Can I Use a Baby Carrier for a Newborn?

Breanna | September 2, 2021 |

Newborns feel so tiny and fragile when you first bring them home. You shuffle around the house, careful not to trip or bump them into anything. So, you might be wondering if a baby as fragile as fine China could be worn in a baby wrap. 

The short answer is, YES! Of course, then can. However, newborns should be worn with extra care and attention, as their neck strength isn’t developed yet. There are real (and completely avoidable) dangers that newborns can face while in a baby carrier. 

newborn-baby-in-carrier
It’s perfectly acceptable to put a newborn baby in a wrap or carrier, just be wary of the dangers

Remember our mnemonic BSAFE & SURE which stands for:

B for Back and Bum. In an upright carry your baby should be well supported at their back and close in against you.

S for Snug. A carrier should fit well and all straps should be properly (and not overly) tightened.

A for Airway. Ensure your baby can breathe easily.

F for Face. Keep it visible.

E for Elevated. Keep them close.

&

S for Squat. Need to pick something up? Squat, don’t bend over.

U for Upkeep. Look after your carrier.

R for Risks. You can’t do everything with baby in a carrier.

E for Environment. Not too hot and not too cold.

As long as you follow those easy rules, your newborn can be worn safely in the appropriate position for their development. Fore more info checkout this piece on baby carrier and baby wrap safety.

Are slings and wraps safe for newborns?

Yes. However, careful attention must be paid to the neck position. Always make sure their airway is clear. 

Personally, I’ve worn all three of my children as newborns. Slings, while great options for some moms, were never comfortable for my wiggly babies. I preferred a soft wrap in the front facing in position. As newborns, they were held in a kangaroo wrap (with their legs drawn into their tummy). 

Soft wraps were always the coziest and easiest to use in those early days. Plus, they are easier to wash if the baby spits up while being carried, which happened nearly every day in our house. 

Do I need a special carrier insert for a newborn?

If you have a structured carrier (see here for out top baby carrier picks), chances are you might need a special insert for your newborn. These go into the carrier and provide a mini booster seat for your infant’s bottom. It boosts their head up to the top of the carrier where you can see their face, kiss their head, and monitor breathing. Ideally, the top of the carrier should be even with their ears. 

Newborn carry positions

Generally, all newborn positions will be facing in towards mom or dad. They shouldn’t be turned around to see the world until 5 or 6 months when they have decent neck control.

Why neck support is important

Neck support is important to avoid injury and to ensure a clear airway. For one, any quick movement while in the wrap could cause whiplash for your newborn. Additionally, positional asphyxia is a very real threat for newborns and small infants. It’s why letting your baby sleep in their car seat is a bad idea and why babywearing has gotten a bad “wrap” in the past. Always, always, always support the neck and check the airway. 

Can you breastfeed a newborn in a carrier?

Once again… YES! However, like babywearing, it takes practice. Depending on what type of carrier you use, you may need to figure out how to loosen straps without assistance or how to maneuver your shirt without removing the carrier. 

There are advantages to breastfeeding in ring slings and soft wraps for this reason. You can easily adjust your baby in the carry and discreetly uncover to latch. Structured carriers are a little trickier, but not impossible (especially with older infants). 

Check out this explanation of breastfeeding in a wrap from KeaBabies
Breanna

Breanna is a former therapist turned writer. She earned a master’s in psychology in 2015 but ultimately decided she would like to be more present for her family. Currently flexing her writing skills as a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers (with another baby on the way), she enjoys writing in the parenting and home/DIY niches. She also writes fiction and has been published in a handful of literary magazines and a fiction anthology. In her spare time, Breanna enjoys blogging, painting, running, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee.

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