Ring Slings

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went to a friends’ house. She showed me a ring sling that she had used with her children made from a beautiful light fabric and asked me if I wanted it. At the time I wasn’t quite sure how and if I would use it, but I couldn’t resist this gorgeous carrier.

A few months later after my little girl was born, I gave the ring sling a go, but couldn’t quite work it out how to use it properly. So off I went to my first babywearing meeting and the lovely volunteers there helped me to position my baby correctly. However, for some reason it felt uncomfortable and I put the ring sling to the side.

Then Summer came and my stretchy wrap was getting too hot to wear. I reached for the ring sling again and luckily this time I was able to position it comfortably. From then on, this ring sling became my favourite carrier to use for quick carries and in particular around the house.

What is a ring sling?

A ring sling consists of a long piece of fabric, which has two solids rings sown into one end of the fabric. The other end of the fabric gets threaded through both rings and then back through one ring.

Ring slings are made from a wide range of different fabrics like cotton, linen, silk and wool. The type of the fabric will determine if a ring sling is thick and supportive or thin and breathable.

When can I carry my baby in a ring sling?

Ring slings are very versatile and can fit any type of caregiver and child alike. However, as they are usually worn over one shoulder weight distribution is not as good as with other carriers. For this reason, ring slings are often preferred for shorter carries.

Newborn

Newborns are great to wear in a ring sling as the fabric of the sling melds perfectly around this little body. Before using a ring sling with a newborn I would recommend learning the technique of tightening the fabric first, using a demo doll (weighted doll) or a stuffed teddy. Your baby will be in the carrier but needs to be held while you tighten the fabric, which might be tricky at first.

Baby

Babies are also great to wear in a ring sling. As soon as they get a little older you will be able to carry them on your hip, which is a perfect carrying style for ring slings.

Toddler

Depending how heavy your toddler is, you may still want to use a ring sling for quick carries. Toddlers often don’t want to be carried for long amount of times, but rather want to use their new walking skill as much as possible. A ring sling gives you extra support holding your toddler when he does want to be held in your arms and is quickly put on and off.

Young Child

Young children are often too heavy for ring slings as the weight of the child is on one shoulder only. Other carriers may me more suitable to carry a young child.

What are typical ways to carry with a ring sling?

As with all carriers, a ring sling can be worn in many different ways. However, the most common are a regular front carry for newborns and a hip carry for older babies. When doing a front or hip carry, the ring sling can be pre-threaded to make it faster putting it on.

Front Carry

The front carry is a good and easy way to carry a newborn and young baby in a ring sling. With this carry baby is upright in the middle of your chest and the sling is tightened around baby to keep it in place.

This is a great tutorial to watch from Wrap you in Love.

Hip Carry

A hip carry feels like the most natural type of carry when using a ring sling (at least for me). The sling simply supports and keeps baby in place on your hip, where you would most often carry baby anyway, but leaves at least one arm and hand free to do other things.

This is another great tutorial from Wrap you in Love for a hip carry. She carries a much older child in this tutorial, but a hip carry can be done with babies as soon as you would naturally start carrying them on your hips.

Back Carry

Back carrying with a ring sling is probably not the most common, but it can also be done as is shown in this tutorial from Wrap you in Love.

What are the different shoulder styles of ring slings?

When choosing to buy a ring sling, you should be aware that besides the different types of fabric, you can also choose between two different styles of shoulders. Meaning how the fabric is sown to the rings and how the fabric will then lie on your shoulder.

Gathered shoulder

The gathered shoulder is the most common type of shoulder for ring slings. For this style the fabric is gathered directly through the rings. This allows you to spread the fabric nicely over your shoulder and even down your arm for a good weight distribution. A disadvantage of this style is that you will have less freedom of movement for the arm and shoulder which the fabric sits on.

Pleated shoulder

For the pleated shoulder style, the fabric of the sling is folded and then sown into place to create pleats. The pleated shoulder takes up less space on your shoulder and stays in place well. It also gives you some extra cushion on your shoulder from the layers of fabric. You will have better movement of your arm with a pleated shoulder, but the weight distribution across your back may not be as good.

How long is a ring sling?

Ring slings often come in different lengths. However, most lengths should fit wearers of any body type. Only the length of the tail (the end that hangs down after threading the fabric through the rings) will vary. Before buying a ring sling you can check if the length of the sling will work for you by measuring a piece of string and holding it around your body like you would wear the ring sling. This way you will see how long the tail will be.

How wide should a ring sling be?

The width of the fabric can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. In general, it will be between 60 and 80 cm. This will be enough fabric to create a nice deep seat for your baby, while also going all the way up to the neck of your baby for good support.

Can you breastfeed with a ring sling?

Yes! Ring slings are the perfect carrier to breastfeed your baby in. With a ring sling you simply need to loosen the fabric a little while supporting your baby until baby is low enough to reach your breast. Once your baby is finished you will need to lift her up again and tighten the fabric of the sling.

Here you can watch a good video tutorial from Wrap you in Love.

Why should you choose a ring sling?

Pros

  • Fits different sizes and body shapes of caregivers
  • Fits newborns, babies and even toddlers
  • No need to adjust between different caregivers
  • Soft fabric
  • Baby can be put in and out of sling quickly
  • Can be used for front carries, hip carries and back carries
  • Easy to breastfeed in
  • Ring Sling can be pre-threaded

Cons

  • Learning curve of how to use it
  • Weight distribution is only over one shoulder
  • Most suitable for short carries

Tell me…

Have you tried a ring sling yet? How did you find it and have you got any other tips or questions?


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