Soft baby carriers and slings – what to watch out for
Munich - Brand-new parents, or parents-in-waiting, face a huge range of new challenges. Of course, what the new family member needs most of all is attention and loving care – but a good selection of basic equipment, like prams or strollers and bucket-type car seats, is also essential. Soft carriers are popular choices, allowing parents to carry the baby close to their bodies and providing flexibility in movement. TÜV SÜD expert Markus Tamberg reveals what to watch out for in buying and using these carrying options.
Soft carriers allow parents to carry babies over 3.5 kg in weight upright close to their bodies, enabling them to perform actions while standing yet keeping the child close at all times. Mum and Dad should read the instructions supplied with the carrier carefully to ensure they use it correctly. Slings are a special form of soft carrier that enable the baby to be carried in a horizontal or upright position; they may be knotted for added security. In the beginning parents should ask a professional, like a salesperson or midwife, to show them how to use the sling; for safety’s sake, practice with a doll is advisable at first.
Slings and carriers are available in natural materials like cotton or leather, or in synthetic versions. While parents naturally have a free hand in making their choice, they should factor in aspects such as susceptibility to dirt and staining, ease of cleaning and comfort for the baby. “Check the user instructions for advice about cleaning or washing, and follow them to the letter!” recommends TÜV SÜD expert Markus Tamberg, warning, “Failure to do this may cause damage to the carrier, which could be dangerous.” In addition, ensure that the soft carrier has head support for babies that are too small to hold their heads up independently. Some carriers offer a range of carrying options (e.g. backpack-style or on the chest or hip) for extra flexibility, allowing parents the maximum scope for action and movement in line with their chosen activity. It is vital to check the age and weight ranges permitted for the various carrier types, as the child’s movements may well throw the carrier wearer off balance during some activities. Carriers are available in a variety of models offering different options for adjustment and use; more sophisticated products allow the carrier to grow with the child and are easier to adapt to individual needs.
“When you make a purchase, we recommend looking out for independent safety marks like the TÜV SÜD GS (Tested Safety) mark. Products with this mark are extremely stable and flame-resistant; the materials from which they are made have been tested by the manufacturer for heavy metals and other chemicals that are toxic for developing babies”, recommends Markus Tamberg. Here are some further safety features to watch out for:
Check the carrier before every use, and stop using it if it is damaged.
When using the carrier, ensure at regular intervals that the baby’s breathing is unobstructed.
Ensure you use the carrier as recommended to avoid developing posture problems.
In the case of premature babies or babies with health problems, ask your paediatrician first whether the use of a soft carrier is advisable.
Sporting activities of any kind are an absolute no-no while wearing the carrier – they are far too dangerous.
Carriers are not toys! Children could easily injure themselves on the harness.