T.I.C.K.S is the universal safety acronym for babywearing (rules for safe babywearing), it stands for Tight, In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keep the chin off chest and Supported back.
The T.I.C.K.S were originally formed by The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers, after concerns were raised over the safety of bag slings. In the most part bag slings (not to be confused with Pocket Slings or Ring Slings) have been recalled, Infantino and Bellissmo being 2 of the makers that were subsequently recalled and discontinued.
The worry with these slings was that in the cradle position a baby could easily slump down, their chin could drop to their chest and their airway could become compromised. Its important to note that the T.I.C.K.S is MOST imperative in a newborn baby, as they have little to no ability to control their head and neck, so the risk of airway compromise is at the greatest risk.
Although it is always important to maintain these rules whatever age of the child. Its also important to realise that the risk to the airway is NOT just for slings or carriers, car seats, baby chairs and even in arms carrying can be dangerous if the child is not positioned properly or carefully monitored.
T – Tight, The importance of a sling or carrier being tight is to hold a baby safely against the wearer, it supports the spine in a straight-upright position and stops baby from falling out of the wrap or carrier accidentally.
I – In view at all times, Seeing your baby at all times allows you to be constantly monitoring your child’s breathing and general demeanour, you will have the ability to make sure the chin hasn’t dropped and they are happy. You will also be able to check temperature and feeding cues.
C – Close enough to kiss, This is greatly important also, as the lower the child the less you will be able to tell about your child, placed in an upright position you should be able to lower your head and kiss the top of babies head, if you are unable to do this, then it’s advised your re-position your child higher.
K – Keep chin off chest, if your child is tight, in an upright position and spine is curved with legs in the squat position the likelihood of the chin dropping is unlikely, this is the most optimum position for safety, development and comfort. The rule of thumb is a child should have a gap of roughly 2 fingers width underneath their chin.
S – Supported back, the tightness of any carrier will be crucial in the support of a babies spine, it’s also important not to over tighten. The carrier should be tight enough to keep the child against the parents body without a gap, but still have the ability to slide your hands into the carrier with ease if needed. Generally in an upright position, if the carrier is adequately supporting the spine the chin will not drop, but its important to follow all the steps carefully.
There are many more aspects to safety when wearing your child, however, these are the most basic and most crucial if you feel unsure if your carrier supports these guidelines it is advised you seek further advise either from your local sling library or babywearing consultant.
Other safety factors
What shouldn’t you do when using a baby carrier? As a general rule of thumb, you should treat your baby in the carrier in a similar way to when you were pregnant. Always take into account your new dimensions, especially when you are moving through doorways or smaller gaps. Cooking can be a concern and its always worth remembering the splashes, heat from open ovens and spitting foods can cause burns. So its always advised that you avoid wearing you baby when cooking or taking extra precautions.
Even when a carrier is tight and high on the wearer there is always a risk of unbalance, so be particularly careful when bending over, walking on uneven surfaces and climbing. A good pair of sturdy shoes with good grips on the soles is a great investment or taking care when wearing looser shoes such as flip-flops or heels whilst wearing a carrier.
Legal aspects of wearing a carrier. sometimes questions arise about the use of carriers when in cars or on bikes etc. Legally in the UK and US, you have to use the correct restraints for an infant. Such as a car seat or child’s bicycle seat. Wearing a carrier in the event of an accident could mean the child cannnot be accessed quickly by emergency services if in a carrier. A strap can be easily cut, swathes of fabric less so. So bare this in mind in these situations. It is worth noting that this is not the case in all countries, so please check your countries national laws.
Optimum positioning can also help aid the babywearing T.I.C.K.S by ensuring that the child is in a deep M position with their hips, spine and head straight, it is easier to maintain an airway. To read more about optimum positioning click here
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