A baby sling — typically a one-shouldered baby carrier made of soft fabric — can be a safe way to carry a baby, if you follow safety guidelines. But a baby sling can pose a suffocation hazard to an infant, particularly those younger than age 4 months.
Babies have relatively weak neck muscles and can't control their heads during the first few months after birth. If the baby sling's fabric or your body 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 curled in a C shape, making it hard for a baby to breathe.
If you use a baby sling:
- Read the instructions. Double-check the baby sling's weight minimum before placing your baby in it.
- Keep your baby's airways unobstructed. Make sure your baby's face isn't covered by the baby sling or your body and is visible to you at all times.
- Take caution when bending. Bend at the knees, rather than at the waist, if you pick up something while holding your baby in a sling. This will help keep your baby settled securely in the sling.
- Be alert for wear and tear. Check for tears in the sling's seams and fasteners.
Jan. 29, 2019
- Shelov SP, et al. Keeping your child safe. In: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2014.
- Jana LA, et al. Thinking outside of the house. In: Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2015.