By Jennifer Taylor
Babywearing is a wonderful practice and has so many benefits for both baby and parent. But like anything, there are dangers and risks associated with babywearing. But there’s no reason to fear; as long as you know about them, it’s easy to avoid.
Below is a guide on keeping your little one safe and making babywearing a fun and bonding experience for all.
The T.I.C.K.S. Rule For Babywearing
The T.I.C.K.S. rule for babywearing is a set of 5 tips that you should keep in mind at all times.
Tight – Wear your carrier or sling as tight as it can be while still being comfortable. The reason for this is that a loose carrier can cause baby to slump over, which will in turn hinder their breathing. Not only that, but a loose carrier can cause back pain or possible injury if done over the long term.
In view at all times – Your child should be worn in a position that allows you to always see baby’s face. This means that no material should ever be covering their face, which once again, can hinder breathing. Being able to always see baby’s face also makes sure that you’ll be able to tell right away if something is wrong.
Close enough to kiss – Your child should be worn in a way that their head is as close to your face as possible, hence the “close enough to kiss.”
Keep chin off the chest – Make sure that there is always room between baby’s chin and chest, for the same reasons as above: to avoid restricting breathing, and to avoid a neck injury.
Supported back – If wearing your baby in an upright position, make sure that their back is supported at all times. This is to ensure that they don’t slump over. No matter which position you’re using, make sure that their back and bottom are supported to avoid this happening.
It’s unfortunate, but baby carriers can cause hip dysplasia if used incorrectly. Hip dysplasia is a misalignment of the hip joint, and improper babywearing can cause it because of putting too much stress on the hip joints.
The below diagram shows the right and wrong way to wear a baby to avoid hip dysplasia.
Baby’s thigh should be supported in the carrier, which takes all of the pressure and stress off of the hip.
General safety advice.
Avoid drinking hot drinks while babywearing. Even if you feel like you’ll never spill your drink, accidents do happen, and your little one will be right there when it happens.
Never wear your child while driving. In fact, in Australia and many other places, it’s illegal to have your child in the car without them being restrained in a car seat. It’s just not safe to wear your child in the car, even if you’re not driving; in the case of an accident, they’re much safer being restrained as opposed to on you.
Be very careful to avoid falls, especially in winter. A fall while babywearing can be very dangerous. If you live somewhere that gets cold enough that snow and ice form on the ground, that can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful. In order to avoid falls, always bend from the knees to maintain your center of gravity.
There should be no loose material. Be very careful to make sure there is no loose material that could potentially cover baby’s face or become wrapped around their neck. Not only that, but loose material could potentially get caught on something, resulting in injury to both you and your child.
Always examine the carrier before using. Make sure there are no holes or other damage to the carrier before putting your little one in it. On that note, it’s always a good idea to buy a new carrier as opposed to a hand-me-down or used carrier.
Practice, practice, practice. It’s always a good idea to practice using your carrier, especially with a partner, until you’re completely confident.
Keep a hand or two on baby at first. This goes along with the above tip. Using your hands at first will help you keep baby positioned correctly at all times. It will also help you make sure that all buckles and ties and nice and secure.
Just use common sense. Never use your carrier anywhere that could be dangerous. For example, places where floatation devices should be used or any type of moving vehicle. In short, never wear your child anywhere where it wouldn’t be safe for you to be holding them in your arms.
Double check your carry when out and about. When passing by reflective surfaces, use that as an opportunity to double check your carry. Also be sure to check on baby’s position with your hands.
Never put loose items in the carrier. The only thing that should ever be in the carrier is your little one, as these items could prove to be a choking or smothering hazard.
Keep an eye on what baby can reach for. Once your little one is old enough, their curious hands will be reaching for anything and everything. Make sure they can’t get their little hands on anything dangerous.
Jennifer Taylor is an author and creator of www.momtricks.com