Two weeks after it issued a warning about carrying babies younger than 4 months old in infant slings, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), along with Health Canada and Infantino LLC, has now issued a recall of 1 million Infantino "SlingRider" and "Wendy Bellissimo" infant slings in the United States and 15,000 slings in Canada due to the risk of suffocation.
The recall follows a year in which the CPSC and the manufacturer received reports of three infant deaths that occurred in these slings.
Slings can pose two kinds of suffocation hazards to babies:
- An infant can suffocate within a minute or two if breathing becomes blocked either by the sling's fabric pressing up against the nose and mouth, or if the infant's face becomes pressed up against a parent or caregiver and the baby can't move his or her head away due to weak neck muscles.
- An infant can slowly suffocate if in a curled position in a sling with the chin bent toward the chest, potentially restricting airways and limiting oxygen supply.
After reviewing incident reports from the past 20 years, the CPSC identified and is examining at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers. All but two of the deaths involved babies younger than 4 months old.
Many of the babies who suffocated in slings fell into one of three categories:
- they were born prematurely
- they were a low birth-weight twin
- they had respiratory issues, such as a cold
Two months ago, CPSC added slings to the list of durable infant products requiring a mandatory standard. Until such a standard is developed, the CPSC is working with ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) to develop a voluntary standard for infant sling carriers, and also is investigating sling-style carriers to determine what additional action might be appropriate, like this recall.
Where This Product Was Sold
Babies"R"Us, Target, Walmart, Burlington Coat Factory, BJ's Wholesale, various baby and children's stores and other retailers throughout the United States and Canada, and online at Amazon.com from January 2003 through March 2010, for between $25 and $30.
The Infantino "SlingRider" is a soft fabric baby carrier with a padded shoulder strap designed to carry an infant weighing up to 20 lbs. "Infantino" is printed on the strap's plastic slider. "Infantino," "SlingRider," and the item number are printed on the instruction/warning label inside the carrier.
Slings branded "Wendy Bellissimo" were sold exclusively at Babies"R"Us and have a sewn-in label on the inside of the sling strap that includes "Wendy Bellissimo Media, Inc." and lists Item numbers 3937500H7 and 3937501H7.
What This Means to You
Parents and caregivers carrying babies younger than 4 months old in slings should be especially attentive to the infant's positioning and should check regularly that the baby's face remains uncovered and visible at all times.
Mothers who nurse their babies in slings should adjust the baby's position after feeding so that the head faces up and is unobstructed by the sling or mom's body.
In particular, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, low-weight babies, and those in fragile health to exercise additional caution and consult their pediatricians about the risks of using slings with infants.
What to Do Next
Immediately stop using the recalled sling carriers for infants younger than 4 months old and contact Infantino to receive a free replacement product. Consumers can choose a Wrap & Tie infant carrier, a 2 in 1 Shopping Cart Cover, or a 3 in 1 Grow & Play Activity Gym, and will also receive a Jittery Pal Rattle.
Call Infantino at (866) 860-1361 between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. PT Monday through Friday, or go their website. (Please note: By clicking on this link, you will be leaving the KidsHealth site.)
For More Information
Visit the CPSC's website for images of safe and unsafe positioning of infants in slings and pictures of the recalled sling carriers. (Please note: By clicking on these links, you will be leaving the KidsHealth site.)
Recall date: March 24, 2010