There are many benefits to ‘wearing’ your baby in a sling or baby carrier. Besides the most obvious factor - that is, that your hands will be free to use as normal – wearing your baby in a sling or carrier is said to reduce infant crying times, increase parental confidence, and strengthen the bond between parent and baby.
But, as always, there are safety guidelines to adhere to, in order to keep both you and your child safe and happy while baby wearing.
1. Make sure your baby can breathe. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway - that’s your job. As such, never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is against his chest, as this can restrict his ability to breathe. Newborns need good back support in carriers so they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position. Also never allow your baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric - always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow.
2. Never do an activity that subjects your baby to a shaking or bouncing motion; this includes jogging, running and jumping. This can damage to your baby’s neck, spine and/or brain.
3. Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.
4. Use carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers, but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Check the maker’s instructions for guidelines.
5. Inspect your carrier regularly to make sure it’s sound, checking the fabric, seams, and any buckles or fasteners. Try to get into the habit of doing this every time you use it.
6. When using carriers out and about, check the baby’s position with your hands, and use reflective surfaces – such as car or store windows – as mirrors. If you’re with someone else, have them check the position is okay.
7. When it comes to activities, if you shouldn’t do it while pregnant, you shouldn’t do it while carrying a baby - for example, your risk of falling increases when you climb a ladder, go skating, or when you walk on a slippery surface, such as when bowling.
8. Protect your baby from the elements. Don’t dress your baby too warmly in the summer, and don’t use a baby carrier that could lead to heat stress. Remember that she may need sun protection, too.
9. Be aware of what your baby can reach. In particular, be aware that a baby on your back can reach things you can’t even see.
10. Don’t put loose items in the carrier with your baby that can be choking hazards, that can poke your baby, or that can cover your baby’s face.
Babywearing safety tips from Babywearing International.