Katherine and Annabella have enjoyed Babywearing since Annabella was a small baby. They have used both a stretchy wrap and a baby bjorn carrier. Katherine found that despite liking the idea of the stretchy wrap, it was not very practical for meeting their needs and ended up reaching for the baby bjorn much more.
Both Katharine and Annabella have enjoyed using the Baby Bjorn, however, at the age of 8 months, Annabella has grown considerably and it has become progressively less comfortable.
Katharine contacted The Sling Doctor asking for advice on finding the right sling or carrier to help them continue their Babywearing journey. She did not have a strong preference for a type of carrier and was happy to visit me at my home address which was ideal as we needed access to all of my slings.
We discussed the problems Katharine was having with her existing slings:
The Baby Bjorn
Katharine was finding that although they both liked a front, chest to chest carry in this carrier, after about 10 minutes it began to hurt her lower back and was no longer a sustainable option. I explained that the Baby Bjorn does not support the hip tilt (bottom tucked in, tailbone pointing down) in the way many other slings do. This causes the child to have a straight back which means that their weight is carried further away from their wearer. In more ergonomically designed carriers the child’s pelvis is tilted which allows their back to curve around the parent (see diagram below).
This positioning means that the child’s head automatically falls towards the parent and their weight is carried closely. This is similar to the difference between carrying a load with outstretched arms or hugging it close to you. When a sling or carrier is correctly fitted it should not feel like you are carrying your child, rather, that your weights are combined and you are heavier.
While babies are still relatively light the weight distribution provided by the Baby Bjorn may not be a problem for the wearer, however, as the baby gets heavier a different carrier, designed to hold the baby as seen above, will be more comfortable.
The Stretchy Wrap
Katharine and Annabella had not got on very well with this sling when Annabella was a newborn, finding the length of fabric overwhelming and too time consuming to be used regularly. While stretchy wraps can be used beyond six months, if the child is heavy, and/or the stretchy wrap very stretchy, they would need to have additional passes added to the traditional three layer carry. Given that Katharine and Annabella had not got on well with the three layer carries it seemed unlikely that more layers would be an attractive proposition.
Katharine was keen for Annabella to be able to look around but still wanted to be able to make eye contact while she was in the sling. We agreed hip carries would be ideal for this but that any carrier should also have the option of a chest to chest carry to minimise back strain.
We explored the following options:
1) Woven wrap (such as a Kokadi) tied in a Coolest Hip Cross Carry.
2) Ring Sling (e.g. Amazonas) worn on the hip or the front.
3) Mei Tai (e.g. Hoppediz) tied on the hip or the front.
4) A Buckle Carrier (e.g. Ergo 360) worn on the front or the hip.
I demonstrated each of the options then Katharine chose to practice the woven wrap and buckle carrier option. She was drawn to the beautiful fabric options of the woven wrap and was able to tie the Coolest Hip Cross Carry effectively but decided it was not fast enough to meet her and Annabella’s needs.
We explored buckle carriers in more detail. I had a Manducca, Ergo, Boba 4g and Beco Gemini available for exploration. We quickly worked out that having the option of crossing the straps on her back was going to make using the carrier more comfortable for Katharine. This is not an option with the Boba 4g so we ruled it out. The remaining carriers all had detachable straps but different parts of the straps were adjustable. Katharine was naturally drawn to the Beco Gemini as its padding made it more closely resemble the Baby Bjorn Carrier. Once confident with the demonstration doll Katharine was able to put Annabella in the carrier and cross the straps on her back. She was surprised by how little she could feel of Annabella’s weight and was able to get her into an ergonomic position, with her knees higher than her bottom and her pelvis tilted as below.
Annabella seemed to like being in the sling, but it was apparent that she would soon outgrow it, her knees sticking out a couple of inches on both sides. We agreed it would be sensible for Katharine to buy the next size up. I would recommend the carrier which is most similar most similar to the Beco Gemini, this is the Beco Toddler which is available from Slumber-Roo with a 10% discount when you quote the code SL10-SLINGDOCTOR.
Katharine and Annabella took advantage of my Model deal which also entitles them to a reduced price follow up consultation. I would be happy to provide further consultation on the use of the new carrier and perhaps, later, how to back carry in it. I wish them both all the best in their Babywearing adventures.