September 15, 2022:
We are writing to express our views on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s adoption of a mandatory safety standard for infant sling carriers. We enthusiastically support the plan to make the current CPSC voluntary safety standards – which address product test methods, performance requirements, labeling and instructional literature –mandatory for manufacturers in November 2022.
The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) is a nonprofit think tank that conducts, analyzes, and scrutinizes research on a range of health issues, with a particular focus on which prevention strategies and treatments are most effective for which patients and consumers. We do not accept funding from companies that make products that are the subject of our work, so we have no conflicts of interest.
We strongly agree that safety standards for sling carriers should be mandatory rather than voluntary. Voluntary standards are not sufficient to protect consumers. They are not legally enforceable and the CPSC cannot compel manufacturers to comply.
Sling baby carriers are widely used and may present a significant safety hazard for babies. A study of data from 2011 to 2020 found that more than 14,000 children presented to emergency departments due to incidents with adult-worn baby carriers1. In about 45% of cases, the type of baby carrier was not specified in the record. However, 31% of these visits were specified as being related to sling-type carriers. Head injuries and concussions were the most common diagnoses, representing 59% of all injuries. In fact, 21% of babies with these injuries required hospitalization. According to the CPSC, between January 2003 and September 2016, 17 babies in the US died in their infant carriers and 67 babies were injured because of them2.
While we strongly support the mandatory standards, we also encourage the CPSC to go even further to help ensure safe use of sling carriers. We recommend the following additions to the mandatory standard:
- Incorporate the American Association of Pediatrics guidelines3
- Include a warning that infants under five months old are the most vulnerable to all injuries1
- Include a warning about infants at highest risk for suffocation: infants under 4 months of age, those who were born prematurely or at a low birth weight, those born with respiratory problems or who have a cold or other upper respiratory infection4
- Advise users to consult their pediatrician before using a sling/carrier product4
- Caution users against wearing a baby in a sling while bending over3, working near a hot stove or oven, cleaning with harsh chemicals, consuming hot drinks, riding a bicycle, being in a car or during any sport activity.
The above additions would enhance the current standard that the CPSC will make mandatory:
- Manufacturers must ensure the sling can carry up to three times the manufacturer’s max recommended weight.
- Manufacturers must ensure structural integrity such that after all testing, there are no seam separations, fabric tears, breakage, etc.
- The sling must be able to prevent the child being carried from falling out of the sling during normal use.
- Carriers must come with a permanent warning label that is visible whenever the sling is being used in any recommended position.
- Instructional literature included with the sling must contain:
- pictures to show the proper position of a child in the sling,
- a warning statement about the suffocation hazard posed by slings and prevention measures,
- warning statements about children falling out of slings,
- a reminder for caregivers to check the buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware to make sure no parts are broken.
The National Center for Health Research can be reached at email@example.com or at (202) 223-4000.
- Rowe SJ, Reeves PT, McAdams RJ, Roberts K, Dobson NR, McKenzie LB. Baby Wearing Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments, 2011-2020: A Dangerous Fashion Trend. Pediatrics. 2022;149(1 Meeting Abstracts February 2022):962-962.
- New Federal Standard to Improve Safety of Infant Slings Takes Effect. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://www.cpsc.gov/content/new-federal-standard-to-improve-safety-of-infant-slings-takes-effect
- Kemp C, Editor S. Keep babies safe while in carriers, slings. Published online December 1, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/18684/Keep-babies-safe-while-in-carriers-slings
- CPSC Educates New Parents on Safe Babywearing; Infant suffocation deaths in slings prompt renewed effort to warn moms and dads. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2011/CPSC-Educates-New-Parents-on-Safe-BabywearingInfant-suffocation-deaths-in-slings-prompt-renewed-effort-to-warn-moms-and-dads