Unsafe carriers

Fakes

Fake carriers can be very dangerous, they are cheap knock offs of reputable, well known brands but not made to the same standards. The stitching and/or materials are often substandard meaning they are liable to break or wear quickly, this could lead to a serious injury if the carrier was to fail with baby in it. Another issue could be the dyes or other chemicals used on the fabric which may be harmful. Even though there is no mandatory testing for baby carriers in the UK most off the peg carriers are tested to meet the British Safety Standard for Baby Carriers (EN 13209-2-2005). Reputable WAHM’s (work at home mum’s) who often make bespoke carriers will also ensure their carriers are safe by home testing and having other experienced sling users provide feedback on their designs, just check their feedback before ordering.

At present, known counterfeited carriers include: Ergo baby carrier, Beco Butterfly, Moby Wrap, Freehand Mei tai, Patapum and Hotslings so check their websites for approved retailers before purchasing. If buying second hand, ask the seller for proof of where they bought the carrier originally.

For more information, check out this great article with more rescourses linked at the bottom.

 

Bag Slings

Bag style slings are extreamly dangerous and have been known to cause several infant deaths, sadly there are still many brands of these still available so please DO NOT use this style of carrier with your child. When using other styles such as ring slings, wraps and buckle carriers, it generally only takes a few minor adjustments to ensure baby is safe and comfortable but there is no way to achieve this with a bag sling. Just look at the T.I.C.K.S  guidelines, there is no way to follow them. Bag slings such as the premaxx, infantino slingrider and Lamaze Close Comfort to name a few are designed to hold baby in the cradle position (lying horizontally) which instantly makes it very difficult to have baby “close enough to kiss”.  This position,  in this sling, also encourages (and makes in near impossible not too) baby to curl up causing their chin to fall on to their chest which has great potential to restrict their airways.  T.I.C.K.S also talks about keeping babies face in sight but these slings tend to enclose baby meaning their face is covered. This in turn will prevent baby from getting fresh oxygen and lead them to re breath their expelled Co2 and end up with dangerously (sadly sometimes fatally)  low oxygen levels.

 

 Checking Your Carrier Is Safe To Use

Once you’ve made sure you’re not using a fake carrier or a bag sling, we also need to remember carriers can become damaged or worn out over time, here’s a check list to help. These checks should be made each time you use the carrier.

  • Rings – If your carrier has rings, such as a ring sling or Ombuhimo, check the rings are not welded together, but rather a formed metal or nylon ring with no join.
  • Stitching – Check all stitching to ensure there are no breaks, top stitching also helps strengthen seams so it’s important to check with the manufacturer if you notice any loose stitching.
  • Buckles – Ensure any buckles are free of cracks or breaks, it’s so easy to trap a buckle in a door etc and a cracked buckle could lead to falls. If you notice a broken or worn buckle, contact the manufacturer as buckles can often be replaced.
  • Webbing damage – Check any webbing is free from damage, it can get caught and melts easily so be careful when you iron your carrier.
  • Buttons/Snaps – If your carrier has buttons/snaps/toggles etc to hold hoods in place or adjust the carrier in any way, make sure they undamaged and still hold fast.
  • Holes – Ensure there are no holes in the carrier fabric, this could cause the carrier to tear. Small holes in decrative panels or fabric are often fixable if the fabric isn’t structural so check with the manufacturer if you find any issues.
  • Pulls – Woven wrap fabric can snag, creating pulls (loops of thread sticking out of the fabric) and while this is  mostly asthetic it’s a good idea to ease them back in to the fabric to prevent them worsening and leading to breaks.
  • Structural stitching – Such as that holding straps to the body of the carrier. Firmly pull (but don’t jerk) the strap away from the body of the carrier in the direction the strap is supposed to go (never pull them at an angle, this can cause damage) and feel for movement and listen for stitches “popping”. If the strap is loose or you hear stitching breaking DO NOT USE your carrier and contact the manufacturer.

 

High Street Carriers

High street carriers or “narrow based carriers” (for example Baby Bjorn, Tommy, Chicco etc) are often branded as dangerous, in gerneral these types are carrier aren’t dangerous but they do make it harder to follow the T.I.C.K.S safety guidlines. They tend to encourage baby to sit lower down so it’s very important to ensure baby is nice an high and “close enough to kiss”. It’s also very important to make sure baby can sit unaided before using the facing out or “world facing” option and always turn them back towards you if they fall asleep or become overwhelmed, 15-20 minutes world facing at a time is a good guidline. If baby is unable to sit unaided or falls asleep while facing out they are likely to slump forward which can cause babies chin to fall on to their chest and possibly restrict airways. The main issue most people will find with this style of carrier is that they are less comfortable than an ergonomic carrier. Babies legs hand down and pull away from you rather than embracing you which makes baby feel heavier and puts more strain on your back, if you find you’re having this problem there are some great tricks to help, check out THIS video from Sheffield sling library.

But I’ve heard that high street carriers will give my baby hip Dysplasia….

A narrow based carrier can not cause hip dysplasia however it can exhasberate it. If you’ve had a diagnosis of hip dysplasia then you could talk to your consultant about using an ergonomical carrier either along side a hip brace or as an alternative in mild cases. If hip dysplasia has been undetected then using a narrow based carrier could make it worse. The image below helps to show that when the legs dangle down the weight and position of the legs forces the hip joint away from the socket where as the ergonomical carrier  holds the legs up and helps to push the hip joint in to the socket and encourage healthy development. There’s a great article HERE from Sheffield sling library to explain hip dysplasia and how how a carrier could affect it.

 

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