Baby slings can be a great option for busy parents-on-the-go. They are hands-free and makes it possible to keep your baby safe and close, without having to carry a heavy, bulky stroller everywhere you take baby. Unfortunately, not all baby slings are as safe as they claim to be and in more than one instance, a family has been forced to deal with injuries and worse because of a baby sling.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been more than a dozen deaths related to baby sling carriers over the past two decades. Three have occurred in recent years and involved children under the age of four months. It’s important for parents to understand that baby slings are not intended for all babies. The commission has warned against the use of all baby slings involving a similar design, noting that seven children have suffocated in the slings over the last 11 years.
Premature babies and newborns that are smaller and lighter, and babies struggling with health problems face greater risks than older, healthier babies in a sling. There have been instances in which smaller babies have suffocated because the fabric from the sling pressed against the child’s nose and mouth. It can also be difficult for a baby to breathe properly if he or she is twisted into an unnatural position in the sling. Babies with weak necks tend to bend into a curved position and are unable to breathe when in a sling.
Baby Sling Lawsuits
In at least one instance, a family received a multi-million dollar settlement because the Infantino brand baby sling caused her two month old baby’s death. The sling was recalled due to the danger it posed. A previous recall had been issued by Infantino for its Infantino SlingRider Baby Sling because of the risk posed by broken straps that caused at least eight children to fall from the sling. At least one of these children suffered a fractured skull as a result of the fall.
Infantino settled another lawsuit filed by a woman whose seven and a half week old son died while in the sling. According to the claim, the child suffocated because of the defective design and manufacture of the sling. Infantino was also named in lawsuits related to the deaths of at least two other infants in 2010.
According to the lawsuits, Infantino failed to issue its recall soon enough after it determined its baby slings posed a danger. The claims included accusations that the company was aware of the danger but failed to act until it was too late. Infantino denied liability despite settling with plaintiffs.
Baby slings were added to the Consumer Reports list of product parents should not buy for babies in 2009. According to the group, bag-shaped slings can cause smothering. There had been only four deaths linked to baby slings when they were added to the list.
New Safety Standards Issued for Baby Slings
In January 2017, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission approved new standards for baby and infant sling carriers with the goal of reducing the risk of serious injuries and deaths. As a result of the new standards, several design changes were required to improve carry weight capabilities, fall prevention hazards, improvement to structural design, and the inclusion of instructional materials with each sling. Safety labels must also now be affixed to slings.
The new standards were developed and approved after the commission studied data compiled between January 2003 and September 2016 related to injuries and deaths caused by baby slings. There were 159 incidents reported during that time and of those, 17 involved fatal injuries and 10 required some kind of emergency medical treatment.
In addition to the new standards, the commission also issued a warning to parents and caregivers concerning slings and the potential for them to cause fatal injuries.
The new standards are aimed at preventing issues related to broken sling straps and suffocation. Slings must now be able to carry weight up to three times the advertised maximum recommended weight and there must not be any separation between seams and fabric on the sling. Instructional literature features pictures that show proper positioning of a child in the sling and a warning regarding potential suffocation risks, as well as information about fall prevention.
We understand parents want to do all they can to keep their babies safe and we believe it’s important they understand the risks associated with consumer products available. Our goal is to share up-to-date information about baby slings and ensure parents understand their legal rights should an incident involving a sling or any other consumer product occur.