If you’re looking at getting a new baby carrier for your newborn, how do you know whether or not it’s going to fit them?
When you’ve already got a carrier – how do you know it fits?
The “standard” weight limits for Baby Carriers are 7-35lbs/3-16kgs, or 7-45lbs/3-20kgs. Most people assume that this means the carrier fits babies from 7-35lbs or 3-16kgs. If you’ve been to the Sling Library before, you may have heard me rant about the fact that sling & carrier manufacturers print weight limits on their packaging. The truth behind these limits is that they are testing guidelines. The manufacturers send their products to a testing laboratory who do force profile testing at the lower & upper weight limits, & if the carrier remains intact (hasn’t broken/torn) then it is judged to have passed. These weight limits can then be printed on the packaging. HOWEVER, these weight limits DO NOT mean that the sling/carrier FITS a baby at the lower weight limit, or will remain comfortable up to the upper weight limit. (My daughter was still within the weight limits for an ErgoBaby Omni 360 when she was 7 yrs old! There’s NO WAY that would have been comfortable. She was much easier to carry in a preschool sized carrier, or a woven wrap.)
So, If Not By Weight, Then How?
There are a couple of hints that your Carrier fits.
*It fits your baby without forcing them into a position they are not ready for.
Some structured carriers have wide bases, which is good – it helps to support your baby from knee to knee – but some babies like to stay in a very curled up position for a few weeks which can mean they don’t fit your carrier until they “uncurl”. If your carrier fits comfortably between your baby’s legs without forcing them to open their knees more than they want to, then you’re good to go.
*The body panel of the carrier comes no higher than the nape of your baby’s neck.
If you put your carrier on & the panel comes higher up on your baby’s head, try moving the waistband up your body. In the left-hand picture below you can see that the body panel comes up over the demo doll’s head. This makes it difficult to monitor your baby & ensure that their airways are open. In the right-hand picture, the waistband is up on the base of the ribs & the panel sits comfortably in the nape of the baby’s neck. You can see how the carrier has to come down between the wearer & the baby, before it goes up the baby’s back. This shortens the body panel & makes it safer, as it’s easier to monitor the baby.
But What About Head Support?
Sometimes people worry that if the carrier only comes to the back of the neck, then their baby won’t have enough head support. The truth is that lots of head support actually comes from getting the baby’s base right. When babies are fully supported, from the back of one knee to the back of the other, then the natural, physiological curve of their spine allows them to rest their head on your chest. Sometimes, particularly if they are very alert, you will find that your baby will hang their head backwards & look at you. That’s fine! Perhaps pop a hand behind their head & support them while you make eye contact together & you talk to them. Newborn babies are very social. They are programmed to look at faces over other shapes – it’s how they learn about communication, relationships & more. Once they’ve had that chance to look at you & take in details of your face & the way you look at them, they will relax & you can put their head back on your chest.
If you find your baby’s head often flops backwards, then check that your carrier is supporting your baby all the way across their thighs & into the backs of both knees. Also check that they are sitting on the fleshy bit of their bottom (think lounging in a deckchair, rather than perching on a barstool) with their knees higher than their bottom, as this supports the natural curve in their spine.
If you find you need additional head support, perhaps when your baby is asleep, or if you need to bend down & pick something up with both your hands (meaning you don’t have a hand to support baby’s head), most carriers have a headrest/pillow or sleep hood that you can use, just to support the back of your baby’s head – keeping their face clear.
Safety Above All Else
When you use any sling or baby carrier the safety guidelines are exactly the same, regardless of the type. Make sure you can TICK all off your safety boxes.
If you would like help using your carrier, or reassurance that you are using your carrier safely you are welcome to book an appointment! I offer both online & in person (when permitted) consultations with sessions available from just £15. You can find details on the “Getting Carrying Help” page of my website.