All about onbuhimos: Lenny Lamb Onbuhimo Peacock Tail Fantasy. A smiling white-presenting red-haired woman back carrying a happy, black-presenting toddler in an onbuhimo.

All About Onbuhimos: What is an Onbuhimo, What Size Onbuhimo Do I Need, Who Can Use an Onbuhimo, and How to Use an Onbuhimo

Onbuhimos are a hot topic! What are they?
An onbuhimo is a Japanese style backpack carrier with a chest belt and no waist belt. Children are worn high on the back. They can be used in the front, but are generally more comfortable as back carries.

The shortened "onbu" does not translate as the same meaning as "onbuhimo" and should not be used. This is because we have not "resurrected" a lost cultural practice, but this is a practice currently in use in Eastern cultures. The respectful use of this term is important to avoid cultural appropriation (cultural appropriation is taking from another culture and modifying it to another, usually more dominant, culture as if it were its own in a way that is inappropriate or unacknowledged).

Why might you want an onbuhimo?
--You have a little one who loves being high up to look around
--You need to get things done and prefer a back carry
--You prefer a carrier with simpler adjustments
--You have no issue hoisting your baby or toddler high on your back
--Your toddler loves quick ups and downs
--Your child needs help remaining firmly in the carrier! (seat-poppers)
--Your child can sit unassisted and can be safely back carried
--You are pregnant 
--You prefer not to have a waist belt
--You don't mind adjusting to the different muscles used in an onbuhimo (it's higher on the back and uses different muscles than other carriers)

Who isn't a good choice for an onbuhimo?
--Your child isn't ready for back carries and cannot sit unassisted (not ready yet!  )
--It is hard for you to bump baby up very high on your back
--You don't like chest belts
--You prefer front carries

How to use and adjust a Lenny Lamb Onbuhimo
***always keep a hand on baby as you are adjusting and be cautious when baby is elevated***
--Place baby on the carrier on an elevated surface like a bed, with the rounded flap down, the reverse side up, and the hood back and away from you
--Pull the width adjustment cord so that the panel goes from baby's knee to knee as support and doesn't force the leg straight. You can knot this for future use
--Put baby's legs through the backpack straps. Your child's legs will be partially supported by the straps and partially supported by the seat
--Lift the rounded flap up in front of your baby to make a seat. You can ask your child to help you hold this in place!. When doing so, check the depth of the seat by seeing where it falls on baby's back. For arms in, it can line up at the top of the shoulder. For arms out, it should be just under the shoulder blade. You may need to let out the adjustment at the top to give more fabric and a larger seat panel
--Lift baby onto your back depending on your preference. You can squat down and put your arms in like a backpack, hip scoot, or superman. Clip the chest strap
--Once baby is up, check that the seat is in place properly. Now it's time to adjust! Bump baby up as high as you need to be comfortable, adjusting the straps as you do so. In this carrier, when baby is higher, the chest strap will move lower. Tighten as needed for comfort for both of you

How do I know what size onbuhimo I need?
--The standard size will fit your child for a long time!
--If your child is already 2 or so, you may be more comfortable in a toddler size
--The biggest factor is in the width of the panel, which you want to comfortably support the thigh and not overextend the knee, and the height. Your child will not fit well in the toddler if they are not tall enough as the pocket will be too deep and uncomfortable.
--Consider how your child prefers to be carried--arms in or arms out--before sizing for the panel

Enjoy wearing your baby or toddler in your onbuhimo! If you are looking for new, here are a few in our shop now, with more on the way. And, we can also order some in for you if you don't see what you are looking for. Leave any questions in the comments below!

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  • Alexandra Puppelo

    Hi Debra! This is a great question. The chest clip can be pushed down, and the higher your little one sits on your back, the lower the chest clip will fall – it rotates, if you will.

    There are versions of the onbuhimo that use rings and ties instead of buckles, though I don’t have any on my website, unfortunately! You could modify the carrier if needed, but that would violate the warranty.

    I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions! =)

  • Debra Wheeler

    I actually like the support of the waist band but want a high back carry for my toddler. I am worried the chest clip will be a problem. Is there a none clip version? If it was soft material and I could tie to the side of my chest I think I would be good.

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