Top FAQS

These are the most common questions about babywearing I am asked, in a single helpful list!

Just click on the links to read the relevant blog posts, some are kindly shared from others

Firstly; some of my most popular articles:

Do the babywearing “rules” really matter?

Babywearing and infant mental health

Babywearing and the mother-baby dyad

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Secondly, I get this query daily. “Can I use your infographics to support families?” ABSOLUTELY! Everything on this website was created to help families with children to feel close and connected. Please credit me appropriately and link back to my website/social media (facebook, instagram)

Here is the link to the infographics (eg the Fourth Trimester/Build a Happy Brain/Why Carrying Matters/Skin to Skin posters and much more)

Carrying in different circumstances

Can I sleep while my baby sleeps in their carrier?

How do I carry more than one child at a time? (Coming soon)

How can I carry safely in hot weather?

What good summer slings are there?

How do I keep my baby warm while carrying in the cold?  (ie can I put them in a snowsuit?)

How do I keep myself and baby dry when babywearing in the rain? (Coming soon)

Carrying adopted or foster children

Can I carry my child if I am disabled? (Coming soon)

What if my child has a disability? See this link for a stories from families living with a range of specific conditions.

What if babywearing just isn’t working for me?


fitness dance

Sling Fitness/Dance and Babywearing

There are many fitness or dance classes focused on maternal wellbeing and bonding with baby while babywearing, which can be a great thing to participate in, like Barre and Baby, Dance Like a Mother, Joiemove and Sling Swing, to name just some.

We all know babies thrive when close to their mothers, and baby carriers can help with this rather than putting babies down all the time. Movement and activity are known to lift the mood, and friendly, welcoming social activity is an important part of helping new parents find a supportive community so they feel less alone. So keeping babies close during a fitness or dance class may seem to be a match made in heaven… or is it?

 

Some classes market themselves by suggesting that new mothers should be trying to “get their body back” shortly after birth, so they feel good about themselves. I dislike this phrase; after all, why would you want to encourage a butterfly to revert to a caterpillar? Motherhood and the changes that come with it are to be celebrated. Many women would like to work on the strength and health of their bodies, but this should be a positive choice, not one made out of shame or embarrassment.

Baby safety at all times, and the health and wellbeing of new mothers are both of vital importance. It is my firmly held belief that anyone who is suggesting or recommending the use of a carrier during a class should be competent and confident in their use. This can only come with adequate training.

Furthermore, I believe that the long term health and fitness of women after birth and pregnancy takes precedence over quick-fixes. The pressure to “get your body back” and the media focus on celebrity bodies is not helpful for women. Good mental health and a supportive community are cornerstones of adapting successfully to life as a mother, and for many being active is part of that. However, there is often a significant lack of knowledge about the effects of many activities of daily life, let alone exercises or running etc on the pelvic floor, and loading it further with a baby carrier (especially one that is poorly fitting and uncomfortable) is detrimental in the early weeks to months.

It may take six months to a year for the body to recover completely, (according to research at Salford University). Of course this is very individual, depending on previous levels of health and fitness, how pregnancy and birth went, etc. Some women will be much more ready to return to their previous levels of activity than others. The “six week check” by the GP is often used as a benchmark to “sign off” as fit for exercise or dance classes. However, this is not what the six week check is for and this is not an appropriate way to establish if women are ready to return to increased levels of activity.

You can read more about my thoughts on slings and exercise here. 

I believe that in order to be able to offer dance or exercise classes safely and beneficially, all instructors should be focused and committed to the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the baby as their top priority.

Instructors should all

  • Have formal, high quality and officially recognised postnatal training qualifications (requiring assessment, and willing to provide these credentials to parents who ask.)
  • Have a significant depth of knowledge on the pelvic floor after birth and the effects of certain movements and activity on this recovering organ. This is often lacking. I recommend the courses for fitness professionals run by Louise Field of Adore your Pelvic Floor.
  • Offer proper assessment of a mother’s functional strength (beyond the “six week check”) and a willingness to adapt movements to reflect this.
  • Demonstrate the ability and commitment to put the client and baby’s needs first, even if it means saying that the class isn’t suitable. Babies are not an accessory to be used for fitness.

plus

  • High quality, in depth babywearing peer supporter training to ensure mothers and babies are carrying safely at all times, without any compromises. Instructors should have a particular interest in babywearing for its own sake, as opposed to something to add onto existing classes. Ideally they will already be familiar with slings. They should demonstrate a keen desire to be practising optimally and in line with current best practice. Baby and maternal safety is always paramount. 

babywearing peer supporter training

If you would like to explore the option of peer supporter training, please contact me to discuss. I reserve the right to decline training.

Please note that training with me is NOT an endorsement of any class, and Carrying Matters is NOT and never has been affiliated in any way with any fitness or dance classes.

I am no longer able to offer half day “safety awareness training” courses to those who are running postnatal fitness/dance classes. After a while running these courses, I feel this insufficient time to cover all the issues in enough depth to ensure the safety of babies and their mothers. This is especially as babywearing is not usually the main focus of the class and many class instructors have hardly any personal experience with babywearing themselves. Anyone who sees babywearing as an integral part of their class will be willing to invest in in-depth training with assessment.

Please note that I have attended a full day of training in pelvic floor awareness for fitness professionals myself.


Using a newborn insert with a buckle carrier tutorial

Some buckle carriers require an insert for use with newborns, as the panel is too tall and wide for a small baby. The insert raises baby up inside the panel to ensure they remain close enough to kiss with an unobstructed airway. It also creates a narrower seat for baby to rest on, while preserving the M shape and hip health.

Follow the steps to ensure a safe and snug carry; the time spent preparing really pays off when baby is put in, meaning it will feel more secure right away, and less fiddling and adjustments will be needed later.


front carry with a close caboo

Front carry with a Close Caboo photo tutorial

The Caboo is a great option for those who enjoy the snuggly feel of a stretchy wrap but prefer a little pre-structure. This front carry with a Close Caboo photo tutorial will get you off to a flying start.

Follow the steps to ensure a safe and snug carry; the time spent preparing really pays off when baby is put in, far less fiddling and adjustments!

 

Read more about carrying newborns in stretchy wraps or Close Carriers here.

Read more about sling safety with young babies here, and our guide to stretchy wraps and the hybrid carriers like the Close Caboo here.


raising baby up

Photo tutorial for raising baby up in a too-tall panel carrier to ensure free airflow

This tutorial shows raising baby up inside a panel carrier when the panel is too long, ensuring good airflow and free movement of the head.

This is important, as young babies have a large occiput (the round bone at the back of the skull) and if this is under pressure from behind, the head will tip forwards, pressing baby’s chin onto their chest and downwards into cleavage, which can present an airway risk. The fabric should never come higher than the bottom of baby’s earlobes, so they can move their heads freely. All the head support should come from the upper back part of the panel.


Babywearing Theory, Safety and Peer Supporter Training

I am a Carrying Advocate and Babywearing Peer Supporter trainer, working under the Born To Carry banner. (This is a training provider of excellence in babywearing skills, bringing together some of the most experienced babywearing teachers and facilitators in the UK). I have trained hundreds of peer supporters. These range from interested parents who want to volunteer or help their own friends, massage therapists, early years providers, health care professionals (health visitors, midwives, doulas etc) and those who want to set up their own local sling libraries.

During the pandemic, much learning has had to move online, and my training courses are no exception.

There are two courses available.


The first is a comprehensive introduction to babywearing theory and safety, which will give an excellent grounding for becoming an advocate for carrying behaviour and how slings can help promote health and wellbeing. It also provides an in-depth introduction to the major types of carrier and how to use them. This is open to everyone, and can be completed at your leisure. There are short tests of your knowledge as you proceed through the course and a final assessment to complete the course for a certificate.

  • This will suit many people who wish to enhance their knowledge and understanding, become evidence-based babywearing advocates, be able to signpost to local libraries with more confidence, and are not planning to offer in-person support to families on a regular basis.
  • This course is not timed, and can be done at your own schedule and to your own pace.
  • Please be aware that this course is not a Peer Supporter course and the certificate cannot be presented as such.
  • This course is not sufficient on its own for anyone planning to offer any form of movement classes with babies in slings.

The second is a practical peer supporter training session, currently being delivered online in small groups, via Zoom. This practical session focuses on actively supporting new parents with hands-on-help, and is required to become a Peer Supporter. Regular dates for these sessions will be available for individuals to sign up for. The theory and safety course must have been completed before doing this section.

  • These sessions can also be arranged for a single group who want to focus on a particular need (such as health care professionals only, using one type of carrier) or for a group who wish to learn together. Please contact me to arrange this.
  • Satisfactory completion of this course and the assessment will generate a certificate of competence as a Babywearing Peer Supporter.

The courses are purchased separately, to give as much flexibility as possible.


Introduction to babywearing theory and safety – online course, £40

  • Welcome Module.
  • Why Carrying Matters Module/Fourth Trimester Module.
  • Introduction to Basic Babywearing Safety.
  • The Role of the Peer Supporter/Consultant.
  • The Different Types of Slings And How To Use Them.
  • Special Circumstances.
  • Assessment Module (to confirm learning)

Peer Supporter Practical Session (to be done in person, or via video link), £55 per person, half a day.

  • Assessing skills in using the main types of carrier
  • Learning how to support others and troubleshoot effectively.
  • Assessment Module (via the Born to Carry website) to ensure receipt of information and ensure the high standards of training from the Born to Carry organisation are met.

Reduced cost places are available for certain priority groups, read more about that here and how to apply.

Enrol onto the Theory and Safety Course (£40)Contact me for dates for the Practical Peer Supporter Training

I really enjoyed it. I have learnt a lot. I liked the way it was structured and the friendly manner things were taught in. I felt supported throughout and never felt stupid about lack of knowledge which was great. It made me eager to learn much more.
A.E.


FAQ

Do I need to do both modules?
It depends what you need from the training. If you wish to be a Peer Supporter, yes, you will.

Can I just do the online theory and safety course?
Yes, this will generate a certificate of competence in babywearing theory and safety, which may be all you need. You will have a good grounding in why babywearing is so useful, based in evidence, a solid understanding of how to keep a baby safe in the major types of sling and be able to advocate and signpost to further resources.

I want to support new parents to choose a good sling, and become confident in putting their slings on, or set up a sling library. What modules do I need?
You will need to do both the theory and practical modules, as this is what Peer Supporters do!

I want to offer classes for new parents and their babies with slings as part of the class. Is the online module enough?
No. You must do the full Peer Supporter training. This online course will not be enough on its own, as hands-on skills and careful planning of classes are needed. Adding any movement with a sling beyond walking increases the potential for harm. Babies and their caregivers’ wellbeing should be the primary concern for such classes, and they should not be placed at risk by inadequate training.

Do I need to do both the online and practical modules at the same time?
This is up to you! Some people will opt to do the theory modules at their own pace, and then decide if they want to do the practical modules. If you wish to do the full course, it will help to have the online theory fresh in your mind before you come to the practical session. You must have completed the theory before the practical session.

Can I have a practical session tailored to the specific need of my group (eg neonatal nurses, health visitors or for dance classes, etc?)
Absolutely, you can do the online theory and safety course and then have your own group practical session with me, please get in touch to discuss your needs. Please be aware that I am a working GP and can only offer a certain number of practical sessions per year.

The Carrying Advocacy Peer Supporter Course has several aims. One is to understand why carrying matters so much in the vital task of building a happy brain – we look at some of the neuropsychology and biochemistry behind it all. Slings can help to facilitate this. Another is to enable people to give robust, safe advice about babywearing and infuse the people they meet with excitement and confidence about using a sling, and help them use it safely and confidently. It is not a consultancy course (therefore does not cover advanced techniques such as back carrying or complex woven wrap techniques), but is designed to equip trainees with the tools they need to be able to support the parents they meet. It covers topics such as:

  • the benefits of babywearing
  • the physiological principles of baby positioning to protect airway, spine and hips
  • confidence with the most common types of sling
  • practical demonstrating skills

  • demonstrating and discussing the safe use of slings in many circumstances (eg feeding)
  • troubleshooting common difficulties
  • assessing boundaries and responsibilities
  • babywearing in a historical/sociopolitical context

Those who attend this course, complete the post-course assessment and receive their certificate of completion are eligible for insurance from three providers.

Dance and exercise classes with slings

Please read this first if you are considering setting up one of these classes. The safety of child and parent is paramount at all times and there is simply too much to cover when the class instructor is not already very familiar with slings and aware of the risks involved (this is more than just being aware of the “TICKS” guidelines). If you want to discuss whether you are suitable for entry on this course please email me before you book. I reserve the right to refuse training.


Feedback

“I really enjoyed trying different carriers. I found the trouble shooting sections particularly interesting and fun. I learnt a lot and feel more confident with all carriers and especially with how to wrap a new born.
I really loved it and now want to do the consultant training even more. Rosie was clearly very enthusiastic and dedicated and made everything so interesting. She was pretty inspiring.”


“Everything I had hoped for was met, I feel like a peer supporter now, not just someone who loves slings!”


“Hi Rosie, I couldn’t go to bed without sending you a note to say a huge thank you for the course today. I’ve never felt more included and welcome and I’m so thrilled I came along. Thank you for your hospitality and brilliant teaching, I’m raving about babywearing to my husband and cannot wait to volunteer at a meet soon.”


“I loved the content of the day, the discussions, playing with different slings, learning new ways of slinging, wrapping etc. The course was well run, well organised and I felt empowered to speak, share and question.”


“I feel much more confident in my knowledge of both the benefits of babywearing, and how to go about enabling parents.”


“I really enjoyed meeting other like minded people. I liked the theory of babywearing as it related closely to the work I do as Breastfeeding Lead in the NHS. I enjoyed trying all the different slings and carriers and understanding in what situations they would be used.”

“Rosie was born to teach people. Simply fantastic in the way information was relayed. Would highly recommend.”


“The whole day was so good! A key element was the ability to see and try so many different types of slings and to have time to go through basic principles regarding how to use them all. The role play aspects where we were able to troubleshoot carrier problems was also very useful.”


“My personal learning aims were met, it exceeded my expectations. I found the course was extremely enjoyable and covered so much subject matter but was not overwhelming. My aims were well and truly met. I now believe I could give a new babywearer good/correct advice and help in ways I was unsure about prior to the course.”


“Having someone with your experience and knowledge available all day to ask questions and watch demo was incredible. I really enjoyed the contextual and historical information about Babywearing and what led us all into that room that day. It put everything into the ‘bigger picture’ and made me feel such a part of the huge Babywearing community. Having such a massive amount of slings in the room to try and compare was utterly invaluable – such a rare opportunity. I thought the balance between practical and theory was absolutely spot on. As someone who’s very interested in the sociopolitical aspects of Babywearing I was really pleased to see this covered in the course and really appreciated that you placed Babywearing so firmly in this context during the day.”


“The course really opened my eyes to consider the needs of individuals and how essential it is to be inclusive and approachable and gave me the tools to do this confidently (especially regarding narrow base carriers). It was useful to be shown how to exaggerate movements and words when teaching and to have the opportunity to practice this. Rosie’s enthusiasm was infectious and made the whole day very engaging. The size of the group worked well and I especially enjoyed how well we all got on.”


educational resources build a happy brain rainbow brain carrying matters

Educational Resources

This page contains various resources that may be useful for education and supporting others. Leaflets, posters and postcard packs can be purchased. Images and PDFs can be downloaded free of charge by clicking on the photos. Please ensure you credit me (Dr Rosie Knowles) if you use them.

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of high quality printed leaflets using the button below.

Buy the Carry Safe leaflets here

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of high quality printed leaflets using the button below.

Buy the Guide to Slings leaflets here

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of glossy postcards or posters using the button below.

Buy the Seven Reasons poster here

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of glossy postcards or posters using the button below.

Buy the 4th Trimester products here

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of glossy postcards or posters using the button below.

Buy the Build a Happy Brain products here

Click on the image to download a PDF, or order a pack of glossy postcards or posters using the button below.

Buy the Skin to Skin Matters products here - coming soon!

Click on the image to download an image of Carrying in the Heat, or order a pack of posters using the button below.

Buy the Carrying in the Heat posters here

Click on the image to download an image of Carrying in the Cold, or order a pack of posters using the button below.

Buy the Carrying in the Cold posters here

Carrying in the cold, snowsuits

Snowsuits, Scarves, Slings and Safety - Carrying in the Cold

Autumn and winter can be a wonderful time of year, with frosty mornings and chilly walks, the first snowfall, and a little child nestled cosily up to you. Fresh air is good for the soul, and exercise and changes of scenery can make a big difference to family life. You don't need to be afraid of wintry weather, in fact, a baby carrier can help you go places!

It is important to consider safety in all things, and dressing warmly for winter while using a sling/carrier is no exception. Snowsuits may be cute and warm but they need to be used carefully.

When the weather turns chilly, or even icy, every caring parent’s mind turns to how to keep their baby warm in the cold air. Out come the snuggly snowsuits and the hooded jackets, out come the warm cosy scarves and thick cardigans, all aimed to keep you and baby toasty warm. At sling library sessions I can often be found encouraging parents to undress their babies, and often themselves! But why? Surely warmth is important?

Indeed it is, and it is good to be aware of your child’s needs. But there is often still a question about the best way to keep warm when you are using a sling… are the snuggly snowsuits really the best option? Are they safe to use, especially with the current advice about avoiding thick coats in car seats? (see the link at the bottom).

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

I see a lot of parents with small babies (under four months) in snowsuits or thick jackets who are then settled into a carrier, be it a stretchy or woven wrap or a meh dai or a buckle carrier. Problems can arise at this point; baby is often too warm, and may be rather sleepy as a result, or irritable, and the parent may be finding the carrier uncomfortable. Babies under 4 months are at greatest risk of difficulties due to their relative smallness weakness; they do not have strong and sustained head, back and torso control, so are more likely to run into problems. Older babies and toddlers are very different!

Let’s look at some of the major factors to consider when using a carrier in the cold.

1) Be aware of OVERHEATING 

Too many thick snuggly layers can be a risk of overheating. Babies are by nature warm little creatures (carrying them can feel like having a delightful wriggly hot water bottle on your front) and it is their extremities and their heads that need protecting much more than their middles. They are not yet able to regulate their own temperatures in the way that adults can (which is why skin to skin contact from an adult for a feverish or cold child can be so very useful) so being close to your body will rapidly warm a child up anyway. As you walk you will warm up, and your extra heat will warm up the child on your front even more.

Being too hot is not good for babies; it makes them sleepy and overbundling a sleeping baby is a risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It makes sense to avoid this overheating in slings just as much when baby is sleeping in a bed or a car seat. Furthermore, being too bundled up reduces their ability to sweat (the drops of sweat need to be able to evaporate to carry heat away) which means even older children who can regulate their temperature better will also struggle with being too hot. Hot babies are at significant risk; it is relatively easy to add extra layers for warmth if you misjudge slightly and to remove them when you come in out of the cold.

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 2) Be aware of AIRWAY

Sometimes the weight of baby inside the snowsuit can mean they sink down inside it, due to gravity, and end up with their faces buried inside the body of the snowsuit. This may pose a risk to airway and breathing; the same goes for hooded jackets or thick cardigans that can “ride up” the back of the carrier.

Too much fabric around the chest and upper body will also make it hard to achieve a fully supported back and a tight carry. This may increase the risk of too much space between baby’s head and your chest, allowing his chest to curl and compress and his heavy head to slump forwards, potentially compressing his airway, or burying his face into fluffy fabric, reducing airflow. Thick snowsuits really can be a significant risk.

Always ensure good airflow. Be aware of your own clothing too; a cowl or a scarf may prove problematic if your baby snuggles his face into the fabric, reducing free airflow. This is more of a risk with smaller babies than in those who have head control and are able to move themselves independently.

Make sure your baby’s face is not obscured by scarves or fabric that could be problematic if they fall asleep.

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

This little boy is too small for his snowsuit; if he was placed inside a sling his face would disappear into the fluffiness.

 3) Be aware of POSITION

Increased bulk can affect positioning considerably. It is hard for joints to bend easily in thick, stiff trousers or multiple layers of clothing, so the M shape with bent knees higher than bottom that encourages healthy hips and protects the natural curve of the spine into a J shape can be hard to achieve. Baby may end up being “starfished” into a carrier with a hyperextended posture, rather than being comfortably seated.

This will affect how his pelvis and spine are positioned and may mean that his neck is not naturally supported by the J shaping that is achieved by ergonomic carriers.  (This is why many narrow-based high-street carriers need prominent neck support or headrests, as baby is held straight and the head can more easily fall back).

Baby will feel heavier as he is not resting against the parent/carer’s body in the same way, and the weight distribution will change.

Too much bulk around the top may also affect the support to baby’s upper body, meaning that baby’s weight is pulling back away from your shoulders, rather than resting on your chest, and may be more uncomfortable.

Too much padding around the nappy region (especially in those babies wearing cloth nappies) could cause a reduction of blood flow to the lower limbs.

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

Baby above, has been straightened into a starfishing shape as the snowsuit is preventing his hips and knees from bending. however baby below is in the M shape.

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

OK, so this is good to know. But it’s cold out there! My baby needs to be warm, what can I do?!

Here are some suggestions how to ensure your chilly weather carrying is safe and still snuggly warm.

If you need to go out in windy and cold conditions, or snow storms, your small baby will be warmest and best protected close to you on your front, here you can shield them from the wind and horizontal snow flurries easily.

Back carries for older children may be easier for you to see your feet as you go but be alert to their experience and ensure they are well protected. Carriers that keep children close to your body will be warmer and less likely to make you feel off balance as you walk, compared to framed backpack carriers worn high on the back; these will also be very cold for children as they are held away from body heat and more exposed to wind chill.


1) LAYER LAYER LAYER – carrying under coats

This is key to virtually all carrying, as the sling is in itself a layer of clothing, and sometimes more than one, depending on its type. A stretchy wrap is three layers, and some are thicker than others. Some buckle carriers are double layer panels, some are three. Every parent/child combination have their own micro-climate too, so what feels right for one family may be different for another.

In hot weather, you need as few as you can manage safely, whereas in cold weather you need more layers. Layers trap air in between them, so can often be more effective at providing warmth than one or two thick items of clothing, while still allowing flexibility.

Thin light all-in-one fleece suits are warm, while still being breathable and allowing good joint movement for positioning. It may be worth considering a size up to protect little toes with the riding up you get with a sling, however, too large a fleece could mean too much fabric around the face and neck. Layer up with vests and onesies and cardigans and leggings and so on, rather than using a very padded or furry inflexible snowsuit, you will be surprised how warm babies can get!

It is best, if possible, to keep baby as close to you as you can, and add layers on over the top. These layers can be undone/removed easily if baby is getting too hot (flushed, very warm chest skin, sweating, unexpectedly sleeping, for example), or if you go inside into a warm shop from a cold outside.

Wearing a large (maternity or oversized) coat which you can then wrap around your baby on the front will add warmth, as will a mac in rainy weather.

If you are creative, you could knit yourself a panel insert which would button onto your favourite button coat, making it wider to fit your baby and the sling inside. You can do the same with a zip insert (check before you buy that the zip insert fits onto your own zip). If you are innovative, you can use a large oversize hoodie or cardigan with a very big neck or a zip that can be undone to go over both of you, or wear an oversized coat backwards if you can get someone else to do up the zip. Others may use a large shawl to wrap around themselves, or a home-made fleece poncho.

There are many babywearing coats or ponchos or vests and other items of clothing on the market which have been specifically designed for this, such as the Mamalila, Lenny Lamb, Zoli, Wombat, Momawo, Liliputi coat ranges (among many others), Boba/Lenny Lamb/Angelwings hoodies/fleece vests, to name just a few, and many are suitable for back carrying.

Some can be expensive; for many they are invaluable especially if they are used frequently for back carrying (many maternity coats or extender panels do not allow back carrying) and some are stylish enough to be worn as normal coats to make them worth the outlay. Some will have hoods for both parent and baby, some won’t – it is worth doing your homework and trying a few before you splash out.

There are also some babywearing covers, similar to pushchair covers, that can just go over baby and sling but not parent, which may be useful if the parent prefers less warmth (such as Bundle Bean or Isara).

In rainy weather, some will use large anoraks over both baby and parent. There are several waterproof ponchos or covers on the market which can go over the sling on the top and umbrellas are very useful. Some creative folks have even threaded the arms of cross strap buckle carriers through a child’s waterproof anorak to cover over the panel!

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

2) PROTECT EXTREMITIES

So if your baby’s body is nice and warm, heads and limbs need to be kept warm too.

This is where things like baby leggings, tights and socks can be very useful indeed, layering up over the feet. Some people find boots helpful as well, such as Stonz or Thinsulate boots (varying price ranges) or wooly booties that can be tied gently on to avoid falling off. Some fleece onesies have feet that can be folded over to make a closed foot. Feet can get much colder than hands as they are harder to tuck in near the warm central core.

Heads can be kept warm with hats…(of which there are many gorgeous options). Some opt for balaclavas with neck covers and various hoods to keep necks warm and prevent removal!

Hands can be kept warm with gloves with ribbons sewn in to stop them from falling off, or socks worn on the hands. Many fleece onesies have sleeves that can be folded over hands.

10 FAQs carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

3) MANAGING CARRYING OVER COATS

This tends to work better for older babies or toddlers who want to be up and down all the time, and can work well in some circumstances, depending on the coat, the carrier and if you have anyone to help you. It can be hard to get a sling snug over the top of a bulky or slippery coat, and hard to get a snug fit on the back without help, but for many this works well.

Taking some care when planning the coat  you use will make a big difference, (one that is thin and grippy, for example may be easier to work with, and hoods may get in the way of unobstructed breathing). Selecting the sling you use matters too; what you choose for normal use for maximum comfort may prove too complex over a coat. Pick one that is easily adjustable, and easy to get on and off.

This style of carrying over coats on the back may be much more convenient for toddlers who prefer to be able to get up and down again in quick succession. They are more likely to get cold on your back as they cannot snuggle into your body heat in the same way, so will need to be much more warmly dressed than a smaller baby on the front. This is especially true for framed carriers that hold children high up and separate. These children are not at the same risk of slumping over inside over-large suits and ending up with an obstructed airway, and as they are outside your coat, they will get cold. Snowsuits (that fit and are still flexible) can be an excellent solution here, as can waterproofs over coats and snuggly trousers.

Hands and feet will get a lot colder with this type of carrying, so make sure you are prepared.

snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold
snowsuits scarves slings and safety carrying in the cold

CARRYING IN SLIPPERY WEATHER

It is fantastic to be able to explore in freedom with your child in all weathers. But what about, even if you have the choice of sling and clothing right, the ground is icy and slippery?

CHOOSE SENSIBLE FOOTWEAR!

If carrying in the snow and ice, slip-on ice gripping covers (eg Yaktrax or other brands) that can go over shoes and boots can be enormously useful to prevent slipping… and if you do slip, your baby will be much safer in the sling than she would be loose in arms. Some metal grippers may not work well on mixed ground, as they may slide on smooth surfaces and can be hard to remove quickly, so have a good look at a few types and where you will need to use them before you pick one. It can be hard to remove them with a baby on your front, so plan ahead!

Good boots with grippy soles designed for all terrains may be worth investing in. Some families have used very large knitted socks over their shoes for grippiness over snow and ice when they know there are also stone stairs etc on the school run and they don’t want to go flying.

Some people recommend front carrying more in slippery weather, as if you do fall, you can use your hands to break your fall and protect your child more easily than if you fall backwards.  Some people prefer not to carry at all and to use a buggy! Use whatever tool works best for your circumstances.

Carrying in the cold, snowsuits

Here is some more information about cold weather carrying from other sources

http://southlondonslings.co.uk/2013/11/12/carrying-in-the-cold/ and

http://stroudslingmeet.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/slinging-in-the-rain-and-cold-and-wind-and-snow/

Here is the link discussing winter coats and car seats..

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/12/winter-coats-and-car-seats-keeping-your-child-safe-and-warm/index.htm

Blog post originally written 2014, updated Dec 2017


Common Queries

Common Queries

Families often have a lot of questions about using carriers, such as “what is a healthy hip position”, or “is it OK to face my baby out in a carrier?” “Will using a sling make my child clingy?” “What do I do in different weather conditions?”

This page links to many of the common queries around slings; information sharing to allow people to make informed choices that work for themselves and their families.

Slings and Exercise

more

The Fuss about Facing Out

more

Carrying While Pregnant

more

Do Slings Create Clingy Children?

more

Breast and Bottle Feeding Safely in a Sling

more

How Babywearing Can Help with Post-Natal Depression

more

Carrying in the Postnatal Period

more

Sleeping While Your Baby is Sleeping in the Sling

more

Healthy Hips; Busting Some Myths

more

Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Cold

more

Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Sun

more

Beginning to Back Carry

more

Help, My Child Cries in the Sling!

more

Carrying Older Children

more

Beyond the Knee to Knee

more

Slings and Prams and Guilt

more

The Last Days of Carrying

more

Carry Me Daddy!

more

Don’t forget the sling safety guide is here.

If you need more specialised support or have a query not covered here, please do get in touch with me!

You can find more educational resources here for downloading (such as infographics and leaflets and images) and you can read about carrying in some special circumstances here.


The Importance of Carrying

Seven Reasons to Carry Your Baby

Read more

Attachment, Babies and Carrying

Read more

Secure Attachment and the Fourth Trimester

Read more

Why Carrying Matters (for Juno Magazine) issue 44

Read more

buckle carriers

Buckle Carriers

Buckle carriers are perhaps the most well-known type of carriers in our Western society. They are popular for their perceived simplicity and ease of use, as well as their convenience in bad weather! There are many types of buckled carrier. The most useful ones are designed to be respectful to baby and parent’s anatomy as well as comfortable for long periods of time.


Like all carriers, buckled carriers need to be used safely and the TICKS guidelines should always be followed. The most important consideration is to protect baby’s airway; a baby should be held snugly chest to parent, the neck should never be folded in half and two fingers should fit between their chin and their chest. Neither should they be leaning away with a gap between themselves and their parent. A carrier that swings free when parent leans forwards is not a safe one.

The most frequently adopted, anatomically respectful position for carrying young babies is upright and facing the parent, with legs slightly spread apart (the M position) and head well supported against parent’s chest, as this will also protect growing hips and spine. Awake babies will look around, then regather their strength by resting their head on the parent’s chest for a short while; this is the safest way to carry, rather than leaning back loosely into a large head-rest.

Anatomically correct positioning in a gentle J shape

The buckle carrier has a structured panel, often a waistband, and two shoulder straps that all buckles together to hold the child close to the carer’s body. Good full buckle carriers are designed to keep baby snugly close and high up (close enough to kiss) and ensure the airway is protected for safe breathing. A baby should never be loose enough to swing free when parent leans forwards.

Good buckled carriers should ensure baby’s spine is able to curve gently into the natural fetal tuck with the knees above the bottom that is so comfortable and natural for babies and children, thereby supporting them gently from the kneepits up to the back of the head (with head support if needed for those who want to look around).

Carriers like this are usually very comfortable for the caregiver, so much so that children are often carried happily and contentedly well into the toddler years and beyond (as compared to typical narrow-based high street brands which can feel uncomfortable quite quickly).


What kind of buckle carriers are there?

There are many variants on the basic model, such as the type and structure of the waistband, the way the straps fasten (cross straps or rucksack straps), and the height and width of the panel. Some carriers can be adjusted to fit younger or older babies while some have separate inserts for newborns.

Generalisations such as “you need a carrier with a waistband for support if you have back pain” or “you’d be better off with a carrier that crosses the straps if you want to front carry” can be unhelpful.

Each parent-child dyad is unique and it is ALL about how each carrier distributes the weight around the body, which varies enormously from parent to parent, and also from child to child. An adult’s body shows its history as it stands; how active it has been, how sedentary, any injuries, any chronic postural habits. When you load this body with a baby, all sorts of mechanics come into play, such as the convergence or divergence of centres of gravity, which joints end up being loaded and at which angles, and so on.

Babies themselves play a part in being carried; they may be more or less active participants. Sleeping babies or those who have “low tone” are harder to carry, as are those who are wriggling and twisting and turning to be able to see past straps too close to their faces.

One size does not fit all, and this is why sling libraries, sling meets and sling consultants exist, to give parents a chance to identify what fits their baby, their own physiology and their circumstances best. You can read more about how to choose a sling here.

buckle carriers

Crossed straps, soft padded waistband

Cross strap carrier with soft panel

carry me daddy

Rucksack straps with padded waistband

Rucksack straps, firm padded waistband

Adjusting buckle carriers for newborns

On the whole, most buckle carriers fit babies from three months upwards, and stretchy wraps or ring slings can be more useful with newborns. However, there are a few full buckle carriers that can be used from birth, which have adaptations or inbuilt support structures for babies of 7-8lb and upwards.

Some have unpadded webbing waistbands that can be rolled and cinched with straps to fit baby’s smaller knee to knee spread and narrower torso while they are small, and be gradually widened as baby’s legs grow longer. Others have foldable corners that can be poppered into a narrower shape for little legs; all can be widened as baby grows to ensure there is always a good fit while hips are still growing and forming.

Using inserts with newborns

Many other carriers have separate inserts to make the volume inside the panel smaller. Baby perches on the insert in the seated squat position, and the panel is brought up over their backs. Small babies may need the “back” section of the insert to hold their little bodies securely inside the wide panel. Here is a a handy photo tutorial for how to use an insert.Here is a a handy photo tutorial for how to use an insert.

Inserts can feel very warm in hotter weather, so do dress your baby carefully and ensure they don’t overheat.

Many people will find that they enjoy buckle carriers most once their small babies have grown a little bit stronger with more muscle tone and a little bit of head control (around three months), but with care and attention, young babies can be carried safely. Always remember that baby must not be slumped over to one side or folded in half.

Unpadded waistband, carrier "cinched" in for a perfect fit

Baby seated on insert, about to have panel brought up

Unpadded waistband, carrier "cinched" in for a perfect fit

Baby seated on insert, about to have panel brought up

What positions are best with buckle carriers?

Newborns and young babies under four months should be held facing in towards their caregivers. Thus position allows good airway, spine and hip support for babies who have not yet developed significant muscle strength and endurance, and who still have the curved spines of infancy. This keeps them safe. Babies should not have their spines artificially straightened but should be held in their natural fetal tuck, the M and J shape as seen from the back and from the side.

This “seated squat” position is a safe position to sleep when needed; heavy little heads resting against a carer’s chest with free airflow and not buried deep in cleavage. This is why “close enough to kiss” matters.The facing-in position keeps the baby and caregiver’s centres of gravity as close together as possible for greater all-round longer lasting comfort. Weight is distributed better around the body as baby curls in, rather than the parent needing to lean back to offset the weight hanging from the front.

Lastly, being able to see the parent can allow active “social referencing”. This is also known as “triangulation” – where a baby experiences something in her field of vision and is able to turn to see what her caregiver makes of this same experience – three corners of a triangle, environment, baby, caregiver. This allows baby to assess and process a new experience in the light of her caregiver’s response, thereby allowing learning from a “safe place”.

Manufacturers usually suggest short periods of time for facing out for those with good head control, this is usually four months at the least, due to the fatiguability of young muscles, and the time it takes for the infant brain to learn how to focus on one stream of information and zone the rest out. A child should never sleep facing out, as this can pose a risk to airway.

There are now some more thoughtfully designed carriers on the market that allow both facing in and out and provide better seated positions and thus great comfort for both parent and child. Furthermore, carriers with wider top panels will allow an elbow and shoulder to move freely which increases a child’s visibility enormously.

Some buckle carriers can also be used on the hip (some are designed specifically for this) and many will also carry on the back.

Read more about facing out carrying here

Facing out with a wider hip position

ten FAQs FFO

Facing out in a seated position

Arms out and facing in

How do I put my cross strap buckle carrier on?

Front carry with newbon baby, panel cinched, cross straps carrier

Front carry with older baby, cross straps carrier

Front carry with older baby, cross straps carrier

Having trouble with the shoulder straps creeping to your neck? Read our guide to fixing this here.


How do I put my ruck strap buckle carrier on?

Front carry with an older baby, pre-clipped ruck straps

Front facing out carry with ruck straps, clip behind neck

Front carry with an older baby, pre-clipped ruck straps


Here is a photo tutorial to remind you of the basic position of a child in a buckle carrier. Please click/swipe through each image.

Here is a video to show you how to do the pelvic scoop/tuck with a buckle carrier.

The pelvic tuck/scoop technique of encouraging a child to sit in a position that creates a “J shape” (from the side) or an “M shape” (from the front) in a carrier is very helpful. Such positioning is more comfortable, more respectful of anatomy, and also helps preserve open airways. The aim is to raise the knees up, allowing the bottom to settle downwards into the classic “M shape”. Read more here.


Useful videos can be found here and the photo tutorials here.

Trouble with cross straps?

Troubleshoot your cross strap carrier here

Troubleshooting your ruck strap carrier

troubleshooting your buckle
Troubleshoot your ruck strap carrier here

Top Tips!

  • Work on your waistband; have it parallel to the ground.
  • Hold your baby straight in the centre of your chest, not slipping to the side.
  • Make sure he is sitting in the M shape and hold his chest close to you as you go. Getting position right at the beginning makes it much easier later.
  • Bring the panel up smoothly, keeping him close.
  • Keep arms in if possible, and bring older babies' arms out later, once the carry is finished. Toddlers may prefer being carried arms out from the start; ensure the panel comes right up under their armpits.
  • Practice tightening your straps; become familiar with them first so you can get them snug.
  • Always tighten webbing in parallel to itself or it will be a struggle to remove slack.
  • Lift your baby's bottom with one hand as you tighten straps, this may make it easier (as you are not pulling their whole weight).
  • Keep the straps wider on your shoulders if you can.
  • The key thing is to keep baby close and high; low and loose causes strain and can lead to discomfort for you. If you are uncomfortable, come and get some help.

Click here for troubleshooting help

Common Queries about Buckle Carriers

Feeding in buckle carriers

Feeding is possible in buckle carriers worn on the front, with a little care to ensure baby’s airway is well protected. Typically, for breastfeeding, this involves loosening the panel in stages so baby is lowered gently to the nipple.  No breastfeeding is hands free, and it is usually a good idea to get some help and advice from people who are familiar with how to do it. Please note that when baby has finished feeding, he must be returned to his safe snug upright position, close enough to kiss.

You can read more about how to breast and bottle feed here.

Bottle feeding in a buckle

When can I start back carrying with my buckle?

Many families love this way of carrying an older baby, and it also allows the child to see where they are going when carried!

On the whole, most people feel that the best time to begin back carrying in structured panelled carriers is when baby’s upper body and torso muscles are strong enough. They need to have enough endurance to be consistently able to support themselves and hold their heads upright for a significant amount of time without tiring. This typically occurs when babies are beginning to sit unaided (or nearly). This commonly happens around six months, on average – it varies from child to child. This is in contrast to wraps or floppy meh dais (formerly known as mei tais) as these can be controlled and tightened carefully to mould around baby’s body, to ensure neck support to heavy heads.)

Some children may take longer to develop upper body control, but their parents may be struggling to carry them on the front; do go and get some help from a professional who can help you find some solutions to this problem and keep you carrying. Generally, if the carrier fits your child properly and provides the necessary support with no slumping when a hand is not available for support, you can back carry in it. This will apply to children with disabilities for example; it can take longer to gain head control but back carrying may be important.  This may also apply to twin carrying, where a parent just needs to survive. The right carrier that fits well and is used optimally may work just fine.

Read more here about beginning to back carry.