Is it safe to hold a baby in a baby sling?

Answer From Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

A baby sling — typically a one-shouldered baby carrier made of soft fabric — can be a safe way to carry a baby, if you follow safety guidelines. But a baby sling can pose a suffocation hazard to an infant, particularly those younger than age 4 months.

Babies have relatively weak neck muscles and can't control their heads during the first few months after birth. If the baby sling's fabric or your body presses against a baby's nose and mouth, the baby might not be able to breathe. This can quickly lead to suffocation. A baby sling can also keep a baby curled in a C shape, making it hard for a baby to breathe.

If you use a baby sling:

  • Read the instructions. Double-check the baby sling's weight minimum before placing your baby in it.
  • Keep your baby's airways unobstructed. Make sure your baby's face isn't covered by the baby sling or your body and is visible to you at all times.
  • Take caution when bending. Bend at the knees, rather than at the waist, if you pick up something while holding your baby in a sling. This will help keep your baby settled securely in the sling.
  • Be alert for wear and tear. Check for tears in the sling's seams and fasteners.

Children’s health information and parenting tips to your inbox.

Sign-up to get Mayo Clinic’s trusted health content sent to your email. Receive a bonus guide on ways to manage your child’s health just for subscribing.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Nov. 25, 2020 See more Expert Answers