Many parents use slings, wraps and carriers to keep their babies close and calm while doing chores or running errands. Moms and dads should make sure the wearable device fits well and their baby is safe.
A recent study estimated that 14,000 young children went to the emergency room from 2011-’20 after they were injured when they fell out of carriers or a caregiver fell while wearing one. Most of the babies had head injuries. Some had broken bones or cuts. About 15% were admitted to the hospital.
Following are guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep you and your baby safe and comfortable while using carriers.
- Do not put infants who were born prematurely or with respiratory problems in backpacks or other upright positioning devices because it may be hard for them to breathe.
- When using a sling, make sure the baby’s body does not curl into a C shape, which may cause breathing problems. Instead, the baby's neck should be straight and the head above the fabric.
- Check frequently to make sure you can see your baby’s face and fabric is not blocking the baby’s mouth or nose.
- Make sure the carrier is the right size for your child and is made of sturdy material. It should support the back, and the baby should not be able to slip through the leg holes.
- Aluminum frames on backpacks should be padded so babies won't be hurt if they bump against the frame.
- Check carriers and backpacks often to make sure seams and fasteners are not ripped.
- Bend at your knees if you need to pick something up while wearing a carrier. If you bend at the waist, the baby could fall out of the carrier, and you could hurt your back.
- Use the device’s restraining straps so your child doesn’t fall out, and make sure the baby is seated before you walk.