Overview of different types of carrying devices for babywearing.
What is the best type of baby carrying device? How can I babywear my newborn? What is a woven wrap? What is the different between a woven wraps and a ring sling? What size of a woven wrap do I need? What is the best soft structured carrier for me? – These are just a few of many questions we receive from parents and caregivers who want to babywear. A good match between a caregiver and a carrying device is base of successful babywearing. Let's look into the main types of carrying devices on the market and their main differences.
1. Woven wrap.
A woven wrap is rectangular piece of fabric which you wrap around your and your baby's bodies. By tying, tightening and adjusting the fabric, you create a snuggle, tight and cozy carrier for your baby. A woven wrap is considered to be the most ergonomic baby carrying device because you can adjust the fabric with great precision to fit your and your baby's needs. However, this carrying device requires learning to wrap a long piece of fabric. It is not complicated, but requires some time and patience.
A woven wrap is also the most versatile carrying device. You can wear your baby on your front, on your back, or on your side. There are hundreds of wrapping techniques for a long woven wrap, but most people will usually use only 1-3 most common techniques for every day babywearing.
A woven wrap comes in sizes 1 through 10. There are base sizes – 5,6,7 and 8. Your base size depends on your body size.
- EU clothing size 34 – woven wrap base size 5 (4,2 meter)
- EU clothing size 36-40 – woven wrap base size 6 (4,6-4,7 meter)
- EU clothing size 42-50 – woven wrap base size 7 (5,1-5,20 meter)
- EU clothing size 52+ – woven wrap base size 8 (or 9).
Woven wrap sizes 1 through 4 are considered “short wraps”. There other wrapping techniques for shorter wraps. These are usually more advanced techniques when you have mastered most of the basic techniques and would like to learn to wear your baby with less fabric.
Here is a short overview of pro's and con's of wearing your baby in a long woven wrap.
- the most ergonomic carrying device;
- the most versatile carrying device – many wrapping techniques;
- suitable from newborn to toddler;
- the most newborn friendly carrying device;
- adjustability – you can adjust the fabric with great precision for the best feel for your body;
- wrapping techniques to carry your baby on your front, back and side.
- requires time, patience and practice to learn the wrapping techniques.
2. Ring Sling
A ring sling is a piece of woven fabric, usually around 2 meters long, with 2 rings at one end. It is an asymmetrical carrying device, which means that you wear it on one shoulder. The end of the fabric which is without the rings needs to be threaded into the rings, and then adjusted on your body. A ring sling is not a complicated carrying device, but it does require learning and practice to be able to use it safely and comfortably.
A ring sling is a good and ergonomic option for a newborn. You can wear your baby on your side in order not to overstretch the hip area. Once your baby grows and becomes heavier, you will notice that babywearing on one shoulder for many hours becomes less comfortable, but you can still wear your baby in a ring sling for shorter periods of times. A ring sling becomes very useful once your child starts walking – you can quickly take them back into the ring sling when they are tired.
Here is a summery of pro's and con's of the ring sling.
- newborn friendly;
- very handy with walking toddlers;
- compact carrying device – not too much fabric;
- you can put your child in and take them out very quickly;
- easy to adjust.
- requires moderate effort to learn;
- less suitable for people with back problems.
3. Soft Structured Carrier – Buckle Carrier
Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is a very popular, if not the most popular baby carrying device. It is very easy to put on and to take off. It does not require a lot of learning and practicing as the woven wrap does. It is usually enough to study the written instructions once or twice, or to watch a video tutorial. You can put your soft structured carrier on, place your baby in the carrier, perform minimal adjustments to get yourself and your baby comfortable, and you are ready for many hours of babywearing.
A soft structured carrier consists of a buckled padded waist band, buckled padded shoulder straps, and a back panel with a head rest. The padded waist band needs to be buckled around your waist. The backpanel creates a seat for the baby and the shoulder straps are placed on the shoulders. The back panel must be wide enough to provide an ergonomic position for your baby. The back panel should be wide enough to provide a knie to knie support and the correct ergonomic position – knies higher than then bum (frog position, or M-position).
There are many brands which make Soft Structured Carriers and there are many types of SSC's. They may have different age and weight ranges and limits. A lot of SSC's are suitable from 3-4 months, some are suitable from birth, some are baby size, some are toddler size and some can be both. It is very important therefore to do a thorough research prior to buying a soft structured carrier.
Let's sum up the main points of the Soft Structured Carrier.
- easy to put on and to take off;
- does not require a lot of learning and practicing;
- distributes the weight of the baby between shoulders, back and hips of the caregiver;
- can be suitable for people with back problems;
- comfortable padding;
- can be used to carry your baby on your front, back, and sometimes even side;
- can be difficult to choose the right carrier online due to great variety of brands and types of SSCs;
- not always newborn friendly.
4. Meh Dai (Mei Tai)
- easy to adjust;
- you can carry your child on your front, back or side;
- compact carrier;
- relatively easy to learn.
- not ideal for newborns;
- may be less suitable for people with back problems.