Can I use a sling with a newborn? What safety precautions should I take? What safety points should I be aware of?
We will take a look at these commonly asked questions and help equip you with the knowledge you need to carry your baby safely. Always read the full instructions that come with your baby carrier first and check that your baby’s weight is within the minimum and maximum range . We have trained sling consultants on hand if you have any questions.
Babies have been safely carried for centuries, with carrying being the preferred method for keeping young children safe for thousands of years. Using a sling to keep your little one close not only ensures that you know where they are, but provides the close contact that means that you can more easily perceive their tiny cues, notice when they’re feeling hungry or unsettled and quickly respond to their needs.
Carrying your little one in a sling has so many incredible benefits, as long as it’s done safely. We craft our wraps, ring slings and baby carriers with your little one in mind so you can rest assured that your Oscha Sling is already made and tested to the highest standards, with the safest methods and fabrics, and you can find full instructions for your sling here allowing you to carry safely.
All of our slings are ergonomically designed, ensuring that your little one is supported in an upright, natural position that respects their anatomy, and they are crafted in a way that allows them to be adjusted to fit both a younger and an older baby and provide them with the safe carrying support that they need. The support and how that is achieved may vary depending on their age.
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Our friend and UK GP, Dr Rosie Knowles says “A good sling should mimic the natural, in-arms upright position for carrying babies, ensuring the caregiver can see and sense the baby at all times, and thus able to be quickly aware of and rapidly responsive to any changes”
We’re going to look into that in more detail so that you can tailor your sling to you and your child and run through some key safety points, and tips to help achieve them, so that you can be confident and reassured when you’re carrying your baby.
Watch our video on Sling Safety here
Babies are delicate and need support to ensure they’re in an optimum position with clear airways and airflow. Newborns in particular lack the necessary strength to hold their head upright, and unless they are sufficiently supported risk folding their chin onto their chest, which carries the risk of asphyxiation, as is the case with any device you may seat your baby in, such as a car seat or bouncy chair.
Keeping their airways visible and clear, ensuring that no fabric is covering their nose and mouth, and that your little one is not resting their chin on their chest are key safety points. Slings should always be tightened sufficiently to prevent slumping and maintain these clear airways (we will talk about how to check that in the next section).
When carrying, we recommend an upright position like in this picture. Your little one’s head should sit just under your chin so that you can easily observe and monitor them constantly. In this position, you can not only see them breathing, but can also experience that wonderful sensation of their chest rising and falling against yours.
Having your baby’s hands up by their face helps to prevent them leaning down, and is also something that they love – great for detecting those early feeding cues.
With a wrap or a ring sling, we can ensure that the airways are clear and that no fabric covers their face by making sure that any excess fabric is gathered under their bottom, and with a carrier we can do this by folding the waistband to reduce the panel height for younger babies, as Hannah shows here in this video:
“How can I support my baby’s head?” is a commonly asked question when we talk about keeping the face free of fabric, and comes with a rather strange answer, as we first look to the position of their bottom! A deep seated squat position with a pelvic tuck is not only wonderful for their comfort and hip development, but also ensures that they are seated in a stable position and that their head naturally rests on you. In addition to this, we also make sure that the sling is tightened well, providing the upper back and neck support that in turn helps maintain that upright posture we’re looking for.
We always recommend that fabric goes no higher than the nape of their neck to ensure your baby can freely move their head and their face is not being pressed into your chest or fabric, and they have clear airflow around their face. Therefore, if you’re feeling that your baby needs a little extra head support, we’d first suggest checking that they have a lovely deep seated squat position, and that the sling is nice and snug around them so that they are well supported.
You can see in the image above the wrap is taught around the upper back.
A deep seated squat position ensures that they are seated in a stable position. Their head naturally rests on you, just under your chin. Airways are open and clear.
Snug and Supported Position
Now that we know how important it is to keep their airways clear, we can learn how to create a carry that is snug and supportive to maintain that safe upright position, with a lovely pelvic tuck, and your little one resting their head just under your chin, their hands either side of their face.
Woven wraps and Ring Slings are incredible at supporting newborns, because every millimetre can be adjusted to perfectly fit you and your little one. All slings need to be secured so that you both feel snug, ensuring that all ‘slack’ (loose, or untightened fabric) is removed, which in turn helps to prevent slumping and maintain those clear airways we talked about.
Check out our videos to see how to tighten your woven wrap or ring sling.
A good tip to see if your carry is nice and snug, is to momentarily support your baby’s head with your hand, and gently lean forward just slightly. Your little one’s torso should not pull away from yours at all – if it does, it needs to be tightened a little more. We always suggest to tighten a little at a time so we don’t over tighten the carry, as we still want to maintain that gentle curve, or ‘J shape’ that these images by Dr Rosie Knowles show so well:
This little tip works for carriers too, though they adjust differently to our wraps and ring slings.
When carrying our little one we want to make sure that their temperature stays within their optimum range. Babies can’t yet regulate their temperature in the same way that an adult can, so regular monitoring helps to prevent them both from getting too hot or too cold. We always suggest avoiding bulky clothing like snowsuits, as these can lead to overheating and are also really difficult to use with a sling and get a safe and snug fit. Thin light layers that can be easily added or removed are so helpful, be aware that your body heat essentially acts as at least 1 layer of clothing. You can read our full guides on Carrying in Hot Weather and Carrying in Cold Weather for more information specific to your current climate.
When tying your wrap, be aware of where the ends are so you don’t trip over them. Be aware that your baby is adding to the space you are taking up on your front, back or hip as you are moving around.
A few of us may have been in a situation where we nearly left without paying for an item thanks to our back carrying little one reaching for something which we didn’t see! All of those things you moved high up for safety, are now in reach – so we’d suggest using a sling mirror or your phone on selfie mode to keep checking in regularly and moving anything you need to, out of the way.
Carrying a Newborn
Baby Wraps and Ring Slings are wonderful for newborns, with every inch of fabric being adjustable, allowing you to get that bespoke snug fit, which is perfect for supporting delicate newborns in their natural position. Cairis, Bairn and Nook carriers are also safe for use with a newborn, though you might find the Nook has a better fit after about 1 month. We find our Coorie carrier usually fits well after 3 months. Carriers may need to be adjusted in panel height and width so do check out your carrier’s instructions before use.
We’ve put together this leaflet, which summarises some of these safety points and has our top tips for carrying in different temperatures.
We hope this has all been helpful for you and wanted to mention the TICKS Guidance and Acronym too as we know many find it a helpful reminder of some things to look out for, and other sites we’ve found helpful for further reading underneath.
Do let us know if you have any further questions – we love to hear from you!
There is a slightly reclined or ‘seated sideways’ position on our labels in accordance with ATSM standards. This position still shows the face free of fabric, and a supported back, but for this position we’d recommend one to one assistance from a babywearing professional to ensure it is done correctly and safely and that the baby’s chin is not resting on their chest.