How to use a scarf to extend the width of a Baby Bjorn or other narrow based baby carrier.

One of the downsides of a narrow based carrier such as a Baby Bjorn Mini, Original, Move, Miracle or other high street brand carriers is that baby very rapidly out grows the carrier in terms of how much support there is for their legs. As their legs get longer and they start to over spill the carrier, their legs pull downward and this is less comfortable for them because their weight rest on their inner thighs and they feel more of the weight of their legs. It is also less comfortable for you, because more weight pulling away from the carrier equals more strain on your body.

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix. All it takes is widening the base of the carrier to better support their legs. For this you will need a scarf. Ideally a woven scarf (i.e. not a stretchy knitted one), but it doesn’t need to be anything special. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry your baby – because your carrier will be doing this… simply any non stretchy material will do. Pashminas or rather market stall cheap pashmina knock offs are perfect!

Then you can use your scarf in one of two ways. The simplest is to pop your baby in as normal, and then tie the scarf around the outside of the carrier as shown here;

I love this method because not only does it support baby’s legs making the carrier more comfortable for them, it also helps redistribute more of the weight onto your waist and hips and thus really can improve your comfort a lot too.

An alternative method involves putting the scarf first inside of the carrier, as shown here:

I will confess I don’t find this method quite as comfortable as it doesn’t give the same feeling of waist support for the wearer. But it also doesn’t put a knot behind your back which is helpful if you want to sit down while wearing the carrier and also helpful if you struggle mobility-wise tying a knot behind your back.

Either method will give you a little bit more time with your carrier. It will still feel heavier than a carrier with a wider base and a proper waistband, but it will give you a bit more support and a bit more time. Often parents coming to one of my sessions who have a narrow based carrier find the scarf trick gives them another month or two before it starts to become too heavy again. But importantly this month or two gives them time to try a few different options – whether that is hiring a couple of different things or attending a session to try a few options – and ensure whatever they invest in next really works for them and last for as long as they need it too.

If you are hunting for the right next option please do get in touch and I’ll be happy to help. In the meantime I hope this trick helps!

– Madeleine

Baby Bjorn Mini Review

Designed with newborns in mind, the Baby Bjorn Mini carrier is a super soft, supremely intuitive, lightweight carrier that does indeed fit newborns well. But on the flip side, it simply doesn’t last well. As baby grows they will very rapidly grow out of this carrier.

Read on below for more, or you can see this carrier in action and hear my full thoughts on this carrier in this video.

The Mini really has 2 main pros and 2 main cons. The pros are;

  • It is really soft and really moldable and gives a lovely fit to a newborn baby. The manufacturer states from 3.2kg and this is realistic, most babies will fit right from their first days. And the soft jersey material will gently hug and snuggle their tiny form
  • All the fastenings are at the front. Which is brilliant for parents with limited mobility who maybe struggle with straps that fasten at the sides. Also being able to see all the fastening makes this carrier supremely intuitive. They’ve even printed left and right on the tabs that attach to the panel, and colour coded where the panel slots into the straps so you can’t get it wrong. And as you fit the parent separately to the child, this can be a great advantage if you are feeling very nervous about using a carrier.

The cons are;

  • The panel doesn’t adjust in width. It does adjust in height so you can easily lengthen the panel as baby’s torso grows to ensure the head support is correctly positioned for them as they grow. But you can not adjust the width, which means as their legs grow the carrier can not continue supporting them in a comfortable “deep squat” seated position. Why does this matter? Well it is more comfortable for them to have the weight on their bottom and have their legs supported so they are not carrying the weight of their legs (verses having their weight resting on their inner thighs and the weight of their legs pulling down). The deep squat position gives a great alignment between the ball and socket joint of the hips, which means there is no pressure on their hips from their legs. And it is more comfortable for you, as when their legs are fully supported more of babies weight is aligned with your load bearing centre so baby feels lighter and easier to carry than when more of their legs are spilling out pulling away from you.
  • There is no waist support. Which means all the weight is resting on your shoulders and upper and mid back. Rather than around your waist and transferring onto your hips. This is fine for when baby is younger and thus smaller, but as they grow this will rapidly feel heavier for the parent compared to a carrier with a waistband.

In terms of weight testing, the Mini is tested up to 11 kg, but for the reasons above it actually won’t last anywhere near this long. In reality most babies will start to grow out of it around 3 to 4 months and by 6 months it will feel disportionately heavy to use.

If you do have this carrier already you can use a scarf to extend the width for baby and gain a bit more comfort for you too. You can see how to do this here. Generally this scarf trick will get you about a month or so more use out of the Mini before it starts getting quite heavy again.

The Mini offers 2 different carrying positions. Front inwards and Front outwards. However, it worth noting that most babies aren’t ready to be carried outwards in a carrier until about 4 months (you can read more about how to tell when they are ready here). Yet, but 4 months most babies are growing out of this carrier. Parents are often drawn to this carrier over others because it offers forward facing and don’t realise that in all likelihood their baby will have grown out of the carrier before they can do it. And even if they haven’t, without a waistband, the forward facing position is very heavy for the parent because the baby’s weight pulls forward and puts a lot more strain on the shoulders and upper back.

All in all the Baby Bjorn Mini is a lovely soft, very very easy to use carrier for a newborn baby. But what really puts me off is the lack of longevity. The lack of longer term support for both baby and the parent. This carrier costs £75 to buy, but when you compare it to its closest comparables on the market – the Ergo Embrace (£79.90) and the Izmi Baby Carrier (£80), both of which last a lot longer and offer more carrying positions and much much more flexibility and support to both baby and parent, it just doesn’t seem like a good deal. While most babies will grow out of the Mini around 3 to 4 months the Embrace generally lasts to around 9 months and the Izmi will often last at least 1 year. The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions and the Izmi 4. Both have waist bands and adjust in both width and height. So while the Bjorn Mini does have things going for it, it’s just hard to recommended it over these two carriers when they offer so much more for practically the same price.

-Madeleine