Friday, December 08, 2006

Types of slings and carriers - detailed version

Wraparounds or wraps

A wraparound is simply a length of fabric tied around the parent and baby in many different ways – on the front, side, and back. The baby can be positioned in an almost unlimited number of positions. Wraps are used in many traditional cultures, either in longer or shorter lengths.

Wraps are divided into two types: short and long

Short length wraparound carriers
Short length wraps are often called Rebozos, which originate from those worn by Mexican and Guatemalan women and girls of all ages. Rebozo means shawl in Spanish - they are used to carry all sorts of things as well as babies and children. A Rebozo is also used for warmth, protection from the sun, and during ceremonies. Usually made of a lightweight fabric (such as cotton, silk, and rayon) with fringed ends, they are worn tied over one shoulder.

• lightweight and compact
• can be used from newborns to young children
• ease – almost any piece of cloth can be used (see Mamatoto website which particularly encourages use of a simple piece of cloth and easy ways to make wraps)
• versatile – can be used in different positions
• comfortable
• beautiful – often available in bright colours

• requires some practice and may take longer to learn to tie
• some fabrics not produced under regulations regarding dyes etc.
• some people find one-shouldered carries uncomfortable

Types of short wraparounds available include:
The Rebozo

Long length wraps
These are highly versatile wraps, usually worn in symmetrical fashion over both shoulders, which helps with weight distribution and comfort. They can also be used for one-shouldered carries. They allow many types of positions on the front, side and back. They are available in were lightweight and heavier versions are available. They have been very popular in Europe since the early 1970’s. Generally they are available in several lengths, the choice depends on the size of the wearer and the type of carries they want to use. They are divided into two categories: woven and stretchy.

• baby is held securely
• comfortable - baby’s weight is distributed over a wide area
• versatility – a multitude of positions, carries, and fabrics to choose from
• two shouldered carries very comfortable
• support babies' natural posture, keeping the legs in 'frog' position and the back rounded

• may take slightly longer to get on and off
• the number of choices of carries can be overwhelming for a beginner
• long piece of fabric can be overwhelming for a beginner
• bulky for storage
• in wet or muddy places the fabric may drag on the ground when tying

Long wraps are divided into two types: woven and stretchy

Woven long length wraparounds
These are often made of diagonally woven fabric or hand woven fabric, although any woven fabric can be used. Usually made of cotton, the thickness depends on the climate – thicker ones are available in Europe and thinner ones in hotter climates.

• versatile and comfortable
• can be used from newborns to young children
• many tying options available
• can tighten individual fabric “strands” for maximum fit, comfort and support
• stable and safe for older children with back carries
• comfort for wearer’s shoulders even with toddlers and long walks
• doesn’t stretch out of shape
• rarely needs retying after a long time wearing it
• generally long-lasting, especially the organic ones
• can be used after baby carrying days are finished, such as for hammocks, swings, and tablecloths

Disadvantages –
• requires practice
• some fabrics are hot in hot climates
• not so easy to pop baby in and out as stretchy wraps

Woven long length wraparounds include:

Storchenweige (thick organic cotton, double hemline, tapered ends, uses double thread in warp and weft which makes it very durable, the stretch embraces and supports baby, cut on the bias, marked in middle for ease of tying, made in Germany),

Lana (organic, double hemline, square ends, marked in middle for ease of tying, made in Switzerland), available in Australia and

Didymos (organic cotton, tapered ends, grown in India and made in Germany and Austria, cut on the bias, double hemline, the thickness of a light blanket, marked in middle for ease of tying, beautiful patterns available)

Hoppediz, (organic, double hemline, tapered ends, grown and made in India under Fair Trade, middle of sling marked for easy tying)

EllaRoo Wrap (lightweight with fringed ends, may wear out more quickly and not give support to small babies’ backs, traditional style made in Guatemala)

For a comparison between the different woven wraparounds see

Stretchy long length wraparounds
These are usually made from cotton. They tend to be used for younger babies because of the stretch and bounce. They are generally tied first and then the baby is put inside. Tight wrapping is required so that the baby is held securely. The pocket wrap cross carry is most frequently used, and the baby can be positioned facing inwards vertically or horizontally, and vertically facing outwards (although some do not recommend this carry).

• very comfortable, especially with younger babies
• easy to get baby in and out (poppable)
• ease – can leave the wrap on when you take the baby out
• breast-feeding on both sides is easy with the stretch

• the stretch and bounce may not be comfortable with babies over 6 or 7 months
• lacks support and security for back carries
• less options for the number of carries recommended
• May need to be retied to maintain support and comfort

Stretchy long length wraparounds include:

Hug a Bub (designed in Australia of cotton jersey material, has front pocket/storage pouch and comes with video),

Moby wrap (made in Thailand of cotton interlock, cool and soft)

The Ultimate Baby Wrap (very stretchy, cotton and lycra, has pocket)

for a comparison on whether to go stretchy or woven, see

A question about outward facing carries
Some manufacturers do not recommend carrying a baby facing outwards on the adult’s front with a wrap carrier. Some of the suggested reasons include: The supporting cloth between the legs cannot be pulled wide enough, so the spread-squat position is not possible. The back is not supported properly because it is being pressed against the stomach/chest of the carrier. The baby may get over-stimulated, and boys have pressure against the testicles. (see

A sling is simply a piece of material that goes over one shoulder and then around the hip of the carrier. It is usually tied with a couple of rings that allow the sling to be tightened or loosened instead of knotted like the traditional rebozo from which they were developed. A baby can be carried on the front, hip or back. Small babies can recline in the sling, whereas older babies are often carried in the hip carry. Other slings have clips or ties instead of rings.

Many slings have an “open tail” for maximum adjustability and versatility. This means that the top part of the sling (this is called the top or outside rail and is the side of fabric away from your body) can be pulled tighter to support the baby’s head and protect the wearer’s back by distributing the baby’s weight. It is possible to buy a closed-tail sling with adjustable rails. Some slings have a wide swathe of fabric that can be spread across the carrier’s shoulder and upper arms, which also helps distribute the baby's weight. The comfort of wearing a sling is drastically affected by whether it is being used correctly, for example the rings being in the optimum position and the correct tightness and position of the baby.

Advantages of slings
• easy to get on and off
• easy option for beginning babywearers
• convenient for breastfeeding
• toddlers can get in and out quickly
• can be used for newborns up to toddlers
• upright carries, hip carries, and back carries all possible
• can change positions whilst baby is in the sling
• adjustable

• can be uncomfortable for those who prefer to use both shoulders
• can promote unequal posture of person carrying
• baby usually needs support of one hand of parents for stability
• can take time to adjust fabric through the rings

Slings are divided into two types: padded and not padded:
Padding can be situated just on the rail or shoulder or all over.

Padding or no padding?
Advantages of padding
• may support a smaller baby’s head whilst breast-feeding
• may mean less pressure on parent’s shoulder
• may protect baby’s legs from material digging into them

Disadvantages of padding
• may be uncomfortable in a warm climate
• more bulky for carrying in a bag
• may make sliding onto the back more difficult
• padding on the rail may make adjusting top rail more difficult
• may make it difficult to bring the sling very high and tight for maximum comfort

Unpadded slings include:

Maya wrap (Cotton Guatemalan fabric with open tail, fair traded) and

TaylorMadeSlings (available in cotton mesh, flax/linen, hemp, silk, organic mesh, thermal, solarveil for sun protection, and nylon mesh for use in water)

Amaryllis Pocket Sling (open-tailed with a deep pouch, made in Australia)

Padded slings include:

EllaRoo Sling (open tail, lightly padded, available in organic version)

Comfy carry (choose between side release clips or rings, made in Australia, netting available for hot climates) – and

These are another development from the rebozo, but this time without a tie, ring or clip. The fabric is sewn together into a loop. The baby can again be worn on the front, hip or back. However, many pouches are not adjustable. Some do have means of adjusting the size, for example with buttons or poppers. Can be used for newborns, upright carries and hip carries.

• ease of putting on and off
• ease for quick carries
• lightweight, fold compactly, easy to carry in a nappy bag or handbag
• built in pouch feels secure
• easy to transfer baby to car seat or to put sleeping baby down

• difficult to share pouch between caregivers when not adjustable
• adjustable pouches are more bulky
• important that they fit exactly
• some find them uncomfortable and prefer the support of two shoulders

Non adjustable pouches include:

Hotslings – Stretchy cotton fabric with padding. Available in different type of fabrics including solarveil (sun protection). and

New Native Baby Carrier – organic twill or flannel with deep pouch.

Adjustable pouches include:

Kangaroo Korner – cotton or fleece, can be shared between different carers, can do vertical carries.

Asian-style carriers
These are formed of a rectangle of fabric with straps that come from the corners. They are made of either two straps, developed from the Korean-inspired Podaegi, and the more commonly known four-strap carriers, which have developed from a Chinese-inspired Mei Tai. The rectangle of fabric goes around the baby and the straps can be tied in various ways, with the baby either on the front or the back. Mei Tai-style carriers are made by many different manufacturers. They are very popular because of their ease and comfort. Mei Tai is a Chinese term meaning "to carry the beautiful.”

• weight distributed over both shoulders (in Mei Tai)
• comfortable wearing heavier babies and toddlers
• lightweight
• easy to use
• back carries are quick and easy to learn
• beautiful fabrics generally available
• lots of choice since there are so many manufacturers
• one size fits most

• some people find them uncomfortable for long periods (straps may dig into shoulders)
• some do not have head support and so may not be suitable for newborns or sleeping babies

Asian style carriers include:

Cwtshi Evo - has leg padding, popper system for head support, and side rings for extra security.

Kozy Carrier – slightly padded straps, canvas-type fabric, curved head support.

Ellaroo Mei Tai – available in Chinese-made embroidered option, or US-made cotton with organic cotton batting.

Ellaroo Podaegi – cotton, can be used with straps over shoulders or strapless for extra shoulder comfort.

GoGoBabyTotes - UV protection, mei tai style, can be used on the beach, pool, shower.

Structured soft carriers
These are a modern style of carrier, which generally use clips or Velcro for fastening. Some are used just for the front, others for front and back, others for front, hip and back. Several of these types of carriers do not provide adequate support for a baby’s spine and place too much pressure on the baby’s pelvis. How to find out which ones are like this – if the material under the crotch is narrow and the baby’s legs dangle down rather than wrap around the carrier’s body in a frog style.

• ease of getting on and off
• easy to learn how to use
• comfort, especially with padded ones

• some put too much pressure on baby’s pelvis
• some lack padding and support for wearer’s shoulders and back

Structured soft carriers include:

ERGO baby carrier – wide strap around hips and for shoulders means high comfort levels, made in America, available in organic option, infant insert can be added, has hood for head support when baby is sleeping and and

Patapum - made in Italy, cotton canvas outside, brushed twill inside, padded shoulder and waist straps, detachable hood available for sleeping babies. Toddler version available. and www.carryingaway and

Wilkinet – like a wraparound but with long thin ties rather than thick cloth, wide and well padded shoulder straps, has high padded head rest, available in soft cord, cotton canvas, twill cotton, and denim, made in the UK.

Other types of carriers

Backpack style carriers

These often have a metal frame, with the baby being held away from the adult’s body. They can be very heavy and bulky.

Multiple pouches

The slingset – a stretchy pouch system that can be used on one shoulder or both depending on how many pouches and supports are used (these attach with Velcro).

Hip carriers

Ellaroo Mei Tai Hip Carrier – a hip carrier that has a shoulder strap that cups the shoulder of the wearer for more comfort.

Hippychick Hipseat carrier – like a hip belt with a seat shelf, distributes weight through the hips and spine of the wearer. and

Doll slings for children:
Storchenweige, Didymos, Maya wrap, TayorMade slings, New Native Baby carrier, and Cwtshi available.

Making your own carrier

This option is an easy and cheap way to carry a babiy. However, bear in mind that some fabric types and weaves mean less support for the baby and less comfort for the wearer. Diagonal and horizontal elasticity or “give” at just the right amount makes the difference between carrying an older baby comfortably or uncomfortably. Very stretchy fabric may need frequent retying to maintain comfort. If the fabric is too smooth the knot will gradually give way. When the fabric is too rough, retightening the fabric folds sensitively becomes difficult. Thinner fabrics may cut into skin at the folds and creases. Traditionally, stripy fabric is used to enable ease of tying. So if you make your own, you might want to research fabric types first.

What to consider when choosing a carrier

The age of your baby -
Newborns to pre-sitting infants – front carries using stretchy and woven wraps, slings, pouches, Asian-style carriers and some soft structured carriers. Back carries are possible too, as long as there is head support.
For 5 or 6 months onwards, back carries and hip carries using woven wraps, soft structured carriers, Asian-style carriers, and slings.

Do you want one carrier to use from newborn to young child? - If yes, then you will need a multi-purpose carrier like a sling, rebozo or a woven wraparound carrier. If you want more than one, then each can suit the different age child (see above).

Do you want to choose between lots of different types of carries? Then a woven wraparound has most choices, followed by an unpadded sling.

Are you new to baby carrying and want the easiest learning option? Then pouches may be the way to go.

The climate you live in – In hot summers, cotton, mesh, linen, and hemp feel cooler. For cold weather, woven wraps made in Europe are usually warmer. Or you may choose a carrier that fits under your coat or even buy a specially designed coat or poncho designed for babywearing.

Will you carry your baby all day or just for a few minutes at a time? – two shoulder carries are generally more comfortable for longer periods, and woven wraps for back carries are comfortable with older babies and toddlers. If you are getting your baby or toddler in and out many times you will want something with high poppability eg stretchy wrap, sling, pouch, or using certain carries with woven wraps.

What will you be doing when using the carrier? If cooking then make sure you can wear the carrier on your side or back. If you want it for the shower or beach then choose a mesh or UV protected sling or carrier.

Comfort of baby and wearer - Consider whether you want padding, and whether your shoulders get tense (wraparounds and podaegis might be a choice here). Some people prefer two shouldered carriers for comfort and weight distribution.
What position do you and your baby prefer? For upright carries a wraparound or Asian inspired carrier may be most optimal, for reclined carries a sling may be preferable.

Do you want to be able to adjust it when the baby is inside? Unpadded slings are often most adjustable in this way, as baby can be moved from front to side to back.

Will more than one person be using it? More adjustable carriers include wraparound carriers, unpadded slings, and rebozos.

Will you need to carry more than one child? With twins you can use one long wrap, two wraps or slings, or specific babycarriers. If the children are different ages, put the smaller on your front and the larger on your back.

Do you want to be able to breast-feed with it on? Many carriers enable you to do this, especially stretchy wraparounds and slings.

Will you be doing Elimination Communication with your baby? If so you will need high poppability and probably more than one carrier for washing.

What do you want the carrier to look and feel like? Consider the beauty of fabrics, choice of fabrics and feel of fabrics – to suit your preferences and personality. Some prefer more traditional carriers, or more modern styles. Organic ones are usually softer.

Is organic and fair trade manufacture important to you? Look for organic carriers, fair traded, with baby-friendly dyes. Remember that baby has the carrier against his skin and is likely to suck it at times.

Will you be carrying a baby or toddler whilst you are pregnant? Look for one that can be tied just around the shoulders, such as a woven wraparound for back carries.

Does it provide ergonomic support for the baby? – Kirkilonis (2006) has the following suggestions: The legs need to be supported at a 90 degree angle or more and straddled around the wearer’s body. She recommends avoiding carriers where the hips hang straight down. For back support, the carrier needs to be snug against the baby’s back and pull the baby close to the parent. Many slings and structured carriers do not have enough back support for younger babies. Head support and stabilization is important for young babies and older babies when sleeping.

Some carrying tips
• practice first at home in front of a mirror.
• keep practising!
• make sure the baby is held securely.
• for optimal support for baby and comfort for wearer, high up and firm holds are usually required. This creates optimum weight distribution.
• consider back carries for older and heavier babies.
• ensure baby has the option of protection from over-stimulation (some specialists do not recommend frontward outward facing carries)

What is the next step?
Talk to other people who have used different carriers, research the carriers you are interested in, try them on or go to a baby wearing instruction course, and read up afterwards to make sure you are using it the way it is designed to. Once you have found the type of carrier you want, then there is a choice of which brand. The babywearer website has reviews of all the different types. Consider the possibility of making your own (The babywearer website and other links also have patterns for most carriers). Then, have fun being close to your baby and doing the things you love!


The Babywearer website - this site has everything you might want to know about carrying babies, from choosing a carrier, to reviews and sellers of hundreds of carriers, to detailed instructions on how to use them, how to make them, and several different forums to join.

Comparisons of different carriers
See - for comparison of the hug a bub, maya, ergo and comfy carrier.

How to tie and wear different carriers
Mamatoto – - devoted to babywearing and the use of a simple piece of cloth. Lots of instructions with pictures and videos of how to tie slings and wraparounds.

Pictures and instructions in Blois, M. (2005) Babywearing – the benefits and beauty of this ancient tradition. Pharmasoft Publishing, Texas.

The Rebozo Way project

The Rebozo Way of Life - Barbara Wishingrad

Pictures of how to tie Rebozo wraps

How to tie Mexican Rebozos - Vesta Hartman Garcia

Short wraparounds
Mamatoto - a site dedicated to babywearing, even (especially!) with a SPOC (simple piece of cloth). – lots of pictures and videos for how to tie wraps

Long wraparounds
Which length of woven wrap to choose,

For instructions on how to put on wraparounds, see:
“Tying your woven wrap” Instructional DVD with many carries available from (for stretchy and woven wraps)
How to tie a long wraparound

Using slings
Pictures and instructions in Blois, M. (2005) Babywearing – the benefits and beauty of this ancient tradition. Pharmasoft Publishing, Texas.
Getting started with a sling by Darien Wilson

Using Pouches
Using a pouch by Jen Moore

Using Mei Tais and Podaegis/ Podegis
Instructions for using a mei tai style carrier by Kelley Mason

Instructions for using a podegi

Whether to carry a baby facing outwards:
Dr. Eveline Kikilionis, “A Baby Wants to be Carried.” (Currently only available in German: “Ein Baby will getragen sein.”)

Carriers made or designed in Australia include:
Hug a Bub -
Amaryllis baby – pocket sling, wrap me up and mei tai –
Comfy carry –
Freedom slings
Baba slings

Australian sellers of carriers include:
Instinctive Parenting - sell Hug-a-bub, Maya wrap. Comfy carry and Ergo baby carrier. Located in Byron Bay
Babaroo Sell the Lana wrap. Located in Victoria.
Carrying Away - sell pouches, ring slings, wraparounds, Asian-inspired carriers, structured carriers and hip carriers. Located in the Brisbane area - sell Patapum and Patapum toddler carrier, and hippychick hipseat babycarrier. Located in Western Australia

With thanks to
Suzanne Shahar and
Bronwyn Nugent
For all their help and information.


Blogger Ishu Sathya said...

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