Choosing A Ring Sling
Ring slings are great for newborns, babies and toddlers alike, but which should you buy for your little one? Make choosing your ring sling easier with this handy buying guide.
Ring Slings Explained | What Is A Ring Sling?
Ring slings are awesome; we absolutely love them! A ring sling comprises a long piece of woven wrap fabric with 2 aluminium rings sewn into one end. The length usually ranges from 1.7m to 2m. The tail (end of the woven wrap) is usually asymmetric.
What Are Ring Slings Made From?
Really good ring slings are usually made from woven wrap fabric, sewn through two aluminium rings. As such they:
- have slight diagonal stretch, making the fabric firm to use - supportive enough to hold even a heavy toddler;
- are most often found in 100% cotton options (cotton is easy to care for, easy to wash and dry and suits babies of all ages);
- can be found in a variety of colours, designs, lengths, and weaves.
As ring slings are made from woven wrap fabric, they can also be found in several different blends or combinations of fibres, including cotton, cotton / silk, cotton /wool, cotton / hemp, cotton / linen, cotton / alpaca, cotton / cashmere, and cotton / bamboo.
The most popular and easiest to care for option are ring slings made from 100% cotton. And within cotton ring slings, there are several different weaves to choose from: cross-weave, diamond weave, herringbone and jacquard.
- Cross weave - this is used extensively, producing beautiful stripes and uni-colour wraps. They can have a firmer feeling initially, but soften to produce wraps that work well with newborns and toddlers alike.
- Diamond weave - this produces a diamond shape within the weave, and lends itself to rainbow tones as it creates a shimmery-ness and is usually softer in-hand straight away, than the cross-weave.
- Herringbone weave - this produces a distinctive 'V' shape in the fabric. Works well in rainbow tones and stripes to produce a dual effect of colour and pattern, but also works beautifully with two colours, producing a soft-flowing pattern which is quite striking. Usually quite soft in-hand immediately.
- Jacquard weave - this process produces some of the most intricate, delicate and bold designs that you'll find. This process enables the weaver to produce intricate designs whereby the pattern is woven into the fabric producing detailed images or patterns. Jacquard wraps can be a little firmer in hand to begin with, but when wrapped with, produce the most stunning effects - flipped shoulders, or seeing both the top side and reverse in one carry.
- drink or feed often, both of you;
- If you can stay out of the sun, do, especially when it's at its peak.
- Remember that the sling is like a layer of clothing, so if you're wrapping, try single-layer carries, and keep as few layers between you as possible.
- Cover extremities - a sun hat with a wide brim, or a parasol for you both.
- Pop a muslin cloth between you and baby to help absorb any excess sweat. You can also dampen it to help keep baby cool.
- If possible, walk on the shady side of the street.
- Babies and children can become fractious in the heat (as can we!). Watch for these cues, take a break, get out of the heat, and cool down.
- Use sunblock where necessary and appropriate.
- Wear light layers, particularly natural fibres, as they are most breathable.
- Use the pouch to set the seat - some call it a perch, a rope, or a band - use it by setting it behind baby's knees, in a straight line from one knee to the other. This will help create that nice deep seat that you want.
- Only walk just enough fabric up baby’s back, i.e. only just enough to the bottom of baby's neck.
- When adjusting the fabric (either up baby's back or through the rings), always try to lift baby's weight - imagine you're doing the robot dance - your arm is bent at the elbow so that your forearm is in a horizontal line and parallel with baby's bottom. Supporting baby in this way will ease the pressure of the fabric in the rings of the sling, allowing it to be more easily adjusted.
- Always work any excess fabric from around your back towards the rings.
- Adjust the excess fabric through the rings in a horizontal motion - going in the direction the fabric has come from. The fabric will move through the rings with much greater ease.
A Cross Weave Ring Sling
A Diamond Weave Ring Sling
A Herringbone Weave Ring Sling
A Jaquard Weave Ring Sling
Ring Sling Shoulder Styles
Woven wrap ring slings (which most are) come in a variety of colours, designs, lengths, weaves and blends. One of the biggest differences between them though, is the shoulder style. There are 2 main styles - gathered and pleated.
The gathered style is more prevalent amongst woven wrap brands. It's exactly as it sounds - the fabric is sewn in a straight line from one side of the wrap to the other, creating a gathered shoulder. The depth at which the gather is sewn does vary widely.
The pleated shoulder varies a smidgeon more. The most popular pleats used are accordion and boxed pleats (although there are oodles more!!). Some pleats are softer than others, some narrower, some wider.
Ring Slings For Newborns
The 4th trimester is the period from birth to 3 months. Those first weeks and months are a time of great change for baby and you. Being held, being close, eases the transition from womb to world.
Carrying in arms and in a sling is essential to the normal physical, psychological and neurological development of your baby. It’s the foundation on which their whole lives are built.
Every time you hold your baby close, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin (sometimes called the love hormone) is the hormone that underlies trust - it gives us that happy, warm feeling. So when we carry our babies close, oxytocin is released - it’s a feel good thing.
Babies are meant to be carried. They need to be close to you, to be held. Babies feel more content, calmer next to you - you make them feel secure and safe. You are their world.
A ring sling is a wonderful option for the fourth trimester, newborn days and beyond. A single layer carry, without fuss, they are light, easy to care for and can be used way beyond the fourth trimester.
Ring Slings For Toddlers
Ring slings are great for newborns and babies, but they are especially useful with older babies / toddlers who are at the 'up and down' stage, as it is very quick and easy to pop baby in and out of the ring sling. Imagine that your little one is fairly steady on their feet, but with such bold steps comes tiredness. A ring sling can be carried neatly in a bag and taken out and used when needed.
Ring Slings for Summer and Warm Weather
A ring sling can be a wonderful option in warmer weather. A single layer carry, there's less fuss, less fabric, less effort to get baby in the sling and secure. It's a lighter sling for you and for baby, and from a sensory perspective, it makes coping with the heat a little easier. As they are lighter, they tend to dry very quickly, so are ideal for washing and drying quickly.
When using your ring sling in warm weather, here are some tips for staying as comfortable as possible when carrying (this list isn't exhaustive; if you have your own top tip, please do share):
Are Ring Slings Safe To Use?
Carrying your baby in a ring sling s a beautiful way to bond and make a deep connection. It also enables you to get on with the everyday - whether it's UN-style negotiations with other children, or simply being able to drink a hot cup of tea, having your baby in a sling or carrier can make that all so much easier.
Ring slings are perfectly safe to use when done so with common sense and understanding. As with all things in life a cupful of knowledge and a sprinkling of common sense is the best recipe to ensure happy, safe carrying for you and your little one. Always use a quality ring sling and ensure you read the instructions on its correct use.
Ring slings should always be used according to the instructions, and the ABC and TICKS safety guides.
Always make sure your ring sling is adjusted nice and snug to you; this should ensure baby is seated high (close enough to kiss) with their back soft, but very much supported. Once baby is in the sling, look at their profile - it should be capital ‘J’ shaped, and NOT ‘C’ shaped. Baby’s face and airway should be visible and clear of the fabric.
Are Ring Slings Easy To Use?
There is a slight learning curve to using a ring sling, a little technique involved - but it’s quite a short curve, as most parents and caregivers use the same carrying position all the time with a ring sling.
The main advantage to using a ring sling is that it’s lightweight and fuss-free with less fabric than other types of baby carriers and slings. It can be adjusted before popping baby in, as needed. You can also have it adjusted before you go out, such as to the shops, the park, or in the car. In this way, ring slings can be an amazingly helpful tool in those first challenging and precious few weeks of parenthood, and indeed when out and about with a toddler - you know, who wants to walk for a bit, and then be carried for a while, but then wants back down to walk again! A ring slings can be really helpful in such situations with a toddler as it not only provides them somewhere to rest their legs, but also to snuggle into you and feel safe - particularly helpful in new or overwhelming places, such as airports.
Ring slings come with full, illustrated instructions, and of course there are a plethora of online tutorials, should you need them. We are always on hand to help with any questions you may have at any time, regarding your ring sling, or indeed babywearing in general!
Is A Ring Sling Right For Me?
A ring sling can be very useful in those first days, weeks and months of parenthood, as it’s lightweight, fuss-free and extremely elegant.
In that initial period after your baby is born (known as the 4th trimester), this can be wonderful - you know that baby is close, secure and connected all snuggled up next to you.
Adjusting as a family and adapting to the changes a newborn brings can be challenging. A ring sling can make this transition simpler - baby is calmed when next to you, they hear your heartbeat, smell you, and feel you. And it's the same for you - you feel them, hear them, smell them. Your body understands this and subsequently produces oxytocin. This has positive effects on both you and baby - on your mental health, and on your emotional and physical well-being.
Remember that with a ring sling there are no buckles or fasteners, just soft woven wrap fabric fabric, so it’s a great option for newborns, still adjusting from womb to world. One size fits most wearers, and ring slings can be very comfortable and supportive for both wearer and baby, particularly as they are so very soft.
How To Care For Your Ring Sling
Each manufacturer has their own specific guidelines for washing and care instructions. Do read the care guidelines that come with your ring sling. Some ring slings that are made of silk, wool, alpaca, or cashmere, will require particular attention.
As a general guide, we definitely suggest washing your ring sling as seldom as possible. Spot clean any marks if you can. We always suggest using an eco liquid detergent, always non-biological, and no softener. When washing a ring sling, it's a great idea to put it in a pillowcase first - this will protect the drum your washing machine from being damaged by the rings of the sling.
Air-dry your ring sling, either indoors or out. If line-drying, pop a sock between the peg and fabric to prevent peg marks.
How To Use A Ring Sling
Pro Tip:A ring sling is a superb option for breastfeeding in a sling. It allows for one hand free whilst feeding, so a great option on the go.
Baby's Position:Upright on your chest, off centre, or on the hip.
From Age:From newborn to toddler.
Here at LTBN HQ we really love ring slings, and we know that lots and lots of you do too. They're easy to use, great for newborn snuggles, as well and those quick up-and-downs with toddlers, and they fold up nice and small to fit easily in a bag.
5 Ways To Make Babywearing With A Ring Sling More Comfortable
Here are a few things to remember that will help you adjust your ring sling really nicely and ensure it’s comfortable for you and baby:
These tips aren't an exclusive or exhaustive list - if you have a system or method that works for you (obviously, safely ;-) ), then great!