What are ring slings?
They are a single piece of fabric, usually around 2m to 2.5m long, with two rings sewn into the end. You thread the other end of the fabric through these rings to form a loop.
How do you use a ring sling?
You usually wear a ring sling over one shoulder, like a sash, and tighten it by pulling the fabric through the rings to lock it into place. The most popular ways to carry your child with a ring sling are on your front or in a hip carry. A hip carry is when your baby is on your side with one of their legs in front and one behind you. They usually offer one-shouldered or asymmetrical carries.
They can also be used to carry your child on your back in both a ruck, or a one-shouldered asymmetrical back carry, or on your front facing out, though these positions take a little more practice.
Preparing a ring sling
This video shows you how to set up, or make a seat, for your baby in a ring sling.
This video demonstrates using a ring sling in a front carry for a newborn sized baby. The principles are the same for older babies, toddlers and beyond!
This video from Lenny Lamb gives a quick demonstration of how to use a ring sling for a hip carry.
Our video on troubleshooting a ring sling carry covers issues with set up, tightening, baby positioning and ring placement. It is really helpful for resolving issues when carrying.
Tips for using a ring sling
- A striped ring sling can make learning the tightening method easier as you can tell which bit of the tail corresponds to the fabric positioned on the different parts of the baby. This helps you to identify what to pull to tighten the sling well around your baby
- Try to keep the fabric smooth and spread across both your and baby’s back to avoid digging.
- Avoid twisting the fabric where it threads through the rings.
- Do not yank the fabric through the rings to tighten. If you size your pouch for the baby you should only need to tighten parts of the sling a little. To tighten the top rail pull only the top parts of the tail of the fabric.
- Get a good seat by sitting the baby on the bunched rope of the fabric so that their bottom is lower than their knees, before spreading it up their back leaving all the excess fabric bunched under their knees.
Are they right for me?
Excellent hot weather options
They are a single layer carrier without the bulk or padding of many buckle carriers. They are usually breathable making them excellent for carrying in summer. In cooler weather, simply adding more clothing layers or a sling cover means they make a great year round carrying option for you and your baby.
Same sling from birth to preschool
You can use a ring sling to carry a newborn baby. You can use that same carrier to carry a preschooler. So if you are looking for something that has longevity they may be a great choice.
Ideal for hip carries
Ring slings are ideal for hip carries as they only sit over one shoulder, whereas two shouldered carriers can often be awkward to achieve a hip carry in.
Ring slings fold down really small. This makes them great for keeping in the car, the bottom of the pram or changing bag just in case you need them.
For parents carrying toddlers or kids who walk a lot of the time and only use the sling occasionally, or for short rest or reconnection periods they can be ideal.
A good option for chestfeeding and bottle feeding
Parents often find ring slings one of the easiest options for adjusting the position of a baby to breastfeed, or bottle feed in. Having no fabric between their legs can make it easier to quickly change a baby into a seated sideways position for bottle feeding, or to feed directly from chest or breast.
Easy to lay a sleeping baby down from the ring sling without waking them.
Ring slings only pass over one shoulder. This makes them asymmetrical. Some people find this less comfortable than carriers with two shoulder straps if front carrying. This is because the weight is not distributed evenly for the adult. However, for parents with a shoulder issue, they can be excellent for carrying whilst avoiding the problematic shoulder.
Takes a little practice
Ring slings can take a little practice to get to grips with at first, like many types of sling or carrier. However once you have grasped the basics they are very quick to use.
Some parents find that ring slings are only comfortable for shorter periods of time, or if they are not walking long distances. This is more often the case with heavier babies or toddlers, than with newborn babies. this is usually because of the asymmetrical weight distribution.
There are different types of shoulders on ring slings. This refers to the way the material is stitched to hold the rings in place.The most common types are gathered shoulders and pleated shoulders.
A gathered shoulder is the most common shoulder type. With a gathered shoulder you are able to get a good spread of fabric across your shoulder and back, which can help to distribute the weight through your back, rather than only your shoulder. It can enable to fabric to cup your shoulder, which can help to avoid uncomfortable pressure points.
The “Floating Shoulder” is a type of gathered shoulder, but with a longer distance between the seam and the rings (usually 9-12 inches on a floating shoulder rather than 2-5 inches on a standard gathered shoulder). This means that the seam is usually on your back. A floating shoulder gives you a double layer of fabric on your shoulder, which some people find cushioning. It can help keep the rings higher on your shoulder.
With a pleated shoulder the fabric is kept in a narrower distribution on your shoulder but still spreads widely across the back. Different brands will have smaller or larger pleats and more or less of them, so all feel slightly different.
Oscha tend to use box pleats, which somewhat narrow the shoulder of the ring sling, but allow it to spread more than the Natibaby pictured above.
“Hot Dog shoulders” are quite rare and are a folded shoulder which can be good for narrow shouldered people, or those who dislike having their shoulder cupped, but as they are narrow the distribution of the weight is focused through a smaller area, and so some people find this less comfortable.
All shoulder types are different and many people find one style suits them best, so it can be worth trying a few out.
Important information about sling rings
We recommend you only use ring slings where the rings are continuous with no welded joins. Rings with a welded join (pictured here) can be dangerous as the join forms a weakness that could break under a child’s weight.
Materials & padding
Some ring slings have padding in the shoulder and in the edges or ‘rails’ . This is designed to make it more comfortable to wear, but can also make it bulkier and more difficult to adjust. For this reason most people prefer unpadded ring slings.
We recommend ring slings made from material purpose-made to carry children, like woven wrap fabric. These are weight tested, and usually more supportive than simple cotton bed sheet like material. People tend to find those made from woven wrap fabric most comfortable for both adult and child.
Being made from woven wraps, they are available in many blends of fibre. Different blends have different properties and can be more or less supportive, breathable or warm.
We also have two Melliapis water ring slings, two Melliapis muslin ring slings, a Calin Bleu gauze ring sling and two MiniMonkey MiniSlings. These are all very light weight and ideal for hot weather. The water slings and the MiniSlings are ideal for paddling or showering or getting in and out of a swimming pool. They are made from lightweight, non absorbent, quick drying fabric.