Handmade Finds: Babywearing 101

by Jessika Hepburn, O Happy Day Handmade

I spend three days a week talking about two of my favourite subjects; cloth diapering and baby wearing at Nurtured, since most of my work revolves around art or computers it is important for me to connect with women and do some work outside the home that I feel is important to my community. Along with a crew of incredibly diverse and talented women I help parents find ways to make their lives easier, healthier and more beautiful. Helping women (and men) choose the right carrier is one of my favourite things to do ever. Gently suggesting a vintage tattoo print Babyhawk mei tai for a fun young couple or a green linen Ollie GoLightly ring sling to a new mother who needs an extra set of hands, makes me absurdly happy and from the feedback, parents we help feel the same.

Babywearing and handmade go together perfectly, if you are going to wear your baby you might as well look and feel fantastic doing it! So I wanted to combine my knowledge about the two and offer a little guide to finding a great carrier.

Rings slings are my number one choice for new babies, since they often like to be carried close to the heart or sleep tummy to chest. When all I needed was an extra set of hands my ring sling gave me back my own! They are absolutely the easiest carrier to breastfeed in and the extra fabric in the tail makes a lovely cover. In hot weather they are great for wearing right into the ocean, pool or lake with an older baby. Here are my three favourite slings pictured from left to right:

1. The Ollie GoLightly linen ring sling in ocean has a hand-printed jellyfish design and is finished with grosgrain ribbon to help take the guesswork out of adjusting your sling. They are also so beautiful that people will be stopping you on the street to ask where you got your carrier.

2. MayaWrap ring slings are the go-to sling, they have been in business for over 10 years and all their handmade slings are fair-trade, they also are a socially responsible company that uses some of their profits to support humanitarian efforts worldwide.

3. Sakura Bloom slings are the Cadillac’s of babywearing with a price range of $80-580+. Their Artisan silk collection is stunning (if totally out of my price range)!

I loved my wrap style carrier with my second baby, once you get over the initial learning curve of figuring out how to tie it up since it is essentially one long piece of fabric, the range of carrying positions it offers makes it a great choice. Pictured above are the Ellaroo woven wrap and the Moby Wrap in the Born Free print, designed by the makers of the movie “The Business of Being Born”, a portion of the proceeds of each sale is donated to the Coalition For Improving Maternity Services.

Mei Tai’s are a traditional Asian baby carrier that come in a wide variety of prints, you can even have one made with your own fabric! They have a rectangular body, two long straps that tie up in the back or front, and are very easy to use, you can carry your child on the front or back, facing in or out. Pictured above is the Catbird Baby mei tai (I love this one because of the hood and the length of the straps) and the BabyHawk mei tai. BabyHawk has a creative Design Centre feature which is fun for parents with different styles, since mei tai’s are reversible you can each choose a print you like.

Structured carriers like the Ergo and the Manduca (pictured above) are also wonderful, I prefer this type of carrier for babies over six months or for heavier babies and toddlers. This type of carrier is an excellent choice if you have two young children and want to be able to use the same carrier for both. We love our Ergo and have clocked hundreds of kilometers trekking around Halifax with our now 18 month old happily bouncing along.

I hope that this post helps you choose the right carrier for your family and makes your life a little easier too.

Happy babywearing!


  1. Benny says:

    Awesome article Jessika!

    I’m always searching for the right terms and language to use when describing my carriers to friends and family.. glad to finally get the sling, wrap and structured carrier straight (since I use all three!).

    Cheers & love the blog. ;D


  2. Marisa says:

    This is a great post! I’ll be passing this one around for sure. When I started looking into babywearing, I went to thebabywearer.com and tried to weed through the forums. Very helpful info there, but none as concise as this post.

    Thank you for writing this and getting the word out about babywearing!

  3. ThisOldPMQ says:

    How much do I love that Manduca? I’m really feeling it for my trip to NFLD…and it serves a huge need! Half my trips would not be possible without someway to carry a toddler, either because she’s tired, or it’s too dangerous so she needs to be portaged from place to place.

  4. ThisOldPMQ says:

    I’d love to hear more from moms with back/neck/mobility issues who have used carriers successfully. I could never use a ring sling, because I needed something that distributed weight over both shoulders/waist, so I used mei tais and Ergos and loved them. I cringe when I see Baby Bjorns, knowing what kind of evils they do to your cervical vertebrae and baby’s spine.

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