CPSC Releases a New Statement on Sling Safety: Better… but Still Falls Short

As you know, we’ve been following the the Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s actions on slings for the last few months (see our previous posts here and here).  Thanks to the efforts of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance and the greater babywearing community, the CPSC did back off its most recent threatened recall of slings and appears to be making at least small steps towards heeding the expert knowledge within the babywearing community.

However, CPSC’s willingness to listen to the babywearing community and experts on sling safety appears to fall short of full cooperation.  BCIA has continued to reach out to CPSC in an effort to assist in educating the public about sling safety, a task BCIA and the babywearing community take very seriously.  Unfortunately, CPSC seems unwilling to partner with BCIA and draw on their expertise to make solid recommendations to the public on how to babywear safely.  Education on safe sling usage is critical as the popularity of babywearing continues to rise.

CPSC issued a statement on sling safety today that clarifies their statement released earlier this year.  BCIA also released a statement on sling safety.  While I appreciate that CPSC was careful to note in today’s statement that they do not intend to characterize all slings as dangerous, I think they still failed to fully educate parents about correct sling usage.  CPSC did highlight the potential dangers of the cradle carry position – specifically that incorrectly positioned babies are at risk of suffocation if their chin falls into their chest or their face presses into the wearer or the sling fabric.  But they failed to warn about other common mistakes such as wearing the sling too low on the body.  They also failed to mention alternatives to the cradle carry position such as the upright tummy to tummy position – a far easier carrier for novice sling users to correctly position a newborn in.

While I do feel that the cradle carry is a safe position when done correctly, it is not the only option nor is it the best option for someone who does not have access to expert help in positioning a newborn.  Therefore, CPSC would do well to encourage the use of the upright tummy to tummy position as an alternative for sling users with newborns.

If CPSC is truly interested in educating the public about safe sling usage, they will increase their cooperation with BCIA and other babywearing experts who are able to provide research and experience based knowledge of babywearing safety.  By partnering with BCIA, CPSC can provide the public with accurate and complete information about how to best safely use slings and carriers.

You can help encourage CPSC to partner with BCIA to improve public education on sling safety by contacting CPSC today.

For more information on safe babywearing and pictures of proper newborn positioning in both the cradle carry and tummy to tummy position, visit TheBabyWearer.com or The Babywearing Safety Facebook page.

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