Do you carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier? It can be a wonderful way to keep baby close, and has so many benefits for baby and parent. Babywearing, done safely, can not only help to strengthen your bond, but also provide you with two hands free so that you can continue to multi-task! We do love a clever idea here at Cuddledry HQ, and luckily this age old practise needs no modification at all. Here are a few babywearing safety tips to help you get the most out of holding your precious little one close.
Why follow safety precautions?
The reason why safety is so important when you practise babywearing is simple. Your newborn baby’s neck muscles are not yet strengthened, and body control is limited too. Newborns also tend to sleep a lot, so if you’re carrying them you must be vigilant and aware of their safety at all times.
The universal babywearing safety checklist is called TICKS.
T - tight. Make sure that your baby carrier is tight enough, and that there are no loose straps at all. Wearing your baby close is important so that you are in control of supporting her entire body, and of maintaining the correct position as you hold her.
I – in view at all times. If baby is not correctly positioned and you cannot see her, you cannot know if she is safe.
C - close enough to kiss. Can you reach forward and kiss the top of your baby’s head? If so, then she is in the right place. If you can’t, you will need to make some adjustments. Maybe your straps need tightening, or your baby is too small for the type of carrier you’ve chosen.
K – keep chin off chest. Babies need a clear airway so that they can breathe easily. When you carry your baby, you are responsible for ensuring her head is in the right position, and her chin is lifted so that her airways are free.
S - supported back. Your baby’s developing spine needs protecting while you carry her.
Other precautions to take
- When you carry your baby in a sling or carrier, make sure that the face is completely clear from fabric so that she is able to breathe freely. She needs to be able to breathe fresh air at all times.
- Never run, jog, jump or shake while you’re carrying your baby. It goes without saying, but doing so can cause injury from falling, or baby slipping from her carrier. It can also cause damage to the spine or brain and should be avoided at all times.
- Make sure your carrier is age appropriate, and checked regularly for signs of wear and tear.
Choosing a baby carrier
When it comes to choosing a baby carrier, please keep the safety precautions in mind. There are lots of different types of carriers, and some are not suitable for newborn babies. Some are intended only for babies over a certain weight, so if you’re not sure then ask. Check online for details of your local sling library, where you can go along and try out different carriers with advice from experts.
Always practise with a doll or a teddy before you place baby in the carrier. Make sure that you’re confident in tying and carrying and always check in the mirror or ask someone else to check your carrier is on properly. When you put your baby in the sling, always support her neck and head, and if she is older and able to support her own head, always support her back instead.
Every day safety tips
- If you use a wrap and are trying out a new carry, always practise with a teddy or a doll first. When you do put baby into the wrap, do so over a soft surface.
- Ask someone else to be on hand to ’spot’ for you- if baby does not look happy, or your carrier does not look right they will be able to tell you straight away.
- Always tie knots into double or granny knots so that they are secure.
- Make sure you dress your baby in weather appropriate clothes. In warm weather, don’t forget sunhats and sun cream for exposed arms, legs and faces. In cold weather, make sure these areas are covered well.
- Don’t keep dangerous or precious items in places where baby can easily reach them. Some carriers have pockets that you can store things in- make sure they’re closed!
- Don’t take unnecessary risks while babywearing. As a general rule- if you wouldn’t do it while pregnant, don’t do it while carrying your baby. So no ladder climbing or cycling please!
- Don’t cook whilst babywearing.
- Make sure that only responsible adults carry your baby at all times.