What is it?
Buckle carriers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, patterns and fabrics.
- one panel for baby to sit in coming up to their shoulders.
- Two shoulder straps for the wearer and which are fastened with buckles
- buckle waistband.
For this blog and for us a sling library we are always going to be talking about wide based carriers. Those which put baby into a deep-seated 'M' position which is optimal for them and for you.
Who is it good for?
Buckle carriers are brilliant for those wanting a quick option and who like the security of a plastic buckle clip. They are brilliant for when a baby reaches about 4/6 months and onwards.
Who is it not good for?
Generally buckles can work for most people however those who are particularly slight of frame may find that there is not enough adjustability in the straps to get the buckle high and tight. Remember that buckles are made to fit using an average size pattern.
Although one of the biggest pulls to using a buckle carrier is it's simplicity, and although some buckles are suitable with a newborn insert from birth my preference is that generally they are best used from about 4 months old when baby has some strength in their necks and backs and have uncurled from that newborn tucked up position.
Getting it right...
Putting it on: the waistband
Where you begin is really important. For front carries, remember "close enough to kiss". Baby's head should rest on your chest for you to be able to tip your head and kiss baby. So place the waist band at the right height for this to happen. For back carries, baby's head should rest on the top of the flat of your back. So again place the waistband so this can happen. (HINT: it's probably going to be higher up that you think -more around your waist rather than your hips)
Put it on like an apron - hold the waist band so the flat of the buckle which faces inwards is against you.
Adjust it to tighten - check if it adjusts one way or two (either side of the buckle). How tight do you want it? Tight enough that there isn't a gap between you and the waistband, tight enough that it does't move but not so tight that you can't breathe!
Putting baby in: the importance of the panel and the seat
Getting a deep seat in a buckle carrier is super important. Firstly, as you put baby in sitting baby against you and on the waist band, pull the fabric of the panel up their back. You want it to rest at their shoulders.
Straps on! (we'll talk about straps in more detail in a minute)
At this point you may need to tip baby into their seat. So reach inside the carrier around baby's thighs and gently tip them forward into the carrier to make a deeper seat. You should now be able to pull up more of the panel fabric to baby's shoulders. By doing this you are encouraging a nice deep seat - remember this is the optimal position for baby.
Straps: how to tighten/how to wear?
There are two ways buckles have straps. 1. Crossed straps or 2. Not crossed. This is one of the features that it really is worth trying on both as an option to see what is important for you - and it really does make a difference.
If you've got a buckle which DO NOT cross, the straps just slip over your arms and you will need to reach over your head to secure the back clip (if front carrying).
If you've got a buckle which the straps DO CROSS you will need to reach around down by your waistband to be able to secure the buckle across your back to the buckle at the side.
Tightening straps may seem as easy as just pulling the webbing BUT please check in which direction your webbing goes. Does it pull to the front? Back? Side to tighten. You need to pull it in the right direction for it to tighten successfully and to avoid twisting along the webbing.
How tight? Tight enough that you have secured baby at the right height and that baby is close to you. You do not want baby to be swinging around low and away from your body.
Front or back carry?
This is normally an age/stage answer. The general rule is that baby needs to be about 6 months old and sitting unaided before back carrying. This is because, for a back carry, you need to ensure that baby has enough strength to be able to remain seated upright against your back without slumping down where you can't see. Back carrying may seem terrifying to begin with but is a skill well worth learning as it may well extend your baby wearing journey far beyond the very earliest few months (- come along to a back carrying workshop or book a 1:1 consultation!)
High and tight
The holy grail of buckle carrying is being able to get your baby and the carrier nice and high and tight without it slipping. Hopefully the above hints, tips and explanations can help!