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How to Use a Baby Sling & Baby Sling Safety

A baby sling is a soft fabric carrier that is tied or attached to your body and is used to carry babies or young children. They do not have a solid back or frame like other types of baby carriers.

Baby Sling Safety

You should take care when using slings to carry babies as there have been incidents of babies suffocating while in a sling. Babies are at risk if they are not placed in the right way in the sling because they are not yet old enough to move out of a dangerous position that can block their airway.

There are 2 positions that increase the risk of suffocation:

  • The baby is lying in the sling with a curved back, with its chin resting on its chest
  • The baby is lying with the face pressed against the fabric of the sling or the wearer’s body.

Babies who are premature, have low birth weight or breathing difficulties are at greater risk. You should talk to a doctor before using a sling with a premature baby.

Choosing a sling

  • Choose a sling that comes with detailed instructions on how to use it.
  • Take your baby with you when choosing a sling to ensure you choose a sling that is the right size for you and your baby.
  • Ask for a demonstration on how to use the sling, according to the instructions that come with it.
  • Be very careful about buying a sling that looks a bag or pouch. These can totally cover the baby and increase the suffocation risk because you cannot see the baby and its chin may be resting on its chest without you knowing.
  • Follow the T.I.C.K.S rule for baby sling safety
Tree Hut Village

The T.I.C.K.S rule for baby sling safety

Image courtesy of ErgoBaby


The sling should be tight with your baby positioned high and upright with head support. Any loose fabric may cause your baby to slump down, restricting its breathing.

In view at all times

You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply looking down. Ensure your baby’s face, nose and mouth remain uncovered by the sling and/or your body.

Close enough to kiss

Your baby should be close enough to your chin that by tipping your head forward you can easily kiss your baby on top of its head.

Keep chin off chest

Ensure your baby’s chin is up and away from its body. Your baby should never be curled so that its chin is forced onto its chest as this can restrict breathing. Regularly check your baby. Babies can be in distress without making any noise or movement.

Supported back

Your baby’s back should be supported in a natural position with its tummy and chest against you. When bending over, support your baby with one hand behind its back and bend at the knees, not at the waist.

This article was published in Issue 9 of our print magazine, April/May 2015.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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