Quite understandably, how to support baby’s head is one of the most frequent worries parents express when they get in touch with me. Particularly parents who have a carrier already, and have tried using it but are just not sure if it is providing enough head support, how to adjust it to ensure baby is supported, comfortable and most importantly safe.
Here I talk through what you need to know in terms of how to position baby and where to offer them support and where not to…
Check where they are sat in the carrier – adjust where in the panel they sit to bring the height of the carrier up or down so the padded top section rests nicely in the back of the neck.
As baby does grow you may well find you do need to use the flap to extend the panel. This is it’s true purpose – rather than being a head support for a young baby, it is designed to extend the panel as baby grows to support and older baby or toddler as needed.
Worried about how baby is sitting in their carrier? Worried about their hips? Or worried about red lines appearing on their legs after being in the carrier?
The easiest way to ensure baby is sitting comfortably is to do a ‘Pelvic Tilt’. This is where you slip your hands into the carrier and gently tilt their pelvis and lift their legs to ensure they are sitting square on their bottom rather than on their inner thighs. Here is how to do it:
Why is this important? Simply – sitting with their weight squarely on their bottom rather than being on their inner thighs is more comfortable. I often liken this to the difference between sitting in a nice deep soft verses perching on a bar stool. Neither is dangerous, or even uncomfortable in the short term but I know where I’d rather be for a snooze or a longer period!
When do to do a Pelvic tilt? Ideally I do a pelvic tilt or check each time I put a carrier or sling on. Babies often have a wiggle and whinge when going into a carrier and it’s really common for them to straighten up as part of this wiggle. So once I’ve popped the carrier on and started walking or bouncing/dancing on the spot to calm baby, I then slide my hands in and do this, then finish tightening the carrier as needed. I normally find that once done I don’t need to keep repeating, once in this position the carrier will support baby here (provided the carrier still fits them well – if not you might need a scarf as shown here, or a bigger carrier). However, if something changes like you’ve sat down and got back up again and/or baby has become unsettled… you might find you occassionally need to repeat the move.
Does it look different for different age babies? Yes it does! I love this graphic showing how this “spread squat” position with the weight on the bum looks for different age babies
But baby bounces up and down in the carrier, straightening and bending their legs? How do I keep them in this position? The answer to this question does depend a little on the age and stage of baby – and is part of the whole carrying will look different as baby grows and matures. Often babies will go through phases of this bouncing in a carrier when they are older … 6 months plus. It is fab!! Maybe not for you – who might find this is an extra work out for your core and your carrying muscles (-my children went through big phases of this around 18 months to 2 years… particuarly throwing their weight side to side while bouncing and I’d have to work quite hard not to fall over!!). But for baby is it fab, it means they are getting active time, they are strengthening their muscles and importantly having fun. Don’t feel like you need to stop them or that they need to be sitting squarely on their bum the whole time. As baby gets older the importance of the spread squat position for protecting their hips becomes less and less (as their pelvis matures toward walking). It is fine for them to crane upwards and outwards for a better view and have their weight on their inner thighs instead for short bursts. It’s all part of strengthening and development for them. Then if they start to get drowsy and fall asleep then do a quick pelvic tilt to ensure they are sat comfortably while they sleep.