Graduating from front to back carries in a structured carrier can be both exciting (yay, my baby is growing up… and I can get more STUFF done) and terrifying (how the heck do I get them back there anyway?).
A couple of months ago, Brooke put together an awesome video tutorial showing you how to get your baby on your back. It was a total game changer for us… maybe for you too? Since then, I have been confidently getting my mister on the back in our structured carrier, whereas previously, I only knew how to do it in a woven wrap.
I thought I’d go back to the video and take her instructions and turn it into an article with easy to follow pictures. I don’t know about you, but sometimes this can be an easier way for me to learn new carries and techniques at my own pace, step by step, without having to keep up with a video. It has certainly helped me break it down further and I’ve picked up on a few details I missed previously when putting these instructions together. Hope it helps you too! :-)
Is Your Baby Ready?
Before attempting a back carry, it is important to make sure your baby is ready. The general guidelines are that back carrying in a soft structured carrier is only for babies who are sitting independently, as they have the muscle development to correct their positioning when on your back. Until then, enjoy the front cuddles!
One further note… you should also ensure that your child is a good fit for your carrier. Ensure that they can comfortably see over the panel and that it does not cover their face or obstruct their view. In addition, if you find that your child is getting too big for a carrier (base no longer supporting knee-to-knee, or panel not supporting at least to under their arms) it might be time to upsize. If one carrier doesn’t fit, try something else at your local babywearing meet.
Choose Your Carrier
A soft structured carrier refers to a buckle carrier that (in this case) can be used for front and back carries. It should have a buckled waistband, a panel for baby to sit in, and two shoulder straps that connect in the middle with a safety strap. In this tutorial, Brooke is using her Manduca with her two year old daughter, with the addition of the Manduca Extend accessory, adding length and width to the carrier, which makes it more comfortable for toddlers (Manducas are adjustable from newborn).
Other common structured carriers that you might use instead include:
Back Carrying Technique
There are plenty of methods you can use to get baby on your back. You’ll probably end up doing whatever is easiest and quickest for you! But when you are first learning to back carry, the “Walk Like an Egyptian” technique is highly recommended, as it feels safe, is easy to learn, and will help to build your confidence. The name of the technique comes from the way your arms will be positioned during the technique, with one arm up, and one arm down! :)
Get Set Up
Put your carrier on as normal for a front carry, buckled around your waist, with the panel at your front.
Do up the shoulder buckles so that they connect onto themselves (that is, not crossed over if that’s how you normally wear them in a front carry).
Pull the chest strap up towards the top of the carrier, keeping it unclipped. If you have a removable accessory strap (like the Connecta), buckle it closed, holding the shoulder straps together, and push it towards the top of the carrier.
Hold your baby and pull the carrier up over their back, as if you were doing a normal front carry.
Put your arms through the shoulder straps as per normal and do up the chest strap to secure the carrier on you both.
Baby from Front to Back
The carrier will be loose now. Bring one arm up and through the shoulder strap, and one arm down, beneath the shoulder strap. *
* Think about which side you want to scoot baby to your back on. The side that baby is scooted on (goes under your arm), needs to be the arm that lifts in this step!
Having the chest strap done up means that baby is still held in, even though your arms are not in the shoulder straps.
Now you can safely scoot baby under the arm that is raised up. Tilt your body to help baby shift around, so that their weight is centred. Use your arms to keep them steady while the carrier is loose.
Baby is now on your back! The connecting chest strap should be sitting around your throat (don’t worry – it won’t stay there for long).
One at a time, bring your arms through each shoulder strap.
Tighten and Lift
You’re almost done. You’ll notice that the carrier feels loose and probably not that comfortable. It’s time to tighten everything.
Start by tightening each shoulder strap by pulling at the webbing under your arm until it is comfortably tight. Use one arm to support baby’s weight at the back and lift them up while tightening at the front with your other arm.
Adjust and tighten the chest strap for comfort – this is very individual as it will depend on your shoulder width and where you prefer it to sit.
Ensuring the waistband is loose enough for some wiggling, use one hand to lift your baby up under their bottom so that they move higher up your back. With the other hand, bring your waistband (at the front) up as high as comfortable, generally aiming for just under the breasts. Now tighten the waistband. A higher back carry makes it easier to monitor baby, and it also means better weight distribution, so you can comfortably carry them for longer.
Baby should now be at the right height, tight and secure!
Getting Baby Down
To get your baby down again, simply do everything in reverse, carefully loosening straps a little, bringing one arm up and one arm down, and scooting them to the front. Slip your arms back into the shoulder straps and unbuckle your chest strap. You can now take your arms out of the shoulder straps and drop the panel to take your baby out.
For quick and easy reference while you’re learning, please feel free to save or print off this infographic of the main steps. :-) For more details, or if you’re a visual learner, please go check out Brooke’s amazing video demonstration!
Happy back carrying!
P.S. Enjoyed this post? Please go ahead and share so we can get more people enjoying the convenience (and fun!) of babywearing. :-)
P.P.S. Brooke is a qualified babywearing consultant, so if you have any questions about back-carrying your baby or choosing the right carrier for the job, please get in touch!
Copyright Brooke Maree © 2017
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