Expert's Opinion

Got Slings?

By Peter Mayberry, The president of Arlington, VA-based Mayberry & Associates | March 18, 2010

Peter Mayberry warns of risks with baby slings.

Several years ago I had the great fortune to visit an R&D/converting facility in China where they were testing and manufacturing slings for use in hospitals.These slings were made from nonwovens and were intended for use in transferring patients from a bed to gurney, from a gurney to an examination table, and the like.

My recollection of that visit was refreshed by a press release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued on March 12 warning that similar slings may prompt sudden death when used to carry babies.

According to CPSC, in fact, "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."

To address this concern, CPSC further notes that baby slings have been added to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory safety standard, and that its staff is "working with [the American Society for Testing and Materials] to quickly complete an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers."

A quick Google search reveals that several different types of nonwovens are, indeed, being used to produce baby slings.

This presents both an opportunity and a challenge to roll goods manufacturers who produce materials used to manufacture baby slings, and to those who convert roll goods into finished products.On the one hand, both of these segments of the nonwovens industry should be mindful that their products are not unfairly singled out by CPSC/ASTM in a standards-setting process which they may not even be aware of, let alone get an opportunity to participate in. They may also want to seek legal counsel should the CPSC announcement present any product liability challenges to the products they sell.

On the other hand, the concerns raised by CPSC could be an opportunity to examine possible use of nonwovens which are more porous and, therefore, allow babies to inhale and exhale freely even if their faces become covered by sling fabric for any reason.It could, in other words, be a great way to differentiate one's product if it is truly safer than other alternatives and, thereby, win more market share.


The president of Arlington, VA-based Mayberry &Associates, Peter Mayberry is a government relations specialist with specific expertise in FDA, EPA, CPSC< FTC and the U.S. congress as well as broad-based knowledge of the nonwovens industry. He can be reached at

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