Slingbabies - New Zealand's own baby sling website - non-profit, educational, to promote and support babywearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question, or scroll down to read the whole page.

Contact us if you have a question not covered here, or come to a meeting! 

 

What are the main types of carrier?

Baby carriers fall into four categories - pouch , ring sling , asian-style and wrap .  
Pouches and ring slings are 'one shouldered' carriers, as they can only be worn on one shoulder.   Asian style carriers (including soft-structured carriers) and wraps are 'two shouldered' carriers.  There are many variations on each type, and all types have their pros and cons.  

Top

I tried a sling but it hurt my shoulder and baby seemed uncomfortable?

Yes slings with thin straps will dig in after a short time.  A sling that spreads the weight as much as possible over your shoulder, even capping it, will be much more comfortable.  Also, keep any shoulder straps as far from your neck as reasonable.
If baby seems uncomfy in a sling, check that they are in at the proper angle (45o for a diagonal cradle carry), their back and neck are straight, no wee fingers/toes are pinched, and that the bottom edge is well up underneath their knees (for a tummy carry.)
Some babies prefer certain carry positions (and carriers) to others, so try a variety of positions to find the one that suits you both.  It will often be the one you tend to carry them most in, when in your arms.

Top

Hubby and I intend to wear baby, can we both use the same sling?

Unless you are exactly the same height/weight/body shape, then a pouch sling is off the cards for this situation, as they need to be fitted to one person's exact measurement.
Ring slings can be adjusted to fit a variety of people, as can mei-tai's and of course wraps are one-size-fits-all.  You may like to consider a neutral colour fabric so as not to limit clothing choices (and daddy's favourite colour probably isn't pink!)  Guys are often keen on soft structured carriers like the Ergo/Patapum, as they are not too 'frilly', so those may be an option if dad is keen or needs encouragement.  

Top

Can I use a sling for my prem baby?

Yes definitely!! In fact, wearing preemies (kangaroo care ) has been shown to benefit their development - lowering infant mortality, improving oxygen saturation, regulated breathing & heart rate, longer sleep, better weight gain, the list goes on! (See link above)   A carrier for a preemie needs to support their wee body (especially back and head) and allow access for tubes etc.  A soft stretchy wrap is ideal for this, and it also allows baby to be in skin-to-skin contact while being worn.  

Top

My baby has reflux and hates lying down in carriers, which 'carry' position would suit best?

Positions which support baby upright often give the most relief for reflux babies.  'Tummy-to-tummy' carries like the FPCC press nicely on their stomach and use gravity to help the milk go down and stay down where it should.   A ring sling or wrap is ideal for this in the early weeks, or a mei-tai where you can get a really snug supported fit.  

Top

Can I breastfeed in a sling?

Yes definitely! With a bit of practice, you can feed baby in either a cradle or upright position.  People won't even realise you're doing it.  Draagdoekmama has a couple of good videos for breastfeeding in a sling  

Top

My baby is very heavy for his age and my arms just about drop off carrying him! What carrier would suit us?

Two-shouldered carriers spread the weight better than one-shouldered types, especially for heavy babies and toddlers.  A soft-structured carrier is quick and easy to put on, and the thick padded waistband holds most of the weight of baby on your hips, giving your shoulders a well-earned rest.  A mei-tai is another good option, as is a woven wrap.  All three types can be worn on the front or back. (Also, many people find back carries ideal for heavy babies/toddlers as it can be easier to bear their weight that way.)

Top

Can I use my baby sling in the car? I hate to take her out when she's happy.

No, sorry.  Car seats are a non-negotiable must,  no matter how much baby prefers her sling! 

Top

My mother says I'm making a rod for my back letting baby nap in the sling, is she right?

No, all babies are different. Some will like the sling/carrier for all their naps, others are quite happy to share naps between cot and sling.  It depends on your baby, but using a sling won't make your baby hate her bed at all.   As they say, 'sleep begets sleep', and the more well-rested your baby is during the day, the better they will sleep at night. Plus, whatever works for your sanity is always good - baby can nap and you can get your housework etc done at the same time. 

Top

Can my baby fall out of a sling?

Yes and no.  Well made/designed baby carriers will make it easy to keep baby safe inside. You should check the stitching and/or buckles every time you use a carrier. Read the instructions carefully to make sure you are 'installing' baby in correctly.  Make sure the carrier you use suits you and your baby's needs, and that it fits you correctly (e.g pouch not too big)  Wear your baby 'high and snug' in the carrier, close to your centre of gravity so they're not swinging around loosely.   With a pouch/ring sling, bring the bottom edge right underneath up to their  knees so they can't straighten their legs and pop out the bottom. Keep the top edge nice and snug so they can't lean back.  With a mei-tai and wrap, use proper square knots.  With a SSC don't undo the waistband first!  When learning back carries always have a spotter to help you, and kneel on a soft surface until you are well practiced at it.  We all worry about dropping our babies, but having them in a sling or carrier is certainly safer than in arms if falling down steps etc- they just get a wee fright as opposed to falling on the ground out of your arms!

Top

Can I wear my sling in the water?

No, unless it's made of special 'solarveil' fabric.  Normal cotton/denim etc will be weakened and/or rot if worn in water too much. Best not to risk it, and look into solarveil for swimming!

Top

How old can my baby be before I will have to stop wearing them?

As old as you like! Apart from some manufacturer weight limits, (i.e. 18kg for Ergo)   there is no particular age when you have to stop wearing your baby - you can go for as long as it suits you both.  Bear in mind some styles of carrier suit heavier/older babies so choosing one that makes it comfy for you to carry more weight will be kinder to yourself in the long run.

Top

My baby is snuffling and fussing in the sling, what's wrong?

Most likely, baby's back and/or neck are bent.  This effectively acts like bending a straw in two - can't get much air through that!  There needs to be a decent two-finger space between baby's chin and chest, and her neck and back should be straight - especially in a cradle carry - If baby is in a sling lengthwise it folds her in half.    If you notice that she's all bent up in a pouch or ring sling cradle carry, reach in and shuffle baby's upper body more to the outside, bum in close to you and head touching the top edge, to get her more diagonal. 
If you are using a 'bag sling ' type like the Baby First or Premaxx, there's your problem.  Switch carriers as it is nigh on impossible to get a safe fit for baby in a bag sling.  

Top

I have a bad back, can I still wear my baby?

Most definitely, but do get the 'thumbs-up' from your health provider as well, to address any underlying issues.  Many people with bad backs (scoliosis for example)  find that woven wraps are the best type for spreading baby's weight evenly.   Mei-tai and soft-structured carriers come an even 'second' in preference.   One-shouldered carriers aren't popular as the wearer can sometimes end up compensating/leaning, which aggravates their back.   It is a good idea to wear baby regularly as this will gradually strengthen your muscles.  Not using your carrier for a month then going on a 5-mile hike is not going to be pretty!

Top

How can I tell if a pouch sling I like on the internet will fit me?

Check with the vendor what their sizing is like. Some like Peanutshell have a chart with a combination of chest/shoulder measurements.  Some will only do S/M/L, whereas others do exact cm/inch measurements.    It is best to get as close a measurement as possible for the best fit.  You measure from the tip of your shoulder, across like a seatbelt down to your hip at belly button level.  Too small and you'll both be struggling to breathe, too big and baby will swing like a handbag! It is possible in some cases to make a small fold in the top of a pouch and carefully sew along it to shorten a pouch, but it is preferable just to get the right fit in the first place. Some people find that their pouches become too big after a few months of wearing, as they lose their baby weight.  This is normal, although disappointing if you really love your sling! No reason why you can't get another carrier though, and save the big one for later or pass it on to another mama. 

Top

Carriers I see online all seem so expensive. Why the high price?

Basically, you pay for what you get.
Carriers available in baby shops are often limited to frontpacks, or mass-produced and unsuitable for using for long periods of time, or they are so badly designed that they are bordering on dangerous. (see 'what about bag slings ')     Most good quality  baby carriers are only available online through small or WAHM businesses, and the price reflects this.   Beware of cheap carriers or TradeMe bargains. You need to be sure of the quality of stitching, design, construction/hardware,and fabric.   Remember, most people are happy to pay 3 figure prices for a stroller that they may only get minimal use from.  You will get more use from your baby carrier, so it's worth looking around for the right one.   Emma says it well in this article  "If these slings are so cool, why can't I buy them at K-Mart?"  

Top

Can I start wearing my toddler in a carrier, if they haven't been in one before?

Yes definitely. It will take a bit of getting used to for both of you, so give yourselves time to practice and get comfy with your carrier.  Choosing one that will support a lot of weight well is a good start. Make sure your toddler is under the manufacturer's weight limit so you get a decent amount of use. And be extra careful with back carries as your toddler will need time to learn the knack of 'hanging on' as you wrap, that comes easily to sling-babies.  But don't let it put you off, have fun!

Top

Can I wear two babies at once?

Yes definitely!  There are a variety of ways to do this:  twins can be worn together in each side of a wrap when little; you can wear an older child on the back in a 'ssc'or wrap,  and a wee babe on the front in either a wrap, ring sling or pouch; two older babies can be worn in a pouch on each hip; you can use a wrap to wear a baby on back and front; or a mix of methods.  It's really worth having a play around and finding what suits you and your babies.  See the photos at pg.12 of the Gallery for some ideas, also the 'Wearing more than one ' section of The Baby Wearer forum.

Top

My baby is going into a hip cast, can I still wear her in a carrier?

This will be a little tricky, but still do-able! Hip casts and mobility can be so frustrating that baby carriers can be a godsend in this situation.   Many hip-baby parents find a mei-tai ideal for the job.  The panel and straps can go up and around the cast/rods, with baby facing out or in, and she can still be in a relatively comfy (as it gets) position.    A wrap is also a possibility if there isn't a rod between the feet, probably a woven wrap in a FWCC tied fresh each time.    Wearing baby in a wrap or other carrier that encourages definite 'froglegs' is excellent for hip babies.  It encourages the ball into the hip socket joint in just the position of a cast.  It has been recommended for hip babies overseas and can be beneficial before/after the cast stage.

Top

My partner is in a wheelchair and would love to wear baby, what are his/her options?

Baby carriers are fantastic for this situation, it means that baby is safe and secure and mum/dad will have their hands free for mobility.  A pouch or ring sling is ideal, also a mei-tai will be good as you can forward face baby later on for convenience of both - there isn't the worry about baby's weight dragging down as they will be sitting on mum/dad's lap anyway.  

Top

All I want is a sling for quick dashes into the mall or out and about, what's the best one?

There is no 'best sling', it depends on your individual situation, baby, etc.  But pouches and ring slings are great for quick dashes and keeping your hands free.  They often come in beautiful designer fabrics to co-ordinate with your outfits for special occasions.  Some ring slings will have a pocket in the tail for your keys/wallet, and you can even use a ring sling as a highchair.  

Top

I have been given a frontpack, can I still use it?

Most definitely.  Any babywearing is better than none, and your baby will appreciate being on you more than in a pram.  Just be aware that you will get limited use from it, and encourage baby's legs into as much of a frog position as you can to avoid dangling . Cloth nappies will give you that little bit of bulk to spread their legs if you like.  Frontpacks are often a 'gateway' carrier into other more comfortable slings and carriers, and we all have to start somewhere!

Top

What's the difference between a framed backpack and a soft-structured backpack?

Simply- your centre of gravity.  Framed backpacks hoist baby up and out from you, so they require a harness to keep baby sitting safely and not pushing up and out of the backpack.  They are often bulky and heavy, although many now have a padded waistband to hold the weight.  Soft structured carriers like the Manduca, Patapum and Ergo keep baby in close to you (no layer of fabric between you), and close to your centre of gravity so it is easier to carry their weight for longer periods of time.  They also have the thick firm padded waistband to take most of baby's weight, and don't need a safety harness as baby is so snug they can't push themselves out of the carrier.  In a SSC baby is in a 'knees up bum down' sitting position which is really comfy for them.  In a framed backpack baby often sits with their knees lower than their bum which isn't as desirable.  SSC tend not to have much storage space, whereas the pricier framed backpacks can have many pockets and sections for storing nappies etc.  Framed backpacks are often more expensive for the 'more bells n whistles' models.  But would you wear them every day?

Top

How do I wash my baby carrier?

It depends on each manufacturer's instructions.  With most slings and carriers it's best to stick to spot-cleaning with a damp cloth, then dry in the shade.  Too much machine washing can weaken stitching and buckles over time, and fade fabric more than normal.  Don't hot-wash silk or wool wraps! (I learnt this the hard way.)   With a very spilly baby the washability is definitely something to consider when browsing for a carrier!  Go for something cotton and hardy.   

Top

I'm a 'fluffy' size 18+, is there a carrier that's good for me?

Most definitely.  Many fluffy mummies find wraps good as they are long enough for any body shape.  Mei-tai carriers are also good, brands like Kozy tend to have longer shoulder straps than others so they won't be too short to tie at the 'finish'.  With one-shouldered carriers the mummy's chest can sometimes interfere with a good fit so take this into account when choosing and trying on slings.  

Top
 
 
Slingbabies - Baby Slings and Carriers
© 2007-2011 Slingbabies