Using a Soft Infant Carrier Safely
Mary Gruszka, RN, IBCLC
Member, Southwest New Mexico Breastfeeding Council
Recently there have been news stories advising parents not to use infant slings. (See the Consumer Products Safety Commission warning advising caution with infant slings: http://cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10165.html). There are many different types of soft infant carriers however, and when a soft infant carrier is used properly it can be a safe and beneficial way of carrying your baby. The style of sling found to be a problem in the recent CPSC warning is a "bag" type sling. This style of sling has a deep pouch surrounded by broad elastic that makes it difficult to carry a newborn upright as is generally recommended. Diagrams showing safe positioning in a bag sling are in the CPSC warning. Whatever way you choose to carry your baby, it is important to be cautious, use proper techniques and common sense. Some basic guidelines and information for using a soft infant carrier are as follows:
•Check to ensure that your baby is not curled up tightly in a chin-to-chest position; this compresses your baby's airway. Making sure there is a finger's width or two between their chin and chest is a good guide.
•Make sure your baby's back is straight and supported.
•Monitor your child at all times. Make sure nothing is obstructing their face.
•Be aware of how your movements affect the baby: avoid any bumping or jarring motions.
•Also be aware of how your baby may move or change position once you place him or her in the carrier.
•It may not be possible to safely carry a premature baby, a small baby, a sick baby or a baby with a cold. If you have any uncertainty about whether a soft carrier is safe for your baby, discuss this information and your concerns with your baby's health care provider prior to using a soft carrier
•You can check to see if there are any recalls or concerns about your carrier at http://www.cpsc.gov/cgi-bin/prod.aspx . Select "Infant Carriers/Slings/Backpacks/Car Seats" from the drop-down menu.
(Adapted from Babywearing International Infant Sling Safety)