If you’re checking out these safety guidelines, you must be well on your way to starting your babywearing journey – how exciting!
Learning the safety guidelines is very important at this stage, as it helps to ensure that you and your baby have a positive and safe carrying experience. To support you in this, we have put together the top expert recommendations on safe babywearing below, which we strongly encourage you to learn and follow.
7 Safety Checks When Wearing Your Baby
These are the most important safety rules to remember. We have created this diagram to demonstrate how seven key safety checks can be remembered both visually by thinking down the baby’s body and verbally with their catchy phrases.
1. CLOSE enough to KISS – Baby’s head should be just below your chin, in reach of a kiss when bending your head slightly forward. As baby grows, this remains the point of reference – not your hips. Therefore, when carrying your newborn, note that your wrap/carrier should sit much higher on your body than it would if holding a toddler.
2. HEAD is HELD up – In infancy, before baby can hold their head up, make sure the wrap fabric or carrier always gives support up to the nape of baby’s neck as they lean their head against your upper chest. For older babies and toddlers, make sure their neck/head is supported as they sleep on you.
3. AIRWAYS are ACCESSIBLE – Always keep baby visible so you can ensure that their mouth and nose are clear of the wrap/carrier fabric, your clothes or body, or their own chest. Check that baby’s chin is off their chest by fitting two fingers under their chin. (If baby slumps down, this restricts their airways.)
4. FIT is FIRM – The wrap/carrier should be snugly fitted around your baby to keep them well-supported in an upright position and firmly nestled against your body. The wrap/carrier should not be fitted so tight that the spine is forced straight and not so loose that baby slumps down.
5. SPINE is SUPPORTED – The natural shape of baby’s spine should be supported by the wrap/carrier, causing baby’s tummy and chest to press comfortably against your chest. (The spine develops from a C-shape in infancy to a soft S-shape as baby starts to develop their neck muscles.)
6. KNEE-to-KNEE support – Baby’s seat should enable them to sit in the M-Shape position* with their bottom lower than their knees, and their thighs straddling your torso and supported by the wrap/carrier from knee-to-knee. (*With the exception of newborns in the frog-leg position.)
7. PELVIS BASE tilts the way they FACE – The most ergonomic position for baby’s hips can be achieved with the base of their hips tilting towards the direction they face, whether that’s your front, your side, your back, or a world-facing view. Do a gentle pelvic scoop to encourage your baby's hips to tilt towards you if they are front inward-facing, or tilt them away from you if they are outward-facing.
The T.I.C.K.S Guidelines
The most well-known safety guidelines in babywearing is remembered by the acronym T.I.C.K.S.
This stands for: Tight, In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off the chest, and Supported Back.
If you find this more manageable to remember, then go with that.
Safe Carrying Positions, Relative to Age & Stage
1. Front inward-facing: Newborn +
2. Front outward-facing: from 4–6 months to 10–11 months only
3. Hip carry: from 4–6 months +
4. Back carry: from 6 months to toddler
Baby needs to have proper neck and head control before being put in any position besides front inward-facing.
The front inward-facing position is the leading carry style for the infant age and is the only safe way to carry baby up until about four months. It is also suitable all the way up to toddler age, although the back carry position tends to be favoured as baby gets heavier. See the Carrying Positions article for more specific details for fetal-style newborn carrying.
The Front Outward-Facing carry position can be used from four to six months, provided that baby has built up their neck muscles and can hold their head up unassisted. It is also recommended that you stop when baby is between ten to eleven months old, as this position is naturally less ergonomic for carrying than the others and becomes more difficult, the heavier the weight.
Experts also advise on using the front outward-facing position for shorter periods of time, especially to begin with (ten to fifteen minutes), after which you should alternate to another position. This is because a busy world-facing view can be overstimulating for a young baby; they need to adjust to taking in so many new sights all at once and be given the ability to retreat to the safe and restful comfort of their parent by facing inward again.
A baby also can't sleep from this position, so it is good to allow them to rest their head in case they become drowsy. In addition, being a less ergonomic position, the forward-facing style may cause the wearer strain after long periods. More safety details are covered on this position in our article, 8 Safety Tips for the Popular Outward-Facing Carry Position.
- The hip carry position can also be used from around four to six months and up, again, provided that by this stage, baby has built up their neck muscles and can hold their head up unassisted.
Hip carrying is a great way to engage your baby in the stimulating sights around in a balanced way, as baby is still able to see you and snuggle back into you if the outer world gets too overstimulating for them.
The back carry position can be used from when your baby is six months plus (full head control required) and is the optimal carrying position from twelve months on, as it is the most ergonomic for carrying a heavier load.
Other Safety Considerations
Other safety considerations to be mindful of when wearing your baby are:
Hands-free – Make sure your baby is secure enough that you can carry them hands-free
When the fit of your carrier, wrap, or ring sling is firm around you and your baby, you should feel that they are supported sufficiently for you to be hands-free.
- If the fit is loose or you feel you need to hold them, the carrier needs to be adjusted appropriately until you feel the fit is secure.
- If needing to reach down for something low while babywearing, place a hand on your baby's back with one hand and use the other hand to grip onto something stable (if possible); then bend at the knees and lower your body into a squatting position with your back kept straight. If leaning over without support, you may risk losing your balance and toppling over.
Temperature – Make sure your baby isn’t overheating.
- Choose a climate-appropriate wrap/carrier. We sell a range of wraps and carriers suited to warmer weather, a range of wraps and carriers suited to cooler weather, and a range of LÍLLÉbaby "All Seasons" carriers.
- If you have a LÍLLÉbaby All Seasons, use the temperature control panels on the carrier to adjust the airflow into the carrier, to suit the current temperature.
- Don’t overdress your baby. The wrap/carrier is like a layer of clothing and your body is like another.
- Check baby isn’t sweating, turning red or hotter than usual to touch.
- Dress baby’s legs on a chilly day and sun block them if bare on a hot, sunny day.
Use your carrier’s sun hood (if it has one) to protect baby from the elements (rain or sun).
Some safety guidelines advise only clipping it up on one side to ensure good airflow and to prevent it from heating up too much. For taller children, keep their head cool on a hot day with a sun hat.
Weight and age – Check that your baby is within the recommended weight and age restrictions for your babywearing device or carrying position.
- Most wraps and ring slings are fit for babies weighing at least 3.6kg. A number of carriers have a 3.2kg minimum weight.
- Keep an eye on maximum weight capacity recommendations too, and ensure that your baby is not too big for their carrier. Most of our wraps and ring slings can hold up to 15kg, while carrier weight capacity ranges from 11kg to 20kg. That is the difference between a toddler aged 21 months and a 6-year-old.
- Fortunately, with your baby being at its smallest when you first start carrying, you will naturally build up the strength required to carry them as they grow older. However, some parents may need to stage how long they carry their baby for, in order to build up the muscles it will exercise. Equally, as a child gets bigger, some parents may need to reduce their time spent carrying them if it is beyond their capacity.
- Do not put your baby in a carrying style that is not age and stage appropriate. The front forward-facing position, for example, should only be used when a baby has adequate neck and head control and between the ages of 5–10 months.
- If using a carrier, remember to adjust the seat panel width as your child grows. A baby’s legs must be supported knee-to-knee. If you leave the seat on the narrow setting when your baby has out-grown it, their legs may then dangle down, putting strain on their hip joints and increasing their risk of hip dysplasia.
- Purchase your carrier from a trusted supplier of a reputable carrier/wrap brand. All wrap, carrier, and ring sling products sold by Belly Beyond adhere to the European standard EN 13209-2:2005 or the US standard ASTM F2236-08.
- Follow care instructions to keep babywearing product in excellent condition.
- If you notice any tears, pulling of fabric, loose stitching, broken buckles, fasteners etc. do not use the carrier until it is fixed. In some cases, you may need to replace it. We offer a one-year warranty on our products for any manufacturing faults, and we also have access to some replacement parts.
Safe practising – Get confident with using your baby wrap or carrier before putting baby inside and have a spotter on hand for when you have your first go.
- If you’re feeling super keen and organised, why not practise using your baby wrap or carrier before your baby arrives? You can check out the many video tutorials online (we have some on our product pages) and become a pro before all the other demands of having a newborn take over.
- Even if your baby is already with you, give yourself the time and space to get your head around your carrier or any wrap configurations before putting baby in. Adjust the device (straps etc.) to fit your body well, and then once baby is in, tighten the straps further to secure them in, nice and snug.
- You should be able to reach and adjust all straps with one hand, as your other hand and forearm should be holding your baby against your chest or shoulder until you fasten them in. You can use two hands to buckle up your carrier though, because this should be done before you put baby in.
- When you are practising putting your baby into the carrier/wrap, it is helpful to have a friend or family member with you to act as a spotter. If you are alone, secure your baby in the wrap/carrier over a bed or couch so that they can fall safely if you don’t quite get it right – this goes for taking them out too.
- Front carry positions are generally easier to master than hip or back carry styles. If babywearing from day one, you will start with that anyway; but, if beginning to babywear at 6 months, we advise still starting with a front carry position until you have built up some confidence to try the other styles.
Hip dysplasia – Follow guidelines to protect your child from developing hip dysplasia and buy approved products.
Definition: This is a condition where a baby’s hip sockets are out of joint. Babies are at greatest risk of developing hip dysplasia between the ages of newborn to six months, but they are also often born with it.
To significantly decrease the risk of your baby developing hip dysplasia, you can:
- Find a babywearing product that has been approved by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
- Do not carry a baby lying down in a sling, with their legs together, as this can increase the risk of hip dysplasia.
- Especially after 2 months, ensure your child is always positioned in a deep-seated, M-Shaped position. This refers to the shape formed by baby’s legs and bottom, as shown in the diagram below.
- (Between 0–2 months, a front fetal 'legs-in' position with ‘frog legs’ is acceptable for newborns.)
The M-Shape (or spread squat) position promotes healthy hip development (by not putting too much pressure on the hip joints) and is very natural and comfortable for your baby.
The wrap, ring sling or carrier (with adjustments) should, at every growth stage, provide knee-to-knee support, which ensures that:
- Baby’s knees are supported to sit higher than their bottom and even with their hips
- Baby’s weight is carried by their bottom
- The base of baby’s pelvis is angled towards the direction they face (e.g. you, when they are front inward-facing)
- Baby’s thighs are spread across your body and guided upward to
then bend at the knee
- Baby’s calves are exposed and hanging comfortably
A List of Don’ts for the Wearer
- Don’t cook on a stove with your baby in a front carry position, as this presents a burn risk.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol or hot liquids while babywearing.
- Don’t wear your baby while swimming.
- Don't wear your baby while lying down or sleeping.
- Don’t jump, climb, jog or run while wearing your baby. Don’t move or shake your body in any high impact, excessive, or dangerous way. The baby carrier/wrap may only be used when walking, sitting or standing. An exception to this is Kangatraining, which is low-impact exercise designed especially for babywearing.
- Don’t cover your baby’s face when in the carrier. Make sure you can see them to check on them and ensure they have good airflow access.
- Don’t forget that an older baby can reach for things when in a back carry position, which you can’t see. Be aware of your surroundings and keep checking in with your baby by turning around periodically.
- Don’t keep your baby in the wrap or carrier if they develop any irregular breathing, an unusual skin colouration, a high temperature, or are showing signs of irritability.
- Don’t drive (or be a passenger in) a motor vehicle with your baby in the wrap or carrier. Your baby needs to be in a car seat, as required by law.
- You might like to trial several baby carriers or wraps from a friend before purchasing to see which style is the right one for you and your baby.
- If buying a carrier, note whether the material and seams are described as soft, especially on areas likely to rub against your baby's skin, like the leg openings. Make sure there are no chaffing hazards or sharp edges.
- Wearing comfortable footwear is a good idea when babywearing, and always keep a look out for where you are walking. Like being pregnant, wearing your baby on your front will obstruct your view when looking down in front of you, so beware of tripping hazards like toys on the floor or protruding tree roots if out walking.
- If wearing a MOBY Fit Hybrid Carrier, make sure to always use the safety sash, which gives the necessary third layer of protection that a stretchy wrap configuration must provide.
- Balance your time babywearing with plenty of tummy time for baby or other physical activity, age dependent.
- Be careful not to bump baby/toddler into your surroundings, such as doors, walls, other people, or objects. Your sense of space needs to widen as you manoeuvre around with your baby on you.
If you have made the decision to give babywearing a go, you are giving your baby the best possible gift – more of you!
And please note that the safety reminders we have put together are meant to help and support you – not make you feel like there’s too much to think about or that it’s too risky and difficult. So be reassured that once you have been wearing your baby for even just a short while, all of these safety checks will have become like second nature to you.
The babywearing journey is extremely rewarding and reaps many life-long benefits. And while we understand it's not for everyone, we do hope you and your baby love it!
“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope – like the future in a basket.” – Lish McBride
Wanna know more?
For more informative articles to assist you in your babywearing journey, please check out the following:
- 8 Safety Tips for the Popular Outward-Facing Carry Position
- Discover the Lifelong Benefits of Babywearing for Baby (& You!)
- Carry Your Baby in Every Position: When & Why
- Choose the Right Wrap or Carrier for Your Lifestyle & Preferences
- Wrap, Ring Sling, or Carrier? (Pros & Cons)
- Comparison Charts: LÍLLÉbaby, MOBY, Ergobaby & BabyBjörn
If you would like some more support from one of our friendly team, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're happy to help, wherever we can!
You can also join the LÍLLÉbaby Love group, which is a supportive platform on Facebook for checking your fit with other babywearers and experts and also getting advice on any questions you have.