Babywearing Safety is a pivotal part of babywearing and while each baby carrier has different instructions, there are also universalsafety guidelines to follow for all baby carriers. It is ESSENTIAL to ensure that you are using your carrier correctly and that you keep your baby safe. Babywearing Safety applies to when you are getting your baby in and out of the carrier and the whole time that you are wearing them.
Before you start:
There is no Australian standard for baby carriers! When choosing a safe baby carrier, check they have the European standard EN 13209-2:2005 or the US standard ASTM F2236-08.
- Ensure that your carrier is a ‘safe’ carrier – this means that it holds your baby in an upright position firmly against you and your baby’s airways are open and unobstructed. Any carriers that place your baby in a cradle hold do not meet this requirement.
- Read your baby carrier instruction manual! Each brand and their different carrier types will give you a detailed step by step instruction manual about how to use their carrier. Not only will this go through the proper use, it will also inform you about the additional features for each carrier including how to get a good fit for you and your baby.
- Check to make sure that you have the right carrier for your baby. Carriers come in baby, toddler and preschool sizes and other carriers require an infant insert. If you put your baby in a carrier that is not suitable for their age and development, they can be a falls risk or you will be unable to meet the T.I.C.K.S requirement (see below for further information). Your baby will also be unhappy about being put in a position where it is not comfortable or is unsafe.
- Each time you wear your carrier, check to ensure that there is no damage eg buckles work properly or there are no tears in the fabric. Wear and tear can affect the carrier’s safety, if in doubt contact the manufacture or retailer that you brought it from.
Getting your baby in and out of the baby carrier:
It can seem daunting the first time that you use your baby carrier. If you are ever unsure or think that you require assistance, it is useful to see a babywearing consultant or head to a babywearing meet to get specific advice on how to use your baby carrier safely, optimally and effectively.
Follow the instructions of your baby carrier about putting on and taking off your baby carrier.
When you are getting your baby in and out of the carrier, it is IMPORTANT to hold onto them securely until you have adjusted/tightened/taken off the carrier and they are no longer a falls risk. Make sure that you keep a secure hold of your baby at all times during this in and out stage. Once the baby carrier is on safely, you can enjoy your hands free time!
While Your Wear – T.I.C.K.S
T.I.C.K.S is a safe babywearing guideline to use while wearing. Each time you wear, it is important to go through each point and make sure that you are achieving each one. From the Australian Office of Fair Trading Baby Sling Flyer – Baby Sling Flyer
T.I.C.K.S stands for:
Your baby should feel secure and tight enough like a hug. Any slack or loose fabric allows your baby to slump down which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
In View At All Times:
You should be able to see your baby’s face at all times. This means that if you are using the hood in a baby carrier, make sure it is either rolled with their face in view or you only use one side for additional head and neck support.
Close Enough to Kiss:
Aim to have your baby high, in the same position that you would carry them in your arms. If you tip your head forward, you can easily kiss the top of their head.
Keep Chin Off Chest:
Ensure there is space of at least 1-2 finger width under your baby’s chin. They should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this compromises their breathing. This is why the cradle hold is not recommended.
Always carry your baby in an upright position and they are close to the wearer with a supported (rounded) back. If they slump, this can partially close their airways.
Optimal Positioning of Your Baby:
Not all baby carriers achieve optimal positioning but as long as they are ‘safe’ as above, you are still going to get all the benefits of babywearing and it is perfectly fine to use! However optimal positioning is a term used to describe the ideal position that your baby is in when they are in a baby carrier; it is a position that supports their spine and hips and ensures safety as well.
In order to achieve this position, your baby is upright with a supported and rounded back, their thighs are supported from knee crease to knee creases (by adjusting the seat) and their knees are higher than their bum to create a ‘M Position’. Not only is this position idea for your baby’s anatomy throughout the first year but is also is a lot more comfortable for the wearer. For more information about optimal positioning and your baby’s anatomy please head HERE
Safe Activities While Wearing:
The other component to consider is the type of activities that you are doing while babywearing and the general rule is if you wouldn’t do the activity while holding your baby in arms, then don’t do it babywearing. Safe activities include low impact exercise such as Kangatraining, walking, sitting (as long as your baby’s airways are clear). Some examples of unsafe activities include:
– High impact exercises such as sports, jumping and running
– Cooking or food preparation
– Exercising in positions such as bent over or on your tummy which doesn’t provide adequate support for your baby
– Never babywear on some sort of sporting equipment eg bike, lifting weights, kayaks
– Avoid babywearing near hazardous materials or sharp objects
It is important to be cautious in other activities such as stairs, hiking, large crowds, tight spaces as it is harder to see the ground if your baby is on your front and you generally take up more room.
If you have any questions about Babywearing Safety or your baby carrier, please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Certified Babywearing Consultant