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Babywearing Safety

With the help of some refernces from other babywearing educators and pages, below I have put together the essentials of babywearing knowledge and safety.

 

Safe vs Unsafe

To determine the difference between safe vs unsafe babywearing, the UK Sling Consortium created the TICKS guidelines for safe babywearing. If you follow this checklist, you are babywearing in a safe manner.

 

TIGHT: The importance of a sling or carrier being tight is to hold a baby safely against the wearer, it supports the spine in a straight, upright position and stops baby from falling out of the wrap or carrier accidentally.

IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES: Seeing your baby at all times allows you to be constantly monitoring your child’s breathing and general demeanour, you will have the ability to make sure the chin hasn’t dropped and they are happy. You will also be able to check temperature and feeding cues.

 

CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS: This is greatly important also, as the lower the child the less you will be able to tell about your child, placed in an upright position you should be able to lower your head and kiss the top of babies head, if you are unable to do this, then it’s advised your re-position your child higher.

KEEP CHIN OFF CHEST: If your child is tight, in an upright position and spine is curved with legs in the squat position the likelihood of the chin dropping is unlikely, this is the most optimum position for safety, development and comfort. The rule of thumb is a child should have a gap of roughly 2 fingers width underneath their chin.

 

SUPPORTED BACK: The tightness of any carrier will be crucial in the support of a babies spine, it’s also important not to over tighten. The carrier should be tight enough to keep the child against the parents body without a gap, but still have the ability to slide your hands into the carrier with ease if needed. Generally in an upright position, if the carrier is adequately supporting the spine the chin will not drop, but its important to follow all the steps carefully.

 

The difference between unsafe and safe

Unsafe

Safe
Following the TICKS rules, you will see that this type of carry has been deemed unsafe, especially for newborns/infants. Baby is not in an upright position, it’s face is not in view or it’s head close enough to kiss meaning you cannot see or guarantee that it’s chin is off it’s chest keeping the airways free. Follows each TICKS rule. Baby is nice and high in an upright position with head close enough to kiss which reduces the risk of baby's chin falling to their cest and restricting their airways.
   
  • Baby positioned too low
  • Wrap not tight enough
  • Baby’s face not in view
  • Back not supported
  • Feet positioned in and not in the optimal position
  • Can't see if airways are free
  • Baby positioned nice and high
  • Wrap tight
  • Baby close enough to kiss
  • Back supported and aligned
  • Seated in the optimal 'M' position
  • Baby's face free of fabric and airways are unrestricted.
   
  • Baby positioned too low
  • Straps are loose and gaping
  • Baby’s face not in view
  • Baby's head is restricted and can't see if airways are free

 

  • Baby positioned nice and high
  • Carrier fitted well with tight straps and no gaping at the wearers body
  • Baby close enough to kiss
  • Back supported and aligned
  • Seated in the optimal 'M' position
  • Baby's face free of fabric and airways are unrestricted.

 

 

When using any baby carrier, please keep the following safety tips in mind:
  • Read and follow all manufacturer's instructions for use. 
  • Ensure you can see baby's face at all times. Do not let baby's face press into your body. Do not cover baby's face with a blanket, sling fabric, nursing covers, etc. 
  • Baby's head and neck must be gently and completely supported, with chin off chest. If baby's chin is pressed tightly to baby's chest, this can restrict baby's airway. Check to ensure you can slip your finger between baby's chin and chest to check for correct positioning. 
  • Consult an expert if your infant was born with a low birth weight, such as a preemie or twins, or if your infant has respiratory illness or other respiratory problems. Extra vigilance is required with these babies. 
  • After nursing in a carrier, remove baby from breast and return baby to proper carrying position with head above the breasts and face free of fabric and turned away from the mother's body. 
  • Attend to and check on baby often, especially those under 4 months of age.
  • Check baby often in warmer weather to ensure that baby does not over heat.
  • Don't forget the T.I.C.K.S rule for safe babywearing (see picture above.)
 
The Following are Babywearing Safety Tips provided by The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA)
 

Kidsafe SA have also created the following informative video. It provides instruction on how to use baby slings and carriers safely. It also provides information on purchasing a sling or carrier, and identifies the characteristics that might put babies at greater risk of suffocation when in a sling or carrier. You can view it here.