Onbuhimo

The onbuhimo babycarrier is the carrier I got introduced to last during my babywearing journey. My local babywearing library didn’t have one for a long time (now they do though), but I had heard about those types of carriers and wanted to try one. So, I bought one and then didn’t use it for a long time as I had other carriers at home which I was used to, and my daughter didn’t want to be carried much anyway.

But, when we flew to Canada in May 2019 for our one year abroad, we decided to take the onbuhimo with us as our only carrier. We made this decision mainly, because it the most comfortable carrier with the widest seat we own, it folds up nice and small and it is easy to use for both my husband and me.

Surprisingly, we have been using it a lot during our adventures. Especially, since we’ve been in Germany, where we don’t have a car and need to walk or use public transport.  

What is an onbuhimo?

Onbuhimos are traditional Japanese carriers. Hence the tricky name. “Onbu” means carrying on the back and “himo” means strap or rope. This type of carriers is designed to carry a child high up on the back.

Modern onbuhimos are very similar to soft structured carriers. They have a back panel, two shoulder straps and a chest clip. What they do NOT have is a waistband.  

When can I carry my child in an onbuhimo?

Newborn

Newborns shouldn’t be carried in an onbuhimo. This carrier won’t give enough support for such a young baby without enough torso control. It is very likely that your little ones’ head will slump down and create constricted airways. Carrying your newborn on your back will also make it harder to monitor his breathing.

Baby

Babies can be carried in an onbuhimo once they are a little older (around 6 months) and have enough torso control to sit upright for longer periods of time. A high back carry can be great for curious little ones who want to see the world.

Toddler

Onbuhimos are great carriers for toddlers. Toddlers tend to only want to be carried for short amounts of time and there is often a lot of up and down going on. With a little practise onbuhimos can be put on very quickly and taken off very fast once your toddler decides he wants to walk again.

Young Child

Young children also like to to be carried in onbuhimos. The seat of an onbuhimo is usually wider than the seat of other soft structured carriers, which gives your child better support.

What are typical ways to carry with an onbuhimo?

Onbuhimos are not as versatile as other carriers when it comes to different ways how to carry a child. But even though onbuhimos are designed for back carries, a front carry is also possible.

Back Carry

The most comfortable way to carry a child in an onbuhimo is by doing a high back carry. It really is important that you carry your child as high as possible. My husband has mentioned for a long time that he finds our onbuhimo rather uncomfortable to wear. Only recently did he notice me tightening the shoulder straps as far as they go and tried the same. And suddenly, he was wearing our daughter higher up and it wasn’t uncomfortable anymore.

This video from Soul shows nicely how to back carry with an onbuhimo.

Front Carry

Using an onbuhimo for a front carry is unusual, but still doable. When we travelled to Canada and only had our onbuhimo carrier with us, I carried my daughter on the front so it would be easier for her to fall asleep and for me to also carry my backpack.

This video tutorial from Sakura Bloom shows how to do a front carry with an onbuhimo.

Are onbuhimos comfortable?

I personally find onbuhimos very comfortable, especially now that my daughter is heavier. The waistband of other carriers tends to dig into my belly, which I find rather uncomfortable.

Key for being comfortable while wearing your child in an onbuhimo is to carry your child high up on your back. It is also good to remember that you will be using different muscles when carrying your child with an onbuhimo. Starting off with shorter carries is always as good idea until your muscles are used to carrying your child in this way.

Can you use an onbuhimo while pregnant?

YES!

In fact, onbuhimos are the most commonly used carrier for pregnant women as they don’t have a waistband, which could dig into your tummy. With an onbuhimo pregnant women can comfortably wear their older child.

Who else likes to use onbuhimos?

Anyone else who prefers to not have a waistband digging into their tummy, will prefer to use an onbuhimo. I have noticed by myself that when my daughter got older and heavier, the waistband of a soft structured carrier (unless it was really wide and well padded) would start digging into my tummy, which I found very uncomfortable.

Dads also tend to like onbuhimos as they don’t have as many buckles which need to be tightened. With only shoulder straps and a chest clip to tighten it is a very simple and straight forward carrier.

Why should you choose an onbuhimo?

Pros

  • No waistband, therefore great for pregnant women
  • Easy to adjust through straps
  • Child can be put in and out of carrier quickly
  • Distributes child’s weight ergonomically when carried high enough on back
  • Doesn’t need to be adjusted between caregivers
  • Doesn’t take up much space

Cons

  • Can only be used for toddlers and young children, but not newborns and babies
  • Can only be used for back carries and sometimes front carries
  • Learning curve how to get your child on your back and high enough to be comfortable

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