This is one of the most commonly asked questions we get here at It's A Sling Thing.
There are so many options out there it can seem overwhelming. Here are some of our favourite ways to carry your newborn baby to get you started.
Stretchy wraps are perfect for newborns, and are always our go-to recommendation. They are soft and snuggly, and will fit any sized young baby or wearer. You tie the wrap on first, then pop baby in and out and required. It means you can leave the wrap on all day if you need to, or tie on at home, drive where you need to go and then pop baby in again. Perfect if you're not wanting to stand in a car park while you wrap, or trying not to drop the ends in puddles!
Here's a fab video explaining how to tie on a stretchy wrap.
Video courtesy of Sheffield Sling Surgery.
A Close Coboo is like a pre-tied stretchy wrap. You pop the main section on over your head like a t-shirt, adjust the tension with 2 sets of rings on either side, add the baby in the same way you would with a stretchy wrap and readjust the rings if needed. A long stretchy panel then goes around you both for an extra layer of comfort and security.
Tula Baby Carrier
If you don't like the look of wrapping, you could try a Tula baby carrier with the newborn insert (which is purchased and hired separately). The infant insert is used until the baby is around 3-4 months of age and can sit comfortably in the carrier with their knees able to bend freely. If the fabric of the panel comes past the child's knee-pit, they'll need the insert for a little longer.
Lillebaby Complete Range
The Lillebaby Complete Range of carriers includes the Original, Organic, Airflow and All Seasons models, and has a range of carrying positions to suit all ages. The Fetal position can be used from 7lbs to around 3 months as per the video below. A small blanket is used to sit baby higher up in the carrier, so no extra insert needs to be purchased.
Although we don't currently sell Lillebaby, we have a large selection available to hire from us here. We offer a discount voucher to all hirers of Lillebaby Carriers for use when they go on to buy.
Of course, you can use a woven wrap with a newborn. Unlike the stretchy wraps, you'll need to wrap the fabric with the baby held to you, as the tension cannot be adjusted to accommodate the baby later. A size 6 wrap is a great place to start if you're new to wrapping, but variations of carries can be used with shorter wraps if you're more experienced. Here's a video for a basic Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) to get you started!
Video courtesy of Wrap You In Love.
As you can see there are many different options available, it's not a case of one thing suiting everyone. We love helping people try before they buy!
What is an Onbuhimo?
An onbuhimo (sometimes referred to as onbu for short) is a baby carrier without a waistband. They originally came from Japan.
Why should I consider an Onbuhimo?
We adore Onbuhimos! The lack of waist band makes an onbuhimo one of the quickest and easiest carriers to get on and off.
Onbuhimos are small so good for people who are carrying children hot climates or just overheat easily. Onbuhimos are fantastic for quick up and downs with a toddler.
An onbuhimo can be a great option for pregnant Mums or anyone else who doesn't like pressure on their stomach. Onbuhimos can be used with another carrier to carry more than one child at a time. They can also be really useful for people with mobility problems in their shoulders as there is only one type of movement needed to secure them.
Onbuhimos usually fold up small when not is use and are often affordable too.
What are the downsides to Onbuhimos?
Depending on the size of the Onbuhimo, they may not be suitable for younger babies. Care must be taken to ensure the Onbuhimo fits the child so that there is not a risk that they will fall out of the side opening. I do not recommend you use an Onbuhimo with a child who does not yet have full head control.
Hourglass shaped onbuhimos are adaptable to different sized children to a degree, but generally if you have two different aged children, they will need different sized Onbuhimo.
All of your child's weight is supported by your shoulders. Some people do not like the feeling of weight distribution with an Onbuhimo.
What types of Onbuhimo are there?
The are three main types of Onbuhimo -
Buckle Onbuhimo - has padded straps at the top of the carrier with one half of a buckle attached to each shoulder strap. It has webbing and the other half of the buckle at the bottom of the Onbuhimo. Buckle Onbuhimos often comes with a chest belt clip.
Loop Onbuhimo - has fabric loops at the bottom and wrap straps at the top of the Onbuhimo. The wrap straps are threaded through the loops and secured with a knot.
Ring Onbuhimo - has rings at the bottom and wrap straps at the top of the Onbuhimo. The wrap straps are threaded through the rings to secure them.
It is personal preference as to which you would prefer.
How do I wear an Onbuhimo?
You can wear your child in an Onbuhimo on your front facing towards you or on your back.
We love these instructions videos from Nova Baby Carrier.
How do I make sure we are safe when using an Onbuhimo?
It is very important to wear your child high in a onbuhimo so that there is not too much pressure on your child's neck. If you wear your child too low, the pressure on the neck increases. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to wear your child high enough so that they can look over your shoulder while in a back carry or close enough to kiss in a front carry.
What features are available in an Onbuhimo?
Onbuhimos can be made from classic cotton canvas or from more mouldable but more expensive woven wrap material.
The shoulder straps can differ a lot on different onbuhimos - they can be wide/narrow, padded/not padded/part padded, wrap strap style/cotton and more.
Some Onbuhimos are shaped in a sort of hour glass so that you they can fit a wider variety of sizes of children. Depending on which part of the Onbuhimo your child's bottom rests on, it will be narrower or wider and so is adaptable.
Some Onbuhimos have leg padding for your child's comfort. Some have a hood.
Where can I try an Onbuhimo?
If you're not yet sure if an Onbuhimo is right for you and want to try before you buy - take a look at our Onbuhimos available for hire.
Where can I find out more?
Some buckle carriers will enable your child to face out. This is recommended only from four months upwards, not for sleeping in to protect the airway, and only for short periods of time.
This is because of the reduced opportunity your child has to see and interact with the adult carrying them, as well as the reduced hip support from the narrow base needed to allow forward facing. Some adults find it less comfortable to carry a child facing outwards because the child's weight is carried away from the adult's centre of gravity.
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
What is a ring sling?
A ring sling is made from a single piece of fabric, usually around 2m long, with two rings sewn into the end. The other end of the fabric is threaded through these rings to form a loop.
How do you wear a ring sling?
A ring sling is worn over one shoulder like a sash and is tightened by pulling the fabric through the rings which then lock it into place. The most usual ways to carry your child with a ring sling are on your hip facing you or on your front facing you. They can also be used to carry your child on your back or on your front facing out, though these positions take a little more practise.
Video courtesy of Slingababy
What are the advantages of a ring sling?
• Quick and easy to get on and off
• Suitable from birth to 3 years and more
• Folds down small so good for keeping in the car, bottom of the pram or changing bag
• Easy to breastfeed in
• Easy to lay a sleeping baby down without waking them
What are the disadvantages of a ring sling?
• Weight is not distributed evenly for the adult (on one shoulder rather than both)
• Ring slings take a little practise to learn to use initially
Tell me some brands of ring sling to look out for.
Most woven wrap companies offer ring slings. We like Girasol ring sling, Storchenwiege ring sling, Natibaby ring sling and Didymos ring sling but there are lots lots more!
What is the difference between a gathered shoulder and a pleated shoulder?
There are different types of shoulders on ring slings. The most common types are gathered shoulders and pleated shoulders. You can also find box pleat shoulders and hotdog shoulders around too. They are all different and most people find one style suits them best, so it is worth trying a few out.
Simple gathered shoulder:
Our Girasol Northern Lights ring sling available to hire
With a gathered shoulder you are able to get a good spread of fabric across your shoulder and back.
Our Natibaby Cyrpus ring sling available to hire
With a pleated shoulder the fabric is kept in a narrower distribution on your shoulder but still spreads widely across the back. Different brands will have smaller or larger pleats and more or less of them, so all feel slightly different.
Is there anything I should know when choosing a ring sling?
We do not recommend you use any ring sling with a welded join on the rings. These can be dangerous. The rings on a ring sling should be continuous and you should not see a join.
Some ring slings have padding in the shoulder and in the edges or ‘rails’ - this padding is designed to make it more comfortable to wear, but can also make it bulkier and less easy to adjust. For this reason many people prefer unpadded ring slings.
We recommend ring slings made from material especially woven to carry children rather than simple cotton, bed sheet like material. People tend to find woven wrap ring slings more comfortable for both adult and child.
Show me your ring slings available to hire!
We have one of the largest selection of ring sling available to hire in the UK. Check them out here.
Show me your ring slings available to buy!
We have our favourite ring slings available to buy. Check them out here.
Some buckle carriers have shoulder straps that can be worn crossed or back pack style. Back pack style is where each shoulder strap goes over a shoulder and back under the same armpit. Some carriers only allow backpack style. Crossed straps are usually only applicable when carrying your child on your front. The way you like to have the shoulder straps on a buckle carrier is very much personal preference.
Hoods can be attached to the carrier or completely detachable. They can often fold into a pocket or part of the carrier itself when not in use. When in use they can be secured to the shoulder straps by poppers, elastic loops, Velcro or buttons. Hoods come in several styles - they can be flat, sweat (like in a hoody) or pixie (over sized, pointy) style.
Many buckle carriers have pockets. Some have a small pocket in waistband, often suitable for a purse. Others have a larger pocket on the main part of the carrier which is suitable for a couple of disposable nappies and small wipes. You need to consider how comfortable anything you carry in this pocket will be against your child's back.
Leg padding is extra padding on the main part of the carrier when the child's legs come out of either side of the base of the carrier. It is designed to make your child more comfortable.
Perfect Fit Adjustors
These are additional buckles on the shoulder straps where they meet the body of the carrier. Perfect fit adjustors (PFAs) are designed to reduce and lengthen the padded section of the shoulder straps to make for a more comfortable experience for the wearer. Perfect fit adjustors replace the need for petite, standard and extra large versions of carrier straps.
Strap tidies are small loops of elastic on the end of buckle strap webbing. You can roll up any unused webbing and use the strap tidy to keep it out of the way. This stops excess straps dangling.
Adjustable Height / Width
The height and width of some carriers can be adjusted with toggles or poppers. This enables them to be used with smaller or larger babies without needing additional accessories. Particularly useful for carrying 2 or more children individually without needing to buy 2 different sizes of carriers.
Integrated Infant Harness
Used with newborn babies, the harness secures the baby in a safe position, ensuring they are higher up in the carrier without the top of the panel obstructing their face, and so their legs can be kept inside the carrier to avoid over-extending their hips.
Perfect for holidays and summer weather, UV protection is built in to the fabric of the carrier. The UV protection can fade with repeated washing, so our rental carriers may not offer as high a degree of protection as a new carrier would.
Again, perfect for warmer weather. Breathable mesh fabric is used in the panel of the carrier to allow for maximum air circulation throughout to help keep baby cool.
Structured / Unstructured Waist
Most soft structured carriers have some level of padding to the waist band, for comfort and positioning of the child (whereby they sit on the waistband). Some have no padding at all - the body of the carrier comes down their back and all the way under their seat to the front, creating a pocket for the child to sit in. It is very much personal preference which style of waist you and your child may prefer.
Most buckle carriers can be worn two at a time - one one the front and one on the back. Because the shoulder straps will overlap, it's best to use brands of carriers with less shoulder padding, as heavier padding can feel uncomfortable and bulky for the wearer. It's also recommended to put the baby you'll be wearing on the back on first, and then the baby on the front afterwards.
There are a couple of brands of carriers that are specifically designed to hold two children in at once. This can be as described above (one child on the back and one on the front), or with both babies side by side on the front.
Lightweight / Ultra Lightweight
A lightweight carrier such as a Connecta, or Nova Classic Full Buckle is a great sling to have around if you won't be using it all the time. They fold up really small so can easily be carried in your bag, or stored under the buggy etc. Ultra Lightweight carriers are like the "Pack-a-Mac" of the carrying world, and fold up in to their own pocket, some as small as a pencil case, like the Boba Air. Perfect for travelling, or keeping around "just in case" your child needs to be carried.
As much as possible, the position your child is in when in a carrier or sling should mimic their natural position. This may change depending on your child's age and even if they are awake or asleep. It's very important to understand that awareness of the position of your child in a sling or carrier is not just important when you are putting them in, but its something to be monitored regularly as you go about your day carrying your baby.
Younger children tend to naturally hold their bodies in a J shape with their back gently rounded. As they get older they tend to 'straighten out' but this process can take longer than you'd expect, with many children still having a natural curvature to their spine until around 18 months old.
Your child will probably feel most comfortable and secure with their weight being supported from below and the ability to have their arms close to their face if they so wish. A position that it is useful to aim for is one where the child's pelvis is tilted, their back allowed to naturally curve and their knees and elbows bent.
Photos courtesy of JPMBB
As beautiful and precious as our children are, when you are trying to make sure that you are comfortable when wearing a sling or carrier - you need to think about them like any other weight! Keeping your child close to you and high up near your chest will usually feel more comfortable for you than carrying your child away from your body near your stomach or lower back.
Probably the secret to getting a comfortable carrier or sling is to find one that distributes your child's weight as widely and evenly as possible. In most cases a carrier or sling that distributes weight to both shoulders and your hips will be more comfortable than one shoulder and/or carriers that don't offer hip support.
Padding can offer more comfort for the wearer, but be aware this isn't always the case. Sometimes something thin and floppy which moulds to your body will feel nicer. Wrap straps (those made of wrap fabric) are usually wide and cup your shoulders to further distribute weight.
If you have a mei tai or buckle carrier the waist and shoulder straps should touch your body throughout the length of the strap . If the carrier hangs off you or gapes then you may find that it pulls on your body where it does make contact.
If you find one or both of the shoulder straps of your buckle carrier tends to fall down, then you possibly need to tighten or move the chest strap upwards.
If you have had a C-section or have any other issues such as back or neck pain it is usually OK to carry your child but you may need to choose a carrier or carry that avoids this area. Please use your own judgement and contact a medical professional if you are unsure.
As your child gets older they will usually very readily tell you if something is up, but its a little harder when they are smaller for them to tell you if they are uncomfortable.
- Make sure your child is adequately hydrated.
- Consider their clothes - each layer of sling is one layer of clothes, snow suits are not generally recommended for children in carriers or slings. Check your child's temperate by feeling just below their vest line, hands and feet will always feel cooler.
- Choose a carrier or sling than enables your child to be supported along their bottom and both thighs all the way into their knee pits. Tilt their pelvis so that their bottom is lower than their knees.
- When small, under 4 months, make sure that your child's knees are no further apart than their pelvis. After this, the space between their knees can be wider but be careful not to overspread their legs. This is when their calves are not able to be free to hang vertically.
- If there is extra fabric, its usually more comfortable for your child to have it bunched in their knee pits rather than around their neck
- Choose a position than allows your child's spine and neck to stay in a straight line.
- Enable your child to bring their hands to their month if they want to.
- Make sure any fabric over your child's body is smooth with no twists or knots resting on your child, especially on their spine.
- Your child may find it uncomfortable if their head lolls when asleep. Tilting their pelvis usually solves this issue.
- If your child has their cheek towards your body they may find their neck becomes sore if they are always facing the same way. Try to encourage your child to alternate which cheek faces you if possible.
Babywearing is extremely safe. It has been practised across the world for centuries by many people, in many carriiers in many different ways.
The most important thing to consider when looking at safety in slings is you child's airways - is there room to breath? There should be absolutely no fabric covering your child's face at all. This includes sleeping hoods and hats - make sure they cover the head if needed, but not the face. Also - consider your child's position - is their chin on their chest? If so, they could find it difficult to breathe, so its recommended that you change positions immediately. For this reason I don't recommend horizontal cradle positions, instead an upright position is preferred. If carrying your child on your front, their head should be positioned somewhere between your breasts and your chin. If you don't have breasts, then somewhere below your chin is fine. That way you can see where you are going! If you are carrying your child on your back, ensure you are able to monitor their breathing by feeling their breathe on your neck or being able to see them by glancing over your shoulder.
Essentially there are two ways to make sure your child stays safely in a sling or carrier - ensuring that they have adequate support below them with no room to slip through and making sure than their back support is high enough that they are unable to lean too far and flop out.
Finally, be aware of external hazards such as tripping over things or bumping into things beside or above you. Remember, tripping or falling with your child in a carrier is likely to result in a better outcome for you and your child than if you were carrying them in your arms as you often have hands free to protect your child and or break your fall.