This week my kids and I have been experimenting with back carries and having a lot of fun! For a while Avery (21 months old) never wanted to ride on my back. I tried so hard to distract her with anything I could so she would get on and be happy but she was never interested. This week, however, something changed and now she’s more than willing to get up there. All the stars have to align, it has to be on her time not mine and she has to have my iPhone in hand. This is typically toddler behavior so I just roll with it. Normally when she sees me wearing her younger sister, Harper (6 months old) something clicks inside of her and that’s when she wants to be worn the most. I’m pretty sure jealously has a lot to do with it and if it gets really bad, we’ll tandem wear but I’ll talk about that in a later post.
When you start playing around with back carries, finding the right one can be tricky and a bit overwhelming. I always suggest starting out with the ruck sack carry. Most, if not all back carries are based off the ruck sack so if you can master that one you can easily master all the others. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience so try not to get discouraged if you don’t get it the first few times. It will come, you will get it and eventually be a pro! I first learned how to properly wear a child on my back when I was in St. Louis this past October, training to be a certified babywearing educator. I was terrible by the way! I was traveling with my youngest daughter who was only two months old at the time and decided to leave my toddler at home with my husband. There was no way I was going to be a state over with two kids by myself for an entire week. That’s just crazy talk! It was great having Harper with me because I got to use a real baby for the front carries instead of a weighted doll (weighted dolls are an awesome way to practice but they just aren’t the same as a real baby) but when it came to back carries I had to resort to the doll because my little squish wasn’t old enough to be worn on my back.
The biggest issue I had was getting the baby on my back. I was only shown one way to do this and it is not my method of choice. I was taught to lay my baby down with the wrap centered on the back of the baby’s neck while I gathered the rest of the fabric over her shoulders and behind the hollow of both knees and the rest of the fabric tucked under her bum. Once I did that, I had to very carefully toss her over my shoulder and guide her down to the appropriate position. This method works for a lot of parents but it has not been what works for me. I prefer getting my baby on my back using the hip scoot method. It’s been the easiest and most reliable for me. If the shoulder flip or even the Super Man toss works for you, go for it! If you aren’t sure which method you like, try all of them but be careful starting out. You may want to get your significant other to help you and try practicing over a soft surface like a bed or sofa.
I learned a trick not too long ago that really helps me scoot Harper onto my back easily. If you decide you like the hip scoot method, take the tail that’s on your opposite side of where your baby is and bring it over your shoulder. You’re going to be doing this anyway so why not do it in the very beginning? After that, scoot the baby on your back and secure his body in place by tightening the top rails (they are the fabric edges closest to your neck). Once you’ve tightened your baby now it’s time to make your seat. I do this by first pinning the rails that I’ve already tightened either under my chin, between my legs, or with my teeth. Then to make your baby’s seat, reach behind you and pull the fabric that is between your baby’s legs so that it’s nice and flat across his back then pull it back between you and the baby. As you straighten your back gravity will help your baby get in that nice spread, squat position. You want the wrap spread across his back, and behind the hollow of both knees with plenty of fabric between you and the baby (this is what keeps the baby from falling out). If you’re unsure that you’ve got it right, use a mirror. I do it all the time and it really helps, especially in the beginning.
Now that you’ve got your baby in a good spread, squat position, it’s time to tighten. Hunch back over like you were before and take your tails and tighten strand by strand. I like to start with the rail closest to my neck and work out. It’s important that you secure all parts of the wrap and not just the top and bottom. I normally work with one tail at a time so I take the tail I don’t need and pin it between my legs until I’m ready. After you tightened you’ll want to gather both tails and twist two times at wrist level. This will reinforce the seat you made for your baby. Then take the tails under your arm and reach across your back and pin it over the first leg and under the second leg. I work with one tail at a time to make it easy for me so repeat this step with the other side. When you have the fabric tucked behind your baby, bring them in front and tie off in a square knot under your ribcage. I find this the most comfortable tie off position.
Back carries are an advanced carry and should be done safely. Your baby should be in a secure spread, squat position with fabric spread across his back reaching behind the hollow of both knees with plenty of fabric tucked under the bum between the two of you. Your child should be high on your back where you can feel him breathing. Consult with a certified babywearing educator if you are unsure or have any questions. They are here to help! If you do not have a local babywearing group in your area, I offer Skype and Facetime consultations and would love to talk with you. Happy babywearing!