Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Hello fellow babywearers! It’s hard to believe that summer is in full swing and in order to officially kick off summer, New York Babywearing style, we figured what better way to do that than to showcase a super lightweight carrier style found in each of our lending libraries. We are talking this week about all things Ring Slings!
For those of you new to the world of babywearing, you might be surprised to hear about the vast carrier style options. Each carrier style you will find at your disposal within all of our lending libraries. So, let’s get started! A ring sling is a single piece of woven wrap with two rings stacked on one end. Once it is fastened into place it will look similar to a sash with the rings at your collarbone level and baby seated either tummy to tummy or in a hip carry. This is an amazing carrier to use from newborn through toddlerhood upwards of 35 pounds.
When you first get your ring sling you will want to launder it to set the weave of the fabric in place. For laundering instructions and a listing of carrier safe detergents please reference the list of guidelines on this page. depending on the fabric you have chosen, your ring sling may need some breaking in. To do this remember one thing: FRICTION! Running the fabric through the rings back and forth will speed up the break in process. Braiding your sling and hanging in the bathroom while your shower as well as twisting the fabric and/or folding it up and sit on it while you are driving.
Of course these steps to break in are not necessary, but a ring sling that is broken in will aide in use especially for a newer wearer. The more glide the fabric has through the rings the easier it will be to tighten.
Once your carrier is ready for baby, you will want to first thread your ring sling. This is a fantastic video of how to thread your sling.
It’s important to note that once your sling is threaded you do not need to unthread it each time you put baby in. You can leave it threaded and simply put it on and off already fastened. This is one of the main reasons why so many folks gravitate towards ring sling, for the ease of popping your child in and out.
Ring slings come in a variety of shoulder styles, pleated, gathered, and padded are a few that come to mind. Several companies also have signature shoulder styles.
Ring slings also come in varying lengths. There is no right or wrong in terms of length, so long as there is enough tail left to be woven between both rings and to snug up the carrier with. Some prefer a shorter tail and some prefer a longer tail. There are companies that may even be able to offer to shorten a ring sling for you for a more customized fit. There are also companies that offer size inclusive lengths which we happily support here at NYBW. (soul, Maya Slings and Wildbird) In terms of slings, you want to be sure that your ring sling is USA safety compliant. Slings are supporting your most precious cargo and you want to be sure that they’re designed to properly support them.
For our newborns that might love being scrunched up in a frog legged position, this is a great carrier option because you can safely wear baby with legs in. Optimal positioning for baby would have them in that tucked up natural newborn position with their knees higher than their bottom, feet facing outwards and the weight bearing on their bottom (not on their feet) for this legs in carry. They would be seated in a pocket created within the front of the ring sling and gently lowered in and the fabric tightened securely around them. The fabric should run up to the back of their neck and they should be arms in for this stage of wearing.
If you or your baby prefer to be legs out, this is perfectly safe to do so from birth. You would still want the baby to remain in that frog legged position with knees higher than bottom, and in order to secure the baby’s seat you would pull down on any slack, and tuck the fabric up and in between baby’s legs. At this point you can begin snugging up your carrier by “strand by strand” tightening all throughout the tail of the ring sling. Baby should again, be arms in with the fabric running up to the back of their neck.
There are also some amazing things that can be done with your ring sling tail. It can be used to provide a roll of fabric along the top of the sling to provide baby with additional head and neck support. The tail can also be twisted around the rings to create a pillow for the back of baby’s head should it be resting up against the rings. Please not that this would not be a solution for a baby facing the rings as we always want baby’s face visible. It can also be used to drape over the top of your breast should you need some discrete coverage for breastfeeding.
For a larger baby who has good head, neck and torso control, and right about the time you would be naturally carrying your baby on your hip, you can start using a hip carry in a ring sling. It is fastened exactly how a tummy to tummy is, with the child’s legs out. Their seat should be created with that fabric tucked up and in between their legs and the fabric should be running from the crook of one knee to the crook of the other knee. Baby can keep their arms out should they choose with the fabric running up to their armpit level. This is a wonderful option for a curious baby and can be used as a means for baby to see the world without facing outwards. If baby falls asleep on your hip, simply keep a hand on baby’s head to support them. Their chin should remain off of their chest and they should still be at a close enough to kiss height.
Nursing/chest feeding/ bottle feeding is also easy to do and keep you mostly hands free with a ring sling. Smaller babies may need some extra help. Baby can stay upright while you loosen the top rail a bit to lower baby to needed height or baby can be rotated to a cradle position, While being mindful to keep baby in a “check mark” position to keep chin off the chest. Baby should always be brought back to the correct height when done feeding .
You might be wondering if there are any other options for this carrier. You can actually wear your baby with good head, neck and torso control in a facing outwards carry. Again, this is a wonderful option for a curious baby. You will want to create a pocket for them to sit inside and would gently lower them in. Optimal leg positioning is of utmost importance since we want to weight on their bottom and not on their feet or legs. A wonderful written description was recently provided by fellow educator, Morgan, on a recent post on our chat page. She wrote: “Can you imagine sitting cross legged in a hammock? It’s very much like that.” Once baby is seated you will then want to snug up the fabric around baby for adequate support. If baby seems sleepy or over stimulated simply turn them back around into a tummy to tummy position since it is not safe for any child to sleep in a carrier facing outward.
The last and more advanced carry we will be talking about is a back carry in a ring sling. This is considered to be an advanced carry and not meant for children who like to lean. The reason being is the wearer should be proficient in front and hip carrying and should know how to properly make a seat and or correct a seat in a back carry should the child accidentally pop their seat. They should be able to gauge the amount of room their child would need to get everything as pre tightened as possible before baby is swung onto the wearers back. This is an amazing video of how to wear baby on your back in a ring sling with rings ending at collar bone or corsage level.
Thank you so much for joining me as we discussed the logistics of ring sling wearing. We have a variety of options in all of our lending libraries available for member borrowing. Have one from home and need some hands on help? Any one of our amazing educators would be happy to help you!
facebook.com/groups/nybabywearing for online support!
Ring Sling Brands
* denotes available in NYBW lending libraries. newyorkbabywearing.myturn.com
Sleeping Baby Productions*
Woven Wrap companies offer Ring Sling options
Peace, Love and Happy Babywearing to all!
Advanced Babywearing Educator, NYBW