Soft Structured Carriers
What IS a soft structured or buckle carrier?
A soft structured carrier (or SSC) is a very popular option; maybe one of the first carriers that spring to mind when caregivers first think of babywearing. A big appeal to many caregivers, along with comfort, is that there is a very small learning curve to use them. They normally possess a thick waistband that’s fastened with a buckle, padded shoulder straps that can be adjusted and a fabric panel that contains your little one.
Infograohic that explains the different features of a structured carrier via Brookemaree.com.au ; Image of a caregiver outside in the woods with a toddler on their back in a tan buckle carrier
A typical SSC can be used from newborn to toddler without needing to buy another carrier. If you do decide to use a soft structured carrier with your newborn, make sure you check the manufacturer for the minimum weight requirement- not all littles will weigh enough when they are first born. Most SSC can be utilized with wee ones, toddlers, and even with preschoolers- be sure to check the manufacturer's recommendations for each!
As with all carriers, the panel should not extend past your little one’s head in length and fit knee to knee to support baby in a "frog" or “M” position.
There are several different wearing options. Some manufactures offer all 6 while other are less. Its important to be aware of the carrying positions for your specific carrier.
The varying positions for many of these carriers are-
Front, facing in, "froggy" style for newborns
Front facing in, legs out
Front facing out to " see the world"
Back carry - just like a backpack!,
Hip carry -some carriers offer a hip option which is a nice choice for little who aren't big enough or comfortable facing out on front but want to see more.
3 images of caregivers using buckle carriers; 1. back carry , 2. Forward facing out , 3. front carry.
Many have adjustable panels to best fit a newborn or a toddler and some have infant inserts to make wearing infants easier, snap adjustments to grow with the baby and keep legs at the optimal position. Some even have a foam seat, perfect for hiking! Be sure to check each carriers manual for specifics on what it can do, and when you can do them with your child.
Some popular brands of SSC are:
While picking a carrier to use - safety and comfort for your child is important, but don't forget about your comfort too! There are many options to consider when looking for the best fit. SSC come with many options for the caregivers too, such as- lumbar support, plus size and petite options, and construction/ fabric that is more durable for warm weather.
SSC are perfect for if you want one multi use carrier that lets you wear your child for extended periods of time. They are a sturdy choice for hiking or long walks, great for toddlers and big kids when they get tired legs during longer outings, and great for travel, comfy and quick enough to put on for ups and downs through airports, long day trips, really any task where you need both of your hands- and to keep track of a child! A perfect choice to keep in the car as a quick go to carrier.
Many new caregivers are overwhelmed by all of the options on the market. They walk into a meeting asking for the “best” soft structured carrier, and the quick answer is: Whatever is best for you! We often liken a SSC like a pair of jeans; what fits amazingly on one person, may be uncomfortable for another. We always recommend attending a local meeting and trying on options from our amazing libraries to see what fits you best.
Full library inventory can be found at; Newyorkbabywearing.myturn.com
Meet up events;Facebook.com/nybabywearing/events
Online support; Facebook.com/groups/nybabywearing
Blog post written by NYBW volunteers Rachel and Nikki