Slingin’ Babies

I LOVE slingin’ babies! No, I don’t mean throwing them around! I mean “wearing” them by carrying them around in a sling. Many of the fabrics carriers available on the market can be made by you at home quickly and rather painlessly (even for a sewing novice!). I thought I’d share some of my experiences with making and wearing these different types of carriers.

The first sling I ever made was a ring sling from the Maya Wrap instructions. I just grabbed some old fabric I had laying around and bought cheap rings from Hobby Lobby. I am VERY lucky the thing didn’t break! I learned later that you shouldn’t use these rings and you have to be careful about what fabric you use as well. When I learned about this, I bought “real” rings from the SlingsRings website. Wow, the difference! I also started using heavyweight fabric. I tweaked the pattern that MayaWrap gives because I felt it needed more fabric and I added a pocket near the end of the tail to hold a diaper and wipes container, or a wallet and keys, or even toys for baby.

Micah in a ring sling made from light blue toile

The next type of carrier I made was a Mei Tai (Asian-style) carrier. Many of you are familiar with my “Fancy Mei Tai“, but prior to that I had a not-so-fancy one. I used a pattern from Sleeping Baby. (She had adapted the usual Mei Tai pattern to include larger straps–which I highly recommend.) I used a nice heavyweight cotton and it turned out wonderfully. I have since chosen to decrease the width of the pouch and taper it at the legs, as well as making the width of the straps just a bit less. I prefer the pattern with the rounded top as well. It gives a bit of support for smaller babies and can be folded down for older babies.

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Keian “helping” Mama cook.

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Emily enjoying a beautiful October day.

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Micah in the “fancy” mei tai.

I didn’t really like using either of these carriers with a newborn, so I asked around and was told a pouch was the best for little bitty ones. So, a pouch I did make! Once again, I used the instructions from Sleeping Baby with a heavyweight cotton. (that was also the first and only time I’ve made a French seam!)

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Newborn Keian in a pouch

However, I never felt very comfortable with this carrier and it hasn’t been used since the above picture was taken (that is baby #4 in there). It might be because my newborns are a good 10 pounds.

Finally, I arrived upon the best (in my ever-so-humble opinion) carrier for wee little ones…a wrap!

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Emily at 4 months

A wrap is basically a long piece of fabric, wrapped around your body and baby tucked snuggly inside. For newborns, their heads stay within the fabric and right up against mama. For bigger babies, they can face in or out and if they fall asleep, you can tuck their heads into the fabric the way you did when they were newborn.

This has got to be the EASIEST carrier to make. You don’t even need to know how to sew! My friend, Tina, and I “made” the carriers shown below in a few minutes. We had one for her, one for me and one for me to share with a friend! Three wraps in a matter of minutes!

Newborn Micah in my brand new wrap!

 

 

Micah in a woven wrap.


If you’d like to try making one of these wraps for yourself, here are the instructions…

Easy Wrap Instructions
Here’s what you need:
5-7 yds of stretch knit fabric (think t-shirt material)
or
5-7 yds of woven fabric (basically woven is any material that is woven together so the threads look the same on both sides instead of a cotton that is printed on one side)
1 pair of scissors
tape measure

1. I’ve found it to be easiest to lay your fabric out on the floor if you can find an area large enough to work in (you don’t have to be able to lay out the entire 5-7 yds either. Cutting on 2-3 yds at a time works fine) The reason I don’t use a table is because knit stretches and that can make cutting rather interesting when you have that much length to work with. It seems to always end up hanging off the table and stretching out too much. You want your fabric to lay smooth as you cut. If you are using the woven, a table should work fine.

2. Knit is typically 60″ wide, woven 45″. Each wrap is 20″ wide, so you will get 3 wraps from one length of knit and 2 out of the woven! (Honestly, I just cut the woven down the center) One to keep and one or two to give away! So, the next thing you do is cut the fabric at 20″ wide up the entire length of fabric. When Tina and I made ours, we used her concrete basement floor and one of us scooted along with the tape measure while the other one scooted along cutting at the 20″ mark. We had a dozen children standing over us watching us creep along–what a sight!

3. Do that one more time for the knit and you now have 3 wraps! Knit doesn’t unravel like other fabrics, so there is no need to sew a hem. I’ve managed to find knit on clearance for as little as $1/yd! Even if it does cost you more than that, you’re still saving a mint over the name brand wrap price! I found woven for $2/yd and as yet, I’ve not bothered to hem the other side.

4. Now learn how to carry baby!
(ps-the reason I say 5-7 yds is because despite what many sites say, not everyone can get by with 5 yards and do ALL the carries. Consider your body size when purchasing yardage.)

Here is my absolute favorite site for teaching carries for all of the baby carriers shown here:
The Baby Wearer

You will find videos and step-by-step instructions on these sites. If you are uncomfortable experimenting with your baby in the carrier, use a baby doll until you are comfortable. I would highly encourage you to take your new carrier, stand in front of your computer with the videos on these sites and try the carries right along with them, rewinding as needed. I also encourage you to have a friend or your husband or older son or daughter nearby to be an extra hand or two when you are first learning. It can be tricky until you get the hang of it…especially the back carries!

And in case you haven’t figured out just how passionate I am about slingin’ babies, read my post on slinging Emily…it will give you some insight into just how much wearin’ my babies means to me. May you be as blessed!

Links to more about Slingin’ Babies!
(I’m starting a section in this post linking to what others are saying about slingin’ babies. If you have a post from your blog or other great slingin’ link, let me know and I’ll add it here! To start us off is…)
Mama K with her fantastic Baby Carrier Review.
Baby Wearing for Beginners
Wrap-a-Baby
Nugglemama’s Babywearing Safety post
Adventures in Babywearing
Babywearing International

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36 thoughts on “Slingin’ Babies

  1. I enjoyed that post! I stumbled on a ring sling while pregnant with my first ten years ago (they were REALLY rare here in England then!)It is a ring one with a padded lip on each edge and can be used a bit like the pouch one too.

    I ‘pouch’ them when they are tiny, and I ‘Kangaroo’ them when they are bigger. That way they sit cross legged in the pouch with their backs to me and watch the world go by! They love it – especially when we are out and about. It also stops them from pulling my hair the whole time – LOL!

    I still use my pouch with my childminded children and especially with my foster babies. It is soooooo beneficial for these little ones who have never attached to their Mums. They thrive on being ‘slinged’.

  2. I loved seeing the pcitures of you carrying your babies in differnt seasons and activities!! I have always enjoyed BabyWearing but had trouble getting it just right with my first few babies. A ring sling did work then, and a framed backpack. THEN I realized that some carriers came in sizes DUH!!! I am just a little bigger than an XL. Not something I even took into considedration. I am not talented in thsi area but was able to find a wonerful gal on E-bay who custom made me a puch sling for my newborn :)

  3. I love wearing my babies and even my now 4yo still loves to be wrapped on occasion!

    Many of the DIY mamas on TBW have made wraps out of osnaburg material for a woven wrap supportive enough for a bit heavier baby. I haven’t tried it myself though. I have foung that the knit material is not comfortable for long since my babies grow FAST!!! Ava went from 8lb to 13lb in 5 weeks in fact! :) I have had good experiences buying used wraps off of TBW’s for sale or trade forum.

    I am also looking forward to and praying for more babies to wrap!

    ~Mandy

  4. I have enjoyed wrapping my baby so much. I was so intimidated but I finally gave it a try and what a wonderful feeling, accomplishing something while holding my baby.

    I am addicted, and pray for more babies to wrap!

  5. First off,
    As per Mandy’s suggestion, I am going to have to find myself some woven fabric and make a new wrap b/c today while thrift store shopping, I noticed that Micah slipped further and further down due to the stretchiness of the knit. He’s now 20# and I’ve not ever had a baby that big in a wrap b/c Emmy was my first to use a wrap and she never got over 16#. So, once I’ve done that, I’ll add pics to this post!

    Secondly, for Gina…
    The links are a fairly simple thing to do, but the swinging gates and the rest of the blog was designed by Abigail at 32nd Street Blog Boutique. To make “pages”, you can either create posts and date them in the past and then link to them or you can create brand new blogs and link to them (then hide them on your profile ;o) ). Hope that helps!
    ~Amy

  6. i have the moby wrap and LOVE it! it’s basically the last one. I had the Maya wrap before and it hurt my back, esp. with our big babies as well. the moby is SO comfy for long periods. now i can MAKE one!! (or three!)

  7. I love, love, love my wrap! I wear it all the time and my daughter loves it!!! Baby Wearing is the best! Thanks for the great post.

  8. Thank you so much for this post! I have always wanted to wear my babies and have never found anything that I felt they were secure in. I will try this! Do you think it will work for my oversized 16 month old?
    Also, off topic, how do you get subject tabs on your blog? I LOVE your little fences!
    Thank you Amy!!!

  9. I love my wraps! I bought a moby wrap before Christopher was born and a sling carrier. Once he was born and I started using them I loved the moby so much that I went shopping at my favorite baby resale store in search of another. I ended finding two (one moby brand and one mama made). The sling carrier worked well when he was very small but I got nervous with it once he could move at all.

    I love your instructions for making my own wrap. I’m pretty sure I need another one!

  10. Jennifer,
    That is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Amy
    ps-made the woven wrap last night…pictures soon to follow!!!

  11. Just wanted to say thanks for this post. My third child is 2 months old and does not either either of the carriers(backpack & sling) I used with my first babies. I find it necessary to wear my babies, especially now as I have 3 babes under 3yrs old! I have been a reader of your blog for a while now and when I read this post last week I was encouraged to try a wrap. I went out and found some knit on clearance today and came home and cut it up. I LOVE IT and Hannah Grace seems to love it as well! She is currently sleeping in it as I type! Thanks for sharing your experiences and for making it sound as easy as it is! God Bless!

  12. I use the Sleep Wrap. (sleepwrap.com) My husband was at work when he saw a woman walking in the park holding her baby in it. He felt kinda weird stopping her to ask her what it was, but did it anyway. (I was 8 months pregnant) I am soooooo glad he did! Its the best carrier I’ve ever owned. I gave one to my sister in law and she loved it too. Even some of the young ladies at my church want one when they start having babies. Just thought I’d mention it for those that don’t sew. : )
    blessings,
    Jill

  13. Will any old knit fabric work for the wrap? Or does it need to be a certain quality–I’m thinking some of the lower-quality stuff on the sale table might be too stretchy or something. Just curious if you had any advice about that! Thanks!! :)

    • I prefer the heavier knit (the cheap stuff is often very thin), but I have gotten some great knit that was dirt cheap. Also, remember the knit will only work until baby is a certain poundage, then you need to move to a woven cotton so baby doesn’t end up at your knees. ;)

  14. Great post. I love stretchy wraps for newborns, woven wraps for infants and MT or SSC’s for bigger kids. We’ve done disney world twice with no stroller and wearing 1 or 2 kids (including our 4 year old last time)

  15. I made one of these just before my son was born and wore him around everywhere. It was great at the mall or on the trail. I did get some weird looks. But as a new mom I really was apprehensive about letting people hold him or even touch him. In a wrap like this people are less inclined to touch or ask to hold him. I couldn’t believe complete strangers coming up to him asking me if they could hold him, when he was in a pumpkin seat and just a newborn! I think he was more comfortable too up against my chest, listening to my heartbeat.

  16. It’s funny that you mention your discomfort with a pouch. For my son, I only wore him as a newborn, using a Moby Wrap.

    My daughter, however, I wore in a pouch when she was an older baby. I sort of held her on my hip to give you a visual. It always felt uncomfortable, like she was going to fall out.

    • Perhaps if I had hip carried him as an older baby, but when he was little it was just too much on one shoulder for me (of course, he never was “little” weighing 10# at birth! ;)

  17. So glad you posted this. I think babies should all be worn this way! BTW I have used a pouch type sling for a long time. It takes some practice and experimentation, but you gotta love a carrier the you can fold up and stick in your pocket. It has saved us the in supermarket more times than I like to admit.

    • Looking back (b/c that particular child is now almost 6!), I think it wasn’t big enough. But he was 10# at birth and it was just killer on my shoulder. But, yes, the beauty of homemade fabric baby carriers is they fold up oh so nicely!

  18. I discovered the ring sling when my oldest was 2 months old (he’s almost 12 years now) and it just about saved my life—he was an incredibly light sleeper who would not sleep at all unless he was being held, and needed to be held if he was awake, too. I’ve used a wrap/pouch/sling with each of my 4 children, and I made about half of them. ;0)

    What’s great is that with all the different styles and carries, you can find one to work with just about any baby, even those who need to be more upright due to reflux (that was my 2nd child). And DADDY can wear baby, too. ;0)

  19. Hi, Amy.
    Again, I am so moved by your posts about baby wearing. I have been wrapping baby #4, not as often as I would like, but I love it! Thank you for writing about this special mama-baby gift. :)
    What wrap is Keian in while you are cooking with him on your back? My almost 8 month old is almost 25 lbs and nearly 29″ tall, so am looking for an alternative to front wearing. She still seems comfortable in front, and I am ok unless I try to sit or squat.
    Thanks so much,
    Cindy

  20. How old should they be when you discontinue use of the wraps? My “baby” is a small 2 y/o (about 26? pounds) and he LOVES to “piggy”. A back carrier of some sort would make my life SO much easier, but I don’t want to shell out for the framed kind, or put up with schlepping it around constantly.

    • When baby gets to be about 20-25#, I move to either a woven wrap (non-stretchy) or a mei tai. Back carry w/ a mei tai is super easy! The photo of me cooking w/ the baby on my back is a mei tai…no frame needed. ;)

  21. So great to read about so many other babywearing Mamas! I wore my first in a stretchy wrap and it was the hottest summer ever and I hated the way the fabric would drag in the parking lot of the grocery store while I put it on. My friend lent me her ring sling when he was about 2.5 and I was pregnant with my second. I haven’t looked back! LOVE my ring sling so much that I started making/selling them so that other moms can experience babywearing for a reasonable price too (carriers are ridiculously expensive where I am).
    I have debated about woven wraps and, though they are comfy, I just can’t do without the popability and portability of my ring sling. My littlest is now 18 months and still up in the sling when we are out of the house so that I can keep him contained lol! Plus it is great to be able to nurse him in the grocery store without having to find a place to sit down and take a break. I just latch him on and keep one with my shopping. I don’t know how moms do it without carriers!
    Maybe I’ll try my hand at sewing a mei tei at some point too. Love SleepingBabyProductions too btw. Fabulous information on her site!