How to safely wear baby carriers

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec has published a guide intended for perinatal and early-childhood care providers to educate them on the safe use of soft baby carriers.

The guide gives the following recommendations for parents:

When you choose a soft baby carrier:

  • Make sure that the product hasn't been recalled by Health Canada by visiting the following website:
  • Choose a carrier that is the size and weight appropriate for the baby AND the adult that will carry the baby to prevent the baby from being thrown from the carrier or prevent the stitches from breaking with the weight of the child.

Before using a soft baby-carrier:

  • Read the safety recommendations and respect the age, weight and size limits.
  • Make sure your baby is safely placed in the carrier, and keep the safety guidelines.
  • Every time you use the carrier make sure the stitching is intact and that all ties and straps are in perfect condition.

When you install the baby in the carrier:

  • If it's a shoulder strap carrier, make sure that the knot or buckle is securely tied to avoid the child falling. The guidelines should show examples of safe knots.
  • Place the baby in a position where he can breathe. If it’s a shoulder strap carrier, make sure his chin is not on his chest or that his face is not squashed against your body. No other object should prevent him from breathing (coat, blanket, straps and clothes).
  • The baby's head and neck should always be straight to allow him to breathe properly.

Safe use of baby slings and shoulder strap baby carriers:

  • Make sure that your baby’s back is well supported to favour normal growth. If your baby is facing you, his legs should make a straight angle (frog position) to avoid hip malformation.
  • Always carry your baby in an elevated position and very close to your body to distribute weight evenly; this will be less tiring for you.
  • Tie the straps and/or knots tightly.
  • Make sure that the openings for the legs are small so your baby doesn’t slip - but not too tight. You don't want to cut off your baby’s blood flow.

When using a soft baby carrier:

  • Hold the baby tight when you bend down to avoid letting him slip, and make sure you don't bump in to surrounding objects (door frames ).
  • Protect your baby from the cold when you go out in winter; move his hands and feet to activate blood flow. Do not block his breathing with your coat.
  • To prevent from falling, make sure there are no objects blocking the stairs.
  • Never use soft baby carriers when doing activities that could endanger your baby: for example, cooking, boiling water, biking, driving a car, stepping on a stool, chair or ladder, jogging, skating, etc.
  • Never use soft baby carriers in places where you could easily fall (e.g. icy sidewalks).
  • Never sleep or take a nap with your baby in the carrier.
  • Never leave a baby alone in the carrier.