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.
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.
Keian “helping” Mama cook.
Emily enjoying a beautiful October day.
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!)
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. You also have to be certain you have sized your pouch correctly because it is not safe otherwise.
Finally, I arrived upon the best (in my ever-so-humble opinion) carrier for wee little ones…a wrap!
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 a brand new wrap!
When baby gets older, you will need to switch to a woven wrap otherwise baby will sag to your knees (not safe, in case you were wondering). You can read about my woven wrap in the link.
If you’d like to try making one of these wraps for yourself, here are the instructions…
Easy Wrap Instructions
What you need:
5-7 yds of stretch knit fabric (think t-shirt material)
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
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 is The Baby Wearer. You will find videos and step-by-step instructions on this site. 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 this site and try the carries right along with them, rewinding as needed. I’d 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!
Some of my best memories of raising my children involve them snuggled next to me in my homemade baby carriers. May you blessed with similar memories!