How to use baby carriers safely and choose the right one for you

As you’ll see from our walks we love taking Ashley out in our backpack carrier, as it means we can go off the beaten track. We’ve always been big fans of carriers ever since Ashley was little.

I get sent a lot of questions about baby/toddler carriers so I’ve asked Jodie from Jenni Bean Consultancy CIC (JBC) to provide a guide to safe babywearing and how to choose a suitable carrier. JBC work to support families in the Marlow and High Wycombe area with baby carrying. They work with families on a ‘one to one’ basis, as well as providing online services, workshops and social meets.

A guide to babywearing by Jodie from Jenni Bean Consultancy CIC

Getting out and about in the fresh air has never been as important to us as it is now. With families descending on mass to our beloved foot paths getting a pram or buggy out and about has become… problematic.  As Buckinghamshire is also so hilly, this can make many walks rather precarious when on wheels.

Jenni Bean Consultancy CIC have teamed up with Baby in Bucks to give a quick look guide to Slings (AKA baby carriers). The first half will take you through some safety and the second half will introduce some of the sling options available to you and your family, along with some tips for getting started.

How to safely carry your baby

It is important to keep you and your family safe so always follow the safety guidance from the manufacture.  If you are at all unsure then contact your local sling library/consultant. You can find a comprehensive list of sling consultants and libraries at www.slingpages.co.uk .

There are many aspects of safety to take into consideration when carrying and these are applicable when carrying in arms, in a sling or a removable car seat. Many of them are also apply when moving a baby with other aids such as a pram or buggy.

T.I.C.K.S

In the UK the most common infographic used when it comes to babywearing is T.I.C.K.S, which focusses on keeping the babies airways clear. It is so important to ensure the airways are clear and visible at all times while carrying.

Additional safety aspects to take into consideration

  • The material of the carrier should be high enough on the baby’s back for it to meet the nape of the neck and no lower than the armpits. Ideally the fabric should also meet the child’s knee pits.
  • Your feet must not both leave the ground at any point, this is especially important when taking exercise. This also include the use of bicycles, which in the UK is not only dangerous but it is also illegal to use a sling while riding.
  • Be responsive to changing temperatures. Avoid bulky coats and snow/pram suits as these are hard to regulate and also cause a very poor fit for car seats and sling alike. They can also put pressure on the toes if the are even slightly too small (as can all in ones). Use layers instead as they are easier to remove and won’t affect the fit.
  • Babies who are unable to sit completely unaided or are asleep must be kept facing their caregiver.  This also applies if you are traveling over terrain that has a higher slip, trip or fall risk or in a busy or highly stimulating environments. Periods of facing away from the care giver should not exceed 20 minutes, this may need to be reduced for some babies.

 

Choosing the right carrier

There are so many styles, models and brands of slings available which can make it very difficult when choosing one for your family.

My first piece of advice would be to try before you buy!  Try putting it on completely unaided and ideally use it for a month in different situations.

The next is try not to get blindsided by brands, styles or your friends’ recommendations. Everyone’s needs, what they find comfortable or easy differs and you could surprise yourself with what you fall in love with.

Look at size more than weight. The weight guidelines on slings are measured by adding weights and seeing if it breaks. This is why many slings won’t fit even though your child is within the weight limit.

Don’t give up!  So often people tell me they have tried ‘every option’ and find them all uncomfortable. We have around 300 in our library for you to try.

Different sling types

Below is a very brief outline of the main sling types however there are variations and other types not on this list.

Types Description
Stretchy wrap A simple length of knitted/jersey fabric (average 4-5m) with a stretch to the vertical and/or horizontal. Tied to the care givers and infants individual body shape. Most frequently used for smaller/younger babies
Woven Wraps A simple length of woven fabric (most start with a size 6, 4.5m) with no stretch. Tied to the caregivers and infants individual body shape. Will carry any sized baby/ child
Stretchy Hybrid A Semi constructed stretchy wrap, which can be adjusted to the caregiver and baby’s size. Most frequently used for smaller/ younger babies
Ring slings A length of fabric (approx 2m) with a cast set of metal rings at one end. These are most commonly made from woven fabric however there are gauze and jersey ones also available. Tied to the care givers and infants individual body shape. Will carry any sized baby/ child
Meh- Dai (Beh-Dai/ Mai-ties) A Panel of fabric secured at the waist and shoulders with lengths of fabric.  The fabric could be hardwearing cotton blend or woven fabric. Tied to the care givers and infants individual body shape. Will carry any sized baby/ child depending on the size of the carrier being used.
Apron carriers A panel of fabric secured at the waist and shoulders with a buckle. They come in many fabric options from stretchy jersey, hard wearing cotton or woven fabric. Adjusted to fit caregiver and baby. Will carry any baby/child depending on the size of the carrier being used.
Soft Structured carriers Shaped panels of fabric with substantial shoulder and waist padding. They come in hard wearing cotton or woven fabrics. Adjusted to fit caregiver and baby. Rarely fit small/ young babies without additions. Will carry any baby/child depending on the size of the carrier being used.
Hard structured carriers Adapted Hiking backpacks with preformed shape supported by a solid structure. Come in hard wearing cotton but most often nylon/ polyester blend. Some minimal adjustment for caregiver and child. Not suitable for children who are unable to sit completely unaided, or children with any muscular or skeletal conditions.

Additional help and advice

If you would like additional support from JBC then why not book yourself onto one of their carrying workshops. The next group session is running online on 27th March. Click here for more information and to book.

Alternatively they also run bespoke one to one sessions at a time to suit you.

JBC’s sling library is currently suspended due to lockdown, but this is a fantastic service when it is back up and running. Click here to find out more.

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