Knots or Buckles?

Something I hear over and over again from parents when investigating slings and carriers is that they feel safer with a buckle than tying a knot.  They are worried with a knot that they might do it wrong while a buckle just clicks in and then its safe and nothing can go wrong.

I totally understand this.  I hear this a lot and I genuinely understand this because I remember when I was starting out I felt exactly the same.

But 7 years of carrying my own children, 6 years of running a sling library and 5 years as a carrying consultant teaching and supporting over 1000 families has taught me that this one of those fallacies that gets repeated over and over again until it is so much in social consciousness that everyone just assumes its true.

So let me bust some myths;
  1. A knot can not be tied “wrong”.  If you’ve tied a double knot, it is secure.  There is no secret way special technique.  Even the sloppiest knot in the word, so long as its a double knot, can not undo spontaneously.  In fact, I actually dare you to try…. wiggle, pull on it, do your worst… it will not untie unless you actually purposefully look at it and untie it.  The only other way to get out of a double knot is to actually cut or tear the wrap.
  2. You can do a buckle up wrong.  A buckle requires you to line bits up, on some buckles its possible to get these misaligned and not immediately notice. If the buckle isn’t securely fastened it can undo.  It’s rare, and most people will notice but it can happen.
  3. The worst offenders are safety buckles.  Generally safety buckles require an extra bit to click in as well … a button and or specific prong… if the buckle is not all the way pushed in the safety bit won’t be down and actually the buckle is probably easier to now open than if it wasn’t a safety buckle at all.
  4. Buckles can break.  They are generally made from plastic and accidents involving stepping on them, slamming in car doors do happen.  This can render your carrier unusable until your are able to get a replacement buckle.  Again the safety buckles are often more sensitive to being stood on or other accidents than regular buckles. In the last 6 years I have had only 2 buckles break and both have been safety buckles.
It is important to understand I am not saying that knots are necessarily better.  Buckle carriers can be hugely convenient.  And hugely comfortable.  And if you have tried both a buckle carrier and a tie on carrier (i.e stretchy wrap, woven, meh dai or half buckle) and you feel more comfortable and confident in the buckle carrier and it has the features you want … please please do go for it.  With my total and complete blessing.
I write this blog, really for the people with tiny newborns who want to use a stretchy, but are worried.  Are worried because they are worried they won’t do it right or because a relative has expressed doubts, because they’ve only seen buckle carriers.  So often I meet parents who have a buckle carrier for their baby but it doesn’t fit yet, and want something for the newborn period but knots scare them.  If this is you, please please do check out your local sling consultant or sling library and give it a go.  I hear over and over again, from parents once they have tried a wrap or tie on carrier “oh this isn’t difficult, oh it feels so secure” this is nothing like what I thought”.
It is always worth trying, because ultimately there is not “best” or “safest” sling… only what you personally find easy to use and are confident using.  And tying a knot and clicking a buckle in correctly both require the same amount of concentration!!!

Woven FAQ – Knots! Part 2 – Slip Knots and Ring Finishes

In Part 1 I covered the most common knot used to tie a woven or stretchy wrap – the Double knot (Flat Reef or Granny).  While the double knot is very secure its not adjustable – if you want to adjust your wrap (maybe to feed, or maybe to alter slightly as baby falls asleep or wakes up) then you might want to an adjustable knot.  There are two – the Slip Knot and a Ring Finish.


The Slip Knot

As it’s name suggests the Slip Knot is adjustable – allowing you to loosen and tighten the wrap through the knot as needed while still holding very securely.   This knot is made by one end staying dead straight (the passive end – this is the one that will “slip”) while the other end (active) is used to tie 2 looped knots around the straight end.

The interesting thing to note that there are actually a staggering 8 ways to tie this knot!  Depending on the direction of each of your two looped knots and which end you use as the passive.  The important thing to realise is that all 8 variations are “correct”, secure and are slip knots.  I say this as someone who spent literally about a month watching and rewatching videos to learn how to tie a slip knot, trying desperately to follow and remember the method and which way to go next without ever understanding how the knot worked.  I am convinced I repeated untied perfectly serviceable slip knots just because they didn’t look exactly like the one in the video!


This is because to get the classic shape you so often see on videos and instruction manuals you need to tie the second loop in the opposite direction to the first.  This is not something most of us do easily… so if it doesn’t come easily to you, don’t fret!  Just tie that second loop the same way as the first and you’ll still get a perfectly functional secure slip knot.


The Ring Finish

Technically not a knot at all, the ring finish simply uses a ring to fasten the two ends of the wrap.  The advantages of using a ring instead of a knot are:

  • it requires less length – so a good option if you don’t have much wrap left to make a knot with
  • it’s adjustable – both ends can be adjusted through the ring by pulling on the fabric either side of the ring
  • its pretty!  And looks fancy!

The disadvantage, however is as both sides do adjust by pulling depending on the width of your ring and how “grippy” verses “slippery” your wrap is you might find the ring finish might loosen off with time so you you might need re-adjust from time to time.  Although, if you do find this happening its worth simply switching to a smaller ring diameter.


To create you simply pull a loop of fabric though the ring, then thread the other end through the gap created by the loop and the ring together and then pull to tighten up … trapping it between the ring and the first end.  The only part to be mindful over is the ring you use.  I always advise people purchase rings made for this purpose – rings that are safe for babies to chew on and safe to hold weight with no weak points, no weld and no sharp bits.  Sling rings come in 3 sizes – small, medium and large, and generally a medium ring is perfect for most wraps.  If you have a particularly thin or thick wrap you might need small or large rings respectively.

Happy Knotting!


Woven FAQ – Knots! Part 1 – the Secure Double Knot

Knots are undoubtly the biggest thing that worries people new to or considering using woven wraps.  I frequently hear “I am not very good at knots”, “I am not sure I trust myself to tie it properly” or even “what if the knot becomes undone”.  And I remember thinking exactly the same first time I saw someone wrap.  I thought, gosh no… I never could figure out knots while in the Girl Guides and I am not going to be able to figure it out now on the minimal sleep of a new parent.

But actually its really not that complicated.  It’s not like in Girl Guides or Boy Scouts where someone is going to sneak up behind you and go OH NO, that’s not a Bowman’s Hitch thats a Sheeps Head or some nonsense.  Honestly, I’ve got no idea what either of those knots are and nor do I care.  When it comes to learning to use a woven or a stretchy wrap you really only need to know one knot – A Secure Double Knot.

Yep you heard that right – a double knot Literally any secure double knot …. i.e. tie a bog standand single knot and then tie it again.  And your done.  It’s secure, its going nowhere, its as safe as houses.  And I mean this… when I do get a parent who is worried about a knot spontenously untying during use, I challenge them to try… tie a knot then wiggle it… pull on one end unevenly, jump around … etc.  Do whatever you like to it, so long as you’ve tied 2 knots its going nowhere unless you actually, purposefully untie it.  And the more you wiggle, jump up and down and so forth all that happens is the knot gets tighter and more secure!

There are 4 ways to tie double knot – and depending which you use you will either get a Granny Knot or a Flat Reef Knot.  Both are equally secure so it really doesn’t matter which you use.  The Granny knot is easier to tie because you do the same motion twice – right over left x2 or left over right x2.  So intutively its easier to do!  The advantage of the Flat Reef knot is simply that it is flatter so sits more comfortably against your body than the Granny knot (particularly if you sit down!).  If you want to try a Flat Reef Knot simply remember that you need to go the other way on the second knot … i.e. tie the first knot as you would usually and then go the way that doesn’t feel natural to you on the second… and Viola! You have a Flat Reef Knot!  But if somehow all your attempts at Flat Reef Knots end in Granny’s … don’t fret, it really doesn’t matter… you wrap job will be just as secure and just as cosy for you and baby!