Tons of parents have been speaking out about this, pointing out that NOT ALL SLINGS ARE CREATED EQUAL, and it is not only unfair, but blatantly irresponsible, that they are all being lumped together by the CSPC. As Justine of State of the Heart Parenting points out:
The Infantino Sling Rider is the one responsible for 7 deaths in 11 years, from improper sling use. However, for the 10 year time period between 1995-2005, there were 22 stroller-related deaths for children under the age of 5 reported to CPSC. A majority of these deaths involved suffocation, entrapment or positional asphyxiation of an infant. 3x the amount of death in less time. Where are the anti-stroller crusaders?Anyway, on with the show: Katie Glynn from A Child's Garden in Northhampton, MA recorded this video, demonstrating the do's and don'ts of sling positioning, including an explanation of the hazards of bag "slings".
[And] the leading item that injures and kills babies? INFANT CAR SEATS AND CARRIERS (and that EXCLUDES automobile accident related incidents). 7 deaths in 11 years from slings...meanwhile 182 children were KILLED by improper car seat/carrier use in only 2 years. And 65 infants died from CRIB related accidents.
By all means, let's please include warnings that your sling is a parenting tool, not a replacement for common sense and observation...but saying that no one should ever use a sling is NOT a reasonable recommendation on the part of the CPSC.
I also found this site very clear and helpful. Here's a great visual:YES YES YES:
A THOUSAND TIMES NO:
Note: Most veteran babywearers point out that an upright carry is both the safest and the most beneficial, but one can use the "cradle" position with care and attention making sure baby is NOT chin-to-chest in the dreaded C position. This is illustrated in the top left of the first picture. It's wonderful to be able to nurse in a sling as you go about your business. (Many babywearing experts recommend that once nursing is finished, baby is gently returned to an upright position.)
Be sure to check out the page itself; they spell out the safety points of proper ring sling positioning and the pitfalls of bag slings. They also include a gallery at the bottom of the most dangerous kinds of bag slings. Here's a picture of the worst culprit of all the bag-style pseudoslings, the Infantino:
Now. This is pure opinion on my part, but there's something about all these slings, not just the most notorious Infantino, that bother me, aside from the deeply flawed design. It seems to me that these are inauthentic slings at the core. What the heck do I mean by that vagueness? My gut feeling is that these particular brands were created in a response to a trend, without much if any real research, and without a fundamental belief in babywearing as a practice. I don't think Eddie Bauer executives happened to be reading Dr. Sears and decided to start promoting attachment parenting tools; I don't think Boppy was out for anything more than another product in a different aisle of Babies R Us. I think these companies saw a growing number of consumers purchasing Maya ring slings and Mei Tais and Moby wraps, not to mention the burgeoning legions of WAHMs putting their own lovingly created wares up on etsy, and they decided to try to get in on the action.
If I'm right - and again, it's just conjecture on my part - well, it's not the most nefarious thing in the world. (It's not like they're Nestle. Wink wink.) I can't really blame them for their bottom-line motivation. I mean, that's just business. But it falls as ever to the consumer to do their homework and make educated choices. Slings of any kind, not just the ones with the riskiest designs, can be misused - as can strollers, cribs, and car seats, as Justine pointed out. Babywearing is a fantastic lifestyle choice for those to whom it resonates, and the carriers themselves are tools, to be used with mindfulness and love. It'd be a screaming hot shame if this slipshod media coverage deters some parents from doing something that's not only highly beneficial but also has the potential to make their lives just plain so much easier.
EDIT: I just have to add an observation made by my friend Ashton, who pointed out that what these companies are doing essentially takes slings and turns them into buckets.