First of all... what is a water wrap/sling?
Basically they are light weight wraps or ring slings made from athletic mesh or a quick drying rip-stop type fabric. They are designed to be used at the beach, pool,etc., and are very breathable. They are however, not as supportive as most wraps. Therefore we do not recommend them as an everyday carrier. But when it comes to the beach or the pool, they can't be beat.
I would like to buy a water wrap/ring sling. What are the best brands?
Basically any BCIA Compliant seller is fine. If their website doesn't say if they are compliant, then just ask. If they are, they will know what you are talking about. If they don't know what you're talking about then they're mostly likely not. We only recommend purchasing from BCIA Compliant sellers which means their wraps or slings have been through third-party safety testing. Here are some of our favorites:
Wrapsody Sport and Water Wrap
Beachfront Baby Water Wrap
Bibbetts Water Ring Sling
Zanytoes Water Ring Sling
Comfy Joey Water Ring Sling
I would rather make my own. Is that possible?
Definitely! Here are some links that might help you!
Sleeping Baby Productions Mesh Ring Sling Tutorial
Babywearing DIY Advice and Support Facebook Group (Jan Andrea Heirtzler of Sleeping Baby Productions is an admin in this group and they have amazing links and info in the files/documents section.)
Where can I find the material mentioned in the tutorials?
Athletic mesh is carried in most fabric stores such as JoAnn's, Hancocks and even some Walmarts.
Should I get a water wrap or sling?
This is simply user preference. Some folks feel like wraps are easier with small babies and ring slings for older babies, but that is not a universal opinion.
How do I use my water wrap?
Here are a couple of great tutorials! (FYI: Wrapping Rachel is totally rad. Anything she posts is going to be a good, safe, quality video.)
Are there any specific safety concerns I should keep in mind when using my water wrap or sling?
Why yes there are! What insightful questions you ask! As with any carrier, you always want to keep baby visible and kissable. This means baby should always be close enough for you to kiss and nothing should be covering their face. You also want to make sure that baby has good back support and that you can always get one to two of your fingers under their chin between chin and chest. Because of the material used, you may need to retighten more often with your water sling or wrap then you are used to. Making sure that the carrier stays snug and supports baby's back is important.
Additionally you want to keep a few common sense things in mind. (Although we all know that sleep deprivation can make common sense significantly less common.)
1) Always keep baby on the front when going in the water. No back carries as you want to be able to monitor baby closely.
2) Don't wear while boating. It may seem safer to wear baby while on a boat, but it's really not. And baby should always have a life jacket on.
3) Even with a lightweight, breathable carrier watch for signs of dehydrations and make sure everyone is getting plenty of fluids (breastmilk or formula).
4) Make sure you are protecting baby's skin from the sun. Don't forget that even if they are all wrapped up, their legs, arms or faces are still exposed to the sun.
Water carriers are awesome and can make keeping up with an older child (or family members who act like children at the beach) much easier. Use a quality carrier and keep these safety tips in mind and that beach trip will be as stress free as possible. Unfortunately, a water sling can't make your crazy extended family easier to deal with. That only comes with a Tula or Pavo.