Rails, Rings, and Soft Structured Things: What Does It All Mean?

The babywearing world seems to have a funky language of its own and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what all the acronyms and labels mean when looking for help. I for one am guilty of using terms with new wearers so I thought it might be a good idea to list some common terms and what they mean.

  • ABC’s of babywearing
    • Airways – clear and unobstructed
    • Body Positioning – curved spine and supported head and neck
    • Comfort – baby and wearer are both happy with the fit and free from pain and discomfort
    • Tight
    • In view always
    • Close enough to kiss
    • Keep baby’s chin off chest
    • Supported back

Common Types of Carriers

  • Stretchy Wrap FullSizeRender
    • Long piece of fabric, like a soft stretchy tee, that has four-way stretch. The wrap is tied in a pocket wrap cross carry and baby sits in a pouch formed by two X’s or cross passes. Popular brands include Solly, Boba, Moby, and K-tan. Each brand has their own fiber content and fabric weight.
  • SSC or Soft Structured Carrier IMG_5579
    • Sometimes called a buckle carrier. These have a buckle waist and shoulder straps like a backpack. SSC’s come in Baby or Standard size, Toddler Size, and some brands offer pre-K sizes. Brands include Ergobaby, LILLÉbaby, Beco, and Tula along with an assortment of other brands.
  • Woven Wrap
    • Long piece of faE77F793B-AEE2-4114-B32D-661078E44CE4bric usually measured in meters that is wrapped around the body of the wearer and baby. Comes in many different blends of material including cotton, linen, wool, hemp, and even cashmere. May be labeled by size from 2-7 with a corresponding meter length. Base size refers to the minimum size needed to complete a Front Wrap Cross Carry or FWCC.
  • Ring Sling FBBB027B-FC50-4C57-B9AD-90A681EB4181
    • One shouldered carrier made from a woven wrap or other type of sturdy fabric including linen, chambray, or silk. The long piece of fabric is threaded through two rings to make a pouch that the child sits in.
    • The top and bottom of woven wraps are commonly referred to as rails and any excess wrap that hangs down after the carry has been tied off is called a tail.
    • All carriers have a built-in seat which the baby sits in. The seat must be made when using wraps and ring slings. Wrap fabric is pulled under the baby’s bum and spread knee to knee and then tightened to support like a hammock.
  • Meh Dai or Bei Dai IMG_3635
    • Soft carrier with waist ties and long shoulder straps that cross on the back to form an x. Can be made from cotton or woven fabric with an assortment of prints and colors along with different sizes from baby to pre-K. Brands include Moby, Catbirdbaby, Babyhawk, and Fidella.
  • Onbuhimo IMG_5034
    • Waistless high back carrier with no waistband. The bottom of the carrier is flipped up between baby and wearer to make a seat. The carrier is worn high and tight with the weight of the baby sitting on the upper back and shoulders (like a talkative backpack). Brands include 2Lambie, Tallulah Baby, Fidella, and Lenny Lamb.

I hope this helps to address some common terms used in the babywearing world. I’ll be writing more in depth each week on the different types of carriers listed above. Next week is all about the wild world of ring slings!

Until next time, Happy Babywearing!


*Babywearing ABC’s developed by Babywearing International https://babywearinginternational.org/what-is-babywearing/safety/

*TICKS developed by The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers

Photography credits: A Single Shot Photography, Morgan K. Photography, Salt and Light Photography



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