Made from fabrics and lightweight materials like cotton and linen, baby slings are becoming a popular and trendy choice for parents and caregivers to conveniently carry their babies. Parents and caregivers should however note that when used incorrectly, baby slings can present a suffocation or fall hazard to young children. The fabric of a baby sling can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, potentially causing breathing difficulties. The risk of suffocation is even higher for young infants because their neck muscles are weak, and they are not yet able to control their heads.
Precautions parents and caregivers can take include the following –
-Be vigilant and check on the baby often, to make sure that he or she is in a safe position.
-Make sure that the baby’s face is visible to you at all times.
-Keep baby’s head upright and make sure he or she is able to breathe freely with the mouth and nose clear of obstruction. Remember that suffocation can happen in less than a minute, and babies may not be able to cry out for help or make obvious movements.
-Baby’s chin should also be up and away from its body and not pressing against your body or the sling.
-Never leave the baby alone in the sling.
-If you nurse your baby in the sling, ensure that his or her head is facing up after you are done.
-When bending over, hold on to the baby to prevent him or her from falling out of the sling. Bending from the knees rather than the waist may also be safer.
-Do not carry baby in the sling when engaged in activities with the potential for injury like cooking, drinking hot soup or beverages, jogging or riding a bicycle.
-Check the sling for wear and tear, rips and other damage before each use. If the sling is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired or replaced.
-Get someone to assist you if you have difficulty putting the baby in or taking him or her out of the sling.
-Do not use a sling to carry the baby if he or she is unwell, has a cold or other breathing problems.
-Read the age recommendations, safety warnings, and other instructions for use and follow them strictly.
-Keep yourself updated on which baby sling models have been recalled before making your purchase.
-Visit SPRING’s website at http://www.spring.gov.sg/productsafety and other international sites such as the US Safer Products at http://www.saferproducts.gov or the Europe Unions’s RAPEX at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/rapex/index_en.htm