I'm not talking about using a carrier that is too big for your baby, which poses a suffocation risk. Proper fit and support in a carrier is a completely different topic. I'm talking about being assured of the quality and safety of the materials and construction methods used to make your carrier.
The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) regulates compliance with the US standards for baby carriers. These standards are set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates toxic chemical limits, flammability, strength, and hazards such as fall and choking for all products sold in the US. These standards ensure proper labeling, care, and usage information is on the product itself. All soft carriers, mei tais and front packs manufactured after Sept 29, 2014 must be tested and compliant to ASTM F2236. When buying a carrier you need to know 3 things: that it is properly labeled, that it can be registered, and that it has been safety tested. The labeling and registration are used in the event of a recall. The safety testing label indicates that the carrier passes the safety requirements outlined in ASTM F2236. (Carriers made prior to September 29th, 2014 were not required to undergo ANY safety testing or conformity requirements.) This covers weight testing, choking and suffocation hazards, and permanently attached proper use information.
The BCIA is made up of manufacturers, educators, and retailers who are compliant with CPSC standards. Buying a carrier from a BCIA retailer or manufacturer means you can trust that it is safe. Of course, always check your carrier for wear at the seams, buckles, and stress points, because everything eventually wears out. Each model and fabric content must be independently tested by a third party, which means that testing is very expensive. It is often cost prohibitive for very small businesses to make carriers. Please know that it is illegal to sell a non-compliant carrier. Even if you made for yourself and then sell it when you are done with it, you must be compliant with CPSC regulations. (For more information about selling carriers go to http://
babycarrierindustryalliance. org/2013/02/baby-carrier- manufacturing-101/ .) Many of the knock-off, really cheap carriers that are available online are not tested or part of the BCIA. These carriers are very dangerous because of the possible chemical content, weak materials used, and poor construction methods.
Before I understood the importance of compliance with CPSC regulations, I bought a WAHM made ring sling from a large swap group. Once I had it in hand the material seemed very thin, so I asked several experienced baby wearers for their opinions. They all recommended that I not put a baby in it because of the questionable material and lack of any labels. I found a safe use for it as a belly wrap during pregnancy and a doll sling for my kids.