When you hold a newborn to your chest, the baby will likely naturally take the perfect position. When held to your chest, a newborn usually rests their head to one side against your chest and tucks their knees in next to their sides forming a narrow squat with their legs. Sometimes this leg position is referred to as fetal position or froggy legs. It basically means that they baby’s legs are taking an M shape with the knees higher than the bottom.
Your goal in babywearing is to shape the carrier around baby without disturbing baby’s natural position. Here is an image of the same baby in the same position, but with a wrap on. The baby still has the same narrow squat position as in the original photo.
Here is another image of newborn positioning, but in a ring sling. The baby in this picture is just one week old and about 10 pounds. You can see that baby is snug and well supported. Baby’s spine is supported in its natural curve. Baby’s head is resting on the wearer’s chest, high enough that the wearer can easily kiss the top of baby’s head (but not so high that the wearer can’t look down). If you were to draw a line from the bottom of one foot, to the top of the knee, to the baby’s bottom, top of the next knee, and then bottom of the next foot, you would see the M shape. His knees come up quite a bit higher than his bottom because he’s still a very young newborn.
Let’s also take a look at the positioning of the baby’s head. If sleeping or resting, Baby’s head is likely turned to one side. You can help make sure that your baby alternates which side they turn toward. Baby’s chin should be pointed slightly upward, such that it’s possible to get two fingers under the chin.
Here is what newborn positioning looks like in a meh dai. In this picture, the baby is about 2 months and 12 pounds, so he spreads his legs slightly wider than he did in the ring sling picture above. His knees are still higher than his bottom, but he is not quite as tightly curled as he was in the ring sling photo.
This image shows positioning in a soft structured carrier with a weighted babywearing demo doll and not a real baby, but the positioning is fairly close. This particular carrier cinches at the base of the panel to be narrow enough for a newborn baby. The panel of the carrier extends from one knee to the other, but doesn’t go past the crook of baby’s knee. Notice that the panel does not extend higher than the bottom of baby’s ears. If the panel came up any higher on baby’s head or extended any further past the bend of baby’s knees, this would not be a good fit yet.
I hope this helps you figure out how to position your baby in your carrier! To learn to use any carrier that you have, please visit my “Using your Carrier” page!
To find a babywearing group or educator near you for hands on help with positioning your baby, please see here.