How To Wear A Ring Sling 6 Different Ways
Are you thinking about trying a ring sling?
Have you been looking into babywearing but find yourself a little lost on which type of sling or carrier is right for you?
Or do you already have a ring sling but feel as though you’ll never get the hang of putting it on correctly?
There are many reasons why you might be researching the use of a ring sling, but whatever brings you here, you’re in the right place. In this article, we hope to provide you with all the information you need to learn how to use a ring sling regardless of the age, developmental stage, and size of your little one.
You’ll first learn a little bit about what a ring sling is and what to expect from your ring sling experience. From there, you can narrow down the types of carrying methods you may be most interested in. Some of these options will be better for newborns while others will be more appropriate for toddlers, so be sure to choose one or more that work well for your baby.
Remember that the most important thing when babywearing with any type of carrier is to keep your child’s safety in mind at all times. With the right information to help you safely wear your baby, a ring sling can be just as safe and effective as any other type of carrier. This is why it’s so crucial to learn how to wear a ring sling properly from day one.
Take your time and read through the directions listed below so you’ll have a solid idea of how to perform each carrying method. There’s a lot to learn, so let’s get started!
What is a Ring Sling?
You probably already know a little bit about babywearing if you’re searching for information about ring slings, but you may not totally be able to tell the difference between a ring sling and other types of babywearing carriers and slings that might be available. Before you learn about ring sling baby wearing, it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of what you’re looking at and what you can expect from your experience.
1. Ring Sling Back Carry
With a ring sling back carry, you’ll be able to bring your toddler along for all your babywearing adventures! The ring sling back carry is not safe for use with newborns at all and should not be used with infants who are unable to sit up unassisted and hold up their own head and neck without help. Ideally, your child should at least be crawling well before you move to the back carrying method with your ring sling.
1. Put your head and one arm through the loop in your ring sling.
2. Position the rings so that they are slightly lower than the shoulder opposite the arm you put through the loop.
3. Pull the ring sling so that it shifts around your body until the rings are behind the same shoulder they started on. They should be on the back of your body just below your shoulder.
4. Put your toddler in the sling with his or her legs on either side of your body and your toddler’s weight resting on your hip.
5. Spread the fabric down behind your child’s knees and up to at least his or her armpits.
6. Keep one hand on your child and pull the sling around so that the rings are now in the center of your chest and your child is on your back.
7. Tighten the tails until they are taut enough to keep your baby in place.
8. Check this carrying method often in a mirror to be sure your baby is snug and secure on your back.
2. Ring Sling Front Carry
A ring sling front carry is a good option for any baby who is a little bit older than a newborn but may not have the body strength or development for a hip, side, or back carry yet. This is probably one of the most common methods you’re going to be using throughout your babywearing experience, and it’s not too different from the carrying styles you’ll encounter when you use a baby wrap or a Mei Tai carrier, either. Just because you’ve got a ring sling doesn’t mean you can’t make this method work beautifully for you and your child.
1. Put your ring sling on so that the rings hang down in the center of your back and both tails are draped over your shoulders (one tail per shoulder).
2. Cross the tails over the front of your chest.
3. Hold the ring sling flat and pull one tail behind you. Thread this tail through the rings to form a 90-degree angle.
Repeat with the other tail.
5. Make sure none of the fabric is twisted or doubled up.
6. Tighten the bottom rail and then create a small amount of slack for your baby.
7. Pick up your baby and put his or her head on the shoulder with the top tail of fabric crossing it.
8. Slide your baby’s opposite foot through the bottom tail of fabric and fit it snugly behind your baby’s knee.
9. Repeat with the other shoulder and your baby’s other leg. Do not let go of your baby through this process.
10. Spread the fabric from the tails up and around your baby’s back and shoulders.
11. Pull the tails of fabric around from the back and tighten the sling as much as necessary.
12. Tie a knot under your baby’s bottom or loop around and tie a knot at your back.
3. Ring Sling Cradle Carry
The ring sling cradle carry is one of the most controversial methods of carrying your baby in a ring sling. We recommend only using this method after you are already comfortable with other types of ring sling use. Ideally, you should only use this carrying position when you’ll be nursing while babywearing and then return your child to an upright position when you’re finished. The ring sling cradle hold method can be done safely but it requires a lot of constant attention on your part to ensure that your baby remains safe at all times.
1. Put your ring sling on over your head with one arm through the loop. Make sure the rings are just below the shoulder opposite the arm you put through the loop.
2. Spread out the fabric over your shoulder to cap it for support.
3. Cradle your baby in the arm you put through the loop.
4. Using your other hand, open the fabric of the sling and slide your baby’s bottom into the pouch it forms.
5. Cross your baby’s feet over his or her body.
Pull up the rails to secure your baby snugly in the sling fabric.
7. Tighten the rails and tails to support your baby as much as necessary.
8. Always triple-check your baby’s airways in this position. Do not allow your baby’s chin to be pressed into his or her chest.
9. Check in on your baby very frequently in this position.
4. Ring Sling Tummy to Tummy
With the ring sling tummy to tummy carry, you can very safely carry even a young newborn baby in your ring sling with ease! This ring sling infant carry method of babywearing is perfect for newborns who need to be worn high on your chest and within “kissing distance” of your face. This carrying method will ensure that your baby’s airways are clear, his or her hips and back are supported, and there is no risk of suffocation or choking. Best of all, you’ll be able to look down and check in on your baby quickly and easily the whole time you’re babywearing!
1. Put on the ring sling with your head and one arm through the loop. Position the rings high on your opposite shoulder.
2. Put your baby high on the shoulder opposite the rings for the sling.
3. Hold your baby with one hand and use the other hand to slip your baby’s feet and bottom down into the sling. Keep your child facing you at all times.
4. Fold your baby’s legs comfortably into a natural frog position (if your baby is older or is a toddler, your baby’s legs can straddle you).
5. Pull the tail of the sling to tighten the slack in the fabric. Lift your baby as you do this to encourage the sling to tighten enough.
6. Adjust the bottom and top rails to keep your baby snugly against your chest and supported as much as possible.
7. Spread out the fabric over your back and shoulder as well as your baby’s back for maximum support for everyone.
5. Ring Sling Side Carry
Use a ring sling side carry when you have an older infant who hasn’t quite gotten to the toddler stage but is too large for some of the other carrying methods you may have tried with your ring sling. Most parents who use ring slings transition their babies to this carrying style around 4 months of age, but you can do so whenever your child is getting more interested in the world around you as long as he or she can support his or her back, head, and neck without added assistance.
1. Put on your ring sling with your head and one arm through the loop. Position the rings so that they are “too high” on the shoulder opposite the one you put through the loop in the sling.
2. Pick up your child and put him or her in burping position on your shoulder opposite the one with the rings.
3. Hold your baby with one hand and slide his or her feet and bottom down into the sling with your other hand.
4. Shift your baby as necessary so that he or she is sitting on your hip with his or her legs straddling your body. The pouch of the ring sling should be underneath your baby’s knees on both sides.
5. Your child’s knees should be kept higher than his or her bottom.
6. Continue holding your child with one hand and, with your other hand, pull up the top rail of the sling’s fabric from beneath your baby’s knees so that it spreads to just below his or her armpits. This should form a snug “seat” for your child.
7. Spread out the fabric over your back and shoulder as well as over your baby’s back to offer as much support as possible for both of you.
8. You may tuck your baby’s arms into the pouch at this time or let your child’s arms stay free.
9. Tighten both rails and the tail of the fabric so that your child is within kissing distance on your hip and snugly secure in the sling.
6. Ring Sling Toddler Hip Carry
The ring sling toddler hip carry is often the final step on the ring sling babywearing path for many wearers and children both. This is a great way to bring your toddler along for all the fun and excitement throughout your day without relying solely on a back carrying option. When you have your toddler on your hip, he or she will be able to get involved with everything you’re doing and you won’t have to worry about dropping your child when you bend over, either. Wait until your baby is at least one year old to try this carrying method.
1. Put on your ring sling with your head and one arm through the loop and the rings high on your opposite shoulder.
2. Pick up your toddler and lift him or her high up on your shoulder opposite the rings.
3. Slide your toddler down so that he or she is straddling your hip with his or her legs slightly higher than the bottom.
4. Adjust the fabric of the sling so that it is behind your toddler’s knees and spread up his or her back.
5. Tug on the rails to keep your baby secure against your body with his or her arms free.
6. You do not need to keep your toddler as high on your body as you should with a younger baby. Your toddler will be safe and comfortable lower on your hip.
Differences between Ring Slings for Babies and Toddlers
Most parents use ring slings with their newborns and younger babies, but if you plan to keep using your ring sling throughout your baby’s infancy and into toddlerhood, there’s no reason why you can’t. Just remember that there are a few differences between the types of ring slings you’re looking at and the ways you can use them when it comes to babywearing with an infant versus with a toddler. The list below touches on just some of the most common differences you’re sure to encounter as you continue babywearing throughout your child’s early developmental stages.
1. Newborns need different fabric than toddlers do.
A newborn baby needs something very soft, free of chemical dyes and potentially harmful substances, and lightweight enough to reduce the risk of overheating or suffocation. Your baby will still be small enough to be comfortably carried in these lighter fabrics for the first few months, so you won’t have to worry about the fabric drooping or sagging until your child reaches about three or four months of age.
From there, you may want to upgrade to a more durable, thicker type of fabric. By the time your child is a toddler, you probably need to be using a woven fabric blend that is much thicker and capable of supporting the weight of your child at this stage.
2. Toddler slings should never have plastic rings, but newborn and infant ones can.
Plastic rings are often used in slings that cost a little bit less than some others, and they’re a common installment in ring slings designed for use in the swimming pool or on the beach because they’re waterproof. However, after your baby reaches about four months or so—depending on the developmental process of your child—he or she is going to be too heavy to be safely supported by plastic rings. From this point onward, you’ll need to choose slings with metal rings only.
Never use craft store supply O-rings or D-rings for a ring sling! Although you may be tempted to DIY your own ring sling, and you certainly can if you want to, always order rings designed specifically for supporting children and babies. Craft store rings are not meant to hold that much weight and may break at any time, even if they’re made of metal.
3. Toddlers probably won’t fit into pre-shaped sling pouches.
Many slings have built-in pouches to make wearing and tying them even easier on the wearer. You can use these with infants who are older than about three months old, but you shouldn’t use them with toddlers because they simply won’t fit. Some slings, however, can be tied in a different configuration to use the pouch as a sort of seat for your toddler when he or she gets older. It depends on the type of sling you have.
These pouch-style slings should be used only with caution when you’re babywearing with a newborn, too. This style sling doesn’t keep your child high on your chest with an unrestricted airway and may be very harmful to a newborn baby. For the safest possible results, only wear your newborn in a pouch style ring sling while he or she is in the process of nursing. Otherwise, keep your child upright in the sling.
Have you learned a lot about how to wear your baby appropriately for his or her age, size, and developmental stage? We hope that you’ve been able to find at least one type of carrying method that works well for you and your child, and possibly even more than that! With the right information and safety precautions in mind, you and your child will be ready for a long-term babywearing experience that can grow along with both of you throughout the first few years of your little one’s life.
Don’t forget, however, to always speak with your child’s pediatrician before you make any changes to your baby’s lifestyle. If you have any concerns about your little one’s safety during babywearing, this is a great reason to speak to your pediatrician to learn more about how to keep your child safe at all times when using a ring sling.
And don’t forget to bring this up with your own doctor, too. If you had a C-section, you may need to wait a while before you start babywearing. And if you have back, neck, or shoulder trouble, there may be only a few carrying methods available to you. Your doctor will be able to tell you more specific and individualized information.
It takes some research and planning to get involved in the world of babywearing, but if you plan to use a ring sling, don’t forget to try out any and all of our top 6 carrying methods to help you make the most of your experience!