SIDS advice: Swaddling, slings and baby carriers

Advice you need to know about swaddling, slings and baby carriers and the risk of SIDS

How to safely swaddle and use slings and baby carriers

Important advice on swaddling, slings and baby carriers and the risk of SIDS

SIDS advice swaddling 474

Some mums swear that swaddling young babies can help them settle to sleep. Whilst experts at the safer sleep charity The Lullaby Trust do not advise for or against swaddling, they do urge parents to follow the advice below.

If you decide to adopt swaddling, this should be done for each day and night time sleep as part of a regular routine:

  • Use thin materials
  • Do not swaddle above the shoulders
  • Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front
  • Do not swaddle too tight
  • Check the baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot

Using slings and baby-carriers

Slings and baby-carriers are useful for holding a baby hands-free, however they might not always be used safely. The Lullaby Trust says that whilst there is no reliable evidence that slings are directly associated with SIDS, there have been a number of deaths worldwide where infants have suffered a fatal accident from the use of a sling. These accidents particularly occurred in young babies and relate to suffocation.

The risk appears to be greatest when a baby’s airway is obstructed either by their chin resting on their chest or their mouth and nose being covered by a parent’s skin or clothing.

The safest baby carrier to use will keep the infant firmly in an upright position where a parent can always see their baby’s face, and ensure their airways are free. 

How to check you’re wearing your baby safely?

Always follow the TICKS guidelines for safer babywearing.  TICKS is a set of rules created by the UK Sling Consortium to help parents babywear safely. TICKS stands for:

Slings or carriers should be tight, with your baby held close against your body. Looseness can cause your baby to slump, making breathing difficult and can cause strain on your back.

In view at all times
You should be able to see your baby's face when you look down. Make sure that the fabric of your sling or baby carrier is clear from your baby’s face – i.e. you shouldn't need to move any fabric to be able to see your baby.

Close enough to kiss
If you tip your head forward, you should be able to kiss the top of your baby’s head or forehead, so it is recommended that your wear your baby as high on your chest as you find comfortable.

Keep chin off chest
Your baby should not be in a position where their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. You should be able to fit at least one finger between the gap between your baby’s chin and his chest.

Supported back
Your baby's back should be supported in its natural position with their tummy and chest 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.) 

SIDS advice: Swaddling, slings and baby carriers