Recently the Infantino bag sling was recalled after some babies died in the carrier. It is terrible that deaths had to occur before this dangerous product was recalled, and it is a reminder to all parents to treasure our children and to make sure we know how to carry them safely.
Whenever you carry a newborn you must make sure that the baby’s chin is not tucked against his chest as this closes the airway so that the baby cannot breathe. A person of any age will find it easier to breathe when the neck is not folded over, and the littler the baby, the more vulnerable to this problem.
When choosing a baby carrier, avoid ones that curl babies up so that this chin-to-chest position is possible. The bag sling–unlike traditional slings–has baby sunk down in a deep pouch in a curved shape and there is nothing to protect a newborn from this unsafe positioning, or from rolling to the side so that mouth and nose can be pressed against the side of the carrier.
A good pouch, sling, or wrap should always be worn so that your baby is held tight against you–not dangling off your shoulder like a purse. Even aside from the issue of safety, all the benefits of babywearing are gained by having baby’s body pressed against yours!
Newborns can be worn in an upright position from birth to avoid being pushed into the unsafe position. As most babies prefer the upright position, it is the way I usually teach new parents to wear their wraps anyway.
However, a cradle position can be used safely if desired. If your baby seems to sink into a deep pouch of the carrier, you are probably placing your baby straight down the center, or deepest part, of the fabric. Instead of placing your baby parallel to the sides of the pouch, you should put your baby in diagonally: baby’s head should be towards the outside of the carrier and baby’s bottom should be towards your stomach. By resting baby’s head on the outer side of the pouch, it is held up (your baby’s head will be higher than his bottom and legs) where it is unlikely to be pressed against the chest and where you can clearly see to ensure that it is not!
In other words, in the striped wrap below, if I had placed my baby parallel to the stripes she would be sunk down somewhere along the purple stripe with her head on my right on the purple stripe and her bottom and legs toward my left side, still along the purple stripe. This positioning would curl her body up. Instead she is diagonal to the fabric with her head on the outer gray stripe which is much higher and this keeps her body much straighter along her spine.
Note that this was an upright carry which got lowered and tilted for purposes of nursing, but because of the stripes I felt it was perfect for the purposes of this discussion!
You should always follow these rules while babywearing:
- Wear baby tight against you so that there is no possibility of rolling or turning in the carrier.
- Do not cover your baby’s face with fabric–you want your baby to get plenty of oxygen and you also want to be able to see him!
- Keep baby’s head from slumping forward–you should be able to fit two fingers between your baby’s chin and chest at all times.
- Do not use any positioning that causes your baby’s breathing to sound labored.
Any carrier that does not allow you to follow these rules is a dangerous place to put your baby. There are several other brands of bag slings that were not involved in the recall but have the same basic design and inherent risk. Here is a good video that can help you identify dangerous carriers: Proper Infant Positioning in a Baby Sling