You may have heard the phrase or seen the International Hip Dysplasia Institute logo on carriers, but what does the phrase "ergonomic baby carrier" actually mean and how important is it when choosing your baby carrier?
The short answer is, good ergonomics in your baby carrier is extremely important. When you’re looking for a baby carrier you want one that’s comfortable for you and your baby, that evenly distributes your baby’s weight and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your own back and shoulders. But even more importantly, you want an ergonomic baby carrier because it properly and safely supports your little one and helps support their healthy development. The right baby carrier will support your little ones spine, pelvis and hips correctly.
What is an ergonomic baby carrier?
An ergonomic baby carrier supports the natural posture of babies, while encouraging healthy hip development. It should support your baby’s legs up to the back of his knees, so his entire legs don’t dangle, but they can still freely move their lower legs as they get older.
An ergonomic carrier comes with a wide, comfortable base that supports their weight. The material should be more on their bottom rather than their crotch, and hold your baby’s hips and legs in a frog leg or M shape. In this ergonomic position, your baby’s bottom is lower than their knees, while their knees and hips are level with one another and hips are spread open. This position ensures your baby’s hips are kept firmly within the hip socket and their weight is evenly distributed.
This wide-leg, spread-squat position benefits comfort and proper hip development, as well as your comfort because it helps uniformly allocate weight across your hips, back and shoulders, which you can also thank to wide, padded shoulder straps and a waist belt.
The next main consideration is how well the carrier distributes the weight of the baby on the wearer. What to look for is a carrier that holds your baby nice and close to your body, rather than one that allows your baby to lean away. This is particularly important if you have pre-existing lower back issues as you don’t want to be leaning backwards to compensate for this. We always recommend trying before you buy any carrier to check it is comfortable for you and also your little one likes it.
Why is an ergonomic baby carrier good for you and your baby?
Having an ergonomic baby carrier means you never have to worry how your baby is being held or if their development of neck, spine, pelvis and hips is being supported correctly. Ergonomic baby carriers offer you the peace of mind that they are designed to support development and offer your little one the safest position to be carried in by offering the best support. Plus all of these benefits too;
Holds your baby like you would hold them
The best baby carriers hold and support you baby just like if you were holding them in your arms. An ergonomic carrier should do what your arms and hands do – hold your baby tight and high up, you should be able to kiss the top of their head when they are being carried correctly. All whilst safely supporting your baby’s head, back, bottom and knees. Babies will naturally assume the M or frog leg position, so you want a carrier that holds your baby’s lower half in that same natural position.
Reduces strain on still-developing spine, joints ligaments and hips.
Your baby’s body is still developing. Too much strain on their body will effect growth of spine, joints, ligaments and hip sockets. Ensuring your carrier is ergonomic in design will mean there will be no future issues of growth or health problems.
Promotes healthy hip development
As your baby sits in their carrier in the healthy M shape position, it supports better hip joint positioning and a deeper development of hip sockets. There isn’t any strain on shallow hip sockets or loose ligaments when using an ergonomic baby carrier. To help your baby achieve that hip-healthy M shape, slightly tilt her pelvis inward and push her feet (that are below her bent knees) upward to encourage the flexed, spread-squat position of the legs as you put her into the carrier.
Allows you to babywear for longer
Because an ergonomic baby carrier evenly distributes your little ones weight making it more comfortable for you, you can carry your baby for longer with less strain on your own body.
International Hip Dysplasia Institute
When you are researching baby carriers it’s always important to look a little deeper to ensure the one you choose is ergonomic in design. You can also keep an eye out for the International Hip Dysplasia Institute logo, which means they have been deems “hip-healthy” by the professionals at the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) is beginning to acknowledge products in order to educate the public and to recognize products that encourage healthy hip development.
Finding the right carrier that suits both your baby and yourself is important. With so many different designs and styles on the market, we always reccomend trying before you buy so you can feel confident in your choice. If you are still unsure or want to test them out before buying, head to our Surrey store for expert demo’s or find your local sling library to get hands on.