My journey with babywearing started before my son was even born. A friend of mine was visiting the city with her toddler, and when we met up for an afternoon, all she had with her was a woven wrap and her backpack. She told me she hadn’t even brought a stroller with her on her trip, even though she was travelling from out of province. I was fascinated! Later, when I was pregnant with my son, I bought my first wrap and practiced wrapping with a stuffed animal. Will was born in early summer, and with the warm weather, I couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy the sunshine as well as get a bit of exercise while babywearing.
Babywearing became a frequent thing for us, even just around the house. When my son was fussy, most often it was because he wanted to be close to me. The best solution for me to help him get what he needed was by wearing him. Naturally, I fell in love with wearing him, as it allowed us to share experiences in a calming way. He was happy because I was meeting his needs, and in time I discovered he was meeting mine, as I was calmer and happier when he was. It was a mutual relationship that was fostered because of babywearing. Once Will got a bit older, I fell in love with the efficiency of a ring sling. It was then that I discovered Wildbird.
I’ve since built up a personal stash of Wildbird ring slings in several colours, and have learned that there is a whole community centered around these ring slings. This community is what prompted us to host our first event – so this past Saturday, we met up with a group of local Toronto parents at the Evergreen Brickworks to chat about all things ring slings. We asked Allie Dennis from Little Zen One to join us and provide us with some hands on, practical advice for babywearing with ring slings. Allie started by taking us through identifying the components to a ring sling. She showed us a few methods for threading, and to ensure the fabric doesn’t get twisted in the process. We each were able to try our own ring sling.
Beginner’s guide to Babywearing: Ring Slings
Five basic rules for babywearing with a ring sling:
1. Close enough to Kiss
Your baby’s head should be close enough to kiss, and his or her face should be visible and exposed to protect his or her airway.
2. Fabric capped over shoulder
The fabric should be spread out over the shoulder to distribute weight. If the fabric is bunched up too high, it can dig into your neck, and if the fabric is too low, it will slide down your arm. A properly capped shoulder does limit your range of motion with that particular arm.
3. Rings in corsage position
The most comfortable position for the rings is in corsage position. Any higher or lower than this can put pressure on the shoulder, and is also very difficult to adjust. For smaller babies, wearing the rings too low can cause discomfort for both wearer and baby.
4. Bum below knees
Think of it as though baby’s legs are in an M position, like frog legs. In an ideal position, they are sitting in the sling like a hammock, and the bottom rail is tucked behind their knees. This allows the baby’s weight to be on their bum, instead of putting pressure on their joints in their legs and feet.
5. Fabric tight across back
This goes for both wearer and baby. The fabric should be spread out and taught against the wearer’s back to distribute the weight across the body. For the baby, the fabric should be taught across his or her back to ensure the sling provides support and is secure for wearing.
Some common issues and tips
Popping a seat
When a baby straightens his or her legs, causing him or her to lose their seat in the sling, this is called popping a seat. This is often due to the bottom rail being too tight. The best way to fix it is to try loosening the bottom rail and aiming for a deeper seat.
If you need to loosen either the top or bottom rails, the best way to do so is to lift the top ring ever so slightly. This will separate the rings and create a very small space, allowing the fabric to slip in between the rings.
If you need to tighten either the top or bottom rails, support and LIFT the weight of your baby with one hand, and pull slightly on the tail of the sling with your other hand. For the top rail, pull on the part of the tail that is closest to baby. For the bottom rail, pull on the part of the tail that is furthest away from baby. By lifting baby, you are removing the weight from the sling and allowing the fabric to move freely between the rings.
I am so thrilled that we had several families join us at the meetup this past weekend. I am also so thrilled that at almost 2 years old, my son still loves to be worn (although his face in the photos above might suggest otherwise).
We absolutely recommend Allie and her work. Her personality is warm and welcoming, and she provided such wonderful and personal advice to everyone that was there. We strongly suggest visiting her website at https://littlezenone.com. For those of you who weren’t able to make it out to our meetup, you can get in touch with Allie directly there. She provides virtual/online consultations to help get the right fit!
There are a variety of different ring slings on the market available, but I am personally in love with Wildbird. All of their slings are hand made by mamas in SLC, and their slings are primarily made of linen, including their chambray and bamboo blends – which is breathable, durable, and gets even softer and better with use. Ring slings provide me with an efficient and safe way to carry my son (even though he is now a toddler and nearly 30 lbs). Wildbird also offers a video tutorial section on their website – so if you need more visual guidance, please be sure to check it out!
Still have questions? Let us know in the comments below!
Please note: this post is not sponsored or endorsed by Wildbird or Little Zen One in any way. I just love them both!