JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They have proven to be dangerous, so the goal is to keep children safe in infant sling carriers. To do that, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved a new, federal mandatory standard when it comes to labels.
According to the CPSC, between January 2003 and September 2016, 159 incidents were reported to the safety agency involving sling carriers -- 17 were fatal.
The slings are designed to carry a child in an upright or reclined position, and they're generally intended for infants and toddlers between 8 and 35 pounds. Designs typically range from unstructured hammock-shaped products that suspend from the caregiver’s body, to long lengths of material or fabric that wrap around the caregiver’s body.
To prevent deaths and injuries, new standards were recently developed, in which the CPSC modified to make warning labels more permanent and more clear.
"The new federal safety standard incorporates the most recent voluntary standard developed by ASTM International (ASTM F2907-15), Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Sling Carriers, with one modification regarding label attachments. CPSC’s rule modifies the ASTM standard to make warning labels more permanent by preventing the labels from being attached to the sling carrier along only one side of the label."
In addition, the standard requires sling carriers to come with specific warning labels and instructional literature that 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.
- A reminder for caregivers to check the buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware to make sure no parts are broken.
The mandatory standard also contains several other requirements for sling carriers, which include:
- Ensuring 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.
- Occupant retention to prevent the child being carried from falling out of the sling during normal use.
The CPSC wants parents and caregivers to be extremely cautious when using sling-style carriers -- and reminds them of the suffocation hazards for babies younger than four months of age.
In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of still developing neck muscles.
The sling’s fabric can hold the baby in a position that blocks the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocates a baby within a minute or two.
Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position -- bending the chin toward the chest -- the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.
If using a sling carrier, the CPSC recommends the following:
The CPSC says the effective date for the new mandatory infant sling carrier standard is one year after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.
You can search reports and recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. To file a report about an unsafe product to the CPSC, you can do it online here. You can also contact the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772.