We constantly worry about our children, and this drives us to ask what is safe for everything they do. Is this the safest carseat? Is it dangerous to have a drop sided cot? When is it safe to carry my baby? Well that last one is tricky, because the simple answer is – it depends.
From the moment your child is conceived they are carried. They get used to the rocking motion of walking in-utero and the sounds and smells of their mother, so that when they are born they want to be held almost constantly. From birth you will almost certainly carry your baby in arms, and no one would question if that was the safe thing to do. But when we add in equipment such as carriers or slings, we also add an element of risk. This is not because the slings or carriers are unsafe, but that they rely on your baby being at a specific developmental stage to use them safely (although as with all things there are ways to work around this). If your baby was born prematurely or has specific medical needs, carrying from birth in a sling or carrier may not be possible, but for healthy term babies they can usually be held in a carrier from birth.
Certain slings are suitable from birth while others are more suited to older children. For smaller babies you may favour stretchy style carriers or slings, which more closely mimic the feeling of being held in utero. You may prefer a more structured carrier, and as long as it is designed for small babies it should be safe to use.
T.I.C.K.S is a great resource to outline safety, but if you struggle with it let me suggest 2 key safety points:
- First, can your child breathe? When they are in the carrier is their airway clear and is there good airflow around their face?
- Second, if you take your hands off the carrier will your child’s position change? If you feel like you cannot take your hands off the carrier that would suggest you need to look at the tightening and positioning of your child.
If you have any concerns about safety while carrying the best thing to do is get professional advice. You can find your local sling library at Carrying Matters and they can make sure your carrying solution is safe for you and your baby.