Important Safety Reminder after Coroner Confirms Newborn Suffocated in Fabric Sling

Trigger Warning: On 8 April 2019, Tattika Dunn wrapped her newborn infant, Harvey McGlinn into a fabric sling. She and Harvey went about their morning routine and headed for a postnatal check-up at Long Jetty Community Health Centre in New South Wales.

Like many newborns, Harvey was only content in his mother’s arms and Takkita relied on the sling daily as she attended to her other two sons and provided comfort to Harvey.

Tattika didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and assumed her newborn had fallen asleep in the sling. However, when she unwrapped her three-week-old, she discovered he wasn’t breathing.

Tragically, little Harvey passed away, leaving his mum, dad and two older brothers absolutely heartbroken.

Heart ripped in a million pieces

Takkita has spoken out about the horror of seeing her son, pale and motionless as a medical team at the health centre attempted to resuscitate him.

She tearfully told Kyle and Jackie O,

“I was on the floor watching my baby try to get resuscitated and I could do nothing to help him.”

fabric sling death
Harvey was just three weeks old when he died in his fabric sling. Source: GoFundMe

This new mum collapsed after she was told her baby had died and shared on Facebook that her “heart feels like it’s been ripped in a million pieces”.

Newborn asphyxiated in a fabric sling 

For nearly three years the McGlin family has been left wondering what exactly happened to their baby boy. There is no suggestion of a breach of duty of care. The health centre staff and product manufacturer have also both been cleared of any liability over the death.

This week the NSW coroner delivered the news that little Harvey was asphyxiated in a fabric sling. The sling included a suffocation warning and an instruction booklet but, tragically, the sling may have been positioned too close to the baby’s face.

Witnesses said Harvey’s entire body was inside the loosely fitted sling and it was unclear to some that the fabric sling held a child.

“The evidence establishes that the position of Harvey‘s neck, with his chin on his chest, compromised his airway,” the NSW coroner said in his findings delivered on Thursday.

“Harvey‘s relatively low weight may have resulted in less muscle and head control resulting in a difficulty in maintaining a patent airway from the way that Harvey was positioned in the sling.” 

Our thoughts go out to the McGlinn family as they process this new information.

The importance of babywearing safety 

Harvey’s tragic death acts as a stark reminder of how important it is to follow safety instructions on baby products. Slings, wraps and baby carriers can be so convenient and are considered safe. All of the baby carriers we recommend on our website are proven safe and we firmly support the practice of babywearing.

However, all parents need to be aware of babywearing safety and of the acronym TICKS when wrapping an infant. 

  1. T = Tight: Make sure the carrier/sling/wrap is tight-fitting to ensure proper support.
  2. I = In view at all times: Make sure you can see bub’s face when looking down. Keep baby’s face, nose and mouth uncovered.
  3. C = Close enough to kiss: Your baby’s head should be close enough to your chin that you can kiss their sweet little head.
  4. K = Keep chin off the chest: Ensure your baby’s chin is up and away from their body. Your baby should never be curled so that the chin is forced onto its chest.
  5. S = Supported back: Your baby’s back should be supported in a natural position with their tummy and chest against you.

We share their story, not to scare, but to educate and inform parents.

If you are ever in doubt about how to wrap an infant, please reach out for assistance. Babywearing Australia is a good place to start. Many babywearing companies also offer free video consultations to assist new parents in safe and correct wrapping.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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