Ring slings and wraps are the most suitable baby carriers to use with newborns.
The stretchy fabric of a baby wrap and the cradle-like pocket of a ring sling means you can safely start your babywearing journey almost immediately after birth.
Soft-structured carriers are more popular but usually require you to wait until your baby is a few months old before you can use them – or use an infant insert, which can cost as much as many wraps and slings.
For parents who want to start sooner and spend less a ring sling or wrap is more suitable. But which one should you choose?
In this article, we will compare the benefits, limitations, and cost, of both of these baby carrier designs.
Baby Wrap vs Ring Sling Performance Comparison
Here we will compare each model of baby carrier on the key performance areas that you will use it for.
Check out the scoreboard below for a high-level summary. However, the importance of every measure will differ for every parent and your buying decision may be as simple as counting the gold medals that are important to you.
Ease of Use
Ring slings offer the quickest and easiest solution. All you need to do is place a strap over your shoulder and you can place your baby into the pouch almost immediately.
A wrap requires more of a learning curve to ensure that you can tie it off safely and comfortably. It is essentially just a long piece of fabric. Some stretch wraps can be up to
At first it may take a few minutes tie around your body and wear in a way that is comfortable. But you will get good at it.
Comfort for Baby
While a ring sling may be easy to use, it is the whole baby wearing experience that matters most. Since when was raising children about convenience right?
When your child is in a wrap they are snuggled up to your chest. They can hear your heartbeat, they are warm and safe. It is hard to argue that any other position could be better for your child.
A ring sling is not uncomfortable for a child if you are using it correctly. But it just cannot achieve that same snugness that you get with a wrap.
Comfort for Mom
When baby wearing, the most important thing for the parent is how the load is distributed across your shoulders, back, and hips.
The even distribution of wraps allow you to handle your baby’s weight for extended periods, and reduces the risk of injury.
For everyday activities like grocery shopping, or long walks, a wrap will do a far better job. Plus it offers a more hands-free experience once you have tied it off.
A ring sling is worn over one shoulder and the baby’s weight sits on one hip. This often leaves you unbalanced when you wear it. A newborn is easy but it gets more difficult when they get towards toddler age.
Both of these carrier styles make breastfeeding easy. However, the one key difference is the level of privacy that you get if you have to feed in public.
A ring sling is more open because your wear baby on your side. You can hold them close and use a nursing cover to try and compensate for this.
Compared to a woven wrap where the inward-facing position provides coverage from every direction. In fact, the people around you may not even notice that you are breastfeeding because your child is shielded so well.
The stretch wrap fabric can come over the shoulder and create a bit of a wall.
Given that the carrier can be shaped around your child these benefits are as relevant for a newborn as they are through the toddler years.
This is entirely dependant on the brand of carrier that you buy and how much it costs. Generally, you will find that the cheaper the carrier the lower the capacity.
Good quality ring slings and stretchy wraps both tend to max out at 35 lbs. But the range is wider for ring slings with some cheaper designs unable to handle 30 lbs.
A sample of some popular brands are below:
Prices are always changing and if you have an eye for a bargain you can usually get a high-quality wrap or ring sling for less than $40.
Moby has a version of each carrier so for price comparison, this looks to be the best proxy. But is by no means definitive across the category.
At the time of writing the Moby website has the following price ranges for the classic designs:
- Woven Wraps – $44.99 to $54.99
- Ring Slings – $49.99 to $58.99
By that measure, the woven wraps are cheaper. But, you can usually pick things up cheaper than this. You can check the current prices of each of these baby carriers by clicking the buttons below.
There are plenty of ring slings that are cheaper than the above examples, plus you can usually get a Boba wrap for under $40. So the above is just to demonstrate a like for like comparison from a single manufacturer and not a black and white conclusion.
Ring Sling Summary
While the ring sling was beaten comprehensively in our comparison it still has a place for parents who want the quick and easy babywearing solution.
You can pop your kids in and out quickly and is very handy when you are constantly on the move (with shorter trips).
It is better suited to babies under 10-15 lbs. But certainly capable of more if you are physically capable.
- Easy to put on
- Suitable for breastfeeding
- The pouch seat is comfortable
- You can make one yourself
- Can strain shoulder and neck
- Limited carry positions
- Ring component can be uncomfortable
- The sling is only as strong as the knot tied off
- Dad may not want to use it
- Hard to carry larger babies
Baby Wrap Summary
The wrap is a clear winner. They are more versatile, can handle bigger babies, are made from nice fabric, and are easier on your body.
The only downside is that you will have to practice your tyeing skills a few times before you can use as quickly as other carriers.
Once you master it you can get your child in and out quickly and will be able to tie to suit your body and baby’s comfort levels.
You will also not find a better way to calm your child down than to tie them into a stretchy wrap. It is like a big hug from mom. Especially if they are breastfeeding. Most babies find this incredibly soothing and they will often fall asleep while feeding in this position.
So add an extra point there… A good baby wrap is worth its weight in gold!!
- Control over snugness of fit
- Comfortable fabric
- Multiple carry positions available
- Suitable for breastfeeding
- Easy for babies to fall asleep when carried
- Better distribution across back & shoulders
- Wrapping technique takes practice
- Time-consuming to put on
- It can get hot inside when wrapped in fabric
After reading this information they both sound too difficult then you could always opt for a soft structured carrier. These are easy out of the box solutions that share a lot of the advantages mentioned above, and are more convenient to use.
You can always use a combination if you were prepared to buy more than one carrier. If you are more interested to learn more we have also done a similar comparison for carriers vs wraps here.
The wrap carrier has a number of advantages over the sling. The only downside being the time it takes to be able to master the wrapping technique and to get that wrap done every time you want to strap your baby in.
But watch a few youtube tutorials and you will master it in no time.
The instant calming effect of wearing babies in a wrap will be a godsend. Sometimes you just can’t get your baby to stop crying, or settle them before sleep.
I know that it was my go-to baby carrier at these trying times and it worked without fail.
Some may prefer the sling, and it certainly has its place for the more casual baby wearer. For us though the wrap never let us down and it is a clear winner in this race.