Stretchy Wraps: These are long pieces of stretch jersey cotton, which you wrap around your body and pre-tie, before placing your baby inside. They are very convenient as you can pre-tie the wrap and take your baby in and out of the sling thought the day, supportive and snuggly as the fabric moulds to your shape. Ideal from birth to approximately 6-12months.
Hybrids: These slings are made from similar stretch jersey, but come in two parts and often have rings to adjust them. Suitable for the first few months.
Ring Slings: A length of woven fabric that is tightened through a pair of rings to form a loop diagonally across your body. The baby or toddler sits within the pouch formed by the fabric in different age appropriate positions, usually on your front or side. They can accommodate different sized wearers and children so could be used with babies and older toddlers.
Woven Wraps: These are pieces of woven fabric, usually cotton, which are tied around yourself and your child. Unlike the knitted cotton jersey used in stretchy wraps which often contains elastane, woven wraps don’t stretch. They can take a bit of practice to learn how to use them, but they are very versatile, and available in a wide range of beautiful designs. They can be used to carry babies and older children on your front, side and back.
Soft Structured Carriers: Simple to use and convenient when out and about, buckle carriers are a popular choice. These carriers consist of a buckled waist band and shoulder straps which clip into the panel where the baby sits. There are many designs ranging from very lightweight unpadded versions, through to more structured and bulkier carriers. Many can be used on your front and back. Ensure that you buy a wide based carrier to support your baby’s hips. Some can be used from birth to pre-schoolers.
Meh Dais: These tie-on baby carriers are a mix between the softness of a woven wrap and the convenience of a buckle carrier. They have a panel with wrap or padded straps for the shoulders and waist which you tie around yourself.
Pouches: These simple loops of fabric are quick and simple to use, and very compact. They are worn across your body like a ring sling, with older baby or toddler sitting inside the pouch on your front or side. They distribute your child’s weight evenly around you so you can stand and walk straight. Sized to fit the wearer so can’t be swapped between parents, but will last from 3 months to 3 years.
Carrying aids: Hip seats can be convenient for carrying older babies and toddlers for short periods of time, but are not hands free as you still need to have one arm to support your child. The natural way to carry an older child is to sit them on your hip. But this distorts your back and it can be difficult to keep the child in position. A hip seat extends your hip so you can stand straight. This is a particualrly good way of carrying a toodler who first wants to walk and then is too tired! A hip carrier addresses one of the root causes of adult back pain, by providing a firm shelf for the child to sit on and supporting their increasingly heavy weight from underneath. Instead of twisting the spine, the parent's back stays straight and the child is tucked into the chest, providing comfort and security for both adult and child.
Visit your local sling library for expert babywearing advice and to try a range of slings and carriers. Find your nearest library at www.slingpages.co.uk