Emergency Babywearing

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Anytime you leave your house without a carrier, you will end up wishing you’d brought it along. Babywearing Code §104, §107(n). And when times get desperate… it’s important to learn some solid emergency babywearing techniques.  Here’s our VP of Outreach and Master Babywearing Educator, Pencil, wearing her little in a pair of yoga pants!

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So maybe we would advocate having a “back up” carrier in your diaper bag or trunk before we say to strap your kid onto yourself with your Lululemons.  Today, our Educational Blogger (read: the blogger that ACTUALLY TEACHES babywearing, not me), Katie, will be walking us through our July Babywearing 102: Emergency Babywearing.  We’ll talk about some easily portable options, some basic carries that can be done with Simple Pieces of Cloth (SPOC), and, of course, carries that can be done with basically anything. You know, because winter is coming, or the zombie apocalypse, or your kid throws an epic level 5 tantrum at Target.  Whatevs. Take it away, Katie!

1. The Backup Carrier:


FREE pouch fittings! Just bring your pouch to a meeting!

A baby carrier can be an essential item to stash away in an emergency preparedness bag or in your vehicle (or even under your bed) if you have young children in your care. If you are storing it in your emergency bag or vehicle, a carrier that folds down to a small size such as a pouch or ring sling would be ideal. A properly fitting pouch is an inexpensive option and BWI of Greater Austin will fit you in a pouch at our meetings, exchange one you already own for a better size for free, or send you home with your very own for $5!

A ring sling is a great option for differently sized caregivers to use due to its adjustability and small size.


Photograph by Jenniffer Potter-Miller And in an emergency no one will care that your Ring Sling is on upside down. 😉

If you gravitate toward buckle carriers, the Bity Bean is a lightweight, ultra compact option that fits in its own storage sack and can be used for children age 3 months and older who weigh between 8-40lbs. As with any carrier, it’s important to inspect it for aging or damage at regular intervals and ensure that you are familiar with how to put it on and make adjustments easily.

But what about when you find yourself in a situation without a carrier? Let’s examine several scenarios and the items that many of us may find in our environment to create a baby carrier.

Keep in mind that none of these items are safety tested to be used with children, and are to be used at your own discretion and risk. As such, in emergencies we recommend front carriers only so that you may keep an eye on your child at all times.

For more babywearing safety tips, check out our safety post.

2. Carries with a Simple Piece of Cloth (SPOC)

Scenario #1:

You find yourself at a splash pad playdate with your toddler in the midst of nap time meltdown and not a carrier in sight. Your beach tote holds your water recreation essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, and…a towel! YES, you can make a baby carrier! Check out, Leigh!

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A beach towel or short wrap in a size 2+ can be used to make a torso carry. A short torso carry is done as a back carry centered on the baby’s back, with the top rail double knotted at the top of the wearer’s chest and bottom rail double knotted below the chest. With lighter weight fabrics, the tails may be bunched and tied in a single double knot above the wearer’s chest. A deep seat is essential along with a tight top rail to keep baby close to the caregiver’s body.


A front torso carry can be done with a size 3+ wrap and is started much like Front Wrap Cross Carry but instead of bringing crossed passes back over the shoulders, they are brought under the caregiver’s arms instead before tying off in front under baby’s bottom or passing over and under baby’s legs before tying in back. Proper seat making, making sure the back passes are spread wide, and strand by strand tightening will ensure a safe and comfortable carry.



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Scenario #2:

You’re on a road trip, and upon arriving to your hotel you discover that your beloved baby carrier has been lost somewhere between the last rest stop and your current location. Bedtime in a new, unfamiliar place with a baby and no carriers at your disposal simply won’t do. What can you use in a pinch from items found in your hotel? A bedsheet, of course! A twin size flat bedsheet or woven wrap in size 2-3 can be used in rebozo carry or torso carry. To mitigate width, it can be folded in half width-wise.

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A rebozo is ideally done with a woven fabric and is one-shouldered carry tied at the shoulder with a slip knot. Much like a ring sling, a properly tightened, deep seat is essential with baby in the M position of knees higher than bum.


In this video from our volunteer educator Leigh, they do an excellent tutorial on how to make a slipknot.

A rebozo back carry is another option with a rebozo length wrap, as demonstrated by our Volunteer Educator, Sabrina, with an Ikea curtain panel out of the as-is bin!


3. Household Stuff as a Baby Carrier
Scenario #3:

You’re at your older child’s karate tournament and your toddler needs to go up NOW or face becoming an overnight Youtube sensation, and not the good kind. In your haste to make it out of the house on time, your carrier was left at home. You scan your environment and the only thing you have to spare is an Obi (karate belt). Surely this won’t work, will it? Fear not! You can do a strap carry! A strap carry is just like a ruck in that the top strap is secured under both armpits before passing over both of the caregiver’s shoulders. The bottom strap passes behind both knees and can either be secured at the shoulder, at the waist, or under the bum. It is essential for the child’s arms to remain out in this carry for safety. A bunched woven wrap in size 2+ can also be used to complete a strap carry.


But wait, emergency wearing isn’t just for babies! In the event that you find yourself needing to transport a teenager or adult, having the skills to wear them could be essential. Our Volunteer Educator, Sabrina, demonstrates how to do a strap carry with an adult:

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While we hope no one ever has to put any of this information to use in a real emergency situation, having babywearing knowledge and being prepared for unexpected situations is an important tool to have in our toolbox. We look forward to answering your emergency babywearing questions during our 102 segment for the month of July!

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