Baby Sling Safety
Regardless of the baby sling or carrier you choose, there are pros and cons to carrying your baby in different ways, as well as important safety considerations to be aware of.
You should always follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure you're using an item correctly and safely, and keep a close eye on your child at all times.
Source: US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Wearing a baby sling
The UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers consortium recommends that baby sling wearers follow the 'TICKS' rule for safe use:
Baby slings should be tight enough to keep your baby close to your body.
In view at all times
Your baby's face should be visible simply by glancing down.
Close enough to kiss
Position your baby as close to your chin as possible – a good test is to see whether you can bend down to kiss your baby's head or forehead.
Keep chin off the chest
Ensure there's always a space of at least a finger width between your baby's chin and chest, allowing your baby to breathe easily.
A young baby should be held comfortably close to the baby sling wearer so their back is supported in its natural position, with their tummy and chest against you.
Some slings and carriers can be used like backpacks so that your baby faces forward, but there is some discussion on internet forums over whether front carriers with forward-facing positions offer correct leg and spine support for a growing baby.
Well-designed front-facing carriers can provide adequate support for older babies
Baby-carrier design has moved on since the 1980s - partly because of the concerns raised about correct support. Some manufacturers who offer forward-facing carriers are aware that this is an issue of concern for parents. They seek to calm their worries by working on product development with physicians who vouch that a forward-facing position is not detrimental to development once a baby is old enough to support the weight of her head and shoulders.
Baby sling and carrier comfort
Comfort for you
You'll be more comfortable if your baby’s weight is held high and close against your body.
Broad straps distribute your baby’s weight more evenly across your back, making it more comfortable than those with thinner straps.
Baby carriers that hang from your shoulders can be very uncomfortable when worn for long periods, even with a newborn.
If you plan to do a lot of walking, a sling or carrier with a waist or hip belt will help redistribute the weight of your baby.
Comfort for your baby
The sling or carrier should hold your baby close against your body with support right along the length of the spine (especially for a newborn). Alternatively, many slings and baby carriers can be used in a cradle position for newborns so they can recline in the sling.