5 Step Checklist for Babywearing Safety
Co Carrier founder, bom of 2 and frontline worker breaks down her 5 step checklist for babywearing safety. Keep reading for when and how to cary your newborn, infant and toddler!
Hi! I’m Kathryn Farrell.
Mom of 2, frontline Healthcare Worker, and founder of CO Family. When my kids were little, our baby carrier was quite possibly my most used piece of baby gear. During development of my own design (the CO Carrier), I learned a lot about carrier design and safety. I soon realized that I had been using our carrier incorrectly a lot of the time! Every carrier is a little different, but the basic safety principles are consistent. Whether this is your first baby or your seventh, you’re still busy and often overwhelmed. So I created a quick and easy checklist to make sure you are using your baby carrier safely, so you can get back to taking care of business!
When you’re a parent, two hands are never enough! Take away one or both hands to hold your baby and you often find yourself struggling to get anything done.
Baby carriers can be incredibly helpful by allowing you to hold your baby while maintaining autonomy over your own limbs. Of course, like any baby gear, it’s crucial to know how to use your carrier safely. Whether you choose a soft-structured (buckle-style) carrier, a wrap, or a sling, make sure you’re comfortable with how the carrier works, and know how to set up for each position.
Choosing a carrier with a simple setup can help you to get more comfortable, quickly. It will also make it easier for multiple people to share in the babywearing duties!
Babywearing Safety, 5 Step Checklist!
- Can you see and kiss your baby’s face?
- Often referred to as “Visible and Kissable”, this one is easy to check, and so important!
- Be sure you can always see your baby’s face (including their mouth and nose are clear).
- You want to be able to easily bend over and kiss their forehead.
- If you have to bend your neck uncomfortably to do that, simply adjust the carrier so they sit higher on your torso.
- Are you using the correct position for your baby’s growth stage?
- Always face inward!
- In the beginning, place them in the carrier with their knees bent so that their feet rest right next to their bottom, also called “frog leg” position. This helps keep their flexible hips in the correct position while they develop. When your baby’s legs no longer easily go into this position, you can transition to legs out in the “spread squat” or “M” position, which we’ll discuss more next.
- Once they can easily support their head for extended periods of time, you can use the outward facing option on your carrier. And if they fall asleep, turn them back around to face you so you can support the back of their head.
- Older infant – toddler:
- Now you can safely use advanced positions like hip and back carry.
- Hip carry can be used for nursing when they’re younger, but extended periods of time in this position require the ability to self support.
- For back carry, you want to be sure they can support their bodies well and can communicate in some way if something is wrong since you will not always be able to see them. But remember- it’s always important to check on them visually periodically in this position or have a support person nearby who can do so.
- Don’t let the requirements scare you, these advanced positions can actually be safer as your baby grows. As their body gets bigger, it can block your line of sight in the front. Putting your baby on your hip or back can reduce the risk of tripping, especially on unfamiliar terrain (or a floor covered in toys!).
- I actually started the concept of the CO Carrier based on the hip carry, and everything else grew from there. After exhausting days at work I spent my evenings with my contact-demanding infant on my hip while I tried to write emails, prepare dinner, and put away dishes with the one free hand. It was insane! I thought ‘There has to be a simple way to hold her here so I can have my hands free’. After trying nearly every carrier on the market, I realized that didn’t exist, so I started working on the design that eventually became the CO.
- Are their hips in the “spread squat” position?
- Babies’ hips are still developing, and a little extra attention can help prevent issues down the road.
- Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that can be exacerbated by incorrect carrier use. The good news is that it’s very easy to get your child into the correct position! You’re essentially mimicking the position they put themselves into when you pick them up with your arms. Imagine them wrapping their legs around your body, and recreate that with the carrier. Make sure their hips are spread wide, that their knees are at about the same level as their hips, and that their hips and knees are both bent at about a 90 degree angle. This is often referred to as the “jockey”, “spread squat”, or “M” position.
- To verify that your carrier is hip healthy, you can check the International Hip Dysplasia Institute for a list of approved carriers. The CO Carrier is proud to hold the honor of being designated as hip healthy by IHDI.
- Can you still see their face when using the sun shade?
- Some carriers come with a sun shade to protect baby’s skin on bright days. Since young babies can’t yet wear sunscreen, this can be a tempting substitute. But it’s crucial that you can always see your baby’s face while using this to prevent suffocation. If you can’t easily visualize your baby’s face, opt for a hat instead.
- Is the activity you’re doing something you’d do while holding your baby?
- If you wouldn’t do it while holding your baby, don’t do it while using a baby carrier! This includes riding in a moving vehicle, cooking near a heat source, using harsh cleaning chemicals, running, or doing any activity where you have a significant risk of falling.
Parenting is a journey, and babywearing can make that journey so much more enjoyable. Use this checklist to make sure you’re wearing the right way, so you can get back to doing what you love to do!
Often times, the best ideas come from the hardest times! Kathryn Farrell, Mom of 2 and Founder of CO Family developed the Co Carrier while working the front lines of the pandemic, with 2 kids under the age of 3. In the midst of her off days she enjoyed creating moments with her kids and taking them on adventures. This is when she realized the bulkiness and difficulty so many carriers bring (along with how uncomfortable they can be to wear in that warmer weather). So she went to sketching, designing, prototyping and refining. She created the baby carrier she wished she had when her kids were littler. A thin, lightweight, easy to put on, and more ergonomic baby carrier for parents to wear!
Moms on Call families can use code MOC for $20 off of a CO Carrier!