Where to start?

Where to start?

You’re probably here because you’re thinking about wearing your baby, or maybe you’re already wearing your baby but want to see what else is out there…… Great!
With so many brands and different products around it might seem impossible to choose the right thing for you and your child.
Ask friends or other parents what they prefer and you will get tons of different answers and you’ll probably be even more overwhelmed.

I will try to give a short overview of the different products around, hoping to help you with this decision!

It can be a great idea to try a carrier, wrap or ringsling before you buy one.
Try to find out if there is a sling meet or sling library in your area, or look for a babywearing consultant who has the carrier you want to try.

12b

A ringsling is a piece of fabric with two rings sewn on one end.
Most ringslings are made with woven fabric, but there are also ringsling with jersey fabric or fabric that’s suitable for use in the water/shower.
A ringsling made from a woven wrap can also be called ‘WCRS’ wrap conversion ring sling.

There are different shoulders styles available, some are padded, some are pleated, but the most commen style is called gathered.
You will also find the ringsling in different lengths, to suit every body shape. As your child gets bigger you will also need a bit more length.
Regular length is mostly around 1.75-2m (measured from the rings to the shortest end of the ringsling and will suit most parents.
12a

 

As you can see on the picture a ringsling is worn on one shoulder, you can position your child on your belly, on your hip or even (for more experienced babywearer) on your back.

A short overview:

Pros: 
– easy to use and adjust
– suitable from the very first day
– allows front, hip and backcarries (backcarries are a bit tricky and only an option for more experienced babywearers with bigger kids)
– easy to adjust the height to allow breastfeeding when in the ringsling
– compact, will fit in your bag easily
– perfect for quick ups/downs
– will fit most body sizes (depending on the length) and is easily adjusted to fit a bigger/taller person
– you can get your baby out of the ringsling very quickly
– airy option for summer (depending on the fabric used)

Cons:
– asymmetrical, the weight of your baby will be on one shoulders. As your child gets heavier it’s less suitable for longer walks.
– you don’t have complete freedom of arm movement on the side where the rings are
– some designs or ringsling are made with a specific shoulder in mind (this is not very important, but the design might turn out to be upside down on your prefered side)
– it can take some practise to learn how to position the rings to keep them on a comfortable height

 

 

learning the Pocket Wrap Cross carry
learning the Pocket Wrap Cross carry

 

 

The fabric from a stretchy wrap is totally different than a woven wrap, it feels more like a t-shirt and the stretch feels very strange if you’re used to wrapping with woven wraps (like I am).
I did get used to it after a couple of tries though. T-shirt fabric mostly stretches in multiple direction, as a stretchy wrap stretches in only one or sometimes 2 directions.
The combination of stretch in one and no stretch in the other direction is what makes different brands unique.

Pros:
– the price (cheaper than most woven wrap brands – around 50 euro)
– you can pre-tie (no struggle at the parking lot with the tails hanging in the mud)
– one size fits all
– great for twin carries
– nice for newborns (very snuggly)
– soft!

Cons:
– Not suitable for back carries (even though some brands suggest differently I would never recommend a back carry with a stretchy wrap), however hybrid wraps are an exception (JPMBB is a crossover and suitable for back carries)
– Most stretchy wraps are only comfortable up to 9kg (around 20 lbs) if used with too much weight it will get saggy
– Some stretchy wraps (depending on the brand) feel very warm

 

 

Is there a reason to start with a stretchy instead of starting with a woven wrap?
Maybe. Most mamas say it’s easier to start wrapping with a stretchy and they love the pre-tied carry, but I think with a stretchy wrap it’s even more important to understand how to tighten a wrap properly if you want to carry your baby very comfortable. You need to wrap very tightly and tightening a wrap with a lot of stretch needs some practice just like tightening a woven wrap.
The most important reason for me would be the ‘snuggly’ feeling you get with this wrap. I can only imagine how nice it would be with a small newborn baby, for skin to skin contact.
It feels almost like a second skin. 

10a 27c

A woven wrap is a length of woven fabric you wrap around yourself and your child to carry it in different positions.
It’s the most versatile option and will suit every body size (depending on the length).
Wrapping might scare you off and will definitely take some practise, a babywearing consultant can help you out if you’re afraid to try it alone.

Choosing a wrap might be even harder than choosing a nice pair of shoes.
So many brands, different materials and different sizes!
Depending on your body shape (and how big your child is) you might need a longer wrap for some carries.
There are carries for every situation, choosing a carry that suits your child’s development stage, weight and your own preferences will be a process of trial and error.
You need to learn what doesn’t work for you, to find your favourite carry. As your child grows, your preferences will change.

A babywearing consultant or visiting a sling meet can be very helpful.
A sling meet is a great option to try different brands and sizes.

Pros:
– most versatile, suitable for different front, hip and back carries
– will fit every body size
– suitable from the very first day and will still be great for pre-schoolers
– there are some pre-tie carries for quick up/downs
– huge range of different materials available to suit your preferences, the temperatures in your country and your style and taste
– some brands are very affordable (starting around 50 euro)

Cons:
– learning how to wrap takes practise, you might prefer to get some help from a professional babywearing consultant if you want to learn backcarries.
– a long wrap won’t fit your bag easily (but a shorter wrap is a great ‘on the go’ option!)
– all the different styles, materials and designs make it harder to choose
– wrapping with a long wrap outside in the parking lot when it’s raining might seem impossible – those tails in the mud? (but with some practise or a pre-tie carry you can master this situation too)

03d

A full buckle is a carrier with buckles on the waist strap and with ‘backpack-like’ shoulder straps.
You don’t need to tie anything, just buckle up and go! It’s very easy to use.
There are different sizes and features. Some carriers have pockets, sleeping hoods, leg padding, are adjustable in height and width… Some are made with wrap fabric and there are also converters out there that can make a custom carrier for you!
You will need to choose a size that fits your child best, don’t buy a bigger size for your child to ‘grow in to’, the carrier should support from knee to knee without overspreading the legs.
With bigger children it’s not horrible if the carrier doesn’t reach from knee to knee anymore, but there are some great pre-schooler carriers around to fit even your 4 or 5 year old!

Pros:
– easy to use
– can be used for front and backcarries (some carriers can be used for hipcarries too)
– easy to adjust to fit other care givers
– padded straps are comfortable, great for longer walks, even with bigger kids
– the weight is distributed over both shoulders and your waist

Cons:
– uncomfortable (for both the baby and the wearer) if not fitted correctly
– harder to use for breastfeeding (you need to re-tighten the straps after feeding)
– most carriers are not suitable for newborn babies
– won’t fit in your bag easily (very bulky)
– it’s not ‘one size fits all’ > you need to consider your body size and your child’s size if you want to buy a carrier

 

04c
Half buckle – the shoulder straps are tied of over the waist belt

 

A half buckle is a carrier with buckles on the waist strap and with long shoulder straps you can tie. (There are also reversed half buckles, they have a waist belt to tie and backpack-like shoulder straps)
The shoulder straps allow different ways to tie the carrier, which make it easier to find a carry comfortable for you.
Just like the full buckle there are carriers in different sizes and with different features. Some carriers have pockets, sleeping hoods, leg padding, are adjustable in height and width… The shoulder straps can be wide so you can spread them, more narrow and padded, or a combination of both.
Some carriers are made with wrap fabric and there are also converters out there that can make a custom carrier for you!

You will need to choose a size that fits your child best, don’t buy a bigger size for your child to ‘grow in to’, the carrier should support from knee to knee without overspreading the legs.
Some carriers can be adjusted in the width and will grow with your child. With bigger children it’s not horrible if the carrier doesn’t reach from knee to knee anymore, but there are some great pre-schooler carriers around to fit even your 4 or 5 year old!

Pros:
– can be used for front and backcarries (some carriers can be used for hipcarries too)
– easy to adjust to fit other care givers
– easy to achieve a high back carry
– most carriers are very comfortable, great for longer walks, even with bigger kids
– the weight is distributed over both shoulders and your waist
– different ways to finish your carry make it easier to find a comfortable carry for you & your child

Cons:
– harder to use for breastfeeding (you’ll need to re-tie after feeding)
– most carriers are not suitable for newborn babies
– won’t fit in your bag easily (very bulky)
– it’s not ‘one size fits all’ > you need to consider your body size and your child’s size if you want to buy a carrier

02b 05b

A mei tai consists of a rectangular piece of fabric with four straps at the edges. It’s an Asian style carrier, you need to tie the straps.
It’s a nice combination of the ‘ready to go’ style of a carrier, with the versatility of a wrap.
The straps allow different ways to tie the carrier, this carrier will fit different body sizes and allow fancy finishes.

Just like the other carriers Mei Tais come in different sizes and with different features. Some carriers have padded straps, sleeping hoods, leg padding, are adjustable in height and width… The shoulder straps can be wide so you can spread them, more narrow and padded, or a combination of both.
Some Mei Tais are made with wrap fabric and there are also converters out there that can make a custom Mei Tai for you!

You will need to choose a size that fits your child best, don’t buy a bigger size for your child to ‘grow in to’, the Mei Tai should support from knee to knee without overspreading the legs.
Some Mei Tais can be adjusted in the width and will grow with your child. With bigger children it’s not horrible if the carrier doesn’t reach from knee to knee anymore, if the Mei Tai has wide straps, you can usually spread them out to support the legs (shown in the picture above).

Pros:
– can be used for front, hip and back carries
– ‘one size fits most weares’ – will fit other care givers without adjusting
– easy to achieve a high back carry
– the weight is distributed over both shoulders and your waist
– some Mei Tais can be used with a newborn
– different ways to finish your carry make it easier to find a comfortable carry for you & your child

Cons:
– harder to use for breastfeeding (you’ll need to re-tie after feeding)
– won’t fit in your bag easily (very bulky with those long straps)
– the body panel has a certain size – you need to consider your child’s size if you want to buy a Mei Tai
– it can take some practise to learn how to tie the carrier

 

10714897_10203502130766906_1389346461_n 15b

I wouldn’t recommend them for a frontcarry. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s close to impossible to wear your child high enough in a frontcarry. It’s VERY important to wear your child high in a onbuhimo.
If you wear your child too low, the pressure on the neck increases. Like the other carriers, you need to make sure your child fits in the carrier perfectly.
It’s best to wear your child high enough so he/she can look over your shoulder.

A onbu can be a great choice during pregnancy and I really love it for tandemwearing. It’s easy to put on your back and the lack of a waistbelt is great for those situations.
Compared to other carriers it’s heavier on your shoulders, with other carriers the weight will be distributed along your waist too but here all the weight goes on your shoulders.

Pros:
– can be used for backcarries (it can be used for frontcarries too, but I wouldn’t recommend it)
– fits in your bag easily
– easy to achieve a high back carry
– easy to adjust to fit other care givers
– great option for quick ups with bigger kids
– no waistbelt = nice during pregnancy

Cons:
– weight will only be distributed on your shoulders, will feel heavier (like a backpack) compared to a carrier with a waistbelt
– not suitable for a newborn
– the body panel has a certain size – you need to look at your child’s size to find the perfect fit