GEEKY POST ALERT! Warning! Reading this post might get you interested in doing back carries with a wraparound sling … or it might make you run away screaming. Honestly, not everyone takes to back wrapping. It can be challenging. There are other ways to carry your baby on your back. However, many people find that mastering back wrapping is worth the time because they find it to be the most comfortable way to carry a baby. Another benefit is that once you’ve mastered it, you can carry a baby with found objects … a zipup sweatshirt, a beach towel, a tablecloth, a pair of pants, duct tape (you think I’m kidding) … pretty much anything you can tie around yourself and your baby. But don’t start with duct tape. Start with a woven wrap.
One of my all-time favorite back carries is Jordan’s Back Carry. Here’s a video:
OK, now here’s where the super geeky stuff comes in. Jordan’s Back Carry, also known as the JBC, is comfortable on my shoulders, even though it has backpack-style straps that, in other carries, are not comfortable for me. For months, I wondered why. As I experimented with other carries, I started realizing how the physics of back wrapping worked.
Let’s break down the JBC:
It starts like a one-shouldered rebozo back carry, pictured at left, which is a secure carry for a baby with good body control, but does pull on the adult’s shoulder a bit. Notice that, with this configuration of fabric, the baby is basically sitting in a hammock; the fabric is thus working to hold the baby up. Yes, the fabric also holds the baby’s body (particularly one of his shoulders) in toward the adult’s back, but its main contribution is holding the baby high. Remember high school physics? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Baby is held up because his weight is pulling down on the adult’s shoulder. Whenever you do carries that start like a rebozo back carry, you’ll end up with the baby being held high on your back relative to some other carries. Let’s move on.
After starting out like a rebozo back carry, the next step in the JBC is just like one of the back crosses in the Back Wrap Cross Carry, shown at right. (I linked to a video of the Back Wrap Cross Carry just three posts ago.) This configuration of fabric (starting from the adult’s shoulder, crossing the baby’s back and bottom and going under one of the baby’s legs), tends to pull the baby’s bottom in toward the adult. Yes, having the fabric go under the baby’s leg provides some security and holds the baby up on the adult’s back, but it really doesn’t provide a lot of lift; it’s main contribution, as far as weight distribution goes, is bringing the baby’s bottom in toward the adult’s back. Wrappers who have done the Back Wrap Cross Carry a lot have probably noticed that when the baby reaches a certain stage, he can wiggle his arms out and lean back, making this carry less than ideal for leaners. OK, so moving on again.
The third and final pass of fabric across the baby in the JBC is horizontal, similar to a torso carry. This horizontal cross brings the baby’s upper body in close to the adult’s. This cross, combined with the upper body support of the initial rebozo-like cross, make the JBC a great anti-lean carry. Also, because they pull the baby’s body in toward the adult’s body, this cross and the preceding one really help take the load off the adult’s shoulders and transfer it to the adult’s torso, which is much more comfortable.
Just about when I had this figured out and was looking for a way to take even more of the “straight down” force off my shoulders, our friend Paulus from down under cracked the code with the Secured High Back Carry. Tying a knot at your chest, or simply twisting the fabric without tying a full knot, lets you achieve all three crosses that the JBC does, plus it gives you the benefit of crossing the straps in front of your body, which is not otherwise possible with Jordan’s Back Carry (try it … you’ll end up with a great one-shouldered back carry). Here’s a video showing how to do the Secured High Back Carry:
It’s a great carry just like Paulus does it, but when I do it with the three crosses just like Jordan’s Back Carry, it works even better for me. Here’s a video of the way I do it (except I usually don’t do it with my 6-year-old!). (Is anybody still reading?)