How do you modify a Hipababy full buckle to make it a better fit for a small baby?
With a custom made carrier you the option is available to add a built in cinching system and some in stock carriers will have this available too. If your carrier doesn't have the built in adjustments you can modify your carrier by cinching the base with a ribbon and/or wearing the waist apron style. Wearing the carrier with the carrier a little higher on your body than shown below will also shorten the body panel further.
A baby size carrier (38cm x 38cm/ 15"x 15") is suitable from around 6 months or so but when cinched will work from around 6kg/00 clothes (or around 2-3 months). Infant size (35.5cm x 37cm/14" x 14.5") works from around 4 months uncinched or from newborn (4kg cinched). Don't use a larger sized soft structured carrier with a small baby as you will not have enough back support increasing the risk of slumping.
When using a full buckle with a baby under 4 months baby's back must be well supported and baby's chin must not fall onto their chest (which can obstruct breathing). Baby also must not be buried right down into the carrier. Ideally you would want the top of the carrier (where the straps are attached) no higher than earlobe level.
Below are some tips and tricks on how to use the built in adjustments, or if you have basic carrier without built in cinching some tips to help to get a better fit.
The carrier in these instructions is a baby sized carrier with adjustable base and sides. The demo doll is wearing 00 clothes so is around the size of a 3 month old.
How to modify with a ribbon
If you have a standard carrier with no built in adjustments you can use a ribbon or accessory strap to cinch the base of the carrier to a narrower setting. It is easier to tie the ribbon on with the waistband already clipped around you as the waistband will lay flatter that way. Tying with a ribbon will also shorten your carrier a little. If you need to shorten the height even further you can wear the waist apron style (more on that later).
Using a carrier with built in adjustments
If your carrier has built in adjustments cinch the carrier as shown in the photos and then put your carrier on as normal. Fold the edges of the waist back on itself like an accordian. This will keep the fabric from slipping back and will cover the velcro strip. For an in between width, fold more loosely or just scrunch the waist instead. Remember make sure your baby is close enough to kiss! This will ensure you can moniter baby's airway and the higher you wear the waistband the shorter the panel will be be which also helps to get a good fit.
How to wear apron style
Wearing apron style will shorten your carrier. You will need to remove the buckles and re-thread them the opposite way for this method so your buckles don't end up upside down. Flip the waistband so the reverse side facing out and the panel is hanging down like an apron. You may also need a ribbon for this as the folds on the adjustable waist tend to spread a bit wider when worn apron style. Put the panel on as you normally would. When you are finished you will not see the waistband under baby's bum as you would when wearing in the regular way. If your carrier has a built in height adjustment you can cinch the panel before putting the carrier on and that will shorten the carrier the maximum amount.
Height of the panel uncinched.
Height of the panel cinched with the built in drawstring and headrest folded down.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of different waist styles? All the waist styles are comfortable to wear but there there are subtle differences between them. Below is some information to help you choose.
All of my carriers have a padded waist. When worn non apron style. a padded waist helps to transfer your child's weight to your hips rather than your shoulders. Padding can also prevent the waist band from digging in when worn to carry heavy kids. The waist is not too thickly padded though so you can also wear it apron style if you prefer. Wearing apron style (and sometimes rolling the waist too) is handy for shortening the body of the carrier when wearing with a smaller baby.
This is an option for meh dai's/mei tai's , half buckles and reverse half buckles (buckle shoulder straps). Pictured below is a reverse half buckle. I usually sew this waist as a continuous length double layer (11cm wide). Sometimes there is not enough continuous length in a wrap for this so I can usually get around that by sewing the waist in three parts and the ties can be double layer (11cm wide) or single layer wrap style ties. I will also sometimes sew this waist in two parts (joined in the middle of the wasitband) with double layer ties. It just depends on how much continuous length available in your wrap. If you have a preference just let me know.
Advantages: Can reduce the muffin top look (especially if you have single layer ties) as you can spread the straps out across your stomach. If your waist ties are long enough you can thread them through the shoulder straps for a waist free carry. A tie waist is very easy to share between different sized wearers.
Disadvantages: Can take a little practice to get the waist tightened effectively. Takes slightly longer to put on. You need to check you are untiying the right knot when taking baby down (shoulder straps should be untied first).
No Webbing Waist
Similar construction as a tie waist but this style has a buckle threaded through the strap and the ties are slightly narrower so it's easier to thread them through the buckle. The total length is shorter than a tie waist (approximately 70") so the length will not be too annoying when the buckle is threaded on (a buckle takes up less length than a knot).
Advantages: Can be used both as a buckle or a tie waist. Quick to put on and off when used with the buckle threaded. A buckle waist is easier to get a firm, tight fit and is handy if you want the waistband in a specific spot every time you wear it. You can't accidentally untie the wrong knot when using the buckle. Minimizes the muffin top look as straps can be spread out more across your stomach.
Disadvantages: The length may be short for plus sized wearers when used as a tie (but a longer length is available in custom orders). When the buckle is threaded on this style is not as easy to share between wearers as the fabric ties are not as easy to pull through the buckle (especially the single layer ties version). This waist is best adjusted before putting the carrier on. Once adjusted though you can just leave it set so it's quick to put on, as long as the carrier is not often shared with another wearer.
This waist adjusts with a buckle and webbing.
Advantages: Quick to put on and off when used with the buckle threaded. A buckle waist is easier to get a firm, tight fit and is handy if you want the waistband in a specific spot every time you wear it. You can't accidentally untie the wrong knot if you have a buckle waist and tie staps. There are elastic ties on the end of the webbing so excess webbing can be rolled up out of the way for a neat and tidy look. Easy to share between different wearers.
Disadvantages: If you are very petite you may prefer a custom length for the padded section of the waistbelt.
This waist has a ring closure. You thread the tail through the ring in the same way you would thread a ring sling. The total length of the waist is 155cm (length can be customized)
Advantages: In a back carry you can spread the fabric out across your stomach very comfortably and it is easy to tighten. Easy to do a high back carry without the waistband slipping or loosening. Very easy to share between different sized wearers.
Disadvantages: The long tail may be annoying for petite wearers (can by customized easily though). Can take longer to put on than a buckle or tie waist.
This waist has a closed cell foam in the centre and padded with fleece across your hips. It can offer extra support for heavy children by helping to transfer more weight to your hips. The hybrid waist can't be rolled like the padded waist can.
My mei tai's, half buckles, and full buckles vary in how they fit and how easy they are to modify to fit different sized children. I don't recommend wearing too big a size in half buckle/full buckle. Ideally a mei tai should also be the correct size but they are much easier to modify to fit than the other styles so can fit a wider size range. Mei Tai's and half buckles have no darts in the smaller sizes (so your baby will be held close to your body) but the toddler size does. Darts allow a wider/deeper seat without having to make the whole carrier wider and tend to make the whole carrier fit a bit bigger. Carriers with darts tend to hold your baby slightly away from your body (which transfers the weight mostly to your hips) so I have added darts to all my full buckles to help keep the weight off your shoulders since you cannot offset this weight by tyiing the shoulder straps as you can in a mei tai/half buckle.
If you have Flared Straps (padded to wrap) on your carrier you can use the spread out wrap part of the straps the extend the width of the seat for a child who has begun to outgrow it. It is not essential for a toddler to be knee to knee by the way (one of my daughter was happily carried occasionally up to five years old in a standard size carrier) but knee to knee does tend to be more comfortable and allows a better weight distribution for wearer and wearree.
Sizing is a guide only and is based on my average sized children plus some customer feedback I am always looking for more feedback so if you have any thoughts on sizing I would love to hear from you!
In general if your baby is on the smaller side of average you may get a longer use out of a particular size or if your child is at the top of the charts it may be outgrown sooner.
Quick size guide - if you baby is under a year old size 1 is best, if you baby is over a year size 2 is recommended, and if your baby is at least 18 months then choose toddler. Prefer a mei tai that will you can use across a large age range? - choose size 2 (standard). Want more detail? See below!
Size 1- baby size - from newborn to young toddler. Adjustable base option available (on custom carriers) for legs out carry from an early age. Click on the link for action photos and dimensions. This design has a curved top edge and straight sides but a straight top edge option is available.
Size 2- standard size - suitable for both babies and toddlers. This size has a wider and taller body to support the weight of your older baby and toddler well. Curved top edge for extra head/back support. This size fits best from around 6-8 months but can be used for younger babies with modifications. To use with a young baby the bottom can be rolled up to make it shorter and cinched with a ribbon to make it narrower or baby can be carried with legs froggied inside the carrier. The body is also slightly contoured so when you roll the bottom to make the mei tai shorter for a baby it will be narrower as well allowing a small baby to be more comfortably legs out. The mei can be used legs out (with the bottom rolled) from around 4-5 months. This size mei tai suits babies up to around 2-3 years.
Size 3 - toddler size - This carrier is taller and slightly wider than size 2, with seat darts for a deeper seat. This size fits from at least 18 months to around 3-4 years. Curved top edge and straight sides.
Mei Tais are the most versatile in how they fit. They will fit all sized wearers although if you are plus size you may like extra long straps for tying tibetan or if you are petite (less than a 23" waist) you may prefer petite waist padding to get your waist strap as tight as you like.
Mei Tais are easy to modify for a small baby by rolling the waist band to reduce height or by cinching the base with a ribbon to reduce width for legs out. Mei tai's can be worn apron or non apron style (wearing non apron will increase the height and wearing apron will reduce it). I can also add an adjustable base to your carrier which means you can adjust the width and the waistband will always lie nice and flat and it's easy to roll if you need to too.
The smallest size mei tai I make is 15" as I feel this is fairly easy to modify to fit a newborn and will not be outgrown too soon. A 14" carrier is a better fit for a very small baby and I did use this originally as my baby size but I found that my small to average daughter outgrew it by 12 months. I can make this size on request though if you don't need your carrier to be suitable for toddler wearing.
Please note baby and standard size mei tais have no darts to allow a close fit. I can make these sizes with darts on request but bear in mind they will fit slightly differently (in general they will fit bigger).
Half buckles are not as flexible as mei tai's in sizing and are meant to be worn non apron style. Like a mei tai you can roll the waist and wear apron style but it will sit a little diffferently. Like mei tai's this style of carrier is reversible - just remove the buckles and rethread the opposite way. Small babies can be worn froggied or with the base rolled and cinched (for legs out).
Although half buckles are designed to be worn non-apron style t is still possible to comfortably roll the waist to shorten the carrier or to wear apron style since the waist is padded rather than structured which can let you use the carrier sooner with a smaller baby. Baby size (size 1) will fit from newborn (with legs froggied in or with base rolled and cinched for young babies) until 18 months. An adjustable base in recommend for babies under four months old. You will need to roll the waist for a better fit for babies younger than 4-5 months in a legs out carry. Standard size (size 2) will fit best from around 8-10 months until around 2-3 years. Toddler size fits from around 18 months (small to average sized toddlers will fit best in this size from 2 years.
Measurements for half buckles - The length of the waist belt is 73cm including buckles, but I can make that smaller or longer if you need it. The length of the padded section is 63cm.
Please note baby and standard size mei tais have no darts to allow a close fit. I can make these sizes with seat darts on request but bear in mind they will fit slightly differently (in general they will fit bigger).
Full Buckle/Buckle Tai
Full buckles are the most convenient style of carrier to use but least flexible style sizing wise so I have added another sizing option (infant) to suit for smaller babies. You can cinch base with ribbon if the base is too wide but young babies cannot be carried with legs froggied. Babies under a year fit best in infant/baby size. 18 months is really the minimum age for toddler size (unless your child is very tall) as the body panel is quite tall. Small to average size toddlers will fit best in toddler size from around 2 years and will generally not fit comfortably before this.
Infant (35.5cm x 37cm/14" x 14.5") 4 months - 18 months
Baby/In between (38cm x 38cm/ 15"x 15") 6 months - 2 years
Standard (40.5cm x 42cm/16" x 16.5") 10 months - 2.5 years
Petite Toddler/ In between (43cm x 43cm/ 17"x17") 18 months - 3 years
Toddler (46cm x 46cm /18" x 18") - 2- 4 years
Preschool (48cm x 50cm) 19" x 20" - 3 years - 5 years
Standard Strap (16"/40cm) fits from 158cm to 180cm tall, Australian dress size 10 - 16. If you are outside this size range you may need petite or extra long straps. Petite straps are 14"/35cm and 18"/46cm for extra long. Fit adjusters/adjustable strap is available.
The adjustable base and height option added to on infant or baby size carrier will make your carrier suitable for a smaller baby than stated above. Babies vary in height so some babies may fit in the carrier sooner or later than others - just bear in mind that babies under four months must be well supported in the carrier with no slumping for optimal positioning.
You can choose use a shorter height size to suit a baby who likes arms out or to share between siblings (a toddler and preschooler for example). Some popular combinations are toddler width and standard height or preschool width and toddler height.
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