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, they can. However, newborn babies should be worn with extra care and attention, as their neck strength isn’t developed yet. There are real (and completely avoidable) dangers that both you and your newborn can face while baby wearing. As such, baby carrier safety should be a priority.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be carrying 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. For more info checkout this piece on baby carrier and baby wrap safety.
Are slings and wraps safe for newborns?
Yes. However, you need to consider the right carrying positions. Most importantly, careful attention must be paid to your baby’s neck. Always make sure their airway is clear.
Personally, I’ve worn all three of my children as newborns. A baby sling, while great options for some moms, was 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 your baby’s legs drawn into his 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 soft structured carrier (see here for out top baby carrier picks), chances are you might need a special infant insert for your newborn. These go into the soft structured carriers and provide a mini booster seat for your infant’s bottom. It boosts your baby’s head up to the top of the carrier where you can your baby’s face, kiss her head, and monitor her breathing. Ideally, the top of the carrier should be even with their ears to keep your baby safe and comfortable.
Newborn carry positions
Generally, younger babies 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 using a baby carrier 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! You can breastfeed while using baby carriers. 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. A complicated carrier is a little trickier, but not impossible (especially with older infants).