Babywearing | Wrap, Ring Sling, or Carrier? (Pros & Cons)

The custom of carrying babies in wraps and slings is familiar in many countries and cultures, with ancient roots all around the world. But countries such as New Zealand have only, in recent years, caught up – heeding the scientific research that confirms the significant benefits of babywearing.

The western revival of this natural practice has then led to the creation of many new and innovative products, designed to meet a range of different lifestyles and preferences for modern day parents.

Mother bonds with baby - different types of baby carrier, babywearing, best baby wrap - Belly Beyond New Zealand

Comfortably active in the MOBY Easy Wrap

Many babywearing products are highly customisable and accommodate multiple carrying positions, so when comparing products, it is a good idea to keep in mind what positions are safe for your baby and when. 

But if you’re ready to work out whether a wrap, ring sling, or/and carrier could be right for you, we have put together a guide to their various advantages and considerations.

 

Find your best fit below!

The Belly Beyond range of babywearing brands are:

Belly Beyond stock a wide range of babywearing products, including MOBY's wraps, ring slings, hybrid carriers, and carriers, and the leading ranges of carrier from Ergobaby, LILLEbaby, and BabyBjorn.

Quick Comparison Chart

Babywearing Comparison Chart - Carrying Positions: Front inward-facing, front outward-facing, hip carry, back carry. Baby wrap, hybrid carrier, ring sling, baby carrier.

* 'Newborn to toddler' carriers only. 

Now, it's time to dive into an in-depth analysis of the advantages and considerations of wraps, ring slings and carriers. The considerations are not all negatives – just aspects to be mindful of when making the best choice for you.

Wraps

Belly Beyond supply MOBY's leading range of baby wraps. Feel the freedom and bond for life!

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Benefits of Baby Wraps
Description

Traditional baby wraps are one long, rectangular piece of specially formed fabric, which you wrap around yourself (in various styles) and tie, before carefully tucking and securing baby inside.

Special features
If you are after the cosy feel of a wrap but want more of a ready-to-go option, MOBY offer styles (like the Easy Wrap and Cloud Hybrid carrier) with tailoring features that speed up the process of putting it on.

NOTE: Wraps are either stretchy (2-way stretch or 1-direction stretch) or woven (non-stretchy). MOBY specialise in wraps with 1-direction stretch, which offer greater strength than a 2-way stretch, while still being malleable enough to tie easily.

Mum and baby in the Evolution Baby Wrap by MOBY. Baby's soft C-shape curve is supported by the wrap. Belly Beyond NZ.

Benefits of Wraps

  • Shape: A wrap molds around and supports a newborn’s C-shaped curve in their spine while it matures into balancing curves (softly S-shaped).
  • Lifespan: Suitable for newborns, infants, and young toddlers.
  • Adaptive: Fits parents/caregivers of all body shapes and sizes.
  • Compact: Folds small to be easily carried with you.
  • Versatile: Can be tied in multiple fashions to accommodate two popular carrying positions – front inward-facing and hip carry  the hip for when babies can sit up unassisted and desire a more world-facing view.
  • Back of a MOBY Evolution Wrap - Caramel - Belly Beyond NZ
    Comfortable: A wrap not only feels cosy and soft for you and your baby, but it also distributes your baby’s weight evenly, helping you to wear your baby for longer, without lop-sided strain. For a comfortable sitting experience, the loose ends of a wrap can be tied up at the front so that your back is knot-free.
  • Feeding: You can breastfeed your baby while they are in the wrap. Just change their positioning to suit, and move them back into correct carrying positioning when finished.

Many more: For all the benefits of babywearing in general, see our article.

Considerations of Wraps

  • Practise: Learning how to use a traditional wrap can take a bit of practice to confidently master. We advise watching video tutorials online and practising before baby arrives to get the hang of it.
  • Prepare: Putting on a traditional wrap out in public can be a bit tricky. We advise putting it on at home so that you are ready to tuck baby in at your destination.
  • Climate: Carrying your baby in a wrap in warmer weather can get quite hot. We recommend choosing one with a breathable fabric if you live in a warmer climate or are using it in summer. You can also dress your baby in lightweight clothing to ensure they keep cool.
  • Staying secure: When wearing a wrap for an extended period of time, your baby/toddler may slip down slightly, which will require readjustments during use to keep them secure. 
  • M-shape position - Babywearing - Belly Beyond NZCorrect positioning: It is essential to learn correct M-shaped leg/hip positioning, and helpful to note that, as mentioned above, from time to time adjustments may be needed to ensure your baby is still in the optimal position, with knees raised and the base of baby's hips angled towards you. To make these adjustments, do a gentle pelvic scoop.
  • Stretchiness: After lots of use, the wrap's stretchiness may lessen, and this can cause the fabric to sag after a period of time when carrying a heavier child. For this reason, wraps are perhaps optimally suited for younger toddlers  up to 10kg, rather than the 15kg max. weight.
  • Petite Parents: Traditional wraps are one-size-fits all. Smaller parents may, however, find themselves with a little extra fabric than is preferable, so we advise wrapping the ends back around to your front to tie up, rather than tying at the back, as this will get any extra fabric out of your way. 

Ring Slings

Moby Wrap NZ sell beautiful, comfortable, and easy to wear wraps so you can wear your baby. Feel the freedom and bond for life!
Good for

Benefits of Ring Slings

Description

A ring sling is made from one long rectangular piece of fabric (like a wrap), but two key differences are that the sling is worn on one shoulder and has two metal rings sewn into the fabric at one end, for a fastening mechanism. The other end of fabric loops back through the rings, creating a pouch for baby to sit in.

Benefits of Ring Slings

  • Airflow & comfort: Ring slings are comfortable and cool in warmer climates/weather, due to the airflow they allow by being one piece of material. They are also made out of lovely woven cotton fabric, which is comfortable to wear.
  • Easy: It's quick and easy to slip baby in and out of the ring sling – great for beginners to learn and also great for babies on-the-move who may be more up-and-down than a sleeping infant.

    Mother and baby in the MOBY Ring Sling. Belly Beyond NZ.
  • Versatile: Can be worn on the hip or on your front.
  • Shape: A sling molds around and supports a newborn’s C-shaped curve in their spine while it matures into balancing curves (softly S-shaped).
  • Adaptive: Fits parents/caregivers of all body shapes and sizes.
  • Compact: Folds small to be easily carried with you.
  • Discrete breastfeeding: You can breastfeed your baby while they are in the ring sling and use the excess fabric for additional privacy, if desired. Just change baby's positioning to cradle style to feed, and immediately move them back into a front-inward or hip carrying position when finished.

Many more: For all the benefits of babywearing in general, see our article.

Considerations of Ring Slings

  • Weight distribution: Ring slings do not distribute your baby’s weight evenly, due to their asymmetrical design and pressure on one shoulder. To help alleviate this, make sure to spread the material evenly across your back and alternate shoulders periodically. If you already suffer from back or shoulder pain, we recommend using a supportive carrier instead.
  • Staying secure: When wearing a ring sling, your baby/toddler may slip down over time, which will require readjustments during use to keep them secure.
  • Correct positioning: As with wraps, it is essential to learn correct M-shaped leg/hip positioning, and helpful to note that, as above, from time to time adjustments may be needed to ensure your baby is still in the optimal position, with knees raised and the base of baby's hips angled towards you. To make these adjustments, do a gentle pelvic scoop.
  • Washing: When washing your ring sling, a tip is to put a tight sock on the rings to protect them and your washing machine.
  • Loose ends: It is best to always tie up the loose ends of a ring sling, so they do not get caught on anything or pick up dirt. Tying them at the front will avoid a bulky knot on your back, which will be more comfortable for leaning back when sitting down.

Carriers

Ergobaby, LILLEbaby and Ergobaby. Leading baby carrier design.
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Benefits of Carriers
Description
Mother bonding with her baby in the LILLEbaby Pursuit Carrier - Belly Beyond

Soft-structured carriers* look similar to a backpack, with their padded shoulder straps and soft-shell pouch across the torso or back (depending on which way you are carrying baby). The pouch, with side openings for legs and arms, holds baby securely pressed against your body as they sit on the seat panel, which is where the soft-shell fabric connects to your carrier's buckle-up waist belt. This supportive band keeps baby firmly in place on the wearer’s body and provides solid support for the wearer’s back.

The padded shoulder straps go down the wearer's body (whether front or back), and they buckle together in the middle and then usually loop back under each arm to connect to the baby pouch. 

*Other names for soft-structured carriers include soft-padded carriers, buckle carriers, and baby/toddler carriers.

Customisation Options
Temperature Control Panel on the LILLEbaby All Seasons

Most carriers allow for a range of different sized adults to share and wear, multiple carrying positions for baby, newborn to toddler seat capacity, and some have temperature control options (All Seasons styles, like the LÍLLÉbaby carrier pictured). 

Special features may include
For baby: Sleep hood, soft padded openings for baby’s legs, or an infant insert (most don't need one anymore).
For the wearer: Lumbar support, crisscross straps to improve even weight distribution, and storage pockets.

Benefits of Carriers

  • Easy: Carriers are quick and easy to put on, adjust, and take off – little training or technique is required.
  • Babywearing Dad in the LILLEbaby Pursuit Carrier - Belly Beyond NZMulti-user: A popular choice for babywearing dads, carriers are more fuss-free and masculine in appearance. A carrier can also adapt to different sized wearers with adjustable straps.
  • Supportive: Good for an ergonomic fit and even weight distribution, they provide ample support and a comfortable wearing experience for extended periods of time. A carrier (when on the right setting for your child's size) will naturally support good M-Shape positioning, and no amount of time will cause your child to slip down or need any readjustments.
  • Lifespan: Many carriers are suitable for newborns, infants, and toddlers! Many families use their carriers for multiple kids, and some even resell it or pass it on to another family to enjoy when finished with it. That's one long lifespan!
  • Practical: Because they are so robustly supportive, carriers are the most practical option for doing household chores with your little one on you. With the option of a back carry position (for 6m+), you can even do dishes, washing, and vacuuming with an unobstructed front.
  • Active-friendly: Not only are carriers perfect for moderate hikes, but they also are the winning option when it comes to kangatraining – a popular and modern form of exercise for babywearing mums (or dads!). It's a low-impact fitness class, which supports mums to strengthen their pelvic floor post-pregnancy and to learn safe babywearing practices in a fun, social, and active setting.
Mum baby and sibling all staying active with the help of Ergobaby's Omni 360 Carrier Cool Air Mesh.
  • Keeping up with older sibling: When baby number two arrives, it's sometimes hard to be as involved with your active first born, but a carrier can give you the support you need to keep up. 

Many more: For all the benefits of babywearing in general, see our article.

Considerations of Carriers

  • Outdoor feel: Although built with a soft design, the buckles, fabrics, and straps of carriers often have the feel of something you would wear outdoors, rather than for everyday cosy comfort around the home. Many parents, however, prefer it over wraps and ring slings for babywearing while doing active household chores though, due to the robust support it gives and the ease of putting it on. 
  • *Newborn safety: Many carriers are made to be newborn-ready, but always note the starting weight recommendation (often 3.2kg) and ensure baby is ‘close enough to kiss’, with their face visible, head supported, chin off their chest, and airways clear. To learn more about how to carry your baby in the front fetal position see our carrying positions article.
  • M-position for babywearing - Belly Beyond NZKnee-to-knee support: Most carriers have modifiable panels for baby’s legs, which you need to adjust as baby gets bigger. Unless they are a newborn (in the front-fetal position), their legs should always form an M-Shaped position, with their knees higher than their bottom. The panel should, therefore, be fitted to give support all the way across both thighs – from knee to knee.
  • Bulky to take with you: If you are going somewhere and are bringing a carrier along to use at some point, just note that they are a bulky item that needs its own bag. Whereas, a wrap or ring sling is generally able to be folded up small to go in a bag with other items.
  • Adjustments: If sharing between you and your partner, it is likely you will need to adjust the straps each time you use it after them (if you are a different size or shape to them). You will also need to adjust the carrier's seat width as your child grows (if using a carrier with this capacity) or make other special adjustments when switching between carrying positions; this is fairly straight forward when following the instructions. 
  • Price point: Carriers are generally more expensive than wraps and ring slings, so if you are after something more affordable, we recommend something like the LÍLLÉbaby Complete Airflow Carrier, pictured in charcoal below, or a hybrid carrier like the Ergobaby Embrace pictured in grey.

Wanna know more?

For more informative articles to assist you in your babywearing journey, please check out the following:

Wrap, Ring Sling, or Carrier? (Pros & Cons)

“It’s hard to feel like much is wrong in the world when you’re looking into the eyes of a happy baby.” – Lisa Wingate

 

If you would like some more support from one of our friendly team, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're happy to help, wherever we can!

You can also join the LÍLLÉbaby Love group, which is a supportive platform on Facebook for checking your fit with other babywearers and experts and also getting advice on any questions you have.