Tote Your Baby in a Sling—Safely
Wearing your baby in a baby sling can help them stay calm while giving your arms a
rest. If not used correctly, however, babywearing can put your baby at risk for serious
injury. It's very important that you read all of the safety materials that come with
your baby sling or carrier and become familiar with the recommendations of the Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The biggest risk
The biggest risk of using a sling is suffocation. Babies don't have enough neck strength
to lift their own heads. An infant's chin can curl forward and touch the chest. This
could cut off oxygen to the baby. The baby can also press their face against the fabric.
This blocks oxygen to the nose and mouth. If this happens, your infant could suffocate
Infants who are premature, low-birth-weight twins or triplets, or ill are at a greater
risk of death with the use of carriers and slings. Parents of preemies, low-birth-weight
babies, twins, triplets, or ill infants should talk with their child's healthcare
provider before using any infant carrier.
Advice for safe carrying
The CPSC has this advice for parents who want to keep their hands free and their babies
Carry your baby so that you can see their mouth and nose at all times. Make sure that
the baby's chin is not curled forward into their chest.
Don't place any blankets or covers over the baby's head.
Carry your baby high so that you can see their face.
Don't let your baby's chin touch their chest.
Make sure the baby's face is not pressed close against you.
Choose your activities wisely! Many people like using baby carriers and slings so
that they can do other activities. Don't do anything you wouldn't do with a baby in
your arms. Never do activities that could put your baby at risk. These include jogging,
jumping on a trampoline, participating in sports, riding a bike, driving, cooking
near a hot surface, or other dangerous activities with your baby in a carrier.
Never wear your baby in a car. Babies should always be in an approved car seat. And
never wear your baby in a boat. Babies should wear the correct personal flotation
Make sure to follow the guidelines in the sling or carrier packaging. Some carriers
are intended for older children who are able to hold up their heads.
Make it a habit to regularly examine your carrier before putting your baby into it.
Protect your baby from the environment. Make sure that their legs are covered and
warm in cool weather. When their legs are uncovered, make sure that sunscreen is applied
if you will be outside.
As your baby gets older, they might be interested in items that are close. Be very
careful that nothing unsafe is within reach.
To learn how to use your new carrier or sling, practice with a doll or ask for help.
You can also use a mirror to make sure that your baby appears safe and secure.