Many busy moms and dads swear by the slings, which let a parent "wear" their baby while going about daily life. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received reports of 14 children who have died over the past two decades. Twelve of them were less than four months old.
"Parents of children younger than four months of age are really urged to take a lot of caution on whether they put their baby in these slings," the commission's Scott Wolfson told ABC News.
A consumer alert released by the agency today says newborns are at particular risk because they have weak neck muscles which make it difficult for them to move to a better position if they are suffocating.
"The sling's fabric can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two," the warning reads. "Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate."
Don Mays of Consumer Reports asked the CPSC to look into the issue a few months ago.
"I think the alert was very appropriate...it gave information to consumers about the hazards associated with sling carriers particularly the risks associated with very young infants who can suffocate."