Tragedy leads to scrutiny of baby-sling standards

The ACCC considers imposing mandatory standards on baby-carrying slings
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01.Baby sling safety

Baby on board

After the death of a 2-day-old infant in South Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it’s considering filling a crucial regulatory void by imposing mandatory standards on baby-carrying slings. The infant lost his life while being carried his by mother in a cloth sling worn under her shirt and jumper, a practice the ACCC has warned can cause suffocation. While the autopsy report didn’t point to the sling as a definite cause, it was strongly implicated in the tragedy.

''The ACCC is working with the product safety regulators in the US, Canada and Europe on the development of the safety standard for baby slings as a result of concerns in a variety of countries about the risk that they pose, in particular for very young infants,'' the ACCC's deputy chairman, Peter Kell, has said.

Sixteen deaths attributed to slings have been recorded in the United States and Canada combined. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has also called for mandatory standards.

Babies who are under four months old, born prematurely, have a low birth-weight, or whose respiratory systems are compromised by a cold or other sickness are at greatest risk.

The ACCC says parents and caregivers should avoid bag-sling or pouch-sling products described as ‘womb-like’, a ‘cocoon’, or simulating a foetal position. These types of slings place the baby in a potentially dangerous position that may impede breathing.

Safety tips

When using a sling keep an eye on the baby at all times and:

  • When placing the baby in a sling, lie it in a flat position with a straight back to ensure its chin does not rest on its chest, then keep the baby in a slanted or upright position while moving.
  • The baby should have a straight back, its head supported, its chin up and its face clearly visible.
  • Make sure the baby’s chin is up and away from its body – any pressure on the chin can restrict breathing.
  • Make sure you can see the baby’s face at all times and that it remains uncovered by the sling or your body.
  • Hold the baby with at least one arm.
  • Pay attention at all times— a baby may have breathing difficulty and make no obvious sound or movement. Take the baby out of the sling or pouch immediately if you observe any potential problems, such as its face being covered or chin tucked in, head turned to the side, curled into a ‘C’ position, or any signs of breathing difficulty or squirming.

For more information. download the ACCC baby slings safety alert booklet.

For more information on Transport for babies, see Babies and kids.



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