I remember being newly married and seeing a girl in my neighborhood taking walks with her new baby in a cute and cool sling. She looked so serene, not to mention stylish, and I wondered how I would ever learn how to use one of those. My initial feelings about ring slings were that they were complicated and mostly for show, so I didn't necessarily get too excited. Then I discovered that rings slings actually are easier to use, once you learn how to do so.
Why a Ring Sling?
The fact is that structured, or soft carriers (like the Ergobaby 360), are so useful and definitely have their place. But if you're like me and live in a hot climate, or just want something more simple without the buckles and straps, a ring sling is the perfect alternative. Ring slings make use of tension to redistribute weight over your whole back and shoulders. They also make use of one continuous piece of fabric that's breathable and easy to throw in a diaper bag. Many moms also prefer ring slings because they also allow for discreet and easy breastfeeding.
Sakura Bloom Chambray Ring Sling
I think of it like this: it takes a bit of effort to learn how to work a ring sling first thing, and then you have limitless options/baby wearing afterward! This is opposed to limited learning required with more structured carriers, while being limited to the chosen carrier design. But it all depends on what you need, and want, it for! If you want more information about the pros and cons of different baby carriers, visit our baby carrier buying guide for tips, tricks, and design reviews. In the meantime, I'll offer a simple step-by-step on how to properly wear a ring sling with an infant.
Step 1: Thread Fabric
Most ring slings feature two sturdy metal, or plastic, rings to support the piece of fabric that will be carrying your baby. While one end of the fabric (that sits higher up on your shoulder) should always be automatically "looped" around both rings, you'll want the other end of the fabric to come up and through the two rings.
In plain English, place the rings at "corsage height" near your collarbone on your dominant shoulder, and bring the loose end around your back, under your arm and across your torso, up and through one of the rings. If you bring it through both rings, you'll lose out on the tension that creates support for your baby, so make sure to do it as pictured above.
As mentioned previously, most people like to place the rings on their dominant shoulder, giving your dominant arm and hand more freedom to move. Assess the ring placement; you don't want it too low or too high, but right where you would pin a corsage. For optimal comfort, the rings' position should also be checked after baby is placed in the sling.
Step 2: BloomRemember how I said to place the fabric in between both rings? That little piece that pokes out between the rings is what you'll be focusing on now. Pull it to loosen or "bloom" the fabric, creating a bulge, or flower, if you will. The height of your bloom should be approximately 4-5 inches, and loose at this time. This blooming technique is essential in creating a sturdy sling, as well as for making any adjustments later on.
Step 3: Tighten Outside EdgeAfter you've bloomed the "between the rings" piece, look further down below. There should be two edges of fabric: one that is on the outside edge of your body, and one that is on the inside edge. Take the outside edge and pull it so it tightens through the rings. As you do so, you should feel the under side of the fabric coming across your torso and tightening against your body shape. This creates the under side of the sling or "pouch," and should fit snugly against your ribcage.
Step 4: Insert BabyWith the bottom piece of the fabric nicely tightened against your body, place your baby on the opposite shoulder from the rings, in burping position. Holding baby's feet up against their rump, carefully place the bottom of their body into the pouch area. You'll quickly notice the top part is not tight enough, so while supporting baby with one hand, gather the "slack" around the top of his body (leaving his head visible and free) bringing it towards the rings. This will allow you to tighten any slack by now pulling down on the inside edge of fabric down below to create a snug cocoon.
Step 5: Twist Excess into Neck Support
Now that you've pulled and tightened the pouch, the excess should be hanging down through the rings. Begin to twist this excess into a neat rope shape. Once you've twisted it, bring it up and around the top of the pouch, right around your baby's neck. By taking the top of the pouch and securing it over the twisted excess fabric, you can create a helpful neck/head support for your baby. Make sure that when this is finished, your baby's chin is up and away from his chest, and his head is visible and close enough for you to kiss.
Sakura Bloom Sling - Chambray
That's it! You're done! If you're still unsure of how to use a ring sling carrier, check out our youtube tutorial using the Sakura Bloom Sling. You can also always stop by The Baby Cubby where one of our helpful Cubby Mamas will be happy to give you an in-person demonstration, as well as teaching you any other alternative ways to wear the ring sling.