Using your baby carrier with a sleeping baby

You’ve heard “Owh”. What now?

Once you’ve learned the Baby Language, you’ll soon tune in to when your little one is ready for a sleep.

Most often, you’ll be at home and have the bassinet there. But being a new parent doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home for the first few months of your little one’s life. It’s good for both you and your newborn to get some fresh air everyday. And while they are sleeping is a perfect time for it.

Safety is the number one priority. Every year some babies suffocate in poorly fitted slings and carriers.

The pram is your go-to vehicle. But every child is different. Some will love the gentle rocking and ambient noises they hear in the pram. But others prefer to be close. To feel their parent. To listen to their heartbeat. To smell them.

This is why it’s always a good idea to have some sort of baby carrier with a sleeping baby as an option. Particularly if you have stairs to negotiate on the way.

The difference between baby carriers and slings

A baby carrier is a soft padded carrier that you wear on your front. Some have adjustable options so you can wear your baby on your back or hip as they get older. They are carefully tailored to be strong and secure. They are more expensive, but there is a good reason why.

A baby sling is a pouch secured over your shoulder and worn across your front in various positions.

If you use a carrier or sling properly, they’re safe and convenient ways to walk with your baby.

Suffocation risk with baby slings

Some babies have tragically died in baby carriers or slings because their airways were obstructed. A parent might be using a baby carrier with a sleeping baby, and not even realise that their baby has stopped breathing. Here are some guidelines that can help use them safely.

As a rule, baby carriers are better constructed, provide more support and are overall safer for the child. We recommend them above slings. However, mothers have used slings safely for millenia all over the world. So, if this is your preference it is fine as well. Just follow these guidelines to ensure the safety of your child.

  • The carrier or sling should be tight (but not too tight), with the baby’s head well supported. Ensure there isn’t any loose fabric near his mouth and nose.
  • Make sure you can see your baby’s face easily and check them regularly,
  • Your baby should be close enough to your chin that you can easily kiss her head.
  • When bending over, support your baby with one hand behind her back. Bend at the knees, not at the waist.

Babies who were premature, had low birth weight, are unwell, or are under four months of age are at greater risk of suffocation in baby slings. Avoid using carriers in hot weather, because your body heat and the carrier will increase your baby’s temperature. On hot days, you could use a shaded pram or stroller instead.

Maintaining healthy hip position in a baby carrier

If you’re interested in baby carriers, it’s important to look for one that allows healthy hip positioning for your baby. Spreading the baby’s legs at an un-natural angle can cause serious damage, so make sure that you read the instructions carefully for whichever carrier you choose.

Your baby carrier should allow your baby’s hips to spread so his legs are straddling your body. Your baby’s knees should be spread apart, his thighs should be supported, and his hips should be bent.

Our guide to buying a baby carrier

Check that the carrier comes with easy-to-understand written, visual or video instructions that show you how to use it safely. Take your baby with you when you’re shopping for a carrier. Ask a shop assistant to show you how to fit the carrier correctly with your baby in it. Your baby should be able to move his head, arms and legs. Check that your baby can see out of the carrier and that the fabric doesn’t cut into her face. Make sure you can put the carrier on and take it off without any help. Also ensure that you can do up any buckles, straps or clips without help and that you can adjust all straps firmly with one hand.

Finding a comfortable baby carrier

The best way to find a comfortable baby carrier is to try on different styles with your baby. If your partner and other carers will be using the carrier, look for a style that will be comfortable for them too.

Here are a few tips on choosing a comfortable baby carrier:

  • Look for broad, padded shoulder straps that go across your back, as well as a broad waist strap. These will help to distribute your baby’s weight evenly and keep some pressure off your shoulders. They should also stop the carrier moving from side to side too much.
  • Ensure the carrier is appropriate for different seasons and won’t make your baby overheat in the warmer months.
  • If you plan to use the carrier as your baby grows, look for a carrier that you can change around so your baby can face forwards.
  • Use your carrier only until your baby feels too heavy or uncomfortable to carry safely. Check the carrier’s instructions for the maximum weight the carrier can handle.

Using a baby carrier, sling or backpack safely

Here’s how to secure your baby in a carrier, sling or backpack and use this equipment safely.

  • Use the right baby carrier for your baby’s size.
  • Tighten the straps before you put your baby in the carrier, then use the straps to get a snug, secure fit.
  • Get someone to help you put your baby in the carrier until you get used to doing it on your own. Some people find it helps to practise with a doll or teddy before putting the baby in.

Don’t do these things wearing a baby sling

  • Take care when putting on and taking off the carrier, because this is when falls are most common. If you can, get somebody else to help you, or sit down on the floor.
  • Hold on to something stable – like a pole – if you bend down or lean forward while wearing the sling, carrier or backpack.
  • Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes. And always make sure that you keep an eye out for cracks in the pavement and other tripping hazards.

Learn the secret language of your baby

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Thousands of grateful parents recommend the Dunstan Baby Language course.