Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wear Your Baby Wednesday - Babywearing 102 - Safe Babywearing!

A lot of babywearing safety is common sense, some of it is not, so I'm going to do my best to touch on all of it.  If you think I left anything out please, please, please comment so I can revise the post for future visitors and as always, if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Many babywearing "rules" are focused on making sure your baby can breath (like I said, a lot is common sense) which seems easy enough, but here are a few things to be absolutely sure of (from Babywearing International):
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 ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that's your job.
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.  They need good back support in carriers so that they don't slump into the chin to chest position.
Never allow a baby's head and face to be coered with fabric.  Covering a baby's head and face can cause her to "rebreathe" the same air, which is a 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.  
And a few more hard and true rules to follow (again from Babywearing International):
Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing.Never us a carrier when riding in a car.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 aren't appropriate for babies who can't sit unassisted for extended periods.

Now some general guidelines to follow (still from Babywearing International):
1. Inspect your carrier regularly to ensure it is sound. Check the fabric, seams, and any buckles or other fasteners. Do this every time you use it to avoid complacency. Don’t use a carrier unless it is structurally sound.
2. When using carriers out and about, check 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.
I do this all the time.  I probably look like I'm checking myself in every mirror available but in reality I'm making sure W still has a good "seat."
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. If you should wear protective gear while doing an activity, you shouldn't do it 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 falls.
5. 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 could 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.)
6. 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.
The first time I was in my kitchen and W wiggled his arm out and grabbed the freezer door as I walked by we actually almost fell because he held on to it as hard as he could and I got jerked back.  I'm much more aware of stationary objects he could grab onto now.
7. 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.
8. Carrying a baby in arms or in a carrier is a task for a responsible adult who can assess risk in a mature way

Are you exhausted yet?  Well, I'm not quite finished...

Positioning your baby properly in a carrier is obviously an important aspect to babywearing safety.  The Babywearer has a great guide specifically about correct position for newborns.  It has in depth descriptions as well as many photos.  If you plan on wearing your newborn I 100% recommend you go check that out!

I already mentioned this in Babywearing 101 but I figured I'd bring it up is important not to wear your baby in a narrow-based carrier (AKA a "crotch dangler") because it puts unhealthy strain on the hips of your baby.
From the Tula Baby Carrier Facebook Page
If you were to just be holding your baby, not "wearing" them.  Their legs would naturally pull up into what's known as the "m" position (with their knees above their bum) - which is how they should be supported in a carrier.
When you're learning how to use a new carrier or trying to use an existing carrier in a new way always try it at home first!  If necessary, use a spotter, or at least practice with your baby over a couch or bed.  A lot of carriers can even be tested out while sitting or kneeling so if you did have a mishap you'd already be close to the ground.

One last thing to wrap up Babywearing 102 - check for recalls on any carrier you plan on using!  One well known recall is the Infantino SlingRider which is a bag sling.  Bag slings are basically hobo style purses that you wear your kid in and they are not safe.  Stick to the types of carriers I mentioned in Babywearing 101 and double check for recalls for specific brands/models.  (If you have an Infantino SlingRider, even if you weren't the original purchaser, you can exchange it for any of the other Infantino Carriers - I recommend their "Sash" carrier which is a perfectly safe and ergonomic Mei Tai!)

I think that's enough information overload for one day!  Any questions??


  1. LOVE all this information! I'm anxious to get to try them out with baby when she's here. I got a ring sling since I saw your last post (in addition to my k'tan and ergo) and look forward to trying them all with her to see what we both prefer. Thank you for all the great tips!

  2. Thanks for the info!I will definitely have to get the Moby Wrap under control. I did make sure to check on her frequently and let her "breathe" while she was in the sling. Since she is a little bigger now, I am sure that we won't be using it again.


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