Things to consider
Currently there are no applicable safety standards for baby carriers supplied to the Australian marketplace. It’s therefore important to use trusted brands from reputable retailers that offer guidance about baby carrier use and that come with detailed safe use manuals or offer how-to videos.
Safety with a carrier
Many retailers allow you to try on baby carriers with a doll that simulates the weight and size of your baby, from newborns to toddlers. Remember that newborns lack the strength to support their heads and must be inward facing in a carrier.
It’s always safer to visit a brick and mortar store to receive any guidance on their use and try out carriers before buying to ensure they’re comfortable for both you and the baby.
You can start using a carrier in the earliest days post-birth, although you should consider some basic safety advice.
Always ensure that:
- the carrier is appropriate for the size and height of your baby
- your baby is not slumped in the carrier – they are pressed snugly against you but can move their arms, legs and head
- your baby’s mouth and nose are not forced into your chest and are otherwise unobstructed by loose fabric like a collar or scarf
- your baby’s head and neck are supported at the back – newborns cannot support their own head
- your baby’s legs are straddling you and the carrier (like they are on a motorbike), not straightened out towards the ground
- all the buckles, clips and straps are in good working order
- you can adjust the straps easily and readily
- you can get the carrier on and off safely without assistance.
If carriers are incorrectly used they can be a serious hazard to the development of a baby – such as contributing to conditions like hip dysplasia – or, in some instances, they can result in suffocation.
When not to use a baby carrier
If your baby was born prematurely, has a low birth weight or is at risk or suffering from breathing or other health complications, it’s best not to use a baby carrier until further advice from a doctor.
If you have any worries about using a baby carrier so early, or you’re just unsure about proper use, it’s best not to do so until your baby’s a little older or you have received guidance from an expert.