When you have a toddler, or are in a situation where frequent up/downs are likely, a ring sling will be your best friend. You can skip all the steps and time that it can take to get a poppable carry with a woven wrap in place and ready to go. And, even though it's poppable, you may have to readjust from time to time. You don't have to worry about buckles, snaps, straps, or ties. You can wear your baby from birth up until (typically 35 lb), and you are set to go in 2 seconds if you need to nurse. Is there anything more a babywearing gal can ask for? Ah, yes there is. A breathtaking print!
I have only used ring slings for about nine months now, but I can say without a doubt they are on the top of my list for quick (and inconsistent) ups and downs, and that I wish I would have had the chance to try them sooner. SweetPea Ring Slings is an American based (internationally available) company that has been in business for almost 10 years! Their handmade slings are not only supportive and comfortable, but they are also reversible so that you have the option to choose which side represents yourself/energy/mood that day.
When I pulled my ring sling out of the box, I had no idea that I should have deeply exhaled first. The "Effervescence with Purple lining" premium sling is beyond breathtaking. I love the way the solid purple really accentuates the beauty and detail of the Japanese screen print on the opposite side. If you are wondering how they got their slings to have different color sides, it may help to mention that this sling is a double layered sling. That means that the fabric of each side are sewn together to give you the reversible option.
I was not at all familiar with a double layered sling, and to be honest it was a bit frustrating in the beginning. I found it difficult to tighten my sling after putting my baby in due to all the material that i had to pull between the rings. I was worried that the thickness of the layers was going to be hot, and that the width of the shoulder would be overwhelming. (It spread almost 2-3 inches down my arm!) I wasn't sure if it was going to be a good fit for me, but keeping in mind the struggles I had when I first started wrapping pushed me to keep trying. The love I had found for ring slings was too big to let this beauty go unused, and as with most new things/"tasks" that are unfamiliar to you (both in and out of the babywearing world), you may have to give it a few tries before you find your place with it. (Or realize that it's not the option for you.)
After a few frustrating tries, I took a step back and decided to take the time to get to know my sling. What's the shoulder like? Am I spending enough time threading it? Is it just me leaving too much slack before I put my baby in? Here is what I learned:
- The thickness of the sling is not hot at all. The cotton breathes enough to not create sweat or excess heat between you and your baby. But also keep in mind that it won't wick moisture and that the double layer may take just little bit of extra time to get used to. The big plus side to the double layer is that it gives added support while wearing my baby and extra cush on the shoulder. I don't see myself wearing a newborn in it only because I feel the thickness and length may be a bit much for such a tiny person. (After the baby gains some head control, I would definitely make the attempt to roll the tail under the top rail-behind baby's head- to make a head rest and have at it!)
- The shoulder is an Eclipse shoulder, which is a style exclusive only to SweetPea. I found that if I was going to wear for a longer period of time, it was more comfortable to spread the shoulder out more, but if I needed to reach and have a larger arm span I could work with the gather to make it smaller without having it subsequently dig in my back. It just took a little bit of playing around and actually using it to find what worked best for me.
"The Eclipse shoulder is reinforced on the inside of the sling and the way that the shoulder is pleated results in it being very lightly padded for comfort... It cups your shoulder without restricting arm movement. The way that the sling is sewn is designed to fold around the edge of your shoulder- no matter which side is facing out. The pleats fold up, to create that cup." (Read more about the Eclipse shoulder HERE)
- Threading a sling (overall) seemed way more intimidating for me that it actually turned out to be. With the double layer you want to make sure you take the extra time to properly thread your tail through the rings. I like to do an accordian fold and then guide my tail accordingly. They key, especially with double layers, is to make sure that as you are threading the tail BETWEEN the rings (step 2 of 2 for threading a sling), and that the material does not gather or bunch in ANY area. That is what (I later discovered) was the issue that was preventing me from successfully wearing the first few tries. The tail should pleat and you should be able to pull each strand without affecting its neighbor.
After I got through troubleshooting the threading and learning the best way to work my tails through the rings, I was ready for round 2. ENTER TODDLER Once I was able to finally get her in (no I wasn't leaving too much slack!), I could appreciate all the features my sling had to offer. The wide shoulder makes it easy to accommodate my specific wearing needs at the time. (Long wear-spread shoulder; need for more arm movement- gather the shoulder.) The way the pleats fall on the shoulder, especially in regards to weight distribution, made me recheck the shoulder after wearing because it felt padded from the way it rested on me. And even though the sling is wide, it did not once ever dig into my neck! No matter how much she wiggle wormed around in it.
My favorite part of this sling, after the print (because of course "save the best for last") was the pocket! The whole point of babywearing is to be hands free, but with a cell phone, keys, sippy cups (we only use them for outings), chapstick (etc), something still usually always ends up in my hand. I have to admit, I didn't even bother with the pocket at first, because in my past experience utilizing it only led to a heavy tail that bumped into my thigh/waist every time I moved. That is not to say I did not acknowledge it's presence though. When we were out at the GA Aquarium, I found my collection of things to carry getting to be more than I could handle so of course first instinct was "Hello, you have a pocket!" I put my phone, 2 pairs of shoes (infant size 4), a few pieces of paper, AND a bag of Goldfish (crackers, not animals!) in there. I was sure that it was going to be a recipe for uncomfortable, but to my surprise I actually forgot I even put anything in there.
The pocket goes across almost half of the tail and is at the very very bottom. It has a zipper, which helps "flatten" the items in the pocket, and the depth of the pocket helps balance out the weight. (aka, it's distributed across the bottom.) This is where I especially appreciated the width of the sling. Not only could I wear my almost 30 lbs baby, but I could stay completely free from knick nacks and necessities (like my cell phone.) The length of the sling (and having the double layer) surprisingly helped take the weight off the tail. I know it sounds backwards, but trust me.
Overall, if you are in the market for a ring sling and feel like you may be in the mood for something that doesn't limit you to one solid print front and back, this is a great option for you. Don't get frustrated or intimidated by the double layers, because it really is just about taking a few minutes to learn how you and your sling will work best together. It's no different from wrapping in the sense that you still have to make sure your passes and seat are all in the right place and properly secured. (With a ring sling, you have the advantage of not having to involve baby in the adjustment/setup process!) I wasn't sure how much love I was going to have for this sling in the beginning, simply due to the fact that it gave me a hard time at first, but I can honestly say I have found myself reaching exclusively for it for a few weeks now. The perks of a ring sling, with the convenience of a mini purse, mixed with the comfort of a (hip carry in a) woven wrap, AND a print that will catch everybody's eye (not to mention gorgeous!)? Yes please!
Use the code: TWINS when you check out to receive 10% off any sling from the Etsy Shop
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