Wearable baby carriers can be a great way to keep your little one close and your hands free—as long as you find the right kind and use it correctly.
“Keeping your baby close helps you bond, soothe and learn your child’s unique cues,” says Kelly Ross, MD, FAAP, a pediatric hospitalist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “However, there are serious health concerns associated with inappropriate use of slings. Choosing one based on your baby’s age and development is very important.”
In 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents about using sling-style carriers incorrectly after an investigation revealed 14 infants had died of suffocation in slings over the course of 20 years.
“Parents should pay close attention to infants in slings,” Dr. Ross says. “Fabric should never cover an infant’s face—the nose and mouth should always be clear. It’s also important to carefully position them so the chin does not rest on the chest. This posture may block the airway, especially in young children or those with low birth weight.”
According to Dr. Ross, wearable carriers can still be a good option if used correctly. Choose one recommended for your child’s age group.
Think of the Hips
When used inappropriately, slings have also been known to lead to hip dysplasia or dislocation—painful, potentially permanent issues that are avoidable.
“Children’s legs develop best when they are held in a natural frog-like position instead of straight out,” Dr. Ross says. “If a baby is in a sling for an extended period of time, wearing him upright in a sling that extends past the hips and down the upper leg is best. Dangling legs with knees close together can lead to problems.”
See a pediatrician for guidance about infant carriers and proper use. To find a pediatrician, visit our physician finder.