It goes without saying that we all want to keep our babies safe but sometimes people assume that if something is sold on the market it will be safe. Also some parents do not follow safety guidelines as they think they know their child best, however, when it comes to babywearing, the guidelines are there for a reason and have been designed by experts who have invested a lot of time, money and effort into ensuring parents have the correct information to keep their children safe.
So where do we start? Positioning – the safest position by far for any baby no matter what age is upright, tummy to tummy, close enough to kiss and tight against your body. There are a range of slings available that offer this including ring slings, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, half buckles, full buckles, Mei Tai and many more. Please see the TICKS file provided. With these slings you have the options of front, back or hip carries. Back carries should only be done once your baby can confidently sit unaided (6 months plus) unless you are a very experienced woven wrap carrier.
Cradle position – you can hold your baby in the cradle position BUT this is not the safest way. There is a risk if it is not done correctly that baby’s head could get pushed forwards causing the chin to be pressed against the chest which could then cause positional asphyxia.
Hip Position – hips ideally should be in the ‘M’ position. So the knees are above the bottom. This is only possible in ergonomic carriers. Narrow based carriers are available to buy and are not harmful to your baby unless they have hip dysplasia however they tend to be less comfortable for both parents and baby, if you already have one of these then there is a way to help support the baby's hips by using the scarf hack. Please do ask someone at the library how to do this.
Feeding in the sling – wearing your baby in a sling can offer great support for breastfeeding mothers. Some mums enjoy being able to feed their babies in the sling as it offers weight baring support for the child and a discrete way of feeding for the mother. It can be very convenient and readily available however this should be done with caution and you should always maintain your attention on your baby. Out of all the accidents that happen with babywearing 40% are feeding related where mums do not stay focused on the baby and suffocation can occur. 35% are due to falls from the slings where parents have not followed manufacturer instructions.
Exercising with Babies in slings – Slings are great for allowing you to go for longer off road walks which you can’t do with a pram. There are also exercise classes you can attend such as Dancing classes or Yoga classes and in some areas ballet. They have great benefits for both baby and parent. If you choose to do these classes don’t be afraid to ask the class teacher for their Babywearing training information, even ask to see their certificate as they should not be conducting the classes without relevant Babywearing Qualifications.
Mother’s safety – If you have had a complication during birth or a c-section delivery which is still tender then it is advisable to seek advice from a Babywearing Consultant before wearing your baby.
Remember NEVER - use a cooker or drink hot drinks while wearing your baby on your front, wear your baby if you have been smoking or drinking or using any prescribed or non prescribed medicine that could cause you to feel faint or drowsy.
(Information for this tip sheet has been obtained from School of Babywearing training and website which uses evidence based research from all over the world)