Purchasing and manufacturer instructions
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions – not only about placing and positioning your newborn but also about safely wearing the carrier or sling.
Currently there are no mandatory safety standards that apply to baby carrier and sling suppliers in Australia. It’s best practice to opt for well-established manufacturers who supply extensive supporting content on their website or in the form of online videos about safely and correctly using their products. By purchasing from a retailer, you can go into store and try out the carrier or sling, ask for advice and even test it with newborn-sized dolls.
While your baby is in their first few months of life, they don’t yet have the strength to support their own heads. You must consider this when purchasing your carrier to ensure that your baby isn’t in danger of hurting their neck or of their head flopping forward, which can put them at risk of suffocation.
Unless they are adjustable, carriers with rigid frames should be avoided as these are normally to support the weight of older babies and toddlers. Make sure, too, that your carrier reduces sideways movement and slumping and that the straps can be positioned to prevent your baby falling out.
Slings are reasonably simple products made from fabric and other supporting materials. They lack many of the fastenings and straps of carriers so should be used with care and only if you are confident putting them on and getting your baby in and out of them.
When using your sling, you must ensure that your baby doesn’t slump into a ‘C’ position, which can force their head forward and lead to suffocation.
Whether you use a carrier or a sling, correct positioning of your baby’s hips is important for their health and development. If your baby is forced into a foetal position or their legs stretch towards the ground, you can put them at risk of developing hip dysplasia.
Your baby’s hips must be positioned so that their body weight is distributed across their buttocks and upper thighs. They should be able to straddle the sling or carrier like they are sitting astride a motorcycle, with their knees partially half-bent and pointing outwards and down.
- Avoid cooking while carrying your baby in a sling or carrier.
- Make sure you can put on and remove the sling or carrier by yourself.
- You should be able to adjust the sling or carrier with one hand.
- Get into the habit of checking the straps, fastenings and joins of the sling or carrier before each use.
- If you need to bend down, keep your centre of gravity or hold onto something and bend your knees.
- Make sure to following all instructions for adjusting the sling or carrier as your baby grows.