Ring Sling Tips and Tricks

ring sling positioning

Having just gotten over a back wrap strike, I’ve been using my ring slings a lot more than usual with my toddler (who turned 2 in January). Ring slings have probably always been her favorite carrier, and we use them often for trips to the store and when we are out and about.

Advantages of ring slings:

  • Once you “get it”, they are really quick and easy to put on
  • Compact and easy to stuff into a diaper bag
  • Not a ton of long fabric to worry about dragging on the ground while getting baby up
  • Super easy to nurse or bottle feed in
  • Sizing is incidental – meaning basically anyone can use a S/M/L, it’s easy to pass off between caretakers, and will last you as long as you want to carry with still going from knee to knee on baby). Great for newborns all the way through toddlerhood!
  • Hip carries allow babies to see in front of you – this is a great alternative to “forward facing out” for people who are uncomfortable with or not ready for back carries and have babies who “want to see everything.”

Disadvantages:

  • One-shouldered carries can get uncomfortable more quickly than 2-shouldered, especially with heavier babies/toddlers
  • Not great for leg straighteners
  • Not great for long-term back carries (pushing them to your back only for a couple minutes while you pay at the cashier or something is fine)
First off, a couple videos I made. Then the tips typed out below.


Basic Ring Sling Tips and Tricks

  1. Make sure the piece of fabric on your back is spread nice and wide. I usually reach around back with the arm on the ring side and spread it after everything else is done.
  2. Cap the shoulder. Pull the fabric over your shoulder a bit on the ring side. It helps distribute the weight. Note that if you are using a padded shoulder ring sling like a Maya Wrap, you may not be able to cap. I find those fairly comfy without capping, though, because the padding helps distribute weight and doesn’t really dig into your neck.
  3. Try to aim to get the rings right under your collarbone – “corsage position” they call it (where a brooch or a corsage would go). There is a little wiggle room, and I find that too low is usually more comfy than too high (too high will dig into your collarbone). Though when rings are too low, it’s harder to get the fabric high on baby’s back. Because the rings do move as you tighten, see tips in the videos on how to get the rings in the right place, depending on how you are putting baby in (for babies who you are putting in from the bottom, start with rings just behind your shoulder. For smaller babies who you are putting in from above, pre-adjust and put them just a teensy bit higher than you want them to end).
  4. When making the seat, you want to get a nice deep seat (see relation of butt to knees in the bottom right pic). After she’s mostly in, I reach between us and pull the fabric, thinking more “knee to knee” than up – the up high will happen naturally if you get a good bit of fabric from knee to knee. Knees should be higher than butt, and usually babies will sort of curve their back into you (rather than arching back, away – see examples in videos). Also note that the fabric is still high on my daughter’s back (and she’s a tall 2 year old!) even though I have that super deep seat. That’s what you want. When you tighten stuff up, concentrate on tightening more or less only the piece of fabric that corresponds to the “top rail” of the wrap (also the middle a bit). The bottom is your nice, deep seat and should not need to be tightened.
  5. Though ring slings are for hip carries, they really aren’t sitting actually on your hip. They are generally going to be higher than that if you’ve properly tightened, especially for smaller babies. Even my tall 2yo is still slightly above hip level, and smaller babies will be well above that.
  6. Again, when you pull to tighten, you should concentrate mostly on the pieces that adjust the top (mostly the top) and center of the wrap. You shouldn’t need to tighten the seat at all, really, or you risk losing your seat. A lot of people try to over-tighten the bottom rail (probably one of the biggest mistakes), and end up losing their seat, or the fabric digs into the back of baby’s knees, etc. Make sure that seat is tucked in nice and wide from knee to knee, and then just concentrate on tightening the top and middle.
  7. When you pull to tighten, pull (the top rail!) across baby’s back/diagonal rather than straight down or out. That will help keep the rings in place better.
  8. As your baby gets bigger, you may want to upgrade to a thicker material. My Inda Jani RS is WAY more comfortable than my Girasol RS now, but I loved the Gira when she was smaller.
  9. This is a single layer carry, with nothing pinning the fabric in place. Expect that you will need to reach down and adjust/re-establish the seat every now and then – especially if you have a “seat popper”. Also, because of the single layer nature of the carry, I try to avoid using one over slippery clothing on me or baby (I have a leather jacket that I wear a lot, and I always regret wearing it when I need to use the RS, as the seat tends to need readjusting more often because it has less grip).
  10. If you feel like baby is getting to heavy after having been worn for a while, try to shift things around. I often will shift my kid from more of a hip position to more in front of me and back just to get a little weight change for a bit. I also will readjust the shoulder if the weight is digging into one spot.
  11. If you are having trouble adjusting, make sure the fabric is not twisted in the rings. Refer to the longer video above for ring sling threading tips, or look for the great ring sling tips video by Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions. Also the “quick ring sling finger walk” video. Note that you also may need to lift up baby’s weight with one hand while you tighten with the other (see videos again). Tension helps keep the fabric in place in the rings, so it *should* be difficult to tighten with baby’s full weight on the rings – that means the sling is doing its job! 🙂 If you have a new ring sling, tightening will also get easier as the sling gets broken in more.

ring sling positioning newborn

How do I wash my ring sling?

  1. Unthread the fabric from the rings. To protect the rings, either put a sock over them or put the whole thing in a zippable pillowcase/washer bag.
  2.  Wash on cold with NO FABRIC SOFTENER, gentle cycle. Some people also recommend only liquid detergent, but I’ve used my DIY powder with no issues.
  3. If you are going to tumble dry, NO DRYER SHEETS (wool dryer balls are OK and encouraged, as they help break the wrap in and make it softer) and tumble dry as low as possible – expect some shrinkage, but usually you have enough length in a RS that it’s nbd. I usually try to hang dry when possible. It will be a little “crunchy” afterward, but should break back in quickly after a couple uses.
  4. I generally wash my wraps alone, too, just in case there is some errant velcro hiding in the laundry or something that will bleed.

*Fabric softener and dryer sheets are not recommended because they are essentially a wax that coats the fabric and is tough to get off. Some say it can break down the fibers, and some say it can make the fabric less grippy (and you need some grip in all wraps). In my opinion, it’s better to just avoid it, and soften using dryer balls or through use after a wash.

Ring Sling Shoulder Styles:
There are lots of different ring sling shoulder styles, and it is totally a matter of preference. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common. I encourage you to try out the shoulders on your own, though, because your opinions may be different than my own!

  • Gathered: This is my favorite shoulder style, because I think it gives a little “cush” and also allows me to move the fabric around so I can distribute the weight RIGHT where I want it. Some don’t like that gathered shoulders tend to spread really wide, though.
  • Pleated (or SBP Pleated): These are gorgeous, but not my personal favorite (but it has plenty of devotees! And I have one and do use it (it’s the one in most of these pics)). The pleats keep the fabric a little more organized and compact, but give you a little less control of where the weight goes.
  • Eesti: This has pleats on each outer edge, with gathers in the middle. A nice middle ground to give you more control on spreading, but keep the fabric from spreading TOO wide.
  • Some ring sling converters also have their own proprietary shoulder that is a combo of the above options: Comfy Joey, Oscha, etc.
Brands
There are tons of brands of ring slings, and your choices will depend on your personal preferences! We recommend you come to a meeting to see what you like. You can check out our lending library stash for an idea of some of the brands that we like and that are generally affordable.
Ring Sling vs Rebozo
A rebozo and a ring sling carry are essentially the same, except one uses a slip knot and one uses rings. I, personally, find ring slings much easier to adjust. Rebozos are great, though, because you are usually using a size 2 for them and can switch from rebozo to a size 2 back carry if you are out for the day and want more options. Some people prefer rebozo to ring sling, so it is again a matter of preference. Many of the above tips also stand for rebozo, but the adjusting process is a bit different. If you have a wrap and are unsure if you’d like a ring sling, try out a rebozo (you may need to tie extra fabric around your waist depending on wrap length) to see what you think!
You can also try a no sew ring sling if you have a pair of sling rings (you can borrow a pair from the lending library!). Note that no new ring slings are going to be harder to adjust than a real RS, because you have multiple layers of fabric you are pulling through the rings. But it can give you some idea of what a RS is like.
If you have any questions, ask here or on our Facebook page!

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