How to Use a Baby Wrap, Carrier, or Sling Safely

Parents holding baby in a carrier

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight / Getty Images

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to snuggle close to your baby and still be able to get things accomplished with both hands? Many parents have found that wearing their baby in a baby wrap, sling, or carrier helps them to do just that.

It’s important to carry your baby correctly in order to keep them safe and both of you comfortable and happy. Knowing the rules of safe baby wearing will enable you to pick a baby carrier that best suits you and your child.

What Is Baby Wearing?

Baby wearing has been around as long as there have been babies. This is largely due to its practicality: The baby gets the comfort and safety of being held while the parent or caregiver has both hands free for other tasks.

To wear a baby, an adult uses a sling, a piece of cloth, or a specially designed carrier to attach the child to their body in order to hold them hands-free. There are many ways to wear children—from infants to preschoolers—with wraps (like the Solly Baby and Moby), soft-sided carriers (such as the Ergo and Baby Bjorn), and slings.

Babywearing has been found to reduce the amount of time babies cry due to the comforting body contact and calming movement it provides.

Safety Precautions

Using a baby wrap, sling, or carrier can be a great way to keep your baby close while you have your hands free, but there are several precautions to take to keep both you and your baby safe and comfortable.

Keep Your Baby Upright

When you are wearing your baby, they should be in an upright vertical position. Allowing a baby to lay in a cradle position can tuck the baby’s chin too close to their chest and compromise their airway.

Having the baby upright allows the baby’s airway to stay straight so they can breathe freely. This position also has the benefit of allowing your baby to experience the world around them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions that infants who were born prematurely or have respiratory issues should not be worn in slings, wraps, or carriers due to the risk of causing further breathing problems.

Make Sure Their Face Is Visible

Ensuring that you can see your baby's entire face at all times keeps them safe. You can check regularly to make sure their head is in a safe position (chin away from chest) and that they are breathing.

Many wraps and carriers can be used on the adult's chest or back. Only babies who can sit upright unsupported should be worn on the adult's back.

Tuck Your Baby in Tight

For both comfort and safety, the sling, wrap, or carrier you use should hug the baby close to your body. If your baby can slump down due to loose fabric, their breathing can be affected.

In addition, they are more likely to slip out of position if the carrier is not snug, even having the potential for a fall. A loose fit can be uncomfortable for the adult's back as well.

Keep Them Close Enough to Kiss

When wearing your baby, they need to be close enough to your face that you can kiss their head. That means that your sling, wrap, or carrier should hold your baby up high.

Wearing a baby too low increases the chances that they will slump in the carrier, which can cause their head to fall down to their chest. Finally, the lower your baby is, the harder it is to see their face and head position and make sure they are safe.

Be Sure Their Back Is Supported

When your baby is facing in toward your body, make sure their back is in a naturally straight position. The baby should not be curled in a C-shape with space between the adult's body and the baby's belly and chest, as this position can cause the baby to have difficulty breathing.

Keep Their Hips Flexed

A baby’s hip joints are loose at birth, and it takes about six months for them to tighten up and become stable. Soft bones and loose ligaments make newborns more susceptible to a condition called hip dysplasia. This happens when the ball and socket hip joints are misshapen or out of alignment.

If you plan to wear your baby for many hours every day, make sure the carrier you are using offers good hip positioning. The carrier should support the back of your baby’s thighs. When positioned correctly, your baby's legs will be in an "M" position, with their knees higher than their bottom.

Other Things to Check

Each time you get ready to wear your baby, go over your wrap, sling, or carrier carefully. Check for loose stitching, broken buckles or straps, and missing parts.

This is especially important if you're using a baby wearing device that you bought second–hand or one that's been passed down from an older child. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports multiple injuries each year due to sling and carrier malfunctions.

Always follow the product manufacturer's weight limits and position guides as they differ from product to product.

A Word From Verywell

Baby wearing can be an enjoyable practice for both you and your baby. Not only does it allow you to hold them close throughout the day, it also creates flexibility so you can get your daily tasks done at the same time.

And most babies love being held in a carrier or sling once they get used to it. By keeping a few safety tips in mind, you can get snuggle time in with your little one without sacrificing your to-do list.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to calm a fussy baby: Tips for parents and caregivers.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Baby carriers: Backpacks, front packs, and slings.

  3. International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Baby carriers and other equipment.

  4. Federal Register. Safety standard for sling carriers. 79 (141): 2014, 42724-42734.