This is the first in a 3-part series about finding the best fit in Soft Structured Carriers for my Advanced Babywearing Educator credentials. This post and part 2 on infant inserts, were originally written for BWI Tucson and published on the BWI Tucson website.
Originally posted here on June 22, 2015.
As VBE and self-proclaimed buckle-loving babywearer, I find there are three main complaint’s wearers have with their soft structured carriers (SSC):
- The carrier pulls at the back of the neck.
- The webbing (bottom of the shoulder straps, where the buckles are), digs into my armpits
- My baby is fussy and it seems like their head is smooshed against my body
What would you say if I told you that in most cases there is a simple solution to all three problems? (and available today for 3 easy payments of $29.99…. ) It’s the chest clip. One of the most important adjustments to make is to find the proper positioning of the chest clip – which is actually on the wearer’s back in a front carry. Most people let this hang out around by their neck. They either don’t know it can be lowered, or are afraid they won’t be able to reach it if it’s not at neck height. This results in digging/weighing heavily on the neck, the shoulder straps winging out to the sides of the wearers body rather than resting on their back, pulls the shoulder webbing buckles into the armpits, and pulls the top seam of the body panel tight against the baby’s neck without providing any tightening across the body of the SSC.
Easy Fix: To find the proper placement for your body: with the carrier on, have a partner lower the chest clip until it rests somewhere between the wearer’s shoulder blades. You may have to play around with tightening, loosening, raising and lowering, but you’ll know once you get it in the right place. TADA
When the clip is worn high on the neck, it tightens the carrier primarily around the top seam of the body panel. In wrapping terms, this is similar to having too tight a top rail in a ring sling carry. (Safety note: The baby in the photos below is not a real child but a demo doll sitting on an infant insert pillow. An infant the size of this doll is much to small for this carrier. They would need to be in a full infant insert with the face visible at all times to be worn safely.)
This both puts added pressure on the wearer’s neck and pulls the child’s head firmly into the wearer’s body. Baby is squished, wearer is uncomfortable, and no one is happy. More importantly, because the pressure is on the top seam of the body panel, it is unable to apply even pressure around the body of the carrier and will not provide back support to the child as when properly placed. When the clip is lowered, it distributes the tension around the middle of the body panel.
This provides better support for the child’s spin and takes the pressure off both the child’s and wearer’s neck. Comparing the two photos, you can also see how lowering the chest clip pulls the shoulder strap webbing lower on the body and out from under the armpits. Problem: How the heck do I reach the darn thing to clip it? I’m not a yogini! Solution: Loosen your shoulder straps. You should be loosening and readjusting your shoulder straps each time you take the carrier on and off. By loosening them, you put slack into the straps allowing you to reach the clip easily. When properly positioned, the shoulder straps should be somewhat perpendicular (up and down, not at an angle) and rest on the wearer’s back. Readjusting the shoulder straps each time will ensure that you get a precise, and comfortable, fit. In addition to making babywearing more comfortable for the wearer, the chest clip is an important adjustment for the baby as well.
-Peace, Love and Babywearing – Kelly