Many of us naturally will carry baby on our hips when carrying in arms, as doing so gives one arm free for making lunch and puts baby in a position where they can see what we are doing and and chat to us while we potter about.
Ever wondered if you can carry your baby on your hip in a buckle carrier?
Developmentally, the hip position is one that works best once baby has “some” head control… so generally around 2-3 months onwards. It is an absolutely great position for “nosy” babies who want to see everything while still getting a good view of their caregiver. It’s a great position for communication and shared moments. As such, hip carries can be a great alternative to forward facing, as it gives baby the same view but makes it easier for them to see you, for you to read their cues and also for them to tuck in and relax ready for a nap when needed. It can also be less harsh on the parents back compared to forward facing.
Carrying your child on your back can be truly freeing! Back carries completely free up your hands to get on and get stuff done, and they are generally more comfortable too as most of us load bear better on our backs than our fronts. Plus once your child is tall enough to see over your shoulder they can have an absolutely great view of the world and can chat to you right next to your ear where you can hear them even on a busy street.
There are so many pros! But, actually figuring out how on earth to get them onto your back can be pretty intimidating. There are actually loads of different methods and this is where a trained Sling consultant can be really helpful, they can work with you – with your individual flexibility, coordination and learning type to help ensure you are completely confident moving your baby on and off your back on your own unassisted!
While there are many many methods, the “secure hipscoot” method is the one I teach most often. Or at least this is the starting point I teach most often, I will frequently modify it here or there depending on the individual and depending on the carrier used… but the video below shows my starting point.
Carrier in the video is a Beco Gemini, but this method will work with the vast majority of buckle carriers including Ergo Omni, Adapt, Original and 360 models, Lillebaby, Boba carriers, Manduca, Kahu Baby, Connecta and many many others.
It is my personal favourite method because it feels really secure at all times! It doesn’t rely on cooperation from the child, and in fact can be done with a very active wiggler once your confident. I once used this method to put my then 2.5 year old onto my back on a moving tube train while he was in a full temper tantrum… I simply would not have managed to get off the train with him and our bags and coats and other stuff any other way!
If you are giving this a try at home, do give it a go over a soft surface like a bed or a sofa. I learnt to back carry when my son was about 8 or 9 months old and he absolutely loved a controlled fall when I messed something up and got stuck!! But if your struggling at all do remember that this is by no means the only method! One of the downsides of this method, at least in this form, is that it does rely on a fair degree of shoulder motility, and as such isn’t a great option for those with stiff or injured shoulders. So if this is you or if your struggling at all learning to back carry do contact your local sling consultant who will be able help you find the method that works for you
Carrying your baby is such a personal thing – people carry for different reasons and different carriers suit different people. Here is Nina’s story….
“I didn’t fully appreciate and understand the benefits of baby wearing until I had my second baby in 2013. Alexander was born 5 weeks prematurely and with a toddler running around my feet and a tiny baby who needed a lot of attention, I decided to try and use a material sling. To be honest, my motivation at the time was making my life easier, but I now know how much baby wearing benefits a baby too! I had always seen material wraps as a bit scary (as they looked so complicated to put on) but after some research, I settled on the Moby Wrap. After watching a few Youtube videos and a bit of practice, I had mastered it. And from then on, my life changed. Instead of having to either hold a small baby or put him in a Moses basket and then worry about my toddler running around and knocking him over, I was able to go about my day hands-free (and worry-free!). Alexander absolutely loved the sling and would sleep in it for hours in those early months. As well as the convenience for me, wearing Alexander helped him to feel calm and reassured – he loved being close to his food source at all times! It was also so easy to slip it into my changing bag if I wanted to take it out with me – it doesn’t take up much room at all. I wore Alexander constantly in the Moby Wrap until he was about 6 months old. Then I moved on to a Manduca, which held his weight a bit better at that stage.
Fast forward a few years and baby number 3 arrived in September 2017. I dug out the Moby Wrap and did exactly the same thing with Sebastian! Being hands-free was even more important for me with this last baby as I had school runs to do, homework to manage and a lot more demands on my time. Sebastian loved the sling too and spent his first 6 months strapped to me permanently. I loved being so close to him and was even able to go out in the evening with him sleeping on me! When he got too heavy for the Moby Wrap, I decided to treat myself to a new Ergo 360, mainly because I liked the idea of having the option of him facing forward. Once I worked out all the settings (with a bit of help from Madeleine!) I have loved that sling too, although my absolute favourite is still the Moby Wrap.
If I could give one piece of advice to a new Mum, it would be to buy a sling and wear your baby as much as possible!”
We bought our Manduca 3.5 years ago when our son was 5 months old, and used it practically everyday for the next 2.5 years until he turned 3. Its been to 8 countries with us, on tubes, trains, buses, cable cars and ferries, through all weather conditions and been used by multiple members of our family. To say its been well loved is an understatement!
Whenever, anyone comes to the library looking for an buckle carrier I tell them it is key to find the one that fits them the best. Quite simply, the Manduca is the carrier that fitted us best – myself, husband David and our son Tom.
For me, the ability to cross the arm straps across my back was a big draw compared to other carriers on the market at the time (Ergo and Boba). I’ve never had the strongest of backs and I found crossing the straps really helped distribute the weight better for me, when front carrying. David was never bothered about this, but as the Manduca does both crossed and ruck-style straps it meant we could have the choice to use it in either way. The arm straps also come with 3 points of adjustment. One at the top of the carrier and two at the buckle. The two at the buckle run in opposite directions – which means no matter whether you are doing front carries or back carries there is always one you can adjust easily; ‘with your wrists’. A little bit of practise and trial and error the first couple of times we used it and we quickly found a set up that could be shared between David and I will all adjustments between out two bodies being done on the two points of adjustments we could easily reach and tighten without straining our wrists. This meant we never had those ‘urgh, you’ve messed up my settings’-type arguments! It must be said that David and I are relatively similar sizes, which does make it easier to share one carrier. But the Manduca is one I’ve seen work quite frequently for many couples of different body types looking to share one carrier.
For Tom, the Manduca offered the best fit due to the extendable back panel. When zipped in the panel has a height of 33cm, which is one of the shortest on the market. This meant at 5 months old Tom could easily move his head, turn this way and that and see whatever he wanted completely unimpeded (while other carriers came up too high on him to do this at this age). As an infant he’d loved our stretchy wrap but as he went through the developmental leap around 3-4 months he just wanted to look around and found the stretchy wrap too confining. So often I have parents coming to the library at this point and saying that their baby needs a front facing carrier – and I remember feeling exactly the same! However, at the time there simply wasn’t a good ergonomic front facing carrier on the market. Now there are quite a few and I have 5 in my library collection, but there just wasn’t one when Tom was 4-5 months old (in fact the Lillebaby came out in the UK 6 weeks after we bought our Manduca). But with hindsight, I am actually glad there wasn’t an option for forward facing at the time… because in reality it turned out he didn’t need to forward face – simply having a carrier that would hold him securely but not pass above the back of his neck giving him complete freedom of head movement was exactly what he needed. He got the ability to look around when he wanted but also the ability to tuck in and simply fall asleep when he needed to with the reassurance of seeing mum or dad right there, and with mum and dad able to see and respond to his cues.
As he grew we eventually moved to the extended or ‘zipped out’ position – probably around 9/10 months ish for Tom. At a height of 41cm, this is one of the longest back panels on the market and this has really been the key to the success of this carrier for us as it has meant this carrier kept being supportive right up until Tom was around 3 years old. It has given us the best of both worlds – a short back panel for those earlier months, then a much longer one as Tom grew. To see how this back panel compares with other carriers when carrying an older child please take a look here.
Now with the birth of our daughter 2 months ago we are starting to use the Manduca once again. Again we’ve mainly used a stretchy wrap for the beginning. The Manduca has an integrated infant insert but as you have to sit down and popper your baby into it I never used it, as it seemed like a bit of a faff. And Rachel, born at an epic 9lb6 was quickly to big for it anyway. But Manduca do also make a couple of attachments – the size it and the ellipse which help size the panel down to fit a younger baby. These have allowed us to get a perfect fit for Rachel from about 8 weeks when we first tried it.
In terms of comparing with others – the Manduca has 3 carrying positions – front, back and hip. We used the front position until around 18 months with Tom and the back position from around 1 year on wards, until Tom outgrew it at around 3 years old. While I tried the hip position a couple of times, like the majority of buckle carriers… I always found it a massive faff and never really bothered. Its also worth noting that the Manduca is carrier is really well made. It might not be the prettiest carrier on the market but it is seriously built to last… we used it almost everyday, several hours a day, for 3 whole years with our son and now its going strong for another 3 years with #2! By the end we will have truly got superb value for money from it! …Although the colour has faded, as can be seen from the photos! But this has never bothered me… and I didn’t really notice until someone brought a brand new one to the library recently!
All in all I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Manduca to anyone at all. It is really well made such a great all rounder fitting a wide range of body types and fitting babies well from 2 months all the way through till late toddlerhood or beyond.