Back carrying is often considered an advanced babywearing skill, but it is actually very easy to master. Back carries are nearly always more comfortable for the wearer, since they best distribute the weight. Practice builds confidence!
Before you get started, please remember that you are responsible for your baby's safety. Use caution at all times. Have someone spot you while you are learning, keeping a hand on the baby. While you are putting your baby on your back, bend at the waist, keeping your back straight. Do not stand up until your baby is secure.
These methods are only for demonstrating the process of getting baby on your back & are not complete carries. Follow the directions specific to your carrier to secure it once your baby has been placed on your back.
The method that works best for you will depend on you & your baby's physicality, your baby's age & the carrier you are using. Here are a few methods to get you started!
The Wrist Twist
This method works well with woven wraps & mei tais. It can be done once your baby has good head & neck control.
Have your carrier in place around your waist so it is ready when you are. Hold your baby in front of you, or off to one side, with one hand firmly under their shoulder & one hand firmly over the other shoulder.
Bring your baby up over your head & onto your back, twisting your wrists as you go. Some prefer to do the opposite, crossing the arms while they baby is in front of them & uncrossing them as the baby is moved onto the back.
Slide your baby down your back until he is in a comfortable position in the hollow of your spine. Keep one hand on your baby until they are safely in place.
Spread their legs out into the frog legged position (legs on either side of your back, knees higher than bum)- this makes it difficult for them to roll accidentally. If you are wrapping, pick up the ends of the wrap, holding the top rail.
Pull the carrier quickly away from your back, then up & over the baby. Keep the top rail (or straps) tight the entire time. (The mistake I most commonly see is pictured on the left- by not pulling the carrier away from your back before bringing it up over baby, the fabric gets caught halfway up baby's back. This is clearly unsafe.)
Make sure the carrier is pulled tightly around the baby, keeping them in place.
The Security Blanket
This method works well for people who prefer an added "layer of security" while placing their baby on their back. It is recommended for babies yet to develop head & neck control. It works well with both mei tais & woven wraps.
Centre the wrap/mei tai around your baby's shoulders, supporting their neck with the carrier if need be. Hold them as for the Wrist Twist.
Bring your baby and the carrier up over your head & onto your back, twisting your wrists as you go. Again, some prefer to do the opposite, crossing the arms while the baby is in front of them & uncrossing them as the baby is moved onto the back. Keep hold of the fabric as you do this, keeping it taught around your baby as you bring the straps/rails over your shoulders.
Keep the carrier pulled tightly around your baby, keeping him in place on your back.
From The Ground Up
This method is another variation of the Wrist Twist for a toddler who can stand (some will use it with a sitting baby as well. It works well for mei tais, some soft structured carriers (SSCs) & woven wraps.
Lifting your baby up with one hand over & the other under his shoulders,
Twist him up & around on to your back, using your arm to support him if needed. Reach behind with your other hand to help get him in place.
Position his legs on either side of you (this keeps big kids from rolling too!)
Pull the carrier up to securely hold your baby!
The Hip Scoot
This method works best with SSCs & mei tais. It should be used only with babies with full neck control & is easiest with those who can sit independently.
Place your baby on your hip, with the opposite shoulder strap on & the waist belt secure.
Reach in between the carrier & your back, while bending forward at the waist.
Grab your baby's foot,
Holding it securely as you pull his leg through to the other side. Use your arm to push the baby over.
Centre the baby on your back.
And pull the rest of the carrier up to securely hold your baby!
Photography by Trish Agrell-Smith