Ring slings are recommended to beginners so often we thought we would take a month to put down the wraps and pick up the rings. Ring slings make great beginner carriers but sometimes getting them just right can be really tricky. They are perfect for tummy carries, hip carries, and even a quick back carry!! Today, we'll focus on just getting that tummy to tummy, or heart to heart, carry down first.
Ring slings are pretty awesome when you think about the construction. It's meant to be a one shoulder carrier with a locking system using rings and weight and it also uses less fabric than most wraps. The more practice you get, the less time it takes to put it on. You have a few nursing position options, almost unlimited fabric and fabric blend options, and many different shoulder construction styles. There is a sling for you!
I'll also quickly go through some nursing tips showing you how to secure your sling lower at the breast and some safety tips as well. If you are curious about what size to use, just remember that in order for a sling to feel secure, most people prefer about 12" or more of fabric in the tail.
In order for your sling to function correctly, it should be threaded just right! It'll also move smoothly if you have taken time to even out the fabric between the rings and locate the rails, or edges, of the fabric.
Begin by folding your sling in half with no twists, with the right side of the sling facing up and the rings pointing downward. Gather the fabric and bring it through the rings. Spread the rings and bring it over the top ring and under the second to create your locking system. If you have threaded it correctly, you should be able to pull the tail and the fabric should move through the rings and tighten the sling. Make sure you left yourself some room to put the sling over your shoulder. If you need to loosen it, lift the second ring, the one exposed, and the fabric should loosen pretty easily. Now that you have it threaded, locate the outside rails of the fabric again so that they are easy to find when you are ready to tighten it.
Start by putting the sling over your preferred shoulder. This is generally your non-dominant shoulder, so if you are right handed, you will put it over your left shoulder. Your rings should be facing the floor and the sewn part should be closest to your shoulder. Double check that you have no twists in the sling. Twists in carriers will put pressure and make the sling uncomfortable and confusing to tighten.
Feel free to play a little and learn which rail on the tail tightens what part of the sling. If you have threaded just right, the outside rail will tighten the bottom just like in the 3rd picture and the inside rail will tighten the top! This plays into our very first step into getting the sling just right for putting baby in. Pull that outside rail and get the bottom of your sling tight and close to your body. Do not worry about the placement of your rings just yet. We will eventually want them to be at "broach position" which is just below your collar bone and just above your breast.
Now that the bottom of the sling is nice and tight, we're going to work on the body a little. We're going to use our arm to simulate a baby in a sling. If you have a bigger baby, make a bigger space, smaller baby, make a smaller space! This will help so that we have less tightening and handling with our baby once they are in the sling.
Just tighten the sling by pulling on the tail. Pull the middle of the tail to tighten the body of the sling and the outsides of them to adjust the top and bottom rails. I like to leave just a tiny bit of extra space in the top rail for when we slide baby in or if you have a smaller baby with little head control. We'll be able to use that to cap their head and keep them close to your chest.
Go ahead and remove your arm from the sling. Now it's time to put your rings in broach position. I personally like to keep the rings just a bit higher to leave myself a little room for error. My rings do sometimes move a little, especially when I use a demo doll.
Time to put baby into our sling! We're dropping baby in very similarly to how we did so in our FWCC. One trick with the ring sling that differs is to pull any bit of slack you have from the back and bring it toward the rings. This way, any slack you have after seating your baby (if any) will be between your baby and the rings and makes it easier to tighten.
Since our bottom rail is close to our bodies, we should be able to drop baby right in without worrying or doing too much tightening and since we pre-tightened with our arm, we should have very little to tighten in the body of the sling. Now if you have a little slack in the top rail and have a newborn, feel free to lay baby's head against your chest and cap their head. With practice, you shouldn't have much tightening left to do after this and you could be done!
Now, if you have slack in the sling and need to tighten it up, simply lift the weight out of the sling by pulling baby upward and pulling down on the corresponding part of the tail. When you take the weight out of the rings, it unlocks the rings and you can tighten without them traveling too low making them uncomfortable or interfering with your baby.
And there you have it!!
Ring Sling Nursing Tips:
Simply lift the exposed ring to loosen but make sure to loosen it slowly while keeping a hold onto your baby's bottom. Get baby to breast level but not so low that you are not able to lean down and kiss your baby. If you need to hammock their head, feel free to do so like I have in the second picture but make sure the rail is not so tight that their chin is pushed into their chest but that it is loose enough for them to lay into it and nurse comfortably. Latch your baby and tighten where you need to!
When baby is done nursing, it's important to put baby back up closer to your chest, even if they have fallen asleep. If you are large chested and need to lift your breast upward a little to keep your baby from being too low, a rolled burp cloth under the breast helps a lot to reach your breast to the baby.
Lots of people will tell you that the tail makes an absolute perfect nursing cover and we definitely agree. However, you should always be in visual contact with your baby at all times in a sling. Covering your baby entirely will keep them out of sight and make you less aware of your baby. Simply wrap the tail around you and baby and make a pocket area where you can look down and see your baby's face.
And that is it for our long ring sling tutorial!
We hope this helped and please do not be afraid to ask questions!
You can email questions to our Education chair at
Education (at) BabywearingHamptonRoads (dot) Org any time.
Photo tutorial not doin' it for you? No worries. Check out Babywearing International of Hampton Roads's YouTube channel for more information and tutorials!