Consumer regulator looks at new safety rules for baby carriers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving to protect babies with new safety requirements for sling carriers that mothers wrap around themselves to hold their young children while walking.

The CPSC proposed new standards for sling carriers on Tuesday, following reports of more than 100 accidents over the last decade, 16 of which led to infant deaths.

One of the leading causes of death is when infants suffocate while being held in one of these sling carriers, the CPSC reported.

"The incidents reported that the infant suffered breathing problems while in the carrier or that the caregiver had difficulty safely positioning the infant in the sling carrier to avoid the potential for suffocation," the agency wrote.

Other problems were caused when the mother or father carrying the child "slipped, tripped, or bent over" and the infant fell out of the carrier, the CPSC said.

So the CPSC said it is proposing new standards to address these problems.

Sling carriers are designed to carry young children who weigh as much as 35 pounds. They are generally worn on the front, hip or back of the child's mother or father, the CPSC explained. 

"The designs of infant slings vary, but the designs generally range from unstructured hammock-shaped products that suspend from the caregiver’s body to long lengths of material or fabric that are wrapped around the caregiver’s body," the agency wrote.

The CPSC already regulates other products that are used to carry young children, such as hand-held infant carriers and soft infant carriers. It has a proposed rule for frame backpack carriers.

The public has 75 days to comment on the proposed rule for sling carriers.