(aka: “Up & In – How to Make a Front Pack More Comfy” ;)
Good question! I’m in Hamilton, Ontario right now teaching Levels 1 & 2. I bought a book to read on the plane, NamSense by Arthur Wiknik. It’s a Vietnam memoir. I was reading his description of the infantry pack he carried, full of artillery, food & water – very heavy! He mentioned that soldiers would use their towel, placed over the shoulders, to keep the rucksack straps from digging in.
When I arrived in Hamilton & went to Daisy Days, our host store, they had a Baby Bjorn front pack out. I’ve never actually used one, so I tried it out with the baby of one of our attendees. He was heavy in it & the straps dug in immediately. The first thing I thought of was that towel to pad the straps!
The next day, we were talking about what to do with the front packs that people already had. They are expensive & it’s disappointing for a new babywearer to find their carrier uncomfortable. We believe in Practice, Not Product, so prefer to help parents find new ways to use what they already have.
At the DC Babywearing Conference, Astrid showed us how to use a shawl to tie around the legs to pop a baby in a front pack into a more supported M shaped leg position (from our friends at Tadpoles & Butterflies, reposted by Peaceful Parenting). So, when the front pack question was brought up, I thought of the towel padding & Astrid’s shawl, grabbed the Bjorn, borrowed a receiving blanket & a shortie (subbing in for our shawl!) & started to play!
My shoulders felt much better with just the receiving blanket. I put Olivia the Demo Doll in (she’s about 10lbs) & the Bjorn still hurt. I used the shawl to tie her legs into the M shape, Up & In. The difference was great! Someone commented that she could SEE the shoulder straps lift up as the weight was redistributed. Also, the shawl stabilised the carrier (most front packs hang off the shoulders, with nothing around the waist or hips.)
Huge improvement in comfort with 2 items everyone has! We don’t need to buy a new product to improve the practice of Babywearing. By working with what the client already has, we can make BWing more accessible to all parents.
(written by Arie, posted remotely by Kelly)