Baby Carrier Safety Risks Parents Need to Know About

Baby carriers offer parents a convenient way to keep baby close while going about their daily activities. There are some safety risks associated with them, however, that parents need to be aware of.

Baby Carriers Pose a Risk of Falls

In 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Protection Agency (CPSC) reported an estimated 61,400 emergency department-treated injuries associated with nursery products among children younger than 5 years. Infant carriers, along with high chairs, cribs/mattresses, and strollers/carriages, were associated with 68 percent of the total estimated injuries and 88 percent of the fatalities reported.

If not properly secured inside a baby carrier, an infant can fall and suffer from serious and even deadly injuries. In a 2009 study, scientists found that 7.7 percent of all injuries that occurred among infants between August 2004 and December 2005 were related to infant carriers. The infants involved in these falls often sustained serious head injuries and skull fractures.

The scientists concluded that falls from infant carriers were common and that they represented “a significant source of morbidity.”

Often, the cause of an infant fall is a defective carrier. Faulty straps can break, harnesses with wide leg openings may allow baby to fall through, and zippers can come undone. Some companies have implemented produce recalls over defects like these, including Infantino, Eddie Bauer, LILLEbaby, Lenny Lamb, and L’echarpe Porte-bonheur.

To keep babies safe, parents should research baby carriers before buying them and check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC’s) recall website. Make sure the size of the carrier fits your child (not too big or too small), and always check the carrier’s straps, buckles, and zippers for proper function before each use. Then make sure your child is properly buckled and secured into the carrier before moving.

Baby Carriers Pose a Risk of Suffocation

The infant sling, which is a popular baby carrier for very young infants, has been associated with infant suffocation deaths. In 2010, the CPSC released a warning urging parents to use slings and wraps safely, as the commission had identified 14 infant suffocation deaths with sling-style carriers over the past 20 years.

In 2015, the European Journal of Pediatrics published a report from a group of French doctors who had observed 19 cases of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) linked to infant carriers. Suffocation was the most frequent cause of death.

To keep baby safe while in a sling-type carrier, make sure you can see your baby’s face or eyes and that baby can see you. Frequently check the child’s condition to make sure nothing is blocking his or her nose and mouth.

Baby Carriers Pose a Risk of Hip Dysplasia

Some baby carriers, slings, and wraps may also interfere with a baby’s normal hip joint development. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) has found evidence that carrying a baby for long periods on the mother’s (or father’s) body may influence hip development, especially if the baby’s legs are stretched out and kept together rather than apart.

Slings and wraps, in particular, often keep the baby’s legs in a straight position which can lead to hip dysplasia. Even backpack-style carriers, if they don’t provide adequate support under the baby’s bottom and upper legs, can allow the legs to dangle straight, straining and extending the hips.

The best position for a baby in a baby carrier is one that allows a wide-leg position with the legs splayed apart and the knees higher than the hip joints. The carrier should provide proper support for the hips, bottom, and upper legs while allowing the lower legs to move freely.