Types of Sling
A waparound sling (known as a "wrap") is the most versatile type of sling. It is basically a long piece of material that can be wrapped and tied in different ways to provide a suportive and secure carry for any age of baby or toddler. With a wrap you can wear your child on your front, back or hip in a variety of different carrying postitions. These slings are ideal for parents wishing to share a sling. Wraps are generally split into two categories: those made from stretchy material and those made from woven material.
Stretchy wraps are generally recommended as the best type of sling for newborns because the material is so soft and snuggly. They are also easier to master than woven wraps.
Manufacturers of stretchy wraps state that they can be used for older babies but most people move on to using woven wraps after the first few months because they find that stretchy wraps stretch too much as baby gets older (JPMBB stretchy wraps are the exception to this rule - they are supportive enough even for toddlers). Woven wraps take some time to get used to and require some practise but they do come with very clear instructions and are one of the few slings that will truly take you through from newborn to toddler.
Tie on Carriers
A tie on carrier is known as a mei tai. Based on the traditional Asian carrier, a mei tai is basically a rectangular piece of material with 2 long straps at the base and 2 long straps at the top.The lower straps tie around the wearer's waist and the top straps are crossed over the wearer's body, brought forward to cross under baby's bottom and then tied around the wearer's waist. They are simple to use because they are just tied on using basic knots.
With a mei tai you can carry your baby on your front, back or hip. The weight of the baby is spread across both shoulders so they are very comfortable for long periods and with heavier babies. Some styles have a headrest and a few have sleephoods. Mei tais are suitable from newborn to toddler (although some makes are smaller "bodied" than others and so may be more suited to the baby stage - check the measurements if you are in doubt) . They are useful for parents wishing to share a carrier because they are usually "one size fits all". The lack of bukles makes them very adjustable in that they can be tied wherever is comfortable for the wearer.
Mei Tais are generally reversible - usually to a plain side the side the same colour as the straps.
Hip carriers are similar to ring slings in that they are one shouldered carriers and are generally (as the name suggests) worn on the hip. The difference between hip carriers and ring slings is that hip carriers are usually more "structured" in appearance - with a buckle waist and often a padded waistband.
This type of carrier is very easy to use and is generally very adjustable making it suitable for sharing with multiple users. It is an extremely useful carrier for older babies and toddlers who like to see around them and are at the "up and down" stage.
Bear in mind that these kind of carriers are only suitable for babies who can hold their heads up independently, When your baby reaches a certain age (typically between 4 and 6 months) you will find it becomes natural to carry your baby on your side (legs straddling your hip). This is the perfect age to start using a hip carrier! Some hip carriers also allow for short term front and back carries (the Scootababy is a good example of this.)
Note: Some people with back problems may find that this type of carrier puts too much strain on one shoulder. It may help to swap sides regularly in this case or you may find that a different carrier is more suited to your needs.
Buckle carriers are usually referred to as Soft Strctured Carriers (SSCs). Like the mei tai, this type of carrier has a rectangular fabric panel with waist straps and shoulder straps. The difference with the SSC is that the straps are attached using heavy duty buckles instead of being tied on. The waistband is also normally wider and more stuctured in appearance than that of the mei tai.
With a SSC you can carry your baby on your front or back, facing the wearer. Many SSCs have a sleephood to support the head of a sleeping child. Some SSCs are suitable from birth - either because of an integral or separate infant insert or because it is possible to narrow the base of the carrier to accomodate a young babies legs. Other SSCs are only suitable from approx 4 months so it is always advisable to check the age range that the carrirer is suitable for before purchasing the product. It can also be useful to check the measurements of the carrier as some SSCs have a small "body" (making them most suitable for babies) whilst others have a large "body" (making them more suitable for toddlers). These carriers are often chosen for being quck and easy to use. They can also be extremely comfortable for long periods of time because the weight is distributed across both shoulders. Most SSCs will fit most wearers but if you fit into either petite or plus sized clothes then you will need to be careful choosing a SSC as the straps may not adjust to fit your body shape.
A ring sling is basically a long piece of fabric with two rings sewn on at one end. The tail end of the fabric is threaded through the two rings to form a pouch for baby to sit/lie in. Ring slings are worn on one shoulder and can be adjusted easily using the two rings (although it can take a little practise).
These slings are often chosen because they're ideal for breastfeeding in, are great for popping baby in and out of and are so easy to transfer between parents.
With a ring sling you can carry your baby in a variety of positions - cradle carry, tummy to tummy, on the hip or on the back. The cradle position is great for breastfeeding in whilst the hip carry is perfect for babies who wish to see around them but still need to able to burry their face in their carer's body when the stimulation gets too much.
Ring slings are suitable from the newborn stage right through to the toddler years although some people do find a one shouldered carry puts too much strain on their shoulder as their baby grows. Like the hip carrier, people with back problems may find that this type of sling puts too much strain on one shoulder. They may need to limit the amount of time they use this sling for or else choose a 2 shouldered sling instead.
Choosing the best sling for you:
We've constructed this handy table to help you decide which sling will suit you best. Please note that this is based on our experience and in some cases we are simply giving our opinion and so it is to be used for guidance purposes only. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions when using your sling or carrier. We will be adding more advice to this section soon so check in again for more or email us if you need help deciding in the meantime.
Types of Slings
|Sharing with multiple users||Breastfeeding||Newborns||Toddlers||Quick ups and downs||Long Walks||Ease of Use||Hip carries||Back Carriers||Front Carries||Forward Facing*|
|Stretchy Wraps||Yes||Yes||Yes - ideal for newborns||Not generally recommended for toddlers with the exception of the JMPBB||Yes (can be pre-tied)||Yes||Takes practise and time to get used to||Yes in some instances - check manufacturer's instructions||Not generally recommmended for back carries with the exception of the JMPBB||Yes||Yes|
|Woven Wraps||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not ideal as they take time to tie||Yes||Takes practise and time to get used to||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Tie on Carriers||Yes||Yes - usuallly||Yes (generally used with baby's legs in)||Yes (but check measurements, some small bodied mei teis are not ideal for toddlers)||Not ideal||Yes||Fairly straightforward - some practise needed||Yes - not ideal in our opinion||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hiip Carriers||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Perfect for this||Not ideal for long walks||Very strraigthforward to use||Yes||Yes depending on the make - check manufacturer's instructions||Yes depending on the make - check manufacturer's instructions||No|
|Buckle Carriers||Somewhat more difficult (contact us for advice)||Not usually||Only some buckle carriers can be used, not ideal||Yes, depending on the make, Always check measurements||Fairly quick to get on and off||Yes||Very straightforward to use||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes - in most cases|
|Ring Slings||Yes||Yes - ideal for breastfeeding||Yes||Yes||Perfect for this||Not ideal for long walks||Fairly straightforward - some practise needed||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes - in most cas|
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