Baby carrier and baby sling safety

Baby carriers and baby slings

Baby carrier and baby sling safety

by Anna Studman

Make sure you know the safest position to carry your baby when using a sling or carrier.

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Whether you're using a sling or carrier, or are new to both, you will need to make sure you're informed about how to carry your baby safely and comfortably. Below we run through the main safety check points for both slings and carriers, and what you need to know to keep your baby safe.

Browse all of our baby slings and carriers reviews to see which ones we found to be the sturdiest, most durable and most comfortable.

Baby sling safety

The UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers consortium recommends that baby sling wearers follow the 'TICKS' rule for safe use:

Tight

Baby slings should be tight enough to keep your baby close to your body.

In view at all times

Your baby's face should be visible simply by glancing down.

Close enough to kiss

Position your baby as close to your chin as possible – a good test is to see whether you can bend down to kiss your baby's head or forehead.

Keep chin off the chest

Ensure there's always a space of at least a finger width between your baby's chin and chest, allowing your baby to breathe easily.

Supported back

A young baby should be held comfortably close to the baby-sling wearer so their back is supported in its natural position, with their tummy and chest against you.

Baby carrier safety

We've received lots of feedback that the babies in our baby carriers trials liked a carrier that gives them the opportunity to face the direction that the parent is walking.

Some slings and carriers can be used like backpacks so that your baby faces forward, but there is some discussion on internet forums over whether front carriers with forward-facing positions offer correct leg and spine support for a growing baby.

Remember these key principles for carrying your baby safely in a front or back carrier.

Airways: With parent-facing carriers, make sure your baby always has a clear and open airway by keeping their chin off your chest, and allowing space for air to circulate around their face. Keep your baby high enough on your chest so that you can kiss the top of their head, and so that you can monitor their breathing and keep them in an upright position.

Body positioning: It's important that the baby's spine is supported adequately and that their legs aren't dangling: the baby's knees should be propped up higher than their bum and slightly bent. 

Comfort: It's important to look out for your baby's comfort as well as your own at all times. Practice all carriers – especially back carriers – with a spotter until you're confident. 

Damage: Make sure you inspect your carrier for wear and damage, especially if using a second-hand model.

Baby sling and carrier comfort

Comfort for you

  • You'll be more comfortable if your baby’s weight is held high and close against your body.
  • Broad straps distribute your baby’s weight more evenly across your back, making it more comfortable than those with thinner straps.
  • Baby carriers that hang from your shoulders can be very uncomfortable when worn for long periods, even with a newborn.
  • If you plan to do a lot of walking, a sling or carrier with a waist or hip belt will help redistribute the weight of your baby.

Comfort for your baby

The sling or carrier should hold your baby close against your body with support right along the length of the spine (especially for a newborn). Alternatively, many slings and baby carriers can be used in a cradle position for newborns so they can recline in the sling.