Sling carriers, used by caregivers to hold infants and young children close to the body hands-free, have their own federal safety standards as of last week, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the change.
Previously baby slings were regulated under ASTM International voluntary standards, and the new regulations, approved Jan. 11, incorporate those standards while also requiring warning labels to be attached to the slings along more than one side, making them more permanent, according to a CPSC press release. The new federal regulations for sling carriers aim to improve child safety.
“Between January 2003 and September 2016, 159 incidents were reported to CPSC involving sling carriers; 17 were fatal and 142 were nonfatal. Of the 142 nonfatal incidents, 67 reports involved an injury to the infant during use of the product. Among the 67 reported nonfatal injuries, 10 involved hospitalizations,” the CPSC states.
The slings, which are intended for infants and toddlers between 8 and 35 pounds, include hammock-shaped products suspended from a caregiver’s body and fabric wraps. They pose suffocation risks by potentially holding the baby’s head in a position that blocks his or her ability to breathe or tilts his or her neck and restricts the airway.
The mandatory standards also contain requirements to ensure slings can carry up to three times their recommended weight; no seam separation, fabric tears, breakage, etc. will occur; pictures show proper child position; and warnings remind caregivers to check buckles, snaps and rings to make sure no parts are broken before use, according to the CPSC. The organization recommends caregivers make sure the child’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to combat the risk of suffocation.
The new mandatory standard takes effect a year after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.