The easiest and most comfortable ways to carry a baby are most similar to the way 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 which puts least pressure on your posture and muscles. 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, 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. Then use a spare hand to provide extra support for your baby as needed. Most people position their baby so their bottom sits above or about level with the adult’s hip, hugging 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, when their weight is comfortably distributed in a carrier. You’re aiming for your baby to be held in a safe position on your body, that is suitable for the carrier used. Ideally, as close as possible to how you normally hold the baby in their arms. The only difference in holding a baby in your arms versus a sling, is that you have your hands free!
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 for parents to feel, if the baby was in their arms, 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.