An Australian mum taking her 3-week-old baby for a postnatal check-up found him dead when she unwrapped him from a sling carrier to hand him to a nurse for examination.

In horrifying scenes at the Long Jetty Community Health Centre in New South Wales, 98km north of Sydney, nurses performed CPR on the newborn boy but he was unable to be revived.

The Daily Telegraph reports the 36-year-old told police she carried him in a fabric baby sling on her front for the short walk to the health centre, before speaking to nurses for 8 to 10 minutes.

The woman unwrapped her son from a sling before giving him to a nurse at the Long Jetty Community Health Centre, pictured. Photo / Google
The woman unwrapped her son from a sling before giving him to a nurse at the Long Jetty Community Health Centre, pictured. Photo / Google

Police are not ruling out the sling's potential contribution to the baby's death, but are not treating the fatality as suspicious.

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A police spokesman said the child had been born via a forceps delivery with a slow heart rate but had shown no other signs of underlying medical conditions.

A post mortem will be held with results presented to the coroner, who is expected to hold an inquest into the child's death.

Although there are no New Zealand safety standards for babywearing equipment, Consumer NZ recommends following these guidelines when selecting a baby carrier:

• The carrier should provide support for the baby's body, head and neck. It should also hold your baby securely — crucial for when you want to keep your hands free, or when you need to bend down.

• Check the size of the leg holes. Leg holes that are too big can let babies slip through — this has been the cause of product recalls in the United States.

• Make sure there are no points, sharp edges, choking hazards, small loops, clips, or buckles to trap small fingers and toes. Check your carrier often for ripped seams, sharp edges, and loose or missing buckles.

• Hold your baby over something soft — like a bed — when you put them in a carrier.

•Check your baby can breathe freely at all times.

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The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) also warns against using any kind of bag sling - a carrier shaped like a bag with a narrow strap - as babies can't be placed in a safe position and can suffocate.

MBIE also cautions against using any device that allows a baby to lie with a curved back, with can block the airway.

Plunket's Chief Nurse, Dr Jane O'Malley, told the Herald that Plunket has " a commitment to support attachment and bonding, and breastfeeding and baby-wearing is increasingly popular from this perspective."

"Parents and carers should take care when using slings and pouches to carry babies."

"There are recommendations around the use of slings including the Ministry of Health recommendation that extreme care needs to be taken with babies in certain circumstances, including babies less than 4 months old, babies who were premature and babies suffering from any type of breathing difficulties."

Plunket also notes that babies are at risk of suffocation if placed incorrectly in a sling because they do not have the physical capacity to move out of dangerous positions that block their airways.

Two positions in particular present significant danger:

•Lying with a curved back, with the chin resting on the chest.
•Lying with the face pressed against the fabric of the sling or the wearer's body.