We often get questions at our meetings or in our local online group about difficulties and tips when using ring slings. Sometimes it’s just a quick adjustment or two that makes all the difference in the world.
Some or all of the following tips MAY help you if you’re struggling with getting a ring sling on comfortably for you and your babe. These tips are for a baby being worn legs out (not legs in froggy style) facing in toward the caregiver in a chest to chest or tummy to tummy position, not a cradled position. These tips also apply for an older child who is in a hip carry position. We recommend keeping the baby in an upright position unless the baby is actively nursing.
A younger baby with legs out will be in an even more exaggerated position than you’d see with an older baby or toddler, with knees not as spread out, but higher above the tush (think of keeping the knees up high, not out wide). The goal is to mimic their natural fetal/ young baby position, or the position that you would naturally carry the child in. The ring sling is just a tool to help keep babe in their natural position more easily.
Some things you can try
Note, some of these tips and tricks say left/right. They were written with the idea of a ring sling with the rings on the right shoulder. If you’re putting the rings on the left side, it’s the opposite. We’re going to call the baby/child “her” for the sake of consistency.
Before you put her in, set it up- check that it’s loose enough that you can pop her in, but doesn’t have a ton of excess room.
Place the rings on the upper part of your shoulder, near the outside (i.e. not close to your neck, if it’s too close to your neck you may find it rides to your neck when you tighten).
Spread it wide across your back, it will help better distribute her weight.
Tighten it from your back to your elbow (what this does is make it more snug before adjusting… otherwise when you pull the rings they’ll end up at your bellybutton).
When you place her in the sling, pull the material snug across her back towards the rings so the slack is near the rings.
To help get a deep seat, you can take your right hand and reach under the rings, to her belly. Reach down and grab the material and pull it up as high as you can between you and her- to her bellybutton if possible. Either now, or as you are tightening, if you lean forward a little and wiggle a bit, you can help get the babies tush into a really deep seat. You will still need to support the babe while doing this.
When you start to tighten, instead of giving the sling one huge yank, pull it close to the rings- at the top rail (the rail near her neck), middle in 1-3 spots across, and bottom rail (rail near her legs). Repeat as needed. If you give it strong pulls you’re likely to have the material bunch up in the rings and have difficulty tightening.
When tightening, pull the top rail area out to the front and center of your body, and the bottom rail out to the front and to the right of you (if you get the idea).
If it seems like the material is hard to pull through the rings take your left and and very gently lift her up, just a touch, so her weight isn’t working against you tightening the rings.
If you see an area that is still loose (let’s say the top and bottom rails are tight but there is a loose area at her back- find the area of the tail that correlates to that area (i.e. the middle) and just tighten that area.
Goal is to have the rings in the corsage area of your chest. If it ends up higher or lower, that’s fine if it’s comfortable. If you’re short, there might not seem like a lot of room between baby/rings/your shoulder, and unless you plan to grow, there’s not much you can do about that.
The goal is a deep seat, with her seat lower than her knees. If she a little older, and has good head and neck control, she can keep her arms in or out if she is awake. Try and give the knees/feet an “up and in”. This is where you can gently push their legs/feet up into a more deep squat position. It will help give them a better seat and also increase their comfort. Check to make sure you still have good knee to knee coverage of the sling. With a nice deep seat, this should not be a problem.
You can use the tail behind her head to make little pillow if she falls asleep by rolling it behind her head in the top rail.
If you find that the rings are a little lower than you like (or your tail is long) you can wrap the tail through/around the rings to make it more comfy if she happens to be close. As long as the rings are laying relatively flat and comfy, it’s fine.
A lot of babes fuss or cry if they don’t have a good seat or the RS isn’t high enough/snug enough. It is a game between figuring out tight enough (to be comfy) and too tight (and having certain brands ride off your shoulder and up your neck or loosing their seat).
If you over-tighten the bottom (bum) rail, there will be less support for her legs and tush, and she may try to straighten her legs or get out.
If you are using a ring sling that has a wider shoulder, and you find you have restricted mobility in your arm (the side that the rings are on) that you don’t like, there are tips for that as well. You can take the fabric on your arm, and fold it back up into a “cup” position. You will still have a large spread across your back to help distribute weight, but will have more mobility from that arm.
If you have a babe who just has a onesie on, a pair of baby leg warmers or socks (such as Babylegs or RockaThigh baby socks) can be a great way to keep their legs covered, and also give a little cushion between the back of their knees and the carrier.
ALL OF THESE TIPS AREN’T NECESSARY EVERY TIME. THESE ARE JUST SOME ITEMS YOU CAN TRY IF YOU ARE HAVING PROBLEMS!
Some caregivers find they can just pop their babe in, and are comfy from the start. And though this list seems long and a bit scary, it’s really just to help troubleshoot if you are having difficulties.
Using a ring sling is such a great skill to learn. It can be a real lifesaver for your back and hip, especially during the toddler years, when your little one wants to get up and down and up and down all day long. As they get older and you get more experienced, it really takes just a few seconds to get them in and be on your way.
If you have a babe who is fussy even though you feel like the ring sling is on in a comfortable position, some of the general carrying tips we talk about at meetings are also good to keep in mind:
Make sure she isn’t hungry.
Make sure her diaper is clean.
Make sure her clothes are long enough (sometimes with one piece outfits, when they bend their legs, the one piece footed clothes can be too tight on their feet and make them uncomfortable).
Bounce a bit while getting her in.
Take a walk, outside if the weather allows.
Keep trying, even if she only likes it for a few minutes at a time at first.
Good luck on your ring sing journey! This post contains a lot of information, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be happy you kept trying.
Growth and Growing Pains
BWI of Chicagoland has had enormous growth over the past year. In the first quarter of 2012, we had 14 meetings total. In the first quarter of this year we had 22 meetings! That is HUGE growth for our group. We’ve been working on adding new leaders, as well as answering questions on our closed, local, Facebook group. The Facebook group and frequent meetings have really been keeping everyone busy! Last June, our Facebook group had 415 people. We currently have 845 people as of today. We think this is FANTASTIC, but it has also been a bit overwhelming at times.
Why Does This Matter?
The group growth is great, and we LOVE to see so many folks in Illinois wearing their babies and children. We realized long ago that there are some unmet needs in Northern Illinois, but we weren’t at any point to focus on those areas. There is a large, uncovered area just west of our current activity that could use support as well. Over the past year or two, we have been getting a lot of requests to focus more westward, towards the Rockford area. We weren’t ready to make a move and tackle farther out. But now we are! Some of our current leadership team has decided it’s time to EXPAND and FOCUS on the outlying areas that seem to have a desperate need for support.
A New BWI Chapter!
We’d like to formally announce that a New Chapter, BWI of North Central Illinois, has been formed! It will focus on areas west of most of the current meetings. It will include Winnebago, Boone, Kane, Kendall, and Dekalb Counties. Tabitha, Rachel, Jacquelyn, and Christi will be the initial Volunteer Babywearing Educators (VBE’s) leading the new chapter.
The rest of us (Colleen, Heather, Janelle, Laura, and Susan) will continue with this current Chicagoland chapter, along with three new leaders we haven’t even had time to announce yet! The new leaders who will be helping us out a TON during this transition are Jenny Grant, Mary Haas, and Sara Stephenson. We’ll post more on them shortly, we promise.
We see this as a great expansion to the community that has grown in the northern part of Illinois.
Why make a new Chapter?
Well, we already cover a large geographical area. The Rockford area is about 90 miles from the City of Chicago if you map it on google maps. The new focus, including the Rockford area, is at least 30 miles west of the closest leader, and also over 35 miles west of the closest meeting we’ve ever had in McHenry County. Logistically, it is a smart choice.
What Does This Mean?
For some people, there will really be no observable change. If you are part of our group and ONLY have an online presence, it won’t affect you. The leaders who are becoming VBE’s for the new Chapter will still be active on our Facebook group, and we’re all SUPER excited about that. We’re all friends, and don’t want to lose that interaction together either. :)
Cook County and Lake County meetings won’t be affected by the new Chapter. The same leaders will still be coming to the current meetings, including Chicago, Mundelein, Gurnee, Northbrook, etc. Rachel will still be coming to many of Grayslake meetings, and we’ll have that one covered with other leaders as well. We also have some new folks in the pipeline who will be running those meetings very soon.
For people who have been yearning for the McHenry county meetings that went to the wayside… we are making a big push to get those re-established. We have a new leader in the area, and we have a few people in the pipeline who should be ready soon! It will be a primary focus of our group this summer. McHenry meetings and getting leaders ready for the Chicago meetings are our top two priorities.
People who have been visiting Christi and Jacquelyn in Sugar Grove or Sycamore will be affected. We see this as a good change. With a focus on some of the more western counties, they hope to expand and add additional meetings as their leadership team grows. The Kane/Kendall/DeKalb meeting that has been held in both Sugar Grove and Sycamore will move with the new Chapter, but you shouldn’t see any actual changes to the meetings themselves. They’re still going to have the meetings, the changes are more logistical and from our “behind the scenes” work and paperwork perspective.
The BEST Part?
We want and encourage you to attend any and all meetings near you, and feel free to participate in both groups. We’re hoping that both groups will be adding additional meetings and leaders in the near future. Though BWI members will need to pick which group to “borrow” from, everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend any get togethers/ meetups/ playdates/ meetings that they can! The future looks bright, and we’re excited about all these changes. We hope they will be positive changes for all of you as well!
We will be working closely together, and are looking forward to such a great partnership.
There will be a flurry of activity in the near future. We ask that you please be patient as we adjust to the temporary decrease in number of leaders, as we work to get a few more leaders up and running.
Here is the website for BWI of NCIL: http://bwiofncil.blogspot.com
Here is the new Facebook group for the BWI of NCIL: https://www.facebook.com/groups/166083276892689/
We’re all really excited about this change,
and are looking forward to a successful new Chapter in
BWI of North Central Illinois!
Please join us in sending a “wave” to the new Chapter!
It’s no surprise to anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area and looks outside. The snow has started to fall. WE NEED TO CANCEL THE CHICAGO MEETING FOR LATER TODAY IN ROGERS PARK.
The National weather service has issued a winter storm warning that just started (9am CST) and will be in effect through midnight tonight. Though the snow recently started, it looks like it will be peaking in intensity during the meeting, which will make travel difficult and dangerous. For additional details see this link: Weather.com link
We’re already assuming anyone who was planning to come to the Chicago meeting today looked outside and said “no way am I traveling today”. In case you still planned to come, we’d ask that you wait to see us until next time. We are officially canceling the meeting for later today.
If you are a BWI member and have a carrier checked out, you are free to keep it until the next monthly meeting. Alternatively, you can contact a leader through the group to arrange to swap the carrier out for another or return it.
If you have older children, and they are home on a snow day like mine are, I hope you get to enjoy the snow day together. The MASSIVE list of school closings can be found HERE.
Enjoy your day. Stay home and safe. We’ll meet up soon. The calendar tab will be updated as any additional meetings are scheduled!
The closed Facebook group has not been working this afternoon. Our local, closed group is where all of our online interactions happen. If you are on the OT Chit Chat group, please feel free to post there. We’re hoping it will be working soon, and have tried to report the problem.
All of the information for Friday’s playdate based meeting can also be found on the calendar tab of this website. There are no events scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, January 24th.
Stay tuned, stay warm, and have a cozy night!
Sorry for anyone reading this on their way out the door. Janelle’s boys are sick so she can not go to the meeting. Colleen realized as her kids and gear was all buckled in the van that the keys had been accidentally taken out of the house. There is no way to get a leader to the meeting today.
They’re in the midst of contacting Krystal. Please feel free to playdate there as long as you’d like, (or she wants to stay).
Contact Colleen, she can meet up with you in the Waukegan area to help or swap carriers out. Contact Heather, I can meet up in the Mundelein area to swap carriers as well. Or come to the babywearing 101 meeting on Friday in Mundelein, and we can help you out. Or feel free to come to the Saturday meeting in Northbrook, the Sunday meeting in Chicago, or the meeting next Friday in Mundelein.
We’re SO SORRY for the inconvenience, we’ll work out any issues or details with you all personally!
We want to thank all the individuals and businesses who have supported our group and it’s growth in the last year. We’re so thankful to have the support of a great group of caregivers.
Caregivers who are kind, knowledgeable, compassionate, and always ready to help another parent learn to use carriers. Moms, dads, nannies, grandparents, and foster parents have all contributed to our group this year, and we’re here to say THANKS!
Traveling for Thanksgiving?
If you are traveling over this holiday week and weekend, remember to bring your favorite carrier or two! One of the great benefits of babywearing is making your child feel comfortable and secure.
Holidays are a great time to connect with family and friends, but can also be a really stressful time for some people. Children can sense that stress from their caregivers. They can also get stressed out themselves as they are exposed to new people, locations, and experiences.
Using a carrier can keep your child happy and content. It can help breastfeeding moms feel more comfortable nursing their babes around others. It can also keep sick or overly excited family members from overstimulating those newborns too much! Enjoy your travels, and let your carriers help make the week a bit easier and less stressful.
Thanks for the Photos
A local photographer and member of our group, Hilary, volunteered to take photos for our group during IBW week. These gorgeous photos, with pumpkins in the mix for the kids shots, just reminded me of fall and Thanksgiving.
We’re showcasing some of the shots she took for our group. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
We hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween. It’s such a great time for creatively dressing up your carriers for the day (or whole weekend).
Trick-or-treating is a great time to wear a younger babe, while you try and keep up with an older one!
My favorite Halloween photo isn’t a combined babywearing costume (or even a very becoming photo), just my babe wrapped in a costume (and no clothes under) when we popped into a neighbor’s house to say Happy Halloween. But it holds fond memories so I’ll post it anyway.
A few of our members who DID use carriers to help care for their children during the Halloween festivities shared their photos with us. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!