Babywearing is a safe and wonderful way for you to be hands free and bond with your precious little ones. But, as with most baby gear, incorrect and inattentive babywearing poses a threat to your child. It is vital that you take the time to understand a position and carrier prior to use. There are also some general rules that are key to helping you and your baby safely experience the joy of babywearing.
Maintain a clear and open airway.
The first and most important rule in babywearing is to keep your child’s airway clear and open. To facilitate proper breathing, the child’s chin should be off his chest and his face should be clear of fabric or other objects. You should be able to have his face in view. You do not need your child to have a dramatic, star gazing gawk to the sky, but you should have his chin elevated. This also helps keep the baby’s face visible for monitoring. Positional asphyxiation is where the child's airway is closed off due to not being able to move his chest and breath (which is why his chin should not be pressed to his chest), or having his mouth/nose blocked by an object or person, and the child stops breathing. Babies 0-4 months old are at most risk for this. This is a good rule of thumb for all baby gear and sleeping surfaces.
Upright Position and Close Enough to Kiss.
Proper positioning is essential for babywearing safety and can also promote a more enjoyable experience for you and your baby. We strongly recommend only using upright positions while babywearing. Horizontal or cradle positions are not ideal for neck and back support and are more prone to cause airway restriction. The preferred position is upright with the child’s weight borne by thighs and bottom, baby's back fully supported by the carrier from the neck down. The baby’s knees should also be positioned above their butt, although this becomes less imperative for older babies and toddlers. Along with aiding in proper support for your child, the upright positions keeps the baby’s head closer to yours, AKA “Close enough to Kiss.” This allows you to easily monitor your child’s breathing and is perfect for some quality bonding. If they are close enough to kiss then do it, and do it often.
Know and inspect your carriers.
Don't use a baby carrier that you don’t know. This is not the time to put off reading the manual or skip a quick once over. I know, sometimes it looks easy and intuitive, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s a faulty product, but this carrier is going to be holding your baby! Inspect each and every carrier and don't use a new type of carrier without instruction. The few extra minutes it takes is worth it to make sure the carrier is safe and you know how to use it properly. Examine your carrier for weak spots, loose stitching, worn fabrics, etc. Purchase your carrier from a trusted source where proper safety testing has been conducted. Thoroughly read the instructions, watch an instructional video, or have a babywearing educator show you how to use the carrier.
Use a practice doll and spotter when learning.
Always use a practice doll or a spotter when learning a new carry, especially a back carry. Use guides and instructions, and have an experienced and educated babywearer help. Stay within your comfort level. Since babywearing involves lifting and the use of a device to help hold your child, the risk of falling is present. When learning a new wrap carry, use a weighted doll or stuffed animal to practice some of the motions first. When you have read instructions and watched instructional videos and given it a go with some doll/stuffed animal practice, have a spotter help you when you are ready to wrap your child. Always practice over a soft surface and use a mirror if you can! Wearing your child on your back gives them a greater reach than one might expect so be mindful of that when you are bending over, or have cupboards and trees overhead.
*Remember, just because you can do it while babywearing, doesn't mean you should. Babywearing is a life-changing practice that gives parents freedom to include their baby in their daily activities seamlessly. Some of these activities are simply not safe, however. If you wouldn't partake in an activity while holding your child, you shouldn't do it while wearing your child. Do not participate in activities where your balance is challenged. Most importantly, do not wear your child while riding in or on vehicles or animals. Carriers do not replace safety restraints or floatation devices.
Finding a local babywearing group is another great way to learn to wear your carriers well. Babywearing International has a chapter list here: http://www.babywearinginternational.org/about-bwi/chapters/ and has leaders trained on proper positioning and safety!
*use your carrier at your own risk, if you have any questions or concerns about your carrier, contact the manufacturer or we will help you get in touch with them. Simply Carried is not responsible for manufacturing the products listed on our page, or for injuries involving the use of the products we carry. All of our products have been tested and have met the regulations set forth by the BCIA. Make sure to register your carrier when you receive it (as with any new baby product).
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