Hey babywearing peeps! Here is the 4th installment in my series on getting better carries in a soft structured carrier. You can find part 1 on general fit tips, part 2 on using an infant insert, and part 3 on getting a good seat on the front here at www.bwidenver.org.
Last time, we explored making a good seat in a SSC front carry. Today, we do the same but on the back. We use the same techniques that we did in front carries – smoothing the body panel over the baby’s bottom and bouncing into the seat in order to remove slack – it’s just a tad trickier because everything is happening behind our bodies and our of sight.
Before we begin, some safety:
-Back carries are appropriate only when the child is 6 months of age and/or can sit unassisted, AND are tall enough that their ears clear the top of the body panel without any modifications like and infant insert. Before you back carry in an SSC, check with YOUR CARRIER’s manufacturer’s guidelines prior to attempting a back carry. For example, young infants should not be worn in toddler carriers on the back. Smaller bodied carriers like the Ergo, Becos, Bobas, infant kinderpacks, Lilebaby, etc can be back worn beginning around 6 months. But you may have to wait longer if you have a larger-bodied carrier such as the Tula. (Tula themselves recommend not back wearing a child in a Tula until around 12 months). These guidelines are not to frustrate babywearers or to hold people back from getting on with their lives with baby on board, but are safety recommendations so the worn child does not slump in the carrier and suffocate.
-If you have never back worn in a SSC and/or your child is too young, practice first! practice getting baby on your back many times before attempting to do so with the carrier. Practice using stuffed animals, babydolls, or 5# bags of flour. Make sure you can get baby on and off. Practice, practice, practice and when the time is right you’ll be able to back carry with confidence.
-Some resources for how to get a baby on your back in a SSC:
Ergo Baby has a great instructional video for how to do an “assisted” hip scoot (the baby is secured in the SSC and the whole thing is shifted around. It’s a very secure way to get baby on your back and is great for beginners.
Danny the Babywearing Dad has a good video demonstrating how to practice the hip scoot, use the hip scoot and a SSC, and how to “superman”.
Lisa Epsteen also has a fantastic video about SSC back wearing for larger bodied individuals that features the hip scoot.
Do your homework, practice, practice, and practice some more. Then grab a mirror and give it a go.
And now: how to get a good seat in an SSC that won’t kill your back.
Just like in wrapping, slack is the main culprit that produces back pain or chest pain in a SSC back carry. This can be slack in the seat, causing the baby’s seat to sag over the waist band, or slack in shoulder straps that are too loose. The tricks to fixing the slack problem are to:
- Smooth the seat over the baby’s bottom
- Bounce out slack in the seat by lifting the shoulder straps up and behind your ears in order to bounce baby into the seat
- Tightening the shoulder straps appropriately for the wearer. Most people wear their shoulder straps too loose. You don’t want them so tight they are uncomfortable, but you want them to hold the baby snug against your body.
In the video below, I demonstrate how to get a good seat in a SSC in a high back carry. To clear up what “high back carry” means: this means that the waist band of the SSC is worn at or above the natural waist. You’ll see in the video that I begin buckling the waist band below my bust, but once my kid is in the carrier it settles closer to my natural waist. As an average to petite wearer, measuring just under 5’4″, I find this position works for me – any lower and the waist padding hits my tukus when I walk and puts uncomfortable pressure on my pelvis. But this position may not work for you! Most people can wear their SSC waist bands around their waist or even at their hips and be comfortable (my 5’11” male-bodied partner, for example). As with many things babywearing, I recommend you try the waist band at a couple of different spots on your body to see what works for you and your wearee. You’ll also see that even VBE’s kids fight wearing (especially 18 month old toddlers)!
And remember, if all of this is overwhelming, there is nothing wrong with loving the front carry. Keep practicing the same techniques of smoothing, bouncing, snugging (snug, not suffocating straps).
Peace, Love, and Babywearing,