Safety tips for baby carriers, slings, and backpacks

A baby carrier, sling, or backpack can be a convenient method to transport your child while keeping your hands free.

Safety tips for baby carriers, slings, and backpacks
 Aim to balance any time your baby spends in baby carriers or slings with plenty of tummy time and other physical activity.

Carrying your baby in a baby carrier, sling, or backpack allows you to have your hands free, and most babies like seeing the world from up high. When used correctly, carriers, slings, and backpacks are safe and useful methods to transport your child.

What options are available?

Baby carriers, slings, and backpacks are different baby carriers that you may use to carry your baby on your chest or back.

  • A baby carrier is a soft, cushioned carrier worn on the front. Some include adjustable straps that let you wear your infant on your back or hip.
  • A baby sling is a pouch or strip of cloth commonly worn over your shoulder and across your front in various ways.
  • Baby backpacks are often made with robust frames. You just wear them on your back. They are appropriate for older infants and toddlers who can hold their heads erect. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor or a child and family health nurse to see whether your child is old enough for a backpack.

What to look for when buying a baby carrier

If you’re looking for a baby carrier, you should search for one that:

  • Allows for optimal hip posture for your baby, is safe to use, and is comfortable to wear. Healthy hip posture promotes proper hip development in newborns and lowers the chance of hip developmental dysplasia. Your baby carrier should enable their hips to expand so that their legs straddle your torso. The knees of your infant should be wide apart, the thighs supported, and the hips bowed.
  • Comes with simple written, visual, or video instructions on how to use it securely.

Baby carrier tips to remember

  • Bring your baby with you when looking for a carrier or sling. Ask a store employee to demonstrate how to properly fit the carrier or sling with your child inside.
  • Make sure your child can see out of the carrier or sling and that the cloth isn’t covering their face.
  • Check that you can put the carrier or sling on and take it off without assistance. Check that you can put up any buckles, straps, or clips without assistance and that you can adjust all straps securely with one hand.
  • Look for wide, padded shoulder straps that span your back and a wide waist strap. These will assist in equally distributing your baby’s weight and relieve some strain on your shoulders. They should also prevent the carrier from shifting too much from side to side.
  • Check that the carrier is suitable for different seasons and will not overheat your child during the hotter months.
  • If you intend to use the carrier as your baby develops, opt for one that can be rotated so your infant can face forward.
  • Only use your carrier until your baby is too heavy or unpleasant to be carried securely. Check the carrier’s instructions for the maximum weight capacity.

Good to know: Baby carriers are not suggested for babies under the age of four months or for babies who cannot yet keep their heads up. This is due to their increased risk of neck injury. Never wear your baby in a front-wearing carrier or sling while cooking.

Before placing your child in a carrier

Before placing your child into a carrier, verify that the straps are tight and show no indication of damage. Contact the supplier or manufacturer if any straps or buckles are damaged. Remember that babies might suffocate if they are not properly placed in baby slings. This is because small babies cannot move if they are in a risky position that blocks their airways.