How to carry your baby in a sling
Find out the safest way to carry your baby in a sling by following the TICKS safety guidelines.
I want to start wearing my nine-week old baby in a sling but is it safe for his legs to just dangle, or can that cause hip problems?
How lovely that you want to carry your little one; it’s the start of a great journey for you both. The safest baby carrier will protect your child’s airway and prevent breathing restriction, while carriers worn low and loose can be risky. Babies should always be carried snugly, their chin well off their chest, not slumping; their face should always be visible.
Just follow the TICKS safety guidelines:
- In view at all times
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep chin off the chest
- Supported back.
Ideally, babies should be supported in their natural tucked posture, with knees above the hip joint (the M shape), that they adopt in arms when relaxed; this is normal and anatomically correct. Babies’ spines are curved, and take months to straighten out into the more adult S shape; a good baby carrier respects this natural, comfortable position. Holding a child in the M shape will help to correct mild shallowness (‘hip dysplasia’); the position is used when treating babies with this disorder.
If your baby has normal hip joints, a carrier with a narrow base that doesn’t support the legs isn’t likely to cause harm. However, your child is more likely to be comfortable in a carrier that provides a proper seat; check that the one you use can be adapted to fit your child’s natural knee-to-knee width. You’ll also be happier with a carrier that distributes the baby’s weight well, making them feel weightless. I’d encourage you to try some at your local sling library (find it at slingpages.co.uk) before you buy, as not every carrier works for everyone. You’ll find more information at sheffieldsling surgery.
Dr Rosie Knowles (GP and mum of two, runs Sheffield Sling Surgery and Sling Spot, and wrote Why Babywearing Matters)