Here is an introduction to the different types of sling available on the market, in our shop and in our libraries. Should you require further information about any of these slings please do feel free to contact us.
buckle carriers/ soft structured carriers (SSCs)
Buckle carriers are traditionally a main body of fabric supporting baby with shoulder and waist straps that fasten and adjust using buckles and clips. They can be worn or your front or back and some can also be used in a hip carry. They can be used from newborn to pre-school and are available in different sizes across that age range; a select few last the entire time using accessories to prolong the useful life of the sling, ie where it is supporting the optimal knee-to-knee position. As the name suggests, they are very structured, so aren’t very ‘free form’. They can give maximum support for the child and the same for the wearer.
Buckle carriers can have many flashy features such as stowaway, detachable sleephoods, seat extenders for extending the life of the carrier, specific settings for newborns, stirrups for older children, pockets, crossover straps for more support in front carries and even bag clips to prevent bags slipping from your shoulder.
PROS: No fabric trailing on the floor whilst you fasten the carrier. Can be pretty quick and easy to put on/take off. Very structured so gives lots of support.
CONS: Not all buckle carriers suit all body types/shapes, especially on petite or larger frames, so it is very important that you try before you buy to see if it works for you. If you have more than one person using the same sling the adjustment each time can be quite time consuming.
POPULAR BRANDS: Ergo, Boba 3g/4g/Air, Manduca, AngelPack, CatBirdBaby, Connecta, Rose & Rebellion, Tula, Patapum, Action Baby Carrier, Beco, EmeiBaby, Ergo, Kibi, Lillebaby, Moby Go, Scootababy, Pognae, Sleepy Nico.
tie on sling/meh dai (formerly known as mei tai)
These slings are mostly a section/square of fabric to support the child with 4 long straps from each corner. The bottom 2 tie around the wearer’s waist, the top 2 are tied over the shoulders and tied/secured in various ways depending on user preference. They can be used for front, back or hip carries. Can be used from birth to pre-school and come in a variety of sizes including baby, toddler and pre-schooler. You can also get ‘in-between’ sizes too.
Tie on slings are generally made to the same basic design, the main differences is the shape of the panel and type of fabric used on the panel and straps. The additional features you can get are sleephoods (pixie, sweat, flat), extra long straps for a greater variety of ways to secure/tie the straps, wide straps for greater weight distribution and various padded areas (straps/waist/legs out area). You can also get a woven wrap converted into a Meh Dai or Podaegi by one of the many brilliant WAHMs (Work at Home Mums) out there!
PROS: Very versatile in every sense. Very quick to learn how to tie them. Widely available. Lots of work at home mum (WAHM) made ones so can be completely customised. Less structured which some people prefer. Can fold up very small for packing away. Can have a more tailored, personal fit than a buckle carrier. Can be adjusted by rolling/cinching the waist and panel to fit smaller babies, and so prolongs the useful life of the sling, ie where it is supporting the optimal knee-to-knee position.
CONS: Look a bit complicated to use, however see above! Long straps so if securing outside could cause the straps to get wet/dirty.
POPULAR BRANDS: BabyHawk/ToddlerHawk, Napsack, Lenny Lamb, Kozy, Melkaj, DidyTai, HopTye, BBTai, Pouchlings, Bondolino, ByKay.
Woven Wraps are various lengths of specially made fabric wrapped and tied around both the wearer and wearee. They come in pretty much every colour combination and design you could possibly ever think of! There are different material blends available including linen, cotton, hemp, wool and silk, you can of course get 100% materials too. Many woven wraps are hand made, hand woven by ethically sourced workers. A massive amount of time and research has gone into the development of these wraps, both for the non-toxic dyes used and the process they use on the loom. Wraps are woven in a specific way in order to ensure no stretch or thread shifting, both of which could lead to the wrap breaking or creating a hole/weak spot.
Woven wraps do pretty much what they say on the tin! You can’t get extras for them, but really there is no need as the versatility of them is outstanding! You can front, back or hip carry, you can even tandem carry with just 1 wrap! Woven wraps can be used from the day your child is born right up until they no longer want to be carried. There are no upper or lower weight limits. They come in sizes 2 (2.7m), 3 (3.2m), 4 (3.7m), 5 (4.2m), 6 (4.7m), 7 (5.2m) & 8 (5.7m). The greater the wrap sizing the more different carries you can do with it, however shorter wraps do have the benefit of being ideal for quick carries.
We are looking to develop a woven wrap carry database page to document every type of carry so keep your eyes peeled!
PROS: They look beautiful! They are possibly the most supportive type of carrier as they mould to you and your child. They are massively versatile. Once you are confident with wrapping you can secure a carry start to finish extremely quickly. Woven wraps even have alternative uses such as hammocks and scarves! They last generations and make wonderful heirlooms – some Didymos woven wraps from the 1970s are still in active use 40 years later.
CONS: They take quite a bit of practice to use. If not experienced it can take quite a while to secure the carry so not ideal if you are in a hurry, this does improve with time and practice though. Wrapping outside in the wet or dirt can be a problem as the wrap can get dirty.
POPULAR BRANDS: Didymos, Girasol, Lenny Lamb, Natibaby, Oscha, Storchenweige, Kokadi, Hoppediz, Ling Ling, Ellevill, Little Frog, Amazonas, Calin Bleu, Colimacon et Cie.
Stretchy wraps are long lengths of stretchy fabric used to hold small babies in front carries. They generally come in one size to fit every person and come in many different colours. Some have more stretch than others, but essentially all are the same thing.
Stretchy wraps should only ever be used in front carries for small babies, on average up to 6/8 months dependent on their weight, as when the wrap starts to bounce or sag it is no longer safe or comfortable. Back carries are not recommended. The Close Caboo is a slightly structured version of a stretchy which is not wrapped around but put on like a jumper and adjusted using rings. There are also hybrid stretchy wraps such as Je Porte Mon Bebe (JPMBB). The JPMBB is a true hybrid stretchy wrap meaning that it can be used in a back carry and be used for older children because of its unique fabric. We carry both in the library.
PROS: Very comfortable. Easy to use with a little practice. Provides warmth in order to have skin-to-skin with new babies. Easy to breastfeed in.
CONS: Can take a little practice to tie tightly enough for maximum support and comfort.
POPULAR BRANDS: Moby, Close, Je Porte Mon Bebe, Boba Wrap, Kari Me, Hana Baby.
ring slings & pouch slings
Ring Slings and Pouch Slings are slings worn on one shoulder with the child sitting on the opposite side or on the wearer’s front. Ring slings are generally made of woven wrap fabric and are adjusted and secured with 2 rings (sling rings). Pouch Slings are generally a loop of fabric made of fleece or sturdy cotton, some are adjustable with webbing and some are sized therefore not adjustable. Many people think that having the sling on just one shoulder would be uncomfortable, however because of the structure and weight distribution of these slings, the child is pulled into your centre of gravity so no over compensation of the hip, therefore no pain or discomfort should occur.
Ring Slings can be purpose-made by many of the woven wrap companies or be converted from a standard short woven wrap. They can have different types of shoulder: gathered, pleated or padded; which you choose is entirely personal preference. They are adjusted by pulling the ‘tail’ of the sling, whilst being worn, through the rings to tighten the body of the sling and you can fine tune the carry by just pulling on the top hem (known as a rail). You can wear the child on the front, front-side, hip or even back. They are great for breastfeeding in as you can loosen and tighten as you require to move the child down to latch on. They can be worn constantly so perfect for the older child/toddler who wants to be up and down all the time.
PROS: No masses of fabric to have trailing on the floor whilst securing. Fold up very small so ideal for putting in a handbag for a ‘just in case’ situation. Loads of lovely designs. Very quick and easy to adjust and secure. Allows child to see the world whilst supported in a correct ergonomic position, but still allowing them to turn into the wearer and take a break from overwhelming visual stimulation.
CONS: Practice is required to get the correct set up. Pouch slings lack the ability to be adjusted whilst worn.
POPULAR BRANDS: Any of the woven wrap brands mentioned above, Pouchlings, Sakura Bloom, Hotslings, Seven Slings.