Safety Saturday: Baby Carriers
Humans are certainly not alone in having to carry their young ones months (and even years) after they are born. In fact, many animals transport their babies in a variety of ways – marsupials like kangaroos and koalas have pouches, while chimpanzees and scorpions carry babies on their backs. Other species such as fish and crocodiles transport their young using their mouths. Products such as baby carriers mimic the pouches and back carrying tactics of these animals (and thankfully, we ignore the ways of our fish and crocodile friends). If you decide to use a carrier, be sure to follow these helpful tips to ensure you are using it correctly:
- Find the right carrier for you and your child. Slings are meant to hold lightweight infants. Soft, structured carriers are good for any age, but best for an older child since the supportive pieces evenly distribute a baby’s weight. Make sure all straps on the carrier or the fabric of the sling are tight.
- Baby should sit with their legs in an “M” shape: legs wide, knees bent and slightly above their waist. Their thighs should be supported and hips bent. Most hip developmental issues, including hip dysplasia, occur in the first 4 months of a newborn’s life.
- Until your baby is strong enough to hold up its own head, the head and neck should be secure and supported. Do not put your baby in a front carry facing out position until he or she has reached this milestone.
- Use extra care in maintaining an infant’s airway in any baby carrier. Your baby’s face should always be visible to you and their airway never obstructed, either by the carrier or your body. This is especially true for sling carriers. If you are nursing your child in a sling, be sure to turn their head away from your body when they are finished, even if they fall asleep.
- Never carry a child in a front-wearing carrier or sling while cooking. Your baby could be seriously injured or burned. Use only when walking and watch for trip hazards.
Look for the Seal: In the market for a new carrier? Check out this list of certified safety carriers that are part of the JPMA Certification Program. The seal exemplifies a manufacturer’s commitment to safety and proves that a manufacturer has tested their product annually to an established standard. Manufacturers participating in the certification program are held to high standards and are obligated to meet those principles with every product.