Written by chiropractor Beth Rawlings, this article discusses the best ways to carry a newborn in a baby-sling.
This is essential reading for anybody using a sling or carrier as mechanical strains on an infant’s body can impact on them for their entire lives.
How to Safely Use a Baby-Sling
Baby wearing has become increasingly popular and this is a great thing.
Slings and carriers allow you to go out and about without having to haul a push chair around with you and can leave you more ‘hands-free’ if using them at home.
They can also be brilliant for settling new-born’s in the difficult ‘fourth trimester’ who just do not like being put down!
However – not all carriers and slings are created equal.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but I’ve outlined some key tips to ensure that using a carrier is safe for you and your baby.
- Avoid having baby’s legs dangling down straight. Baby’s whole thigh should be supported from buttock to knee in an ‘M position’ with bottom lower than knees – this ensures minimal strain on their developing hips and back. This is especially important in babies with ‘clicky hips’ or possible hip dysplasia.
- New-born babies should always be carried facing your body – they don’t have enough head and neck control to support themselves when facing away without possibly restricting their breathing. You can start considering outward-facing carriers around the time when they have developed consistently good head and neck control – usually around 6 months old!
- The carrier should position them fairly high up on your chest. When your baby is in the carrier you should be able to kiss the top of their head with just a small nod of your head – this position leads to minimal strain on your back and gives your baby more freedom to turn their head.
- A snug fit – slings and carriers need to be fairly tight, as if you are hugging your baby close – if they are too loose this can increase the strain on your back and make it harder for baby to control their head position.
- Fingers width rule – there should be at least a fingers width between your baby’s chin and chest – if their chin is forced on to their chest this can restrict breathing.
- Upright is best – cradle positions in carriers can often lead to a chin to chest position, which can restrict breathing. The upright position is also best for baby’s developing hips and spine.
I don’t tend to recommend any specific brands of carrier or slings as different things suit different people.
I would, however, highly recommend getting in touch with a local sling library as they will have a wide variety of slings available to rent so you can ‘try before you buy’.
They are also run by people who are trained in the fit of slings and carriers and so will be able to help you choose the best option for you and your baby.
Details for the Worcester sling library can be found on the Worcester Postnatal website https://www.worcs-postnatal.co.uk/nappies-and-babywearing