So how do we make sure our babies are safe in a sling/carrier?
Even with the best and safest carrier you can find, it is important to be aware of safety issues, as it is with any baby and child product. To help you keep your child safe make sure that you follow the following advice:
* Read the manufacturer’s advice carefully and follow it.
* Buy from a reputable seller. There are many counterfeit slings available whihc will not have been tested or checked.
* Check with your GP and a reputable sling seller/adviser if your baby has any health problems or is premature to check that the carrier you have is suitable and safe.
* Always ensure that you can see your baby’s face clearly to check for signs of discomfort or laboured breathing. Your baby’s face should not be turned in against the fabric or your body.
* Ensure that the carrier supports your baby’s back and head fully - it is VERY important that the baby’s chin does not touch the chest as this impedes breathing
* Check that your carrier is tight enough. No sling or carrier should ‘swing’ off you - if you can push the child in further with resulting loose fabric, it is probably too loose. Don’t worry-your child will let you know if it is too tight!
* Keep your child as high up as possible-they should usually be high enough on you that you should be able to kiss their head easily. Babies should not be carried low down on your body where you cannot see them.
* Make sure you have the right sized carrier for you - not necessarily the one with the prettiest pattern or the best price. This is particularly true of pouches that MUST be the right size to support the child adequately.
* ALWAYS check your carrier before wearing it to check that there are no faults, tears, loose stitching or faulty buckles. Most carriers will go on for years and years without this happening, but of course nothing can be perfect all the time, so it is worth checking.
* Use common sense. Being hands free does not mean that you can do ANYTHING with your child in a carrier-so any activity that would be unsafe whilst holding your child in your arms is likely to be unsafe with a carrier-e.g. cooking, cycling and other sports, jumping up and down with other children etc. etc.. When you do need to bend down whilst wearing a carrier, just place one hand on the baby to ensure that the position remains secure, and bend at the knees to keep your torso as upright as possible.
Recalls of Bag Style slings and relevance to you and your carriers
There has been some press coverage regarding the safety of slings in the last few years.
This has been really good in highlighting the danger of some unsafe baby slings where there are inherent design flaws that put a young baby at risk. These carriers have been a concern to sling sellers in the UK for a long time and we are pleased that they have been recalled, although it is very sad that it has taken fatal incidents to achieve this.
The carriers concerned are the ‘bag style’ carriers, specifically by a brand called Infantino. To see the information about the recall and the style of sling for yourself, click here ; and to see the industry's response click here.
So what’s the difference between a bag style and a pouch/ring sling?
These bag style carriers are a specific style and are NOT the same as the pouches and slings sold by Slingtastic.
A bag style sling hangs low, needs a harness to hold a baby in place and has lots of excess fabric above the baby.
A pouch fits snugly and supports the baby’s back and head, ensuring that you are able to position the baby so that the chin is not touching his/her chest and that the back is fully supported. The careful fitting means that the baby will not be swinging from you or hanging low on your stomach
A ring sling is not carefully sized like a pouch, but is adjustable so that you can achieve all the same support by adjusting the fabric depth and support to suit the wearer and carrying position.
Some pouch and ring sling manufacturers are rewording their instructions and removing their guidance on cradle positions for carrying (ie across the body) but this appears to be an effort to insure against people not following the instructions properly, and to make sure that people do not class their carriers in the same way as the bag style slings. There have been no concerns raised about any of these carrying positions in these slings where parents have followed the instructions.
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