There are all kinds of baby carrying gear, and soft structured baby carriers are pretty common. Compared to baby ring slings and baby wraps, SSCs are more complex construction-wise, yet the simplest in terms of usage. They’re pretty much a load-click-and-go affair. That’s why many doting dads love them. What’s more, these carriers are quite sturdy, durable, comfortable, and offer a pretty high baby weight limit. But how do you wear a soft-structured baby carrier? Stay with me.
Related Post: How to use a meh dai-type baby carrier.
What is a Soft-Structured Baby Carrier?
A structured baby carrier is a backpack-like piece of baby gear that features a well-padded carrying pack on the front or back. Some SSCs allow hip carries, though. Most of these kinds of baby carriers have you wear your baby facing in, facing out, or facing in/out.
While you can choose any type, many babywearing educators advise wearing the baby in a facing-in position. In fact, most of them frown upon using any kind of facing-out position. Here’s a detailed baby carrier shopping guide if you’re interested in learning what to look for when buying.
Related: How to Clean a Baby Carrier
What Makes Buckle Baby Carriers So Popular?
One thing that sets soft-structured baby carriers from baby slings, baby wraps, and meh dais is that they rely on buckles. That’s what makes them super easy to use.
All you have to do is buckle the waist straps and shoulder straps and that is it. With buckle carriers, there are no straps to tie up and complicated tying techniques to master. All you need to do is load your baby, click the buckles into place, and off y0u go.
Another reason that many moms and dads love structured carriers is that they offer multiple wearing options. More on these positions in the next section.
Here’s one more thing that makes these kinds of carriers really cool:
Some options allow you to remove the baby from the carrying compartment if they fall asleep and transfer them to the baby crib without disturbing their sleep. Such options come with a detachable carrying pack that lets you unhook your baby nice and quick when you need to.
How to Use a Soft-structured Baby Carrier
Using a soft-structured baby carrier has to be one of the easiest things a mom or dad can do. This carrier comes with all kinds of straps and buckles that make using them super easy.
The baby gear market offers tons of different styles of this carrier type. But you won’t need any kind of training to use any of them.
Related: How to Swaddle a Baby
I’ll now show you how to wear a structured carrier. I’ll use the Ecosusi Classic Front and Back Carrier. Take a look at the pic below. That’s how it looks like, and there are many carriers that look like this.
To wear a soft-structured baby carrier, simply get the shoulder straps (the longer ones) over your head. Next, take one of the shoulder straps and link it to the waist strap through the super easy-to-use buckle.
Repeat this step for the remaining shoulder strap. At this point, pick your tot and put them inside the carrying compartment.
Most baby carriers these days let you use multiple carrying positions. You can put your kiddo in a forward-facing position where the baby’s body points in the direction you’re facing. Look at the image below to see where the arms and legs go.
You can also have your baby facing you. You can also carry your baby piggyback like my loving hubby likes to do. Bless him. I’d have gone crazy had he not been willing to help me carry my two little babies around some of the time.
It should also be possible to hip-carry your baby with some strap configurations. But why endure all that pain when there are at least three comfier and easier baby-wearing positions?
The baby’s legs should stick out of the two bottom openings. And the arms should pass through the two openings below your chest regardless of whether your baby is facing in or out.
Finally, clip the straps around the arm area into place and you’re done!
The beauty of the Ecosusi is that you can unclip your sleeping baby and move them over to the crib without waking them up. That saves you time because you won’t need to rock the baby to sleep again.
Shift Baby Positions If Necessary
For the most part, the forward-facing babywearing position is not comfortable for long. I found that I had to remove change my baby to the facing-in position after no more than 20 minutes.
So, shift your lovely baby to a more comfortable sitting position whenever necessary. The Ecosusi Classic above allows you to switch between front-facing and parent-facing positions easily and fast. Here’s a video that explains how to wear a baby using a soft-structured carrier.
How to Back-carry Your Baby With a Structured Carrier
The backpack-style babywearing is exactly a reversed front carry. In this case, wear the shoulder straps over your head so that these straps rest on your front rather than your back. Then, buckle in the waist straps as well as the arm-area straps. Finally, slide your baby into the created backpack and you’re done.
Many dads seem to prefer this carrying style for some reason. Maybe it’s because they have stronger backs, or it feels more comfortable to them. Or whatever.
Secure Your Baby Into a Nice and Snug Fit
No matter the babywearing position you choose, make sure to make fit nice and snug. Fortunately, most soft-structured carriers offer fit adjustability.
You can adjust how the carrier fits by playing with straps and buckles a bit. Size adjustability makes it possible to share a carrier with other caregivers.
Safety Tips for Wearing Soft-Structured Carriers
1. No matter your babywearing style, always strive for a comfortable and snug baby-carrying position. You don’t want your baby falling through because you didn’t tighten the carrier well enough. Your carrier should provide a close, tight fit for your and your baby’s comfort.
2. Make sure to inspect your carrier before putting your fragile baby in there. What if the straps have come loose? What if the buckles aren’t working properly anymore? Every sewn item is subject to normal tear and wear, and that includes baby carriers. So, always assess the item before use to make sure its integrity is still intact.
3. Whether you’re using a meh dai, a sling, a wrap, or a soft-structured carrier, make sure your baby can breathe without a problem at all times.
You should be able to see your newborn’s or toddler’s face the whole time. So, ensure your tot is sitting high enough all the time. The last thing any parent wants is their baby suffocating to sudden death because, well, they can’t breathe.
Tricks for More Comfortable Use of SSCs
1. After wearing the baby, it’s possible that the seat might not be deep or comfortable enough. There’s a little trick to solve the problem: Insert a finger (my thumbs seem to do the job perfectly) between your shoulders and shoulder straps and lift your baby up.
As you lift the baby, make a few bouncy movements, and that should cause your tot to sit nice and comfy in the carrier.
2. What if there’s too much weight on your shoulders, literally? That can be super uncomfortable, but there’s a little nifty trick around it. What you should do in most cases is to try to redistribute the weight from your shoulders to your hips.
The trick is to make adjustments to your waistband so that it now sits around the top of your hips. Then, tighten these straps to a nice and snug fit. Next, tighten the shoulder straps, but don’t overdo it. Because there’s now slightly more support around your hips, some of the baby’s weight will transfer to that area. And problem solved.
How to Store a Buckle Baby Carrier
Tuck in your baby carrier’s shoulder straps and roll the carrier nice and tight. As you roll the item, make sure that the patterned side of the fabric/right side faces outside. Then, run the waist straps around the nice, right roll and buckle them into place. Now, you can store away your carrier until the next time you need to wear your baby.
A soft-structured baby carrier is extremely easy to use in most cases. It’s pretty much sliding the carrier over your head, buckling the side and top straps into place, adjusting for a better fit, and that is it.
You can do it. Anyone can do it without help.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.