Singing the Praises of My Sling
- What: Ring Sling carrier
- When: Birth until your back complains
- Why: Packable, portable, affordable
- Where: Amazon
I swear by my ring sling, so much so that I can’t part with it even though most of the kid toting I do now doesn’t involve extra equipment. I would’ve written about it earlier, but the store where I got my handmade sling doesn’t exist anymore. Since I don’t like to recommend products I haven’t used, I didn’t want to rave about my love affair without a serious contender to recommend.
But I can’t stay quiet any longer. I have used infant carriers for more than 14 years for a variety of different kids, families, and needs. And I love this one more than any other. Admittedly, I got into the Beco Gemini game very late, and I still love it. And I can’t say enough good things about my Bjorn. But the ring sling beats them all.
Ring slings consist of one long piece of fabric sewn to two rings on one end. You thread the cloth through the two rings to create a pocket where your baby rests. The rings work to keep the material in place, while the extra material hangs down in what’s called a tail.
Not only is it infinitely adjustable with only one hand, but it packs up so compactly I never had trouble shoving it in my diaper bag to take with me. I could leave it there if I ever stopped wearing it long enough to be packed. They cost less than a lot of carriers, and come so simply constructed that many handy sewing-inclined parents make their own. As a result, you can choose fabric in an almost infinite array of patterns and colors as well as types.
I recommend ones that have extra padding on the shoulder. Although ring slings don’t distribute weight as evenly as some other carrier options (because they have no waist portion), you can switch the shoulder that bears the weight with very few adjustments.
The tail also provides an instant cover, and I’ve never used any carrier that allows for such easy breastfeeding. I barely had to loosen my sling to get access to either boob, and I could toss the tail over for complete coverage that still allowed me to see my child. Even better, it works very well for all stages of pregnancy. So should you, like me, expect a second child before the first one carries themselves everywhere, you can use it for the duration of your pregnancy.
I could wear it constantly, with or without my child, under or over a jacket, and even drive in it with ease and comfort. It fits a wide variety of adults thanks to the easy adjustments. Most ring slings come in one size, though you can get sized types in some brands that offer longer or shorter tails.
Ring slings also offer more carrying positions than any other carrier I’ve used. Carrying positions within the sling range from super cuddly for newborns to reclined to hip carries for preschoolers. The only real weight limit is how much weight your body can support, though many brands top out at 35 pounds. Since your muscles develop along with your growing child, I used my ring sling well into the preschool years. I also carried an extremely heavy six month old in the ring sling with zero complaints.
I swear by ring slings for airplane travel. I could breastfeed in total privacy with a complete stranger sitting right next to me. With my older infants and toddlers, I had a way to keep my babies secure while I helped my toddler with entertainment, food, and drink. I could even sit my child in it to face me for a much needed change in position during long hauls. It offered so many options my child could spend the majority of the flight in it, and so could I.
If you find your ring sling causing problems, try spreading the material out across your shoulder and back. That one trick helped my ring sling relationship extend well beyond the newborn months.
Ring slings have a steeper learning curve than some other carriers, and a visual demonstration goes a long way, but once you master the art, I think it’s totally worth the extra effort. Some people have had safety issues with ring slings, so they’ve gotten a bad rap. But as long as you know to keep your infant’s airways clear and their knees above their bum, I recommend trying it. You, too, might fall in love.