The company Infantino, maker of the Sling Rider carrier, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission have announced today a recall of this carrier and are offering a free replacement product (another baby carrier or other product made by the company). As with the CPSC’s statements on safe positioning of infants in sling carriers a couple of weeks ago, it’s so important to remember that not all slings or baby carriers are alike and that there are key differences between the design that is being recalled and other carriers–even those also often referred to as slings. Fitted pouch slings with a more shallow pocket (such as those made by Hotslings or Peanut Shell) and simple ring slings (such as those made Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, and Zolowear) are very different in structure from the item being recalled and this announcement does not implicate those styles nor does it imply that they are not safe to use. Again, I urge everyone who wants to learn more about how to babywear to go to their local brick-and-mortar shop stocking slings and carriers (where I’m sure you can get hands-on demos) or if you have a babywearing/sling playgroup or meet-up in your area, go to get great friendly instruction from experienced moms who can show you how to wear a pouch, ring sling, wrap, mei tai, SSC, and more! Check http://www.babywearinginternational.org to see if there is a group in your area!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Baby Sling & Carrier Manufacturers Speak Out
On Baby Sling Safety Warning
March 11, 2010
With the publication of an Associated Press article regarding the CPSC government warning on baby slings and the Consumers Union’s concerns about “bag-style” slings, the companies co-sponsoring this release are taking a stand to help educate the public on the differences between safe vs. unsafe baby slings and carriers as detailed below.
The ancient practice of babywearing made its way into western culture in the 1960s and its popularity with American consumers has grown because of its vast benefits. Unfortunately, this has led to the creation of several potentially unsafe baby slings and carriers. Slings and carriers of concern are popularly categorized under the token term “bag-style” slings. In “bag-style” slings, the deep pouch where baby sits puts the baby in a potentially suffocating curved or “C” like position. Also, excessive fabric with an elasticized edge may cover baby’s face inhibiting breathing. Furthermore, the design may cause the baby’s face to turn in toward a caregiver’s body, potentially smothering the baby.
In contrast, shallow pouch-style slings, ring slings, mei tais and wraps hold baby in proper alignment and they fit snugly by design and instruction. They have been engineered, developed and tested by parents, often the manufacturers themselves with their own children. These carriers are often simple and without gimmicks. Dedicated and concerned manufacturers of these types of safe slings and carriers have sponsored this release.
Because of the popularity and gaining market share of small baby carrier companies, a few years ago the Juvenile Products Manufactures Association (JPMA) was approached by a handful of these companies asking for a standard to be created. These companies were initially alarmed by the creation of some carriers, mostly by home crafters, fashioned from materials unsuitable for baby products. Soon after, M’liss Stelzer, a pediatric nurse, did an oxygenation study discovering a potential link between infant deaths and “bag-style” style slings therefore creating even more need for the standard as well as further study.
Upon this need the ASTM, an internationally recognized creator of standards for consumer products and test procedures, created a subcommittee for Sling Carrier Standards. The ASTM Subcommittee is made up of manufacturers, consumer advocates and government officials from the US and Canada including members of the CPSC. The subcommittee started writing the standard two years ago. In this time more deaths have occurred, all linked to the “bag-style” sling being reported by Jennifer Kerr, a writer for the Associated Press in the article referenced in the first line of this release. This has alerted the CPSC to take necessary action and issue this warning.
In well-designed products, babywearing is not only safe, but is actually very beneficial when done properly. Studies have shown that quality baby slings and carriers have been shown to save lives, improve health, decrease crying, increase IQ, and facilitate breastfeeding and bonding. For examples of these cases and further reading see “Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial” an article written by Urs A. Hunziker MD and Ronald G. Barr MDCM, FRCP(C), “Saving My Baby” a blog post written on Fierce Mama’s Blog by Sarah Kaganovsky and Dr. Maria Blois’s book Babywearing.
Studies have also shown that worn babies are happier and spend more time in the quiet alert phase. In this phase they benefit more than their non-worn peers in language development and knowledge acquisition. Babywearing also helps babies sleep better, and physical needs, including breastfeeding, are met more quickly by a close, responsive parent. Millions of babies over time have been worn to their benefit making baby slings and carriers more of a necessity than the often-publicized fashion accessory. (Source La Leche League International)
The vast benefits of babywearing should not be disregarded with the report of incidents from “bag-style” slings. The sponsors of this release make safer baby slings and carriers and have been active in the standard writing process and are dedicated to safety through engineering. “We see this as an opportunity to reach out and educate American consumers. We hope to provide valuable information allowing parents and caregivers to not only make informed buying decisions, but also to increase the awareness of how to properly wear children, especially babies, in baby slings and carriers,” says Kristen DeRocha, ASTM Subcommittee Chair. The Associated Press article regarding the CPSC warning gives proof to the growing popularity of baby slings and carriers and validates the need for education.
Several trusted websites exist to aide in the education of babywearing for caregivers and new parents. To name a few: TheBabywearer.com, the Facebook fan page for Babywearing Safety, Mothering.com and LaLecheLeague.org.
This press release was sponsored by:
Hotslings, Maya Wrap, Moby Wrap, Wrapsody, Gypsymama, Together Be, Kangaroo Korner, Taylormade Slings, Scootababy, Bellala Baby, Catbird Baby, SlingEZee, ZoloWear, HAVA, SlingRings and Sakura Bloom
For comments or questions regarding this release please contact Kacy Jones, Director of Marketing for Hotslings, Inc.
I’m sure that many of you have heard about the CPSC’s intention to make a statement about concerns over suffocation deaths in baby slings. I urge you all to read the articles very carefully and do further research to understand the background of these cases. So far media reports have used a very general term–baby slings–but the deaths referred to occurred in one specific style of sling that has a defined flat bottom and vertical sides with elastic gathering in the top rail. Many experts believe this type of design makes it exceedingly difficult to get a small baby properly positioned in such a way as to maintain an unobstructed airway. Please do not infer that this problem is inherent in all types of baby slings or carriers! It is also key to remember that the danger of an obstructed airway is also present in other devices in which babies are carried or held, including infant car seats (recent reports have recommended against leaving infants in them while not riding in a car due to lowered oxygenation), bouncy seats, and swings. Lastly, babywearing truly is a skill that, with just a little bit of practice, can be learned well. Please seek out a babywearing educator at a store or birth center, or find a doula who offers instruction, or a local chapter of Babywearing International (babywearinginternational.org). These are all places where you can definitely find other women who are skilled at using many types of carriers, from ring sling to pouches, from wraps to mei tais and SSCs. They can teach you the skills and underlying knowledge of a baby’s natural positional tendencies and how carriers work with these tendencies to safely hold them against your body. If you are someone with great babywearing skills, pass along your knowledge and help other parents experience the joy and freedom that comes with being able to carry your baby close while going about your day!