TALK BACK: your baby carrying questions answered

Babywearing expert Laurel McCarthy is here to answer our questions on all things slings! She is the owner of Carry Me Away, an amazing store and online educational resource for babywearing.

Do you have a question about baby carrying? Have some questions about using them correctly, or wondering which one to buy? Leave your questions in the comments here, and Laurel will answer!


  1. We are going on vacation in a few months with our infant daughter, who will be 13 months at the time - she's already about 25 pounds so I imagine she'll be close to 30 at the time. We'd like to do some light hiking, so want to get one of those hard edged (I don't know what they're called) backpacks to carry her in. I like the one listed in the post yesterday, but it's pricey, and only works until she's 35 pounds. Do you know if all/most carriers only cater to kids that size? Maybe we won't even want to carry her around when she's bigger than that? If we didn't want to buy the one in that post, are there any others you would recommend we look into? Thanks!

  2. My question is similar to the post above. I will (hopefully) soon be bringing home a two year old daughter via adoption. I will also (hopefully) be bringing home her two older siblings (ages four and six) at the same time. I expect to have my hands full, both literally and figuratively, in the beginning. Can you recommend something that will be comfy both for me and for daughter? She weighs 28 pounds now and I expect that it may be necessary to carry her for prolonged periods of time when she first comes home. Thanks for your help!

  3. Hi Christy! Laurel here. A good carrier is an absolute must for hiking, since that is one situation where strollers definitely don't work. Many framed backpacks advertise up to 60 lbs or more (for example, some of the backpacks by Tough Traveler or Kelty, both of which are high quality frame packs). However, many parents find that kids get pretty darned heavy after 35-40 lbs anyway!

    For travel and for light hiking, I actually prefer a soft carrier over a framed backpack. We do used framed backpacks on back country hiking trips, but for day use, my favorite hiking carrier is the ERGO baby carrier. It is much comfier for me than the framed backpacks, and I also like that my child is closer to me in the ERGO, rather than way up high in a framed pack - it's a bit harder for me to navigate using a framed pack.

    The other benefit to the ERGO, especially traveling, is that it is much smaller than a framed pack, and can be stowed in your luggage, or even a roomy diaper bag. And, they are much more affordable than framed backpacks!

    A note on your daughter's likely weight at the time of the trip: since sheis already a healthy weight right now, I'm sure it must seem as though she's going to keep gaining rate at the same clip. Obviously it could happen, but most babies' weight gain slows down a lot around one year, and even more so after they start walking. My son was 22 lbs at 8 months and 25 pounds at one year. Then he didn't hit 30 lbs until he was close to 3. So there's hope for you to get a bunch more time out of your carrier!

  4. In response to "theinnermostbox": congrats on your impending adoption! How exciting, and you certainly will have your hands full :)

    I recommend getting two carriers, if you can. One that is easy on/off and can be used easily on your hip. This is most natural way to carry a two year old around the house and on quick errands. I like a pouch or a ring sling for this purpose. If you prefer buckles, the Scootababy is a comfortable hip carrier that would be good for this purpose.

    You'll also want to get a carrier for when you know will be carrying her for longer periods of time. For this I would recommend the ERGO carrier or the Kozy Mei Tai. These can both be used on your front or your back and, in a pinch, on your hip, although I prefer the previously mentioned carriers for hip carry. Which one you choose depends a lot on your style preference and whether you prefer to tie knots (Kozy) or use buckles (ERGO).

    I hope this helps!

  5. I realized I didn't link to the carriers I've mentioned this far:

    Ergo Baby Carrier:


    Maya Wrap Ring Sling:


  6. I have a ring sling for my daughter, but it always feels really uncomfortable. She is only 10 pounds but when I have her in the sling it seems to pull at my shoulder and feels very mis-aligned. My back hurts after a few minutes of wearing her. Am I doing something wrong or should I switch to a two-shoulder carrier?

  7. Laurel - thank you SO MUCH!

    the innermost box - Congratulations! Wow - three kids - best of luck to you!!

  8. Kristen, what kind of ring sling do you have? Assuming it's a good one (and most are, but just checking), you should be able to get comfortable using it at this stage. Many people do love two-shouldered carriers as well, though, especially as kids get heavier. A pouch is another option, which some people find easier since they don't have to deal with adjusting the rings.

    But first, let's troubleshoot your ring sling.

    Some things to check:

    1. Are you holding her very snugly against your body in the sling? She should be as snug against you as if you were holding her in arms. This is both safest for her and ergonomically better for you. She should be on your chest and not down by your tummy.

    2. Is the sling pulled as tightly as it can be? Wearing a sling too loosely means that the baby's weight pulls at your your shoulders, instead of being distributed across your back.

    3. Is the sling cupping your shoulder? I see many many people wearing ring slings and pouches up on top of their shoulder. It is more comfortable to have the fabric pulled over the ball of your shoulder so that your shoulder is in the middle of the fabric. This spread the weight across your back instead of pulling at your shoulder.

    4. Is the sling spread out across your back? Reach up behind you and make sure the material on the sling is smooth across your back - no twists or folds. Then give it a good tug downwards. Now reach up from the top and give a good tug upwards. This should spread the material as widely as possible across your back and is much comfier for you.

    5. What carry are you doing with your daugther? Many people start with a cradle (lying down) carry, but actually an upright carry (tummy to tummy) is easier to get comfy with, and babies often prefer it too. In this carry, she would be upright against your chest, with the sling securely behind her back and neck, with her head resting on you.

    Although this article is written about pouches, many people find the first three sets of tips helpful with a ring sling as well:

    Let me know how it goes! If these tips don't help, I would be happy to look at a picture or help you on live video via Skype, a service I'm about to roll out for all our customers!

  9. I have a Mod Mum sling (won for me by a friend from Mama Manifesto) but I've never had luck in carrying my baby in it comfortably (for him or me.) Any tips?

    Also, I've heard the Baby Bjorn (or Snugli) isn't good for babies' hip joints. True?

  10. Hi Tegan and Tage, if you want to tell me more about what problems you're having with the sling, I might be better able to diagnose :) The Mod Mums sling is a pouch sling,though, so for starters, you'll want to make sure it's the right size (you can hold your baby snugly against your chest). For more on sizing, check out my response to Kristen (above) on wearing a sling and as well as my article on getting comfortable in your pouch:[HTML]tml[/HTML]

    As far as the Bjorn & Snugli, it's true that many physical therapists and other health professionals have expressed concerns about the Bjorn/Snugli and that they do not place the baby's legs in a proper position. In general it is considered best if baby's legs are in a seated position (with the carrier going out under their knees) rather than in a dangling position.

    However, I know of no research that indicates that these carriers pose any danger to children. The main reason I advocate getting a different carrier from the Bjorn or Snugli is value - other carriers that cost as much can last you much, much longer!


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