When British chef Gordon Ramsey shared a rare photo on Instagram of himself walking in the park with his infant son, Oscar, he likely didn't expect fans to criticize him.
And while many followers congratulated Ramsay and offered compliments, some fellow parents were concerned with the way the 52-year-old had secured his three-month-old facing outward in a baby carrier.
"That support is not ergonomic and the child's forehead position is not recommended," said one follower. "I advise you to change support for a more pleasant babywearing experience for both!"
Another commentor advised looking at T.I.C.K.S. rules for babywearing, a five-rule set of guidelines that are meant to keep the baby safe while in a chest sling or carrier.
T.I.C.K.S. stands for:
- Tight: Hold baby close
- In view at all times
- Close enough to kiss
- Keep the chin off chest – ensure at least a finger width under the baby’s chin.
- Supported back
While other users defended Ramsey, saying that his parenting choices were his decision and that as a father of five he had some experience with baby safety, experts say that not following baby-carrying best practices can be dangerous.
"It's really important that the baby be able to completely hold up their head," said Laura Brown, the founder and CEO of babywearinghelp.org, an organization that connects parents with local resources to make sure they're wearing their babies correctly. "That's really important, so that baby doesn't have positional asphyxiation or unfortunately go chin-to-chest forward and cut off their airway. It's very important that when baby doesn't have good or complete head and neck control that they face the parent."
Brown also added that babies should be worn much higher on the chest — if a baby's airway is cut off, they will not be able to make audible noise, so parents need to be able to see the child's face to ensure that everything is alright.
"Baby needs to be "kissable height," so you could easily reach down and kiss the top of their head," she said. "That ensures that you can see their face and that their airway is protected."
Jennifer Beall Saxton, founder and CEO of The Tot Squad, a baby gear services company, said that the most important thing any parent can do is read the instruction manual for any baby product.
"Celebrities should be cognizant about adhering to safety best practices, because they're setting an example; people are looking to them," said Saxton.
Both experts did appreciate Ramsey's desire to engage in baby-wearing.
"Good for him for wanting to be an active dad and wear his baby," Saxton said. "I applaud him and think that's awesome."
Ramsey isn't the first celeb dad to get called out for their baby-wearing technique. In 2018, John Stamos was questioned for wearing his then two-month-old son facing outwards, and a 2015 Instagram post from Ryan Reynolds showed him wearing his baby daughter in a position that many worried was unsafe.
"The baby is not properly secured in the vessel that I'm wearing there," Reynolds told TODAY, shortly after the post went viral. "You know, I'm a first-time dad and that is not the first mistake I've made — and I can guarantee you it won't be last."
Brown emphasized that parents don't need to "fear" baby-carrying — but sometimes, a little extra research can help.
"Our movements and our actions are what remind baby's body to do what it needs to do," she said. "Parents overall don't need to fear baby carrying. There's local resources close to them if they want to get help with a carrier or try them on and find out which one is right for them, and also to understand how to do it in a way that is safe."