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Safe Babywearing

Katlyn Joy | 4, April 2014


According to proponents, babywearing is not only a safe practice if following simple rules, but also one that promotes bonding, growth and intelligence in babies. However, while it may be a great way to build a rapport with baby, and remain nearly hands-free, it does have downsides and even some dangers to navigate.

Reasons Not to Carry Baby in a Sling or Carrier

If you are pregnant, your sense of balance and center of gravity aren't at their best, so skip the sling and keep baby in your arms when going from place to place, or in a stroller.

If baby was premature, you shouldn't use a baby carrier or sling unless you have the child medically cleared to do so. There are risks associated with carrier use in such children that may prohibit use or require it to be delayed longer than with other babies. The same is true for a baby with a lower birth weight, such as under 5 and 1/2 pounds, whether the child was full term or not.

If baby has long-term breathing difficulties such as asthma, requiring oxygen use or an apnea monitor, sling or carriers should be avoided.

Even if breathing difficulties are short-term, such as with a virus or a simple cold, you should keep baby out of the carrier until back to full health.

Dangers of Carriers and Slings

In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning on safe use of slings and carriers. The reason cited for the warning was the deaths of 14 children over the previous 2 decades. While the CPSC noted that mothers and fathers have used child carriers for thousands of years, throughout civilization, safety standards should be met. Part of the responsibility for safety lays in proper use.

The following safety standards of use should be followed when babywearing, according to the CPSC:

- Make certain you can make eye contact with the baby and see his face at all times. Baby's face should be at or above the rim of the carrier.

- If nursing, make sure baby is then returned to a position that meets the requirements above once finished breastfeeding.

- Do not allow baby to become settled in a curled position with chin on chest, as this is a suffocation hazard.

Other General Guidelines for Safe Babywearing

Babywearing International gives these additional should-be-commonsense tips:

1. Always choose a carrier that allows airflow. Don't allow material to cover baby's head or face.

2. Never use a carrier instead of a carseat. Shouldn't need explaining!

3. Don't use when you will be doing activities that can jostle baby, such as jogging, jumping or shaking. Baby can get muscle, neck or even head injuries from such movements.

4. Check baby age and weight requirement for the sling or carrier, and do not deviate from manufacturer recommendations.

5. Keep an eye on baby from above and from other perspectives. Use reflective surfaces, such as mirrors and windows, to make sure baby is properly aligned and secure in the sling or carrier.

6. Never participate in an activity with baby on you that requires you to wear safety equipment. If you need a helmet, wrist guards, or goggles, you need to put baby down.

7. Put baby into the carrier on the snuggest setting comfortable.

8. Put baby into the carrier over a soft surface such as a sofa or bed.

9. Never use when near hot or hazardous materials. Don't cook with baby in a sling!

10. If baby is older and on your back, remember as you go through a store or other area, to make certain you know what is within baby's reach.

11. Your carrier is not a babybag or purse. Keep all loose items out of it.

12. Keep baby protected from the sun, while making sure baby's breathing is not obstructed. Use hats, sunscreen and the like. Don't allow baby to feel any temperature extremes. Don't let baby get chilled, too much wind, or get overheated.

13. When boating keep baby safe with a floatation device, not a baby carrier.

14. Learn how to use your sling or carrier at home first. Practice with a doll first, following the manual then move up to using baby when it feels more natural. Have a spotter on hand.

Related Articles

Is Your Baby Safe With the New Car Seat Guidelines?

Baby Crib Safety Standards

Baby Proofing Your Home

Baby Wearing Safety Guidelines From the CPSC

Baby Proofing Checklist


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