|Sakura Bloom Silk with 23mo|
What it is:
A ring sling is a length of fabric threaded (or sewn) onto a set of rings. The fabric is looped over one shoulder and threaded through the rings on the other side – because it is a one shouldered carrier, it isn’t as nice for long outings with older babies. You can use it on either shoulder, and switch off if one gets tired. It is fully adjustable to provide support over the full length of baby – this makes it especially nice for newborn wearing. Aside from being fully adjustable for baby, it is also nice for sharing between different sized wearers. RSs are a poppable carrier, meaning that it can be worn sans baby, and baby can be moved in and out easily.
Ring slings are great for newborns (my favorite newborn carrier), excellent for hip carries with 6m+, and awesome for frequent ups and downs with a toddler.
There are many RS makers out there. If you found one you like, get reviews from experienced babywearers before buying, and make sure they comply with the testing standards going into effect this year. Sleeping Baby Productions, Sakura Bloom, Comfy Joey, Zanytoes, and Kalea Baby all make excellent ring slings. Zolowear (pleated shoulder) and Maya Wrap (gathered shoulder) are good too.
There are a few different carrying positions you can do with a ring sling.
Birth+: Tummy to Tummy, legs out (legs out is recommended, but you can do legs in with a tightly curled newborn). This is the basic carry, and can be adapted for breastfeeding in the carrier by loosening the fabric, and lowering baby to breast level. Tighten back up when baby is done.
Birth+: Off Center Tummy to Tummy, legs out. This is nice if you have a baby that likes to be able to see more, but has less head control – or needs a nap J.
0-2(ish)mo: Burp Carry. Baby over your shoulder – this is nice if you have a baby that likes to see, or hates tummy to tummy (though that’s usually because positioning is off). Requires a little more skill, but easy enough to learn
0-3m: Cradle Carry – FOR ACTIVE BREASTFEEDING ONLY, when baby is done nursing, return them to an upright position immediately. Cradle carries are not safe for newborns – it tucks them chin to chest and can cause oxygen desaturation, or even positional asphyxiation. It is possible to do a safe cradle carry in a ring sling, but it is tricky and requires some skill.
3-6mo: Kangaroo Carry (Buddha Carry). Baby is facing out, sitting in the pouch, basically folded in half, with their feet nearer to their face (but in the pouch). Baby leans back against you. Facing out is not recommended for long periods of time.
6m+: Hip Carry – this carry can be started once you naturally begin to hold baby on your hip, about the time they learn to sit (around 6m). This is probably the easiest RS position.
Toddlers: Back Carry - this is for short periods of time with toddlers only. It is basically scooting baby around to your back for a few minutes. I use it to change other baby's diaper or to do a couple dishes.
Toddlers: RUB - Rings under bum is basically the woven wrap carry, 'ruck under bum' but with rings instead of a knot. This is a deceptively trickier carry that should only be attempted by someone skilled at doing back carries in a woven wrap. Requires a long RS.
Ring Sling Tips and Tricks (from Heather, VBE at Babywearing International of Chicagoland):
These tips are for a baby being worn tummy to tummy, legs out.
- Before you put her in, set it up- check that it's loose enough that you can pop her in and not bunched at the rings.
- Put the rings on the upper part of your shoulder, near the outside (i.e. not close to your neck, if it's close to your neck you may find it rides to your neck when you tighten).
- Spread it wide across your back. Put her over your shoulder (opposite the rings), then drop her in.
- Tighten it from your back to your elbow (what this does is makes it more snug... otherwise when you pull the rings they'll end up at your bellybutton, lol).
- Put her in the seated squat position, and (assuming the rings are on your right), pull the material snug across her back towards the rings so the slack its near the rings.
- Take your right hand and reach under the rings, to her belly, and reach down and grab the material and pull it up as high as you can between you and her- to her bellybutton if possible. Either now, or as you are tightening, if you lean forward a little, you can help get the babies tush into a really deep seat this way.
- When you start to tighten, instead of giving it a huge yank, pull it close to the rings, at the top rail (the rail near her neck), middle in 1-3 spots across, and bottom rail (rail near her legs). Repeat as needed. If you give it huge yanks you're likely to have the material bunch up in the rings.
- Pull the top rail area out to the front and center of your body, and the bottom rail out to the front and to the right of you (if you get the idea).
- If it seems like the material is hard to pull through the rings take your left and and very gently lift her up, just a touch, so her weight isn't working against you tightening the rings.
- If you see an area that is still loose (let's say the rails are tight but loose at her back- find the area of the tail that correlates to that area (i.e. the middle) and just tighten that area.
- Goal is to have the rings in the corsage area of your chest. If it ends up higher or lower, that's fine if it's comfy. :) If you're short, there might not seem like a lot of room between baby/rings/your shoulder, and unless you plan to grow, there's not much you can do about that. :)
- Her seat lower than her knees, arms in or out is fine if she's awake and has head/neck control. Try and give the knees/feet an "up and in". This is where you can gently push their legs up into a more deep squat position. It will help give them a better seat and also increase their comfort. Check to make sure you still have good knee to knee coverage.
- You can use the tail behind her head to make little pillow if she falls asleep, or pull the top rail up higher as needed.
- If you find that the rings are a little lower than you like (or your tail is long) you can wrap the tail through/around the rings to make it more comfy if she happens to be close. As long as the rings are laying relatively flat and comfy, it's fine.
- A lot of babes cry if they don't have a good seat or the RS isn't high enough. I think with RS's it's a game between figuring out tight enough (to be comfy) and too tight (and having certain brands ride off your shoulder and up your neck).
It is much (much!) easier to learn from videos than it is from written directions. Some companies send a DVD along with the carrier, but quality varies among companies.
There is also a ring sling playlist under my name on youtube – kbaby261: https://www.youtube.co/playlist?list=PLnY6xmQAvtsomiL_2zxHN1MtMfqsljzI3&feature=mh_lolz
The videos on my list include videos on threading, positioning, different carries, and how to nurse upright or in a cradle carry.