Thinking of Babywearing? Here's How To Choose Your Sling
Many expectant parents love the idea of wearing their baby but find the choice of slings and carriers can be overwhelming. Slings are powerful tools for parents and caregivers, helping them meet the needs of their baby or toddler while having their hands free to get on the all the other tasks busy family life brings.
Slings are often likened to jeans or shoes, different heights, sizes and body shapes means that one type does not fit all. Something you love another babywearer might not find comfortable. Ideally, try on as many different types as you can to see what suits you and your child best. A sling meet is a perfect way to meet other parents and get some babywearing support.
Remember the minute you try on your perfect sling or carrier you will know!
The five main types:
Buckle Carriers (also called Soft Structured Carriers)
This is probably the most well-known type of carrier. It usually consists of a piece of rectangular fabric with waist and shoulder straps attached with buckles. Buckle carriers allow you to carry your baby on your front or back, some are suitable from birth, this may be due to a special insert (either separate or built into the carrier) or because the base can be narrowed to fit a younger baby. The weight range varies from brand to brand. Although buckles carriers can be quick and easy to use not all brands will suit all body shapes – so you really need to try a few.
These are commonly believed to be best for newborns as they are made from very soft stretchy material. They offer good head support for young babies and be left tied on so it is easy to pop a small baby in and out. Most are suitable only for front carries and due to the three layers of material they can be warm to wear if the weather is good.
Woven wraps are diagonally woven pieces of cloth, they can take a bit of practice but are the most versatile form of carrier as they will mould perfectly to the wearers and babies body. They can be used from birth to toddlerhood and can be tied in many different ways. With a woven wrap, you can carry your baby or toddler on your front, hip or back and there is a huge range of sizes, designs, and blends to choose from.
Ring slings are pieces of cloth with two rings sewn at one end. The tail end of the fabric is threaded through the two rings to form a pouch for your baby. They are adjusted using the rings and are worn on one shoulder. There is a knack to perfecting the ring sling but once mastered they are quick and easy to use and are suitable from newborn to toddler and beyond.
Mai tai or Meh dai
This is a traditional Asian carrier made of a piece of rectangular fabric with two long straps at the base (these are tied at the waist) and two long straps at the top (these are crossed over the wearer and then crossed under the baby’s bottom before being tied). It can be used for front, back and hip carries and is generally suitable from baby to toddler. The mai tai or meh dai is very versatile and needs little adjusting when shared between wearers.
Babywearing Ireland follows the T.I.C.K.S. guidelines
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off chest
We recommends ergonomic carriers that provide the correct support for the child and adult.
Stephanie O’Sullivan explains: “As a first-time mom babywearing has brought a lot of social opportunities my way. Having moved here from the USA, I didn't know too many people. Sling meets were a great opportunity for me to get out and meet other mums in my area who also loved keeping their babies close and leaving their hands free as well. It's also been a great conversation starter - I've met some wonderful friends just by being out and about using our slings!”
Babywearing Ireland provides information and support to anyone using or interested in baby carriers and slings. For more information on Babywearing, visit babywearingireland.ie