Mark visited The Sling Doctor for a consult on how to get his granddaughter, Elsie, onto his back In a buckle carrier. Elsie is 23 months old and has always used slings or carriers as her primary mode of transport. She also uses them to get to sleep, especially if she is away from her mother or is somewhere unfamiliar.
Mark has babysat Elsie on a couple of occasions and found the sling helpful for getting Elsie to sleep. He has also worn Elsie on his back for a short walk but relied on other family members to get Elsie on and off his back.
In two weeks time Mark is going to look after Elsie while her mother and grandmother run a 10k race. He wants to be able to walk several miles with Elsie and to feel confident getting her on and off his back.
Using a demonstration doll, I showed Mark two methods of getting a toddler on to his back:
1. The Hip Scoot
- Identify the hip you normally naturally carry your child on. This is your hip scoot side.
- Put the carrier on as if you were going to do a front carry but do not put on the shoulder straps.
- Lengthen the shoulder strap closest to the hip scoot side.
- Place your child on your chest and pull the body of the carrier up over their back so that the child is secure when you hold the two shoulder straps in one hand.
- Gently scoot the child and carrier around under your arm.
- Reach around behind you for the extended strap and pull it onto your shoulder and tighten.
- Place your other arm in the shoulder strap.
- Check child’s positioning and adjust accordingly
2. The Sofa Lift
- Put the carrier’s waist belt on and move the body of the carrier around you so that it is laying behind you on the sofa or arm chair.
- Place child behind you and, with one hand each side, reach behind yourself and move the toddler onto the carrier until they have one leg either side of the carrier and are sitting as close to your back as possible.
- Pull the carrier up over the back of the child and put the shoulder straps on as if you were putting on a back pack.
- Check the child’s positioning and adjust accordingly.
We agreed that it would only be safe for Mark to attempt to back-carry Elsie if she agreed to go on his back.
When transferring a baby or toddler onto your back the child must have their weight supported, and something preventing them from falling at all times. At each stage of the transfer it is worth asking yourself, what is holding the child’s weight? What is preventing the child from falling? The answer to both questions should be either a) me or b) the carrier. If the answer is ‘nothing’ then the practice is unsafe.
Until you are confident and experienced it is advisable to only put your child in your back when you are able to do so over a bed or sofa, or have someone available to intervene.
Mark practiced both methods with the demonstration doll until he felt confident. He preferred the sofa lift and asked Elsie if she would mind trying it out. Elsie agreed and they successfully achieved a back carry. Mark found he had to tighten the carrier significantly more than he had expected to stop Elsie being able to lean too far back. Once this was done they both looked and felt comfortable and secure. I hope that their morning out together is a success and that Mark finds his newly learned skills helpful.