Before having a child, I never thought I would be comfortable using a sling. They looked precarious and scary. I was nervous I wouldn't tie it right or that I would lean over and my baby would just fall out. After having an infant, I received a sling as a present from a neighbor. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, I tried and loved it.
Slings, if used correctly, can be wonderful. In the infant stage, they can simulate a womb like feeling, keeping the infant nestled in and close to mom. This is has the benefit of being calming for babies and keeps curious strangers from getting too close to vulnerable newborns.
As the child grows, many slings grow with the child with different positions for different stages of infancy and toddlerhood. However slings can pose a risk of suffocation as illustrated by the recent Infantino sling recall.
The Infantino sling is an infant sling, although the recent deaths that occurred with this sling could occur with the use of any sling. The Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement on March 12, 2010 advising caution when placing a child under 4 months of age in any sling. According to the statement, there have been 13 deaths related to sling use in the last 20 years. Twelve of those deaths were in children under 4 months of age. Most of the deaths occurred in low birth weight infants or infants with breathing problems including a recent cold.
As most parents know, infants should always be placed to sleep on their backs. This includes when they sleep in a sling. Parents also need to ensure that there is nothing blocking their nose and mouth preventing them from breathing. You should never put extra material, toys, blankets etc. inside the sling with the child. While wearing the sling, you should check frequently to ensure that your child is on his or her back and has not rolled over onto his or her stomach or side, or slid too far down into the sling. Also be sure that your body is not pushing up against the sling in such a way so that you are hindering airflow around the infant's nose and mouth.
In addition, young infants have poor head control and are not able to extend their necks to help them breath if they are placed in a crunched position. Parents need to ensure that when placing an infant in a sling that he has a fully extended neck and is not in a position with his chin touching his chest.
If used correctly and with the appropriate vigilance, slings can be wonderful. However, parents need to be aware of the possible risks associated with using a sling in order to prevent against them. Parents should use extreme caution if placing a child less than 4 months of age in a sling. Parents should not place a child who is sick, congested, having problems breathing, or who had a low birth weight or has low muscle tone in a sling. In addition to these new warnings, parents should of course always follow the manufacture's instructions and warnings for the use of their particular sling.
If you do have an Infantino SlingRider or Wendy Bellissimo Baby Carrier, you can get more information regarding the recall and free replacement products at the Infantino website.