Slings and baby carriers let you keep your little one close to you, but then still leave your hands free for other activities – making them a practical purchase. We’ve spied everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Nicole Kidman out and about with them in the past. But they’ve got to be used properly. Here, we round up the dos and don’ts when it comes to using slings and carriers.
Do make sure your baby is positioned correctly
Find out how to position your baby safely by reading the T.I.C.K.S guidelines created by the British Association of Babywearing Instructors. T is for tight, I is for in view at all times, C is for close enough to kiss, K is for keep chin off the chest and S is for supported back.
‘Your baby should be in a position where he is close enough to kiss by tipping your head forward, and he should never be curled so his chin is pressed on to his chest as this can restrict breathing,’ explains NCT’s senior policy adviser Rosie Dodds.
>> READ MORE: HOW TO USE A BABY CARRIER
Don’t use loose fabric
While you might think that loose fabric on a sling would be comfortable for your baby, it can ‘allow your baby to slump down which can hinder his breathing,’ says Rosie. Instead, make sure you can always see your baby’s face when you glance down but that the sling is tight enough to hug him close.
Do check the weight guidelines
Double check the weight guidelines on the sling you’re buying when you look for one, as it’s not a case of one size fits all. Then adjust it every time you wear it, especially if other people are wearing the sling too.
Don’t zip up your coat over your baby
Even when it’s cold out, refrain from zipping up your coat to cover your baby as it can put him at risk of suffocating. Providing he’s wearing enough clothing, he’ll be cosy enough – and your own body heat will keep him warm.
Do wear your baby high up
Generally the higher up on the body your baby is, the easier the sling will be on your back. Similarly, the closer he or she is to your body, the better it is for you.
Don’t forget your little one’s head
A newborn baby’s head always needs support. Whether you’re carrying or wearing your baby in a sling, make sure to support the head and keep an eye on it.
Don’t let your baby slump either. While he will naturally gravitate towards a slight C shape in a sling, try and keep his spine straight. ‘Carrying him upright with his hips and legs in the ‘M’ position is likely to be safest and is most suitable for his developing hips and spine,’ Rosie explains.
Read next: Our essential guide to the best baby slings and wraps
Do make sure he’s wearing the right kind of clothes
Is he too hot? Think about the sort of clothes your baby is wearing as the weather gets warmer. You wouldn’t like being stuffed up and swaddled inside excess fabrics either. Generally go for one more layer than you’re wearing to make sure he’s at the right temperature.
Don’t let your baby’s legs dangle
Your baby could be at risk of developing hip dysplasia if his legs dangle. Instead, they should be in a frog stance where his bottom and hamstrings are supported by the sling.
Do get on the move
It’s a well-known fact that babies much prefer being on the move when inside their slings to being stood still. Something that’s good for you and your baby? Where do we sign?
Find the right one for you
If your baby is resisting the one you’ve bought, try another one. There are plenty of options and it might be you’ve just not found the right one.
Read our reviews on individual slings and baby carriers