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Sling Safety - Press Release from Natures Sway

Press Release - October 2011 safety.gif

Natures Sway extends our heartfelt condolences to the parents and family of the two-day old baby boy who recently passed away, while being worn in a sling. As incorrect use of the sling was a possible contributing factor to his death, the event highlights the need for better training and instructions regarding baby sling use; public education is paramount to safety.

Kate Hornblow, founder and managing director of Natures Sway, designed the sling for her second child. She knows first-hand how to best position baby in a sling, and has been communicating this knowledge to her customers for the past 16 years. From the beginning it was clear to her that having baby in a diagonal position was best, with their head up to or just over the outside rail of the sling. When placed correctly in this position baby’s back has the gentlest of curves, and baby is only using the front quarter of the sling pouch – the rest is twisted away in such a fashion that they cannot slip down in to the middle of the sling. Their face is clearly visible in an open triangle of fabric, meaning they are easy to monitor and kissable. The ability to place baby on the diagonal in a sling is a key sign of whether a sling is safe to use. For example, the infamous Bag Sling does not allow this position, instead forcing baby to lie parallel to the side rails which often cover their face. Baby slings are completely unlike hammocks; baby should not lie along the middle seam, else they become too bent up and are unable to breathe. Our slings have a line of stitching specifically to help position baby’s spine and achieve the ideal diagonal position.

Natures Sway is always looking to raise awareness regarding sling safety and how to correctly use our sling. Accordingly we are developing fabric instruction labels which will be sewn in to our slings – lasting the lifetime of the product and ensuring instructions are always on hand when you need them. We have recently re-designed our organic sling, adding a double-adjuster at the back which allows each rail to be adjusted separately. Practically speaking this allows you to loosen off the top rail so baby’s head can be further off their chest when in the diagonal position. Once baby is old enough to use the hip seat position this rail can be tightened, bringing their centre of gravity closer to you and providing greater back support.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has begun the discussion regarding sling safety. This public attention to carriers and their correct, safe use is timely considering society’s embracing of the babywearing concept. Babywearing is increasingly being recognised as good for both baby and caregiver – physiologically, emotionally and socially. We saw far fewer pushchairs and far more baby carriers at the Parent and Child Show in Auckland this year.

There are thousands of slings available around the world, and not all are of the same quality or safety calibre. Safety advocates and baby carrier providers alike are anxious that people use baby slings correctly, as it is incorrect use which makes baby slings dangerous. Carrying your baby is an age-old tradition, and one that should be preserved. Spreading the safety message and helping your fellow babywearers is the key to ensuring preventable deaths are avoided. You can always contact the manufacturer for assistance or for information about upgrading your sling. Together we can ensure our future generations are safe and well-positioned to grow in to great members of a caring society.

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