Summer babywearing can be hard work. You’re both sweating, flustered, and can’t get comfortable. Beat the heat in the shower, pool, or sea with these baby carriers you can wear in water.
Water Sling Tips
Wet the fabric
This one sounds pretty obvious when you think about it. But the biggest complaint about water slings is how much the fabric slips. And it’s true, a good water sling will slip like crazy when it’s dry — after all it’s made from the same meshy stuff as jogging shorts. Get the fabric wet, at least the part that goes through the rings, and the sling will hold a lot firmer.
The rings aren’t plastic
Well they are, kind of, but not normal plastic. They’re made of nylon and designed to be super-tough. Metal rings are better for dry wearing but get heavy in the water. Metal will also corrode faster than nylon, especially when exposed to chlorine. Those nylon ‘plastic’ rings look like the sling is shoddy but it’s actually designed this way.
Most water slings are a ring sling style
Our top pick is the Beachfront Baby but there are budget options. The only non-sling carrier we found that works well in water is the Bitybean Ultra-Compact. Ring slings usually aren’t great for people with back problems however water slings are designed for short carries and the added buoyancy of the water or pool helps offset the unbalanced weight.
Cost: Around $50
- Cool lightweight fabric
- Breastfeeding is relatively easy
- Made by work-at-home moms in the United States
- Slippery when dry
- More expensive than other options
Although the manufacturers say that the Beachfront Baby Ring Sling is also made for dry-wearing we found the fabric too slippery to feel truly safe.
But for water-wearing this is our pick of the bunch. It’s the right balance between quality, price, and comfort. And babywearing in the shower means we have a shot at getting clean
- Performs pretty well when wet
- Same material as the Beachfront Baby
- Long tail suitable for plus-size
- Needs frequent tightening
- Not great for dry wearing
Honestly, we weren’t thrilled with this sling. But we weren’t horrified either.
It did the job it promised to do, holding our test babies in the pool and the shower so we could be mostly hands-free. The fabric is ok although a bit slippery even when wet so regular tightening was required. The mesh is the same material used by our fave Beachfront Baby but the lower-quality rings add to the Slip Factor.
Still, for twenty bucks this is a perfectly good budget option to take on vacation.
- Excellent all-rounder for short carries in hot weather
- The only non ring-sling we loved in water
- Packs down really small
- Dries fast
- No strap padding
- The compulsory safety strap is a pain in the ass
- The hood is an add-on purchase to an already-expensive carrier
- Not wide enough to give a full seat to babies over 18 months so it can dig in to their little legs
One of our group has owned a Bitybean Ultra-Compact for three years (is this the longest product test you’ll ever find online?). It’s lasted through two kids so even though it feels flimsy it holds up pretty well.
Straight up, the Bitybean is no good if you’re planning on babywearing all day. The straps are too narrow and unpadded for long carries. Think of this as the emergency poncho of babywearing – it packs down to the size of a thick water bottle and is ultra-light so it can happily sit in the diaper bag for those moments when the baby refuses to be in the stroller.
In the water we loved the extra security of a ‘real’ carrier for tiny babies.
Annoyingly, the Bitybean is no longer available on any of the big-name online retailers but you can still order one from the manufacturer’s website.