Compare Baby Carriers – Baby Slings

Sakura Bloom baby sling babywearing toddlers

Take a wrap baby carrier and sew it together (pouch sling) or add rings to enable easy adjustability (ring slings), and you have our next category of baby carriers: baby slings. A baby sling is as uncomplicated as any baby carrier gets.

Baby Slings are compact, sleek, and easy to use. Their simple design makes them one of the most popular baby carriers available. We firmly believe that NO new mother should be without a simple baby sling for an easier adjustment to life with baby. You will be an expert at babywearing in minutes.

Using a baby sling or pouch couldn’t be easier. Just put it on and take it off like a shoulder purse. The baby pops in and out quickly, making a sling the perfect choice for a little one who wants up and down (and up again!) all day long.

Slings are a favorite baby carrier for carrying a newborn and for nursing hands-free. When paired with a soft-pack baby carrier, you’ll have the perfect baby wearing combination from birth to toddlerhood.

This post is part of a series in which we give an overview of baby carrier styles, comparing the specific baby carriers available within each style. Despite the variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.

  • Baby Wraps
  • Baby Slings (includes pouch slings and ring slings)
  • Mei Tai Baby Carriers
  • Soft Pack Baby Carriers


Ring Slings

Maya Wrap baby slings with dad

A ring sling takes the simple wraparound cloth baby carrier a step further. Rather than tying the fabric and using knots to secure it, attach two large rings and you have yourself a ring sling.

When the length of fabric is threaded through the rings, a pouch is formed where your baby will sit. You can adjust the size and shape of the sling through the rings. Baby can be worn snuggled in, laying down, facing out in front like a kangaroo, on the hip, or on the back looking over your shoulder.

Sometimes padding is sewn into the sides (“rails”) or shoulder of the sling, and a tail is left from the fabric that has been pulled through the rings. Some ring slings include a pocket in the tail to carry your extras while out and about.


Pouches

Hotslings adjustable baby pouch carrier

A pouch is a tube-style baby carrier, generally one long circle of fabric sewn with a curved seam to provide a pouch for your baby to sit in. There are no rings for adjustment, so usually a pouch sling is sized to fit the individual who will be wearing it. This is perfect for a baby who wants to sit on your hip.

Innovations to the basic pouch sling design have included zippers or snaps to make them adjustable, and a hybrid pouch—a pouch sewn into a ring sling for both comfort and adjustability.


Advantages

  • short learning curve
  • very compact, so it will fit into a purse or diaper bag easily
  • most loved for the newborn stage – easy transition from snug environment of womb to compact sling
  • easy to move baby in and out of carrier
  • easiest for hands-free nursing
  • pouch has no extra tail fabric to figure out
  • tail of ring sling can be used for a nursing cover up


Disadvantages

  • Sizing is important in a pouch sling for the most comfort. Ring slings make this easier, but some parents find the rings more difficult to adjust.
  • only one-shouldered support, so a sling is less comfortable for extended wearing or for heavier babies and toddlers
  • a pouch is less versatile for carrying in different positions


Sling Baby Carriers Compared

Upmama baby ring sling made in Canada

Upmama Hybrid Baby Slings
Style: Adjustable Unpadded Ring Sling Hybrid (ring sling/pouch)
Age: Newborn to toddler (35 lbs)
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: Cotton Sateen (97% cotton, 3% spandex)
Origin: Made in Canada

Maya Wrap baby ring sling


Maya Wrap Baby Ring Slings

Style: Adjustable Lightly Padded Ring Sling (padded in shoulder only).
Age: Newborn to 35 lbs.
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: 100% hand-woven cotton
Origin: Hand-loomed using fair trade labor in Guatemala

Sakura Bloom ring sling for dads


Sakura Bloom Baby Ring Slings

Style: Adjustable Unpadded Ring Sling
Age: Newborn to toddler (35 lbs)
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: 100% Irish linen
Origin: Made in USA

Hotslings adjustable pouch baby sling


Hotslings Adjustable Pouch Baby Slings

Style: Adjustable Pouch Sling (one-size)
Age: Suitable for newborn to 30lbs+
Carrying Positions: Cradle, kangaroo, front facing in & out, hip carrying
Fabric: 97% Cotton Sateen, 3% Spandex
Origin: Made in USA

Farewell to Hotslings

Hotslings logo

Today is a sad day. This is the day that Hotslings closes.

Hotslings have been a staple for us for five years. It was one of the first products we opened our doors with.

In the early days of Parenting by Nature, the baby slept, watched, and played happily in her Hotslings while Tamara created a website, filled orders, and handled customer service emails. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today had I not discovered Hotslings prior to her being born,” says Tamara. “She practically lived in her Hotslings for the first 8 months of her life.”

These slings and this company will be greatly missed.

The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) has made a great tribute to Hotslings. Bynature.ca is a member of BCIA, a trade association for the baby carrier industry. BCIA welcomes anyone interested in keeping babywearing safe and baby carriers available to join as a Supporter.

Positive Babywearing Developments

There have been some really positive developments in baby sling safety in the past week since an AP story first alarmed so many dedicated babywearers.


First, manufacturers of baby carriers issued a joint statement on baby sling safety concerns.

They point out that an ASTM subcommittee started writing Sling Carrier Standards two years ago.

The vast benefits of babywearing should not be disregarded with the report of incidents from “bag-style” slings. The sponsors of this release make safer baby slings and carriers and have been active in the standard writing process and are dedicated to safety through engineering. “We see this as an opportunity to reach out and educate American consumers. We hope to provide valuable information allowing parents and caregivers to not only make informed buying decisions, but also to increase the awareness of how to properly wear children, especially babies, in baby slings and carriers,” says Kristen DeRocha, ASTM Subcommittee Chair.

This release was sponsored by Hotslings, Maya Wrap, Moby Wrap, Wrapsody, Gypsymama, Together Be, Kangaroo Korner, Taylormade Slings, Scootababy, Bellala Baby, Catbird Baby, SlingEZee, ZoloWear, HAVA, SlingRings, and Sakura Bloom.

You can find them on Facebook as Babywearing Manufacturers United.


Second, a national conversation has started about babywearing.
Not all of the news stories stop to mention the benefits of babywearing, but there are organizations making an effort to focus concerns where they belong, on one style of sling, and to emphasize that babywearing, when done safely, is a great benefit to parent and baby.

Babywearing International (BWI), for example, was quoted in an ABC News story today. BWI has issued a statement on babywearing safety yesterday as well.

Babywearing International welcomes the CPSC warning as an opportunity to better educate caregivers and the general public about babywearing safety. We remain committed to promoting babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with numerous benefits for both babies and their caregivers.

While you are Facebooking, follow Babywearing International as well as Babywearing Manufacturers United.

Those baby slings and other baby carriers that have been “engineered, developed and tested by parents” are safe to use with your baby. Keep in mind basic babywearing safety, and hold your baby tight.

Blog to Inspire: A Call to Persist in Babywearing

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Blog to Inspire entrant Hobo Mama is Lauren Wayne, writer and mother. Riding the rails with her husband, Crackerdog Sam, and her hobo baby, Mikko Lint Picker, and their trampin’ kitty, Mrs. Pim. Trying every day to parent intentionally and with grace.

When my son was born, babywearing was a necessity. Mikko emerged weighing an astonishing 12 pounds, and he was not amused at being ousted from his soft, liquid home. The one thing that made him feel better? Snuggling close to a warm body, feeling loving arms around him, and hearing a gently beating heart — and bouncing. Parents have instinctively known for centuries that newborns respond well to the rhythms of a mama’s walk, because of course that’s what the baby’s been experiencing these long nine months within.

But our little guy hit 20 pounds at nine weeks, and we couldn’t manage the continual walking and bouncing he demanded without something to hold him up and give our arms a break!

I was glad I had invested so heavily in a babywearing stash during pregnancy. Out came the ring slings, the stretchy and gauze wraps, the structured carriers, and each had its place in our babywearing repertoire, depending on task (long walk? chores around the house?) and mood (do I feel like green butterflies or fuzzy brown?).

What didn’t change was the give-and-take at the heart of babywearing. We poured out love and security into Mikko, we offered the lovely memory of those free-floating days in the womb, we wrapped him warm and close and spoke into his ear. Mikko in turn gave us his trust, and before we knew it he could reach out his arms to us to signal that now, again, was the time to pick him up and hold him close.

Sometimes, as babies turn into toddlers, babywearing falls by the wayside or is given over to the next sibling to arrive on the scene. Once a baby can walk, it seems that we as parents are not needed as much for transportation, and we give our young a chance to stretch their legs and their freedom.

This autumn, we moved house. Since our new digs were just down the street, we frequently took advantage of the short distance by walking back and forth between the two places, to look for something we couldn’t find, to transport a bulky object that didn’t fit in the cargo van we rented, to free up more passenger space in our tiny car to fit that many more boxes for a trip.

I needed a way to accomplish all the tasks that come with moving, but our 2-year-old whirlwind was making getting anything done a bit of a challenge. I plucked the Ergo off the coat tree and turned to Mikko. “Want a ride on Mama’s back?”

His eyes lit up, his arms shot out, and once again he was lifted up close to me. At this vantage point, as we walked along the beach toward our new home, he could see from our perspective, he could feel snuggled against a loving body, and I could hear his voice chirping sweetly in my ear and reach back to give his feet a squeeze.

I’ve made an effort to put babywearing back into our everyday lives, even though Mikko is a hefty 35 pounds and change, and even though he sometimes prefers to walk on his own. There’s a lot more up and down than when he was a newborn, but babywearing is adaptable. If he wants to walk, he can, and if he wants a piggyback ride, I’m available.

Even once your child is too big or too heavy or too old for you to babywear, there are still ways to carry forward the spirit and intention of babywearing.

You might not have the kangaroo-care skin-to-skin bonding of those first few days, but you keep that contact alive by giving regular, nurturing touch: holding your child’s hand, cuddling him close for nursing, giving a back rub as she falls asleep, and pooting that tempting soft belly.

You might not always be carrying their full weight against your body, but you can still find chances to physically interact: saving a seat on your lap, wrestling on the floor, twirling around the room, and squeezing in a great big hug.

At some point, you might not be able to pick up your child anymore. It’s an observable truth that most kids eventually outgrow their parents’ ability to haul them around, even in a really sturdy back carry! But we can still respond as attached parents when they lift up their arms, either literally or emotionally, and ask for our help, our connection, or our awareness.

If you keep in mind the reasons you chose babywearing in the first place, you will always find ways to hold your kids close to your heartbeat.

I’m curious: What’s the heaviest or oldest child you’ve worn in a sling or other carrier, and do you have carrier recommendations? How do you physically connect with your children?

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Blog to Inspire: The Art of Babywearing

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Arts & Lit Interrupted profileBlog to Inspire entrant Arts & Lit Interrupted is Gillian Young. She is figuring it out as she goes.

Yes, it is an art, I believe. Straps, buckles and clips, twisted and fastened to carry a little one just begging endlessly to be “up”. It can be a bit intimidating for a beginner. For me, it all started with a Hotsling, a pocket of cloth draped over my shoulder. This was such a fabulous tool, I wish I had it sooner than 3 weeks into Mommydom. I could nurse in it, and go about my day-to-day with my little sugarplum nestled at my bosom. Such a wonderful feeling for both of us. The Hotsling had a gentle learning curve, really easy to use.

I then graduated, yes, I think that is appropriate, to the stretchy wrap. It is more complicated, but more comfortable and versatile—and hark, I could nurse in it as well! I have worn my babe out to dinner in this, and no one was any the wiser, greatly impressing my parents who were skeptical of the merits of babywearing. I still use this when I don’t feel like bundling the little one up, I just zip him into my coat and go.

As the days grew on, I quickly learned that what I had envisioned myself doing with baby wasn’t going to be a reality—so naive!! I pictured my babe and I stroller-hopping through our small lakeside town endlessly this summer. WRONG! He hated the stroller, loathed it, screamed as soon as his back hit the padding. I was beside myself as I really craved the outdoors and wanted to instill this same passion in him. He was quickly outgrowing the sling (which btw I think will be great again once he is sitting upright) and I wasn’t loving the disc-crushing discomfort that I endured just to get out of the house. I had bought a Baby Bjorn, and thankfully I managed to sell it, as it is absolutely uncomfortable and impossible to nurse in.

I purchased the Balboa Baby sling (recommended by Dr. Sears) which saved the day for a while. My little guy would calm right down in it (still does on a crazy day), and the way the strap worked (ring sling style with padded shoulder) seemed to be the ticket for me. At almost 20 pounds I still use it when he is teething, having a growth spurt, or just an “up” day (you know those days where the only time they are out of arms is when you make food or visit the loo!)

Furthering my quest to find comfort, I turned to the internet. I regularly peruse the website of Parenting by Nature, a terrific site for the discerning parent wanting eco-friendly choices, and I happened upon a carrier called the Pikkolo, by Catbird Baby. I loved my stretchy wrap-style carrier, but didn’t want to be dragging straps of a mei-tai through snowy slush that is coming soon – ick! The Pikkolo is a miracle-worker. I can nurse in it, no problem. My little guy loves facing out in it too, something hard to find in a soft structured carrier. My husband wears it around town, much to the delight of the little old ladies that beam when they see my two guys coming toward them. It is funny that he will wear this carrier, as we specifically purchased the Bjorn for him, and he just wasn’t willing to withstand the discomfort, despite the more masculine appearance.

I had read in my research on attachment parenting that regularly wearing your baby, aside from all the other wonderful benefits (outlined by Dr. Sears), was that if babies hate their stroller, they will eventually become familiar with your babywearing route and take to sitting in the stroller for the same route. I have to say it has worked for us. The babe will now, at 6 months, tolerate the stroller for our usual path. Though we both now love wearing him so much that it just seems so much easier and cuddly to just pop him in his Pikkolo or stretchy wrap instead. Who wants to stick to the same route anyway!

Now that the babe is almost 20 lbs, babywearing allows me to be hands-free for chores (oh what fun!) A surprising bonus of being a babywearer? Walks on the beach, yes, ON the beach. There is no way my strollers’ stubborn wheels would have allowed for this! The sound of waves always makes the little one go limp with relaxation.

For further info on what carrier will work for you, check out reviews and instructions at The Babywearer.

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.