Baby Carrier Safety

Baby Carrier Safety

 

Your baby belongs close to you. Babywearing keeps your baby close enough to kiss. We find, though, that a lot of parents start with concerns about the safety of babywearing and baby carriers.

Parents are right to be concerned. Babywearing is safe when done right with a safe carrier, but not all carriers are equal.

Baby Carrier Safety

Until quite recently, every parent had to rely on baby carrier manufacturers themselves to make safe products without any basic standards to guide them. It was manufacturers themselves who sought standards, and they now have clear, strict standards for making baby carriers as well as clear guidelines for parents to be sure that they use baby carriers safely. An international alliance of baby carrier manufacturers, store owners, and babywearing educators all join together in one organization that oversees baby carrier safety: the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA).

Basic Babywearing Guidelines

Always keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Holding position. Keep your baby in a position you would hold them in arms. Using a carrier mimics holding your baby.
  • Close enough to kiss. Unlike a should bag, your baby shouldn’t be hanging low. Keep the baby up high as you would hold them without a carrier.
  • Face visible. You need to be able to see you baby’s face at all times without skin, fabric, or anything else in the way.
  • Head and neck supported. This is very important. Proper support keeps your baby’s airway from restricting.

Wearing your baby safely is a skill you need to learn. Basic guidelines help, but they aren’t enough. This is why bynature.ca staff are Certified Babywearing Experts, trained to help you learn the skills you need for safe use of your carrier with your baby.

Please come by the store to learn more about babywearing. We want you to be close and safe.

Babywearing Workshops

Which workshop or consultant do you need? Choose from four. If you aren’t sure, drop by or call.

Just starting out? Our Babywearing 101 workshop for new and expectant parents is a great way to prepare for your baby’s birth or learn to wear your infant under 3 months old. The workshop is about 1.5 hours. Register online or in the store.

If you already know the basics, our Better Babywearing Clinic might be for you. Every Thursday morning at 10:00AM we hold a clinic that lasts 30-45 minutes where you learn infant physiology and step-by-step instruction. Each week, we focus on a specific style of carriers, so choose the week you attend based on the style you are interested in. We will also help you try carriers before you buy them after the clinic. Register online or in the store.

If you need more help, we also provide private babywearing consultation. If you’ve already attended the Bettery Babywearing clinic, you start with a 30-minute session. Without the clinic, you will need two 30-minute sessions. Your fee can be deducted from the cost of your carrier purchased from Parenting by Nature within seven days. Register online or in the store.

If you just need your carrier fitted, we can walk you through your choices, help you get the right carrier, and give you lessons to get started. Register for the Baby Carrier Fitting Service for a 30-minute consultation. Your fee can be deducted from the cost of your carrier purchased from Parenting by Nature within seven days. Register online or in the store.

It always helps to be well informed. For more babywearing safety, see the collection of links from BCIA.

Baby on a Budget: Just One Baby Carrier

Wrapsody Hybrid Baby Carrier Wrap

 

Before you have a baby, you probably aren’t sure exactly what you need. I’m sharing my experience to help you avoid buying stuff you won’t use.

A baby carrier is one of the baby essentials I recommend for you, even if you have a short list and a tight budget. Save money by buying just one baby carrier.

Why Is a Baby Carrier Essential?

  • Your baby gets what s/he wants: being close to you.
  • You keep baby close enough to kiss, so you become atuned to your baby’s needs. (The “attachment” in attachment parenting.)
  • You are free to use your arms and keep moving.

Especially in the first few months, most babies want to be very close to their parents. After babies start to move around, they will still spend a lot of time asking to be picked up. You have a higher vantage point to see the world. You are comfort when there is too much stimulation. Even a toddler wants to be held a lot. I still think of my little boy (before he was 6′ tall) saying, “Hold me,” and me getting out the sling that was sturdy enough to hold a toddler.

You will hold your child a lot. A baby carrier makes that a lot easier.

How to Save Money on Baby Carriers

Baby carriers are an expensive item because they involve a lot of high-quality fabric. I wouldn’t advise you to save money by getting a low-quality carrier or low-quality fabric. This is a safety issue. The baby carrier industry has done a great job in the past few years creating a standard that keeps your baby safe. It’s worth choosing a carrier that adheres to the high standard.

So, my alternative method of saving on baby carriers is to get just one carrier that works for all sizes and situations.

The One Baby Carrier: Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid

The staff at bynature.ca recommends the Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid as their most versatile and economical carrier over the lifetime of your use.

  • Wear newborn to toddler
  • Use as front carrier, hip carrier, or back carrier
  • One size fits all. 6 yards of fabric with hemmed, tapered ends so it is easy to tie
  • Soft fabric doesn’t create pressure points on your body, like heavier wraps or too quick wrapping sometimes creates
  • Compact enough to fit in your bag
  • Includes a DVD to help you learn wrapping

It is perfect for newborn.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Aphrodite pattern

Perfect for napping babies.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Alyssa

And also perfect for toddlers who really need to see the world.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Chronos

What makes this carrier a particular favorite is the soft, stretchy fabric. This 100% cotton fabric is soft like a stretchy wrap but strong and supportive enough to function like a woven wrap.

One of the most important things for about a baby carrier, since you will be spending a lot of time wearing it over the next few years, is what it looks like. I hated my baby sling that had pastel baby patterns on it. I always reached for the one that matched my clothes (black). Think about how you dress, and buy your baby carrier accordingly. You will save yourself having to buy another one because you hesitate to wear the first.

With the Wrapsody Bali, the choices are gorgeous. Each one is unique because of the variations in hand-dyed and batiked fabric (from Bali, Indonesia). You can get a beautiful pattern, if that fits you, or a rainbow stripe, or a more subtle, neutral color. You have choices, and they are all dyed with baby-safe dyes (no heavy metals). You baby will suck and chew on the carrier, so that is important.

You will probably be wearing this carrier every day for a year, most days for the year after that, and occasionally into the third year. You will get a lot of wear out of your baby carrier. Don’t let the price tag scare you into skipping the baby carrier or opting for a cheaper version that you will have to replace.

Choose wisely the first time, and you will save in the long run.

More Baby on a Budget

All this month we will feature posts on saving money with babies.

See my short list of baby essentials and the stuff you will find on all of the other lists but you probably won’t use: “Baby on a Budget: What Do You Really Need?”

What is the best way to save on cloth diapers? Find out in “Baby on a Budget: Cloth Diapers.”

And, simplest of all, what do you need to buy to breastfeed? My answer in “Baby on a Budget: Breastfeeding Supplies.”

Common Questions about Forward-facing Baby Carriers

Babywearing mistake in advertising photo

We caused a bit of a stir earlier this week when we posted the photo above on Facebook and asked, “Can you spot the babywearing faux pas in this Babies R Us photo?”

The answer is: the baby carried outward-facing on the back. A baby should not be carried like this. The carrier is designed to be worn on the front with the baby facing outward.

Our point was that even a very large baby store can get babywearing wrong. Someone clearly didn’t read the instruction manual before the photo shoot. It does help parents when they buy from an experienced retailer that spends the day helping parents carry babies close and safely. Our employees at bynature.ca are trained in babywearing safety.

What actually happened during the Facebook conversation, though, was very interesting. Some commentors thought that both the baby on the left (front-facing front carry) and the baby in the center (back-facing back carry) were incorrect positions. The position on the left is not optimal, but it is not unsafe either.

We had a good discussion about forward-facing carriers, and we heard some of the comments and questions we hear a lot in the store. We’ve gathered those questions for you here.

Aren’t all outward-facing baby carriers bad?

No! Not at all. We don’t sell or suggest the BabyBjorn or carriers that don’t allow for optimal positioning, but we don’t feel they are inherently bad, either. Some babywearing advocates dismiss all use of these carriers, but in other circles the Bjorn and Snugli (the carrier worn incorrectly in this photo) are often referred to as “gateway carriers.” These carriers are readily available in mainstream department stores, and they are often a new parent’s first introduction to babywearing. They can be a first step toward an optimal carrier.

The BabyBjorn, for example, has been used for more than 50 years. As babywearing advocates, we would much rather see a parent using a carrier like a Bjorn, keeping baby safe and close to the wearer, promoting bonding and easing the transition to life with baby, than not using an baby carrier at all.

But, when a narrow-seated carrier is no longer comfortable and parents come to us asking how to continue carrying baby beyond 8 months, we’ve got lots of suggestions to help them continue babywearing comfortably (and safely) for much longer than the Bjorn will allow.

Carrying a baby in a carrier is much safer than any other device (car seat, stroller, bouncy seat, swing, etc.). Evidence supports this. We would rather support parents using these carriers, so they understand that it’s safe and good for baby to be carried close, especially since it can mean the difference between having a baby carried or not carried at all.

Isn’t wearing a baby front-forward facing unsafe for the baby?

No, there is nothing generally unsafe for baby about it. Forward-facing is not ideal, but it isn’t unsafe either.

But, I heard that outward facing baby carriers harm a baby’s hip development.

There isn’t any substantiating evidence that supports the theory that forward-facing is harmful to developing hips—despite rumors circulating on the internet. Absolutely no studies have been done with babies.

Front-forward carrying does not cause hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is congenital, meaning: babies who actually have hip dysplasia are born with it. A mild case could potentially be exacerbated by swaddling or poor carrier positioning, but poor positioning isn’t going to give a baby hip dysplasia.

Does forward facing babywearing cause a baby’s back to arch?

Yes, it can, and a baby’s back should not arch in any baby carrier, but that can be fixed with proper positioning.

Shouldn’t the baby have hip support in a baby carrier?

An optimal carry will support a baby with legs bent at the hips in an M-shape (the baby’s bottom being the center of the M with knees at the top of the M). A narrow seat is not optimal because it doesn’t support the bent legs. Yes, the M-position is ideal, but it is not unsafe or harmful to have baby forward facing even if not in M-position.

What are the issues with front-forward carrying?

For the wearer. The front-forward carry may not be comfortable for the wearer. For a newly postpartum mother, the baby facing out puts a lot of outward pressure on the wearer’s core muscle structure—even more if baby is hanging too low—as well as downward pressure on the pelvic floor. With a body that is recovering from pregnancy and birth, a body still processing relaxin, this outward pressure can damage the pelvic floor and core muscles and delay muscle recovery.

For the baby. There is nothing inherently unsafe about front-forward facing for a baby. A proper seat will likely be more comfortable for a little one (consider how you might like to be positioned in a swing with a seat or by a narrow band across your crotch), but it’s not a safety issue.

You might find that facing forward can be over-stimulating for some babies, since they can’t look away from what is going on around them, but this isn’t a safety issue. Many babies do like to be facing forward. If your baby is unhappy with the stimulation of seeing the busy world, you will probably hear about it. When your baby is uncomfortable or unhappy, it’s time to turn around and face in toward you.

Babywearing Safety

Our focus in our physical store and our online store is babywearing safety.

Babies should face in as infants, since this position stabilizes their head and neck and protects their airway. While forward facing or a narrow-seated carrier isn’t something we recommend, neither do we call it “dangerous.” When we talk about safety and babywearing to new parents, we only call “dangerous” those real, clear dangers of serious injury or death, such as positional asphyxia, poor positioning, or improper use of a carrier.

For more information on babywearing safety, see Babywearing International’s safety guidelines.

Babywearing in Winter

Peekaru vest baby carrier

In winter, you can protect your baby from the sharp bite of the frosty air by babywearing. Keeping your baby close to your chest allows you to share body heat. Just remember to keep the rest of your baby covered.


Use a Wrap Carrier

Baby wrap carrer from Blue Celery

For younger babies, this is the ideal season to use a wrap baby carrier. Baby wrap carriers don’t leave as much room for air flow, which is a good thing in the wintertime.


Cover Those Baby Legs

Baby Spats for warm ankles

If you use a baby carrier that leaves legs free, be sure to cover your child’s legs to keep them warm. Pants can ride up and leave bare skin. Baby spats and baby legs will protect little legs.


Wear a Baby Carrier Cover

Peekaru babywearing vest

Rather than covering each spot the wind and snow try to sneak in, you can wear a cover over you both. Peekaru’s fabulous vest covers every little hollow between you to keep the cold out. This vest fits over you and your baby together. If you only want to cover the baby and the carrier, Catbird Baby makes a baby carrier cover that works with most styles of baby carriers.

Your Summer Baby Carrier

Ergo Baby Carrier for summer

Windows are open. I notice the occasional warm breeze. It’s time to ask whether you have the right carrier to take advantage of this beautiful weather with your baby or toddler. Do you have your summer baby carrier?

As you are out and about this summer, how active will you be and for how long?


Mei Tai Baby Carriers

If you will just be walking around town or going to the park, a soft mei tai baby carrier gives you a good balance between comfort and support for both you and your baby.

The FreeHand Mei Tai Baby Carrier is soft like traditional Asian baby carriers.

Free Hand baby carrier at bynature.ca

The BabyHawk Mei Tai Carrier has thicker, padded shoulder straps.

BabyHawk baby carrier at bynature.ca

Both of these mei tai carriers get great reviews from our customers.


Soft Pack Buckle Carriers

If you will be hiking and spending a lot of time wearing your baby, a soft-pack buckle baby carrier will give both of you more support.

The Ergo Baby Carrier is our most popular baby carrier—lightweight an very comfortable.

Ergo baby carrier

The Boba Baby Carrier takes the traditional mei tai shape and adds zippered pouches, straps, and buckles to make this adaptable for long periods out.

Boba baby carrier

Ergo always gets great reviews, but none of our customers has reviewed the Boba yet. Be the first!

A comfortable baby carrier that fits your lifestyle makes an active summer with your baby so much easier.