- Size matters! Make sure your pouch is correctly sized for you. Without a doubt, the most common mistake we see with pouches is that the pouch is improperly sized for the wearer. In general, people have pouches that are too big for them. Many people are surprised at how snugly a baby should be worn. But if your baby is too low in the pouch, her safety is compromised and you are likely to experience neck, back and/or shoulder pain.How to tell if your pouch is the right size for you: When your child is in the pouch, she should be snug and secure against your body (as if you were holding her), not swinging in the pouch. Her bottom should be around the level of your belly button (slightly higher or lower is fine).Too big: If your babys’ bottom is much lower than your belly button and/or she does not feel secure in the pouch, it is likely that your pouch is too big.If you have an adjustable pouch, snap it to a tighter setting. If you have an unpadded pouch, you may wish to flip the shoulder or do the pouch twist to tighten the top rail and get a snugger fit (see tip 6). Some pouches, like Hotslings, can also be shrunk by putting them in the dryer for 10 minutes at a time until they are the right size. If these tips do not properly size the pouch for you, then you will need to get a smaller pouch.
Too Small: If it is very difficult to get the baby into the pouch/sling due to its tightness, if the baby’s movement seems constricted or if you or he seems to have trouble breathing while he is in the sling, it may be too small. However, if your baby is simply snug against you, this means the pouch is fitting correctly. We have rarely found that people have pouches that are too small for them, but it does happen. Really, the only option for solving this problem is to buy a size up.
- Center the fabric of the pouch over your shoulder. We generally find that having the ball of your shoulder in the center of the fabric is the most comfortable. However, if you prefer not to have any of the fabric down your arm, you can center the fabric evenly on your shoulder. Don’t let it scrunch up towards your neck – this will quickly become uncomfortable, causing neck and shoulder pain.
- Spread the fabric smoothly across your back. Smoothing and spreading the pouch as far down your back as possible is key to your comfort. This distributes baby’s weight evenly across your shoulders and back. A pouch that is bunched up or twisted causes pressure points and back strain. If you are feeling any discomfort in your back, reach up behind your back, grab the pouch and give it a good yank, as low as you can. If you can do this, while also pulling the fabric away from your neck, you will hit two tips with one stone!
|Pouch bunched and twisted on back. This causes pressure points and strain on the back and neck.||Pouch spread across the back, evenly distributing weight.|
- Check baby’s leg position. When carrying baby with legs out of the pouch (hip or tummy to tummy positions) her legs should be wrapped around you, with baby’s knees up and her bum lower or at the same level as the back of her knees. Legs should not be dangling down, they should be parallel to the floor, or angled up. To achieve this, pull the fabric up and under herknees. If there is extra fabric, bunch it up behind his back rather than under his knees. This position is both most comfortable and most safe for your baby, as it keeps him securely in the pouch and reduces red marks behind his knees.
|Legs dangling down, knees lower than bum. Uncomfortable for all.||Child’s legs are wrapped around mom’s waist, knees higher than bum.|
- Center the seam of the pouch up the midline of baby’s body. The seam marks the deepest area of the pouch and that is where the bulk of your child’s body should be positioned. In a tummy-to-tummy, hip carry or back carry, the seam should be aligned with your baby’s spine. In a foward facing carry, center the seam under baby’s chin. If, when you first put baby into the pouch, something feels “off'” check the seam!
|Pouch seam off center, allowing less room for child’s body. This is less comfortable for both child and mom.||Pouch seam centered and aligned with child’s spine. This is the proper position.|
- Do a shoulder flip or a pouch twist, if necessary, to give additional stability and support.
The Shoulder Flip
For the shoulder flip, take the top layer of the pouch and flip it down over your shoulder. This offer additional stability and support to the upper rail of the pouch.