Safe vs. Unsafe Baby Carriers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Warning on Slings

11 Mar

Are baby slings and baby carriers safe for newborns and small babies? Absolutely! Baby slings and baby carriers are some of the safest baby gear on the market today, but, as with any baby gear such as strollers, cribs, or car seats, baby slings and baby carriers have to be used safely and appropriately. To learn more about how to use your baby sling or baby carrier safely and appropriately, please see my Babywearing Safety page at QuirkyBaby.

So why has there been so much media and government attention to the question of risky babywearing? Mainly because there were poorly designed baby carriers on the market that did not easily allow babies to be safely positioned or allow parents to see their babies’ faces to make sure their airways were clear. In some cases, although the design of the sling was not inherently dangerous, a baby may have been wrongly positioned or may have had some underlying medical condition or issue that caused the baby to be at risk. Tragically, a very small number of babies lost their lives.

There has been a great deal of media attention to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s forthcoming warning on baby sling safety, following the suffocation deaths of babies in certain carriers. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the CPSC will focus its warning on the inherently dangerous bag-style carriers such as the Infantino SlingRider and similar brands, rather than inaccurately target well-designed slings and carriers that are safe when used properly.

Consumer Reports warned in October 2009 of the risks of using bag-style carriers, linking the Infantino SlingRider to two documented deaths. As explained at the BabySlingSafety blog by a registered nurse who has tested babies’ oxygen levels in the SlingRider and similar bag-style carriers, the design of these carriers forces baby into a C-position with chin tucked to chest, potentially obstructing baby’s airway. Bag-style carriers may also enclose baby’s face in fabric, increasing the risk of re-breathing exhaled carbon dioxide. Although many babies will wriggle and squirm or cry to indicate their discomfort as their oxygen levels decrease, not all babies are capable of doing so and, as so tragically demonstrated, some babies will die.

Please be assured that all of the slings and carriers I stock at QuirkyBaby are appropriate for use with newborns and very young babies, as long as safe positioning guidelines are followed. A great handout with photos demonstrates safe versus unsafe positioning in pouches, ring slings, mei tais, and wraps. The buckle carriers I stock will also put a newborn into a safe, upright position.

In positioning a newborn or very young baby in any carrier, remember visible and kissable:

  1. Baby’s face should be visible at all times and never covered with fabric.
  2. You should be able to put two fingers under baby’s chin, ensuring it is not tucked against baby’s chest.
  3. Hold baby securely in the babywearing zone between your waist and your collarbone.
  4. Baby should be in the same position you’d hold her in in your arms. An upright position is best for newborns and small babies.
  5. The top of baby’s head should be close enough to kiss.

Avoid C2C (chin to chest), or a curled C position, in any baby carrier.

The Babywearing Safety page I started on Facebook hosts many pictures of babies being worn safely (and unsafely) in various styles of baby carriers and features a growing collection of resources on safe vs. unsafe babywearing. If you have any concerns or questions about choosing and using a baby carrier safely, please email me at

Below are pictures of bag-style carriers that I consider to be absolutely unsafe for newborns (and uncomfortable for babies of any size). If you own one of these carriers or a similar one, I urge you to destroy it rather than selling it or giving it away.

One Response to “Safe vs. Unsafe Baby Carriers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Warning on Slings”


  1. Recall Announced on Infantino SlingRider & Mothering Radio Babywearing Podcast « QuirkyBaby Blog - March 24, 2010

    […] my opinion, pose a similar suffocation risk as the Infantino Sling Rider. These are pictured in my blog post here and include the Munchkin JellyBean Cargo Sling, the JJ Cole Premaxx, the Boppy Carry in Comfort, […]

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