Babywearing is beneficial for both: the baby and the parent. However, as with any other baby equipment, it’s important to use a baby carrier with safety in mind. You will find in this article the basic baby-wearing safety rules and couple of baby-wearing expert safety tips. Whether you are a babywearing beginner, advanced baby-wearer or an expectant parent that only think about buying a baby carrier or a sling, you will find here interesting information on how to make baby wearing safe for you and you little one.
Basic babywearing safety rules
Whether you want to carry your baby in a wrap, ring sling, mei-tai, SSC or any other type of baby carrier, there are few basic rules that you need to follow.
Take a look at the two check-list that makes it easier to remember the safety rules:
- the quick babywearing reminders ABC by the Babywearing International
- the TICKS rule for safe babywearing by the UK Sling Consortium
The quick babywearing reminders ABC by the Babywearing International
This „ABC” quick babywearing reminders by the Babywearing International will help you to remember the basics of baby-wearing safety.
A – AIRWAY
"A" stands for "Airway". Make sure your child’s airway remains open at all times while babywearing.
You should always ensure your baby's airway (nose and mouth) are clear while in a carrier. The best way to do this is to keep you baby in an upright position, high enough to monitor breathing. Babywearing International recommends that infants only be held in a horizontal or cradle position while actively nursing and return to an upright or vertical position as soon as they have finished.
You should keep you baby's chin off the chest to allow air to circulate around you baby's face. There should be enough space for one or even two fingers under baby’s chin. Baby’s nose and mouth cannot be covered by anything even for a short period of time. We strongly recommend to check your baby’s breathing regularly.
B – BODY POSITIONING
"B" stands for "Baby Positioning". Make sure your child’s is seating in a natural, ergonomic position.
What is the natural, ergonomic position ?
The legs should be in spread-squat M-position.
You baby's knees should be higher then the bottom. Your baby's weight should be supported by thighs and bottom. The legs should be in spread-squat M-shape position ideally with support from knee to knee (with older babies and toddlers full knee to knee support is not always necessary). To help your baby achieve that hip-healthy M-shape position, slightly tilt the pelvis inward and push the feet (that are below the bent knees) upward to encourage the flexed, spread-squat position of the legs as you put your baby into the carrier.
The back of you baby should be rounded in a C-curve.
The carrier should also provide appropriate support for baby’s developing neck and back depending of your baby's level of neck and truck control. When carrying a newborn or an infant the carrier should support you baby's back to the nape of the neck.
An ergonomic carrier (whether a soft structured carrier, asian-style, sling or wrap) will provide better support for baby and will be more comfortable for the wearer as well. To learn what is an ergonomic baby carrier see this article.
As we already mention abonded to carry infants in vertical position. If you want to nurse the baby in a carrier, that's OK, but return to the vertical position as soon as you have finished breastfeeding.
C – COMFORT
"C" stands for "Comfort". Make sure both you and your baby are comfortable.
Keep in mind that the baby carrier should be comfy not only for the baby, but for the caregiver too. Please make sure you and your baby are comfortable and confident. The best carriers are the ones that allow for even distribution of baby’s weight across wearer’s body. Then choosing a buckle carrier go for the once with adjustable padded shoulder straps and wide padded waistband.
Source: Babywearing International
We encourage you to print this quick baby-wearing reminder. It will help you to remember the basics of babywearing safety.
On Babywearing International website you can find useful pictures to learn how to position the child in a carrier and you can read more about babywearing safety rules.
The T.I.C.K.S Rule for Safe Babywearing
The TICKS Rule for Safe Babywearing checklist made by the UK Sling Consortium gather almost same rules, just under different acronyms. Choose whichever is easier for you to remember. Both TICKS and ABC safety rules should be followed regardless the type of the carrier and baby’s age.
T – TIGHT
"T" stands for "Tight". The carrier should be tight enough to keep your baby close to you. Prevent slumping. Any loose fabric may allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing.
I - IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES
"I" stands for “In view at all times”. You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position, your baby should face upwards, never turned in towards your body.You should be able to always see baby’s face.
C - CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS
"C" stands for "Close enough to kiss". Your baby’s head should be close to your chin so you could kiss you baby's head or forehead at any moment, by simply tipping your head forward.
OUR TIP: When wearing a newborn or a smaller infant, it helps to buckle the waist belt higher on your waist. It helps to fix the baby higher, to “kissable level”.
K - KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST
"K" stands for "keep chin off the chest". Your baby should never be curled with chin forced onto the chest. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
S - SUPPORTED BACK
"S" stands for "supported back". In an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so the baby's back is supported in its natural position. Newborns and infants need the most the support for their still developing back. However, even when the baby can sit upright and hold his head up, the s back support is still needed especially when baby falls asleep in a carrier, as the muscle tone decreases then.
Our babywearing safety recommendations
To those basic babywearing safety rules we would like to add three important points.
Appropriate product care and maintenance is very important. Regardless the type of baby carrier you’re using follow the producer recommendation for product care and maintenance. You should also always inspect your baby carrier for wear or damage before use. Check you carrier regularly for any damages or signs of wear like worn fabrics or loose stitching, which may decrease its safety quality. If you notice such things, consider contacting the manufacturer.
Practice makes perfect
If you’re a babywearing-beginner practice using and adjusting a carrier or sling with a spotter or at least over a bed, couch or low to the ground until you feel confident. It’s important especially with wraps that require learning how to make a secure tie, as well as using a baby carrier on your back. If you need help to install your baby at the beginning do not hesitate to ask for help. It can be a friend, or a partner. You can also participate in a babywearing workshop or consult a babywearing educator.
Always exercise common sense !
You should avoid babycarring in situations that it would not be safe to carry an infant in your arms. Always exercise common sense while babywearing.