Following the news that a three-week-old baby boy suffocated to death while in a baby sling, parents are being alerted to the potential dangers of slings.
As the baby’s mum unwrapped her son from the fabric sling and attempted to pass him over to the nurse they realised he was not breathing.
The devastating discovery took place when the mother turned up to the Long Jetty Community Health Centre on the Central Coast, NSW. According to reports, attempts were made to revive the baby but were unsuccessful.
Baby’s death prompts renewed warnings about safety of slings
The fact that babies don’t have the ability to move from a dangerous position that may be hindering their breathing is something parents are being warned about.
According to Red Nose Chief Midwife Jane Wiggill:
Using a baby sling incorrectly is a suffocation risk, because babies do not have the physical ability to move out of dangerous positions that can block their airways.
This includes lying in a sling with a curved back, with their chin to chest; or lying with their face pressed against the fabric of the sling or the wearer’s body.”
Keeping babies safe
Red Nose’s article on baby sling safety notes that babies under four months of age, premature babies, or those with a low birth rate or have breathing difficulties are at greater risk of suffocation.
While currently (we hope this will change) there are no Australian standards when it comes to using baby slings Red Nose Australia recommends the following steps:
- Make sure you can see your baby’s face and that your baby’s airway is free at all times (not snuggled against fabric or the wearer’s body)
- Correctly position the baby in the sling, which means your baby’s back is supported in a natural position, so their tummy and chest are against you
- Ensure the baby’s chin does not rest on his or her chest
- Your baby’s back is supported in a natural position so their tummy and chest are against you.
- Regularly check your baby. You should be able to see your baby’s face at all times by simply glancing down
- When using a sling, follow the product instructions, and do not use products that are cocoon-like or womb shaped
- Injuries can also occur from the baby falling out of the sling when the person wearing the sling falls or trips. So it’s really important to be aware of your own safety by wearing sensible footwear, keeping hands free while wearing the sling and being aware of what’s going on around you.
T-I-C-K-S rules for baby sling safety
Referring to the T-I-C-K-S checklist and following these five simple steps can help ensure the safety of your baby.
T — Tight: Slings should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you.
I — In view at all times: You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down.
C — Close enough to kiss: By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head.
K — Keep chin off the chest: A baby should never be curled so that their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing.
S — Supported back: The baby’s back should be supported in a natural position so their tummy and chest are against you.