8 Babywearing Safety Tips That Could Save a Baby’s Life
While baby carriers are a great way to soothe your baby, conveniently transport them (hands-free!) and promote bonding, they’re not all created equal. In this guide, we go over babywearing safety tips, chemicals to avoid in baby carriers and share our favorite non-toxic baby carrier brands and product picks!
There’s no denying that the benefits of babywearing are vast.
Not only does babywearing help keep your hands free to engage in other activities (like helping older children), it can also help soothe your little one and promote bonding.
For colicky babies, there’s even evidence to suggest that colic and reflux symptoms can be minimized through babywearing, as the upright position is better for babies with these conditions. And babies who are carried more tend to be less stressed, as they feel comforted by the familiar sounds and rhythms of their parents’ bodies.What’s more, baby wearing is a wonderful way for partners to experience close contact with their tots during the early days of parenthood.
With that being said, it’s important to think about WHAT your baby carrier is made of and HOW you’re using it. Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream options contain some not-so-nice chemicals that can cause both short and longterm health problems. It’s also crucial to think about regulating your baby’s body temperature, being mindful of their hip positioning and ensuring that their airway is not blocked.
To help keep both you and your baby safe and on-the move, we’ll go over:
- Safety tips for babywearing
- Chemicals to avoid in baby carriers
- The best non-toxic baby carriers
Scroll down to learn more!
Safety tips for babywearing
As with most things to do with your baby, safety is key when it comes to babywearing.
- First, check that your chosen carrier adheres to all current US safety standards. If you have a carrier that’s been handed down to you, or if you’re using your first child’s carrier with your new baby, check the carrier for any signs of wear and tear.
- When positioning your baby in the carrier, ensure their neck and torso are well-supported at all times.
- Check your baby’s chin – is it pressed down into their chest or held above with room for you to put two fingers between their chest and chin? They need room here, otherwise their airway may be compromised.
- Ideally, your baby’s knees will be positioned above their bottom in a wide squat pose. This is a safe, well-supported position for them.
- Though it can be tempting to go about your business with your baby safely strapped in, make sure you’re checking on your little one often, even if it seems silly as they are right there on your chest.
- In hot weather, dress your baby in lighter clothing if you’re planning on carrying them and try to minimize the use of the hood if sun protection isn’t needed (as this will allow air to circulate around them better).
- To make yourself more comfortable, place a muslin cloth between you and your baby, to wick away moisture, again making sure that it’s not covering your baby’s face.
- Be sure to follow the age and weight recommendations when it comes to choosing a forward or parent-facing position. This applies to wearing on your back as well.
If all else fails, remember ErgoBaby’s motto: “Visible and kissable.” That is, your baby’s face should be clearly visible, and you should be able to easily reach down and kiss them.
You can also remember the TICKS checklist:
- In view at all time
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep chin off chest
- Supported back
Chemicals to avoid in baby carriers
At The Tot, we never use or recommend anything that hasn’t passed The Tot Test. This means we’ve looked deep into third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in-depth questions about a product’s composition to ensure it’s free of the chemicals we avoid.
When it comes to baby carriers, we’re particularly vigilant because of how close a baby’s mouth and nose is to the material. That’s why we like to steer clear of the following:
PVC (Sometimes found in accessories like rain covers)
PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, or vinyl, is an incredibly toxic chemical that is harmful to our bodies and to the environment right from the production phase through to disposal. It contains additives like phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotin that are quite toxic and have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive problems and cancer.
BPA + BPS (Found in plastic hardware and synthetic fabrics)
Bisphenols mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to prostate cancer, breast cancer, female infertility, and obesity. BPA is an especially dangerous endocrine disruptor since even small amounts of this chemical have been shown to cause serious reproductive damage, especially when the exposure occurs in utero.
Harmful Phthalates (Can be found in synthetic fabrics)
Many phthalates are known endocrine disruptors associated with asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.
Flame Retardants (Can be sprayed on fabrics)
Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to endocrine and thyroid disruption, impacts to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer and adverse effects on fetal and child development.
PFAS (Used to achieve waterproofing)
PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large family of different chemicals that have been shown to cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.
Pesticides + Herbicides (Used to cultivate cotton)
Pesticides and herbicides can prevent individual nerve cells from communicating with one another. They have also been linked to endocrine disruption, neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADD, autism spectrum disorder and lower IQ, impaired memory, severe depression, disruption of the immune system, paralysis and death.
VOCs (Can be found in dyes and foams)
Volatile Organic Compounds are suspected human carcinogens that can “off gas” into your environment, essentially polluting the air in your home. Exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system.
Heavy Metals (Can be found in the dyes and/or carrier hardware)
Exposure to heavy metals can cause nerve damage, learning and behavioral problems, reproductive damage and irreversible brain damage.
Formaldehyde (Often used to achieve wrinkle resistance in fabric)
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and very low levels can irritate and burn the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Those with asthma may have exacerbation of symptoms when exposed to formaldehyde.
The best non-toxic baby carriers
All Tot Tested and approved, here are our favorite non-toxic baby carrier brands and product picks.
One of the OGs of babywearing, Babybjorn isn’t going anywhere for a reason: they know what they’re doing! With options to suit all lifestyles and climates, Babybjorn carriers are made from OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified fabrics, meaning they’re free of toxic chemicals. The best part: they’re all machine washable!
Available in more colors
Acknowledged as a “hip healthy” product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, Ergobaby Carriers are made with non-toxic, machine washable and durable fabrics. Easy to clip on, we love that they can be used for years, not months.
If you’d like to go for a wrap-style carrier, you can’t go wrong with Solly Baby. Made of 100% certified lenzing modal, sourced from the pulp of Austrian Beechwood trees, their eco-friendly and non-toxic wraps are great for the first year (or up to 25 lbs!)