Babywearing Safety

*Please read the safety information here before attempting to wear a newborn in any sling or carrier*

M’Liss Stelzer R.N. Correct Positioning For the Safety and Comfort of Your Newborn


Babywearing is beautiful, beneficial and fun. However, here at The Little Sling Company we cannot stress enough the importance of SAFETY when wearing your baby. It is vital that your baby is correctly positioned in their carrier and that you are constantly aware of your baby’s wellness. It is of paramount importance that whenever you wear your baby you adopt good safety practices. Also, it is equally important to inspect your carrier for wear and tear before you put it on each time. Check the stitching, the seams, the straps, etc. You are your baby’s personal safety net and you alone are responsible for the well being of your baby. If you need help, we are a phone call away.

Babywearing Safety for NEWBORN Babies

Please read the safety informationherebefore attempting to wear a newborn in any sling or carrier:
There is also VERY important informationhereabout “bag” type slings (such as the Infantino Sling Rider).

Babywearing Safety

Reprinted from Magic City Slingers A FEW ABSOLUTE RULES:

  1. Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands free to do other things … but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can assure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.
  2. Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. Always check to be sure that your baby’s airway is not bent or restricted, and monitor their breathing. Newborns need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position. For more information, review M’Liss Stelzer’s article on Correct Newborn Positioning.
  3. Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a very dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.
  4. Never jog, run, or jump. Do not do any activity that subjects your baby to shaking or bouncing motion, such as jogging, running, or jumping on a trampoline. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.
  5. Never use a baby carrier when the baby should be in a car seat. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.
  6. Use only 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 are not appropriate for babies who cannot sit unassisted for extended periods of time. Front packs usually have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.

Guidelines for Everyday Safety

  1. Inspect your carrier regularly to assure it is sound. Check the fabric, seams, and any buckles or other fasteners. Do this every time you use it to avoid complacency. How would you feel if the pilot on your next flight didn’t do his pre-flight check? Do not use a carrier unless it is structurally sound.
  2. When using carriers out and about, check to assure that your baby is secure by using reflective surfaces such as car or store windows as mirrors, by double checking the baby’s position with your hands, or by enlisting the help of another set of eyes.
  3. If you shouldn’t do it while pregnant because of an enhanced risk of falls, you shouldn’t do it while carrying a baby. For example, your risk of falling increases when you climb a ladder, ride a horse, ride a bicycle, or go skating. Your risk of falling also increases on slippery surfaces like the ones you encounter when you go bowling, sailing, or spelunking. When a baby is in his mother’s womb, he has built-in protection, but a baby in arms or in a carrier does not have that protection.
  4. You’re walking for two! Avoid walking on icy surfaces. Whenever a handrail is available, use it. Be extra careful on steps and stairs. Avoid wearing things like high heels, long pants legs, thong sandals, or anything else that increases your risk of tripping.
  5. If you should wear protective gear while doing an activity, you shouldn’t do that activity while carrying a baby. Baby carriers do not provide hearing protection, eye protection, protection from projectiles such as rocks flung from a lawn mower, protection from fumes or dust such as occur during lawn mowing and some household cleaning tasks, or protection from impacts such as falling from a bicycle or a horse.
  6. Protect your baby from the elements. Little limbs and heads may need sun protection. Don’t dress your baby too warmly in the summer, and don’t use a baby carrier under circumstances that cause the baby to suffer heat stress. Don’t let your baby get too cold in the winter. (There are some excellent coats and ponchos designed especially for use with baby carriers, and you can also improvise or make your own.)
  7. Be aware of your expanded girth. When carrying your baby, use extra caution negotiating revolving doors, turnstiles, sharp corners, and tight doorways (including those on public transportation). You need more personal space now to negotiate your safe passage when carrying your baby.
  8. Be aware of what your baby can reach. In particular, be aware that a baby on your back can reach things you can’t see. Think twice before using a baby carrier in a hardware store, for example.
  9. Don’t use your baby carrier as a purse. Some carriers have pockets to hold keys, wallets, and other items, but 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.
  10. If it hurts, don’t do it. It is common to have tired muscles after carrying your baby for awhile; however, if carrying your baby with a certain carrier or in a certain position causes you pain, stop. Get professional help if you need it. The methods of carrying a baby presented in this book are designed to be comfortable; pain is a certain sign that something is wrong. Either the carrier isn’t a good fit, the baby is too heavy, you’re not doing a technique correctly, or a combination of these factors.

Other Things to Consider:

  • Carrying a baby in arms or in a carrier is a task for a responsible adult who can assess risk in a mature way. Here are some things to consider about specific activities.
  • Cooking. Carrying a baby while cooking subjects the baby to an enhanced risk of burns. A baby in arms or in a carrier is at stovetop height, and burns can occur. Reaching into a hot oven while carrying a baby similarly puts the baby at risk for burns.
  • Boating. While it might seem more secure to use a baby carrier to board a small boat than to carry a baby in arms, the safer practice is to have the baby wear a personal flotation device. Personal flotation devices are generally not compatible with baby carriers. Moreover, if you fell into the water, having your baby securely held to your body by a baby carrier would be a grave danger.

Safety Guidelines for Learning New Carries:

Most people easily learn front or hip carries, but when learning these carries you should still support your baby with your arm until you are confident that your baby is securely held in the carrier. Back carries are more challenging, but the reward is tremendous liberation and, for heavier babies and toddlers, greater comfort for the person carrying the child. These guidelines apply to all carries but are particularly important when learning back carries:

  1. Practice with a doll or stuffed animal first. Understanding the instructions with your mind is just the first step; your body needs to understand them as well. Doing a few “dry runs” will help you build the muscle memory for doing a particular carry.
  2. It is best to try a new carry with your baby when you are both well rested and generally content.
  3. Use a spotter … but only another adult who accepts the responsibility of keeping your baby from falling. The spotter must be able to catch the baby at any instant if he or she should start to fall.
  4. Use a mirror.
  5. Start low. Most carries can be accomplished while sitting on the floor or bed. As you build muscle memory and confidence, you can move up, next lifting your baby onto your body from a bed or chair.

Copyright 2007 Magic City Slingers

Babywearing Safety

Reprinted from DC Metro Area Babywearers, USA

  1. When learning to use any new carrier it is best to have another adult “spot” you in case you need assistance. Practicing over a soft surface like a padded mat or bed is sensible to begin with.
  2. Baby should be well fed, well rested, and be clean and dry before practicing…. You will be more successful in ensuring a safe and secure babywearing experience for you both!
  3. Use all your senses to constantly monitor baby.
    1. Look at baby for proper positioning.
    2. Listen often to monitor airflow. If baby starts grunting, snoring or making any unusual sounds, it may be a sign that the airway is not clear – reposition baby immediately.
    3. Feel baby’s skin to gauge the temperature and tone. Avoid “chin to chest” posture of baby, as it can obstruct the airway. Mirrors, car windows, and other reflective surfaces can be very helpful in monitoring baby, or use a hand held mirror.
  4. Take extra precaution with respect to your personal space when babywearing. Avoid tight fits around door frames, sharp corners, revolving doors, automatic doors (like on public transportation) and other tight spaces. Remember that you are bigger when baby is attached to you, just like in pregnancy.
  5. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) can happen anywhere, even in baby carriers. Thus, it is important to incorporate SIDS safety tips everywhere. Do not put soft bedding items, toys, etc in the area of the baby carrier with your child, as it could pose a potential suffocation hazard. Avoid smoking with a baby in the home. Make sure nothing is ever covering baby’s face . Do not allow baby to become overheated. Remember that when wearing baby, your own body heat is added to theirs. A single layer of clothing may be all you need for you and baby.
  6. Babies love skin to skin contact and some experts think that it can regulate baby’s temperature and other natural responses. Therefore, you may want to choose thin layers of breathable materials and avoid excessive padding in your clothes and your choice of baby carrier. Never use any accessory that has not been specifically tested and approved for your type of carrier.
  7. Some common activities are made more dangerous when wearing a baby in a carrier. Cooking with heat/sharp knives, cleaning with harsh chemicals, DIY, jogging, sports, cycling, activities on or near bodies of water such as sailing, fishing etc. Do not engage in these activities when babywearing.
  8. Always inspect your carrier before use for loose seams and other signs of wear. Replace the carrier at the first sign of wear as it may be dangerous.
  9. Baby’s position and posture in a sling should mimic holding baby in your arms. A high, snug carry that places baby over your center of gravity will help ensure that baby doesn’t slip and the caregiver’s back will benefit.
  10. The principles of healthy back positioning and posture apply even more so when you are wearing baby. To protect your back, keep baby close to you and when you must lift something, bend only with your knees and not your back. It is not a good idea to wear high heels for an extended period while wearing baby in a carrier.

This information is provided by kind permission of the DC Metro Area Babywearers, USA. It is not intended as a comprehensive list, but only a starting point to think about babywearing safety issues and should only be used as a complement to your own good common sense.

Babywearing safety is solely the responsibility of the caregiver.