Babywearing 101

Are you new to babywearing? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? This page is intended for you.

Keep it simple as you learn technique:

  1. You only need one carrier.
  2. In fact, you don’t even need a “carrier” because you can use plain fabric or household linens to wear your baby.
  3. If you do have a carrier, you don’t necessarily need the accessories, including infant inserts.

Acquaint yourself with the types of carriers:

  • SPOC’s or Simple Pieces of Cloth (Wraps)
  • Soft-Structured Carriers (Buckle Carriers)
  • Ring slings and Fitted Pouches
  • Traditional Structured Carriers (Asian Baby Carriers)
  • Harness Carriers (Crotch Danglers)
  • Hard Carriers (car seats, cradle boards)

Do not concern yourself with brands at this point. Brands come and go but the types stand the test of time. In the babywearing world, soft carriers are generally preferred to harness-style and hard carriers because of the closer proximity of the infant to the wearer that they provide. Soft carriers tend to offer more ergonomic positioning options for both infant and caregiver.

Soft Carrier Theory 101

Soft carriers are those made from cloth, as opposed to wood, plastic or metal. Soft carriers include SPOCs, SSC’s, Ring Slings & Fitted Pouches, and Traditional Structured Carriers. They all look different but all of them have the same basic features:

  • Body: this is what supports the back of the infant, it may be part of the carrier or the body of the wearer.
  • Seat: this supports the butt and back of the infant’s thighs, preferably to the knees.
  • Straps: this is what fastens the carrier (and baby) to the body of the “wearer”. Some carriers will have shoulder and waist straps, some will only have one or two shoulder straps, and some have chest straps.
  • (opt) head/neck support: this may take the form of a hood or extension of the body, or be created with a strap, or the body of the wearer.

What they should not contain:

  • Arm and/or Leg holes: this denotes a pathological type of infant carrier that will not support the infant’s body in an in-arms position.
  • Harness: a soft carrier should not envelop the infant or toddler being worn, separating it from the body of the wearer.

The learning curve for different types of carriers tends to correlate to the visibility of these features. For example, SSC’s are very easy to learn because all of the parts are visible on the carrier even when it’s not in use, and the features do not change position or size based on a style of carry, the age of an infant, or body type of the wearer. However, this renders SSC’s a little less adaptable.

Understanding Body/Baby/Carrier Alignment

Regardless of the type of carrier used, all ergonomic carries create certain alignments between the baby’s body and the body of the wearer. In other words, regardless of the carrier used, or the wearer’s body type, the carrier should sit in a specific way to make it ergonomic. In the following diagrams, I demonstrate where the body of the infant should be held on the body of the wearer in different positions. The diagrams feature a female body shape but are applicable to either sex.

front carry alignmenthigh back carry low back carryAttend a meeting

Attending a meeting is the best way to find out about different types and brands of carriers.  You can try on or check out a variety of carriers, for free before you commit to purchasing or making one. If you already own a carrier we can help you troubleshoot any issues you may be having, or help you make your carrier more ergonomic.

If you can’t attend a meeting (or join us for the live broadcast on Youtube) you can make a request to meet with someone outside of the normal meeting time. Typically the best response comes from leaving a post on the group page. If a moderator isn’t available, often a member is willing to meet up and demonstrate what they know about their favorite carrier(s).

If you are new to babywearing and have questions please contact us!

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