Types of Slings and Carriers
Welcome! Are you new to carrying your child and don't know were to start? Are you overwhelmed about the types of slings and carriers available? Are you just starting out with your carrier and not sure if it’s the best type for you? Do you wonder what other options there may be? You're in the right place!
Here's a quick overview of the main types of slings and carriers.
Stretchy wraps are long pieces of soft jersey material that wrap around your body. They are ideal for newborns and young babies, offering gentle support for little spines. They can easily be shared by more than one adult as one size fits most. A stretchy wrap can be tied on once and left on all day. You can then pop your baby in and out with ease without needing to take the sling off each time. They offer an affordable option.
Woven wraps are long pieces of woven material that wrap around your body. They work well for newborns all the way through to pre schoolers and can be used on the front, back or hip in a variety of carries. They can be the most adaptable types of carriers. They can easily be shared by more than one adult. They are woven in a particular way to provide gentle all-around pressure, supportive but still soft and mouldable.
Mei tais have a structured body panel which have four straps that tie to secure to your body. They are very versatile, offering structured support and lots of carrying options. They can easily be shared by more than one adult. Mei tais can be very affordable.
Ring slings offer a lightweight, quick and easily adjusted sling for newborn to pre-schoolers. Ring slings have one end sewn securely into two strong rings. They are worn on one shoulder with the child sitting in a pouch on the opposite side of the adult's body. They can easily be shared by more than one adult.
Buckle carriers have a structured body panel which have four straps that you secure by buckles, so there is no tying involved. They are often the quickest type of carrier to use but are not always suitable for newborn babies. Buckle carriers vary enormously. Waistbands and shoulder straps can be lightly or heavily padded, some shoulder straps cross over on the back when baby is on the front, others are fixed into a rucksack style. What suits one adult/child combination may not suit another. Find out more about the different features of buckle carriers here.
Pods (otherwise known as Podaegi) are a variation of a torso carrier. They are primarily designed for back carries but can be used on the front too. A pod is basically a long rectangle panel of fabric with straps at two corners. The fabric surrounds your baby's back, and the shoulder straps tie around your child's back and under their legs like a mei tai would. They're really adjustable, and can be worn from newborn up to toddler without any additional accessories.
Onbuhimos are another kind of carrier with no waist band, which originated in Japan. The shoulder straps come down to meet the bottom of the back panel under your child's legs (so the legs sit through the shoulder straps). The original Onbuhimos were secured with small rings at the bottom corners of the panel. The shoulder ties can be passed under your arms, through the rings and tied off. Now the more modern versions are made with SSC shoulder straps with adjustable webbing, and a chest clip.
Half Buckle carriers are a hybrid of full buckles and mei-tais. A standard half buckle will have a buckled waist with shoulder ties. A reverse half buckle is made with buckled shoulders and a tie waist.
Carrying Aids can vary widely between brands of carriers. Infant inserts are used to adjust the position of a newborn baby within a soft structured carrier until they are big enough to sit in the width of the carrier without over-extending their hips. Brands such as Tula, Beco & Ergo have their own inserts designed specifically to fit their own carrier.
An accessory strap can be used to adjust the width of the carrier slightly to allow a child to sit safely within it. Manduca have their own Size-It strap which can be used with many other brands. Connecta accessory straps also work in the same way.
Tula have designed Free to Grow extenders, which are fitted from the shoulder straps of carriers to the waist band to widen the base of the carrier and support the backs of your child's legs - this allows them to maintain the optimum "knee to knee" support where they may otherwise have outgrown the carrier. Boba 4G carries also have stirrups, but these fit to D rings built in, and so are not able to be used with other brands.
In bad weather, you might like to use a weather protector on top of your carrier. They work in a similar way as a cosy-toes would on a buggy, and keep your child warm and dry while they're being carried. Close Cocoons and BundleBeans are available to hire with most of our slings