At Babywearing UK, we were saddened to hear of the death of a baby in a sling last Christmas. Incidents in slings and carriers are rare and we want to reassure parents about sling safety, and remind them how to check that their baby is safe in a sling or carrier.
We know that while babywearing is a well-established practice across the world, it went out of fashion when the usage of pushchairs and strollers became widespread, in the 1950s. In the last twenty years, the practice has grown in popularity again among UK parents, with one survey showing that 80% of expectant parents would use a sling or carrier with their baby and many lists of ‘top ten items to buy for your baby’ including a sling or carrier.
There are many ways that parents and babies can benefit from using a sling or carrier (or babywearing, as it has become known) including the practicalities of having hands free, and providing a calm environment for the baby. It’s advised that it can be safer for babies to sleep in a sling or carrier than in a room on their own for daytime naps. There’s an ISIS online factsheet for parents about this that parents can read with a referenced factsheet for health professionals too. Look at our tips on choosing the right sling or baby carrier.
Like any baby product, it is important that parents know how to use their sling or carrier safely. Ensuring that the carrier is in a good condition and that the parent knows how to use it correctly and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions is essential, as is following the TICKS guidelines, created by the UK Sling Consortium, which advises following these tips to keep babies safe:
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off their chest
The ideal position for young babies is usually an upright one – think of the sling substituting for the parent’s arms, holding the baby in a natural, comfortable position. Check the baby frequently, especially if they show signs of distress, suddenly stop crying, wriggle or move in an unusual way or make any unusual sounds. Feeding in a sling or carrier is something that should ideally only be considered once the parent is confident about breastfeeding and babywearing and the baby can support its own head, from about four months of age. A baby who is fed in a carrier should be either fed in an upright position or returned to an upright position after feeding.
There’s no substitute for face to face advice & in the UK there are hundreds of sling libraries, sling meets & babywearing consultants, all of whom can offer information, show a range of slings & carriers and help parents find the right one for them. Find them on the Babywearing UK Local page.