There is a moment when a you become a babywearer. There are newborn days, dusty with rest and snuggles and the haze of oxytocin haven that settles over perfect wrinkled toes and tired parent bodies. There are those first awkward attempts in stretchy jersey, too-small baby precariously cradled loose and low, pictures with proud smiles that will later be sheepishly tucked away. And then there is a moment when it clicks - oh! - this is a thing you are going to be doing for a good long while.
You Google. Admit it. You totally Googled.
You Google and the doors to a new and utterly confusing world are opened, and if you are anything like me, you spend hours soaking up information and wondering how on earth, through 10 months of pregnancy and obsessive message boarding and crazy book reading, you managed to miss all of this? Mei tais and buckle carriers and woven wraps and it’s all confusing and weird but one thing is consistent - an acronym - TICKS.
TICKS (Tight, In View, Close Enough to Kiss, Keep Chin Off Chest, Supported Back, if you were wondering) is Babywearing 101 - welcome to the club, here is your secret handshake. TICKS teaches you, in easy to remember terms, how to keep your little one safe and snuggled and happy. You learn, you love, you wear on.
Fast forward a few months - now you’d like to explore carrying your strong kiddo on your back. It has long been my belief that we are in dire need of a TICKS adapted for back carries. So many of us start with our buckle-carriered infant stuck mid-back and staring at the sweaty spot between our shoulder blades, said shoulders hunched awkwardly to soothe the ache of horrible posture…people. Nobody wants that. And switching TICKS around to the back is simple, and silly, and might just change your life! Blogging: now with loftier expectations! I digress.
It is with great pride that I present to you “TICKS for Your Back.”
That sounds completely terrible. Let’s call it STICK.
S - Start High!
In order for everyone to be at their happiest in a back carry, we need baby high! Start the waist belt of your mei tai or buckle carrier up, up, up at your natural waist (or heck, just under your bust will do!) Ask yourself where Marilyn Monroe would tie a mei tai, and start there. I adore the Pikkolo for this purpose - it’s one of a precious few buckle carriers on the market designed for a comfortable high back carry, and it’s tops, kids.
T - Tighten Up!
The first thing I ask anyone and everyone who solicits my help with babywearing is “How tight are your straps?” Much like the jeans of many a teenage boy, most of us are wearing our straps waaaaay too loose. I’m not a short girl, and when I have my 18 month old on my back, my buckle carrier straps are nearly at their tightest setting. Your baby should not be sagging in a back carry - he or she should be tightly snugged to your back, keeping both of you able to navigate safely through the world. The further your babe is from you, the easier he or she can lean back or bonk on something accidentally. When baby is closely sharing your space, your natural ability to judge positioning AND your center of gravity and balance are 10,000 times better.*
I - In View!
Hey, just like TICKS! You should be able to see your little one over your shoulder - Hi baby! The reasons that being able to see your baby is beneficial should be rather obvious to you if you’ve been in this parenting gig for more than a few minutes. Seeing baby = way better than not seeing baby. You’re welcome.
C - Catbird Seated!
Is baby positioned high, tight, and in view, leaving him or her able to see over your shoulder, interact well with other humans, and generally participate nicely in the goings-on of life? Yes? You win! On to K!
K - Keep on Keeping On!
Mastering a high back carry, like so many things worth doing, isn’t easy. Keep trying. Get yourself a carrier (cough cough Catbird Baby cough) designed to help instead of hinder you. Get yourself to a babywearing meet-up where other parents can advise and assist you. Then perch your little one way up high, in the highest seat - the seat of best advantage - and go out and take on the world.
*This is not a very scientific estimate. But it sounds about right.