Most baby carriers can facilitate multiple carrying positions. But is it appropriate to attempt these alternative positions?
Your baby’s age, developmental stage, and preferences will all play a role in how many you will utilize. Plus you have to be comfortable as well.
In this article, we will discuss the four main baby carrier positions: front inward carry, outward carry, hip carry, and back carry. We will also provide guidance for your baby may be physically ready for each position.
Suitable Baby Carrier Positions by Age
Before using any of the carrying positions below you must consider your baby’s development stage first and foremost.
Age is just a guide, but all children will grow and strengthen at a different rate so use your judgment rather than strictly following the age guidance provided.
Inward Front Carry (Infant Position)
Age Range: From birth
Required Capability: None for wraps, slings, and structured carriers with an infant insert – must be able to hold head up for the regular seat in a structured carrier
The front carry position is the most natural position for your baby and as long as they are adequately supported by your baby carrier then this position is suitable from birth.
We recommend wraps and ring slings for babies under four months of age as they provide the most fitted and snug environment.
Soft-structured carriers are also fine but will require an infant insert if you choose to use them with a newborn.
Outward Front Carry
Age Range: >4 Months Old
Required Capability: Strong head and neck control
The outward-facing position encourages the development of normal spinal curvature in a baby. The spinal curves are still developing and the extra freedom of movement challenges different muscle groups and strengthens them over time.
As a general guide, your baby will be ready for the outward position when they have strong head and neck control and can deal with the extra movement without the safety net of being able to lean in to your chest.
Facing outwards has a far more stimulating view and not all babies will cope with this at first. They are used to familiar faces and a controlled environment. If they get overwhelmed you can spin them around and return to inward carry.
An independent, strong, and curious baby will love the outward-facing position!
Age Range: >6 Months Old
Required Capability: Can sit up unassisted
The hip carry position is suitable from six months old once your baby has strengthened to the point where they can sit up properly.
Sitting them on your side will allow your baby to look behind you and in front.
This is a very stimulating environment for an infant, and it strikes a good balance because they can also see your face at all times which can be settling.
Age Range: >12 Months Old.
Required Capability: Crawling or able to stand.
The greatest hazard associated with the back carry position is that you cannot see your baby at all times.
Your baby will usually be strong enough to support themselves in this position before the 12 months mark, so it is more a question of how confident you are to do so.
Most parents never venture past the standard inward frontal carry position when using their baby carrier.
Your child will develop quickly in that first year and if you experiment with the extra positions when they are strong enough to handle it there can be significant benefits for their development.