Baby-wearing is a great way to keep a baby warm, safe and snug. However, it can also carry inherent risks for both the baby and parent. To the baby, improperly wearing can cause discomfort, injury or even death.
In fact, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) statistics, there have been at least 14 baby-wearing fatalities in the US over the past two decades. Most of these have arisen from babies suffocating. (http://www.cpsc.gov/en/newsroom/news-releases/2010/infant-deaths-prompt-cpsc-warning-about-sling-carriers-for-babies/)
For the parent, improper baby-wearing can put a strain on the back, causing back pains and even injuries. Such problems arise because of certain mistakes which parents make when using baby wraps, carriers or slings. The top 10 baby-wearing mistakes parents make the following:
Purchasing The Wrong Size
This is perhaps the most common mistake. Some parents purchase a baby carrier, wrap or sling which isn’t the right size for their baby. They purchase a product which is either too big or too small. When a product is too small, it is uncomfortable and unsafe for the baby. This is because it doesn’t provide enough breathing space.
A baby carrier that is too big doesn’t properly secure the baby. This leaves them prone to jolting movements which can be an accident hazard. To avoid purchasing the wrong size, the best choice is to go along with the baby and then try it out.
Not Following the Manufacturer’s Instructions
All baby carriers come with an instructional manual. Some parents don’t even bother to read the instructions. This is especially common among parents who have used similar products before. Others read the instructions but ignore them. Failing to follow the manufacturer’s instructions often leads to silly mistakes which can turn out to be costly.
Failing to Consider the Baby’s Condition
According to the CPSC, Baby-wearing isn’t for every baby. The CPSC identifies three types of babies who are prone to suffocation in baby slings. These include babies born prematurely, babies who had low birth weights and babies suffering from breathing complications such as a cold. The CPSC recommends consulting a physician before baby-wearing such babies.
Unfortunately, most parents don’t follow such recommendations (many don’t even know that they exist). They, therefore, place their babies into wraps, slings or carriers without regard to their physical conditions. In so doing, they end up exposing them to all manner of unnecessary risks.
Wearing The Baby Too Low
Some parents dangle the baby too low. This can be detrimental for both the parent and the baby. For a parent (or whoever is carrying the baby), wearing the baby too low places an unnecessary strain on the back. For the baby, dangling too low often causes slumping which can hurt their back.
A simple rule for positioning the baby is this: if the baby is in front, they should be able to rest their head on the parent’s chest. If the baby is on the back, she should be able to rest her head on the parent’s shoulder. Another simple trick is to push the baby upwards if they move then it is most likely that they are dangling too low.
Wrapping The Baby Too Tight
Some parents wrap the baby too tight. They do this in an attempt to keep the baby snug and secure. However, this often ends up restricting aeration to the baby. As a result, the baby ends up having difficulties breathing – sometimes leading to suffocation. In some instances, wrapping the baby too tight can also cause them to feel uncomfortably hot.
Covering The Baby’s Head
Some parents – in a misguided attempt to keep their baby fully protected cover even their heads within the baby wrap or carrier. This is a mistake for one simple reason. It restricts airflow to the baby. The baby can, therefore, run short of oxygen and suffocate.
Covering the baby’s head also makes it impossible for the parent to read the baby’s facial expressions. As such, if the baby is, for instance, feeling uncomfortable, the parent won’t be able to tell. This is why it is advisable to leave the baby’s head uncovered.
Placing The Baby In A Hunched Position
Most parents place their babies in a hunched position. This is a position where the baby is curled up into letter “C” – with their backs slouching and their chin resting on their chest. This position is hazardous for two reasons. First of all, it can cause back injuries for the baby. Secondly, it can lead to asphyxiation and ultimately death. The correct way to position the baby is for their backs to be reasonably straight, and their heads above their body. They should never be hunched.
Leaving The Baby’s Legs Dangling Below The Body
This is one of the most common mistakes – even among experienced parents. It is also extremely risky. Carrying babies with their legs dangling can put them at risk of hip dysplasia. The safest way to position the baby’s legs is slightly above their butt. For a baby-sling, this means positioning them in a frog-like stance with the knees bent over the butt. In a carrier is means letting the legs come out at the parent’s sides. Whatever the case, the baby’s legs must never dangle downwards.
Failing To Provide Neck Support
Some parents let their baby’s necks dangle freely. This is a mistake which can sometimes lead to neck injuries. When carrying the baby, there is need to provide neck support. This ensures that in case the baby begins dozing, their neck will not droop.
Failing To Alternate Positions
Most parents use only one position when carrying their baby. They usually select the most comfortable position. On the surface, this looks like a great idea. However, for the sake of the baby’s development, there is a need to keep alternating positions. For instance, constantly positioning the baby to face one direction can lead to muscle imbalances. To ensure balanced muscular development, there is need to constantly change positions.
In a nutshell, these are the top 10 baby-wearing mistakes parents make. These often lead to negative consequences for both the baby and parent. Therefore, any parent who desires to maximize the safety of their baby needs to avoid making such mistakes. Otherwise, they may end up causing injury or even death to their dear babies.