Can I use my narrow-based carrier?

When I was pregnant, I was given some different carriers by very well-meaning friends. At the time I did not know anything about babywearing and put the carriers to the side for later use. One of them was a narrow-based carrier.

I did learn more about babywearing at my antenatal class and decided that a stretchy wrap would work better for me than the carrier I was given. Only years later I learned at the babywearing training I attended that narrow-based carriers are not only uncomfortable for babies and caregivers alike but also place your baby’s developing hips in a not-ideal position.

What are narrow-based carriers?

Narrow-based carriers are carriers that only have a very narrow seat for the baby. Because of this your baby’s legs will be hanging straight down from the carrier. These carriers often don’t come with a waistband and are therefore not very ergonomically for caregivers.

Narrow-based carriers are cheap carrier options that are sold at Farmers or similar stores. Old versions of the Baby Bjorn carrier are also narrow based. These types of carriers unfortunately, also get handed down to new parents.

Why should narrow-based carriers be avoided?

The main reason why narrow-based carriers should be avoided is the positioning of your baby’s hips. During the first 6 months your baby’s hips are still developing. When your baby has her knees higher than her bum, the femoral head will be in an ideal centre position in the socket. However, if a baby is carried in a narrow-based carrier the femoral head won’t be in this ideal position anymore (see picture below).

Luckily, narrow-based carriers are often uncomfortable for you and your baby and therefore it is very unlikely that a baby will be carried in this type of carrier for very long. Babies who do not have any problems with their hips will most likely be fine by being carried in a narrow-based carrier for short amounts of time. However, if your baby might have problems with their hips narrow-based carriers should be avoided.

Photo credit: International Hip Dysplasia Institute

How can you still use your narrow-based carrier?

What can you do though if you only own a narrow-based carrier and can’t get another carrier with a wide seat? You can still use your carrier with a little trick to get your baby’s hips in a better position.

This is called the “scarf-hack”. Take a scarf or something similar and place it over your baby’s bottom. Spread the fabric wide and scoop your baby’s legs up with the fabric. The fabric of your scarf should go from knee pit to knee pit and hold your baby’s knees up so that they are higher than the bum. Tie the scarf on your back.

Photo credit: Carrying Matters

What about you?

Have you been given a narrow-based carrier by a well-meaning friend? And what did you do with it?

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