A ring sling is a highly useful carrier since it’s easy to learn to use (just pop your baby in and tighten the fabric through the rings) and can be used from newborn days (in front carries) up through toddler years (in a hip carry). Plus, it’s a poppable carrier, easy to let children in and out of without a lot of bother.
A ring sling is a length of woven cloth that loops over the wearer's shoulder and is adjusted by the overlapping rings worn near the shoulder, with the baby sitting in the pocket created by the fabric. Ring slings work for any caregiver because they can be sized big or small and made plain or fancy, with different colors, patterns, and fabric choices — often cotton but also blends, linen, very lightweight mesh or solar-protective fabrics for water and summer use, and brocade and silk for dressier occasions.
Using a ring sling can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice and guidance, you’ll soon find it becomes second nature. I'll share some pictures here my husband took of my 2-year-old and me showing how it's done. Front carries work well with any age baby or toddler, and the hip carry is better attempted once a baby has good head and neck support.
I’d like to remind you of a few safety pointers to keep in mind when learning any new carry or carrier:
- Keep your baby supported with your arms until you’re sure the carrier is secure.
- If your baby or you are not feeling well, try again later.
- Enlist another trusted adult. Ask the other adult to keep hands on the baby, or to help you secure the carrier, and be clear about who’s doing what.
- Use a mirror. If you’re out, any reflective surface (building windows, car windows) will help.
- Start low. Sit on the floor as you begin a wrap so you both can have less fear of falling. Later on, try starting from a sofa or bed or the seat or trunk of a car.
- Ensure airways are clear and babies don't slip deeply into the pocket of fabric.
- Keep young babies tummy to tummy and upright against you. Support unstable heads with fabric behind the head.
- If you need help, request it! If you want someone to confirm that your baby’s in safely, ask away. If you feel uncomfortable with certain carries, that’s totally fine — find what works for you and your little one, and enjoy your own brand of babywearing!
Front Carry in a Ring SlingCarrying a baby tummy to tummy in a ring sling is perfect for snuggly newborn days on up. It’s most comfortable with lighter loads and makes for convenient breastfeeding.
Loosen the ring sling and place over one arm and then over your head.
Keep the rings on your breastbone, in the corsage position.
See how the sling makes a pocket? One side of the sling will be against your body, and one is on the outside. There should be fabric between you and the baby, so that the baby’s sitting in that pocket.
Little babies might have their legs tucked in (but don’t have to). Older ones will definitely have legs out. Regardless, the fabric should make a little pocket seat for the bum, with the bum tilted a little lower than the knees, the inner fabric extending to the baby’s kneepits (that’s a word, right?) and the outer fabric extending over the baby’s back.
Now tighten the sling at the rings. Take your time and adjust it till it’s secure. What to keep in mind is that there are several “rails” or sections of fabric, such as the inner portion under your baby’s knees, the middle section over your baby’s bum, and the top rail at the top of your baby’s back. Pull each one in turn until each is snug and the baby is cuddled close against you.
Hips are flexed in a natural carrying position against your body.
Pull the back of the fabric as high up on your baby’s back or the back of the head as needed for support.
Hip Carry in a Ring Sling
The hip carry is the same as the front carry, just skewed toward the hip. Make sure you keep the rings in corsage position.
Your baby will be sitting on your hipbone, the same way you would naturally carry a young one on your hip.
Breastfeeding in a Ring Sling
Nursing in a ring sling in a front or hip carry is simple. Loosen the rings until you can bump your baby down to breast height, latch on, and then retighten as needed.
Experiment with keeping your nursing bra latched — the extra support can function like a shelf for your breast, potentially letting you nurse hands-free.
Getting Down From a Ring Sling
Loosen the rings while keeping a supportive hand under or behind your baby, pressing against your body.
Pull your little one out of the fabric of the sling, and vice versa.
Learn More About Babywearing!This article is excerpted from my new ebook, The Natural Parent's Guide to Babywearing: Baby carriers and baby carrying made simple.
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Read more and ask your babywearing questions at my babywearing resource page. I hope you enjoy. Happy babywearing!
What's your favorite baby carrier and why? Do you dig ring slings?