Most cheap baby carriers and slings bought from AliExpress, Amazon and eBay have failed crucial safety and durability tests, a new Which? investigation has found.
The consumer champion found significant failings with 10 out of 11 baby carriers and slings it tested, including shoulder straps that fell apart at the seams, leg openings big enough for a baby to slip through, suffocation and entrapment hazards and a concerning lack of instructions in some cases.
Three out of 11 of the products tested failed every aspect of Which?’s product safety tests. The only product that passed was later found to be a counterfeit item.
At least six of the products failed in Which?’s testing of attachment systems, durability or falling hazards. Which? tests this by strapping the baby carrier or sling complete with the weight of a baby onto a mechanical test torso which moves up and down to mimic how a parent or carer would really move. It then checks that the methods of attachment are secure and will not break or move.
In the worst cases, carriers fell apart at the seams and had shoulder straps tear and detach themselves. This could be lethal if this product was used to carry a real baby.
Other concerning flaws in the products Which? tested included leg openings that were too large and could allow a baby to eventually slip through.
Which? also found one pouch sling where the holes in the mesh material were large enough that a baby’s small fingers could push through it and get trapped – a serious safety issue, which in the worst cases could lead to amputation.
Four of the carriers and slings were found to present suffocation risks either from the packaging or bag used to store the product. Any packaging should be perforated or a certain thickness. If the product comes with a drawstring bag for storage, the opening of the bag needs to be too small for a child to put over their head.
Many of the carriers and slings were also described in listings as being suitable for very young children, from newborns up to three years, however Which? experts found that most did not provide adequate support for small infants who will not have the neck strength to hold their own heads up until they are three or four months old. Some provided such poor back and head support that even in the photos on the listings, the person modelling the product is having to hold the baby’s head upright to stop it falling backwards.
Which? ergonomics experts state that carriers should hold a baby’s legs in a supportive ‘M’ shape, so their thighs and knees are not left dangling. However, many of the carriers Which? tested had a very narrow seat base. If the baby’s thighs are not supported to the knee joint the stress on the hip joints could increase the risk of hip dysplasia in babies prone to this. It is also an uncomfortable position for a baby to be carried in.
Ten out of 11 of the baby carriers were also missing crucial instructions, warnings or markings to ensure the products are used safely and correctly. Six came in clear bags with little or no information at all.
Which? is concerned that with so many people struggling financially because of the cost of living crisis, families will be tempted to purchase cheap products from online marketplaces without thinking about whether they could potentially be dangerous.
When Which? flagged its findings to the online marketplaces AliExpress, Amazon and eBay all removed the offending listings, however since this initial investigation Which? has already spotted similar listings back on the sites. This demonstrates that the reactive approach from marketplaces is not dealing with the problem.
Which? believes the government needs to do more to increase checks on products being sold online by bringing in tougher laws and regulations to make online marketplaces legally responsible for ensuring the safety of products offered through their sites. It is not good enough for online marketplaces to take down products reactively when they are flagged by Which?.
Online marketplaces have a responsibility to do much more to prevent dangerous products from going on sale in the first place – and remove them after they have been listed. The UK has some of the strongest safety standards in the world but these are undermined by products that do not adhere to standards and regulations and easily make their way onto marketplaces.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“Parents will be horrified at the thought that they could be unwittingly putting their baby at risk simply by buying a cheap carrier online without knowing that many of these items do not adhere to any kind of legitimate UK safety standard.
“These findings show yet again why online marketplaces need to be given greater legal responsibility to prevent the sale of dangerous and illegal products on their sites once and for all.”
Notes to editors:
- The OPSS (Office for Product Safety & Standards) is due to publish a consultation on strengthening the UK’s product safety laws to ensure they are fit for the 21st century later this year.
- Video showing Which? tests of baby carrier lethally failing safety standards https://youtu.be/dWB7ZZGvkWY
- PICTURES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
- The products were tested to either the baby carriers standard (BS EN 13209-2:2015) or baby slings standard (PD CEN/TR 16512:2015)
- The only product that passed Which?’s safety testing was the Ego Baby Carrier Omni Breeze, bought from AliExpress for £27. However, Which? researchers suspected it was a fake Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier, which normally retails for £165, and reported their concerns to Ergobaby, who confirmed that it was a counterfeit product which should be disposed of and not used.
FAILED BABY CARRIERS
|Product||OLMP||Attachment system||Durability||Falling hazard||Suffocation hazard||Purchase information/Markings/Instructions|
|Tomaibaby Baby Carrier||Amazon||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL|
|SONARIN 2021 Simple and Lightweight Baby Carrier||Amazon||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL|
|Iulonee Baby Wrap Carrier||Amazon||FAIL||FAIL|
|Newborn Baby Carriers 2022||AliExpress||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL|
|New ergonomic strong breathable adjustable infant newborn baby carrier backpack||eBay||FAIL||FAIL|
|Ergonomic Infant Baby Carrier With Hip Seat Stool Adjustable Wrap Sling Backpack||eBay||FAIL|
|AIEBAO Ergonomic Strong Breathable Adjustable Infant New-born Hip Seat Baby Carrier||eBay||FAIL||FAIL|
|Product||OLMP||Structural integrity||Entrapment hazards for fingers in mesh||Suffocation hazards||Purchase information/Markings/Instructions|
|Cuby Sling Wrap Carrier||Amazon||FAIL||FAIL|
|Baby Wrap Newborn Sling Dual Use Infant Nursing Cover Carrier Mesh Fabric||AliExpress||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL|
|Baby Carriers Newborn Infant Sling Wrap Breastfeeding Papoose Nursing Pouch||eBay||FAIL||FAIL|
A spokesperson for AliExpress told us:
‘AliExpress takes product safety very seriously and we work hard to ensure that consumers are protected on our platform. The items identified as part of Which?’s investigation have been removed. We further identified and swiftly removed a small number of similar product listings. As a third-party marketplace, AliExpress does not take possession of the goods in transactions, we have policies in place that all sellers must comply with, in order to help create a safe shopping environment.’
An Amazon spokesperson told us:
‘Safety is extremely important to us. As soon as we were informed about the safety concerns we removed the products from our store and notified the relevant third party sellers. We have systems in place to monitor our stores for product safety concerns and if customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly. We will then investigate and take appropriate action.’
An eBay spokesperson told Which?:
‘We welcome the information provided to us by Which? and we have removed the relevant listings. Our close working relationships with stakeholders, including Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards, are an important part of our global product safety strategy for keeping our platform safe. Our Regulatory Portal enables authorities from around the world to remove listings of unsafe products within two hours.
‘We also have automatic block filters in place, aimed at preventing unsafe listings. These filters blocked 7.4 million listings in 2021 and are updated on a regular basis. On the rare occasion that an unsafe product does make it onto site, we swiftly remove it and provide product safety education to the sellers to prevent relisting.’
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation, we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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