Are Baby Carriers Safe? A Baby Carrier Guide From One Mom to Another

As a new mom or a mom-to-be, you must be overwhelmed with too much information and advice (oftentimes unsolicited) and scared as hell for that little bundle of joy of yours. Some of the questions in each mom’s mind are – Are baby carriers safe? What is healthy hip positioning? Worry not, as I am here to answer all your questions, even the craziest ones, and chase your baby carrier safety worries away with some useful advice.

Can a Baby Suffocate in a Baby Carrier?

Let’s bring the big guns and clear out the scariest questions first. Don’t worry – you’re not the only parent wondering this. Fortunately, a baby suffocating in a carrier is a very unlikely occurrence. However, it is not impossible. Infants at the highest risk are the most vulnerable ones – those born prematurely, those with low birth weight, and those with breathing issues (even if it’s caused by a simple cold). Or those in faulty carriers. 

There are 3 things to watch out for to prevent your baby from suffocating in a carrier:

  • Get a carrier that meets CPSC safety standards
  • Make sure the baby sling doesn’t press against the nose and mouth
  • Make sure your body doesn’t press against nose and mouth

Babies can’t control their heads in the first couple of months, and if their nose and mouth are blocked, it will be hard for them to move their head or cry for help. So, watch out for these 3 things and make sure you can see your baby’s head at all times.

Are Baby Carriers Dangerous?

Werhner Von Braun once said: “If you give a knife to a surgeon and a murderer, each will use it differently”. Now, a baby carrier is by no means close to a knife, but you get the picture. It can be a very useful tool for young parents, but it is a potential hazard, as well (like many things when it comes to babies). So, yeah, they can pose a danger for a baby’s hip development and lead to hip dislocation. To maximize the advantages of babywearing carriers, you should know how to use one and how to place your baby in its carrier. And we’ll tell you.

What Are the Signs of Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia or displacement is a condition in which the femur (thigh bone) doesn’t fit with the hip joint as it should. Babies can be born with it (1 in 1000) or develop it over time. That’s why it’s important to check your newborn’s hips and look for symptoms of hip dysplasia regularly. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, signs of hip dysplasia are:

  • Sore hips
  • Unstable hip joint
  • Limping when walking
  • Tilting one side more when crawling
  • Unequal leg length 

How Do You Fix Hip Dislocation?

Doctors check the baby’s hip development on each visit to make sure everything’s OK. If the doctor diagnoses the condition of hip dysplasia, they will advise you on the correct treatment and way to go about it. Hip dysplasia in babies under 6 months old is usually treated with a soft harness that holds the joins in place while the little one grows. Or they can advise physical therapy – exercises will help strengthen the joint and your baby’s ability to move it. In other cases, doctors will repair the hips with less or more invasive surgery, depending on the condition of the baby.

Know the Healthy Hip Positioning Technique

If you know how to properly carry your baby – you won’t have to worry about your baby’s hip development. How do you properly carry a baby in a carrier? According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, your baby should form a frog-like or spread squad position. This kind of baby positioning is also known as the jockey position. Their thighs are spread around your torso and the knees a little higher than the buttocks. So, the hip joints and the knees should be bent, and the baby’s legs should be in a free-fall position. Check out the picture below.

Is Baby Carrier Bad for Baby’s Neck and Back?

Besides the healthy hip positioning, many fresh parents out there are also worried about their baby’s neck and back. Like you probably know by now – your baby’s neck is a particularly vulnerable part of its body. Especially in the first couple of months when babies are unable to move their heads. That’s why many parents choose not to use carriers before their little one is 4 months old. However, there are many new carriers and slings out there which were designed especially for newborns. And they are perfectly safe for both their neck and back if used properly.

Are baby carriers bad for your back?

Now, this is a question that has been debated by many for years. It is sure to get the mommas going at the park. On one side, there are people who say baby carriers can cause back pain and injury because they force you to bend over at an unnatural angle. But on the other hand, it’s argued that using a baby carrier actually alleviates pressure from your spine because of how deep muscles in our lower back contract when we’re bent forward while carrying something heavy – like when you carry your baby.

Here’s how I went about it – I tried it out, didn’t notice any particular back pain or body troubles, and kept using it. If you feel back pain after you’ve started using it, go check with your doctor to see if it’s from the carrier. Also, there are many carriers you can wear on your back or alternate between the back and front. Different things work (or don’t) for different people, so you see if it works for you or not. And, then join your clan at the park!

At What Age Can You Put a Baby in a Carrier?

When can you carry your baby in a carrier? This is another one that can spark debate between parents. Many people prefer to wait until their baby is at least 4 months old and their necks are more developed. Others wait until the baby is 7 months old. And some put their baby in a baby sling or carrier when they are fresh out of the hospital. Let the people do them, and you do you.

Are Baby Carriers Safe for Newborns?

While there seem to be people who are afraid of putting their newborn in a carrier – it’s perfectly safe. Of course, you need to do it right and put safety measures in place. If you choose to go this route, you should know that you should use a newborn insert in your carrier. Or you can opt for a newborn-specific carrier – these are specially designed for newborn babies as their name suggests. And they just might be your best option.

Can Newborns Sleep in Carriers?

Yes and no. Newborn babies shouldn’t be held in carriers for prolonged periods of time, so naturally, you don’t want to use the carrier as a substitute for its crib. But, you know (or you’re about to know) newborns – they tend to sleep a lot. So, if you are out and about with your precious one and it just happens to fall asleep in the carrier – don’t panic! There’s no need to frantically get it out of it and rush home or whatever you might think of. Your newborn will be perfectly fine sleeping in a carrier for about an hour so long as you watch his head and keep its mouth and nose in the open.

What to Look For in a Baby Carrier?

It’s important to choose a carrier that is comfortable for you and your baby. It should also allow healthy positioning of the hips and, of course, adhere to safety regulations. Here are the tips for choosing a baby carrier:

  • Don’t cheap out – While it may be tempting to choose the cheaper options, resist temptation and think it through. Safety and comfort are not something you want to bargain with, so choose a reliable, safe, and comfortable carrier. If you are low on cash, you can always check out those Facebook pages where moms sell their used high-quality baby stuff at lower prices. And, if you buy a new one, you can resell it when you no longer need it.
  • Safety is paramount – Make sure the one you end up choosing allows your baby’s face and airways to be clear and unobstructed. And the carrier should keep the baby held tightly.
  • Comfort for you and your baby – Look for a carrier with good back support and padded straps so it doesn’t dig into your skin. Make sure it fits your body type. As for the baby’s comfort – it should provide good head support and the holes should be loose enough for the baby’s legs, hips, and knees. 
  • Mobility is important – Your little one should be able to move its head, arms, and leg.
  • Versatility is a plus – If you are spending a lot of money on your baby carrier, get one that’s adjustable and that you’ll be able to use as your baby grows. Having a front and back option is also a great advantage.
  • It should be practical and weather-suitable – Look, babies are messy and it’s likely that your brand new carrier will be dirty the very next day. So, find one that’s easy to clean. Also, you will want it to be made of lighter fabric so your little one doesn’t overheat in summer.

Top 5 Rules for Safe Babywearing – Meet The T.I.C.K.S

If you are interested in babywearing, you might as well get familiar with the T.I.C.K.S right away. The whole community knows about these rules and for good reason – they’ll keep your little one safe in the carrier and their hip development on point. The key is to keep the baby’s hips and knees in the right position and its airways out in the open. So, here goes:

  • T: TIGHT – Keep your baby upright and tight to you or whoever is carrying it. This will make accidental falls impossible.
  • I: IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES – When you carry your baby, always keep an eye on its face so you can check its breathing.
  • C: CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – Can you kiss the top of your baby’s head while holding it? If not – reposition it so that you can.
  • K: KEEP CHIN OFF CHEST – There should be some space between your baby’s chin and chest to protect the neck. Two fingers of space will do.
  • S: SUPPORTED BACK – To protect your baby’s back, keep it supported by the carrier at all times. 

How to Dress the Baby for a Baby Carrier?

What should a baby wear in a carrier in spring? What should a baby wear in a carrier in winter? Can babies overheat in carriers? These are all good questions and ones that worry parents once they sort out the bigger ones. When it comes to spring and summer, clothes with thin, breathable fabric are best. Or you can just opt for a nappy and vest to avoid overheating.

What about winter? Can my baby wear a snowsuit in a carrier? Try to avoid it as yes, your baby can overheat if you put it in a snowsuit and then a carrier, as well. Do not bundle up your bundle of joy too much! Put your child in its usual winter wear. Use mittens and boots to help their little limbs stay warm. If you are still worried about your child being cold – you can get one of those mama jackets or coats with baby pouches.

What Are the Benefits of Baby Carriers?

That’s about it when it comes to the risks of babywearing and how to avoid them. Now, let’s delve into the advantages of babywearing. There are sooo many, so listing all of them would have you nailed to your chair for hours. So, let’s stick with the most important ones. 

Skin-to-Skin Contact Improves Health

Skin-to-skin contact is crucial for a newborn’s development.  Studies show the psychological theory of attachment is the best explanation for why skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is critical to their bond. It has been demonstrated that infants who have positive early attachments with caregivers are more likely to grow up into content and secure children.

Mother-Child Bonding

There is nothing more satisfying than holding your little one close. It just feels right! Babywearing has been shown to help strengthen the bond between parent and child as well as make it easier for you to begin to read your child’s cues with more confidence. Baby carriers are the best way to bond with your baby and provide comfort while still being hands-free as you go about your day.

It Reduces Crying!

Figuring out how to get a baby to stop crying is one of the more challenging parts of parenting. While carrying your infant may not put an end to all tears and fussing, some say it may help reduce crying and fussing in young babies with parents who wear their babies regularly for 3 hours a day or longer.

Makes Everyday Life Easier 

Babywearing can make it easier to go about your daily tasks with both arms and hands available. You could fold laundry, read a book to an older sibling, or even walk downtown without any worries of dropping your baby! There are only two things you might want to avoid: deep-frying food in oil or skateboarding while wearing them on your backside.

Keeps the Blues Away

Babywearing will chase away the bad mood and thoughts. Moms who follow the “5-2” rule – giving their newborn baby skin-to-skin contact for 5 hours a day in the first week, and 2 hours daily during the first month – reported significantly lower scores on postpartum depression scales.

Are Baby Carriers Necessary?

You tell me! I have shared the tricks and tips of babywearing along with some of the benefits. For me, personally, a carrier has proved to be a useful tool to keep my baby close and my hands-free when I need to go about my day. But it certainly is not a necessity as generations have been brought up without it. So, what’s your opinion? Has a baby carrier been useful to you? Can you imagine bringing your baby up without it? As they say – let me know down below.