The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is preparing to issue a general warning about the use of infant slings. Ms. Inez Tenenbaum, the head of the CPSC, said “We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies, so the time has come to alert parents and caregivers.” Tenenbaum said there won’t be a mention of specific brands or types of carriers. But, should there be? We think so.
There’s a huge difference between a bag sling and a ring sling. In babywearing online forums, you often see the words “bag slings”. Most in those communities know what these slings are and why they are dangerous. It’s what one would say…commonly known information. But, the truth is that it’s not commonly known outside of the babywearing communities.
Proof of this is evident in the news channels ever since the CPSC’s upcoming infant slings warning was announced. Overnight, there was a surge of articles all over the internet and also on major television channels of the danger of “slings”. There was absolutely no distinction made between a bag sling and a ring sling. In fact, there was not even an distinction made between other significantly different types of carriers, like soft structured carriers or wraps. They were all thrown in together in what should have been a warning about a particular type of sling – a bag sling.
So, what is a bag sling? A bag sling is a type of baby carrier where the baby lays in a C-like position and rides low on the parent – similar to how a typical purse (or bag) is worn. A bag sling is dangerous because baby is carried in a C-like position. In this position, a baby’s chin is pressed against his chest, which constricts his breathing. Want to see what it’s like? Try it yourself! Right now, stop reading and press your chin on your chest.
Hard to breathe, right?
Imagine how much so for a small baby.
It is this position that has caused infants to suffocate while worn in bag slings. And this is why they should be avoided at all costs.
Another offense of a bag sling is the baby is carried too low on the parent. It becomes hard to see the baby and also the baby is at a level (with his head at your lower waist and hips) where you would not normally carry a baby. The baby is vulnerable to being hurt by you walking too close to a counter, door, etc.
A ring sling is not the same as a bag sling. A ring sling is meant to carry the baby higher (with his bottom at or above your belly button). In a ring sling, baby is carried at a close enough distance that you are able to easily see your baby and ideally, be able to kiss the the top of her head.
While a cradle position can be safely done in a ring sling. An upright position, with baby held comfortably against your chest and his neck supported, is strongly preferred. In this position, baby rides with his head leaning sideways on your chest and his breathing is not restricted in any way. And the fabric of a ring sling can be adjusted so that the baby is fully supported while carried.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so let’s do a breakdown of the differences between a bag sling and a ring sling.