Rules of Safe Babywearing

Young mother carrying baby in wrap in nature
Rules of Safe Babywearing. Chris Tobin / Getty Images

Wouldn’t it be amazing to snuggle close to your baby and still be able to get things accomplished with both hands? Many parents have found that a baby sling helps them to do just that. With the rise in popularity of babywearing, it’s important to be sure that you are carrying your baby correctly. Healthy babywearing practices keep baby safe and parents comfortable and happy. Below you’ll find the rules of safe babywearing.

First, what is babywearing? Babywearing has been around as long as there have been babies. Parents use something—a sling, a piece of cloth or a specially designed carrier to attach the baby (or toddler) to themselves so that they are hands-free. Many people conjure the image of a mother working with a baby on her back when they think of a sling. While this certainly exists, babywearing also encompasses more modern carriers available at big box baby stores. Knowing the rules of safe babywearing means that you can pick a baby carrier that best suits you and your baby.

Baby Is Visible

This is the most important babywearing rule. Making sure that you can see the baby at all times keeps your baby safe. You will know if your baby has a need and be able to respond to your baby’s needs appropriately. You must be able to see your baby and check on them frequently. If you are using a carrier that has your baby on your back, this rule means that fabric does not cover your baby’s head and you can look in a mirror or have someone else see your baby’s face.

Besides—who wouldn’t want to look down and see a sweet baby face smiling back at you?

Baby Is on the Ribcage

The most dangerous type of sling is the “bag sling.” These slings gave babywearing a bad name. Not only did these slings break the first rule by covering baby’s face, they often broke the second rule: your baby needs to be resting on your ribcage.

That means that your sling is not hanging down around your waist. A nice, high carry (either on your front or on your back) is also more comfortable for the person wearing the baby. Some people like to call this rule the “baby is kissable” rule. A sling needs to be adjustable to fit the caregiver, be sized for each individual caregiver or both. If your sling is not adjustable in size, you may need more than one sling if you and someone else both plan to wear your baby.

Baby Is Vertical

This rule may seem unimportant, but once you see how this works you’ll understand why we say baby must be vertical. Allowing a baby to lay in a cradle position can tuck the baby’s chin too deeply. Tucking the baby’s chin in too close to their chest can compromise their airway. Having the baby upright allows the baby’s airway to stay straight so that baby can breathe freely. This rule also has the benefit of allowing the baby to experience the world around them: babies learn a lot about the world from inside their carriers!

Baby’s Hips Are Flexed

A baby’s pelvis is still developing during their first few years. Baby’s soft bones and loose ligaments make them more susceptible to a condition called hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia happens when the ball and socket joint of the hips are out of alignment. Because baby’s hips are so flexible, it’s important that we protect the baby’s pelvis when we are carrying them. Avoid carriers that hold baby’s legs straight together or that dangle the baby by the crotch. Your baby carrier should allow the baby to sit in the carrier and support the back of your baby’s thighs. When positioned correctly, your baby’s knees will be in line with or higher than her hip joints. Some newer carriers even offer foot straps to reduce pressure on the baby’s pelvis. Your baby will look like a sumo wrestler or a baby koala in their carrier. They are also going to be much more comfortable in this type of sling.

Babywearing is a great way to keep the parents sane and help reduce the amount of time babies cry.

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