Types of Baby Carrier – What’s the Best Baby Sling for me?

Zoe Masters

Learn about the differences between Baby Wraps, Ring Slings, Buckle Carriers and Tie Strap Carriers.

What’s the difference between a baby wrap, rings sling, buckle and tie strap (meh dai) carrier? How do I use a sling? What is the best baby carrier?

This post will tell you everything you need to know to learn about the basics of babywearing and making the right choice of baby or toddler carrier for you. We’ll also link to babywearing tutorials and how to’s to help you on your way!

Learn more about:

Woven Wraps
Ring Slings
Buckle Carriers
Tie Strap Carriers

Wraparound Sling / Woven Wrap

Baby wraps are a length of woven fabric specially designed to allow you to comfortably carry your child from newborn through to toddlerhood. Baby wraps can be tied in a variety of ways making them perfect for carrying children of all ages.

Wraps are the most versatile of the woven baby carriers. The way they wrap around you and your little one allows the fabric to mould to your body shape while evenly distributing your child’s weight; making carrying them close a continually comfortable experience. Baby wraps are easily shared by both parents, with no fiddly re-adjustment of buckles and straps needed.

Baby wraps are infinitely adjustable, so if you are looking for a baby carrier with the most comfortable & snug fit this is a great choice for you.

The best part? With one woven baby wrap, you and your partner can carry your child for your family’s whole babywearing journey – and you can change the carry as time goes on according to your needs – including front, hip and back carries.

Wrapping can look intimidating, and the long length of fabric might be overwhelming at first glance, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you and your little one will be snuggled up with a neat double-knot securing your carry.

Front Wrap Cross Carry is the carry most new wrappers learn first, it uses a versatile size of wrap which will last you from newborn to toddlerhood and introduces the basic skills of babywearing.

Woven wraps are the core of what we do here at Oscha – we work exclusively with a renowned Lancashire Mill and have specially developed our fabric to be perfect for babywearing. We continually experiment to find the best ethical and organic yarns to create a baby wrap that is soft and strong. Creating bespoke designs, tailored for baby slings, is our great joy and we spend a great deal of time focusing in on the optimum combinations of pattern, colour and yarn to create the most beautiful and comfortable baby slings in the world.

Shop Woven Wraps

Ring Slings

Ring slings are made from a length of woven fabric, secured on the shoulder through a set of rings. Quick to use, they are perfect for carrying your child on short trips and for children who like to be up and down often.

Ring slings are suitable from birth through to toddlerhood. They are most commonly used for hip and front carries, although back carries with toddlers are possible.

They can take a little getting used to – there are some common mistakes that can cause issues – but they are easily made comfy if you know how to trouble-shoot (see video below). It’s worth figuring out these few tweaks as this is the carrier we’d recommend having in your car ready for quick trips to the shops, having in your handbag in case your toddler wants up and down a lot, they are also lovely with newborns.

The elegant style of a ring sling is wonderful for special occasions such as christenings and weddings. They are lightweight & pack up small, making for an amazing tool for the busy parent.

Oscha ring slings come with two shoulder options, Pleated and Gathered, to best suit your unique shape and carry style.

Learn more about these styles and find out which one is best for you.

Shop Ring Slings

Soft Structured Carriers

Unlike wraps and ring slings, soft structured carriers (SSC’s) are cut and constructed very specifically for carrying. The upside of using this style of carrier is that the learning curve tends to be easier and they are generally faster to use. The downside is that they are more difficult to adapt for different users and the size of your child, whereas a wrap can be infinitely adjusted due to its lack of structure.

However, there are clever ways around this and many manufacturers have come up with ways of making soft structured carriers more adjustable. At Oscha we have three core carriers – two ‘full buckle’ (Bairn and Nook) and one ‘half buckle’ (Cairis).

Browse all our Soft Structured Carriers

Full Buckle Baby & Toddler Carriers

A variety of Full Buckle Carriers in front and back carries, straps cross and uncrossed.

A Full Buckle Carrier typically has a waist belt and shoulder straps with buckles to secure each section and a ‘body panel’ to seat your baby in. There is often a ‘chest strap’, which is either used to draw the straps together at your back when carrying your baby on your front, or used across your upper chest if you are carrying your baby on your back.

The BAIRN Full Buckle Carrier

“We designed this as your go-to, everyday, chuck-in-your-bag carrier that will support your little one from birth to toddlerhood.”

Zoe, Oscha founder and designer of the Bairn carrier

The Bairn is simple to use but also comfortable and stylish. Ethically made in Scotland, it features all-over Oscha fabric with colour matched webbing for a stylish alternative to the traditional full buckle carrier. 

The specially developed Slider-Cinch waistband allows for quick seat adjustments, making the Bairn carrier quick to put on and easy to adjust. The lightweight, flexible padding around your waist and on the shoulders gives soft mouldability, without compromising comfort, and keeps the carrier lightweight and portable. The Bairn is perfect for popping in your bag when you’re on the go!

Shop the Bairn Full Buckle Carrier

The NOOK Full Buckle Carrier

The Nook is our luxurious and innovative full buckle carrier which has been designed to offer you the ease of use of a buckle carrier while enjoying the comfort of a woven sling. This is why we call the Nook the ultimate comfort buckle carrier.

Made from our ethically crafted fabrics, the padded & contoured Continuum Straps mimic the support of a woven wrap carry by forming a continuous loop around your shoulders and under your little one’s bum for even and comfortable weight distribution when carrying on the front or back.

The Nook also features our unique Strata-linea® waistband to prevent digging. The inbuilt cinches mean that no extra inserts are needed to adjust the size of the Nook for newborns with the Encompass, or smaller toddlers when using the Evolve Preschooler carrier.

The Nook carrier is available in two sizes, each with unique features to suit your child as they grow.

  • Encompass – The only carrier you will need from newborn through to about 2.5 years, the Nook Encompass is the ultimate baby to toddler carrier. An in-built cinch means the width of the carrier can be easily adjusted to suit your little one as they grow.
  • Evolve – Our Pre-schooler carrier, the Nook Evolve, is perfect for those who want to carry for longer. The Evolve will fit your child from about 2 – 6 years old, with two in-built cinches used to adjust the hight and width of the body panel as your child grows.

Shop the Nook Full Buckle Carrier

Tie Strap / Half Buckle Baby & Toddler Carriers

Tie strap soft structured carriers may also be referred to as a Meh Dai, Bei Dai or, previously, a Mei Tai (MT). They are very similar to a Full Buckle Carrier except that there are long lengths of fabric for the straps and waist band which are tied together, instead of being buckled, to secure the carrier. They also have a ‘body panel’ to seat the baby in but may not have a ‘chest strap’ to draw the shoulder straps together as the tails of the long ties can be used for this instead.

There are many versions of this style of carrier and some may have a buckle in place of the waist ties or the shoulder straps, in which case this would be referred to as a ‘Half Buckle Carrier’.

The benefit of these kinds of carriers is that they are usually simple to use but allow a bit more adaptability due to the long straps – for instance, the ability to spread the straps under baby’s bum for extra support, or creating a ‘fancy finish’ across your chest in a back carry. Some people find the long straps intimidating or find they drag on the ground when putting the carrier on, so prefer Full Buckles.

Browse all Tie Strap Carriers

Cairis Baby & Toddler Half Buckle Carriers

Simple & stylish, the Cairis is a lightweight, easy-to-use half-buckle carrier. It features a padded waistband with a buckle fastening and ‘wrap shoulder straps’ which provide adjustability, comfort and support.

The Cairis features our unique Strata-linea® waistband, which prevents digging in at the waist & avoids any discomfort from the buckle. Our specially developed ‘wrap straps’: padded shoulder straps that fan out, provide cushioning over your shoulders and allowing you to spread the fabric out under your child to increase support.

The Cairis carrier is available in two sizes, each with unique features to suit your child as they grow.

  • Baby Size – The baby Cairis is highly adjustable and suitable for carrying from newborn up to around 30 months old, at which point the toddler Cairis becomes more comfortable.
  • Toddler Size – Extra padding has been added to the waist band of the toddler Cairis for additional lumbar support. The body panel has seat darts & ‘legs out padding’, contouring a larger child’s shape & aiding comfort. Suitable from 2-5 years.

Shop Cairis Carriers

Why Choose an Oscha Carrier?

Oscha slings are woven in the British Isles from natural and organic yarns and crafted in our workshop in Scotland. The purchase of each sling contributes to our growing grove of trees in the Caledonian Forest. Our slings were developed by Mum of 3, Zoe, with a focus on design and comfort, they have been approved by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute as a ‘Hip Healthy’ product, this means it will hold your child in the ‘M’ position which is optimum for hip development.

Learn more about Oscha.