New Warning on Baby Slings

03.13.10 U.S. government urges users of popular baby carriers to make sure you can see baby's face at all times to prevent suffocation.

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A baby sling is the current "It" item for parents, but this piece of gear now comes with something new: a government warning, The Associated Press reports.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning Friday that baby slings pose a health risk, citing possible suffocation if the sling's fabric presses against the baby's nose and mouth or if the sling curves the baby's body into a C-like position, according to the AP.

Officials said these conditions can block a baby's breathing and suffocate a child within one to two minutes because a younger infant has weak neck muscles and cannot control his or her head.

The CPSC has investigated at least 14 deaths in the last 20 years linked to these sling-style infant carries, including three deaths in 2009. The warning said 12 of the cases involved babies younger than 4 months. Parents of preemies or those in fragile health should be extra careful using slings.

CPSC officials recommend that sling wearers make sure a baby's face is not covered and is visible at all times while he or she is being carried around. Parents and caregivers should check the baby frequently while in a baby sling. Visit the CPSC website here for illustrations showing how to minimize the risk of using a baby sling. For example, make sure your baby's chin is up, with his or her face visible; don't let the baby roll toward the parent's body; don't let your baby hunch in the sling.

"Attachment parenting," which promotes the use of baby carriers and other gear and techniques to have constant close contact between a baby and mom, is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. these days. Fit Pregnancy believes in this method, but check out our carrier safety tips so you can hold your infant close but securely while you're on the go.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.