All About Onbuhimos

May 14, 2017

onbuhimo history, tutorial, and information

Curious about Onbuhimos? Not sure if they’re right for you? In this week’s blog, we delve into exactly what they are, where they came from, and who they’re great for.

What are they?

Onbuhimos are a little bit like a soft-structured buckle carrier, except they are only worn up high on the back and don’t have a waistband. They look a bit like a rucksack style backpack. Depending on the brand/converter, they could be made from a mixture of woven wrap fabric, canvas fabric, and webbing. Some come with hoods for extra support/sleepy little heads.

quote about onbuhimos baby carrier

You can also get a ring-version of an onbuhimo, where instead of tightening webbing, you tighten woven wrap fabric through rings.

Where did they originate?

Onbuhimos are a Japanese-style carrier.

Onbu = back, to carry on the back, or piggy-back

Himo = sash or long, thin strap

Originally, these carriers started out by wearing baby on the back under the parent’s kimono, with a long strap securing bub to the parent. This technique evolved into a panel of fabric with long straps that were used to make a seat.

How to wear an onbuhimo

There are a few ways you can put the onbuhimo on with your child, depending on what you’re comfortable with and the developmental stage of your child.

  • Sitting piggy-back/backpack method (safest when first learning!)

If you have a surface you can sit your child on, pop the carrier on the surface first. Then sit your child in the carrier, with their legs going through the two straps, and their arms going over the top of the panel. Sit in front of your child and thread your arms through the straps. Stand up, pull the fabric panel up between you to make a seat, and tighten using the webbing.

  • Hip scoot method

Hold your child on your hip, and put the main panel of your onbuhimo on their back, with the top of the panel under their arms, and their legs going through the two straps. Carefully scoot your child onto your back, keeping the carrier on them. Thread your arms through the straps. Make sure your child is up nice and high, then pull the fabric up between you to make a seat, and tighten using the webbing.

  • Superman method

Sit or stand your child in front of you. Hold the main panel of the onbuhimo on their back, with the top of the panel under their arms, and their legs going through the two straps. Put your hands under their arms/shoulders, while holding the onbuhimo in place. Lift them up and over your shoulder, and onto your back. Make sure they are up high enough to see over your shoulders, then pull the fabric up between you to make a seat, and tighten using the webbing.

Who and what they’re perfect for…

onbuhimo infographic babywearing

  • Children, toddlers, and babies who can sit unassisted

It is ideal for older babies, toddlers, and children. These wearees usually love being up on their carer’s backs and are more likely to be up and down, which leads into our next point…

  • Quick ups and downs

With a little practice, onbuhimos are one of the quickest carrier types to put on and take off – perfect for the little person who is always up and down.

  • Compact travel-friendly carrying

With a small panel and two shoulder straps, onbuhimos are one of the most compact carrier option available – perfect to stick in your nappy bag or handbag “just in case”.

  • Back-wearing

If you do a lot of back-wearing, the onbuhimo is probably going to work for you.

  • Expectant mums

Mums who want to keep wearing their older children while pregnant with a younger sibling often love onbuhimos due to no waistband to cut in on a growing tummy or add extra pressure on their rib cage.

  • Anyone who hates pressure on their tummies

It’s not just pregnant mums who enjoy this feature – anyone who isn’t a fan of waistbands is likely to appreciate having an onbuhimo as an option.

  • Dads

Babywearing dads often enjoy the simplicity of the onbuhimo (my husband certainly loves it!). It ticks the boxes of quick ups/downs, easy adjustment, and no fiddly waistband to draw attention to the dad-bod tummy. 😉

  • Short trips

I find that the onbuhimo is one of my preferred carriers for short trips, like ducking into the shops for something quick, dropping older kids off at school, and giving little legs a rest for just a few minutes.

Who they’re not ideal for…

  • Small babies who can’t yet sit up unassisted

Onbuhimos should not be used on small babies who are not yet unable to sit unassisted, as this type of carrier (similar to the guidelines for using an SSC) does not offer the kind of support they would need to avoid slumping.

  • Longer periods of wearing

I wouldn’t reach for my onbuhimo if I was likely to be wearing my toddler for more than thirty minutes, as the weight isn’t as broadly distributed as some of my other carrier options. If you tend to only wear for long periods, an onbuhimo might not be right for you just yet.

  • Super picky/sore shoulders

If your shoulders are extremely picky, you might need to either work hard on perfecting your onbuhimo positioning and tightening (like I have!), or settle for a carrier that spreads the weight throughout your torso a little more, like an SSC with a waistband, a meh dai, or a woven wrap.

  • People who prefer to front wear only

If you and your little one love front snuggles, onbuhimos are probably not for you (though this can change throughout your babywearing journey). Although they could technically be used on the front, they are not designed for front-wearing, so can be difficult to adjust in this position, and won’t be as comfortable as your other alternatives. If you’re simply not confident with back carrying, it might be a good idea to get help at a meet or from a babywearing consultant to see if you might be able to use an onbuhimo or other type of back carrier before you buy one.


Over to you now… I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with onbuhimos. What do you love/hate about them and when do you prefer to use them over other options?


Happy babywearing!




P.S. Enjoyed this article? Please feel free to save or share it for future reference! :-)

P.P.S. If looking for an onbuhimo, we have some very limited Kokadi stock available in our shop, all with AfterPay! <3


Copyright Brooke Maree © 2017

Being a copycat or blatantly stealing is never cool. There is a fine line between inspiration and stealing, so please be respectful, honest, and full of integrity when sharing this piece of writing or using its information. Many hours of work, planning, and editing goes into our pieces to ensure the highest quality first-hand information. Any of our work that is plagiarised will eventually be found and could constitute a copyright infringement and legal action. That being said, you are ALWAYS welcome to share our content, as long as you attribute and link back to the source. xxx

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