Baby slings are one of those new inventions that truly complete the modern-mom look. They come in stylish colors in patterns, and every mom-on-the-go in New York City and beyond can be seen toting their baby in a casual sling that compliments their outfit. Though they are certainly stylish, studies do show that baby slings can be extremely difficult if used incorrectly, so before you consider one it’s important that you first understand the risks. Of course, there are certain people who make such carriers unsafe by ignoring their common sense. Putting your baby in a straining position at any time is unsafe, but especially so when other things are distracting you. If you want to try using a sling to hold your baby, you can make sure he or she is safe by finding the right position.

Studies show that slings were most unsafe when the baby’s body was compressed in an uncomfortable way, which caused restricted breathing. To make sure your baby’s breathing and comfort is not compromised in his or her sling, first make sure the back is straight and supported. Just as when you hold your baby, there should be no part of your baby’s body that is sagging with gravity. Additionally, make sure your baby’s chin is not on his or her chest, allowing approximately two fingers’ width between.

The next most important part in addition to proper positioning is monitoring. Never leave your baby in a sling if you’re going to sleep or if you’re very distracted. Consistently check on your baby’s position to make sure that he or she is still breathing without obstruction. Consider wrapping the baby high on your body and close to your own head so that checking is as easy as looking down for a moment.

The problem with baby slings and woven wraps is that they are not inherently safe. To make them safe, you need to wrap them properly on your own and adjust your baby with your common sense. Many other baby toys and beds are foolproof, but slings take a bit more thought. You don’t have to avoid slings, but you certainly need to use them properly if you’re thinking or trying one. With proper positioning, slings are comfortable, stylish, and lightweight. They shouldn’t be a permanent solution to holding your baby, but they are a fun alternative in certain conditions and under certain circumstances.

Source: Lori O’Keefe: Protect Your Infant from SIDS and Other Causes of Sleep-Related Deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics Volume 32 Issue 11 pp. 12 November 2011

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