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Positioning your Newborn Baby in a Baby Carrier

How do you position your newborn baby in your baby carrier?  Your baby already knows what to do!  When you hold your newborn to your chest, your baby will likely naturally take the perfect position.  This post will discuss optimal newborn positioning in a baby carrier and show you images of optimal positioning in each type of carrier.

When held to your chest, a newborn usually rests their head to one side against your chest.  Their pelvis tucks under slightly, leaving their spine curved in a J shape.  They tuck their knees in next to their sides forming a narrow squat with their legs.

Head Positioning

If sleeping or resting, Baby’s head is likely turned to one side. You can help make sure that your baby alternates sides and takes some time turning their head in each direction. Baby’s chin should be pointed slightly upward, so that it’s possible to get two fingers under the chin.

Spine Positioning

In these two images, you can see the baby’s leg position, pelvic tuck and spine position.  When baby tucks knees higher than bottom, the spine takes the shape of a J.

Leg Positioning

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.

Let’s take a look at what this positioning looks like in each carrier type.

Positioning in a Wrap

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.  The only difference is that now the wrap is supporting the baby, rather than the baby being held in arms.  Babywearing positioning should mimic in-arms positioning.

Positioning in a Ring Sling

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.

Positioning in a Meh Dai

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.

Positioning in a Soft Structured Carrier

This image shows newborn 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.

Your goal in babywearing is to shape the carrier around the baby without disturbing their natural position.  You should see their chin off of their chest, J-shaped spine, and legs in an M shape.

I hope this helps you figure out how to position your baby in your baby 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.

Further Reading:

Babywearing Safety
Position an Older Baby or Toddler in a Baby Carrier
How to Use a Stretchy Wrap
How to Use a Woven Wrap
How to Use a Ring Sling
How to Use a Pouch Sling
How to Use a Meh Dai
How to Use a Soft Structured Carrier

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