I am lucky enough to have tried out a fair few ring slings and really love this style of carrier. A ring sling is a piece of woven fabric usually about 2m long and 60cm or more wide that has one end sewn securely into two strong rings. They are worn on one shoulder with your child on the other side of your body, or against your front (“tummy to tummy”) with the loose end of the fabric threaded through the rings in such a way that the tension holds the fabric firmly. This end can be pulled gently to tighten the fabric to ensure a snug and supportive fit with the weight being distributed across your shoulder and back (not your neck!) I love ring slings – they are among my favourite ways to carry my two children. They are small and pack away easily into a handbag, great for portability and convenience, once you have the knack, they are very quick and easy to put on with no long flailing straps, perfect for quick up and downs with toddlers or to keep in the car for emergencies. Some mamas feed their babies in their ring slings as well, very discreet.
Once you have your ring sling set up, it is easy to slip your child into the (reasonably tight) pouch, ensure their knees are well supported and there is plenty of fabric under their bottoms (some people reach down between themselves and baby to pull the fabric up to ensure a good seat), pull the fabric up baby’s back, settle the fabric comfortably across your shoulder with the rings near your collarbone, and then while holding baby securely, pull the top rail of the long end of the fabric to tighten, moving the fabric through in sections, little bit by little bit, keeping the rings up high, until you’ve got to the bottom rail (don’t over tighten this or you may lose your seat!) and all feels nice and snug. It is usually easier to pull the fabric slightly away from your body and over your child, rather than tugging downwards. This angle keeps the fabric aligned and the slight tension outwards will widen the gap between the rings as you pull, allowing the fabric to slip more easily.
Here is a link to a good video from Slingababy.
There are several different types of ring slings. Some are made as ring slings directly (eg Sakura Bloom, Psling) whereas the majority are made of woven wrap fabric cut to the correct length and converted into ring slings.
There are also different types of shoulders. The most common types are simple gathered shoulder and pleated shoulder. Box pleat shoulders are rising in popularity, and there are some hotdog shoulders around too. They are all different and most people find one style suits them best, it is worth trying a few out from your local sling library or sling group to see which works best for you; what is right for one person may not suit another.
Simple gathered shoulder: able to get a good spread of fabric across your shoulder and back.
Pleated shoulder: the fabric is kept in a narrower distribution but still spreads widely across the back.
Box pleat: fairly wide across the shoulder but still kept a little constrained.
Hot dog shoulder: with thanks to Ocah
Lots of people do a flip of the fabric across the back if they prefer to feel the fabric is “cupping” their shoulder more neatly.
The fabric used for the ring sling is a matter of preference; there is a huge variety. The commonest types of fabric used are cotton, cotton blended with linen, or linen. Linen is extra supportive for older children, but can be a little rougher than cotton. Well known brands include Girasol, Didymos, Storchenwiege, and Oscha, among others. Some special ring slings are made with silk or silk blends.
Here are some photos of different ring slings in action…
Don’t have any ring slings but have a suitable piece of woven fabric 2m long? You can buy ring slings and make your own: Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions has an excellent tutorial into all the different styles… or use a “no-sew” ring sling.
No rings but have a short wrap? Try a rebozo hip carry with a slipknot (from Slingababy)
Want to use your ring sling for a back carry… here’s a good tutorial from Paxbaby..
Happy ring slinging!