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Risks of Baby Slings?

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Yesterday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US released a warning on the use of baby slings due to the risk of suffocation, mentioning the deaths of 14 babies in the last 2 decades, three of which were last year. What concerns me is that the mainstream media is now reporting only part of the story, and making out that all baby slings are dangerous and possibly deadly. In my opinion, when used properly according to instructions, nothing could be further from the truth.

The CPSC specifically mentions that

Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.”

and yet in three separate news reports and 3 websites reporting on this issue, this has not been mentioned. CBS news went so far as to quote Don Mays from Consumer Reports saying “Don’t use slings at all” while a number of websites used the headline “CPSC warns of deadly baby sling danger.” As you may know, I loosely follow an attachment parenting philosophy raising my children and I used slings with both of my babies. I found it incredibly nurturing to have them snuggled up close to me, and very practical (especially with my second baby) as it meant I could have Irini with me while still having two hands free.

I think it is important for the media to report the warning, but correctly and in full. I agree with the CPSC that

“parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.”

This is an important warning that bears repeating. I just wish the media would report correctly rather than taking the sensationalist approach labelling slings deadly.

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