Bag-style slings, as their name suggests, resemble large shoulder bags with a deep pocket for the baby to lie or sit in, an elasticated opening and a strap designed to be worn over the sling user’s shoulder, or across the body.
These are slings SlingGuide, and all informed and experienced sling users feel should be banned from sale because we are convinced they are inherently dangerous.
These slings have been implicated in far too many infant deaths by suffocation. They have been directly linked to three deaths of very young babies across the USA in the past two decades, and 11 more infant deaths are under investigation. The sling using community, alerted by the pioneering research work of sling safety campaigner M’liss Stelzer, has been actively warning against their use for some time.
The warning has now been heeded in the USA, where the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has raised the alarm about the safety of bag-style slings. One brand is now the subject of a product recall and it is to be hoped other manufacturers producing this type will be encouraged to withdraw them from sale in the future.
While bag-style slings may appear at first sight similar to pouches and ring slings, the pocket for the baby to sit or lie in is far deeper. The shape of the bag makes it very easy to place the baby in a curved position with his chin tucked against his chest, constricting his airways and giving rise to the risk of positional asphyxia.
The risk is heightened by the depth of the pocket as the fabric may cover the baby’s face, and the design may compress his face against the sling wearer’s body, further increasing the likelihood of suffocation. As the pocket is so deep, and the sling is designed to be worn low on the body, the sling user may not be aware of any distress signals from the baby until it is too late.
In a true pouch or ring sling the pocket formed by the fabric is far shallower, the sling is positioned high on the user’s body, and the baby’s face should be visible and close to the sling wearer’s face at all times.
If you have or are given a bag-style sling we urge you not to use it, sell it or even give it away, unless it be to a sling library for the purpose of demonstrating its dangers. Much the best thing you could do would be to destroy it by cutting it up to ensure it can never be used to carry a baby.
Sadly, the announcement by the US CSPC has caused confusion in some quarters, with some reports believing the warning extends to all slings. This is not so, and traditional pouches, ring slings, wraps, mei tais and soft structured carriers are, and always have been safe for use with your baby so long as you follow the guidelines on correct positioning.
Broadly speaking, you should keep your baby snug to you, close enough to kiss her head, with her chin clear of her chest to avoid any constriction of her airways, and her back fully supported. Her nose and mouth should be free of any obstruction.
SlingGuide only recommends slings we would be happy to use with our own babies. Therefore none of the vendors or makers in the SlingGuide resource list sell or produce bag-style slings.