Between 1992 and 2012, there were 14 deaths associated with baby carrying devices, and 12 of them occurred in babies younger than 4 months of age, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While the carrying devices, such as slings or a carrier that straps to the front of a parent's body, aren't always dangerous, you always should ask your pediatrician before using one. Keep a few safety concerns in mind, too, if you choose to use a baby carrying device.
Types of Baby Carriers
One of the most common types of baby carriers is a backpack style device that a parent straps on, so the baby can be carried up against the front of the body. These are hands-free carriers, which leaves a parent better able to do household tasks or care for older children. Slings are another type of baby carrier, and they strap across the body more like a bag. The baby is snuggled inside of the carrier so a parent is hands-free, but doesn't have to put her little one down. Hand-held baby carriers, such as Moses baskets and infant car seats with handles, often are used to carry babies, as well.
Baby carriers can pose a suffocation risk, especially the sling-type carriers. The cloth of these carriers can cover your baby's nose and mouth, cutting off the oxygen supply. The angle of your baby's neck when it's pressed forward in the sling can make it difficult for him to breathe, according to ConsumerReports.org. This is true particularly for infants 4 months of age or younger. Carrying your baby in a front backpack-style sling also can cause your baby's head to rest too far forward, but it's not as likely to occur compared to the slings. If you're carrying your baby in the carrier with his face pressed up against your chest, your clothes might move over his mouth and nose, which can lead to suffocation. A baby in a hand-held infant carrier also might be at risk of suffocation if they are covered with thick blankets, which the baby can move up over his face and nose, according the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Using any type of baby carrier puts your baby at an increased risk for a dangerous fall. According to ConsumerReports.org, babies can suffer skull fractures, head injuries, bruises and lacerations if they tumble out of the carrier. Falls can occur if the product malfunctions, too. The straps on the device can come apart without a parent realizing it, which will cause the carrier to slip off the parent's body, allowing the baby to fall. Using a hand-held carrier also can increase the risk of fall. Malfunctioning handles on a Moses basket can cause a baby to tumble out and get hurt. If a baby isn't harnessed properly into an infant car seat, he can slip out and fall, too.
Tips and Considerations
Always ask your baby's pediatrician before using any type of infant carrier. Your child's doctor will tell you what devices are the safest and which products to avoid. If you do decide to use a baby carrier, check manufacturer recalls to be sure the one you choose is, indeed, the safest. Read the instructions that come with your carrier so you can be sure you're using it the correct way, too. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you also should keep clothing and blankets away from your baby's face, and check on her regularly while she's in the carrier. If you use a hand-held infant carrier, always restrain your baby while she's inside and never place it on tables or counters because it increases the risk of falls. Avoid the use of heavy blankets in hand-held infant carriers, too.
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