Welcome to another types of carriers post! Today I will be talking about slings. To learn about other types of carrier follow the links in this post.
Ring slings and pouch slings are the two types of slings (I will also talk about the recalled bag slings because they also fit in here and only one brand was recalled so they are still floating around and are unsafe). Ring slings are very adjustable and can be great from birth through short bursts in toddlerhood depending on the material. Ring slings are available in cottons or can be converted from a woven wrap for extra durability and support. Pouch slings can come in adjustable sizes but are not supportive enough of a newborn’s spine so they are better suited for babies that can sit on their own for short periods of time. They are great for toddlers who want to be up and down a lot.
- Ring Sling
Ring slings are very adjustable. They are a great carrier to have if you want to have just one carrier that will fit mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunties, uncles, and anyone else who would like to wear baby. They are great twin carriers because you can wear two pretty easily at the same time, but you can also have one carrier for each parent to wear one baby as well.
Ring slings are pretty easy in and out so they can be great for short bursts with a toddler. Many moms find ring slings easy to breastfeed in so they are great for breastfeeding. Because they are so adjustable and supportive they are great for newborns.
They come in a variety of materials. Cotton is the most popular. They can be converted from a woven wrap which makes an even greater variety of options. Many parents find that wrap convert ring slings are more supportive for toddlers. Ring slings can be made by someone with minimal sewing skills but fabric choices are important and it’s extremely important to be sure to use Sling Rings brand rings because there are no welds (which can wear on the fabric) and are made of aluminum (or a nylon for water slings) specifically for ring slings. It is not safe to use craft rings because they are not specifically designed for ring slings and may not hold up to the pressure that is on them. Craft rings would be fine for a child carrier for a child to “wear” their baby doll or stuffed animals in.
Ring slings can be worn on the front or hip. A back carry is an advanced carry but can also be done with much practice on the front before attempting a back carry. It’s important to note that many health care providers do recommend switching up the shoulder so that you don’t end up putting pressure and using more muscles in one side of your body.
- Pouch Sling:
Pouch slings used to be recommended as the go-to for newborns back around 2008 when my first son was born. Some are adjustable, many are not. It’s imperative that you pick the right size. As with all carriers, baby’s bottom should hit at or above mom’s belly button when baby is sitting in the fabric (this promotes good ergonomics for parents and is especially important for mother’s pelvic floor muscles). The shoulder can be flipped out to help bring baby in closer but pouch slings just are not supportive enough for newborns. Pouch slings (that fit well) can be great carriers for older infants that are able to sit on their own and are great for living in the car or diaper bag, especially if you have forgotten your carrier and need one to go in the store or to keep baby off of the floor to wash your hands after a diaper change. Some popular brands have “free” codes very often but charge quite a bit for shipping and the fabric is not very good quality. They may be good in a pinch but I wouldn’t recommend them as anything but an emergency carrier. Other brands use high quality fabrics and make great pouch sling carriers. With the right fabrics and lots of sewing experience these can be made at home but need specialized seaming experience to make the carrier safely.
- Recalled bag-slings (and not recalled bag slings, still not safe)
Infantino made a bag sling that was later recalled. Three babies were killed in these slings which some in the babywearing community have nicknamed “the bags of death.” I think this name is a little extreme. I refer to them as bag slings. They resemble a duffle bag and instructions showed the baby being worn very low usually which goes contrary to mother’s instincts (and isn’t great for ergonomics for our bodies). With baby so far removed, the parents couldn’t sense that baby’s airway had been compromised and baby stopped breathing. This can happen in other carriers so it is best practice to keep your baby upright and facing parent, tight and close enough to just nod your head down to kiss the top of your baby’s head. When your baby is up high you are better able to feel baby’s chest and stomach move while they are breathing.
I bring these carriers up because Infantino was the only brand that recalled their slings. Other brands still make similar carriers and these can still be found and some resale shops being sold by store owners unaware of the recall. If you ever catch one of these at a shop or a garage sale be sure to let the person know. These carriers can be traded in to Infantino for a safe and ergonomic carrier. Please check with Infantino for more details (as of this posting they would trade for a mei tai carrier). If you see a mother using a carrier like this do pass along your local baby wearing group’s information or my information and I would be happy to send information as well as information to find a good quality and safe carrier for any budget. Very very few carriers are considered dangerous-these are on the short list that no parent should ever use.
What ages and stages or activities do you like to use ring slings for?