Federal law requires that sling carriers comply with the Sling Carrier Standard and with additional requirements, including those of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).
Manufacturers and importers of sling carriers must certify in a Children's Product Certificate that their sling carriers comply with the standard and any additional CPSIA requirements after the sling carriers have been tested for compliance at a CPSC-accepted, third party laboratory. These requirements are discussed below and at: www.cpsc.gov/BusinessEducation.
A sling carrier is a product of fabric or sewn fabric construction, which is designed to contain up to two occupant children (with a child being defined as between full-term birth and 35 lbs. (15.9 kg), though manufacturers may provide a higher weight limit), in an upright or reclined position while being supported by the caregiver’s torso.
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. Infant slings normally are worn with the infant(s) positioned on the front, hip, or back of the consumer, and with the infant(s) facing toward or away from the consumer.
As stated in the “sling carrier” definition, these products generally allow the infant(s) to be placed in an upright or reclined position. However, the reclined position is intended to be used only when the infant(s) are worn on the front of the consumer.
The ability to carry the infant(s) in a reclined position is the primary feature that distinguishes sling carriers from soft infant and toddler carriers, another subset of sling carriers.
The standard seeks to minimize the risk of deaths and injuries associated with the use of sling carriers, including those related to caregiver falls, infant falls from carriers, structural and design problems of carriers, and deficiency of consumer education regarding product use.
The standard is published in the Code of Federal Regulations and incorporates by reference ASTM F2907-22, with the addition of Subsection 5.7.3, requiring: “[w]arning labels that are attached to the fabric with seams shall remain in contact with the fabric around the entire perimeter of the label, when the sling is in all manufacturer-recommended use positions.” ASTM F2907-22, the Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Sling Carriers, can be purchased from ASTM International. ASTM F2907-22 can be viewed free of charge as a read-only document at: https://www.astm.org/products-services/reading-room.html.
The standard includes performance requirements specific to sling carriers, general performance requirements, and labeling requirements. The key provisions of the ASTM sling carrier standard include the following:
- Static and dynamic load testing on seating area(s) – intended to ensure structural integrity and that fastener slippage does not exceed allowable limits.
- Warnings – intended to alert the caregiver to infant fall and suffocation hazards through warnings and promote safe use of sling carriers.
- Occupant retention – intended to ensure slippage of attachment system does not exceed allowable limits during testing and that occupant remains in carrier.
- Restraint System – if a restraint system is included, this test is meant to prevent falls by setting requirements for restraint design and attachment strength.
- Flammability – intended to ensure the product meets the flammability requirements of 16 C.F.R. part 1610
The standard also includes: (1) laundering requirements to ensure shrinkage does not impair performance of the carrier; (2) wood parts must be smooth and free of splinters; (3) requirements prohibiting hazardous sharp points and edges; (4) latching/locking mechanism requirements to ensure that the sling carrier remains in the manufacturer’s recommended carrying position during testing; (5) requirements for the permanency and adhesion of labels; (6) design requirements to prevent scissoring, shearing, and pinching; and (7) requirements for warnings and instructional literature.
Sling carriers are subject to requirements for surface coatings, lead, and (in certain circumstances) phthalate content, testing and certification, registration cards, and tracking labels. These requirements are discussed below and at: www.cpsc.gov/BusinessEducation:
- Surface Coating Limit: Sling carriers must not be painted with paint that contains more than 90 ppm (0.009 percent) lead.
- Lead Content Limit: Sling carriers must not contain greater than 100 ppm (0.01 percent) of total lead content in any accessible component part.
- Phthalate Content Limits: Sling carriers that contain plasticized parts that are designed, marketed, or intended to facilitate sleep or have plasticized components that are designed, marketed, or intended to facilitate eating, must not contain more than 0.1 percent of the following eight specified phthalates: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP).
- Testing and Certification: Sling carriers, like all products that are designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger, must be tested by a CPSC-accepted, third party laboratory for compliance with the Sling Carrier Standard and all other applicable children’s product safety rules. Based on that testing, a domestic manufacturer (or importer) of sling carriers must issue a Children's Product Certificate specifying each applicable rule and indicating that the product complies with those rules.
- Product and Outer Package Labeling Requirements: Durable infant or toddler products, such as sling carriers, must be permanently marked with specific labeling information, including tracking labels, on the product and on the packaging.
- Product Registration Card Requirement: In addition, durable infant or toddler products are required to have additional product markings and a product registration card attached to the product. This chart summarizes the specific labeling and registration requirements that durable infant and toddler products must meet.