Safety note on using a baby carrier

Baby carrier, also called “Mei Tai” in Cantonese, is used to carry a child on the body of caregiver.  This allows the caregivers to take care of their children while attending daily tasks of living.  Previous studies have shown that babies who were held more by their mothers, they cried less.  By carrying the children in front allows the caregivers and the children to communicate interactively and increases their bonding.  However, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that front carriers are only suitable for babies over three months old.  For younger babies, parents can hold them or use the strollers when going out.

What are the differences between the various types of baby carriers?

There are many choices of baby carriers on the market. In general, they can be classified into one-shouldered and two-shouldered designs:

Types Characteristics Usage Limitations
One-shouldered design:
  • Wrap around sling
  • Ring sling
  • Pouch sling
  • made of cotton or mixed fabric
  • stretchy or non-stretchy
  • compact design for easy to carry and storage
  • easy to use
  • shoulder straps with or without padding
  • the rings of the ring sling create a secure and adjustable pouch for the baby
  • pouch sling with adjustable design can fit different sized users
Small babies:
  • front cradle carries or front upright carries
Older Babies:
  • hip carries
  • can be tiring after long periods of wearing
  • require time to learn to use a wrap around sling
  • fitted pouch slings lack adjustability to suit the needs of some users
  • Wrap around sling limits the movement of baby’s legs and may increases the chance of hip dysplasia

 

Types Characteristics Usage Limitations
Two-shouldered design:
  • Mei Tai
  • a sheet of fabric or soft panel with shoulder straps and waist belts
  • some attached with headrest for the baby or a small pocket for diapers or other objects
  • wide shoulder straps
  • padded or unpadded
  • simple to use
  • able to distribute the weight of heavier baby
  • suitable for long periods of wearing

front carries (babies can face inward or outward) or back carries

  • limited to carry the baby in an upright position
  • Mei Tai attached with headrest is relatively more bulky
  • the long straps may easily get dirty as they may drag on the ground
  • Backpack
  • Soft Structured Carrier
  • supportive design with thick padded shoulder straps and waist belts which is suitable for bigger/heavier babies
front carries (babies can face inward or outward) or back carries fairly bulky, not easy to carry or store

 

What to look for when buying a baby carrier?

Read and follow the instructions on the packet carefully before buying and using the baby carrier

Points to note when buying a baby carrier:

  • Appropriate for baby’s age, size and weight
  • Wide padded shoulder straps and waist belt. All parts should be durable with strong stitching
  • Straps are adjustable
  • The back of baby (including the headrest) should be supported securely
  • Leg holes are of appropriate size, banded with elastic fabric and soft padded
  • Baby’s buttock and thighs need to be well supported to reduce forces exert on the hip joints
  • Safe and comfortable
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to carry and store
  • Made of cotton

Metal backpack:

  • have smooth seams without sharp points
  • with safety lock
  • with padding on frames

What to look for when using a baby carrier?

Caregivers should watch out of the following safety issues before using a baby carrier:

  • Single shoulder sling or backpack is NOT suitable for babies under four months old
  • Try a new carrier only when your baby is content
  • Ask family member to help when using the carrier for the first time
  • Ensure sufficient support to baby’s head and neck
    • When the baby is sleeping, his back muscle is in a relaxed state
  • Put on and take off the carrier on a safe and secure surface
  • Use a mirror to check your baby’s position. Make sure the shoulder strapes, waist belt or rings are securely and properly buckled and ensure your baby fits snugly in the carrier
  • Frequently check your baby while he is in a carrier, make sure your baby is not too hot or too cold
  • Ensure that your baby can breathe without any obstruction, especially when using the Single Shoulder sling:
    • Do not carry your baby hunched with his chin touching his chest
    • Do not carry your baby too low in the sling
    • Do not carry you baby with his face pressed tightly against you
    • Do not allow the sling or any soft objects to cover your baby’s face
  • Prevent your baby from reaching dangerous items such as cooking utensils and fans
  • Offer enough sun protection to your baby, such as applying suntan lotion on his head, face and limbs
  • Never bounce, jump, run or shake when using the carrier to prevent your baby from getting brain, neck and back injuries
  • Bend your knees if you need to pick something up
  • Never use a carrier when riding in a car with a seat belt
(Content revised 10/2013)