‘Baby-wearing’ is the practice of carrying your baby on your body in a sling, carrier or wrap, so you can engage in your daily activities while keeping your baby close. Baby-wearing has been traditionally practiced by many cultures around the world for centuries, but has become increasingly popular in the modern world over the last decade.
Deciding whether baby-wearing is the right choice for you is a personal decision. Your baby may enjoy being in a sling or carrier, as they are wired to feel comfortable when they are close to their parents. Since they are unable to cling like other mammals – for example, a koala – babies can enjoy being held close to your body to gain confidence, warmth and reassurance. A baby-wearer can also be a convenient and practical way to hold your baby close to you while keeping your hands free.
There are a variety of different ‘baby-wearers’ on the market from wraps to slings to carriers, as well as those for specific activities such as swimming in the surf or hiking. Deciding which make or model to choose can be overwhelming, so it is best to do some research to find out which type will work best for your individual circumstances.
It is important to keep the safety of your baby in mind when using a wrap or sling. The T.I.C.K.S. acronym is a helpful way to remember the rules for safe baby-wearing:
- TIGHT – The sling should be tight enough to hug your baby close to your body, positioned upright and with good head support. Slack or loose fabric can cause your baby to slump down in the carrier which can restrict breathing.
- IN VIEW – Your baby’s face should always be visible when you look down and should never be covered by your body or the carrier.
- CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – The top of your baby’s head should be close enough to your chin that you can simply bend your neck and kiss your baby easily.
- KEEP CHING OFF CHEST – Your baby’s chin should be up and off their chest with at least a finger width free under its chin. It is important to ensure your baby isn’t curled with its chin on its chest as this can restrict breathing.
- SUPPORTED BACK – Your baby needs to be held in its natural position with its back well supported and tummy and chest sitting against you.
For more information on baby-wearing, visit: Safety advice and warnings (Baby Slings)
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading have produced a short video clip outlining the things to look for when buying a sling: