Top 3 reasons why your baby carrier might be causing back pain

When it comes to baby carriers – fit is everything. How well your carrier fit you personally and how well it is fitted each time you use it. Parents often come to me with a carrier they’ve bought and is causing them pain and assume I will tell them they need to buy something new. But often they really don’t need to. A few tweaks to how it is fitted and how they are using it can be a total game changer. Suddenly that carrier they hated is now is now super comfy and their back feels supported and comfortable.

So here are my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain, and HOW to fix them! Watch the video of my instragram live showing all 3 or scroll down if you prefer to read!

#1 – The waistband isn’t high enough.

Getting the waist band right is the absolute foundation of any carry. Often the reason parents are struggling is simply that the waistband is positioned too low, or that it is not tight enough and the result is baby’s weight is causing the waist band to tip which consequently causes your pelvis to tip and your back to arch. The fix is to simply raise the waist band up and tighten it up!

You can see more about waist band positioning here:

Or read my full blog on this here.

#2 – The shoulder straps are too loose

This can be counter intituive because usually if something is rubbing or hurting we often think it must be too tight, so our instincts are to loosen up. But actually when it comes to baby carriers it is the reverse; when they are too loose baby pulls away from you and this downward drag causes that rubbing or pain or heaviness on your shoulders. The trick to it feeling lighter is to tighten those straps up until there is no slack. Or until it is tight enough that if you lean foward, baby doesn’t draw away from you.

Often parents are worried to tighten up because they fear squashing the baby, but actually babies enjoy that closeness. They enjoy the security that comes with have the straps snug because it feels more secure and more cozy for them.

#3 – How you tighten the shoulder straps

This is often the biggest culprit behind discomfort in carriers – HOW you tighten the straps. The fact is, that for most carriers this is not obvious. Just simply yanking on the strap to tighten it often doesn’t work. The combination of baby’s weight pulling downward int he sling and the friction across your back will prevent the strap from tightening effectively.

Instead it is key to

  1. Support baby’s weight as you tighten, so that you aren’t fighting gravity
  2. Move any looseness around you back, wiggling your shoulder as you go before you try to tighten the strap.
  3. Once the looseness is directly by the buckle, then and only then, tighten it!

You can see this in action fro a carrier with ruck sack straps here;

and for a carrier with Cross straps here;

So there you have it, my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain. Let me know if any of this helps. Or if you’d like me to fit check your carrier and suggest potential tweaks specific for you personally please do get in touch to book an online consultation (or in person if you are local to me). Or check out your local sling library.

-Madeleine

Carriers shown in this article are the Ergobaby Omni Breeze, Ergobaby Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini.

Ergobaby Omni 360 Review

Omni means “all” or everything and the Omni 360 is the model from Ergobaby that has everything. Adjustable seat, 4 carrying positions, hood, pocket, lumbar pad, safety buckles. You name it, it has it.

Watch my full, in depth video review to see it in action or read on below for a summary of its main pros and cons!

Key Omni 360 Facts:

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 44lbs), realistically fits from approximately 8 weeks to about 2 years of age. This is the big thing to realise – the box and all the marketing says “birth to toddler”, but in practise this is a carrier that rarely fits before 8 weeks. The reason is the panel is simply too long and the carrier is very bulky and it’s just hard to get a good fit on a very young baby. You can sometimes get it to work a little earlier using this method to adjust the panel, but in practise it just works best once baby is over 8 weeks or so. Once baby is over that age it adjusts and continues working beautifully until around 2 years of age – so this is a fantastically long lasting carrier that you should get roughly 2 years of use out of.
  • Adjustable width. The secret to this longevity is the adjustable seat. Velcro tabs inside the waistband make it very simple to adjust the width of the seat to accomodate different sizes as baby grows. No need for an insert for younger babies, the seat can simply shrink down for a younger baby. Coloured markers make it really easy to know where to place the tabs, and of course you can place them between the lines too to get a really incremental fit as baby grows.
  • Bucket shaped seat ensures baby sits in a comfortable seated position with bum lower than the knees and the padding at the edge is a nice soft touch. As with any carrier – how you use it matters more than the carrier itself – but the bucket shape seat certainly makes it easier to ensure great positioning (you can read more about this here).
  • 4 Carrying positions: Front inwards, front outwards, hip and back carry. Which means this carrier grows with your child developmentally as well as physically, giving you both lots of carrying options. One of the real pros of the Omni 360 is how easily it adjusts between the inward and outwards modes – it can be adjusted with just one hand, and how well it does both. The bucket shaped seat ensures you can get a comfortable seated position for baby in both inward and outward modes. In fact this is genuinely one of the best carriers on the market when it comes to the outward position… it really does give a fabulously comfortable deep squat position. The hip carry doesn’t work quite as well as the other three, simply because it is quite bulky and the strap across the opposite shoulder often doesn’t sit very comfortably compared to other less bulky carriers.
  • Wide, firmly padded waistband with lumbar support pad. The waistband and lumbar pad is often the selling point of this carrier for many families. If it fits you well, this can be supremely comfortable and supportive and can work really well for those wanting to use their carrier on long walks or days out. It can take a bit of adjusting – and getting used to tightening from both ends to position the lumbar pad well – but once you get the hang of it becomes quick and easy.
  • Heavily padded shoulder straps. The straps are well padded and fairly bulky. These are the most marmite part of this carrier – many parents love the padding and find it really comfortable, while many other parents just find it too much bulk and ultimately choose something like the Beco 8 or the Beco Gemini, or even the Kahu Baby for something that feels less cumbersome.
  • The straps do up in 2 ways – offering both crossed and ruck sack options (X or H shape), which is great because so often couples sharing a carrier find that they have different preferences and so this carrier is more likely to work for both parents! Which is a big pro.
  • Tightening is one directional. This does mean you need to understand how to move the looseness around your back (as shown in the video) and can be hard for those with weak wrists. Which is a bit of a con compared to other carriers that offer two directional tightening, but it is something that most people can find a method that works for them, so not a huge con but worth being aware of.
  • Safety buckles. It is worth noting that the shoulder straps attach to the panel via a safety buckle. The buckle can be undone one handed, but requires a very purposeful movement so can’t be undone by accident or absentmindely. Which is a both a pro and a con – pro because of that added layer of security, but con because it makes it more fiddly to do up and undo. And also because the safety aspect of these buckles do make them a bit frail and they are prone to breaking if you don’t line them up properly and use a little too much force. I’ve had to replace 5 in the last 4 years! Ergobaby are fab at providing spares but there is that inconvenience factor of needing to replace.
  • Fits a wide range of parent shapes and sizes. In particular it works well on average to plus sized frames. The straps all have plenty of webbing and this carrier is designed to be inclusive and fit most parent shapes and sizes. But it is pretty bulky and so often doesn’t feel right on smaller or petite frames. Often more petite parents will tell me they feel like it is wearing them rather than the other way round. Even for bigger frames, it all comes down to fit – this works for a very wide range but not everyone. Carriers are a bit like jeans – different brands fit different people and small differences in shoulder shape and how it sits on your waist can make a huge difference to comfort so aways worth trying a few different brands on and comparing. However, this is a carrier that does fit a huge range and if it does fit you well it will be supremely comfortable.
  • Pocket. The Omni comes with a detachable pocket big enough for keys, phone and maybe a small wallet too. Fab for stowing those essentials, although its worth noting it is only attached by velcro and pretty easy to remove (and accidently misplace!).
  • One final con or “thing to be aware of” is that the lumbar pad is not removable. Which does mean when you come to back carrying it will sit over your stomach. This can be nice because it helps stabilise the waistband and give additional support, but some people don’t appreciate the additional pressure on their tummies or like the look. Also the inability to remove the lumbar pad does mean that the super petite do sometimes struggle to get this carrier tight enough (although this really is only an issue for absolute most slender of the population).
  • Comes in two main finishes, the standard “cotton” and the mesh as shown in the video above. There are two main differences. Firstly presence or absence of mesh on some of the panels and on the shoulder straps. Second is that the mesh has sliders to adjust between inwards and outward carrying modes, while the cotton has buttons. Both can be done one handed and/or without needing to put baby down, but the sliders are much faster and a bit less faffy. Their only con is if you are prone to fiddling, you might find yourself fiddling with them!
  • The mesh is marginally cooler. It is more breathable for baby, however, for the parent – so much of the warmth comes from the padding and the overal bulk and as this is the same on both … there isn’t a huge amount of difference. The bulkiness means that neither would be one of my top choices for the height of summer (you can see my top summer picks here).

All in all the Ergobaby Omni 360 is a fabulous all singing all dancing option. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a carrier that will last them a long time and offer lots of options as their family grows. Its a great for days out and long walks. Cost is £154.95 and these can be bought through the Sheen Slings webshop here. As an authorised Ergobaby stockist your new carrier will come under the Ergobaby 10 year promise, meaning your carrier is guarenteed for an incrediable 10 years! I also hire these out (and offer exclusive discounts to anyone who hires first) so you can try before you buy risk free too.

– Madeleine