I appear to be a serial sling stash churner- I buy one, use it for a while and then sell on to fund another one! Sounds mad, but it has actually given me the chance to try out a variety of brands, with wildly varying prices. For someone new to the world of babywearing, the price of some of the woven wraps, both new and pre-owned, can come as a shock (it certainly did for me!) and you wonder how on earth anyone can justify paying out that much just for a sling when there are much cheaper slings/carriers on the market.
At the more inexpensive end of the woven wrap price range are brands like Victoria Slinglady, Little Frog, Lenny Lamb, and Hoppediz. Please be aware this list is by no means exhaustive- there are others around. I have personally used a VSL smith-firm, and a Hoppediz Hop-Tye from this price range.
The VSL smith-firms can vary in price (this is because you can opt for custom panels) but start at around £20 new. The smith-firm is a hybrid woven, so thin and light, but has been safety tested up to 20kg so in theory carries as well as any ‘true’ woven.
Personally, I loved our smith-firm when little man was younger as it was supportive, cool in the summer, and washes well. Little man is almost a year old now and it still does the job. I have to admit it isn’t as comfortable if carrying for a longer amount of time on my front (after more than half an hour it starts to get a little ‘diggy’ around the shoulders for me) but it is still very supportive and more than able to do the job for a double hammock or a back wrap cross carry.
All in all, a fabulous price for what actually is a pretty amazing wrap (the customisable element helps too).
The Hoppediz Hop-Tye, I used very briefly and while it was lovely and soft, and surprisingly comfortable despite feeling thin and light, I found that my boy was too long for the panel. That said, my little man is very tall! I think it would however be perfect for a shorter/younger baby. The fact that it combines the best elements of a wrap and a mei tai make it the perfect type of carrier for someone who may not feel confident with wrapping, but who likes the supported feeling you get from wrapping.
Mid-range wovens includes brands like Girasol, Didymos, and Natibaby (again not an exhaustive list). I have owned and regularly used a few Girasols and in general am a big fan. I wasn’t keen on the ringsling, but that had more to do with the style of sling than the brand. I have wrapped with a couple of the ‘old weave’ Girasols and I love how thick and blankety they are; nice and soft straight away so no breaking in required.
They felt very supportive to me from when he was around 4 months old right up to almost a year. The main issues I had (and having seen a diamond weave ‘in the flesh’ so to speak, I think these issues would be less of a problem with those) were the fact that the thickness means you end up with a huge knot.
This can be uncomfortable depending on where the knot sits. I got around this by tying Tibetan (it seemed to help), although I have recently discovered ‘knotless’ carries so am fully intending to practice those. I also found the thickness to cause me a few problems when learning to back carry, as it felt like an awful lot more material to negotiate for some reason.
I also own a Didymos 100% cotton- it is very thin and light- but lovely and supportive for multiple-layer carries (I tend to use BWCC or DH).
I have to admit that I can’t back carry for too long as I don’t find cotton supportive enough for my wriggly heavy boy!
The higher end of the woven wrap market sees brands like Oscha, Artipoppe, and Uppy. I have wrapped with a wool/cotton blend Oscha and wow. It felt incredibly supportive, even in a single layer carry (a simple ruck).
I bought it pre-owned so I can’t say whether they take much ‘breaking in’ but when I received it the wrap was so soft, but a little thick, which again caused me a few problems with a massive and slightly uncomfortable knot. If I get the opportunity I would very much love to try an Oscha in a different blend as I completely neglected to consider that my skin reacts to wool.
All in all I have to say that in my opinion, price doesn’t make a whole lot of difference (I’m sure some will disagree though). It more depends on the weight of your child, how much they wriggle, the fabric blend of the wrap, and the carries you are doing. The only thing I would be wary of price-wise is fakes.
Sadly there are unscrupulous people out there who are manufacturing fake carriers (particularly Ergo full buckle carriers) which are not only untested with regards to actually supporting the weight of a child, but also use potentially toxic dyes. If a carrier is being sold at a seemingly bargain price, it is always worth checking and double checking that it is genuine because the safety of your little one is definitely the top priority.
By Linda Chipps
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