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Baby slings and child safety

Safety tips to be aware of when buying and using a baby sling.

By Trust and Safety 3 November 2023

Protect your pēpi – whether exploring the ngahere (forest) or popping to the shops.

Baby slings are designed to help with carrying pēpi by easing the pressure on the wearer's arms and back – often coming as a welcome relief to a tired caregiver. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has given us some great information on the sale of baby slings. Most are fine to use, but there are dangers associated with incorrect use of slings.

Bag-shaped slings are particularly unsafe and are banned in some countries. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has advised against using them, and Trade Me does not recommend the sale of these items.

What are the dangers?

Most slings are safe when used correctly, but there have been cases of babies who have suffocated while being carried in slings.

Two positions present significant danger:

  • A curved back with the chin resting on the chest.
  • Having their face pressed against the fabric of the sling or on the wearer’s body.

If positioned incorrectly, the baby is at risk of:

  • Suffocating.
  • Receiving low levels of oxygen.
  • Falling out and suffering injuries.

Caregivers should exercise caution if using slings or pouches to carry babies under 4 months old or under 4 kg. Babies who have a low birth weight, are born prematurely, or have breathing issues, like a cold, are most at risk.

Safety advice

Consumer NZ recommends following these safety tips and guidelines when selecting a baby carrier:

  • The carrier should provide support for the baby's body, head and neck. It should also hold your baby securely — crucial for when you want to keep your hands free, or when you need to bend down.
  • Check the size of the leg holes. Leg holes that are too big can let babies slip through — this has been the cause of product recalls in the United States.
  • Make sure there are no points, sharp edges, choking hazards, small loops, clips, or buckles to trap small fingers and toes. Check your carrier often for ripped seams, sharp edges, and loose or missing buckles.
  • Hold your baby over something soft — like a bed — when you put them in a carrier.
  • Check your baby can breathe freely at all times.

Buying a sling

Baby slings should never be in the shape of a bag.

One brand (Infantino) has been recalled following deaths in the US, and are not allowed to be sold on Trade Me.

Tips for sling buyers and wearers:

  • Ensure any sling you buy comes with detailed instructions for use. If a listing doesn't mention an instruction sheet, use the Q&A to ask if the seller can provide one or use the internet to find instructions.
  • Choose products that stop the baby from moving into a position where they can suffocate.
  • Choose products that are appropriate for your baby’s stage of development.
  • Don’t let anything block the baby’s face, such as the sling or your body. Keep in mind that small babies cannot turn their heads to get fresh air.
  • Don’t let the baby lie in a curved position with their chin resting on their chest. Any pressure on the chin can push the tongue back and close the airway.
  • Babies need to lie with a straight back and their head up. This helps ensure they have a clear airway so that the tummy muscles can pump old air out of the lungs and let new air in.

The most important advice is to do some research. You can also try to contact a baby-wearing group for advice if you’re unsure.

More info:

If you have concerns about a product listed on Trade Me, please report it using Community Watch at the bottom of the listing.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety