The Baby Sling Thing

Hi Readers! Perhaps you read the other day that now even baby slings are regarded as “risky” by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. This because, over the course of 20 years, there have been a reported 13 baby sling-related deaths.

It is really hard to write “death” in any story about children without sounding cavalier when adding, “Does that really mean a product is risky?” But still, that’s what I have to write. The odds are so overwhelmingly good for babies in slings — fewer than one death a year — that to label a product like this “dangerous” is to label doing almost anything on earth dangerous. In 1999, 624 people died falling off of furniture. So is sitting on furniture risky?

Another 45 people died that year from being bitten or crushed by reptiles. I’d consider that a rather uncommon way to go. But it is about 5000% more common (isn’t it? Help me out with these numbers, folks!) than dying in a sling. Even dying thanks to a venomous spider — 6 deaths in 1999 — is way more common. Here’s a death chart. See for yourself.

Then check out this nice piece by Rachel Lever in the Salt Lake City Parenting Examiner, about the sling thing. “I’m all for child safety, believe me,” she writes. “I have five of my own children and I want them to outlive me. What I worry about here is that people will go too far.”

I worry, too. In fact, I worry that we worry so much we have lost all perspective and are afraid of our own shadows. And especially our baby’s shadows. — Lenore

It's not like baby slings are a new fad.