It's been all over the news today, baby slings have been linked to infant death. This has many parents concerned and I have been asked repeatedly about his today. Most recently by one of my neighbors. She is probably my Mom's age, and has made a few slings for her daughters. She was worried about the slings I had taught her how to make.
I assured her that those slings were fine. As you know, I make ring slings. I have worn all of my babies in ring slings and various other carriers. As with any product designed for infants, you must exercise caution. When a Mom gets a sling she should know how to use it. She should always keep her baby's face out of the excess fabric. The particular slings that have been linked to the infant deaths were the bag-type slings. Not the pouch slings, but more like bags with elastic and padding around the top.
I worry a bit that this story is going out and people are going to be afraid of wearing their babies and instead will stop wearing their babes and start putting them in the carseat all the time. That is also not good for our babies for an extended period of time.
So, I want to share some safety points with you.
1. Your baby should never be down below your chest when in a sling. If you are wearing your newborn and they are down by your belly, that is not safe for them.
2. Keep your baby upright against your chest. This is the safest way for them to be worn and they will be most comfortable this way.
3. Keep any excess fabric away from your baby's face. Remember they don't have great neck control in the beginning and can't move away from the fabric if they can't breathe.
4. If your baby is cradled, be sure that their chin is off the chest and that no fabric is around their face. Clicking on the link above for the pouch sling will show you fantastic pictures of this.
5. If in doubt, ask your favorite sling maker (me!) about your particular carrier.
Babywearing is fabulous. It is great for Mom and Baby and just needs to be done correctly. If you buy a sling online and don't know or are not sure how to use it, ask! You can either ask the person you bought it from, a friend who knows about babywearing, or go to your local LaLeche League meetings and someone there can show you how to use them.
Don't be afraid, just be careful and enjoy wearing your babe.