Soft Structured Carriers
We get a lot of questions in our group about different types of carriers, and today I wanted to talk a little about Soft Structured Carriers (also known as SSC’s or buckle carriers). I think one of the greatest benefits for babywearing families is that SSC’s are really daddy friendly. We find they appeal to a lot of the guys who come to our meetings. I tried to get my husband to use a wrap for quite a while… and then I realized, no way, that just WASN’T going to happen. But he thought the SSC, that looked similar to his hiking backpack, was worth a try. The first time I got him into the Ergo Sport, he was hooked. I don’t think he ever looked back to the “other” carrier he had used before then.
(Daddy Babywearing- not my hubs 😉
Very often, a caregiver tries on one good quality, wide based carrier (one well known brand to think of is an Ergo), likes it, buys it, and finds it suits their needs from birth through toddlerhood. But what happens if another caregiver in the house tries on the same carrier and just can’t get a good fit? What can they do then? Why would that happen?
Like a Pair of Jeans
Thinking of buckle carriers and how they fit always makes me think of jeans. Not all jeans are created equal- especially post baby. Some may fit, but just feel “eeh”. Some may feel ok, but are a little tight or loose somewhere important (like the waist or tush), or too short or long. They may do the job ok, but you wouldn’t lose sleep if they suddenly got stained, ripped, or painted on by the kids.
SSC’s can be the same way. For someone average height, average weight adult, with no health problems, and possibly an average bosom, the first SSC they find may fit comfortably- and they don’t need to look any further. For some folks though, it’s not love at first wear. It can be more an adventure into trial and error to find your “perfect fit”.
Luckily, there are a lot of really great, easily accessible, safe brands out there that you can try until you find one you love. You can always borrow or trade among your friends (and online friends) so it’s not necessary to buy 10 SSC’s to find one you love!
If you talk to 10 different babywearers, you’ll likely get at least 5 different answers on which is “the best”. Avid babywearers sometimes have strong opinions on the matter. I have been known to fall into this category myself on occasion. 🙂
Differences You’ll Find
There are many great safe brands of SSC’s on the market, and you’ll find a lot of differences in:
- Waist padding- how thick, how wide, different materials inside
- Waist shape- straight or curved, 1 part, 3 part that can fold down when not in use
- Waist size- some brands cinch down smaller for more petite parents, some brands expand for more fluffy parents
- Shoulder padding and shape- some have thicker, denser padding for the wearer, some with memory foam inside, Some have more straight padded straps,while some are more contoured or curved
- Shoulder strap length- a few brands have shorter or longer straps than the most common “average” length, and some brands make specially sized “petite” or “plus” straps
- Hood features- detachable with velcro or snaps, or constantly hanging in view, or attached and hidden when not in use
- How the hood attaches to the carrier when in use- with a toggle, snaps, velcro, carabiner, etc.
- Single or dual adjust straps- meaning can you pull to tighten from either direction or one direction only
- Body shape- Some have seat darts or multi part shapes, some are more square or rectangular shaped, while some are wider at top and base, and narrower in the middle
- Padding- some have padding near the knees, some don’t
- Adjustability for littler babies- a few brands out there can be “cinched down” to better accommodate smaller babies with their legs out in a seated squat position
- Infant inserts- some brands have attached, detachable, or separate infant inserts that can help the wearer get a comfortable, safe fit with their infant. As the babies get bigger, the infant inserts are typically removed or just not used anymore
- Size of the carrier body- A few brands have multiple sizes of the carrier body to wear larger children more comfortably… if the caregiver wants to try that.
Disclaimers and Resources
Now, I need to make a quick disclaimer here. It is by no means necessary to have 5 carriers, or 5 types of carriers. Do I personally have more than 5 carriers…. um, yes, guilty here. That is because I love babywearing and have prioritized it above shoes, purses, and other accessories that others may enjoy. It’s really easy to have one or two carriers for your family, and they can meet your needs from birth through the end of your babywearing days. And if you are on a tight budget, there are some great DIY carriers that you can make if you are craftier than I am. 🙂
If you’re still looking for your “perfect fit” SSC, I encourage you to find a local babywearing group, or online support. One great resource is Babywearing International (but of course!!). Another is a popular website/forum called TheBabyWearer.
Babywearing International: http://www.babywearinginternational.org/
Both of these sites have great resources that can help you find the buckle love. Good luck!!