Baby Slings to Be Pulled From Market

Infantino halts sale of baby slings weeks after the government issues warning.

March 24, 2010— -- Nearly two weeks after the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents that over-the-shoulder baby slings can be deadly for children younger than 4 months old, San Diego-based Infantino LLC is pulling two of its carriers -- SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo -- off the market altogether.

The deaths of at least three infants prompted the original recall of more than 1 million baby slings sold throughout North America.

"Our top priority is the safety of infants whose parents and caregivers use our products," Infantino's President Jack Vresics, said in a statement today.

"Infantino is announcing a voluntary replacement program for the Infantino SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo infant baby carriers to address concerns raised by the Consumer Product Safety Commission," Vresics said.

The CPSC urges consumer to "stop using the recalled slings immediately and contact Infantino to receive a free replacement product."

There's a risk involved with all sling carriers, particularly for newborns the CPSC says. Babies' weak neck muscles make it difficult to move to a better position if they are suffocating. But Infantino slings have raised specific concerns.

"It does not matter how old your baby is at this point with the Infantino sling," said CPSC's Scott Wolfson. "Do not use it. This sling places the baby in a very deep part of the product," Wolfson said. "What is so dangerous is when the fabric covers nose and mouth or when baby is turned into the body of the mother and the airway is restricted."

Mother Lisa Cochran told ABC News she was shopping at a Costco when she looked inside the Infantino sling draped over her chest and realized something was wrong.

"We walked out to the car, by the time I got to the car and took him out, he was not a normal color," Cochran said.

She called police but the child could not be revived.

"I hope nobody has to go through what me and my family have been through."

Cochran is now suing Infantino, contending a design flaw was responsible for the death of her baby.

Her attorney Brian Whitehead said, "Its design is such that when a baby is in the sling, it causes the baby to curl in on itself, causing the baby not to be able to breathe."

Just about two weeks ago, Infantino released a statement to ABC News saying it believed the SlingRider was a "safe product."

In October 2009, Don Mays of Consumer Reports magazine was so concerned about Infantino slings that he wrote a letter to the CPSC, drawing attention to three known deaths and urging the agency for a recall.

So what has taken so long ?

"A case needs to be established," Wolfson said.

"Incidents need to be investigated. And we were able to reach a point with the company without having to go to court, without a protracted case, that there was a recognition that there was a risk of suffocation with the product. And the time is now to act."

Wolfson said the agency also has "additional investigations of other products that are underway."

The recall announcement lists that the slings were sold at "Walmart, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Babies "R" Us, BJ's Wholesale, various baby and children's stores and other retailers nationwide, and on the web at"

Consumers looking for a replacement are urged to "contact Infantino at (866) 860-1361 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at"