Carrying a baby in a soft baby carrier can be safer than carrying a baby in your arms. Your carrier doesn’t have muscles that get tired, and your carrier doesn’t have arms that reflexively reach out to balance you or catch you when you fall. But, as with anything concerning babies, good safety practices are of paramount importance. Please remember you are responsible for your child’s safety as well as your own. Whatever carrier you choose it is important that you read the instructions provided and learn to use it properly. If it causes you any discomfort, or doesn’t feel safe for your baby then consult a baby wearing expert.
A good sling should mimic the natural, in-arms upright position for carrying babies, ensuring the caregiver can see and sense the baby at all times, and thus able to be quickly aware of and rapidly responsive to any changes.
Babies’ heads are heavy and it takes time for their muscle strength and tone to develop enough to hold up their heads and support their own airways; until then, carriers need to be to be as caring and careful as possible. A baby’s head should be resting against the caregiver’s chest, with the windpipe straight, not curled over. A good guide is at least two fingers being able to fit beneath chin and chest. Air should be able to circulate freely and the face should not be obscured by fabric, or buried within cleavage. Baby’s cheek can rest against parent’s chest, and hands should be accessible to their mouths. We do not recommend any kind of lying- down position in a carrier, especially where the back of the head is bent forwards to compress the airway and a child is thus not able move its head freely to clear any blockage.
Always follow the T.I.C.K.S. Rule for safe baby wearing. It is also important to ensure that your child is in a comfortable and physiologically correct position when using a sling or carrier. Ideally your child will be in an upright ‘frog legged’ position meaning that their buttocks will be lower than their hips and their hips are spread by having their knees flexed (bent up) and abducted (spread out) with fabric running from knee-pit to knee-pit supporting them evenly.
We do not recommend that you have your child in the front facing outwards (FFO) position that is often used with many mass produced High Street carriers. When carried in this position the full weight of the baby rests on the material running under the crotch as opposed to being evenly spread across the thighs and buttocks making this position much less comfortable. In this position baby’s hips are not held in the ‘frog legged’ position that is ideal for hip joint development and their developing spine is not adequately supported.
Make sure it is fit for use; no holes, no loose stitching, no broken buckles, for example. Avoid slings that have been recalled (for example, two makes of bag slings have been recalled due to tragedies). Check that the carrier you are using has passed UK safety tests and be careful to avoid buying fakes.
Seek first hand information and advice, and do not relysolely on leaflets and video clips. Our sling meets and FB page serve a ‘village’ purpose where care givers and parents can share their growing knowledge/personal journeys and offer support to one another. No question is too silly to ask!