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:
1. From below: You create a solid base for them to sit on to prevent them from falling.
2. Into your body: You support their head and/or spine to securely hold their weight against your body and prevent them flopping away from you.
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.
Using the idea of natural positioning, a good way to check that a carrier is adjusted to be most comfortable for the parent is to ask them whether they’d normally hold their baby in a different place if their baby wasn’t in the 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.