Any child should ideally be carried in a sling in a position that mimics arm-carrying. This will naturally ensure that they are in a comfortable and physiologically correct position, that places no strain on the hip joints or the spine, and allows a child to be inquisitive about the world and also seek reassurance from the parent when over-stimulated.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has some very useful information here with some great diagrams about why good positioning of the seat is vital for child hip health, in car seats, carriers and soft slings.
The best type of carriers are ones that distribute most of the baby’s weight evenly through your hips and secure around both shoulders. Good examples of this are the soft structured carriers like Ergobaby, Connecta, Manduca, Babies in Space, Boba, Beco and Rose + Rebellion carriers, and some Mei Tais (such as Melkaj, BabyHawk, Kozy, Joeyslings carriers) and wraps which can be tied to ensure baby is in a good position. These carriers are designed to seat the baby in the “M” posture whereby their bottom is positioned central in the carrier, is lower than their knees with their hips spread open, as in the image above.
Here are two images showing a front carry and a back carry with a woven wrap with the child’s bottom lower than their knees, and the material of the carrier reaching into the knee pits.
It is generally felt that front-facing-out carriers and positions are not the best for children. This is because such mass-produced carriers often mean the child’s weight is resting on their crotch rather than being evenly distributed across their bottoms and can lead to spinal stress if used for long periods of time (see Hip Dysplasia Institute Diagram above and the links at SlingGuide for more information about weight distribution). Furthermore these carriers, while for many of us, our first introduction to the world of slings, are often not as comfortable for the parent to use as other types of carrier. There is research that suggests that this front-facing-out position is not ideal for babies who may need to retreat from the intensity of the world in front of them and cuddle securely into a loving parental chest. Please see here and here for further information about why we don’t recommend front-facing-out carries – we are more than happy to show you some lovely alternatives!
Newborn positioning needs some extra care, as babies’s heads are proportionately big for their body size and neck and back strength takes some time to develop.
- A baby should be in an upright or semi-reclined position (such as for feeding), but not completely reclined
- The baby’s head should be well supported by the fabric of the carrier or the head rest (depending on the carrier)
- The baby’s head should be high enough for the parent/carer to kiss the top of his/her head without stretching
- The baby’s face should be visible and free of fabric for easy breathing
- The parent/carer should be able to insert at least two fingers between the baby’s chest and chin as this ensures unimpeded breathing. (“Bag-style” slings are unsafe for this reason and should not be used.)
If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch!