Monday, May 6, 2013

Carry of the Month: Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) - Part I


We will approach this month's carry a bit differently since it involves a soft structured carrier (SSC).

Why?  Because 1) there are all types of SSCs that each have a different fit, 2) there are three different carries with most SSCs, and 3) because the tips and tricks for a newborn/infant/toddler are a little different and can vary.

SSCs are soft bodied carriers that use fabric (and sometimes a combination of mesh, too!) and buckles.  This month, we'll be focusing on a full buckle.  A full buckle carrier has a buckle waist and normally the arm straps have buckles in one or two places.  Most carriers also have a chest clip, but not all.

A couple of things to note about SSCs:

1) Most SSCs either come with an infant insert or they have one available as an accessory.
2) SSCs can be used with newborns, but they are typically best for bigger babies (or babies around 4-5 months old) and toddlers.

This month, instead of packing everything into one post, we'll have several posts that address SSCs.  Today we'll talk about some tips and general SSC information and in the coming weeks we'll address a front carry, back carry, and hip carry with SSCs.  We'll show both infant and toddler demonstrations and we'll also talk about how to nurse in an SSC.  Did we miss something?  Let us know and we'll be sure to address it in our posts this month.

First and foremost, while there are many brands and styles of SSCs, it's important to note that SSCs are like jeans.  They fit each person very differently.  Mei Tais and wraps tend to be a bit easier since they will mold better to a person's body and it just becomes a personal preference as to what fabric blend is preferred.  SSCs are sewn very differently and what one person loves and finds to be the most comfortable for them, could be the least comfortable for someone else.  If you're interested in a SSC and have never tried one, our advice is to come to a meeting (where you can try a plethora of different ones!) or stop by Diaper Junction to try a few before you buy.

As with any carrier, safety is of utmost concern- when choosing a carrier for your child, always choose a carrier that fits.  It can be tempting to buy a carrier that is slightly bigger so they can grow into it, but keep safety in mind.  Many people like SSCs because they're quick and easy to use on the go - if you will need to take lots of extra steps to keep baby safe in a bigger SSC, it's probably not worth it.

There are dozens (yes, dozens!) of SSC brands.  If you have a newborn or younger infant, be sure to look for an insert for your carrier.  Some carriers such as the Beco Butterfly (no longer made, but still available on many websites and in swap groups) come with the insert.  Ergo and Tula's insert is sold separately, as is the insert for Beco's new Soleil carrier.  The webbing on Boba's 3G carrier can be re-woven to flip up creating a smaller pouch for a tiny baby.  Most carriers will have information about the infant insert.  It's important to read the manual of any baby carrier you purchase.  You may have read that you can roll a receiving blanket or use a small pillow or stuffed animal in place of an infant insert.  This is possible, however only experienced babywearers should try to attempt making their own insert this way.

For toddler wearing, SSCs are great!  You'll want to look for a carrier that supports their bodies the same as a smaller baby, so remember the 'M' shape.  What's the 'M' shape?



Some carrier companies make a toddler (and even preschool!) specific carrier that has a wider seat (think 18" instead of 14") to accommodate longer legs.  Boba's 3G carrier comes with foot stirrups that can be attached to the waist band so that your child's legs are lifted and thus creating a deeper seat that would give the 'M' shape.

Now that we've covered some basics on SSCs, stay tuned next week for how to use your SSC for your infant/toddler using the front carry.  We'll also talk about nursing in an SSC next week!  Other questions?  Just ask!  We'll be sure to cover it for you!

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