As babywearing educators, we are occasionally pushed outside our own babywearing comfort zone while teaching. For some, the hip carry in a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is just that. This carry is great for those who are not quite ready for a back carry, but who are looking for something more than just a front carry. It is also an excellent option to allow a baby to look out and around if you do not have a carrier designed for facing forward. I personally have found this carry to be wonderful at zoos and botanical gardens!
Get to know your SSCs
Not all SSCs can do a hip carry, and not all of the remaining SSCs do a hip carry the same
way. (Way to make it more confusing Lori! I know, I know, but this is helpful info). SSCs that do not disconnect at the shoulders cannot be used to hip carry. Examples of these are Tula and Boba. SSCs with curved shoulder straps are also not the best candidates for hip carries. Check with the manufacturer to see if a hip carry is a recommended position. To hip carry with an SSC, you must be able to disconnect the shoulder straps from the body panel. There are generally three categories of shoulder buckle styles. I have broken them down into categories A, B & C below.
A. The first type disconnects at the end of the shoulder strap (Examples: Ergo and Pognae)
B. The second disconnects at the body panel (Examples: Beco and Lillebaby)
C. The third type “dual adjust,” which means the shoulder strap can unbuckle from the body panel in either direction (Examples: Onya and CatBird Baby Pikkolo)
Before getting your baby, it helps to make some quick adjustments to the carrier first. Begin by disconnecting the shoulder straps from the body panel, and then loosen the clips to create enough slack to reach around your body. Next, buckle the waist band snugly on your hips. Drape the panel slightly off-center. (Do not center the panel directly on your hip. This is a common mistake and causes baby to have an uneven seat where baby’s front leg does not have as much support as the back leg.) Once the carrier is in place, there are two different ways to put it on depending on which shoulder buckle style it is.
Category A: Shoulder straps that disconnect at the shoulder strap
Begin by buckling the front shoulder strap to the opposite body panel buckle. Pull it over your head and onto the shoulder opposite the carrier. Slide the arm closest to the carrier up and through the strap.
Now place baby into the carrier on your hip, ensuring that baby’s back leg does not get stuck on the shoulder strap. Verify that baby is centered in the carrier or roughly knee to knee. Tighten the shoulder strap to a comfortable level. (For the next few photos, let’s just pretend we are somewhere interesting where my toddler would want to be in a carrier and not trying to get down to climb a tree with her brother, I promise she actually loves this carry!)
Take the second shoulder strap and pass it around your back and under the opposite arm. (Tip: I find it helpful to pin the strap under my arm that supports baby while reaching back with the other hand to pull the strap around.) Connect it into the opposite body panel buckle. Tighten until comfortable. For additional support and to help keep the shoulder strap from riding up your neck, you can clip the chest clip behind your back.
See the whole process in action in this video made by one of my chapter’s leaders, Rachel Grieco. She regularly used a hip carry in her ergo while out and about!
Category B: Shoulder straps that disconnect at the body panel
Begin by placing baby in position on the hip and spread the body panel up and over baby’s back. Again, make sure baby is aligned properly within the carrier.
Now, take the other shoulder strap across the front of the body, over the opposite shoulder and around your back and snap it into the clip on the body panel. Tighten as needed to keep baby close and snuggled.
Category C: Dual Adjust that disconnect from the body panel in either direction
These carriers can be used either of the above ways. Just set up the buckles as needed before beginning the carry. For the Category A option, be sure to pre-buckle the front strap. For the Category B technique, adjust the buckles so they are nearer the body panel and loosen the other so there is plenty of slack to achieve the carry.
To get out of the hip carry, support baby and undo the front buckle, then lift baby up and out and proceed to remove the rest of the carrier.
Check out this video where I demonstrate how to do a hip carry with two different SSCs for additional tips and tricks! Also, this one by another BWI educator, Rebecca Ruiz, is great!
The hip carry in an SSC is an excellent tool to have in your babywearing toolbox. It provides babies the ability to see the world, while maintaining the option to snuggle when needed. It gives caregivers another option beyond a front or back carry, and provides a second option for anyone who is not quite ready to learn a back carry.