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All about buckle carriers

Tula Free-To-Grow Try Before You Buy including Refundable Deposit
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All about buckle carriers

Tula Free-To-Grow Try Before You Buy including Refundable Deposit
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What is a buckle carrier?

A soft structured carrier or buckle carrier  is a backpack style carrier (although often also used on your front) that fastens with buckles.  They are suitable for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and even newborns too, depending on the individual carrier.

It isn’t possible to tell you what buckle carrier is ‘best’; it is very much down to personal preference.  Each carrier offers different features and some are more suited to larger or smaller babies and larger or smaller parents.  Soft structured carriers are often bulkier than other types of sling and can take up more room when not in use.

When we get messages asking for a sling Dads can use, people usually mean buckle carriers. (By the way Mums, Dads, parents of all genders, or none, as well as aunts, grandparents and more can all carry using any type of carrier. Gender is not a factor in carrier suitability. Read a little more about carrying and fatherhood here.) This style of carrier is quick to put on, easy to adjust and a good practical option, but they are less adjustable than woven and stretchy wraps, meh dais and other panel carriers. This means that not every buckle carrier will create a good comfortable fit for every person, and trying a few can be  a good way to tell which you get on with and what features you like.

Buckle carrier carrying positions

Front, facing parent

All of the buckle carrier we sell and hire out can be used in a front carrying position. This carrying position is the most pospular position and, with the right carrier you can carry a newborn baby on your front in a buckle carrier from birth.

Back carry

You can use almost all of the buckle carriers we hire out to back carry. Generally you can back carry your baby in a buckle carrier once they are starting to be able to sit up and have good upper body control. Back carrying before this age is usually best done in a woven wrap or meh dai. We suggest getting support if you want to back carry a young baby. Get in touch if you want to know more.

 

Hip carry
Some carriers offer a hip carry position. This is only possible in carriers that have crossable straps. This position is suitable once a baby has good head control. Usually this is around 4 months old. The Scootababy carrier is specially designed for hip carrying, although it can also be used for front and back carries. It’s unique design makes it an excellent choice if your baby loves being carried on the hip.

Forward facing (world facing)

Some carriers offer a forward facing out position in which babies face the world, rather than their parents. There’s a lot of myths and rumours about this position so we have an article all about forward facing in carriers, safety, positioning, and best practice.

Buckle carrier variations

Shoulder straps

You can cross the straps of some buckle carriers, whereas others you can only wear with ruck sack style straps. Back pack style is where each shoulder strap goes over a shoulder and back under the same armpit.  Crossed straps are usually only applicable when carrying your child on your front or hip.  The way you like to have the shoulder straps on a buckle carrier is very much personal preference. Petite and narrow shouldered parents often prefer to cross the straps.

Waist structures
Totally unstructured waistbands have no padding at the waist. This means that the panel tucks under the baby’s bottom where it joins to the waistband creating a pocket for the child to sit in. You can gather or cinch the panel on unstructured waistbands to make them narrower for newborn babies. Gathering the panel also shortens it somewhat. These are good for adjusting to fit newborn babies, and are often less expensive than “adjustable” buckle carriers which adjust using built in methods. We have unstructured carriers such as the Integra, Mamaruga Zensling and Pouchlings available to hire. Most soft structured carriers have some level of padding to the waist band, for the comfort of the person carrying and to help position the child where they sit on the waistband. Some have soft padding, and others have a more rigid waistband which can help direct weight down through the hips of the carrying person. It is very much personal preference which style of waistband you prefer.
Buckles

If the buckles are dual adjust, or two-way adjust, it is possible to tighten by pulling either forwards and upwards, or backwards and downwards when tightening the carrier. One way adjust buckles mean you have to pull backwards and down in a front carry, and forwards and up in a back carry. Some people find one or other of these movements easier, and so it is a benefit to be able to use that preferred movement in whichever position you are using the carrier.

 

Tightening single adjust buckles
Tightening dual adjust buckles
Height and width

The height and width of some carriers can be adjusted with toggles, poppers, webbing or velcro. This enables them to be used with smaller or larger babies without needing additional accessories. Particularly useful for carrying 2 or more children individually without needing to buy 2 different sizes of carriers, or for adapting the carrier with our baby as they grow.

Material

Buckle carriers come in all different types of fabric, from cotton canvas, to super lightweight UV protective solar fabrics designed to keep babies cool. Stretchy wrap fabrics are used to create the wonderfully snuggly and supportive Mamaruga Zensling. Woven wrap fabrics are also popular for their range of designs, softness, and strength.

Buckle carrier features

Safety buckles

Safety buckles have an extra button to press to release the buckle in order to make them tamper proof. This is so children cannot undo them whilst they are in use. They can make them much harder to undo one handed, and for people with any issues with strength, grip or manipulation this can make a carrier much harder to use.

safety buckles from whentaniatalks
From When Tania Talks: see some discussion on safety buckles and accessibility considerations by clicking the image to read Tania's review.
Hoods

Some hoods are attached to the carrier, others are completely detachable.  They may fold into a pocket or part of the carrier itself when not in use.  You can secure them to the shoulder straps when in use; they can use poppers, elastic loops, Velcro or buttons.  Hoods come in several styles, such as flat, shapeable flat, using elastic and toggles to shape it to fit, or pixie (over sized, pointy) style. 

Lovely Wompat
Pixie hood on a wompat
Pockets

Many buckle carriers have pockets.  Some have a small pocket in waistband, often suitable for a purse.  Others have a larger pocket on the main part of the carrier which is suitable for a couple of disposable nappies and small wipes.  You need to consider how comfortable anything you carry in this pocket will be against your child’s back.

Perfect fit adjusters

Video of adjusting perfect fit adjusters courtesy of Boba

These are additional adjusters on the shoulder straps where they meet the body of the carrier.  Perfect fit adjusters (PFAs) adjust the length of the padded section of the shoulder straps. Petite and smaller framed people may need to use the perfect fit adjusters in order to achieve a good fit. This can be very important for maintaining safety in a carrier. When padded straps are too long petite people may be unable to tighten them enough for it to be supportive. PFAs can make carrying a more comfortable experience for the wearer, and safer for the baby. An insufficiently tightened carry could allow the baby to slump, which can result in compromised airways. Perfect fit adjusters replace the need for petite, standard and extra large versions of carrier straps.

Leg padding

Leg padding is extra padding where the child’s legs come out from the side of the panel.  It is a comfort feature for your baby.

Strap tidies

Strap tidies are small loops of elastic on the end of buckle strap webbing.  You can roll up any unused webbing and use the strap tidy to keep it out of the way.  This stops excess straps dangling.

Buckle carriers with special features

For newborns

Adjustable for newborns

You can now get many carriers that are adjustable for newborn babies. We have an article dedicated to these versatile buckle carriers. Their adjustability menas they caontinue to fit for much older babies and even toddlers too. 

Integrated infant harness

Used with newborn babies, the harness secures the baby higher up in the carrier. This avoids the top of the panel obstructing their face. Their legs remain inside the carrier to avoid over-extending their hips. Getting an optimal position is not always possible with these harnesses. They are not common in buckle carriers in the UK and from Europe. There are usually better options available for newborn babies than carriers with internal infant harnesses.

Infant insert

These can be a cushion to boost a child inside carriers that are not adjustable for newborns. They also ensure that the baby’s legs are positioned either side of the cushion inside the carrier, so they aren’t painfully overspread. They sometimes also take the form of a padded wrap-around section with a cushion in the base. The wrap-around section helps to make the panel more supportive over all of the baby’s back.

Using the infant insert with the Tula baby carrier

For twins

Twin friendly

Most buckle carriers can be worn two at a time; one one the front and one on the back. However, because the shoulder straps will overlap, it’s often comfiest with less padded carriers.  Heavier padding can feel uncomfortable and bulky for the wearer. Our article on twin carrying covers a wide range of ways to carrying both babies at once. 

two buckle carriers twin tandem carry
Twin specific

There are a couple of brands of carriers that are specifically designed to hold two children at once. We have the Weego Twin, the Twingo and Twingo Lite, and the Twingaroo available to hire, and the MiniMonkey Twin available to hire or buy. These can be as described above (one child on the back and one on the front), or with both babies side by side on the front.

ling hire rent sling library try before you buy weego twin carrier twin tandem multiple tamba twins babies newborns premature

Spotlight on the Weego Twin

Find out about the Weego twin, suitable from birth. A front carrier for newborn twins.

Spotlight on the Minimonkey Twin

Find out about the Minimonkey twin, suitable from birth. A front & hip carrier twins up to combined weight 24kg.

twingo twin sling walk

Spotlight on the Twingo

Find out about the Twingo carrier suitable 4-6 months. A front- back tandem carrier that splits to be used as two separate carriers.

Hire the Twingaroo

The twingaroo offers a front-back tandem carrying option, or can be used as two separate buckle carriers.

For toddlers, preschoolers or big kids
sling library hire rent try before you buy baby sling carrier spotlight on the caboo dx go sling library hire rent try before you buy baby sling carrier Looking cool carrying a toddler in the Caboo DX Go

We have a huge range of toddler carriers available to hire. There   are so many on the market now. We have an article all about carrying toddlers, and about picking a toddler carrier. 

For summer and travel
Lightweight carriers

A lightweight carrier such as an Integra, on Mamaruga Zensling,  is a great sling to have around if you won’t be using it all the time. They fold up really small so can easily be carried in your bag, or stored under the buggy etc.

Ultra-lightweight carriers

Ultra lightweight carriers are like the “Pack-a-Mac” of the carrying world, and fold up in to their own pocket, some as small as a pencil case, like the Boba Air or Tula Lite. Perfect for travelling, or keeping around “just in case” your child needs to be carried.

UV protection

Perfect for holidays and summer weather, UV protection is built in to the fabric of the carrier. The UV protection can fade with repeated washing, so our rental carriers may not offer as high a degree of protection as a new carrier would.

Mesh

Again, perfect for warmer weather. Breathable mesh fabric is used in the panel of the carrier to allow for maximum air circulation throughout to help keep baby cool.

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Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Buckle carriers, Types of slings & carriers
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