Babywearing Safety 101
Before I became a mother, I knew that I would one day wear my baby. I admired the women I saw wearing their babies. They made motherhood look effortless with their little ones snuggled close, napping contentedly on their mother’s back or front. I watched as they had a free hand to graze the aisles of the store and sip their cappuccino, and I thought “Yeah, I want to be as laid back as that mom.” Now that I am a mother of two, and an avid babywearer, I know that much more comes with motherhood than those snapshots you see of moms having it all and doing it all while having a baby strapped to them. However, there are some pretty amazing, effortless moments that babywearing has brought to our lives, and I couldn’t survive motherhood without it.
Babywearing can be an incredible bonding experience for mother and child and offers so many beneﬁts for both child and caregiver. However, before you jump in and put on a carrier, it is very important to understand some basic safety to keep in mind while babywearing, as baby carriers can pose potential safety hazards if they are not used correctly. Please take note of these 5 essential safety rules while wearing your baby.
Rule #1 One of the main things to keep in mind is to make sure that baby’s airway remains open at all times while babywearing. In order to do this, you will want to keep baby in an upright position in order to monitor their breathing and ensure that their chin is off of their chest. Keep them in view at all times and close enough to kiss. A reclined position, “cradle carry”, is ok as long as you remember to to check that baby meets all other guidelines for keeping the airway open.
Rule #2 When wearing you will want to be aware of baby’s body positioning and make sure that baby’s knees are higher than bum with their legs in a “M”, squat-like position, while making sure that they are supported from knee to knee. Make sure that your carrier provides the adequate support your infant needs for their developing neck and back. An ergonomic carrier will provide better support for the baby, prevent slumping, and offer more comfort for you as well. The carrier should always be snug enough to prevent any slumping.
Rule #3 Make sure to always check your carrier for damage or wear and tear before use, especially if you are using a previously owned carrier. Pay careful attention to any weak spots or loose stitching as this can compromise the safety of the carrier.
Rule #4 There is a wide variety of Youtube videos available to help you learn and become comfortable with a new carry, however until you are conﬁdent with that carry, it is important to practice ALL carries with a spotter. Make sure that all back carries are ﬁrst practiced, over a bed, couch, or low to the ground, and with a spotter. Let me encourage you to take advantage of your local BWI group and attend a meeting to learn new skills with the assistance of a volunteer babywearing educator.
Rule #5 Use common sense when babywearing and avoid wearing in situations where it would not be safe to carry an infant in-arms. For instance, they should not be used in moving vehicles or boats as they are not an approved child restraint or ﬂoatation device.
I hope these tips will help, and keep you and baby safe while babywearing. To learn more about babywearing, please see Part 1 of this series or visit Babywearing International at www.babywearinginternational.org.