Carriers and slings
Soft carriers are usually for babies between 8-26 pounds. The weight limits for slings vary by manufacturer. Not all infants like being carried this way, however. If your baby does not like being in a carrier or sling, do not use one.
- Buy a new carrier or sling. Take your baby with you and try different models. Make sure the carrier supports your baby’s head and holds her weight evenly. If you can’t bring your baby to the store, try the carriers on with a teddy bear or doll.
- Make sure the snaps are sturdy and do not come apart easily.
- The pads on the shoulder straps should be wide and firm so that the straps stay on your shoulders. Make sure they adjust so that your baby is snug and secure.
- Look for a mesh panel in the front or side panels of the carrier that you can unzip or unbutton. This keeps your baby from getting too hot.
- Mail in the registration card. That way, you will be told if the model is recalled. You can also check recalls at recalls.gov.
- Adjust the fasteners so that the carrier or sling fits you before you put your baby in it.
- Adjust the leg openings in a carrier to the smallest size that is comfortable for your baby.
- Hold your baby over something soft, such as a bed or sofa, when you put her in the carrier or sling.
- Check a carrier often to make sure there are no ripped seams, sharp edges, or missing, loose, or broken snaps, buckles, or rings. If you find any of these, stop using the carrier.
- Use a sling only for normal walking. It is not sturdy enough for fast walking or running.
For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumer Reports website.
Update: In March 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about the use of slings; they may pose a suffocation risk for babies. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine issued a response to that warning.
June 2008/March 2010
Copyright 2008, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.
Most common questions
What is the safest crib for my baby?
A full-size crib is best for your baby. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reviewing safety standards on cribs and urging parents to avoid drop-side cribs (cribs with sides that move up and down). Many of these kinds of cribs have been recalled. It's best to have a crib with sides that don't move. Other things to keep in mind:
- Crib mattresses should be firm and tight-fitting. Otherwise, a baby may get trapped in the space between the mattress and the crib.
- You shouldn't be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame.
- Sheets should fit snugly.
- Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk. Newborns and small infants aren't able to pull themselves free if they become stuck between the bumper pad and the side of the crib.
- If you have a used crib, check the CPCS website to see if it's been recalled.
- Make sure corner posts are less than 1/16 inch. Otherwise, clothing could get caught and your baby might strangle.
- There shouldn't be more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through.
What kind of car seat is safest for my baby?
If possible, buy a new car seat. That way, you're sure that it's never been in a car crash. If you're using a used car seat, be certain it is not more than 6 years old, has never been in a crash and hasn't been recalled (check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls).
Look for a model with a five-point harness (two shoulder straps, two leg straps and one crotch strap). It's the safest for baby. You can choose an infant-only seat, which is always used rear-facing. You can also choose a convertible seat. These start out rear-facing but can change to a front-facing seat when your baby gets bigger. Other tips:
- Recline a rear-facing car safety seat at about 45 degrees or as directed by the instructions that came with the seat.
- Get a free inspection to make sure the seat is installed right.
- If you have a baby who is premature or has a low birthweight, look for a car safety seat with the shortest distance between the crotch strap and the seat back. Ideally, pick one with a crotch-to-seat back distance of 5 1/2 inches.
- Pay close attention to the lower weight limit of the car seat. The typical car seat is only suited for newborns that weigh more than 5 pounds. Look for infant seats that can accommodate a baby who weighs 4 pounds or less. Some manufactures sell inserts to attach to a regular infant car seat for preemies or low-birthweight babies.