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Baby sling: Is it safe?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-sling/AN02113
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Baby sling: Is it safe?
Is it safe to hold a baby in a baby sling?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
A baby sling — a one-shouldered baby carrier made of soft fabric — can be a safe way to carry a baby, if you follow important safety guidelines. When used incorrectly, however, a baby sling can pose a suffocation hazard to an infant younger than age 4 months.
Babies have weak neck muscles and can't control their heads during the first few months after birth. If the baby sling's fabric presses against a baby's nose and mouth, the baby might not be able to breathe. This can quickly lead to suffocation. A baby sling can also keep a baby in a curled position — bending the chin to the chest. This position can restrict the baby's airways and limit the baby's oxygen supply. In turn, this can prevent a baby from being able to cry for help and poses a risk of suffocation.
A baby is at higher risk of suffocating in a baby sling if he or she:
- Was born prematurely or with a low birth weight — less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams)
- Has breathing problems, such as a cold
If your baby meets one of these conditions, don't use a baby sling until you talk to your baby's doctor.
If you decide to use a baby sling, take steps to reduce the risks. For example:
- Read the instructions. Double-check the baby sling's weight minimum before placing your newborn in it.
- Keep your baby's airways unobstructed. Make sure your baby's face isn't covered by the baby sling and is visible to you at all times.
- Be careful after breast-feeding. If you breast-feed your baby in a baby sling, make sure you change your baby's position afterward so that his or her head is facing up and is clear of the baby sling and your body.
- Take caution when bending. Bend at the knees, rather than at the waist, if you pick up something while holding your baby in a baby sling. This will help keep your baby settled securely in the sling.
- Check your baby frequently. Make sure he or she is in a safe position.
- Keep an eye out for wear and tear. Repair any rips or tears in the sling's seams and fasteners.
- Check for recalls. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website to make sure your baby sling hasn't been recalled.
Vaccination schedule: Why so many so fast?
- Infant deaths prompt CPSC warning about sling carriers for babies. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml10/10165.html. Accessed Aug. 17, 2012.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:492.
- Goldenberg RL, et al. Low birth weight in the United States. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85:584S.
- Jana LA, et al. Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2011:198.