Soft structured carriers
Soft structured carriers (SSC) are Western designs based on the traditional Asian carrier the Mei tai. Designers have added padding to the straps and adjustable buckles. They often have wide padded waist belts and are generally thicker and firmer than other types of carriers.
There are soooo many SSC’s on the market today. We narrowed it down to five to review and show a few ways you can put them on. Remember that this is just our opinion from our experience and you must always follow the manufacturers advice when using your SSC. To decide which SSC is best for you look at the 5 we cover and note the features you think you’d like, look for web pages that review a number of other SSC (there are some links below) and utilise your local babywearing library to try before you buy!
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Here are the five SSC’s that we chose to feature in this section.
The Cat Bird Baby Pikkolo’s (link to website) best feature is that it has an adjustable base to narrow and widen where the baby sits. This allows for feet out knee to knee support no matter what size your baby is.
It is simple to use.
Straps can be crossed
It is worn apron style like a Mei tai but can also have a waist support belt attached
The newer model has a lace-lock buckle adjustment at the base. The chest clip is fixed to the shoulder straps and the hood attachment has domes.
We are concerned that the position of the shoulder straps may put too much pressure on the baby’s lower back when they are pulled tight. Watch that your baby’s lower back is not being pushed straight in this carrier.
The Beco Gemini is another carrier that has an adjustable base that allows for knee to knee support for babies of most sizes. It isn’t the most ideal carrier for a toddler but happily carries a baby of over two years.
The shoulder straps can be crossed
The sleephood is short but is compensated for by the reasonably long back length
It has 3-point safety buckles
It is a good overall carrier. If you are looking for one carrier that does it all this one is close.
It has a short back length in comparison to other SSC’s
Some versions do not allow for crossed straps at the back
It has a number of storage pockets
Some people struggle to use the sleephood in the back carry position
Very small and very large people struggle to get a good fit
It needs an additional infant insert for a newborn. Some people find this insert too hot in warm weather.
All Manduca carriers are made from organic cotton.
It has a built in infant insert which requires you to sit down to put the baby in. There maybe an ‘in between’ stage when the baby is too big for the insert but not quite big enough for the full carrier.
It has many multi directional buckles and adjustability points
Nature’s Sway Pouch Pack
It has a great seat shape for positioning the baby in a straddle squat position with a nice curve to the lower spine.
It is recommended from 3 months, but we recommend you check that your baby fits in the straddle squat position. Your baby’s leg should not be pushed straight The lower leg must be allowed to hang vertically and free to move.
It is a better fit for an older baby and a bigger wearer. You can ask for a smaller size to be made if you are of a small build.
Here’s an example of the demonstration of the Nature’s Sway Pouch Pack included in this Chapter.
Babycalm in the UK wrote a blog post reviewing a few different SSC’s. You can read that here.
The Eastbourne Sling Library in the UK has a size chart for SSC’s – full and half buckle (NB. A half buckle means it also has straps that you tie). They have a page dedicated to SSC’s. It gives you a basic overview of many different SSC’s.
Currently in New Zealand parents are enjoying the Tula (link) baby carrier, both the standard for a small baby and the toddler Tula for an older baby – 2ish years. The Kinderpack is also popular. Again there are different styles of the Kinderpack for an infant with an adjustable base and a bigger one for a toddler.
Soft structured carriers are the more expensive of baby carriers. Always ensure that your SSC has the ability to support your baby from knee to knee either through the use of an infant insert or an adjustable base. Narrow crutch carriers allow your baby’s legs to dangle, which may cause damage to the very soft, still developing hips. Please see the safety section and page for more information.