The Office of Fair Trading is warning Queensland parents and caregivers to be cautious when using baby slings on infants younger than four months old.
Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor said three babies in the United States died last year and a total of 14 babies had died over the past 20 years as a result of using slings.
"Findings from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reveal slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies," Mr Lawlor said.
"A sling’s fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, blocking their breathing and causing suffocation within a minute or two.
"Alternatively when cradled in a curved or “C-like” position, babies who don't have strong neck control can flop their head forward, chin-to-chest, which restricts their ability to breathe.
"The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate. Excessive fabric with an elasticised edge may also cover the baby’s face inhibiting breathing.
"Furthermore, some sling designs may cause the baby’s face to turn in toward a caregiver’s body, potentially smothering the baby."
Mr Lawlor said many of the babies who died in slings were either born premature, of low birth weight or had breathing issues such as a cold.
"Therefore, it is important for parents of these babies to consult with their paediatrician as to the suitability of these products before using them," Mr Lawlor said.
"It is recommended that parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer.
"If nursing the baby in a sling, the baby’s position should be changed after feeding to ensure the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body.
"Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby when using a sling."
For more information about product safety in Queensland visit Fair Trading's website: http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/product-safety-and-recalls.htm
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