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 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.
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.
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.
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.