Is Babywearing Dangerous?
Baby carriers, baby wraps, and baby slings are very popular...and that is a good thing! These devices allow babies to be carried while leaving their parent’s hands free for other jobs. Plus, little ones adore being worn. Slings and carriers nurture your baby’s senses in a rhythmic, calming fashion. Many studies found that baby carriers are helpful not just as a response to crying, but to also prevent crying...and to promote parent-infant attachment and baby’s development. That said, a recent report found that wearing babies can, in fact, be dangerous. Does that mean you should ditch the baby carrier ASAP? Not at all!
Researchers found that, over the span of 9 years, about 14,000 young patients (mostly under 5 months old) landed in the emergency room due to babywearing injuries. Roughly 19% of those babies wound up being admitted to the hospital. (Yikes!) Over half the babies were injured because they fell from the carrier and 22% got hurt when their caregiver fell. This, however, does not mean that the baby carriers are somehow faulty or inherently dangerous. Instead, it means that new parents need to be educated on buying and wearing the proper size baby carrier—and how to safely secure their baby inside. Some important rules to remember that will help prevent baby falls, grownup fall, and other babywearing related injuries.
Carriers are not one-size fits all. There are age restrictions and limits, weight requirements, and comfort and fit issues. It is incredibly important to get a carrier that is the right size for your baby...and for you. Consider trying some on before you buy—and before your growing bump alters the fit. If you are getting a pre-loved carrier, always check for recalls to make sure the model you are eyeing is still safe. And examine the product for wear and tear on the seams and fasteners, too.
Go for a snug hug.
Baby carriers should be tight enough to keep your child lightly pressed to your body, supporting your precious bundle’s back. If there is any slack, your baby is more apt to slump down in the carrier, which can hinder breathing. If you are unsure if your baby is close enough, gently press on your baby's back. If they move closer to you, you should tighten the carrier.
Check for leg fit.
Make sure that the leg holes in your baby carrier are small enough that your nugget cannot accidentally slip through. Your baby carrier should also allow your baby's knees to spread apart, so that the baby’s legs straddle your body. Their small knees should be level to—or higher than—their bum. This will encourage normal hip development, reducing the risk of hip dysplasia. (The worst position for your baby: When their legs are straight, together, and dangling down.)
Be mindful of your actions.
When wearing your baby, always bend at the knees when you need to pick something up, not the waist to avoid any accidental falls. And do not do any activities with your baby strapped to you that you would not do while carrying your baby in your arms, like jogging, riding a bike, or driving.
Learn the kissable rule.
Your baby should sit high enough in your sling, baby carrier, or wrap for you to be able to see—and smooch—their sweet face at all times. If you tip your head forward and cannot land a wet one on your baby’s head or forehead, you will need to readjust so the baby's nose and mouth are for-sure unobstructed.
Keep baby’s chin up.
If your little one’s face falls forward, toward their chest, you will need to rejigger them so that their neck is straight, and their chin is not pressed into their chest. You will know your baby is in a good spot when you have space to fit one finger width under their chin. When babies are curled into an unsafe C-shape, it can be hard to breathe or cry for help.
If your baby carrier is designed with additional space in the bust to help support breastfeeding, do not share the carrier with a non-breastfeeding individual. That extra space can prove dangerous, according to the report above. And if you like to nurse your baby in the carrier, always change your baby’s position post-feed so that their head is kissable, and their chin is up.
Carry premature babies this way.
Infants who were born prematurely—and those with respiratory issues—should not be carried in backpacks or other carriers that hold them upright. This position can potentially make it harder for these darling babies to breathe. If you have got a premature or little baby, and you would like to use a carrier, always have a conversation with your baby’s peadiatrician before trying.
For more advice on how to keep your baby safe and sound, check out more of our health and safety resources.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.