Wraps, slings, pouches and carriers…which baby wearing option is for you?

Our Blossom Creations pouch sling

I am a HUGE fan of baby wearing. It just makes sense to me. Babies need to be close to their moms (or dads) to feel safe and secure, but busy parents often need their hands free – enter the sling, pouch or carrier. There are so many benefits to baby wearing

  • Happy babies
  • Healthy babies
  • Confident parents
  • Loving caregivers
  • Comfort and convenience

A while ago I read a fascinating article entitled “Why African Babies Don’t Cry’ and one of the key reasons is that these babies are worn by their mothers pretty much 24/7. When you first contemplate baby wearing, the choices can be daunting. Basically, there are four types of baby carriers available, and we have some fantastic products available in SA.

Wraparound Slings

A wraparound sling is basically a very long strip of strong fabric. It can have a stretch or not. This kind of baby carrier can be difficult to learn how to tie, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it is so easy and convenient. The sling can be tied once and then you can take baby in and out as you need to. What I found really useful was tying it at home before going out and then popping baby in when I got to my destination. My daughter had vagal nerve compression when she was born, and as a result, she had a poor sucking reflex, was sleepy and easily distressed. For the first few weeks of her life she lived in my sling, strapped skin-to-skin to my chest. This helps raise oxytocin in baby and mom, improving milk supply, sucking and bonding. Many moms find it easy to breastfeed in the wrap, but I couldn’t get the hand of it.

See Me Baby sent me their Wrap Carrier in teal to try. They have a handy video online which teaches you how to tie the wrap. The fabric is very strong but soft and comfy, and the lack of buckles means that there is nothing to accidentally hurt your baby. This wrap comes with a built in carry bag which is so clever – when you take the wrap off, just bundle it up and pop it in the bag. My husband found the wrap too complicated for him, but I loved the way it distributes baby’s weight evenly across my shoulders and back meaning I could carry her for much longer without getting a sore back. You can wear baby in several ways depending on age, so the wrap grows with baby and can safely be used for toddlers as well. Baby and I both loved this wrap. I especially love it for the newborn stage and when out shopping – wrap baby tummy to tummy, pull the fabric across to support baby’s head and shield them from too many distractions and they just drift off to sleep! So many people stop me when I am carrying my sleeping daughter in this wrap because the cuteness factor is too much to resist!

Ring Slings

Ring slings are a bit like a shawl or long piece of non-stretchy fabric with a pair of rings attached to the end. I tried the Baby Sense ring sling. Many people swear by this sling but I honestly couldn’t get the hang of it when my baby was small. Clearly I was doing something wrong but there always seemed to be too much fabric around her face and it looked like she was drowning in it. I have tried the sling now that she’s older though and I find it very comfy in the hip hold. It is roomy and comfy for her and the edges are padded to reduce pressure on baby and mom.  The key is to make sure it is tight enough to support baby close to your body.

Pouch Slings

Pouch slings are a tube of fabric (a closed loop folded in half) with a curved seam. The pouch must be sized according to the adult’s size, so they are fairly specific to the wearer – if you and you partner are very different sizes you wouldn’t be able to wear the same sling. BUT there are no buckles and no adjusting so you just put the sling on, pop baby in and go.

Blossom Creations sent me a baby sling from their Fashion Range. The first thing I noticed was that it is so compact! It folds really really small and fits easily into the nappy bag or even my handbag. The fabric is DIVINE! It is so eye-catching and trendy that I get many compliments on this sling when I wear it out. The fabric is 100% cotton and the sling is padded along the bottom edge so that baby’s legs are comfy. The sling is really quick and easy to put on and to get baby into. She loves it. In the hip hold she can look out and interact with the world whilst still being close to me and feeling secure. If she needs to sleep I just shift her into cradle hold. The sling feels really secure and is very comfortable on my back. This has become my new favourite sling for its ease of use and convenience.

Soft Structured Carriers

These carriers have a body panel and shoulder and waist straps. They have adjustable buckles and distribute baby’s weight across both shoulders and the lower back. They can be used from birth through to toddlerhood and can carry baby tummy to tummy or facing out.

African Baby Carriersent me a carrier to try out. The fabric is strong with an ethnic feel. Baby is meant to be worn on the front from 3 to 5 months and then on the back until about 3yrs old. There are many added features to this carrier like a sun hood that can be flapped up and fastened, and a pocket for some of mom or dad’s valuables. I found the front carrying position a bit awkward to put on because the chest strap needs to be fastened at the back – unless you are an adept yogi, you would need someone else to fasten it for you. Since speaking to Julia from the company I have found out that the chest straps can be moved up and down the shoulders to come and sit wherever you find it most comfortable to reach when closing the strap on the back. If you just leave them where they are then it gets tricky. For a small baby you may not feel as secure as with some other carriers because the sides are quite open. But, once baby is big enough to go on your back, this carrier really comes into its own.  Baby rides nice and high up on your back and can easily look around, and your arms and front are completely free. The padded waist belt gives very good support and takes the strain off your back. This would also be great for hiking, especially because baby can be shaded from the sun.

Baby Bjorn sent me a Baby Carrier Miracle to test. Baby Bjorn is a Swedish company, so it is the only carrier that I tried that is not made in South Africa. It is more structured than other carriers that I have tried and is very well padded both for baby and for mom. The shoulder straps are quite wide and the lumbar support is padded, firm and easily adjusted.  I generally find soft structured carriers quite uncomfortable to wear – my back and shoulders are a problem, but this one didn’t hurt me. It was a favourite with my husband who found it easy to put on and take off – no complicated tying (you can’t clip it together incorrectly)! He found it so comfortable that he carried our daughter in it on a 6km hike in the Drakensburg. She found it so comfortable that she just fell asleep. The carrier can be used from day one because it supports baby well in the tummy to tummy position. Now that my baby is older, she loves the forward facing position. My nanny uses this carrier for baby and she says that it doesn’t hurt her back at all and she can easily get on with other things while carrying baby around. All adjustments are done from the front making it relatively easy to switch from one uses to the next.

*I was not reimbursed for this review. I received a baby carrier from the companies listed above

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