Over the years, baby carriers and the slings have been under the radar of medical institutions on the issue of the safety of the baby. These carriers are the modern derivatives of ancient slings, the mothers used to carry children. So, there has been equal resistance to the claim.Unfortunately, there have been terrible accidents while carrying babies in a sling or a baby carrier. It has either been fatal or permanently damaged the baby. In fact, babywearing is not that scary as it may seem if you follow the best practice to use baby slings or carriers. Here are some general safety tips that I have laid out for your consideration.
When using baby carriers on has to ensure these basic five points:
1- The T.I.C.K.S rule
2- No breath obstructions
3- The Head and neck support
4- Prevent Falling
5- Protecting baby’s hips
1- The T.I.C.K.S Rule:
The best and the basic intuitive tip is to follow the T.I.C.K.S rule for safe babywearing. The acronym T.I.C.K.S stands for
In view all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off the chest
This rule is self-explanatory enough and you should memorize it. When you are outdoors, it will be very helpful if you memorize this rule.
2- No Breath Obstructions:
Closely monitor baby’s airway as the risk of suffocation is high in the newborns. Always keep a watch on its chin. It shouldn’t touch the chest as the chances of blocking its airway is very high. For the babies under 4 months, always take these precautions. You should also be extra careful with babies suffering from cold or any respiratory condition.Please ensure you are able to see your baby’s face at all times. Don’t place any fabric or cover near its face or nose. Ensure that the baby is close to you and the head and shoulder have a good support. This is crucial for the newborns. Best practice is to use the forward carry with the baby facing you.
Please see this video as the CPSC warns to be extra cautionary using slings:
3- The Head and Neck Support:
It is always wiser to use the forward carry the little ones during their initial years. It usually, takes four to five months for the baby to hold the head firmly on its shoulders. Most babies prefer their face cozily cuddled up in their parent’s chest. The sense of security is the strongest in this position. However, once the baby can comfortably hold its head, it can be placed in the face-out position. The older babies love to interact with the outside world.
If you carry the baby behind in a backpack carrier, make sure they are not very young.Parents with bad backs prefer to use the backpacks for a better division of weight for their spine, but it is not visible to carry newborns. One has no visibility of what is going on behind. It is not advisable to use backpack carriers until the baby has become a toddler.
4- Prevent Falling:
First, you should check that the all the buckles and harnesses are tightly locked. There is no wear or tear at the stitched joints.The fall from a height is dangerous for a baby, so you have a high back protecting the baby’s head and shoulder.At all times, keep at least one of your hands on the baby as a good practice. Be very cautious when you bend. You should always bend your knees first to keep the baby upright. Bending the torso can be risky for you and the baby.
5- Protecting Baby’s Hips:
It has long been debated about the role of babywearing affecting baby’s hips. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute had researched a lot on the positional effect on the hips while using baby carriers or slings.They laid out correct babywearing practices as shown in the pictures below.The first 4 months are crucial to the development of the infant’s hips. You must follow their guidelines before using the baby carriers or seating the babies in the car seats. Always take frequent breaks and allow the baby to move its hips and legs.
Poor positioning habit can lead to hip Dysplasia as the newborn’s joints are flexible and are prone to dislocation. The hip joints are like a soft cartilage before they solidify into bone. You must take great care during the first four to five months.
The slings are potentially risky if the baby is kept in the position shown below.
Image Credit: Hipdysplasia.org
These are few things to ponder for babywearing:
- Always Keep a close watch on the buckles and knots.
- Do not drive or ride carrying the baby.
- If you use the front carry, never indulge in hot liquids or food. It makes the baby vulnerable to burning.As a practice don’t eat while carrying the baby to avoid the spills.
- With the backpack carrier, you always keep an assumption of the space behind you. Always turn and move slow as the baby may bang nearby solid or sharp objects.
- Always carry the newborns in a front carry with their face facing you.
- Closely monitor the baby’s head and chin position.It should be close enough so that you can kiss the head.
- Always buy good quality or branded carriers. They ensure good fabric and safety standards.
Please follow the best practice to use baby slings or carriers to ensure baby safety. It will be uncomfortable for you to remember so many things initially but if you keep the T.I.C.Ks rule in mind, it will attend the basic babywearing issues. With practice, it will become involuntary and you will get used to carrying your baby effortlessly.Please share this with other mothers without fail.