What is a soft-structured carrier (SSC)? Is it the same thing as a buckle carrier? As a first time parent or caregiver dipping toes into the world of wearing, it can feel like a whole new language to learn. What’s an Ergo? Bjorn? Those are companies that make SSCs, they aren’t necessarily the names of the carriers themselves. Most SSCs have in common a padded waistband and shoulder straps and buckles. Some come with hoods, front pockets, adjustable seats, infant inserts, perfect-fit-adjusters (PFAs), etc. Below we’re going to talk about safety when wearing a SSC, how to wear a SSC, and some special features of SSCs.

Image of a white bearded man in a black baseball cap wearing a white blonde infant boy on his back in a beco soleil while also holding a brunette toddler girl in his arms. They are in a corn maze.

Safety

First things first. Safety. No matter if you’re wearing a newborn or a toddler, safety first. Below is a graphic that details panel heights on the back of a child to give you a visual of where the top of a SSC panel should be.

alt="Image from the back of a sitting child wearing a cloth diaper. Title across top of image in a red banner "Fitting of a Soft Structured Carrier." Child has five semi-transparent rectangles overlaid in a vertical column. Top box covers back of head, text "Too High: Risk of asphyxia/baby is not visible." Second box at neckline, text: "Not ideal." Third box bottom line at armpit level, text: "Correct Height." Fourth box slightly below armpit level, text: "Over 3 years only." Fifth box highlights bottom half of torso, text: "Too low, fall risk." Bottom of image text "Portagedouble.com.""

When fitting for a SSC, make sure the ABCs of wearing are met.

Infographic with title "Optimal Positioning: Soft Structured Carrier." Image of a light brown skin bespectacled woman shown from the front and side, wearing a baby on her front. Text with lines connecting the two images are as follows: close enough to kiss baby's head, chin off chest and airway is clear, carrier supports baby to the nape of the neck (for newborns). On the right is of a white woman wearing a baby on her front with three lines of text to the left: straps snug but not too tight, back supported (no slumping), knees higher than bum. Image of a brown skin man wearing a baby on his front with three lines of text on the right: clips are securely fastened, panel supports M position without splaying legs, waistband is parallel with the floor. The multicolored figures wearing different carriers next to orange text "Babywearing International" logo is on the bottom right corner.

Front, Back, and Hip Carrying

Soft-structured carriers have options for front, back, and/or hip carrying. Below are video tutorials demonstrating the options!

How to Front Carry in a SSC

[4 minute 34 second no voice audio video with captioned text of a white woman demonstrating a front and back carry using a SSC and demonstration doll.]

How to Front/Forward Face Out (FFO) in a SSC

Some SSCs are made for the option of front/forward facing out (FFO).

[3 minute 53 second video without audio of a brown skin woman demonstrating a forward facing out carry with a baby and green SSC.]

 

Some times wearing the baby in front can make it challenging to reach and buckle that chest clip in back. Here are a tips and tricks to make it easier!

[2 minute 34 second silent video of a white woman demonstrating how to buckle the chest clip of a SSC in a front carry.]

How to Back Carry in a SSC

[2 minute 28 second video with voice audio and closed captioning of a brown skin woman demonstrating a back carry in a SSC with a baby]

How to Hip Carry in a SSC

[4 minute 26 second video with voice audio and closed captioning of a white woman demonstrating a hip carry using a SSC with a baby.]

How to Tandem Babywear in SSCs

Some days, wearing two children simultaneously is needed. Tandem babywearing can be done using two different types of carriers. Below are a few options involving use of SSCs.

[6 minute 12 second no voice audio video of a brown skin woman demonstrating tandem babywearing with two twin toddlers using two SSCs.]

 

[3 minute 50 second silent video of a brown skin woman demonstrating ndem babywearing with two children of different ages using two SSCs.]

 

[4 minute 16 second video with audio and closed captioning of a white woman demonstrating tandem babywearing with a stretchy wrap and a SSC with a baby and a toddler.]

Special Features

Water-Safe SSCs

There are some SSCs made to get wet! A little splashing with the big kids while out with your little one can make it more fun for everyone. It isn’t recommended to go boating or swimming while wearing but splash pads and getting out the hose are cool options!

Image of a white woman wearing a white infant in a blue solar buckle carrier on her back. The sleeping boy is mostly obscured by his blue patterned hat. A lake superior beach is in the background

Here are a few carriers designed to get wet (not comprehensive):

  • Bitybean
  • Boba Air
  • Connecta Solar

Image of a smiling white woman wearing her fussy infant in an aqua colored solar Connecta soft structured carrier in a children’s play area.

No Additional Infant Insert Needed

Many SSCs are great options for newborn through toddlerhood. Some come with infant inserts that are detachable, while others have ones sewn in. To read more about the importance of using an infant insert, check out our blog post: “Newborn Insert” by Babywearing International of the Twin Cities. Some SSCs have inserts built in or an adjustable seat! Check out the list below (not comprehensive):

  • Angelpack
  • Beco Gemini
  • Catbird Pikkolo
  • Connecta
  • ErgoBaby Adapt
  • ErgoBaby Omni
  • Fidella Fusion
  • Lenny Lamb Lenny Up
  • Lillebaby Complete
  • Soul AnoonA
  • Tula Free to Grow

Additional Resources:

Hip Carry in a SSC by Brittany Brown Marsh

“How to Wash a Soft Structured Carrier” by Brittany Brown Marsh

Photo Tutorial of a Front Carry in a SSC by Babywearing International of Phoenix

“Teaching Tips for a SSC Hip Carry” by Babywearing International

“Choosing a Baby Carrier” by Babywearing International

“Buckle Carrier” by Babywearing International

“Babywearing and Beyond” by Babywearing International of the Twin Cities

 

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Have questions about babywearing? Contact us (through our website or Facebook) or, come learn in person at one of our meetings! Wear on!

All images have image descriptions in the alternative text visible to screen readers.

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