Goldie was around 8 weeks old and I went to an attachment parent/babywearing mummy meet. I had her in a Hug-a-Bub, which is an Australian big wrappy thing, similar to the one they sell in America, the Moby.
It’s really nice to have on, but a little bit of pain, especially if you’re having to take the baby in and out a few times… take baby to potty… baby wants boobies, baby pees in their cloth diaper, etc. A stretchy wrap can get so sweaty too! Anyway, I saw all of these mothers with little babes, like mine, in these rings slings that looked awfully easy to take baby in and out of. DUHHHH… I thought… why have I not thought of a ring sling before! I had just made my own wrap a few weeks prior, from a long piece of fabric, so I was then on a mission to make myself a ring sling. All together, it probably take you less than an hour to make (or 3 if you’re also taking care of babies). I bought my fabric for $5 a metre, and the rings are about $5 as well. All up, $15 bucks for a very handy piece of baby paraphernalia!
What’s So Great About a Ring Sling?
Ring slings are great for newborns to even toddlers. Their major winning point is that your baby is strapped to you in seconds, and also comes off in seconds. A quick trip to the grocery store, or maybe you need to go grab the laundry because it just started to rain, or you need to carry them for a sec, but you know that your baby is going to be wanting ‘out‘ soon (with an older baby especially). You can wear them on your front, side or back. Ring slings are best for short durations, say half an hour max, as the weight is distributed asymmetrically on your back. If you’re really going for a long haul, that’s when you would use a wrap or carrier. Having said that, I’ve had Goldie, who is 6.4 kg (14 pounds), on me for over 2 hours on the house and also have gone for long walks and it was still pretty comfy. Ring slings are great in hot weather too, because there is less fabric on you and your baby. They are easy to adjust, easy to clean, have a great tail that you can use to wipe up any sort of muck and are a one size fits all!
You will need some rings… They make specific ring sling ‘rings’. You can go hunting for metal rings from the hardware store, but these will usually be heavier and may have a seam, whereas a purpose-made ring is actually cheaper (even with shipping), lighter, the proper size and does not have a seam. I ordered mine from here: SlingRings.com They will explain on the website about their sizes, etc. I used a medium size for mine, because I used thinner fabric. But, if your fabric is a bit heavier, if you’re making your sling from a chopped baby wrap, or if you want to be able to adjust your sling easier, a large may be best. You can order a sample of sizes and colors to see which ones you like best! Best to order a bunch, because you’ll get addicted to making these things.
Fabric Type Fabric to choose for a ring sling can be almost anything woven. Woven, meaning, not stretchy. So, jersey knits and that sort of thing are not the best. Cotton, cotton muslin, linen, cotton/linen blend are all good choices. I prefer linen or actual purpose made woven baby wraps, especially for heavier babies. If you already have a purpose made woven baby wrap, you can chop 2 meters off of that. But, for choosing fabric, rule of thumb (this goes for wraps too) is that you should be able to see light shining through the weave of the fabric, if you hold it up to the light. I used a very thin cotton muslin for the sling in this tutorial, because it’s summer and it’s hot. It was so thin, that I doubled up the fabric because I didn’t want any fatty baby to split it, but it’s still thin enough for the air to get through. You can actually buy real purpose-made baby wearing fabric from an on-line company based in France, for short, we call it C & C. The fabric is amazing and is organic as well! I totally recommend buying this fabric over the stuff you can buy in the store.
How Much Fabric
Generally, 2 meters (2.2 yards) in length is enough. You can make it slightly longer, if you want extra tail… if you’re tall, or for things like wiping up baby vomit. Approximately, 70 cm (27.5 in) in width. When you buy your fabric, you will usually have enough to make 2 slings, as most fabric is about 140cm (55in) wide, so make one for you and one for a friend! Since I doubled up my fabric, using this thin cotton muslin, I sewed the edges together and turned it, like a tube, so that the edges look neat and tidy.
Finish All Raw Edges A raw edge is any edge that will fray. If it has been cut with scissors, it will fray. The edge of the fabric that has not been cut by scissors, will not fray and you don’t need to finish this edge, unless you want it to look finished. Finish your edges by folding over the edge of the fabric two times. Use an iron, to flatten out the edge so that it will be neater when you sew it.
Work Up a Big Sweat
After you iron the edges, sew them down!
Shovel Kettle Corn Down Your Piehole to stay awake.
Check On Cute sleeping baby.
Clean the bathroom to get ready for final ring sling photo
Hear Squawking and Find That Cute Baby is Awake!
On One End of the Piece of Fabric, Pull Fabric through BOTH Rings and Pin in a Straight Line This part may seem like the only tricky part. But, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfectly straight, if you’re into functionality and not into perfectionism, like me, then it won’t matter, and I promise, your baby won’t complain! You can measure the length on each edge to make sure the ends are close-ish in length. A few inches will do (7 or 8cm) on one end of your piece of fabric.
Sew Along the Pinned Edges: Three Rows for Extra Strength This part of your sling will be the weight bearing part part, so put three rows of stitches in.
Trying Out Baby in the New Ring Sling! Instant barf and a terrible seat (her legs should be more froggy and bent and the fabric should be touching her knees, not ending in the middle of her thighs)!!! Oops! It’s a gift for someone… oh well, she works in early childcare AND has a baby of her own, I know she won’t mind a little baby puke on her brand new ring sling!
Here’s another I made for a friend
Newborn Trick: Roll the tail up and use as a neck support, learned this from a lady at the baby wearing mummy meet who knew a poop-load about slings!
There are lots of videos on you tube on how to put your baby in the ring sling. Some quick tips are
- Place the rings on top of your shoulder before putting baby in. Once they’re in and you tighten the fabric, the rings will slide down a little over your chest or shoulder somewhere.
- Be sure that you can kiss the top of your baby’s head.
- Make sure your baby’s knees are higher than their bum. This prevents them from falling out and keeps them nice and secure in the sling. This can be tricky with itty bitty ones, because they have such small bottoms and their legs don’t come apart as wide.
- If you don’t want your baby to chew on the ring, or whack their head on it, you can wrap the tail around the ring.
- Make sure the top is nice and snug for extra neck support.
- Keep the fabric on your shoulder and back nice and wide, otherwise it will get a bit uncomfy.
- Did you know breasts are amazing for more than a few things?! Your breasts act as temperature regulators. They heat up and cool down according to how hot your cool your baby is!
Disclaimer: This is merely meant to be a tutorial on how to make a baby carrier. The safety of the carrier depends on the craftsmanship of the sewer and the way in which the baby is secured in the carrier. When wearing your baby, you should be familiar with safe baby wearing techniques! Here is a great link on safe baby wearing: The TICKS Guildelines Happy Baby Wearing!