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Choosing the Right Sling for You and Your Baby

Choosing a sling can seem like a daunting prospect: the vast range of options - different carrying positions, fabrics choices and so on - can seem bewildering at first, and most slings are fairly new to the market. However, there is at least one perfect sling out there for every family! Taking a bit of time now to think about what you want and need from your sling will ensure a happy and long babywearing relationship.

Confused by the terminology? Check our glossary!

For a quick comparison , our chart outlines the features of all our hire slings.

Please read through the following questions in each category and make some notes of which slings seem most suitable for you and your baby.


Age

  • How old is your baby?
  • Do you want to carry him/her for just a few months, or well into toddler-hood?
  • Do you want one sling which will last you through your baby-wearing days, or are you going to be buying more slings?

Ideal slings for babies: Stretchy Wraparounds, Pouches, Ring Slings

Ideal for older babies: Structured Soft Carriers, Hip Carriers

Ideal for both: Traditional Soft Carriers, Woven Wraps


Holding Positions

  • How does your baby like to be held? A baby that likes being held upright may not be happiest lying down in a sling.

Ideal for babies who like being held upright: Soft Carriers, Wraparound Carriers

  • Do you have any back, shoulder or pelvis problems? Some slings are better at distributing your baby's weight than others.

Ideal for those with bad backs: Soft Carriers, Wraparound Carriers


The Sling User

  • How many people will be using the sling? Some slings come in different sizes, which may well affect their flexibility for you.

Ideal for use by different size wearers: Ring Slings, Stretchy Wraparound Carriers, Soft carriers, Hip Carriers

  • Are you willing to learn different tying methods or are you more interested in a pop and go type carrier?
  • Do you want a traditional sling or a simple, modern design?

Easy to use, ‘pop and go’ carriers: Pouches, Hip Carriers, Soft Carriers

Slight learning curve: Ring Slings

Larger learning curve: Wraparound Carriers

Modern, Simple looks: Pouches, Hip Carriers, Structured Soft Carriers

Traditional designs: Ring Slings, Traditional Soft Carriers, and Wraparound Carriers


Types of Sling

There are five basic styles of sling/carrier: Soft Carriers, Hip Carriers, Pouches, Ring Slings and Wraparound Carriers. Many experienced babywearers will own one sling from each type, as they each have their own strengths. However, you may find that one style of carrier will fit your needs better than others

Soft carriers are based on traditional Asian carriers. Some are more structured than others and tend to be suitable from when the baby has good head and trunk control. The less structured traditional carriers can be used from birth upwards. These slings are excellent for people with back problems as they distribute the weight evenly. They are also suitable for use by more than one parent as they are adjustable. Babies are held in an upright position which is preferred by those with reflux and colic/gas problems. They are less easy to breastfeed in than other styles. Structured carriers are easy to learn to use and very ‘mainstream’ looking; the more traditional styles come in a variety of patterns and colours and look more alternative.

Hip carriers are suitable for use on the hip only and therefore can only be used when the child is able to sit up by his or herself. Most models are not truly hands-free and therefore tend to be best suited for use indoors and/or for short periods of time. They should be used carefully by those with back problems and sides should be swapped regularly. As Hip carriers are adjustable they can be used by multiple users, and tend to be simple and modern in design.

Pouches are essentially a simple loop of fabric worn over one shoulder. Suitable for use from birth to around 30lbs they are an excellent simple ‘pop and go’ carrier. For best fit most pouches come in a range of sizes and it is important to find the right size otherwise they can be uncomfortable. Some designs are adjustable with either poppers or buttons. Very simple to learn to use and a huge variety of colours and patterns available. Babies with reflux or who prefer to be held upright may not like these carriers until they are a few months old and can be carried upright in the Buddha position or on the hip. These carriers tend to be the most inexpensive and are compact so can be popped in a changing bag.

Ring Slings are similar in design to pouches except they can be adjusted by a simple tug on a tail of fabric that fits between the rings. Available in both padded and unpadded styles, these slings are again available in a huge range of materials and colours from silks to hemp. Although they come in various sizes, the only real difference is in the length of the tail and therefore most parents can share one sling. There is a small learning curve in getting to grips with adjusting the rings and threading the fabric through the tail but once mastered these are amongst the easiest slings to use and are ideal for breastfeeding in. Ring slings can become uncomfortable over long periods of time when used with heavier children. Wearers with bad backs should also be careful to alternate wearing sides and to be mindful of any ache in their shoulders during use.

Wraparound Carriers are available both in stretchy and woven fabrics and are the perfect from birth onwards carriers. Although they have a steeper learning curve than the other styles of carriers they are also the most versatile. Stretchy wraps tend to work best with smaller babies and are a truly ‘hands-free’ carrying experience, as the baby is carried almost weightlessly on your front. They are also easy to breastfeed in unless you have very large breasts. Woven wraps are also ideal for use from birth although the thicker fabric takes a little longer to get used to; these carriers can be used up through toddler-hood on the hip and back as well as the front and become softer and more pliable the longer you use them. Both styles are available in a variety of colours and fabrics to suit almost every taste. Woven wraps are available in a variety of lengths to suit different body shapes and tying methods whereas the stretchy wraps tend to come in one size only.

Still not sure?

Hiring a sling is a good way of making sure that a sling works for you, before committing to the expense of purchase.

Contact us to check availability and book in your hire. We are more than happy to advise you if you are unsure of your choices!