Looking for a sling for your newborn? The choice of newborn baby carriers can be a bit bewildering. There’s a vast array of brands that advertise their products as ‘perfect’ for newborns, so where on earth do you start?
Choosing a sling or baby carrier is a lot like choosing shoes: it’s about a good fit, personal preference, and always worth trying before you buy. Ensuring your sling is fitted safely and comfortably is paramount: often this is more important than which one you buy, so getting professional advice and support from our team of Babywearing Consultants is ideal.
Many parents are interested in a sling ‘that you can breastfeed in.’ It’s worth noting that almost any sling *could* be used as a breastfeeding or bottle feeding aid. You can read more here about feeding in slings.
But to get you started, here are our top recommendations for newborns.
‘Stretchies’ are long pieces of soft, stretchy jersey fabric. They are absolutely ideal for newborns. Some people find them a little intimidating but they really don’t need to be. Once you have been shown how to use them they are actually very quick and easy.
They can be pre-tied around your body and left on for as long as you wish, popping baby in and out as needed. Stretchy wraps are super soft, perfectly mouldable, and once tied well are wonderfully supportive for both baby and wearer’s bodies.
They vary a lot in price, quality, fabric, elasticity, width (and to a lesser extent length), thickness, stretch and strength. Those that stretch only width- or length-ways tend to last until baby is around 12 months, like the Moby wrap, however, they can be trickier to use.
We prefer 2-way stretchies that stretch in both directions, like the Hana Baby for newborns. These are most commonly used until babies are 3-6 months old, but they are spectacularly easy to handle and very forgiving for those new to slings.
The very clever JPMBB Original is also super stretchy but unusually strong. Its manufacturing process makes it supportive enough to carry heavy, older babies and ideal for carrying newborns twins.
Some are semi-structured with rings, through which you tighten the fabric, like the carrier. They have a minimal degree of stretch and come in 2 pieces. These are a popular choice for those who are put off by the idea of tying!
Do be aware that some inexpensive stretchy wraps available on Amazon and eBay don’t always offer adequate instructions that meet safety standards. Protecting babies airways is vitally important when carrying newborns, which is why it’s great to seek safety advice from us or your nearest babywearing educator.
BEST STRETCHY WRAPS FOR NEWBORNS
Our favourite stretchy wraps for newborns are – Izmi Wrap (a brilliant all-rounder) Hana Baby Organic wrap, (for extra stretchy comfort) Ergobaby Aura (the ultimate lightweight stretchy), Lifft (the British made beauty), JPMBB Original (great for twins) and Boba Wrap (with their gorgeous prints)- all of which can be found in our online store, along with the Close Caboo + Cotton.
Soft structured carriers with buckles are a popular choice for many new parents. Until recently, many carriers required an additional padded insert or booster cushion to make them suitable for newborns. The Ergobaby Original, standard Tula and Boba 4G are a few examples. For that reason, we tend to prefer using buckled carriers for babies once they are a couple of months old.
BUT over the last year some truly newborn-friendly buckled carriers have arrived on the scene. Their body panels can be adjusted width and – usually- lengthways to offer a more snug and supportive fit for newborns, without the need for an insert. They can be tightened around baby, rather than around additional padding; supporting baby’s whole physiology, rather than just lifting them higher up inside the carrier; and in turn are far less hot and bulky.
It’s worth noting that slings are safety tested by weight, with many stating they are suitable from 3.5kg. But ensuring an optimum, safe and comfortable fit also depending on other factors of your baby’s physiology, especially their length and how ‘curled up’ or ‘straightened out’ they are. The latter may be influenced by the gestation at which they were born.
The plastic buckles and firm padding of many carriers mean they are not generally the best option for wearing around the house, or for recovering postnatal bodies who don’t want anything ‘digging in’, especially around the breast and tummy. It can also make it harder to go to the toilet when a thickly padded waistband is hindering access to the top of your trousers: not something you tend to think about until baby has been asleep in the sling for 2 hours and you’ve drunk 3 glasses of water!
If you’d like to wear your newborn in a buckled carrier, please get in touch for advice and help with fitting. You can learn more about buckled carriers and how to use them here.
BEST ADJUSTABLE BUCKLED CARRIER NEWBORNS
Our top choices for a newborn buckled carriers are the super lightweight Izmi carrier and the soft and stretchy Mamaruga Zensling which can be used from babies first days. Once newborns are a couple of weeks old we LOVE the padded and supportive Ergobaby Omni 360, Tula Free-To-Grow, Ergobaby Adapt & Beco Gemini. To ensure the best possible fit we’d always recommending trying before you buy: slings are safety tested by weight, but even babies of the same weight may fit differently in a carrier depending on their height/length and developmental stage.
Woven wraps are perfect for newborns. Like their stretchy counterparts, a woven wrap offers softness, total mouldability and wonderful support for you and your baby. They are highly versatile, with dozens of carrying positions to try. Unlike a stretchy, they will last to the preschool years and beyond.
It can take some practice to learn how to tie woven wraps well and quickly. But the slightly steeper learning curve (than, say, a buckled carrier or stretchy) is well worth the effort. A woven wrap cannot be completely pre-tied like a stretchy wrap. A good ‘wrap job’ relies on creating and keeping tension in the fabric before it is tied and knotted into place around your baby. Once you’ve got the hang of this you’ll discover a whole world of babywearing possibilities.
Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) and Kangaroo Carry are great ways of tying a wrap for a newborn. Woven wraps come in varying lengths (size 2 to size 8 – a bit like shoes, again) to accommodate different tying methods on the front, back or hip. Most people find a size 6 wrap ideal to begin with. Very petite wearers may prefer a 5, and taller or broader wearers a size 7.
BEST WOVEN WRAPS FOR NEWBORNS
The Wear My Baby team has tried a LOT of woven wraps. There are literally thousands to choose from, with new small brands popping up every week. Some wraps require a lot of breaking in, like a pair of jeans. If you want something perfectly newborn friendly and buttery soft right out of the box, we heartily recommend Didymos’s Double Face or Prima woven wraps.
Ring slings are long pieces of fabric with two rings sewn into one end, making a sash-shaped sling that is worn over one shoulder. They are highly adjustable to fit newborns to toddlers. Like woven wraps, you need to tighten the fabric around baby, but they tend to be quicker to put on and take off. They are also particularly nice carrier to breastfeed in, simply by loosening the rings slightly and moving baby into position.
As baby’s weight is distributed asymmetrically over your body, ring slings tend to be worn for shorter periods of time compared to other carriers. We love rings slings for quick trips, wearing at home and – as they are very pretty – special occasions like weddings.
BEST RING SLINGS FOR NEWBORNS
Super light and soft Soul Ring Slings and the very clever stretchy ring sling from Je Porte Mon Bebe, known as ‘The Little Wrap Without a Knot’ are just wonderful for newborns.
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