Hello and welcome to part two of our babywearing chat! Today is all about ring slings. Side note: “ring sling” is one of my absolute favorite things to say. Try it. Go on. Out loud. Feels good, am I right? Okay. Moving on.
A ring sling is a modified version of a traditional carry called a rebozo. A rebozo is a one shoulder carry in which the baby or toddler sits belly to belly at your front, on your hip, or sometimes even on your back (and sometimes front facing out – more on that later.). With a ring sling, the traditional rebozo knot has been replaced by a set of strong metal rings, making the sling a little easier to adjust and get in and out of quickly.
Here is a dramatic picture of a rebozo knot:
And here are the ring sling rings:
Ring slings are great start-to-finish carriers – you can use them from birth until you can no longer convince your child to go up in one, whenever that may be. However, because the weight of the baby is on only one shoulder, they aren’t as comfortable for long term wearing with a heavier baby or child. We use ours primarily for shopping trips – it’s an easy in and out of the car carrier. I also love a ring sling for days when I like or need to feel “pretty” – they are more aesthetically graceful that buckle carriers, but with the same ease of use. Winning.
Ways to acquire a ring sling:
Purchase a ready-made sling: Retailers like Sakura Bloom and Maya Wrap sell well-made slings that are readily available, easy to order, and will certainly serve your purpose. There is also an abundance of small sellers on Etsy and elsewhere.
Things to consider:
Shoulder – Some ring slings come with padded shoulders, and though some like the extra padding, I personally feel like it limits what can be done with the sling a touch. Some retailers will also give you a choice between pleated or gathered shoulders – a choice that is truly about personal preference. If anyone you know has a sling you can try, do, and see if there is a babywearing group near you that may have a few different shoulder style you can test out.
Size - Some manufacturers offer ring slings in sizes small, medium, large, xl, etc. The size refers to the length of the fabric. If you are very small, you can still use a large sling, but you will have a long tail of extra fabric. Busty or plus-sized mamas will be happier with larger slings, and as a tall mama, I like having some extra length, because pretty.
Safety – If you chose to purchase a sling from a small Etsy business or a work at home maker, please request proof that they are complying to current safety standards, and do not compromise on weight of fabric (must be bottom weight – thin quilters cotton is not a safe fabric for a ring sling, though might be sturdy enough in multiple layers) and the safety of rings (rings should be one solid piece with no welded join, and safety tested for weight bearing – craft store rings are not trustworthy, and those rings are holding your baby. Most sellers who are invested in making a quality produce will use rings from SlingRings.com). Seams should also be doubly or triply reinforced.
Purchase a wrap conversion sling: Wrap conversions are ring slings made from a short woven wrap. The above shoulder and safety considerations apply, thought they will most often be sized in centimeters or inches instead of s/m/l. Wrap conversion slings are trickier to find and purchase – local babywearing groups and The Babywearing Swap on FB, or the swap boards at thebabywearer.com are good places to start. Some retailers of woven wraps also sell the wraps as slings – I like this one.
Purchase a wrap and have it converted: If you buy a short woven wrap (size 1 or 2), you can send it off to a converter to have it made into a ring sling. Many converters will also accept other woven or bottom weight fabrics. Sleeping Baby Productions is definitely the most well-respected of these converters. I recently had the shoulder of my Maya Wrap redone and the old rings replaced by Jan of SBP, and it’s fantastic.
Make your own: Ring slings are one of the easiest baby carriers to DIY. If you choose to make your own sling, please be sure you’re using a non-stretchy, bottom weight fabric (heavy linen, osnaburg muslin, dupioni silk, something that feels like PANTS, not like a shirt). Quilters cotton is pretty, but it isn’t sturdy enough to haul your precious kiddo around. You can use it as a tail accent, though! It’s also worth it to order your rings through slingrings.com – they’re affordable, ship quickly, and are safety tested, mom tested, kid approved. Plus great color options. Worth noting that the price is for a SET of rings. You’ll get two. If you order two sets, you’ll get four. So on and so forth.
Jan of Sleeping Baby Productions is sort of the go-to authority on ring slings, and this is her page of tutorials. Should give you a good start for ring sling DIYing. Have fun times!
Purchase rings and use them with your short wrap for a no-sew ring sling: Here’s an easy tutorial.
Bottom line: I sort of think everyone should have a ring sling, even if it only comes down to the “feeling pretty” factor. Because babywearing shouldn’t have to be unflattering, and postpartum is already a world of tricky.
A note: using a ring sling takes practice, but it gets much, much easier as you go. In the beginning, adjusting the rings feels stiff and awkward, things are too loose or too tight, your rings will be too low, and you’ll be frustrated. Practice. Watch videos. There is already a wealth of wonderful YouTube videos on how to use a ring sling, but, of course, we made one to show you how we use ours. Other smart things to search on YouTube if you’re curious: Ring Sling with a newborn, Ring Sling Buddha Carry, Ring Sling Back Carry, How to Thread a Ring Sling. Want to see pictures of people using ring slings? Sakura Bloom’s Instagram feed is stunning – @lovesakurabloom.
Here’s our goofy video, from us to you. It includes sound that refuses to sync with lips and one impressive meltdown from Fabes. Don’t worry, she bounces right back.
Ask me your questions!