Friday, October 30, 2009

Infantino SlingRider is (quite literally) a death trap.

Infantino killed another baby.

Consumer Reports blames 'slings' and wants to see some kind of safety regulations in place for them. Given that many wonderful slings are indistinguishable from blankets, scarves, shawls, or table linens, this is useless. They are (unknowingly) advocating against a practice, not a product. You can't regulate what people *do* with what they buy, find, or make.

As an avid babywearer, sling hobbyist, and educator, this is infuriating. Infantino's negligence is being called a 'sling death' not a 'large corporation ignores known problems' death. But they knew, and did nothing. M'Lis's work predicted the death of baby Derrik. My heart goes out to her, as it does to his family.

I find myself in an untenable position, thanks to Infantino. I am not going to stop using slings, which are not a luxury, fad, or accessory to me, but a vital feature of my parenting/lifestyle. And I won't stop answering questions about my slings, or helping others use find them and use them correctly. I am going to trust the centuries of 'testing' that cloth slings have undergone rather than the clearly limited impressions of Consumer Reports.

Slings can be used incorrectly. Some slings are easier to use incorrectly than others. That's the reason that I won't gift a pouch sling to a newborn. It is the easiest type of sling to use poorly, in my experience. Some slings, when used incorrectly, expose babies to increased risk of positional asphyxiation. Infant carseats can also increase this risk. This is why I gently forbid the parents of newborns from using the cradle position, even in an adjustable sling.

Some 'slings,' like the Infantino SlingRider, are impossible to use safely because of their design. There's the rub -- all slings can be used incorrectly, and some slings, when used incorrectly, are more dangerous than others. But a sling that is impossible to use safely should not exist.

It horrifies me that a well-meaning parent, seeing someone like me using a sling, might log on to Amazon, find the SlingRider, and think, "well, that looks even better/easier/cheaper/cooler!" It can kill their baby. And Infantino doesn't seem to care.

My opposing fear is that if Infantino does go down, it will take many well-designed, well-intentioned slings with it. From makers who are passionate about safety.

As unfair as it would be for responsible sling makers lose their livelihoods over Infantino's negligence, it seems a small price in comparison to that paid by Derrik's family. Nothing will return him to their arms, though, and no sacrificial scapegoats can turn back the clock.


  1. Infantino is sickening. My peeve is the manufacturers & retailers who continue to teach the cradle position- it bloody isn't safe!!! Thank you for posting this, I will share it :)

  2. It's not the cradle position, it's the sling design. Deep pouches and bag slings are the problem.

  3. I respectfully disagree, as my experience with helping new families has been that it is much harder to achieve a good position in a cradle carry than in an upright carry. Possible, but much more challenging.

    Also, I don't honestly find much need for the cradle position. I have yet to meet a baby who will *only* be cradled. What I find, instead, is new parents who feel very sure that their baby is 'supposed' to be cradled, as the position is very iconic.

    I plan to do a follow-up post that will hopefully balance the opinion that I presented here today.

    (but first, I must finish a couple of Halloween costumes)