Sling Safety

Slings and baby-carriers are useful when you’re on the go, however they are not always used safely. If baby is not supported correctly, their airway could become kinked if their head drops forward and their chin tucks down onto their chest putting them at risk of accidental suffocation. Always ensure that their nose and mouth are not covered by clothing or pressed up against the person’s body either.

If using a sling or carrier, parents should follow the T.I.C.K.S. guidelines from The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers;

TICKS guidelines for slings and carriers

TIGHT – slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.

IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES – you should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.

CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.

KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.

SUPPORTED BACK – in an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. (This can be tested by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently – they should not uncurl or move closer to you.) A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.

By following the TICKS guidelines your baby’s airways are kept clear which reduces the risk of accidental suffocation. If baby drifts off in a sling or carrier, moving them back to a firm flat sleep space such as a cot or crib to continue their sleep is the safest option.

Download the TICKS poster to keep as a reminder here