Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Crotch Dangler Carriers v Wraps and Slings

I spent Easter Sunday at a National Trust property. It was very busy with families doing the annual Easter egg hunt.
I saw at least ten babies being carried in crotch danglers, the Baby Bjorn type carriers. All of the babies were younger than about three or four months old. Their legs just hanging there as they were suspended by their crotch. Research shows that being carried in such a position is damaging to a baby's developing spine and contributes towards hip dysplasia, but it is the sheer uncomfiness of how it looks that makes me cringe. I know that I wouldn't want to be carried that way!
Not only are these types of carriers uncomfortable for the baby, they are also uncomfortable for the adult, especially as baby grows heavier. The baby is positioned very low down which pulls on the wearer's shoulders causing back ache.

An example of how a baby hangs from their crotch when using a Baby Bjorn type carrier,
compared to the seating position of a mei tai type sling.
Such a large baby wouldn't normally be carried in a Baby Bjorn (far too uncomfortable for all involved!)
but this image illustrates the point very well.

On the way back to the car, I finally saw a tiny baby snuggled up in a soft, cosy wrap. If I had caught the mother's eye I would have made a positive comment and thanked her! Her baby was so comfy she was asleep. None of the crotch danglers were sleeping. Comparing the wrap to the Baby Bjorn carriers, with a wrap (or other mei tai type slings, etc) the baby is worn higher up and closer to the body. The higher a baby is worn, the more a part of your own body the weight becomes, which prevents back ache. The baby is also positioned differently. Rather than hanging from their crotch, a baby in a wrap or mei tai type sling is positioned more naturally. Young babies are carried with their legs "froggied" up - the same position as they are in the womb. As they get older, they can sit with their legs astride, around the adult's waist, and their weight is beared on their bottom. With a wrap or mei tai you can also carry the baby on your back, especially useful for older babies and toddlers.

An example of how a baby's weight is beared on their bottom when using a mei tai sling.
Thank you Jade.

I do not blame the crotch dangler users for using them. Afterall, they are the only carriers available in virtually all the high street shops. They may not be aware that they are damaging to a baby's developing spine and hips and that there is an alternative. I appreciate them wanting to carry their babies - a lot of people wouldn't consider carrying their babies at all and only use a pram. I just hope that all the people I saw using them on Sunday also saw the lady using the wrap and think how comfortable it looked. Then they might go home and do a bit of research. Maybe!

Below is a very informative link explaining hip dysplasia and how using certain slings and carriers can contribute towards the condition...


Footnote - If anyone knows who has "copyright" of the first image, please let me know so I can get in touch. I am not intentionally using a copyrighted image! Thank you :-)


  1. I am a Momma of a 9 month old. As a FTM I clearly knew nothing about carriers except for what was "the norm". So yes, that darn crotch dangler was on my list of gifts. Thnak God I came across a Momma who helped me understand and I sold that damn thing and bought a Becco!! One of the reasons I am so passionate about this now is because I have lived with severe hip dysplasia for 17 years. I am 32 and had a total hip replacement almost 4 months ago. I wish more parents would understand how hip dyspalsia really changes a childs and an adults life.......

    1. Something so simple as changing the way you carry your baby can make all the difference. I have seen so many babies being carried "wrong" the last few weeks - and an increasing amount facing out in crotch dangler carriers. That surely must be the most damaging position of all. I'm not confident enough to say anything but I keep thinking of making some leaflets to hand to people when I see these things. Could be an effective, subtle way of informing people of the dangers.
      I hope you are recovering well from your hip replacement. x

  2. The first image is mine. Not bothered by its use. This is a nice article. I prefer the term front pack instead of crotch dangler. I think it is just a gentler way of describing the carrier especially to parents who knew no better when using it. But your post is well written.

    1. Hi Tracey. Thank you for your understanding. I asked around to see whose image it was but had no luck :(
      I'd never heard the term "front pack" until very recently, but I agree, it does sound nicer. Not sure how many hits my post would have got had I used front pack though as "crotch dangler" is by far the most popular search term, going by my stats!
      Thanks again. x