the terms sling and carrier are often used interchangeably but whichever is used the purpose is the same - they are items designed to let you carry your little one safely. You may also come across the term babywearing. Put simply babywearing is the the act of using a sling or carrier.
here at continuum we generally use sling to refer to a fabric wrap that is secured either with a knot or fixed ring, and we use carrier to refer to anything else.
an overview of the main types can be found below
a length of stretchy fabric used to wrap around baby and parent. There are a number of different tying positions making this type very versatile. The fabric may be 1 way or 2 way stretch depending on manufacturer. Can be pre tied making it a good option for those busy first few months when adjusting to having a new baby.
a length of specially woven fabric that wraps around baby and parent. A woven wrap is very versatile as it can be used in a variety of carrying positions with different finishes. They offer good support when wearing for longer periods and are available in a variety of lengths, widths and fibre blends.
a length of fabric which is threaded through rings to form a loop. The loop can be size adjusted making it suitable for newborns through to toddlers. Most commonly used with a one shoulder carry, a ring sling can be used to carry on the front, hip or back.
a tall cloth body panel, with long straps that are used to wrap around baby and parent. There are many variations depending on the manufacturer, such as shape and size of body panel, adjustability and width, length and padding of straps. The type of fabric they are made from can also vary. Suitable from newborn to pre school and for front and back carries, these carriers are quite versatile as they allow for different finishing methods. There is also little adjustment required to fit different parents or children.
buckles is a commonly used name for a soft structured carrier (SSC). A cloth body panel which uses straps with buckle clip fastening. Usually they have two shoulders straps and a waistband, both of which can be adjusted through buckle mechanisms. Buckles vary greatly in body panel size, width, padding, waistband, shoulder straps and adjustability. Most buckles fit from 6 months upwards and some offer suitability for newborns when used with an appropriate manufacturer’s insert. Due to their structured nature there is greater varaibility in fit and feel of different carriers on the same wearer, so it is beneficial to try different types. Buckles are very popular carriers in the UK.
a cross over between a mei tai and buckle carrier. These carriers have a waistband fastened by buckle whilst having mei tai like long shoulder straps for tying. This gives a greater flexibility to finishing methods. Waistband thickness, padding, strap thickness and body panel size varies between manufacturers.
this is not actually a judo move but a cross over between a mei tai and buckle carrier. These carriers have a waistband that ties similar to a mei tai with shoulder straps that fasten using a buckle like a soft structured carrier has. Half buckles vary in width and padding of the waistband and shoulder straps.
an onbuhimo, or onbu for short, is a cloth body panel with shoulder straps but no waistband. The shoulder strap traditionally attaches and tightens through rings at the bottom of the body panel. If rings are replaced with buckles then the carrier is known as a buckle onbu. There is less variety with positioning as baby has to be worn high and tight to make an onbu comfortable for the parent. They are compact, good for carrying toddlers, great for tandem wearing and a good option for anyone who cannot use a waistband.
these take on a whole variety of forms, from scarfs to hip seats to shoulder slings. Carry aids are very useful for supporting a child's weight whilst being carried in arms, however they are not hands free. A carry aid still requires a parent to support and secure their child with a minimum of one arm. Typically carrier aids are useful from 6 months onwards.