mei tai is tied too loosely, not supporting baby's back and allowing baby to sink low.
Baby is positioned parallel with the rails (edges) of the sling - forcing a chin to chest position.
The pouch is too big, allowing baby to sink into a chin to chest position.
RIGHT: GREAT CARRIERS DONE RIGHT
Baby's head, neck and back are supported in a Tummy to Tummy hold in a Ring Sling.
Baby is positioned in a supported modified upright cradle.
Baby is supported in a pouch with face visible.
Baby's natural position is supported when worn high and tight against mama.
Thank you to M'liss Stelzer for her research and information regarding correct positioning and the dangers of bag slings. Her full articles are available in print from me, online at www.thebabywearer.com and http://babyslingsafety.blogspot.com/
Several articles and stories have referred to the chin to chest position as the "C-position". Please note that while we do not want baby in a chin to chest position where they cannot breathe, baby's natural and healthy spine position is a curved position. Baby should not be "squashed" chin to chest, but they should also not be forced into a rigidly straight spine position. A good carrier and correct positioning will support the natural curve of baby's spine as well as keeping their airway open.
And finally, please be cautious when consulting your pediatrician (as recommended in the CPSC statement) regarding the safety and use of slings. Their extensive education and training does NOT include sling products, use or safety. Know that the advice they give regarding slings is based solely on their personal experience (or lack of) from their own carrier use. While they are there to help you with your baby, please remember that their expertise is in your child's medical needs.