Even if you never used one yourself, you’ve certainly seen an infant sling carrier in use. Intended to suspend an infant from a caregiver’s body, these devices can be complicated, padded carriers with multiple snaps and buckles or simple loops of fabric. But soon, all of them will be required to meet new safety standards before they’re allowed on the market.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, announced last month that it had given its approval to new infant sling standards, many of which have already been adopted by manufacturers.
Some of those new standards include:
- Slings must be able to carry far more than the manufacturer’s posted maximum weight recommendation.
- Slings must be able to pass testing with their full structural integrity intact.
- Slings must support an infant without any danger of normal use dislodging the baby.
The new rules also require improved labeling. Some of those changes include:
- Photos demonstrating proper placement of the infant
- Warnings about fall and suffocation risk
- Instructions to check all hardware for wear or broken parts
The agency did not say what, if anything prompted the adoption of these new standards, although it logged 17 fatal accidents and 142 non-fatal incidents involving infant slings between 2003 and 2016. Of the nonfatal accidents, 10 of them were serious enough to require hospitalization of the child.
Falls are the most common sling accidents but suffocation is also a risk. Slings that force a baby’s chin into his chest, for example, can limit air supply, ultimately but slowly suffocating him.
Photo credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission