Choosing a sling or baby carrier

You may have heard of babywearing or thought about using a sling or carrier but found yourself overwhelmed by the different choices available. The world of slings & carriers can feel a bit confusing but see our sling & carrier guide or here are some questions you could ask that may make your decision easier:

How old is your baby/child? If you’re choosing a sling or carrier for a newborn, you may find that the most suitable carrier for this age won’t last until they are a toddler. The convenience of having something that fits you and your baby well (and that should have a good resale price later) may outweigh the inconvenience of needing to look for another option when they are older. If you’re starting to carry an older baby or toddler, you may want something quick to put on that allows them to get in & out easily. There are some slings and carriers suitable for premature babies, as well as kangaroo care tops and tubes that can help with skin-to-skin contact, but you may well want to talk to a Babywearing Consultant to find the right option for you in these circumstances.

What will you use a carrier for? Do you have a baby that won’t be put down, or who has colic/reflux, and think you’ll spend many hours carrying them? Or something for use on short trips, like the school run or around a supermarket? Will you use it mostly indoors or outdoors? Are there practicalities that may mean you don’t want straps or a wrap that would trail on the floor? How often will you use it and how will you transport it – does it need to be small enough to fit into a changing bag/pocket/buggy? If you have a toddler who may spend some time in a carrier & some time walking, how easy is it to keep it on your body or easily pack it away when you don’t need it?

How long will you use it for? If you plan to carry a baby/child for several hours a day, a one shouldered option may not be as suitable as something that distributes the weight over both shoulders. This will depend on the age and size of the child. You may also want to think about how long it will take to put a carrier on/take it off, especially if you will use it for shorter periods of time.

Who will use it? Is it just for you or to share with a partner/grandparent/childcarer? If you plan to share it, think about an option that can easily be adjusted unless everyone who will use it is exactly the same shape and size! And decide whether it would be easier to use a sling or carrier that ties or one with buckles (which will probably need to be adjusted for each wearer).

How easy do you want it to be? Are you happy to practise a little to get the hang of how to use a sling or carrier, or do you want something that you can pick up & figure out straight away? How about your partner or anyone else who may want to use it? How do you feel about tying knots or adjusting with buckles or rings?

There are no definitive right or wrong answers to any of these questions and there may be more considerations depending on your own circumstances but if you can think about your answers, the brief guide below to sling & carrier types may help you to narrow down your choices.


Sling & Carrier Guide


Pouches are tubes of fabric, usually folded in half and worn over one shoulder like a sash. They are usually made of fleece, cotton jersey or cotton. Some use poppers, zips, ties or velcro to adjust for different size wearers, while others are sized. You need to check each manufacturer’s instructions to find out how to measure and choose the correct size. They can be used easily when baby is sitting up, through to toddler age. Pouch slings shouldn’t be mistaken for Bag Slings, some of which were recalled for safety reasons, though some can still be found for sale in the UK.

Things people like:

They can be easy and quick to use

They are small when folded

They can be used for babies & toddlers

They can be quick to pop a toddler in & out

Adjustable pouches can be shared by people of different sizes

Mesh pouches can be great water wraps

Things people don’t like:

It can be difficult to find the right size

Sized pouches can’t usually be shared

They don’t offer great support for newborns

They can encourage carrying in a cradle position

They only take weight over one shoulder

You may need to hold onto your baby when you bend

Pouch brands available in the UK include BabaSlings, Comfy Joey, Hotslings, Lifft, Peanut Shell, Rockin’ Baby, Seven Slings, Suppori, Tonga, Wallaboo


Ring Slings are made by sewing rings into one end of a piece of fabric, which can be cotton, silk or a range of other fabrics. See below for details of a no-sew ring sling. The other end of fabric is threaded through the rings and adjusted to fit. A ring sling is worn over one shoulder with fabric spread wide on the back. The fabric is usually at least 60cm wide, which makes it possible to position a newborn baby in an upright position with good head support. No sew ring slings are made by threading fabric through a set of sling rings then turning the fabric over so that the end forms a shoulder pad and threading the other end of fabric through the rings as you would with a sewn ring sling. Ring slings can be used from birth to toddler.

Things people like:

They can be quick to use (when you know how)

They adjust to fit different sized people

They can be used for babies & toddlers

They have a tail (loose end) that has many uses (shade, breastfeeding cover, head/neck support)

They can be quick to pop a toddler in & out

Things people don’t like:

They may not offer a fully hands free option

They only take weight over one shoulder

They need some practice to work out how to position the baby & adjust the fabric

There are different shoulder styles (the way the fabric is sewn around the rings) and these can suit different people.

Ring sling brands available in the UK include Babylonia, Baie Slings, Bebe Sachi, Bykay, Comfy Joey, Crafty Little Slings, Didymos, Diva Milano, Ellaroo, Emei Baby, Geeky Sweetheart, Girasol, Hana Baby, Hoppediz, Je Porte Mon Bébé, Kitten Creations, Kokadi, Lenny Lamb, Ling Ling d’Amour, Little Frog, Maya Wrap, Natibaby, Neobulle, Oscha, P-Slings, Palm & Pond, Pouchlings, Rockin’ Baby, Sakura Bloom, Storchenwiege, Woven Wings


Mei Tais (or Asian baby carriers) consist of a structured body panel with straps, usually waist straps and shoulder straps. Podaegis (also known as pods) only have top straps which pass over the shoulders and cross under the baby’s legs to form a seat. Onbuhimos (known as onbus) have rings or loops at the side of the waist which the shoulder straps thread through. The straps can be padded or unpadded, and some carriers have wrap straps which are wide enough to spread over the wearer’s shoulders and the baby/child’s back and bottom.

Things people like:

They are easy to share and mould to the shape of each wearer

They provide support over both shoulders

They can be used on the front, back or hip

Some can cinch in to fit younger babies and most can be rolled up to shorten the body.

There’s less fabric than a wrap to get to grips with

They can be cool in hot weather

They can be used for high back carriers for small babies whose parents choose to back carry them

Things people don’t like:

They need to be knotted and some people don’t feel confident about their ability to tie a secure knot

Different brands can differ in all elements: the panel width & height, strap angle and length, presence or lack of seat darts, all of which can affect the fit

Dangling straps can trail on the floor & get wet and dirty

They may take a while to wash and dry

Only some offer head supports/sleep hoods

Mei tai brands available in the UK include Amazonas, Babyhawk, Babylonia, Bebe Sachi, ByKay, Carry Boo, Catbird Baby, Crafty Little Slings, Didymos, Diva Milano, Dotty Moo Moo, Ellaroo, Girasol, Hoppediz,  Je Porte Mon Bébé, Kitten Creations, Kokadi, Lenny Lamb, Lilliputti, Ling Ling d’Amour, Little River, Melkaj, Melliapis, MNS Designs, Monkey Mei Tai, Napsack, Opitai, Oscha, Neobulle, Palm & Pond, Phoenix, Pouchlings, Simply Mei Tai, Snugbaby, Softai, Squish D’lish, Sugar Spice Baby, Victoria Slinglady Ezium


Buckle Carriers (Soft Structured Carriers) consist of a panel of fabric with straps and usually fasten with buckles (though some fasten with velcro and some combine buckles at the waist or shoulders with tie straps, these are known as half buckles). Although some offer newborn inserts and cushions, they are generally used from when baby is sitting unsupported to toddler age (longer for toddler and pre-school size carriers).

Things people like:

They can be used on the front, back or sometimes on the hip.

They can be easy to figure out how to use

They are easy to share and adjust

They provide support over both shoulders

They may be suitable for a wide age range

They can fit babies in winter wear

Some offer features such as sleep hoods, toy loops, stirrups

Things people don’t like:

They may be less suitable for newborns and young babies

Buckles can be damaged and will age

Baby may be lower on the back in  back carry than in a wrap/mei tai

Not everyone can fasten or release buckles

Different designs vary greatly from each other

They can be expensive

They are slow to wash and dry

Detachable accessories may be lost

Petite parents may struggle to get straps tight enough

Buckle/Soft Structured Carrier brands available in the UK include Action Baby Carrier, Amazonas, Angelpack, Babyhawk Oh Snap, Bebe Sachi Snugg, Beco, Boba, Catbird Pikkolo, Chimparoo, Connecta, Emeibaby, Ergo, Je Porte Mon Bébé, Kibi, Kinderpack, Kokadi, Lenny Lamb, Lillebaby, Manduca, Melliapis, Moby, Ocah, Olives & Applesauce, Patapum, Pognae, Rose & Rebellion, Scootababy, Softai, Tula, Wallaboo, We Made Me


Stretchy Wraps are made from stretchy fabric (bamboo/cotton, often with some spandex) and are one long piece of material which is wrapped around the baby & wearer. They can be pre-tied before the baby is put in and can generally only be used for front and sometimes hip carries. Some stretch only in one direction, while other stretch in two directions (See details of the stretchiness of stretchy wraps). They’re generally used from birth to age one.

Things people like:

The fabric is soft & comfortable

The adjust to fit all body types

They can be cheap

They provide support over two shoulders

They are easily washable

They can facilitate skin to skin  contact

They can be pre-tied and kept on all day

There is only one knot to tie

Things people don’t like:

They can be outgrown quite quickly, often by 6 – 9 months

The length of fabric can put some people off

They can be warm

Different fabric compositions have different stretchiness

Some fabric blends can start to sag after time

Stretchy wrap brands available in the UK include Boba, ByKay, Ergo, Hana Baby, Joy & Joe, Manduca, Moby, Tula, We Made Me, Wrapsody


Stretchy Hybrids offer a similar carrying position to a stretchy wrap but are usually sewn into loops or crosses of fabric to avoid the need to tie a length of fabric. Some are sized and some are adjustable.

Things people like:

They are made from soft fabric

They are usually worn over both shoulders

They are quite easily available

Some are made of mesh, so cooler in summer

Things people don’t like:

Unlike a stretchy wrap, no weight is taken through the waist with many hybrids

They may be outgrown by 6 – 9 months

They may be hard to work out how to use instinctively

Stretchy hybrid brands available in the UK include Amazonas, Baby K’Tan, Babylonia, Close Caboo, Infantino, Papoozle,



Woven Wraps are a long piece of woven fabric, usually specially woven as a ‘carrying cloth’. They can’t usually be pre-tied but can be used for front, hip and back carries. They can be used from birth – child (people have carried older children and even adults in them in emergencies!)

Things people like:

They are very supportive and can be used to carry premature babies right through to  older children

They are versatile and adaptable

They fit all body shapes and types and are easy to share

They can be used as a torso carrier or to support over one or both shoulders

Once you know how to use them, they can be quick to use

They have many other uses – impromptu cushion, changing mat, hammock, etc.

They can facilitate skin to skin contact

They soften and improve with age

There are no rings, buckles or other fasteners

They can be completely hands free



Things people don’t like:

The length of fabric can be off-putting

The choice can be overwhelming – different lengths, widths, fabric types

They can be expensive

New wraps need to be softened/worn in

They aren’t generally available on the High Street

There is lots of associated jargon which can be unfamiliar

They may be impractical in some conditions

Their lack of structure makes them less appealing to some

They may be seen as too hippy

Woven wrap brands available in the UK include Amazonas, Babylonia, Baie Slings, Bebe Sachi, By Kay, Didymos, Girasol, Joy & Joe, Oscha, Sling Studio, Tula, Woven Wings, Wrapsody


Bag Slings

Bag slings look more like handbags than baby carriers and consist of a cradle part that usually closes with a drawstring and a shoulder strap. Two brands were withdrawn from sale after infant deaths in the US. It is almost impossible to position a baby in a bag sling in accordance with the UK safety guidelines, TICKS. It may be possible to carry an older child in a hip position in a bag sling, though this may still be uncomfortable for child and adult.

Several UK companies offer discounts on slings if you send them a bag sling. If you have a bag sling, your local sling library or Babywearing Consultant may be able to make use of it for demonstration purposes – find them on the Babywearing UK Local page.


Backpack carriers look very much like backpacks – in fact, the first was made by a backpack manufacturer, Karrimor, in the 1970s. They can be used with babies who can sit unassisted, as they don’t offer enough support for babies who don’t have the core strength that they gain when they can sit.

Things people like:

They are available in many High Street shops

They have a range of features, often have lots of storage space and some can stand upright on the ground



Things people don’t like:

They tend to be more designed to fit men’s bodies than women’s

They can unbalance your centre of gravity and are often heavy

There’s really no substitute for seeing and trying a range of slings & carriers. Find your local sling meet, library or Babywearing Consultant on our Local page.