Federal safety officials have rolled out new safety standards for infant sling carriers, as part of a continuing effort to reduce the risk of suffocation, falls and equipment failures, which have resulted in dozens of injuries and deaths in recent years.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the implementation of new infant sling carrier safety standards on February 1, which will require manufacturers to provide affixed labels with instructions on how to prevent suffocation hazards, child positioning, and routine maintenance requirements to ensure safety of the device.
Infant sling carriers are intended to hold infants and toddlers weighing between 8 and 35 pounds in an upright or reclined position. The slings are typically constructed in a hammock-shape design made of long lengths of material or fabric that wrap around the caregiver’s body.
Along with their popularity, infant and toddler sling injuries have been on the rise over the past decade, with the CPSC aware of at least 159 reported incidents resulting in 67 injuries and 17 fatalities reported in connection with the products due to fall hazards and the way the fabric or material can keep children trapped in a curled position, potentially restricting the child’s airway.
The newly implemented safety standards require manufacturers to permanently affix warning labels to the devices and also increase stability standards.
Manufacturers will be required to permanently attach warning labels and provide instructions, such as diagrams on how to properly position a child in the sling.
The warning notices must specifically state the potential suffocation hazards posed by slings and preventive measures that should be taken by caregivers. In addition, the warnings must include fall hazard risks and recommend routine maintenance checks of the buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware on the devices to make sure no parts are broken before each use.
The slings themselves must be strong enough to carry up to three times the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit, and must be more durable to avoid seam separations, fabric tears, and from allowing the child to fall out of the sling during normal use.
According to the CPSC notice, any sling product manufactured after January 31, 2018 must be in compliance with the safety standards.
The CPSC recommends that all parents and caregivers using slings make sure the infant’s face is not covered and visible at all times to prevent strangulation or suffocation risks, and to frequently check the baby in a sling to make sure they are secure and no fabric is blocking the baby’s nose or mouth.