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From The Journal

Education

From Front To Back; Safe tips for babywearing

By Liz Taylor

Safety when babywearing should always be the number one consideration, regardless of whether you use a wrap, ring sling, or soft structured carrier (SSC) such as a buckle carrier, met tai, or an onbuhimo. Ensuring your wearee’s airways are clear; they aren’t slumping; and that the carrier has them securely attached to you, are just some of the ways to guarantee safe babywearing. Below, we look at some common questions and issues that arise when considering wearing your child on your back.

Why can’t I back carry straight away?

A common question that is inevitably asked by new babywearers! Although back carrying is clearly more convenient in certain situations (preparing dinner is much easier with baby on your back!), you should always be mindful of your skill level. Back carrying is considered an advanced babywearing ability for several reasons; carrying your child on your back comes with a new skill set that is imperative to understand, prior to attempting. Wearing a child on your back has a large and significant difference to front carrying - that being, you don’t have ease of visibility to keep an eye on your wearee at all times! This means additional vigilance is necessary for safety reasons.

Following manufacturer’s instructions

Different types of carriers have different limitations in regards to back carrying. You should always ensure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions for carrying your child on your back. This is especially important with SSCs, as their requirements for using their carrier in a back carry can and do vary.

How do I know if I’m ready to back carry?

There are a few simple ways to ascertain if you’re ready to attempt a back carry. Firstly, it’s ideal if you have at least 6 months experience in regular babywearing, especially if you are using a wrap. This will generally mean you have a good understanding of the ins and outs of the carrier you are using. For example, using a wrap to back carry requires a proper understanding of how to tighten the wrap strand by strand, and how to ensure your wearee has a secure seat.

In addition, if you are back carrying for the first time, your wearee should have sufficient head control and upper body strength to be able to sustain an unaided seated position. This is to ensure that your baby doesn’t slump, and can maintain clear airways, whilst they are being carried on your back.

Finally, it is ideal that you have witnessed others in action, who have experience in back carrying, using the carrier of your choice. This will give you a good example to follow, as well as tips you may not have considered. The best way to do this is to get to your local babywearing meet; but if this isn’t an option for you, there are multiple tutorials that are highly recommended, which will give you some helpful ideas. Check out Wrap You In Love for some excellent caption-based tutorials.

How do I get my baby safely onto my back?

There are a few different ways you can get your wearee onto your back. It depends on your personal preference, and depending on how old your wearee is. To see more detail on these, or for tutorials, simply Google them:

``` * Santa toss * Hip scoot * Superman```

After you’ve ascertained one or more ways you’d like to attempt getting baby onto your back, you should try with either a spotter, or over a soft surface such as a bed.

Don’t lose hope!

Remember, back carrying is a learned skill. It isn’t something that you will be able to successfully get right on the first, or even second attempt. Even using a simpler style of carrier such as an SSC will require some practise. Some babywearers go through their entire journey without mastering back carrying, which is totally fine!

Above all, remember to be safe. Use a mobile phone, or check out your reflection in windows or mirrors, to keep a frequent and close eye on your child whilst they are on your back. Remember the T.I.C.K.S. pointers for safe babywearing! If you don’t feel confident - if the carrier doesn’t feel right - if you aren’t sure whether your baby is ready - the best thing to do is wait! Babywearing is a journey, not a destination.

DISCLAIMER

Ankalia’s online journal is written and edited by white Australian women. As such, our articles are written from our cultural standpoint.

To understand and improve our knowledge of the practice of babywearing across a varied dynamic, we may seek input from our friends and peers who identify as belonging to culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and groups who are marginalised within our society.

*We aim to be insightful, meaningful and respectful of those who identify as belonging to these groups at all times. If we publish something that you feel is inappropriate or offensive, please bring it to our attention promptly. We are still learning and are mindful of our privilege.

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