How to Tie a Baby Sling Like a Pro: Your Ultimate Guide

Are you ready to start babywearing?

Are you looking for more information about how to wrap a baby sling the right way without causing any risks for your precious little one?

Have you still not totally decided on whether or not this is the right option for you?

If you’re looking for tips and suggestions for how to tie a sling the right way, you’re in the right place! In this article, you’ll be introduced to the 9 most popular ways to tie a baby sling no matter what age your child might be. You’ll also learn more about slings in general, and you’ll be able to select the right type and right tying method to keep your baby safe.

By the time you get through this article, you’ll be a complete pro at babywearing. So let’s get started learning right away!

What are Baby Slings?

The term “baby sling” can refer to a variety of different contraptions and types of products, but when it comes down it, they’re all basically pieces of cloth fabric that are used to support a baby and carry that baby close to the body of the person wearing the sling. Wearing a baby in a sling is a common practice in many different countries around the world, but in recent years, it has become more popular with parents in the United States as well.

 Baby in ring sling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qhwIpURxXc

Baby slings can be worn by both men and women, and they may be useful for parents as well as other caregivers. The most important part of using a baby sling is making sure that anyone who will be wearing it understands how to use a baby sling safely and effectively to keep from causing harm to the baby.

 how to tie a baby sling

Common Types of Baby Slings

There are many different types of baby slings, although some of them are more common than others. In this section, you’ll learn which ones you’re most likely to come into contact with and what makes them different from and similar to each other.

  • Ring slings – Carrying a baby in a ring sling is the most common way to use a baby sling. These are pieces of fabric that are threaded through durable aluminum rings and worn like a sash over the caregiver’s body. The baby is wrapped in the sling in any one of a variety of different ways to support the child’s weight and distribute it evenly. These slings may be padded, not padded, sewn, or no-sew.
  • Wraps – Wraps are long strips of fabric that must be tied in a specific way to carry the baby safely without allowing for any slipping. There are many ways to tie wraps, and depending on the type of fabric you use, you’ll need to use certain tying methods more often than others. Wraps are made of either stretchy fabric or woven stiffer fabric depending on the usage.
  • Pouch slings – These slings are sewn into a tube shape and don’t have any other pieces that make them function. They don’t have clasps, rings, or clips, but they are shaped with a slight curve to make them more comfortable for both the baby and the wearer. Although these were popular for a little while, they have recently become much less common because the risk of suffocation is very high when using this type of sling. Pouch slings are currently not widely recommended.
  • Soft carriers – You don’t have to worry about how to tie a baby sling if you use a soft carrier, but some parents might argue that soft carriers don’t actually constitute baby slings at all. These are structured devices that are designed to be worn over the caregiver’s shoulders and strapped around their waist. The baby is worn either on the back or on the chest, depending on the type of carrier and the age of the baby involved. These carriers usually have a soft fabric insert to help make them safer for newborns and smaller babies.
  • Pieces of cloth – These aren’t commercially produced or even specifically intended for babywearing. These are simply pieces of cloth that are used to wrap babies and carry them close to the caregiver’s body. These aren’t very common in the United States, but they are frequently used in developing countries for the purposes of babywearing.

How Can Baby Slings be Helpful?

 how to use a baby sling

When you learn how to use a sling the right way, you can get a lot of good use out of your new babywearing device! Using a baby sling can be beneficial for you, for any other caregivers who might be in charge of your baby, and especially for your child! In this section, you’ll learn about all the ways baby slings can make a positive difference in your life and in the life of your little one.

  • Baby slings let your child learn more about the world. When you keep your baby close to your body, he or she is also close to the action of your day-to-day life. Your baby will be able to see what’s going on and will develop more of an interest in his or her surroundings. You can also interact more with your child in a sling carrying situation and determine what makes him or her happy or upset throughout the day—so you can learn more about your baby, too!
  • Using a baby sling helps your baby cry less during the day. When your baby is forced to stay in a separate plastic carrier or stroller all day and doesn’t have regular interaction with you or another caregiver, he or she can become easily stressed and sad. It’s much easier for your baby to stay relaxed and calm and to cry less when he or she is kept close to your body as much as possible.
  • Babies who are carried in slings tend to be smarter and more organized. The more environmental stimuli babies come into contact with, the smarter they will become. They will learn about what’s going on around them much more quickly when they’re part of it rather than left to observe from far away. When your baby is allowed to rest close to your chest (or another caregiver’s chest), he or she regulates and organizes his or her body processes much more quickly and easily than babies who don’t have this opportunity.
  • Babies in slings often learn more about emotions and expressions sooner than those who don’t use slings. These babies are able to see the faces of the adults around them much more often than babies who aren’t carried in slings, and therefore, they have more opportunity to see the right way to interact and express themselves with others.

9 Ways to Tie a Baby Sling

Now that you know a little bit more about the background of babywearing, it’s time to learn how to wear a baby sling! There are a lot of different methods you can use to go about this process, and the right one for you depends largely on the age and size of your infant. Be especially careful not to use a tying method that isn’t recommended for your child’s age, as this can be a serious safety hazard.

1. Reclining Cradle Hold

 how to use a sling

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b0/Position_reclining_cradle.jpg/220px-Position_reclining_cradle.jpg

This method is great for babies who sleep often and need extra support when they doze in your arms. This is also a good way to breastfeed your baby without being too noticeable about it.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings

What age is this style best for?

  • Newborn

Pros

Cons

  • Great for subtle breastfeeding or comfortable bottle feeding.
  • Easy to use with newborns as well as older babies.
  • Toddlers may be too large for this hold.
  • This is not a great hold for walking with your baby but is better for sitting.

How To

1. Put your sling on like a sash. Pull the inner rail to keep the pouch portion flat against your chest and high up on your body.

2. Put your baby high on your shoulder opposite the rings. Be sure your baby is facing you.

3. Lower the baby gently into the sling and pull the bottom ring to loosen as needed. Always support your baby through the whole process.

4. Shift your baby carefully so that his or her head is away from the rings and feet and legs are tucked inside the pouch.

5. Tighten the rails as needed.

2. Cradle Hold

how to wear a baby sling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5jivJYD-Wk

This is very similar to the reinforced cradle hold, but take care with this method. It’s great for sleeping babies but can obstruct air flow, especially in younger infants.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings

What age is this style best for?

  • Newborn

Pros

Cons

  • Works well for just about any body type.
  • Very simple and easy to tie in this method.
  • May lead your baby to grunt and snore while sleeping, which is a sign of obstructed airways.
  • Should not be used for walking, but is best for sitting with your child.

How To

1. Put the sling on like a sash with the pouch portion high on your chest.

2. Put the baby high on your shoulder opposite the rings.

3. Open the sling with one hand and support your baby with the other. Slip the baby into the pouch portion of the sling and keep supporting the baby throughout.

4. Adjust the baby so he or she isn’t deeply within the pouch. Keep the neck in a natural position and keep the tail of the sling away from the baby’s face.

5. Tighten the sling until the baby is high on your chest.

3. Lying Down

how to wear a sling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peoPX_BEIdw

The lying down hold is very similar to the cradle and reinforced cradle hold, but it has a little difference too. This can be a good alternative that you can use throughout your baby’s infancy.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings and wraps

What age is this style best for?

  • Newborn to toddler

Pros

Cons

  • This is a very simple and reinforced position that is safe for babies of all ages.
  • This is an easy tie that can be performed by beginners.
  • You must practice this hold to be sure you don’t block your baby’s airways.
  • You should not keep your baby in this position for long periods of time.

How To

1. Put on your sling like a sash with the rings high on your shoulder.

2. Hold your baby high on your opposite shoulder and slide him or her into the pouch of the sling.

3. Rest your baby’s bottom on the curved portion of your sling.

4. Tighten your sling appropriately and twist the remaining tail to reinforce it.

5. Tie it behind your baby for additional support.

4. Snuggle

how to wrap a baby sling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTsVqghgFvA

The snuggle hold is a popular alternative to lying down positions that keeps your baby safer and less at a risk of suffocation.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings and wraps

What age is this style best for?

  • Newborn to toddler

Pros

Cons

  • This is an easy way to carry babies of all ages without a lot of strain on you or the baby.
  • This is a safe method that won’t block your baby’s airways.
  • It’s easy to wear this tie the wrong way and keep your baby too low.
  • This may be an inconvenient hold for squirming, active babies.

How To

1. Put on your sling like a sash and hold your baby on the shoulder opposite the rings, facing you.

2. Pull the sling’s edge out and over the baby’s back.

3. Pull the baby’s feet down through the lower rail.

4. Adjust the sling so that the bottom rail is snug against the baby’s thighs and the upper rail is comfortably against his or her back and supporting the neck.

5. Adjust the tightness on your body to keep your baby high on your chest.

5. Hip Carry

Baby in a sling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Txi9SCErUmk

Slightly older babies and toddlers can enjoy this simple carrying method. Caregivers will be glad to have another option that doesn’t put so much strain on the back.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings and wraps

What age is this style best for?

  • Six months and older

Pros

Cons

  • This method leaves your hands and arms fairly free for daily activities.
  • Most caregivers can use this method easily without strain.
  • This is not a safe method of carrying newborns and younger infants.
  • Premature babies may not be able to use this method until they are older than six months.

How To

1. Put the sling on with rings high on your chest.

2. Adjust the pouch portion of the sling to sit on your hip.

3. Spread the fabric around the rings and leave the top rail of the sling loose.

4. Hold the baby in burping position on the shoulder opposite the rings.

5. Pull the baby’s feet through the sling and slide the baby onto your hip.

6. Pull your hands in opposite directions and bend the baby’s legs frog-style into the sling.

7. Spread the fabric from the baby’s neck to knees and tighten the top rail.

6. Hip Cross Carry

 hip carry method for baby

https://www.youtube.com/q=Cross+Carry+sling+wraps&sp=SBTqAwA%253D

This is a different version of the hip carry method that can be used on slightly younger babies.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Wraps

What age is this style best for?

  • Four months and older

Pros

Cons

  • This method is great for toddlers who are still breastfeeding or who still just prefer to be carried with a sling.
  • You can use this method with just about any type of sling, although wraps are the easiest.
  • This method is not safe for newborns and younger, smaller infants.
  • This may be an uncomfortable position for some caregivers who don’t have a lot of upper body strength.

How To

1. Place the center of the wrap over one shoulder and pull the back around your back, making sure it’s wide and flat.

2. Cross the ends of the wrap on the hip opposite the shoulder you’re using to support the wrap.

3. Tie both ends in a double knot on your other hip.

4. Pick up your baby and put one leg through the cross on your front and one leg through the cross on your back.

5. Spread the crosses extending from one knee to the other and up the baby’s back. Do this for both crosses.

6. Tuck in arms if desired, or leave them out for older children.

7. Tie the wrap comfortably at your back.

7. Rebozo Carry

babywearing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE9TSaGrPHc

This is a very traditional method of babywearing that’s great for newborns and gives mothers a lot of freedom without having to worry about safety concerns.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Wraps

What age is this style best for?

  • Newborns

Pros

Cons

  • This method is great for breastfeeding newborns as well as slightly older infants.
  • This is a comfortable and natural position for both baby and caregiver.
  • This may be a more difficult method of tying for mothers who aren’t used to wraps.
  • You should only use this wrap for sitting with your baby, not for walking.

How To

1. Sit down with your legs crossed and spread the wrap over your lap.

2. Lay the baby between your knees on the wrap, facing up.

3. Bring the wide ends of the wrap up over the baby’s body.

4. Tilt the baby to lay with the head slightly higher than the feet. Be sure the airway is not obstructed.

5. Throw one end of the wrap over your shoulder and the other around your waist. Tie it in the back.

6. If desired, bring the ends to your front and tie again over your waist.

8. Kangaroo

babywearing methods

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7ypTiISyrY

This method lets your baby see what’s going on around you both at all times. It’s great for slightly older children who are developing an interest in their surroundings.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring slings

What age is this style best for?

  • Three months and older

Pros

Cons

  • This method is great for curious babies who are starting to get more adventurous.
  • This tie makes it easier for the caregiver to have free hands while babywearing.
  • This is not a good method for babies who don’t have the upper body and head support yet.
  • This method may be dangerous and could obstruct airflow if you aren’t careful.

How To

1. Put your sling on like a sash with your rings in the corsage position.

2. Pick up the baby with his or her back against your chest, making sure to support the baby’s chest at all times.

3. Cross the baby’s legs and pull the feet down gently into the pouch portion of the sling. Do not let the feet go through the bottom of the sling.

4. Tighten the sling very well to support the baby’s bottom.

5. Do not use this method with stretchy fabric.

9. Piggy Back

 exciting method

This is a fun and exciting method for older babies and toddlers who want to be close to their caregivers but have more control of their bodies.

What type of sling is best for this style?

  • Ring sling

What age is this style best for?

  • 10 months and older

Pros

Cons

  • Keeps the caregiver’s hands free.
  • Great solution for older and larger children who still need to be carried.
  • Unsafe for use with younger and smaller children who can’t support themselves sitting up well.
  • Does not give the caregiver the ability to keep a close watch on the child.

How To

1. Start with a hip carry position hold.

2. Once your baby is in this position, gently put your arm over the baby’s head and carefully shift the baby around to your back.

3. Adjust the rails one at a time to pick up your baby to the right height for his or her age.

4. Younger babies should be worn slightly lower so they don’t run the risk of tipping out of the hold. Be very careful to keep their mouths and noses free and clear.

5. Older toddlers can be worn higher on the body to allow them to see over your shoulder. Be careful in this hold, however, so they don’t get excited and fall.

6. Adjust the tightness to hold your baby snugly.

Safety Tips

Now that you know how to wrap a baby sling, take a look at these quick tips to help you do so much more safely. Keep these in mind every time you plan to tie your sling and carry your baby with you throughout your daily activities. Make sure that anyone else who will be using the baby sling knows how to tie it safely, too! Share these tips with any potential caregiver you know.

  • Always keep your baby’s airway free from obstructions. There are a lot of ways to go about this, but the most obvious is to keep any hats, blankets, or pieces of the sling away from your baby’s mouth and nose. Don’t cover your baby’s face with anything, and always be sure your baby can stretch out his or her neck properly to breathe easily without struggle.
  • Position newborns higher up on your body than older infants. Newborns are much smaller and less in control of their bodies than older babies, and they must have a lot more support as a result. You should always be able to see your baby’s face when wearing a baby sling. For a good reference point, keep your baby within “kissing distance” at all times.
  • Be sure your baby’s neck is fully supported. This is an important part of selecting the right type of tying method. Without the proper support, your baby’s developing neck muscles may be damaged or may not grow properly. This can also be potentially dangerous and could cause your baby’s airways to get blocked.
  • Keep your baby’s back supported and in a gentle curving shape. Once again, this has a lot to do with the way you tie your carrier. Older babies can keep their backs upright a little bit more on their own, while younger infants need extra back support.
  • Check your carrier every time you use it for any signs it might be wearing out. Pick it up and look for tears, straining fabric, or fraying edges. If you notice anything like this, discontinue the use of this sling until you can get a new one. Even the smallest of holes can potentially rip with the weight of your baby and cause injury to your child.
  • Have a second person help you get your baby ready for carrying until you’re very used to it. It can be difficult to tie your sling the right way, position your wriggling baby in it, and get adjusted without causing harm to your child (or to your own body). Always have a spotter on hand until you’ve practiced your specific tying methods plenty of times. If no one is around, use a backup method of transportation instead of taking a risk.
  • Never let children use a baby sling. Slings aren’t designed to be carried by children, and the weight of your baby may be too heavy for a child to support properly. If your child seems very interested in your baby sling, you can always make a kid-friendly version used for carrying dolls or stuffed toys! Teenagers fifteen and older may be able to use baby slings but exercise caution. Teens should be mature and capable both physically and mentally of properly taking care of a baby in a sling.
  • Don’t use baby slings in vehicles, in the water, or in other situations that may be dangerous. Baby slings are absolutely not meant for car travel. Always put your child in a car seat in your own vehicle or in a plastic carrier on public transportation. Baby slings are not floatation devices and are often not waterproof at all. They should not be used in situations other than walking or sitting with your child.
  • If you begin to feel pain from wearing your baby, try adjusting your hold. Certain types of tying methods may put more strain on certain parts of your body than on others, and you can usually improve your physical response to babywearing by changing the hold you use every now and then. Avoid hurting your muscles by having more than one method at your disposal. Remember that some people aren’t physically able to carry a baby in a sling regularly, and if you can’t, that’s okay!
  • Don’t wear young babies on your back. Older infants and toddlers may be able to be worn on your back in some types of tying methods. They may also be worn this way in soft shaped carriers. However, newborns need much more care and attention than older babies, and they are much more likely to run the risk of suffocation when carried on your back instead of on your chest.

Conclusion

Have you decided which method of tying your baby sling is right for you and your child? Remember that each child is different and every situation is different, too. The biggest deciding factors behind how to wear a sling the right way should be the age and size of your child, but there are other things to consider as well. For example, if you’re a very small person, you might not be able to use methods of tying that rely heavily on your upper body size or strength. The opposite may be true of anyone who is very tall or large. Play around with different tying methods to see what feels comfortable for you before you ever put your baby in the sling.

Once you have the right method figured out, be sure to practice safe babywearing at all times. Follow the tips in the section above to keep your child safe no matter what might happen, and remember that there are always situations in which you should avoid wearing your baby in a sling. Keep another type of carrier—like a traditional plastic carrier or a stroller—on hand at all times for situations where slings might not be appropriate.

It’s easy, fun, and great for you and your baby both to use a baby sling the right way. Try it out for yourself and get ready to see what a world of difference it makes in your baby transportation!

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