The easiest and most comfortable ways to carry a baby are usually the ways that are most similar to the way that you would naturally hold them against your body in your arms. This is because your body will naturally try to hold the weight in the way that puts least pressure on your posture and muscles, and because a parent instinctively learns where their own baby prefers to be held.
When you carry a baby in your arms you support their weight in two directions:
You also carry the baby close to your own centre of gravity at a comfortable height for your body to hold the additional weight with the minimum strain on your muscles or changes to your posture.
For most ‘in-arms’ carrying positions you create a ‘seat’ for the child using your hips or forearms and then use a spare hand to provide extra support for your baby as needed. Most people carry their babys so that baby’s bottom sits above or about level with the adult’s belly button and hug the baby’s weight in towards their body. Carrying a child with their weight leaning away from you or with the child at a lower height will be more tiring and uncomfortable, and difficult to maintain for any length of time.
‘NATURAL’ CARRYING IS THEREFORE A USEFUL WAY TO THINK ABOUT HOW YOUR BABY WILL SIT ON YOU WHEN THEIR WEIGHT IS COMFORTABLY DISTRIBUTED IN A CARRIER. YOU’RE AIMING FOR YOUR BABY TO BE HELD IN A SAFE POSITION ON THE PARENT’S BODY THAT IS SUITABLE FOR THE CARRIER USED, AND CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO HOW THEY NORMALLY HOLD THE BABY IN THEIR ARMS. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IN POSITIONING BETWEEN A BABY HELD THIS WAY IN ARMS AND A BABY HELD THIS WAY IN A SLING IS THAT THE PARENT CAN LET GO!
Using the idea of natural positioning is a good way to check that a carrier is adjusted to be most comfortable for the parent and baby. Ask yourself whether you normally hold your baby in a different place if you weren’t using a carrier.
It’s very common that parents would feel that if the baby was in their arms then they’d be held higher and closer to their body. With your baby already in your carrier, take their weight in your arms and hold them in this more ‘natural’ position. Then adjust the carrier to hold the baby in this same position when you let go. This will usually improve comfort for you and safe support for your baby in any sling or carrier.