Are you considering babywearing, but don’t want to be overwhelmed with learning how to twist and tie a wrap or sling?
We feel you! Babywearing need not be complicated. A soft-structured carrier allows you to babywear with modern-day simplicity.
But, you might have a few questions before you get started.
You might be wondering what you should know before buying a soft-structured carrier. What are the pros and cons? Are there carriers you should avoid?
You might even ask yourself, how the heck do you wash a carrier?
Don’t worry, mama, we’ve got you covered. I’ve used these carriers for both of my babies, and today I’m showering all of my knowledge on you.
What Are Soft-Structured Carriers?
If you have friends who babywear, you will probably see most of them using one of these carriers. That’s because they are the most common babywearing style.
They are a babywearing option with a structured seat, padded straps, and buckles attaching around the parent’s waist to secure the baby.
Many brands of these carriers also come with bells and whistles, including chew pads, headcovers, and newborn inserts.
Why Soft-Structured Carriers?
They are a popular choice because they are easy to master and available at most department stores. Target, for example, carries both the Tula and Ergo brands of these carriers.
Also, with these, you can take your baby from their car seat to the carrier — fully locked in, and ready to go within minutes. The padded straps and waistband also keep you comfortable as you carry your baby.
These carriers support several carry positions including on your chest, back, and even your hip and are solidly built to protect you and your baby. Plus, some of these hold your baby from newborn to toddler, which is cost-effective.
What Are The Cons?
While there are a lot of positives about soft-structured carriers, there are a few negatives to consider as well.
Some brands also do not provide enough head support for a newborn, so you will either need to purchase an additional carrier to hold your newborn or wait until your baby grows to use your carrier.
Finally, while the padded straps make these carriers more comfortable, many parents find the buckles a discomfort. The plastic can rub into your skin, irritating you as you carry your baby.
What To Consider Before Buying
Before buying, think about your budget, how you want to wear your baby, and your baby’s age.
When it comes to your budget, think about what you’re comfortable spending. You don’t have to break the bank to buy a carrier — there are affordable ones out there.
Also, consider how you want to carry your baby. Some carriers don’t support a hip carry, so you would need to choose a different brand if you want to carry your baby that way.
Finally, many carriers are not made for newborns. They do not provide the head support your baby will need to be carried safely.
So, if you want to start using a soft-structured carrier from birth, make sure the brand you choose can safely hold your newborn.
Cleaning Your Carrier
Washing your carrier is easier than it might look. Luckily, most brands are machine washable.
Follow the steps below to clean your carrier properly.
- Buckle up carrier straps and remove any accessories.
- Unwind all the straps for a thorough clean.
- Place the carrier into a lingerie bag, and any accessories into a separate lingerie bag.
- Spot-treat large stains with a gentle stain remover.
- Place it into a mesh laundry bag, and the accessories into a separate bag. This prevents the agitation from damaging the carrier while ensuring a thorough wash.
- Wash in cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle.
- Take your carrier and accessories out of the washer as soon as it stops to avoid wrinkling, then hang it up to dry.
Any Safety Concerns?
Most parents naturally want their babies to be safe, whether sleeping in their beds, playing outside with their friends, or in their carriers.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Correct Hip And Leg Positions
Your baby’s seat needs to be positioned so their knees are above their hips in an ‘M’ shape. This keeps the pressure off of your baby’s hip sockets and reduces the risk of infant hip dysplasia (source).
Although most soft-structured carriers are designed to keep your baby’s legs and hips in the optimal position, with others, their knees may dangle below the hip sockets. Ensure you pick one that will keep your baby safe as you wear them.
2. Keep Baby’s Airway Open
You should see your baby’s face and nose at all times while wearing them. Avoid covering baby’s mouth and nose with the strap, or facing them into the carrier. This keeps your baby’s airway open and ensures safe breathing.
3. Skin To Skin Is Best
Your baby needs to be skin-to-skin with you while in their carrier (source). If your carrier is too loose, it can cause babies’ heads to snag or put too much pressure on their backs. Adjust your carrier to keep them close while you carry them.
Can I Breastfeed While Carrying?
Yes, you can! It just might take some practice.
Lower the straps of the carrier until your baby is level with your breast and scoot them to the side of the nursing breast. Then, allow your baby to latch onto your breast.
Nursing in an upright position will likely be new to you, but with practice, it’s really simple. Tighten the straps once again after nursing to ensure safety.
What’s Your Opinion?
They are a popular choice, and we can see why. They’re easy to use, durable, and can support babywearing from birth to preschool.
Do you use a soft-structured carrier? Do you have any advice for parents considering this option? Please share your experience in the comments section.