As a professional carrying consultant I advise parents on which sling, or carrier might be best for them. Part of what makes the ‘best’ carrier for each person is that they find it easy to use – this is different for everyone. It is equally important that the carrier is a good fit for both you and your baby (see our blog It’s Not What You Wear but The Way That You Wear It).
In that respect my job is a bit like bra fitting – when a mum or dad asks me to find them the ‘best’ carrier, their shape is one of the first things I look at. Different heights, shoulder sizes, chest shapes and waist and hip proportions, can all affect what will feel safe and comfortable for carrying their baby. Mums and Dads come in every fabulous shape and size; very few of us are anywhere near ‘average’.
Some slings really do fit all shapes – a stretchy wrap like the Izmi bamboo wrap will contour and adjust to every mum, dad and baby. The more structured the carrier you choose, the more important it is that the carrier suits your shape – just like buying jeans or shoes. Something that I always advise parents to do, is to try before you buy and preferably get expert advice on how to fit and use your baby carrier properly to ensure it is comfortable for you and your baby.
So, here’s some brief tips on what to think about when you’re buying a baby carrier to help it feel comfortable and fitted to your shape…
For mums, your gorgeous hourglass figure or larger breasts will definitely change how a carrier fits. Wraps are often the best place to start as the fabric will fit you perfectly and you don’t need to worry about buckles digging into annoying places.
Very straight-shaped structured carriers without good waist contouring won’t respect your curves and will often feel bulky and odd to wear. Check where buckles sit on your body – Izmi Carriers have dual adjustable buckles so that you can make sure that nothing hard will dig in.
For Dads, make sure that you carry your newborn high on your chest, above your tummy so they won’t feel squashed. Later, back carrying may be more comfortable than front carrying. For structured carriers, check that the waistband sits comfortably and in a sensible place to suit your body.
If you have rounded or sloping shoulders, you’re likely to find more wrap-like, spreadable shoulder straps are the most comfortable. Wraps or wider straps that spread over your whole shoulder will reduce digging and help prevent the straps sliding up into your neck. Options where the straps cross over on the back will tend to feel more secure and less likely to slip from your shoulders.
For squarer or more athletic shoulders, spreading the straps can feel restrictive so it’s fine to keep them sitting up on top of your shoulders. If you’re a dad with muscular shoulders, then you may find it harder reaching behind you (some carriers have buckles that fasten between your shoulder blades) so check you can fasten a carrier by yourself. Izmi carriers buckle at the sides, so are usually very easy to fasten.
For plus size babywearing it’s not just how long the straps are, but how they wrap around your body that matters. The best way to check is to try things on – if you can visit a sling library, you’ll be able to try multiple options to check the fit.
Again, wraps and slings with no structured or hard parts will always respect your curves and there’ll be nothing to dig in awkward places. If your stretchy wrap doesn’t seem long enough, you can always tie it behind your back, rather than in front. It’ll still be safe for your baby ?
Interestingly, being tall doesn’t always make much difference to carrier fit, especially when carrying newborns. However, do remember that you need to position your carrier up where you carry your baby, not down where you wear your jeans.
This means that you may be fastening ‘waistbands’ high on your body – at least belly button height or above – in order to carry your baby safely on your chest, ‘close enough to kiss’.
Being petite, or even just smaller than average can affect how safe your baby is in a carrier. As always, a wrap like the Izmi Wrap will be able to fit tighter around a smaller frame, though do avoid very thick bulky fabrics that could swamp you.
Be aware that many popular ‘universal fit’ structured carriers may not adjust tight enough to hold your baby snugly. For bigger babies this means that the weight will hang off your body and pull uncomfortably. For newborns, a carrier that is too big is a safety hazard. New-borns need support in order to protect their spine and airways. Izmi Carriers are deliberately light and adjustable to fit very petite parents. When buying a carrier, bigger is not always better!
At Izmi all our carriers and wraps are designed to fit as many shapes and sizes as possible. Because the Izmi Carrier is soft and light, it won’t feel bulky, and it will mould to your shape more easily than a very structured, padded carrier.
You can try our carriers, wraps (and many more) at many sling libraries around the country: visit our Sling Library Finder to check where your nearest one is!