Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July Spotlight on Soft Structured Carriers

This month we decided to feature soft structured carriers, or buckle carriers.  These handy carriers are the more "man-friendly" of the carriers.  Why?  Well, that's easy.  Three words: Empire Strikes Back.  What guy doesn't want to feel like Luke Skywalker training to be a Jedi?  The soft structured carriers make it easy to imagine you are in a nice humid Dagobah swamp with a 900 year old Jedi master giving you advice on life.  The famous line, "Do...or do not.  There is no try." Can it be applied to babywearing?  (I don't think Yoda knew about our lending library where you can try out some of the different buckle carriers).  
Luke gets all the babywearing attention from that movie, but let's not forget to mention Chewbacca carrying C-3PO, I don't think rear facing back carries are recommended, for children. (I'm not sure what the stance is on droids.).  So if a potential male babywearer is on the tall, or walking carpet side, he can pretend to be Chewbacca racing through the corridors of Bespin with his protocol droid companion strapped to his back.
The nice thing about soft structured carriers (ssc) or buckle carriers is their versatility.  They can not only fit a wide range of wearers, they can also fit a wide age and size range of kiddos too.  So what exactly is a ssc?  If you want to get down to the basics, it's a rectangular piece of cloth with straps that could have buckles to help adjust.  So this basically means that the frame backpacks that you see Sherpas carry millionaire's children up the slopes of Everest don't count.  A quick aside: the frame packs have their place, just not on this blog post.
The adjustability of the ssc's are what make them so handy.  One carrier can fit a wide range of care givers: for example he is 6'5" and she is 5'4".  The buckles and straps can make adjusting between the two easy peasy.  Some carrier brands offer various levels of padding, different widths of straps, different carry options (front, back, and believe it or not hip carries too).  Oh and least I forget about different patterns and colors.  It's almost like back to school when you got to choose the backpack for the year: were you going to choose the Spider-Man backpack or the unicorn?  (Or did you have "sensible" parents who only bought you one, single color boring pack from L.L. Bean?  Like mine.) Many of the carrier companies offer different prints and patterns.  (I haven't seen a wizard riding a unicorn pattern...yet).
So if these are so great why doesn't everyone have one?  Well, there are down sides to the sscs: the biggest drawback is the sizing.  A carrier that can hold a newborn is going to be too small for a toddler or preschooler.  Likewise, the toddler size carrier would swallow up the newborn.  Just like there appears to be a bazillion different sized backpacks, the same can't be said about sscs.  Luckily, there are four basic sizes (depending on the maker): infant size, standard size, toddler size, and preschool size.  Check with the different companies for their sizing and weight recommendations.  So your kiddos could potentially outgrow your carrier and it might be time to buy a new one.
Another drawback is getting them adjusted for you.  How many times have you gotten in the car only to find that the seat is NOT where you left it?  Don't even get me started on the mirrors!  Taking time to "tune" your carrier to you is a fine art.  We had some friends over who were not very happy with their buckle carriers. The straps were riding up nearly choking my friend!  Remember: if its not comfortable you may need some help!  That is where those friendly VBE's come in...they can help you fine tune and adjust the carrier to you.  All it took was a simple adjustment to my friends' sscs and voila, no more choking!  They left happy and their kiddos can now enjoy all the benefits babywearing has to offer.
As mentioned earlier, problems with the straps or buckles can be another downside.  Buckles or straps digging into shoulders or other body parts is a common complaint.  Be it the physical design of the strap, or the physical design if the wearer, sometimes it's just not right.  I can remember having tried out a particular strap design that left my shoulders and armpits screaming for mercy after a few minutes, yet, this same carrier another person loved.  Once again it is helpful to try out different carriers and see what is comfortable for you.  If you are interested in what sscs our lending library has and care to read some product reviews, be sure to check back to the blog later this month!

When I see this picture all I can think about is Luke puts Sweaty Teddy to shame.

Man, his hair is perfect.

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