Safe Babywearing By Mary Marine IBCLC
For many, many generations parents have carried their baby using different styles of baby carriers. Many mothers have used these carriers because they felt that it made it easier for them to be attentive to their baby while accomplishing everyday tasks. Carriers help take some of burden off a caretaker’s arm and back muscles that can grow tired carrying baby around.
Since recent media reports of problems with baby slings, parents have had questions regarding how to safely use all types of baby carriers. It is really important to choose the right carrier for you and to always follow that particular carrier’s safety guidelines. Then the baby carrier can be as safe as holding your precious baby in your arms.
Several basic questions to keep in mind to be reassured baby is safe:
- Is the carrier appropriate? Choose a carrier that is appropriate for the parent’s size, infant’s weight and development level of child. The carrier should support baby’s weight, keep baby close enough to kiss their sweet head and be securely close to adult’s body.
Can baby get enough fresh air? Baby can get lots of fresh air if fabric does not cover their face. When not breastfeeding, place baby face up and not against the body. Otherwise you risk having baby rebreath the same air. The chin should also not be right against the chest. Check that you can place a finger between baby’s chest and their chin. If baby is curled, chin to chest, reposition baby so they are more upright and back is supported so they are more vertical. Check baby occasionally to be sure baby remains in a comfortable position. If the pouch has a deep pocket you can fold up a small piece of fabric like a receiving blanket and put it behind their head and shoulders to bring them out of the sling more.
- Is the activity appropriate for baby wearing? Jogging, running or jumping on a trampoline can shake or bounce a baby and cause injury. Wearing a baby while driving provides no protection. (Remember to always have your child secured safely in their car seat while in any vehicle.) Also be aware that if baby is being carried on the back, they can potentially reach things you may not see and could harm themselves. And even while you are able to see them, baby can reach for something that can cause injury very quickly.
- Does my carrier continue to be safe? Just like other products, a part can become worn or not functioning correctly. So check buckles, snaps, rings, seams and knots tied to be sure they are secure each time you prepare to carry your baby.
When you purchase your baby carrier be sure and read the instructions that came with the carrier. They should have some helpful tips. Before purchasing a carrier try different styles. Ask your friends to let you try their carrier or purchase your carrier from a store that will let you try the carrier before you buy it. Here at The Nurture Center we can let you try on any carrier we carry and we can give guidance on how to chose and use the carrier – just ask us.
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