In addition to soft-sided carriers, wrap carriers and ring slings are another favourite for babywearing. Both baby wearing options have a learning curve but, once you have the technique down, your life will be changed forever. There are a few different options on the market and the choices can be overwhelming when deciding what to try first, but here is an easy breakdown.
Before we start talking about the differences and uses, let’s point out a few tips on safety and technique:
1. You always want your baby to be up high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head and monitor breathing, etc. As with most baby items, there is a risk of injury if you do not use proper instructions and care when using a product.
2. Stretchy wraps (i.e. a Moby wrap, or ones similar) are only meant for a front carry, with baby facing in towards you. They are NOT to be used for a back carry, or to have baby facing outwards, as they do not provide the support needed for that.
3. Baby’s legs should always be out, not bunched or ‘froggy-d’ up inside the fabric, even from newborn age.
4. Always ensure there is a lot of fabric tucked up between baby and yourself, making a proper ‘seat’. Baby should be in a seated in an “M” position, with their knees higher than their bottom, and their spine curved. There should be no weight on baby’s knees/legs, but only on their bum.
Since there is such a learning curve to wrapping and ring slings, we recommend mom/dad watch a few tutorial videos to practice the wrapping technique with a doll or stuffed animal, getting the technique down pat, before adding their own baby into the equation. This allows you to become more comfortable with the process so you can make sure baby is situated safely and securely. Once you are ready to add a real baby, practice in front of a bed or couch, so you have a safe place to put baby down if you get overwhelmed and need a break. One really important thing to keep in mind is this: you will probably not get it perfect on your first few times, and you may get overwhelmed, and that is OK! If you need to take a break, come back and try again later. Many of us have been there and have gone on to lead happy wrap-loving lives.
Stretchy Wrap: These wraps are amazing to use with a newborn and smaller baby up until around 3 months. Stretchy wraps are made out of a cotton/jersey material, which is super soft like a well loved t-shirt. These wraps come in one size and varying colours. Once again, the stretchy wraps are ONLY meant for a front carry, with baby facing in towards you. They are NOT to be used for back carries, or with baby facing out.
Woven Wrap: Woven wraps come in tons of different colours, patterns and fabric blends. They also come with varying price points, depending on the type of weave and fabric content. Woven wraps are also great to use for newborns, and will provide the support needed for almost any weight that you can carry. Woven wraps have literally dozens of different ways you can wrap and carry your baby: front, hip and back carries, with many different variations. Again, it is not typically recommend to do a front carry with a woven wrap, as many find it hard to get a ergonomically correct positioning for both the baby and the wearer. When starting out with a woven wrap, there are many sizes to chose from, ranging with size 1 being the shortest at 2.2 meters and a size 8 being 5.6 meters. Most people start out with what is called your ‘base size’ and that is the size that you would be able to do the most of your basic starter carries with.
Another carrying option available is a Ring Sling. Once again, there is a learning curve until you find the sweet spot and learn how to position baby properly in a ring sling. But as recommended above, watch videos and practice with a doll before adding your baby into the mix. A ring sling is a favourite to use with newborns and toddlers because of the ease of use (less fabric to fiddle with). Ring slings come in many different fabric choices and you can also get woven wrap slings (like the Tula Woven ones). There are lots of different colours and patterns to chose from!
Important pointers when using a ring sling:
- Start with your ring sling properly threaded, with no twists in the fabric.
- Loosen the fabric only wide enough to get your elbow in, that way you have less to tighten and adjust.
- Start with the rings on top of your shoulder so when you tighten it slides down and ends up approximately where a corsage would be placed.
- Baby should be tummy to tummy with you until they are closer to a year old, sometimes older.
- Baby’s head should be high enough that you can easily kiss the top of their head.
Feel free to check out your local Snuggle Bugz store to try out a wrap or ring sling. Call ahead to see that they have the style you are looking for on hand. Take the time to search Facebook for local babywearing groups as these communities are usually happy to help with tips for beginners.