Carrying your baby on your back is something most sling users want to do at some point. There is however no rush to do it. There is now prize for how quickly you get your precious bundle up there, it is not a race. People will not think less of you because you ‘can’t’ or don’t do it. It will vary depending on the expertise of the sling users, reason for wanting to back carry and confidence. My plan is to write a series of Back to Basics blog posts, each focusing on a different technique.
My first attempts at back carrying can be found here. With the help of two other members of Natural Mamas, a size 6 Ellaroo Maija wrap and in the middle of a park I learned to wrap Henry. He was 4 months old and I achieved a ruck tied at front. I have no idea how he actually managed to get up there. I took several goes to feel like I could do a ruck and months passed before I progressed to try anything else. But we got there in the end. For me there were times when it helped having him on my back: when I had mastitis, or when I wanted to hoover or wash up. But primarily he was front carried. To be honest, if I could see over his head when he is on my front I would still front carry him now and he turned 4 in January. My attempts at getting Henry on my back at the start were laughable. I was highly confused by the different terminology: hip scoot, santa toss, superman. If the babywearing world isn’t full of enough acronyms, adding back carrying terms and abbreviations was another layer of complexity for me. I hope this blog will help demystify back carrying and possibly even bust a couple of myths.
Firstly, what age can you back carry from? Well, newborn if you so wish. But this does not mean everyone should or could do. I frequently read that baby must be x,y or z before you back carry when actually this is far from the truth. What you need to consider are the type of sling you are going to use, they carry you are going to use and the method you will use to get baby on your back. Anne posted a lovely series of photos of her little girl being back carried as a newborn. It is something I did myself when Isaac arrived. It was a needs must situation. My husband had gone out, I had a newborn and a toddler and the toddler needed a bath. I have also had consultations with mums who like me had an older child who they wanted to still be able to care for and thus, by placing baby on their back, they are still ensuring their primary need to be held is maintained but can continue to play with their baby.
Mei tais and soft structured carriers are not suitable for newborn back carrying and baby should have well developed head control and neck muscles before you use these. But woven wraps are ideal. They allow you to support babies c-shaped spine, support neck and allow for high back carries: you should feel baby breathing on your neck. A ruck carry is the simplest way of achieving this. When practising ensure you have a spotter with you. A mirror and a soft surface are also useful. I would use the santa toss method to get a newborn onto my back as it allows you to wrap baby up securely before transferring them onto your back. Newborn babies only have two innate fears at birth – loud noises and being dropped, the santa toss ensures baby stays close to you at all times. Once perfected you can then use this method for most carries, it also has a variation for more mobile babies who potentially will not lie still while you prepare fabric.
This is an example of the santa toss method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSeFeByfsrA
I really hope this helps. Remember that it is confidence that will help you get baby on your back. There is no race, go at your own pace and you will get there.