Buying a ring sling

Basics to look for:

Type of shoulder – sewn/padded, pleated, gathered. It’s personal preference really. I would recommend a wide shoulder which could be anyone of these styles. Gathered allows you to spread it down over your shoulder which some people like and others find it digs in.

Closed or Open Tailed – Most people prefer open-tailed for greater adjust ability, others don’t like the longish, flappy tail that sometimes needs tucked away. Closed-tail and padding really limits the adjust ability of the sling making it harder to get a good fit (a firm, high bottom rail is helpful to deter babies who like to straighten their legs cause the bottom rail to slide up!)

Type of material – silk, cotton, hemp, and more. The most common and my favourite is woven 100% cotton. As woven wraps come in all kinds of material so do woven ring slings

New or Second-hand – dependents on your budget and philosophy. If you are buying second hand get a guarantee there are no rips (no matter how small) in the fabric, the rings are proper, non soldered sling rings and the fabric is adjustable but doesn’t slip in the rings.

In no particular order:

Storchenweige Ring SlingsOpen tailed ring sling

  • 100% cotton woven fabric.
  • It is reasonably soft and thinnish (though not as thin as some) and can create sharp edges that dig into your shoulder.
  • The shoulder piece is gathered and the material is wide. This means it can be spread quite wide distributing the weight well but has the potential to slip off the shoulder and the rails can sometimes dig in.
  • The tail is open and really adjustable. It is soft and easy to adjust to get a really good fit.
  • Metal rings especially made for slings are used.
  • These are very good quality ring slings.
Storchen gathered shoulder

Storchenweige gathered shoulder

I have used this type of ring sling a lot and really like it. The sharp rails can be a problem for some people. I found it easy enough to adjust to a comfortable place. Folding the rails back on themselves helps too. I like the wide, open tail for its ability to fold into the top rail to create a padded neck support for your baby or as a cover up for breastfeeding if you baby is ok with having his/her head covered. Holding one edge open so your baby can see your face is often enough to satisfy them.

Storchenweige ring slings are available online and some physical shops stock them.

Price: New around $140, Second hand around$100 so they hold their value!

 

Keoni Ring Slings

These are made from Girasol woven wraps by Esther in the North Island. Esther is a talented sewer and also converts wraps or uses other material at your request to make you a ring sling.

  • 100% cotton woven fabric, fairtrade from Guatemala
  • The Girasol material is thicker than the Storchenweige material which minimises the potential for rails digging in. Due to it’s thickness it needs more washing and breaking in of the material to soften it up.
  • It is bulkier to adjust in the rings initially! and definitely needs some patience and perseverance in my experience. Once ‘broken in’ they are super strong, durable and comfortable slings.

    Keoni Ring sling with pleated shoulder

    Keoni Ring sling with pleated shoulder

  • The Keoni Girasol ring slings have a pleated shoulder which is still wide enough to spread the weight on your shoulder but the rail can’t slip off or easily dig in. Many people find this a more comfortable shoulder design. It also has an open tail.
  • Metal rings especially made for slings are used.
  • These are very good quality ring slings.

I haven’t used a Keoni ring sling much. I did find the material in the rings bulky and tricky to adjust, but the material was very new. It is really good, strong material and a supportive sling for both baby and wearer. I love that they are New Zealand made and the personal service from Esther is fantastic.

You can purchase Keoni Ring Slings online.

Price: New $95-$130, Second hand around $100

GirasolRS Nestling

Gathered shoulder of the Girasol ring sling from Nestling

Girasol Ring Slings

As above but with a gathered shoulder rather then pleated. Available from Nestling.

Price: New $140, Second hand around $100

 

 

 

Natures Sway Sling

Buckle with safety loop

Buckle with safety loop

Buckle and lace-lock adjusters

Buckle and lace-lock adjusters

  • This sling has a buckle instead of double rings, but works the same way.
  • The current design has two lace-lock adjustments on the back of the sling for further adjustment.
  • It has a safety loop to back up the buckle. Buckles can wear and crack over time so this is a good feature though it is a bit fiddly to use.
  • It is 100% Cotton Canvas or 45% Hemp and 55% Organic cotton and made in New Zealand! Wahoo.
  • Padded rails and reasonably narrow padded shoulder. This carrier is often seen worn high on the shoulder adjust the wearers neck. It is difficult to adjust into a different position.
  • It has a narrow, short tail.

I used an older design of this carrier that I was given second hand with my first child. I didn’t use it until he was 3 months and only to sit him in it for a feed while I did something else. I prefer to use the upright, straddle squat position and believe this is the best position for baby’s development so I was not keen and don’t recommend the cradle carry (or seated upright) or lying positions. The new design does allow you to wear your baby in an upright, straddle squat position though getting the adjustment and positioning right takes a bit of time and possibly some help from someone else due to the lace-lock adjusters being on your back once the sling is on. I struggle to adjust these myself although the straps are designed long enough to reach them yourself. These adjusters do allow you more adjust-ability but still far less than an actual ring sling. I love that these slings are NZ made and organic cotton. I used mine lots until the buckle cracked (it was very old and had been used for many children). It is difficult to get a firm fit and correct tension on the top and bottom rails for an upright, straddle squat position with a small baby.

Price: New cotton canvas $85, organic hemp/cotton $95. Second hand $20-$50

Padded sewn shoulder of Hands Free baby ring sling

Padded sewn shoulder of Hands Free baby ring sling

Hands Free Baby ring slings

  • Made of natural fibers, perhaps a cotton blend – difficult to know from the website
  • Sewn padded shoulder and rails
  • Closed tail

I have not used this brand of ring sling though I have used the similar Third Arm which is no longer being made. The closed tail and padded rails makes for simple adjustment within a small range. I would recommend asking for a larger than standard size if you are bigger than average. The closed tail is good if you don’t like the long open tails that require tucking away. Though the principle is the same there is a narrower range of adjust-ability. The sewn shoulder and pleats at the back means the width and spread-ability is also limited. These slings are simple to use in the upright, straddle squat position from newborn. It is important to lift baby’s knees high and tension the bottom rail to hold them there, also tensioning the top rail for good head support. Unfortunately many of the photos on the Hands Free Baby website do not demonstrate a good straddle squat position but it can be achieved with this carrier.

Price: New $90-120, second hand probably $50ish

Breeze baby ring sling from the Cheeky Cherubs website

Breeze baby ring sling from the Cheeky Cherubs website

Breeze Baby ring slings

  • Lightweight, non-toxic, mesh, quick dry material
  • Great for hot climates
  • Folds up small for handbags
  • For use in the shower or pool or on dry land. NB. do not swim with your baby attached.
  • Gathered shoulder, no padding
  • Open tail
  • Aluminum rings
  • Fairtrade and made in the US

This is a simple lightweight ring sling. It is affordable and simple to use. It can feel a little slippy in the rings but I have not experienced any slipping the few times I have used one of these carriers. It is not as comfortable as some other ring slings due to the thinness of the fabric and potential for the rails to dig in. However it can be spread to distribute the weight.

Kokadi Ring Slings and Water Ring Slings

  • Standard Ring Sling
  • Some are 100% Organic cotton
  • Jacquard weaving or bonded deluxe
  • Gathered shoulder
  • Open tail
  • Water Ring Sling
  • 85% polyester, 15% elastin
  • Synthetic rings, smaller and thicker
  • Gathered shoulder
  • Open tail
  • UV protective

I haven’t used either of this brand of ring sling. I like that the standard ring sling is organic cotton as babies do suck on the fabric. The water ring sling would be good for showering with a baby that will just not tolerate being put down. I personally wouldn’t buy one for bathing in the summer in NZ because it’s generally not warm enough and the risks of being in the sun for more than 15-30mins with baby’s delicate skin is too great. Lightweight and quick dry is handy, but the material is synthetic.

Price: Water ring sling new $125, Cotton $170, Second hand still around $100 markjpmb ring sling

Je porte mon bebe (JPMBB)

These ring slings are made from the same material as the JPMBB hybrid wrap around sling. It’s made of synthetic material that is flexible – has stretch, but also holds it’s tension.

  • Lightweight, knitted, synthetic material with OekoTex100 certification (which means it’s well tested for any toxins)
  • Colours are reversible
  • Pad over the rings to cushion the baby and wearer from the metal rings
  • Gathered shoulder
  • Made in Europe
  • No padding on the edges
  • Open tailed

This material is really interesting. It feels nice, but unnatural. The company really know their product having developed it for their purposes. I’m not a bit fan of the look of the pad that covers the rings, but hey you might be!

Price: $159 new

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Like Ester, Kelsey custom makes ring slings, often from long woven wraps that people want converted.

  • Material is normally woven
  • Shoulder is a box pleat that I’ve heard on good authority is one of the most comfortable shoulders ever
  • As Kelsey often converts long woven wraps into two ring slings, one is often for sale
  • Padding free and open tailed

Price: Normally between $90-$120 depending on the material used

 

Didymos

These ring slings are made from the same material as the Didymos Woven Wrap around slings. Didymos

  • Either 100% organic cotton or 50% organic cotton/50% hemp
  • Gathered shoulder
  • No padding
  • Open tailed

I really like the Didymos woven material. It’s strong and durable, yet soft and easy to work with. The cotton hemp blends are great and the wool blends are just scrummy for cooler climates.

Price: $139-180ish depending on the material blend

Tula

  • Woven Cotton/Tencel blend
  • Gathered shoulder
  • No padding
  • Open tailed
  • Converted from the Tula woven wrap around sling

 

There are definitely more ring slings than those I have mentioned available on the market. These are the main ones available in New Zealand. You really can’t go wrong with a woven 100% cotton (ideally organic) or blend ring sling. They take a bit of practice to get the knack of adjusting firmly and comfortably, especially on that bottom rail for those wee leg straighteners out there! They’re a great quick (once you’ve ‘got it’) carrier for those short dashes into the shop or to pick older children up from school. I’m not a bit fan of one shoulder carries for long periods. Try to swap shoulders and look after your own body!