How to Use a Baby Carrier Safely
One famous dad’s faux pas may be a lifesaver for another parent’s little one
Celebrities — they really are just like us. Even when they’re famous, first-time parents can get tripped up when it comes to the finer points of baby care.
Witness the sweet first Father’s Day shot of Ryan Reynolds toting daughter James in a front infant carrier. The image went viral after Ryan’s wife, Blake Lively, posted the shot on Instagram. The 6-month-old seems to be securely fastened inside the contraption, but it’s hard to tell whether she’s riding comfortably or safely — which set off a rash of critical comments.
Not a bad dad! Ryan Reynolds caught grief from other parents for what may or may not be unsafe baby-toting style.
The sweetest fashion statement
Baby wearing is an age-old practice. Snuggling up close to mom or dad can help an infant relax and allow the parent and baby to bond. But safety is paramount when it comes to using front carriers and baby slings. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been investigating infant deaths related to front carriers — particularly slings and wraps that can pose suffocation hazards. Some babies are at increased risk: newborns, premature babies and tots with colds or respiratory issues. In fact, the CPSC says infant slings pose a significant danger of suffocation for infants less than 4 months old.
To use a baby carrier safely, make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age and weight and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
If your little one falls asleep while you’re wearing her, take her out of the carrier and put her down on her back in her regular bed.
Beyond that, keep these tips in mind when wearing your baby.
Don’t buy a used carrier. The nonprofit organization Baby Wearing International (BWI) recommends purchasing a baby carrier or sling new, from a reputable maker. It will be more likely to meet current safety standards than an off-brand. BWI also suggests inspecting your carrier for any damage before using it. Check for missing parts, loose or frayed stitching, buckles that don’t click firmly into place and so forth.
Keep baby in sight. Your baby’s face should be level with or above the edge of the sling or wrap, says the CPSC. She could suffocate otherwise. When you can see her face, you easily can check her breathing, temperature and mood.
Don’t let him droop. According to BWI, positioning your infant so he's vertical, rather than slumped over, will prevent his chin from flopping onto his chest and cutting off his airway.
Return her to an upright position after meals. It’s fine to cradle your baby or position her horizontally in the carrier or sling while you’re nursing or giving her a bottle. But once she’s finished, she should go back to riding high and vertical.
Practice. Some slings and carriers are easier to slip a baby into than others. Become a master of yours before you use it to tote your precious cargo. Read the instructions carefully and have someone else spot you when you’re ready to tuck your baby in for the first time. If that’s not possible, kneel over a bed or couch or squat low to the floor so that if she falls, your little one will have a soft landing place.
Look and learn. Check out this visual from the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers, which uses the handy acronym T.I.C.K.S. (Tight, In view, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off chest, Supported back) to describe the five most important things to remember when wearing a baby.