How do I keep my baby safe in the sling?

This is a very important question - perhaps the most important of all! The key thing is to understand your baby's developmental stage and how to protect their airway especially when they are small.

how do i keep my baby safe in the sling

New parenthood is an anxious time for many; as it is all so very new. Many of us don’t live in heterogenous societies where we learn about all the ages and stages of life from personal experience; so often our own newborn is the very first baby we have ever handled. It all seems overwhelming, and adding a sling to the mix can feel a challenge.

However, many babies love the safety and security of a cuddly sling as it reminds them of “home”.

This is the 4th Trimester concept, and a good safe sling can make parenthood feel much more manageable. It gets easier with practice, just like learning to feed, learning to drive, learning to live!

Baby sling safety matters. The “TICKS” guidelines ( are often referred to when people ask about baby sling safety; they were developed in response to issues with babies being held in flat horizontal positions in slings with compromised and obstructed airways. They were an essential advance in making babywearing the overwhelmingly safe practice it is today and every baby carrier/sling that is sold should (in my opinion) have these in their instructions (and comply with them!)

The TICKs are great if you are good at acronyms or have an excellent memory… however, we often find people cannot remember them all especially when they’re in the early stage of parenthood. The TICKS are great to hand out for reading and learning, and should be printed in every carrier’s information… but what about while you are actually putting baby in the sling?

how do i keep my baby safe in the sling

Our top tips when checking safety are:

• ‘Does your baby have an open and upright airway that’s well supported?’
• ‘Are you confidently hands-free?’
• ‘Are you both at a comfortable temperature?’

Remember, small and sleepy babies (especially under 3months) have a tendency to slump over, they don’t yet have the strength and co-ordination to keep their heavy heads upright. They are more at risk of potentially closing their airway.

Ensure your child’s chest and back are well supported with no gaps between them and you, and adjust their position when they fall asleep to keep them safe. The image shows how this position works – baby does not need rigid support or high head rests as the adult’s body is providing the support. Baby cannot slump forwards as their chest is resting against the adult – and the broad base is keeping them stable. Notice how the spine remains curved but the head is not rolled forwards and the baby’s chin is not resting on their chest. This baby has a clear, open airway.

Check on them often.

Do not put them in a horizontal position inside a sling.

And please make sure they’re not too warm; over-warm babies breathe less well. Use light layers and add any extras over the top of both of you. (There will be more on dressing baby in the sling in a later FAQ).

how do i keep my baby safe in the sling

Further reading here:

sling safety matters sling safely