An Introduction to Ring Slings
An example of a ring sling in Lenny Lamb's Marysia's Cat print.
A ring sling is a step away from a traditional wrap. Instead of tying baby on with a slip knot, rings are pre-sewn into a short to medium length of fabric. Many people find this to be easier as it is less steps to remember than tying a knot and a little more forgiving when learning how to tighten and adjust. The rings are also aesthetically pleasing to some.
Ring slings can be used from newborn to toddlerhood plus as long as the fabric is rated for that weight. A newborn may be happy snuggled up tummy to tummy for a long time! Baby can snuggle and nurse easily this way. A toddler may just want a quick pick-me-up hip carry for a few minutes before bounding off to the next adventure, and a ring sling is simple enough to adjust that it works well for this as well!
Ring slings fold up nicely in a diaper bag or purse and make great “backup” carriers for the car for errands and small trips as well as around the home.
You might like a ring sling if you:
- Want something compact
- Want simple carry options
- Want something that can be used from the first days of life
- Want something that can be used for a long time (2 years+!)
- Want something that can be quickly taught “well enough” for others to carry baby
A ring sling might not be for you if you:
- Are comfortable with ties and knots and prefer more varieties of carry styles
- Don’t like the one shoulder weight, especially with an older child
- Have a child who likes to be worn A LOT but is heavy for you to carry (other carriers distribute the weight a bit better for a heavier child being held for long periods of time)
- Are very sensitive to the materials of the rings (usually a type of metal)
I think I might like a ring sling! What are my options?
The 3 biggest choices you have to make are style of shoulder, fabric type, and fabric length.
Style of shoulder:
- Gathered: This is a basic style where the fabric is not sewn together at the ring--that is to say, you gather it up at the shoulder yourself as you adjust. This often means the shoulder of the sling will extend down the wearer’s upper arm. People who like gathered shoulders will say they feel the extra fabric is more cushiony and they like extending the weight of the sling across the shoulder more widely. People who do not like gathered shoulders will often say it is just too much fabric to manage and it is unwieldy on the shoulder and arm.
An example of a gathered shoulder on a ring sling in Lenny Lamb's Swallows Rainbow Dark print.
- Pleated: This is a basic style where the fabric at the upper ring is folded and sewn in pleats, as opposed to being left loose around the ring. The fabric at the shoulder will generally stay on the wearer’s shoulder. People who like pleated shoulders will often say that they prefer the tidiness and compactness of the fabric and they like the broader range of motion they have since less fabric drapes down the arm. People who do not like pleated shoulders may say the extra folds feel “diggier” into the shoulder and provide less comfort and less flexibility to move fabric around as it is already folded up.
An example of a pleated shoulder on a ring sling in Lenny Lamb's Peacock's Tail Fantasy print.
- Hybrid: Some manufacturers make a shoulder that is gathered except for the ends, which are folded and sewn. This feels more like a gathered shoulder but is a bit less fabric to maintain
Fabric type: This is a matter of personal preference. 100% cotton is a great beginner fabric that breathes well and adjusts well. Linen and bamboo are common blends that often make for lighter feel. Bamboo has more give to it and linen has less give. Mesh slings are also available for wearing in the water! New wearers will find lower gsm weight fabrics to be easier to maintain. Generally 300 gsm or above weights will feel heavier and be a little harder to wrap with in the beginning for a new wearer.
Fabric length: For some, this doesn’t matter all that much. For others, they care very much! A longer length gives you the opportunity to provide a supportive second pass for a baby who likes to wiggle and straighten their legs, and it can be wrapped around the rings to keep it out of the way. A long ring sling also provides more and safer options for back carrying in a ring sling. Some would rather have as little fabric to manage as possible--a shorter sling can more easily have the fabric tucked out of the way and have less to fiddle with.
Stay tuned for Ring Slings part 2: How to Use One and Troubleshooting
Lenny Lamb offers gathered or pleated shoulders, lengths of 1.8m or 2.1m, and various fabric weights and blends. Check out our in-stock ring sling options here: https://mama-roo.com/search?q=ring+sling