Expert Advice

Could your baby sling be DEADLY for your child?

Experts suggest yes…

By Ellie McDonald

Whether you've seen someone cradling their child in a shopping centre or you've stepped out for coffee with friends carrying your little one yourself, chances are you know what a baby sling is.

And while baby slings can be convenient for baby-carrying parents, according to an alarming new revelation, this type of carrier can be fatal for children, if not used correctly.

As reported by 9 News, as many as three babies have been suffocated while being carried in a sling since 2010, with many more children sustaining baby sling-induced injuries. And, as this report suggests, this is because each baby's face was pressed against the baby-sling wearer's body.

"That position, whilst it might be comfortable in the womb, it's certainly not a comfortable or safe position for babies once they're born," says Doctor Nicola Spurrier.

What can happen to a baby in a sling

According to Product Safety Australia, babies can suffer from a variety of injuries – some of which can be fatal – while in a sling, which include but are not limited to:

• Rapid suffocation if your baby's face is pressed against fabric or your body
• Slow suffocation if your baby is lying in a 'c' shape position with chin on chest
• Neck injuries, finger traps and pinching, especially infants younger than four months

Not only that, but Product Safety Australia says that babies who are younger than four months old, who are premature, of a low birth weight or have breathing difficulties are at the greatest risk of injury in a baby sling.

How to keep your baby safe

When it comes to ensuring the safety of your child in a baby sling, it's important to understand what it is that you're buying…

First up, ask for a demonstration of the baby sling and make sure that it comes with clear instructions of how to use it that you can look back on when you take the sling home.

Next, ensure that you match your baby's height and weight to the baby sling, and understand how to safely wrap and unwrap your baby within it. And NEVER use products that are described as a 'cocoon' or 'womb-like'.

And then when you're using the sling, make sure you can see your baby's face at all times and that it is ALWAYS uncovered. Plus, make sure that your baby can't wiggle into a compromising position where they may not be able to breathe and where they're face may be covered.

Want to know more about how to keep your baby safe in a sling? Visit Product Safety Australia's website at www.productsafety.gov.au and book an appointment with a paediatrician.