Babywearing keeps your baby Visible and Kissable!
The practice of babywearing keeps babies in the safest place possible — a parent’s arms, with baby’s face visible to the carrying adult. Babies are vulnerable in their first four months of life. They require constant supervision, which is why babywearing is critical to the well-being of infants.
Baby carriers are meant to mimic in-arms carrying positions. Your baby should be in the same position in which you would hold him in your arms. Check your baby’s position by embracing him after settling him into the carrier; his position should not shift significantly in your embrace.
When using any baby carrier, please keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for use, and watch any included DVDs, if applicable.
- Ensure you can see baby’s face at all times. Do not let baby’s face press into your body. Do not cover baby’s face with a blanket, sling fabric, nursing covers, etc.
- Baby’s head and neck must be gently and completely supported, with chin off chest. If baby’s chin is pressed tightly to baby’s chest, this can restrict baby’s airway. Check to ensure you can slip your finger between baby’s chin and chest to check for correct positioning.
- Consult an expert if your infant was born with a low birth weight, such as a preemie or twins, or if your infant has respiratory illness or other respiratory problems. Extra vigilance is required with these babies.
- After nursing in a carrier, remove baby from breast and return baby to proper carrying position with head above the breasts and face free of fabric and turned away from the mother’s body.
- Attend to and check on baby often, especially those under 4 months of age.
Additional Articles On Babywearing Safety for Parents
Statement by BCIA Executive Director
The BCIA wishes to remind parents and caregivers of important tips for monitoring infants while being carried or held in a sling or other container, such as a baby swing, infant car seat, or stroller. Read more →
Posts On Babywearing Safety from Our Library
If you think you might have purchased a counterfeit carrier, here is some advice from some of our manufacturers:Beco Baby Carriers Ergo Baby Moby Wrap
ExamplesAn example of one of the fake carriers (an ErgoBaby look-a-like in this case): Text below by Hamilton Radcliffe Brand: MiniZone Website: www.DHGATE.com - this is a wholesale, direct from China website that sells many products at ‘wholesale’ prices. This is the website where you can buy fake Ergo and Beco and Moby also. Price: $14-$35 USD Packaging: Embroidered FHMT package with the FreeHand Logo replaced by a MiniZone Logo. Colors are muted. The bottom of the package says: Package Contains 1 Embroidered FreeHand Mei Tai Baby Carrier Made from 100% cotton, Machine Wash cold, tumble dry low, do not dryclean, use cool iron if needed, Do not bleach, Made in Chin There is no contact information for MiniZone on the packaging. Carrier: There is a tag on the upper right side of the carrier, near the right shoulder strap that says MiniZone, beneath this logo tag is a care and content tag that reads: 100% COTTON, WASH SEPARATELY PROFESSIONAL DRY CLEAN RECOMMENDED MADE IN CHINA The shoulder straps and head rest padding are open cell foam. Brand: FreeHand Price: $89.95 Packaging: FreeHand Mei Tai logo is on upper left corner. The bottom of the packaging says: Package Contains 1 Embroidered FreeHand Mei Tai Baby Carrie, Made from 97% cotton, 3% Spandex, padding 80% cotton, 20% polyester, Machine Wash cold, tumble dry low, Do not dryclean, Use cool iron if needed. Do not bleach. Made in India, Lot #XXXXXXX TogetherBe LLC www.togetherbe.com Carrier: There is a tag on the inside right side of the waist belt that says: FreeHand Baby Carrier, www.togetherbe.com Made in India RN#XXXXXX03/10 Lot: XXXXXXX 303-459-2649 The back of the tag says: MACHINE WASH COLD LAY FLAT TO DRY 97% Cotton, 3% Spandex, Padding 80% Cotton, 20% Polyester, PO BOX 6740 Denver CO, BS EN 13209-2:2005 Weight of Child from 2-16KG There is also the word FREEHAND embroidered on the waist belt. The shoulder straps and head rest padding are quilters' batting From a customer: I purchased a MiniZone MT off of Ebay. The shoulder straps are not constructed correctly, the shoulder strap fabric is not reinforced and sunk into the body of the carrier. When I pulled on the straps of the baby carrier the fabric along the top of the head rest ripped. I then pulled on the other shoulder strap and the fabric ripped on the other side. Another parent purchased a MIniZone MT off of Ebay and she also pulled on each shoulder strap. Her carrier did not rip. If you have purchased or have seen a fake Embroidered FreeHand Mei Tai, please contact info@TogetherBe.com Please do not put your baby into any carrier that has not been tested for safety.
You know your favorite pair of blue jeans? The ones that you wore until you they were super soft. And then you wore them some more until the knees got thin and the cuffs were frayed. Before you knew it there was a little hole by the pocket, but you still really didn’t want to retire them until one day, you had a catastrophic shopping experience. And by catastrophic, we mean you mooned everyone at the Safeway when you bent down to pick up the cereal box on the bottom shelf.
Well, with any luck, you have found a baby carrier that you will love as much as those blue jeans. It is comfortable, and grows softer and better every day. Your sentimental attachment will be even greater, because it will hold precious memories with your baby. You (and probably your baby too) just have to look at it to feel better.
A well loved and worn in baby carrier is the best feeling- but what happens when broken in becomes worn out? When your favourite pair of blue jeans wear out, all you risk is momentary immodesty, but a baby carrier that reaches its limit can drop a baby. Just like with jeans, the fabric around the seams will wear out first, but eventually, every part of the carrier will grow thinner and lose its integrity. Perhaps this may eventually lend new meaning to catastrophic.
So, how can you hold on to all those fabulous memories, and pass this precious legacy of babywearing on to the next generation? Why not start with pictures? Snapshots, and even portraits can help to capture a moment in time. But of course, a picture cannot capture that feeling of security that you get when wrapped in your favorite bit of cloth. So, what about turning it into a skirt, a shawl, a scarf or a quilt? If you just want to be able to see and touch your carrier, what about a wall hanging, or pillow? As far as passing the legacy, this will happen naturally as you model babywearing and encourage your children to wear their dolls and other favorite toys.
"But," you say, "I'm just going to buy a brand-new carrier that I love or has special meaning to me and not use it. I'll just put it away for future use." Obviously, a carrier that is never used will not be subjected to the same stress and wear and tear as a much-used and much-loved carrier. However, storage conditions and time are not always kind to textiles. Factors that affect the deterioration of textile products over time include exposure to light, storage temperatures (and temperature changes), relative humidity and humidity changes, dust and dirt, insect or animal exposure, and more. Folding can cause creasing that over time produces weakened areas along the fold. True preservation of textiles requires archival quality materials and methods--and this is only for items intended for either future wear (i.e. a wedding dress) or display (a quilt displayed on a wall). A textile that is used for carrying a child has a much greater job than simply adorning our bodies or delighting our eyes as art, and any possible degradation of it's strength and integrity is simply not worth the risk.
Far in the future, that happy day will come when you receive the news of your upcoming grandchild. Imagine the fun you will have shopping for just the right new baby carrier that matches the taste of both parents, and fits their needs for bonding with their precious new baby. That bond is a legacy that cannot be beat.
We’ve been seeing a lot of aftermarket accessories and customized carrier add-ons on the market lately. A lot of it is beautifully crafted; but is it safe? First and foremost, we want to make sure that these accessories do not compromise the safety of the product or introduce hazards that would not otherwise exist.
Here are some very general guidelines, whether you are a consumer or an accessories maker. Note, this is not legal advice, but best practice guidelines and a way to get the conversation started.
What can you do?
If you choose to accessorize your carrier, please check the product literature to make sure you aren’t voiding the warranty or going against manufacturer guidelines.
If you must accessorize your carrier please be very cautious with things like reach straps and hood ties, which can be a significant strangulation risk if they are too long. If you must have them, request that they be made an appropriate length. The European baby carrier standard (EN13209) as well as the technical report (TR16512) stipulates that cords, straps, and ties shall have a maximum length of 220mm (22cm or 8.6 inches) when a tensile force of 25N is applied- that is, hood ties should not stretch out longer than 8.6 inches. Exercise extreme caution with anything added to the end of reach straps. Is it going to be a choking hazard if a curious baby chews something off? Beads, buttons and even small stuffed figures are never a good idea.
Are the materials used safe and appropriate for an infant to suck on? Woven fabric is exempt from lead testing, however painted, printed or metallic fabrics, snaps, buttons and plastic or metal pieces all require lead testing. Small parts testing may be required as well (small parts must not fit completely into the small parts test cylinder, which has a diameter of 1.75 inches). If small parts are attached, ie. snaps or buckles, they must not detach under force.
On the topic of dyed and hand-painted carriers, is the dye or paint used appropriate and safe? Will the dye process damage the structural integrity of a carrier? Have dyes and paints been lead tested and are they colourfast so as not to be ingested?
Aftermarket accessories are unregulated products, which means it is very much a buyer-beware market. Accessory makers will want to familiarize themselves with current regulations and laws, whether those are CPSIA or European regulations for children’s products and toys. Please help us spread the word to other babywearing parents and accessory makers!
What is the BCIA doing?
We are working to have hood tie length addressed in the ASTM F2236 standard (that’s the standard that carriers are tested to in the US), with the aim of bringing the standard in line with the current European standard. We are doing public outreach and will also be getting the word out to custom carrier makers and accessory makers and retailers so everyone is on the same page.Are you a custom carrier or accessories maker and wondering about safety regulations and liability issues? Please contact the BCIA and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
Nursing on the go?Take a few minutes to sit down and feed if you can- your baby (and your feet!) will appreciate it. Make sure to re-position your baby back to upright immediately after feeding, even if they've fallen asleep. Your baby’s face should always be visible to you, even if babe is nursing or sleeping.
Baby it's cold outside!Keep your little one snug and warm and close to your heart in a properly fitting sling or carrier. Be mindful of over bundling and never cover baby's face with a blanket or zipped up jacket. Look for a babywearing jacket or carrier cover that leaves baby's face free and clear if you need an extra layer. This is equally important in other container-type devices as well (like strollers and infant bucket seats). Covering a baby’s face makes it impossible to monitor them and can lead to suffocation or CO2 rebreathing.
Keep germs at bay!A baby carrier is the perfect tool for keeping well-meaning but germy hands away from your little one. If babe does get sick a sling or carrier allows you to keep baby close so you can monitor their breathing. Babies under 4 months of age and any baby with a respiratory issue (even a simple cold!) require extra monitoring and vigilance. Whether your carrier of choice is a sling, wrap, mei tai or buckle carrier, ensure baby always has a clear and open airway. Your baby’s head and neck should be completely supported, with their chin off their chest. Chin to chest positioning can restrict your baby’s airway, especially with babies under 4 months of age. Make sure you can slip a finger between their chin and chest. Babies are noisy creatures, but snorting, snoring and grunting noises can be signs of labored breathing and an indication that your baby needs to be repositioned immediately. Be extra vigilant when using car seats, strollers, swings and bouncy chairs as well as young babies can easily slip into chin to chest positioning in these devices too. Keep the above safety tips in mind and you’ll breeze through the holidays with your little one cozy and safe in a sling or carrier.
heat stroke in babies. Regularly take your baby out of the carrier to release trapped heat and circulate air between your bodies. Babies who seem distressed or overheated in any way should be removed from the carrier and brought somewhere cooler immediately. Avoid carriers with bulky inserts, excessive padding and multi-layers as these will all restrict airflow. Choose a hot-weather appropriate carrier. Single layer carriers (ring slings, lightweight wraps), breathable materials (linen, gauze, lightweight cotton and moisture wicking fabrics) and light coloured carriers can keep you as cool as possible. Buckle carriers or mei tais with vents, mesh panels, and curved hourglass shaped sides will all offer increased airflow. If it is developmentally appropriate, hip and back carries can be slightly cooler than front carries. Water wraps and slings are a great option for cooling off in the water together. Water, lots of water. Make sure you and your baby are well hydrated. This is especially important for breastfeeding mothers. A light mist of water over you and your baby from a spray bottle can cool you both down quickly. A cold washcloth on the back of a baby’s neck (and yours too!) can also offer relief. Cooling towels offer stay-cool cloths, neck and head bands to keep you cool without getting you wet. Cooling towels work through evaporation and can be draped around your neck or head. We don't advise placing them between the parent's and baby's bodies as this both inhibits evaporation and can interfere with baby's natural temperature regulation. Babies under 6 months of age are particularly vulnerable to temperature extremes and should be monitored closely. Avoid using products like cooling towels with very young babies as this can interfere with their ability to regulate temperature. Your safest approach is to take a break in a cooler location and follow some of the other tips above for relief. Take a break! Sometimes it’s just too hot and sticky and if you don’t feel like babywearing, that’s ok! Wait until it cools down and both you and baby feel comfortable wearing again. Keep the above safety tips in mind and you and your little one will be keeping your cool while the mercury rises.
Stewed Rhubarb Handmade hemming wraps.[/caption]
Q: Why is compliance important?A: Primarily because it protects consumers. Many countries have laws that regulate lead and other chemical limits, and flammability. There are often standards to be tested to in order to ensure that a product can pass mechanical testing, and does not pose a choking, pinching or fall hazard. Regulations ensure that products come with appropriate labeling, care information and proper use instructions. A company who is compliant with current regulations is illustrating a commitment to the industry, and to a best practice business model. If a company is willing to break the law regarding regulations, where else are they willing to cut corners?
Q: How do I know if a product is compliant?A: In the US, the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) outlines current regulations under the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). These regulations are legal requirements. There are lots of requirements that you won’t see as a customer that have to do with record keeping and testing plans but there are a few things that you should look for. To break it down simply, a consumer is looking for three things: Proper labeling Product registration An indication that the product has been tested to any applicable safety standards
Q: What is a product registration card and do I need to fill it out?A: This is a perforated postcard that includes the manufacturer information, product information (product name and model number) and is postage-paid. It should also include a website or email address to register online. In the event of a recall or incident, manufacturers will be able to access customer data tied to a particular product quickly. It’s meant to streamline the process should a recall, even a minor one, ever take place. Please register your products! Many customers don’t, and this makes more work for manufacturers, and leaves you uninformed for longer if there should be a recall.
Q: How should a baby carrier be labeled?A: Carriers require a few different labels, and we have outlined the required information below. Permanent tracking label This is a label (or labels) outlining manufacturer details (address or phone number, website), where a product was made as well as a product number and date of manufacture. If your product had special packaging, this info should be on the packaging as well. Permanent tracking labels are one of the most useful regulations in the US. In the event of a recall or incident, it allows a manufacturer to pinpoint exactly the products that might be affected. It also tells you, as the customer, when your product was made, which can be very useful for determining how much life a product might have left. This requirement has been in place since January 2011, so if you find an untagged sling at a yard sale, know that it might well be over 4-5 years old and maybe it’s not quite the bargain it seems. Care label This is a requirement under the Textile Act. One of the tags should outline fiber content, product origin and care instructions so you know what your product is made of, where it came from and how to wash it. You can see a similar tag inside almost any other article of clothing.
What is this giant warning label doing on my carrier?The CPSC will often make testing to an international standard a mandatory requirement. Currently, all soft infant and toddler carriers (front packs, mei tais, soft structured carriers) made or imported after Sept 28, 2014 must pass the requirements outlined in ASTM F2236. That standard outlines things like: -required mechanical/physical testing to the weight specified on the carrier label -choking and strangulation hazards -permanent warning label -mandatory usage instructions All carriers currently being produced should comply with the ASTM F2236 standard requirements in addition to the previously mentioned requirements (product registration etc).
What about slings and wraps?ASTM F2907 is the international standard used in the US for wraps, slings, pouches, carrier shirts and many hybrid carriers. At this time, the sling standard is voluntary. We expect to see it become mandatory in the US in 2016. Many manufacturers are being proactive and testing to this standard while it is still voluntary. Others are starting the process with proper labeling and instructions, so don’t be surprised if you see warning labels and other small changes to your favourite brands. [caption id="attachment_1633" align="aligncenter" width="270"] Joy and Joe finished woven wraps[/caption]
Q: Can I still have a wrap converted into a ring sling/mei tai/carrier of my choice?A: Yes, and no. Any of the soft carrier conversion manufacturers who are still making carriers out of wrap fabric should have come up with a testing plan. Unless the wrap layer is only a decorative panel on the outside, expect that converters are only able to work with new wraps in a fabric/blend that they have tested their product model to at an independent 3rd party lab. The manufacturer should be able to explain what their process is. Slings can still be converted from your own supplied fabric until testing to the standard becomes mandatory, likely in 2016. Some manufacturers may preemptively begin changing their production models before this date in anticipation of the upcoming changes. [caption id="attachment_1640" align="alignleft" width="133"] The importance of quality, tested materials cannot be overstated. Sling Rings.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1641" align="aligncenter" width="267"] Sewfunky ring slings[/caption]
Q: Are accessories, inserts, suck pads etc. tested or regulated?A: There are no official regulations specifically for accessories. General children's product requirements will apply. Do not assume that an insert, or suck pads will have been tested with your carrier, and exercise caution with aftermarket products. For more information, see our article on accessories here: http://babycarrierindustryalliance.org/2014/04/customized-carriers-and-accessories/
Q: Can I (cinch the base/use a receiving blanket/use another manufacturer’s insert) with my carrier?A: If the carrier you are using recommends using an insert for a proper fit it is strongly advised that you follow the manufacturer guidelines. The insert is designed to support a small baby at the sides to prevent slumping in addition to boosting baby up to kissable height. It is difficult to predict if another manufacturer’s insert will fit your carrier appropriately or if DIY adjustments (ex. a rolled up receiving blanket) will be suitable.
Q: I really only want to buy one carrier. Can I buy a ‘toddler sized’ carrier and my child will grow into it?A: No, you really can’t. Baby carriers, like jogging strollers and carseats really should fit your child properly and securely. This is especially critical in the first 4 months of life when babies require optimum stability and support. A too big carrier can present a potential slumping, falling or asphyxiation hazard. Buy the carrier that meets your needs now, not where you think you’ll be in 2 years!
Q: I want to make a carrier or sling for myself. Does it need to be compliant?A: Products made for yourself are just that, made for yourself. These do not need to be tagged, labeled or tracked.
Q: I’d like to sell my DIY carrier after I’m done with it. What do I need to know?A: That is a trickier question. As soon as you sell a product, even for the cost of materials, you are entering into commerce and are in essence becoming a manufacturer with all the risks and responsibilities that comes with (the CPSC really doesn’t care if you are making a profit or not!) If you are making a product for yourself, make a product for yourself. If you want to set up shop, do it legitimately for your own protection as well as that of your customers.
Q: If I hem or shorten slings and wraps does this make me a manufacturer?A: No. Hemming a pair of pants doesn’t make you a pants manufacturer, it makes you a seamstress or tailor. Shortening a product or making minor repairs and alterations does not make you a manufacturer. A note about altering or customizing carriers- in most instances this will void any warranty from the manufacturer so proceed with caution. Some alterations (ie. covering a carrier panel with a slipcover, dyeing a carrier) can make carrier wear and tear harder to spot or can potentially shorten the lifespan of a carrier. It’s always best practice to look your carrier over thoroughly on a regular basis.
Q: What about the second hand market? Do those carriers have to be compliant too?A: The second hand market is not exempt from regulations. The CPSC resale/thrift store guide can take you through the ins and outs: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/ResaleThrift-Stores-Information-Center/ Technically, non-compliant products are not to be resold. It is definitely illegal to resell or donate a recalled product, so do a search on http://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/ to see if your product has been recalled first. Reselling includes personal sales, auctions, yard sales, consignment stores and secondhand shops.
Q: I found a cheap carrier on the internet, is it safe?A: Impossible to say. Following the guidelines outlined above will give you a place to start in determining safety. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compliance, safety and suitable materials come at a cost. Counterfeit and knock-off copies of well known carriers are untested, unknown, and often of subpar construction. There are lots of places to save money when buying baby gear, but buying the cheapest carrier possible off the internet shouldn’t be one of those places. For more information about fakes and how to spot them: http://babycarrierindustryalliance.org/2013/02/fake-carriers-warning/ [caption id="attachment_1617" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Buyer beware- if the price seems too good to be true, it often is.[/caption]
Q: Can/should I report noncompliance? How do I do that? What about unsafe carriers?A: Great question! Anytime the manufacturer of a product becomes aware that their product is not in compliance with a mandatory standard or they receive information that indicates to them that their product may pose a substantial hazard they must by law report to the CPSC themselves. However, the regulations themselves are complex and confusing. So if a consumer believes that a product is not in compliance with a mandatory standard or may pose a substantial product hazard, he or she should always contact the manufacturer first to determine the facts and scope of the issue. The product may be subject to an exemption contained in the regulations or the issue of concern may be the subject of a voluntary standard but not a mandatory standard. Since the agency's inception, consumers have also been invited to call the CPSC's hotline if they have an experience where they are concerned that a product creates a substantial hazard. More recently, consumers can report concerns regarding product safety on CPSC’s public database at SaferProducts.gov. Consumers can also search SaferProducts.gov to search for past recalls. Of course, the safety of all children being carried in these products is the top concern, so something that poses a serious risk to safety is certainly reportable to either the manufacturer or to the agency.
Q: Are there rules about how a carrier should be sewn? What is “sewing compliance”?A: There is no such thing as sewing compliance. There are certainly industry best practices and indications of quality workmanship, but there are no hard and fast rules determining how a carrier must be constructed. A carrier which has passed testing to an international standard (like ASTM F2236 or F2907 or to the European standards EN13209 or TR16512) has undergone rigorous testing to determine its safety for market. The standard does not dictate how a carrier is constructed, only how well it must perform under the testing process. [caption id="attachment_1638" align="alignleft" width="150"] Fabric is tested for colorfastness at an accredited laboratory.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1642" align="aligncenter" width="150"] Warning label guidelines are very specific.[/caption]
Q: How does the BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance) fit into the compliance process?A: The BCIA is a non-profit trade organization that represents manufacturers, educators and retailers who work in the industry. We promote the growth of the industry, help our members navigate compliance issues and work together under a common voice to achieve things like public safety campaigns, work on the regulatory standards and encourage best practice. The BCIA is not a certifying or governing body. There is no such thing as ‘BCIA Certified’ or ‘BCIA Compliant’. We do expect our members to adhere to our code of conduct and maintain industry best practices but we are not regulators or bound by duty to report. Regulations in the US are dictated by the CPSC under CPSIA.
Q: If I buy a carrier from overseas, does it have to be compliant?A: It is expected that all carriers imported into the US are compliant with current regulations. Some overseas manufacturers may choose to work with a US-based retailer or distributor in order to share compliance responsibilities. Non-compliant product may be seized, destroyed, and/or excluded from the US at the point of entry (via Customs).
Q: If a carrier is non-compliant is it considered recalled? Can it still be safe?A: Products should be recalled in the event of serious potential safety hazards but products are also frequently recalled as a precautionary measure or for quality reasons that have nothing to do with safety. A product that is say, improperly tagged would technically be considered non-compliant, but this would not necessarily indicate the need for a product recall. One thing to keep in mind is that these regulations apply to the US only. Other countries have different regulations and safety standards in place.
So many acronyms, I’m still confused about who does what!This video does a great job of explaining all the ins and outs and the history of the industry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBWRos_IVlI&feature=iv&src_vid=uPq7UPjVJfg&annotation_id=annotation_1581869141#t=3s Do you have a carrier safety or compliance question? Contact the BCIA at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to add it to our Compliance FAQ. [caption id="attachment_1629" align="alignleft" width="211"] myheartcreative Ring Slings[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1631" align="alignleft" width="135"] Factory production[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1634" align="alignleft" width="180"] Cassiope Woven wraps[/caption]