Learning Back Carries requires a certain skill-set before you embark on this adventure! Here are some requirements to check off to ensure you and your baby are ready!
Can baby sit up fully unassisted?
There are a few different definitions of what “fully unassisted” means. We like to side on the err of complete caution and believe that fully unassisted means that baby can transition from a tummy position to a unassisted sitting position on his own. Why is this necessary? It is necessary because of the number one safety rule – kissable and visible. When baby is on the back, he is no longer kissable and visible. You can no longer monitor his breathing and his airways. Therefore, when your baby can sit fully unassisted, it’s a milestone which shows that the muscles from their neck to the middle of their back are mature and fully formed which means that they can maintain their own open airways. This is important when back wearing as you are unable to monitor your baby or easily adjust baby especially if they fall asleep. (**This is a general rule that applies to a healthy baby without any physical limitations or disabilities. Otherwise, please consult with your health practitioner for advice on when your baby is ready for back carrying as some babies will not be able to be carried on the back and some babies and children can be carried on the back despite not meeting this milestone. It is your responsibility to seek medical advice if you feel that your baby is ready but is not sitting full unassisted.**)
Have you become comfortable with the mechanics of of front carrying?
Back carrying has a steeper learning curve then front carrying. It requires the wearer to manage the wrap with some degree of agility, flexibility and familiarity since you will often be reaching behind you while balancing baby on your back and executing steps without actually seeing what you are doing. In addition, you will be using one hand to hold baby secure on to your body and one hand to execute the carry. Therefore, familiarity of how the wrapping process works and with how the fabric moves, glides and tightens will all benefit you when it is time that you would like to learn how to carry your baby on your back.
Have you practiced a back carry without baby?
This is strongly recommended and it will make a difference for when you try a back carry with your baby for the first time! Back wrapping is a process. It has a learning curve. It takes time to become confident. You are balancing your baby on your back with one hand while manipulating fabric with your other hand and all essentially with your eyes closed! Well not literally, but since we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads, it does take some confidence and practice and that is okay! Even with front wrapping experience, most of us still get a bit nervous and anxious when putting baby on to the back. This is completely natural! Some babies will pick up on the anxiety at first and begin to fuss, leg straighten or arch their backs while you at the same time are are learning this new skill. It may even can cause a sweat with some and even discourage others. Therefore, practice first! Practice the motions of putting baby on your back first. Use a doll, stuffed animal, pillow or even a bag of rice! Use a mirror if you can so you can see some of what you are doing. Practice on a soft surface as we recommend when baby does eventually go on to your back, you always start on a soft surface. If you prefer, you can practice on your knees on a bed or soft padded surface. Transition to standing up once you become comfortable with being close to the floor. Then once you feel comfortable with the first step of putting baby on your back, practice the execution of the carry. You can practice the carry with the suggested or similar objects or even with just the fabric! Knowing the steps and being familiar with the fabric is half the challenge here. Once you are ready to put your baby on your back, ensure you have a spotter when first learning!
Which back carry should I learn?
This is a personal choice but most Babywearing Educators will recommend starting with the Rucksack carry for the simple reason that it is a back carry with the least amount of steps involved and tends to be the easiest carry to learn for “most” people. In our experience, if a Rucksack carry is not working, a Secure High Back Carry (SHBC) or a Back Wrap Cross Carry tied with a chest belt (BWCC w/CB) are excellent carries to learn back wrapping with! Both of these carries allows you to secure baby to you by tying a single knot as the first step after getting baby on to your back. It is still always advisable to execute the carry with one hand always on baby, but with these two carries, baby is securely pinned to your body in what is essentially a torso carry and it gives the wearer a sense of security knowing that although their hand is on baby, the baby is also being held by the fabric of the wrap.
To learn more about back carries, check out our blog article here.