Baby Slings and Carriers
Many parents use baby carriers and slings to carry their babies against their bodies. While having your child close to you may be practical, there are potential risks of injury and suffocation that you should keep in mind when using these products.
This page explains the potential risks of using slings, soft carriers and back-pack carriers, while offering buying advice and safety tips to help you minimize danger to your baby, and provides more information.
Risks of Using Slings, Soft Carriers and Back-pack Style Carriers
A baby can suffocate in less than a minute and will probably not be able to cry for help.
Babies have been seriously injured or have died in Canada when carried in slings, soft carriers and back-pack style carriers. Injuries tend to happen when:
- the caregiver trips and the baby falls out of the sling or carrier
- the product malfunctions or its hardware breaks
- the baby slips and falls over the side or through the leg openings
- the baby suffocates against the product's fabric or the caregiver's body
- the baby is improperly positioned such that their chin is pressed against their own chest, restricting their airway
Slings that use knots or rings to hold the two ends of fabric together present additional safety risks because:
- knots can come loose
- fabric can slip through the rings
- rings can break
Premature babies or those who have pre-existing medical conditions are especially at risk of suffocation. Parents and caregivers should talk to their baby's doctor before using a sling or carrier.
When buying a baby carrier or sling:
- Choose a model that has detailed and easy-to-understand instructions. Follow the instructions carefully, and keep them for future use by you or anyone else using the product.
- Buy a product that fits you well. If more than one adult will be using the carrier or sling, choose one that will fit each person properly. You may need more than one size. Talk to your doctor or health care professional if you are pregnant and are using a sling or carrier to make sure that your baby can be positioned properly.
- Buy a product that fits your baby well. When using a sling, make sure your baby's head is above the sling and that you can always see your baby's face.
- Contact the manufacturer or our Consumer Product Recalls listing to check for recalls.
This is the safest way to wear a sling. Keep your baby's head above the sling and away from your body.
- Never leave a baby alone in a carrier or sling.
- Check for ripped seams, torn straps and damaged hardware before each use.
- Be careful when placing your baby in or taking your baby out of the carrier or sling. Have someone help you if needed.
- Make sure your baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or bulky clothing.
- When wearing a carrier or sling in cooler weather, do not zip up your coat around your baby to keep them warm because there is a higher risk of suffocation and overheating.
- Check that your baby's chin is not pressed into their chest.
- Make sure your baby's legs are not pressed up into their tummy since this can restrict their breathing.
- Check on your baby often. Make sure you can always see your baby's face and that their head is above the sling so they can get a good supply of air.
- Hold onto your baby when bending over so they do not fall out of the carrier or sling.
- Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury, like when cooking, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.
Did you know?
ASTM International - a renowned global organization that develops manufacturing standards - has published a voluntary standard for soft infant carriers and frame carriers (back-pack style). Health Canada is working with ASTM International to also create a voluntary standard for infant slings to help keep Canadian children safe.
For More Information
For more information, contact your regional Health Canada Product Safety office toll free at 1-866-662-0666 or by email (please say in which province you live).
To report a health or safety problem with a consumer product or cosmetic, please use our incident reporting form.
More about baby slings and soft carriers:
General information about the safe use of children's products: