Baby carriers, baby wraps, and baby slings are very popular...and that’s 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. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends baby carriers, not just as a response to crying, but to prevent crying...and to promote parent-infant attachment and baby’s development. That said, a recent report presented at the 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference, 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 kiddos 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’ll help prevent baby falls, grownup fall, and other babywearing related injuries.

Shop smart.

Carriers are not one-size fits all. There are age restrictions and limits, weight requirements, and comfort and fit issues. It’s incredibly important to get a carrier that’s 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’re getting a pre-loved carrier, always check for recalls to make sure the model you’re 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 tot lightly pressed to your body, supporting your precious bundle’s back. If there’s any slack, your baby is more apt to slump down in the carrier, which can hinder breathing. If you’re unsure if your baby is close enough, gently press on your tyke’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 can’t accidentally slip through. Your baby carrier should also allow your tot’s knees to spread apart, so that the babys legs straddle your body. Their wee knees should be level to—or higher than—their bum. This’ll 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 don’t do any activities with your baby strapped to you that you wouldn’t do while carrying your tot 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 can’t land a wet one on your baby’s head or forehead, you’ll 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’ll need to rejigger them so that their neck is straight, and their chin is not pressed into their chest. You’ll 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.

Nurse safety.

If your baby carrier is designed with additional space in the bust to help support breastfeeding, don’t 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 preemies this way.

Infants who were born prematurely—and those with respiratory issues—shouldn’t be carried in backpacks or other carriers that hold them upright, according to the AAP. This position can potentially make it harder for these darling babies to breathe. If you’ve got a preemie or an ill baby, and you’d like to use a carrier, always have a conversation with your baby’s pediatrician 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.