One of the most convenient and intimate ways to carry your baby around is in a baby carrier. If you’re considering purchasing a baby carrier, you’ve got options, including:
Backpack or front pack. This device allows you to carry your baby in an upright position on your back or against your chest.
Baby sling. This is a one-shouldered baby carrier made of soft fabric.
Choosing a baby carrier: Not all baby carriers are created equal. Some carriers aren’t appropriate for certain babies. Others are quickly outgrown. When looking for a carrier:
- Find the appropriate size for your baby. The carrier’s leg holes should be small enough so that your baby can’t fall through them. Keep in mind that some models aren’t appropriate for newborns.
- Check the weight minimum and limit. Different models have different weight limits. Consider how long you’d like to use it.
- Look at the construction. Will the carrier provide adequate support for your baby’s head and neck? Is the material sturdy? If you’re looking for a backpack with an aluminum frame, is it padded to protect your baby if he or she bumps against it?
- Try it out. Is the carrier comfortable for you and your baby? If you plan to use the carrier for a while, consider how that straps will feel when your baby grows, gains weight and becomes more restless.
Baby carrier risks: When used incorrectly, a baby sling can pose a suffocation hazard to an infant younger than age 4 months. Babies have weak neck muscles and can’t control their heads during the first few months after birth. If the baby sling’s fabric presses against a baby’s nose and mouth they may not be able to breathe. this can quickly lead to suffocation. In addition, a baby sling can keep a baby in a curled position–bending the chin to the chest. This position can restrict the baby’s airways and limit his or her oxygen supply. In turn, this can prevent a baby from being able to cry for help.
Safety tips: When using any baby carrier, take the following precautions:
- Be careful when bending. Bend at the knees, rather than at the waist, when picking something up. this will help keep your baby settled securely in the carrier.
- Keep up with maintenance. Keep an eye out for wear and tear. Repair any rips or tears in the carrier’s seams and fasteners.
- Keep your baby’s airway unobstructed. If you use a baby sling, make sure your baby’s face isn’t covered by the sling and is visible to you at all times. Check your baby frequently to make sure they are in a safe position.
- Be careful after breast-feeding. If you breast-feed your baby in a baby sling, make sure you change your baby’s position afterward so their head is facing up and is clear of the baby sling and your body.
adapted from Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year