Features: Usually a square or rectangular seat/body panel that fastens with straps and buckles around your waist and over your shoulders. Usually have a padded, supportive waist belt for good lumbar support. Your child is held close against your body for good weight distribution. Most have shoulder padding and additional features such as a sleep hood. Some work using a harness which fastens onto the carrying adult before then fastening the child into the carrier. This style can be easier for safe back carries (if suitable), but may be more difficult to adjust to hold the child’s weight close to your centre of gravity.
Age Range/Suitability: Suitable for babies and/or toddlers depending on the carrier features and size. Many fit best from 3-4 months; some are suitable from newborn, though may require adaptions or inserts to ensure a good, safe fit. Suitable for all adults, though each has a slightly different fit so it’s best to try before you buy. Similar to jeans, everyone prefers a different fit so, it’s important to try a variety before you settle on one.
Carrying Positions: All are suitable for front carries (some also allow for a facing away position), many are also suitable for back carries and some also allow a hip carry.
Options: Many Soft Structured carriers have options for fabrics and come in different designs and colours. Many have features such as pockets, sleep hoods, adjustable body size, toy loops, stirrups, etc. All models have a slightly different feel and fit and SSC comfort seems to be a very personal thing so it can be hard to tell in advance which will suit you best. Front Carriers are also a type of Soft Structured Carrier.
Pros: Simpler designs are quick to learn and to use; many are widely available to buy; no long dangling straps to tie; more comfortable than a framed carrier, especially for women; tend to have additional features like hoods, pockets, toy loops etc.; can work well for carrying 2 children at once; more ‘sporty’ look; facing outwards position possible with some SSCs; most are supportive to use for long periods if correctly adjusted.
Cons: the same carrier isn’t always ideal for both newborns and toddlers; can be fiddly or awkward to adjust and uncomfortable if adjusted incorrectly; back carries can be tricky; more structured shape means it can be harder to get a good fit for both parent and child; not so easy to share between parents; not all offer the same levels of support for parent or child; advertised weight ranges can be misleading.