Is Babywearing Safe? -The Supermom Secret: Babywearing Part 2
Welcome to installment two of babywearing, "Is Babywearing Safe!" Before we begin, check out part one here.
Several years ago, the news reported that baby carriers were being recalled for being unsafe and it was advised that parents not use them at all. They based this recommendation on one carrier in specific. The carrier that was reportedly unsafe, WAS unsafe. That does not mean all carriers are.
How do you wear your baby safely? Young babies should be worn in a position that you would normally and instinctively carry them in arms. Ideally, their head should rest somewhere on your collarbone. They should be nice and tight and snug against your body. The carrier should not sag or sway in any way when you turn. Your baby should be in view at all times, close enough to kiss and their chin should be off their chest. Baby's back also needs to be supported and they should be facing you at all times. Check out the T.I.C.K.S. guide for safe babywearing pdf.
Finally, babies should never be worn in baby bjorn style carriers. These carriers are "crotch carriers" and they put significant strain on baby's back and hips. When you hold your new baby, you will notice that their legs instinctively go up into a "froggy" position with their knees up to their chest. This is an important position for their legs to be in for several months as their hips develop. When baby's legs are made to lay straight, they come out of the hip socket. So any carrier that you use for your baby should keep baby's legs upright.
The carrier that was recalled was a "bag" carrier where the baby was held at hip level and enclosed in the fabric. This meant that the baby was at risk for their chin falling on their chest and cutting off their air supply and the parent carrying them could not see them. It violated every rule about how to safely wear your baby.
With all these rules and restrictions, what kinds of carriers are able to be worn safely and comfortably for parent and baby? There are many types of carriers on the market. The sheer number of options would be enough to overwhelm even the most diligent shopper. So for starters, let's cover the most popular carriers available today.
Soft Structured Carriers. In this category you will find Ergo carriers, Beco, Boba, Kinderpack and others. These carriers are very simple to use and they are very comfortable. They are equipped with buckles at the waist and the chest which make it easy to put them on and secure. Some of them are more difficult to use with newborns, but most come with equipment to accommodate tiny babies. Soft structured carriers are more expensive, ($100-$150) but they are really easy to sell once you have finished using them, making them cost effective.
Ring slings. This is generally what people think of when they hear the word "sling." Ring slings are very popular but when purchasing one, you need to know a few things first. Ring slings come in different sizes. The ease of use, safety and comfort for you will be impacted by buying the correct size. Ring slings are very comfortable when they are used right, but they take some practice. Don't wear newborns or small babies in a cradle position with these carriers. Babies should be upright with their head under your chin and the bottom rail of the sling behind baby's knees, creating a seat for baby to sit in. These generally run anywhere between $60-$170 for a high end carrier.
Moby wraps. Moby wraps are popular because they are the least expensive option, coming in at $40-$60. They are the most popular baby shower gift. Unfortunately they are also the easiest thing to find on craigslist. This is simply because these require the most practice and work to figure out and many people give up too soon. Stick with it! Once you get used to it, it will become the most reached for item in your baby gear arsenal. Once you have the hang of the moby wrap, you can look at wraps with stronger fabric to support baby as they grow.
Pouches. Similar to ring slings, pouches are safe only if they are correctly sized. If the pouch is too big, baby's chin can fall to their chest. Too tight and baby can't breathe. Sizing is key for safety as well as comfort. A properly fitting pouch however, can be the simplest way to get baby around town with you. They range from $10-$40.
Check out local babywearing groups for more hands on help and support. A properly fitting baby carrier can be a lifesaver for moms of little ones.