Most parents using a baby sling for the first time prefer a ‘front carry’. Although it is not the babywearing position most widely used around the world, it often feels the most natural to Western parents familiar with upright commercial baby carriers. They can feel their baby’s breathing, gently run their hands along the baby’s back.
If front carries in a baby sling often feel the easiest to learn, it shouldn’t limit you to discover new babywearing positions. Carrying baby on your hip is a lovely way to move on from tummy-to-tummy carrying positions. You can keep your baby close while offering him a wider view of the world. He can still feel your breathing, hear your voice, and be reassured by your calm reactions when he is startled by a loud noise or simply a new environment.
You can start carrying your child on your hip once baby can sit up unaided. It feels the most natural and it is normally around the age when you would instinctively carry them on your hip even without the help of a baby sling.
However, some children are happy being carried on your hip (or on your front slightly to the side) earlier. Babies can be curious of their surroundings and want to look around without necessarily wanting to be carried facing forward. The hip carry is more comfortable for both parent and baby than a ‘forward-facing’ position and holds baby in a position that is gentler on his physiology and his development.
Make sure the baby’s legs are wide apart, still in a frog-like position – with his knees above his bottom – and that the baby sling holds him snug against your body. The fabric should be spread out from well under his bottom and his thighs to his upper back, shoulder and neck. Baby should not wobble or be able to lean back. Check that you can comfortably stand tall with your spine straight.
Once again, we invite you to observe how you feel, how the baby reacts, and follow your instincts. When you’re ready, move on from hip carries to back carries.
Do you use your baby sling to carry your little one on your hip? At what stage did you start? Do you have any tips you could share?