How do I choose a sling?

Click on the sling types to get an overview of what they are. Try and picture yourself with them to help you decide. If you would like some professional help, go to the Resources section to get links to consultants all over the UK.

A stretchy wrap used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Je Porte Mon Bébé

A stretchy wrap used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Je Porte Mon Bébé

Stretchy wraps are long pieces of knitted cloth that you pre-tie around you and pop baby in and out, or that you tie around you and your baby.
They usually come in one size (between 4 and 5.5m) which allows you to do the pre-tied knot, also called basic knot. Their width vary between brands from 50 cm to 70cm.

There are two different categories: the one-way stretch and the two-way stretch.

One-way stretch wraps need to be pre-tied with the exact amount of space for them to feel supportive. If the tying is approximate, they will feel less supportive over time and you may only get a few months of carrying out of them, as they become uncomfortable. If you choose to tie them around you and your baby, you will get a lot longer out of them. These tend to be 100% cotton and offer some stretch thanks to the knitting pattern.

Two-way stretch wraps need to be pre-tied bandage-tight for them to feel supportive. If the tying is too loose, they will feel less supportive and bouncy. If you choose to tie them around you and your baby, you will need to pull most of the stretch out to get long-lasting support. These tend to be a mix of cotton and elastane (spandex) and offer some stretch thanks to the knitting pattern and the elasticity of the fibre.

Stretch wraps come in different thickness, depending on the knitting density, this will offer a different support.

There are many variations between brands and it is worth getting in touch with a carrying consultant or going to a sling library to feel the difference for yourself.

 

The prices range from about £15 to £60.

Suitability from newborn and depending on brand to 6 months, a year or preschool years. Ask a carrying consultant for support in choosing.

A woven wrap used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Woven Wings and Sarah Condry Photography

A woven wrap used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Woven Wings and Sarah Condry Photography

Woven wraps are long pieces of cloth that you tie around you and your baby.
They come in different sizes and you choose the size depending on the carry you want to use it for. Don’t be fooled by the idea that the longest one will allow you to do everything. Although it is true, if your wrap is too long, you will end up very frustrated and very hot!
They come with different compositions: cotton, and cotton-based mixes usually: bamboo, silk, wool, hemp, linen… Different mixes will offer different feel and this is all down to personal preferences.
They come in different thickness, and again, this is all down to personal preferences.
Woven fabric come with different weaving patterns. Although you can carry with nearly anything, the German style woven tends to be more comfortable and when people refer to a wrap as a woven they usually mean German style woven. These can be: cross twill (looks the same on both sides), single twill (looks different on the reverse), herringbone, diamond, or Jacquard (has patterns and colours look inverted on the reverse side).

As a beginner I would suggest you pick a thin to medium stripey cotton wrap as they are easy to care for and the stripes will help you understand how to tighten it.

 

Prices range from £50 to the thousands with many brands around the £100 mark.

Suitability from newborn to the end of carrying years.

a ringsling used in a hip carry, picture courtesy of Woven Wings and Sarah Condry Photography

a ringsling used in a hip carry, picture courtesy of Woven Wings and Sarah Condry Photography

Ring slings are knotless woven wraps, using 2 rings to adjust the size (same principle as the double-ringed-belt).
The fabric can be any woven fabric but again the German style woven tend to be the most comfortable ones.
The rings are usually aluminium rings but can also be Nylon ones. Make sure to get purpose-made rings. The rings come in 3 different sizes (S, M or L) and most ring slings use either M or L. The bigger the ring the easier it is to adjust the wrap. The smaller the ring, the tighter it will keep the tension.
There are two main families of ring slings: the gathered shoulder and the pleated shoulder. The gathered shoulder has the wrap sewn simply over the rings. The upside is that it can be adjusted to any shape and size, the downside is that you have to spread it each time the way that works for you. The pleated shoulder comes in a variety of design, which can feel overwhelming. The wrap is pleated following a pattern (brand-specific). The upside is that it looks neater and, providing you have found the right one for you, it will cup your shoulder nicely and quickly so you won’t have to worry about positioning so much. The downside is that you have to find the right one for you and it’s very much a game of trial and error.

Prices range from £40 to the thousands with many around the £80 mark.

Suitability from newborn to preschooler.

The mei-tai is the traditional Chinese carrier. It has a pannelwith 4 straps: 2 waist straps and 2 longer shoulder straps.

There are 3 main families: the padded shoulder straps, the wide shoulder straps or the hybrid straps that star padded and flare into wider straps. This is down to personal preferences. The padded straps are very easy to use and either feel comfortable for you or don’t. The wide straps require to be spread before you tighten to benefit from its weight-spreading properties.
These all come in a variety of fabrics, patterns, sizes, compositions, etc. This is brand-specific and what works for you might not work for someone else. Again, it is all down to personal preferences.
Some have a panel that can be adjusted in width and/or height which makes them easier to use from birth.

 

Prices range from £50 to several hundreds with many around the £100 mark.

Suitability from newborn for some, most easily used from 4 months, to the end of carrying years if you invest in bigger sizes when needed.

A buckle carrier used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Connecta and Ali Dover

A buckle carrier used in a front carry, picture courtesy of Connecta and Ali Dover

These are inspired by the Mei tais but have the added feature of buckles and adjustable straps. The carriers have buckles on both shoulder straps and waist belt. The Half-Buckle carriers (HB) only have buckles on the waist belt. The carriers with buckles on the shoulder straps and a tie-on waist are usually referred to as Reversed Half-Buckle (RHB).

They come in different fabric, shapes, patterns, sizes, padding… Some have several adjusters on the shoulder straps and some only have one way to adjust.

Note that some have shoulder straps that are clipped and some are fixed. The former will allow crossing of the straps and the later won’t. This is brand-specific and what works for you might not work for someone else. Again, it is all down to personal preferences.

Prices range from £50 to several hundreds with many around the £100 mark.

Suitability from newborn for some, most easily used from 4 to 6 months, to the end of carrying years if you invest in bigger sizes when needed.