Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Infant Suffocates in Baby Sling – Parents Reminded of Important Safety Rules
Baby slings have become an extremely popular method for carrying babies all over the world. They are designed to keep baby close while still keeping Mom’s hands free to carry out everyday tasks. Infants are often calmed while being carried in a sling and most mothers adore their slings because of their convenience. A recent incident, however, reminded us just how important safety is when using an infant sling.
A two-day old infant from South Australia died while being carried in an infant sling. According to the report, the infant was being carried underneath the mother’s clothing. She later discovered that the infant was cold and not breathing.
Australian pathologists have named the sling as a “risk factor” in the infant’s death but it was not named as the actual cause of death. Essentially, what they are saying is that the sling could have caused the death, may have contributed to the death but the infant might have died, despite the sling.
This isn’t the first death linked to infant slings. According to Melanie Water from the Australian child safety organization, Kidsafe, there have been 16 other sling-related deaths reported in the United States and Canada. “All baby slings should be sold with clear instructions and specific diagrams to make sure the potential risks are clear,” said Melanie.
The risk is highest for young infants; those under four months of age, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But even these young infants can be carried safely, if the parent is aware of the proper precautions and potential risk factors.
There is no doubt that news like this can stir panic and fear in the hearts of every parent and parent-to-be. The reaction is normal and completely understandable. However, consider the report of the infant’s death again – the mother was wearing the sling under clothing. This is not proper safety.
The mother might have been trying to keep the infant warm or protect it from the sun. Maybe the infant wouldn’t quiet until it was skin to skin. Maybe she nursed the infant under her shirt and just figured everything would be fine if the infant stayed there and slept. The point is not to blame the mother. My heart goes out to her for the loss of her infant. It is truly sad news and I ask that parents not walk away from this with panic, fear or indifference in their hearts and minds.
What I do want parents to consider is that there is a right way and a wrong way to wear an infant sling. This safety is important, no matter how young or old the infant.
Yes, slings do need proper instructions and warnings – many brands do have instructional information on proper sling wearing in the package. There are some brands, however, that may not include this essential information or, if present, the information may not be thorough.
I looked around for a few safety tips for sling-wearing myself. Why? Because I believe in sling wearing. I believe it can be done safely and it was the preferred method of transport for me and my five little ones. Because I believe many parents, if taught how to use a sling safely may find joy in wearing them as well.
Understanding the Risks
posted by Growing Your Baby at 9/20/2011 12:07:00 am