Safe babywearing

Dayton Children’s Mommy Safety Blogger, Jessica Saunders

Recently, a friend suggested I consider and blog about  “babywearing.” Babywearing is the use of infant slings and wraps to carry a child.

I love how this tradition has not only been around for thousands of years and used by many different cultures and it’s a great way to promote a positive bond between child and parent.

As the “safety blogger” and aware of many infant deaths from a variety of consumer products I wanted to make sure that I properly researched babywearing before making a decision. Perfect timing – the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently sent out some guidelines on babywearing to help parents make an informed decision by understanding some of the challenges associated with babywearing.

While thousands (if not millions) of parent have been successfully “worn” their babies for centuries, there have been 14 infant suffocation deaths with sling-style carriers over the past 20 years.  After reviewing the cases, the experts at the CPSC have determined that parents should take extra care in using a sling if their infants are younger than four months of age, premature, low-birthweight babies and babies with colds and respiratory problems. If a child  meets one or more of these conditions parents should take extra care in using a sling, including consulting their pediatrician.

The challenge of babywearing is that some slings tend to keep an infant in a curled, chin-to-chest position, which can interfere with breathing. When an infant is in the chin-to-chest position, suffocation can occur.  Many of the babies who died in slings were twins in separate slings and infants with breathing issues. Suffocation/asphyxiation can occur when babies are contained entirely within the pouch of a sling with their face, including nose and mouth, pressed against the adult’s body, blocking their breathing. Suffocation can occur within minutes.

Here are some other tips for parents and caregivers from the CPSC if they decide to “wear” their baby:

  1. Make sure you can see your baby’s face or eyes in the sling and that your baby can see you. 
  2. Place the baby’s face at or above the rim of a sling or wrap so that their face is visible.
  3. After nursing your baby, change the baby’s position in the sling, so that the baby’s face is at or above the rim of a sling or wrap and that their face is visible and clear of fabric and the mother’s body.
  4. Be vigilant about frequently checking the baby in a sling.

I hope that this blog entry was helpful to you!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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