H = Hands-free. VITAL
If you feel the need to use your hands or arms to support your child, then your instincts are kicking in to prevent them falling out! To make the carry secure enough so that you can be hands-free, check that it is fastened correctly and safely, and that your child is snug against you. If in doubt, book an advice appointment to learn how to achieve a hands-free carry.
A = Airway VITAL
Always, once you have fastened baby into the baby carrier, check their airway is clear and unrestricted. Nose and mouth should have plenty of airflow and you should be able to fit two fingers under their chin (checking that it’s not against their chest). Sleepy small babies tend to snuggle on in! Be vigilant and gently reposition if you need to. Sometimes gently encouraging tiny hands to prop up their tiny chin can help prevent ‘chin on chest’. Never cover your babies’ whole head (even if you think they’d prefer to nap in the dark!).
N = Knee to Knee.
Check that there is fabric supporting your child from the back of one knee, all the way under their bum to the back of their next knee. Your child should still be able to move their knees and lower legs freely.
D = Deep seat.
This means that your child is sitting with their knees higher than their bottom, with a nice gentle ‘j’ curve running from bottom of the bum up the back. This is known as a ‘pelvic tuck’ position.
S = Supported.
Ensure your baby is supported, with a nice tight carry. I get parents to gently lean forward and ensure baby does not ‘move’, any movement then double check your tension and retighten.
There are occasionally times when a child’s physiology might require some different positioning (the last three points), however the first two points are utterly non-negotiable!
More on sling safety
From Carrying Matters
GP Rosie Knowles runs the Carrying Matters website, a seriously well-researched site with excellent guidance on all things sling. See her ‘How to use a sling safely‘ page for:
- Diagrams of ergonomic positioning as babies grow
- Video of how to do a ‘pelvic tuck’
- The ABC and TICKS sling safety acryomns (do a very similar job to ‘HANDS’ but might be more memorable for you?)
- Advice on the risks of overheating and carrying safely in very hot or cold weather
- Risks to be aware of when your child is facing out
- Using your sling for exercise
- Getting to know your sling and child