Maci Bookout's photo of her baby in a sling causes outrage

Aug 3, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Image: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Teen Mom's Maci Bookout is the proud mama of three children, and she has nothing but glowing things to say about how her fiancé, Taylor McKinney, is handling his dad duties. Bookout recently posted a photo on Instagram of McKinney carrying their 2-month-old son, Maverick Reed, in a baby sling. Her intention was twofold: to show everyone how a great dad pitches in and literally carries the baby load, and to (of course) also plug Seven Everyday Baby Slings.

But some commenters couldn't help but notice that something was wrong with this picture.


In case it's been a few years since you've had to tote a baby on your chest, here's a refresher on why some folks have a problem with the way McKinney is carrying Maverick. They're arguing that a baby should always be positioned upright and that slings like this one make it difficult to monitor whether your baby's nose is pointing upward so he or she can breathe properly.

Because we live in a world in which parenting "experts" are a dime a dozen — especially on social media — it can be tempting to roll our eyes at everything anyone says with regard to children and babies. But in this case, folks who are worried about the way McKinney is wearing/carrying their son have a valid point. In 2010, more than 1 million baby slings made by Infantino were recalled after being linked to the deaths of three infants. The exact causes of their deaths were not revealed, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission found the link between the two serious enough to issue a warning about sling-style baby carriers — and the fact that it was in the process of investigating at least 14 deaths in 20 years that were associated with slings only solidified their point.

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The CPSC made it clear that slings should not be used for infants under 4 months old, babies who were born prematurely or had a low birth weight or any baby who has a cold or any other illness that could affect his breathing. Given this warning alone, Maverick is too young to be worn in a sling, according to the CPSC.

There are two ways the CPSC said infants can suffocate while in slings. The sling's fabric can press up against his or her mouth and nose, which can cause a baby to stop breathing and suffocate within two minutes. And when carried in a curved, C position, an infant with weak neck control can move his head forward and place his chin on the mother's or father's chest, which can restrict breathing. The scariest part? We may think we can detect whether our child is uncomfortable or suffering because, after all, he or she is so close that our bodies are touching, but the CPSC warned, "The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate."

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This doesn't mean you should toss out your sling. Baby experts say there are numerous benefits associated with wearing your baby and that carriers that keep a baby in an upright position and solidly poised against a mom's or dad's body are said to be perfectly safe.

To ensure your baby is being carried safely, experts say his or her knees should be positioned above the butt (almost in a squat), the carrier should be snug to avoid slumping, a baby's head and back should always be supported, he or she should be in your line of sight at all times, and excessive chin-tucking should be prevented and avoided at all times.

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It's worth noting that McKinney is posing for a photo and not walking around town with Maverick Reed hanging in a sling. It's totally possible that a parenting veteran like Bookout could write a book on baby wearing and that we're getting worked up over nothing at all. We can't judge someone's parenting prowess by one photograph, but this still serves as an important reminder to parents about slings and when they should — and should not — be worn.

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