safety guide

Safety Guide to Baby Carriers, Slings and Backpacks

3 October 2022
Posted by: Chelsea

There are various forms of carrier that can allow you to carry your baby and keep your arms free at the same time.

Safety Guide to Baby Carriers, Slings and Backpacks

Here are some basic tips by way of a safety guide to baby carriers, slings and backpacks.

Differences of design

Backpacks are designed to hold your baby on your back as you walk along. Considering safety guide, they’re generally only suitable for babies who have developed a degree of upper-body and neck strength sufficient to hold their head up for most of the time. If you have any doubt about their ability to do so, a doctor or child specialist will be able to advise you if they’re ready or not for a backpack.

Slings typically go over one shoulder and across the body on the hip. They are fine for most but do make sure it is comfortably adjusted for you in order to support the baby’s weight.

Baby carriers are usually designed to be worn full-body, with the baby suspended in front of you as you walk. Typically, the baby’s head is just a little below your chin.

Pros and cons

All three solutions have their attractions.

What you select may depend in part upon the age and weight of your baby but will also be largely a matter of personal preference based on your own comfort. Some parents who are aware about safety guide, use slings or baby carriers to begin with but then move to backpacks after the baby has aged and developed more strength/weight.

Safety standards

Australia doesn’t have its own specific safety standards for baby carriers but it might be sensible to look for those certified as being acceptable by EU or USA markets.

DIY solutions

Women (typically) have in many cultures used variations on slings and baby carriers, that were homemade using materials to hand.

Do be exceptionally careful though if you try and do the same. There have been cases where babies have been dropped with subsequent serious injuries, due to improvised slings unravelling etc.

The baby’s position

Apart from comfort for you and your baby, it’s also important to protect the development of their hips. Any incorrect positioning in a carrier may, over time, lead to deformations of the hips as they develop.

To avoid that, always:

  • ensure your baby’s legs are free with one positioned on each side of your body;
  • their thighs should be fully supported, to allow them to be in a sitting position with their knees bent, rather than just dangling down fully extended.

Always be sure that you can see, at a glance, your baby’s face.


A quoted mnemonic for help is called “TICKS” and stands for:

  • Tight: the support should be tight to your body and your baby should be upright with head support (however, it should not tightly constrain your baby’s body to the extent that breathing may be difficult;
  • In view: you should always be able to see your baby’s face. Never permit any item of apparel to cover the baby’s face, mouth or nose;
  • Close: your baby’s head should never be further away from you that it would be impossible to kiss their head with your neck more or less upright;
  • Keep: your baby’s head should be kept off their or your chest, as this may restrict their breathing. You should also check your baby regularly;
  • Supported back: the baby’s back should be supported in a natural position with their front and chest areas for your safety guide.

Do remember to compensate for the extra weight at the front (or back) when you’re moving around. It’s not unknown for people to topple over when bending just because they forgot to take that into account!

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