You pee on a stick, two pink lines pop up and after all that excitement, you wonder, how will I hack this whole having more than one kid thing? The logistics of daily operations are suddenly not so simple when toting a toddler and an infant around. Or maybe this is your first child and you are researching and preparing to invest in a carrier that will hold your new addition close and keep them snuggly and safe. It's great when you learn to babywear the first time! With second (or third on up) kids, babywearing is essential to your sanity and ability to keep up with your other children. This is a not-so-brief rundown of baby wearing from birth with options that we carry through Simply Carried. Now bear in mind, every person who is wearing a baby has different needs and preferences and I will do my best trying to explain which carriers I like for different ages and circumstances. Today I will explain my love of ring slings.
Ring slings are probably my most used baby carrier as a parent of two. It is hard for me to pick a favorite, but if I reach for any one-type of carrier the first 18 months of my baby's life, it is likely a ring sling. I love that I do not need any extra accessories to make it fit right at any given stage in my children's wearing days and I also love that it is quick. Bonus: it is compact for when you are not wearing and can be used as a scarf or blanket. If you plan to wear baby on your back or for hours on end, a ring sling is not the best option. It is a one-shoulder carry so for long outings where you will be wearing baby without help, a two-shouldered carrier is more ideal. I still bring a ring sling for my 3-year-old for these types of days though! They are great for hip carrying older toddlers that might get tired of walking.
A ring sling, in the most basic sense is a length of fabric with two rings sewn into one end. The end with no rings is threaded in between the rings on the other end and the child's weight locks them into place. The ring sling is tightened by pulling the tail to secure the fabric over baby's back, neck and bottom. You create a seat with ring slings by pulling fabric from just under baby's bottom and up between you and baby up to his/her belly button. You wear the rings on the side opposite of the hand you usually carry baby with. I carry my kids with my left arm, so my rings hang out on my right side.
Ring slings have different styles of shoulders. This is where ring slings can get a little bit more complicated, or possibly where ring slings went wrong when you tried them before. Gathered, pleated, hybrid, eesti, padded, etc.
Gathered Shoulders: The rings are sewn into folded over fabric that is turned and topstitched (or similar). The distance between the rings and the line of stitching varies depending on the brand or seamstress (or your preferences if you are having your ring sling custom sewn).
Pleated Shoulder: Similar to the gathered shoulder in function, the pleated shoulder is sewn with a varying amount of pleats that are topstitched at varying lengths from the rings. The lenny lamb pleated shoulder is sewn about 3" from the rings, and was the most comfortable pleated shoulder I have tried. Pleated shoulders do not spread over the shoulder easily. This is not a problem if you have square or broad shoulders, but if you can't get a handbag or tote to stay on your shoulders to save your life, then do NOT choose a pleated shoulder. Gathered would be best for you. Pleated shoulders are nice and they show off the wrap in a pretty way, but I find greater comfort in a gathered shoulder.
Hybrid Shoulders have some pleats sewn in to either side of the sling, but the middle part is gathered. There are several varieties of this shoulder. The one in the example photos was sewn but Sleeping Baby Productions (it is an Isla Handwoven San Juan wrap conversion ring sling). Many people like this style because it has the prettiness of a few pleats, but the gathered shoulder is still easily spread for comfort.This style is not typically reversible. Most of the hybrids I have seen have serging sewing on the hidden side, much like the Lenny Lamb slings. This one has no serging showing, however, I would probably not choose to wear it on the reverse side because I prefer how the other side looks.
Price Range: $-$$
Carries: Front and Hip (back carries with a wide ring sling and a child over a year are possible with a lot of experience, and for short amounts of time)
Learning Curve: Medium
Accessories: None needed
Pros: Simple, compact, quick, no muffin top, versatile, can be worn by a variety of sizes
Cons: One shoulder carry, learning curve
Sizing: The majority of wearers and wearees will fit in a "medium" ring sling, which is about 75" long or 2m from rings to tail. If you are really petite or really tall or you are wearing a St. Bernard, a medium might not be the best choice. The length of the tail will change depending on your and your child's sizes. The pictures below all feature a size medium man and an average size 12-month old. The sizes from top to bottom in these pictures are (M, S, L/XL, XS). And they all work fine! If you think a long tail would bother you, or a short tail would drive you batty, then size as close to your shirt size as you can. Please contact us if you have sizing questions! If you like something and we don't have the size you need, we might be able to special order it for you.
The #1 question I get asked about ring slings is what is the difference of the budget slings to the slings in the $130+ range. The budget slings we have in stock are the Little Frog cotton ring slings. They are wonderful rings slings that are great for beginners, and are my favorites for small babies. The weave is a simple broken twill weave that is soft out of the package and requires little to no breaking in. Little Frog has linen and wool blends that are a bit thicker as well, and have just released a jacquard weave that is impressive for a budget ring sling. The more expensive ring slings are either organic cotton or a jacquard weave and there is a lot more that goes in to the weaving process and the yarns sourced to make the wraps are generally more expensive. This can lead to a thicker or softer or fluffier wrap conversion ring sling. Both are great options! I find that a shoulder style that works for me is going to be the best bet in me choosing one over the other.
I will edit this post as needed to include more information or if I missed anything! I truly love the beauty, ease and convenience of ring slings! We have them in stock here: http://www.simplycarried.com/shop/ringslings#shopNavBar
Keep in mind ANY of our wraps in-stock can be sewn into a wrap conversion ring sling. If you see something in the shop you would love in ring sling form, message us and we will have it sewn for you.