Every month we feature a carry or carrier to highlight at our monthly meetings and online (“BWITCCOTM” stands for Babywearing International of the Twin Cities Carry or Carrier of the Month).

This month we are featuring ring sling baby carriers and specifically focusing on different types of shoulders.

Image is a collage of six photos featuring women wearing ring slings of different types of shoulders like gathered, pleated, hybrid; two of the photos are of the ring slings themselves on a table. The text overlaying the collage says May 2017 hashtag BWITCCOTM over large text that says Ring Sling Shoulders with the black logo of Babywearing International of the Twin Cities below. The text is encircled by two aqua double half circles above and below to resemble rings.]

Did you know ring slings have different shoulder options? Some baby carrier companies only offer one type of shoulder. Maybe you’re someone who tried on a friend’s ring sling and found it so uncomfortable, you decided ring slings aren’t for you. Or maybe you bought a ring sling because you were drawn to the beautiful colors and when you tried it on, it made your back hurt within minutes and got put in the “never again” pile. Often times the discomfort from using a baby carrier can be troubleshooted with a few adjustments. However, some times it’s a matter of finding the right type of baby carrier for each person. Ring slings come in all different fabric blends but also in a variety of ring sling shoulder types including, but not limited to, simple gathered, floating gathered, eesti, hot dog, pleated, and padded. Know your options and try them out to find your best fit!

Simple Gathered Shoulder

A simple gathered shoulder typically has the shoulder sewn approximately 5-8 inches from the rings. A wearer is able to get a good spread of fabric across the shoulder and back.

Image of a smiling white male wearing a sleeping baby on his front in a black and blue ring sling baby carrier with blue rings and a gathered shoulder type. They are against an off white wall.

Image featuring the shoulder of a wearer using a light blue to white ring sling baby carrier with silver rings and a gathered shoulder.

Floating Gathered Shoulder

A floating gathered shoulder is sewn farther back from the rings than a simple gathered shoulder (approximately 11-12 inches versus 5-8 inches, for example).

Image of a light tan skin bespectacled Asian woman in a dark down jacket wearing a toddler in a purple down jacket on her hip using a red and orange patterned ring sling baby carrier with bronze rings with a floating shoulder. They are outside in the frigid cold air with blue skies above.

Pleated Shoulder

A pleated shoulder ring sling has the fabric in a narrower distribution near the rings by pleating the fabric, but still spreads widely across the back.

Image of a white woman kissing a smiling baby on the forehead. The baby is worn on her hip in a black and rainbow ring sling baby carrier with blue rings and a pleated shoulder. They are outside on a sunny day.

Hybrid Shoulder

There are many types of hybrid shoulders, many are brand-specific. Some provide more padding than others and may spread out to cup the shoulder differently depending on how the fabric is bunched and sewn.

Image of a white woman with dark hair smiling at the viewer with a sleeping baby on her front in a green ring sling with a hybrid shoulder borrowed from the local babywearing group's lending library.

Eesti Shoulder

The Eesti shoulder is a patented shoulder style created by Karen Hoppis and used with permission by Sleeping Baby Productions. It is a hybrid, modified gathered shoulder. From Sleeping Baby Production’s website: “The Eesti shoulder is a modified gathered shoulder, in that some of the sling’s width is taken up in two small pleats on either side of the shoulder. This allows the shoulder to spread out more than my standard pleats, while keeping it somewhat more contained than a fully gathered shoulder (in which the fabric is simply brought through the rings and stitched in with no folds or pleats).”

Image of a smiling white woman with short hair wearing a toddler close enough to kiss on her front in a light blue and white ring sling baby carrier with blue rings in the corsage position. The type of ring sling shoulder featured is called an eesti shoulder. They are outside.]

Attend a free babywearing meeting (https://babywearingtwincities.org/meetings/) to see if there is a ring sling that fits you best. Volunteer babywearing educators (VBEs) will be present to demonstrate how to use ring slings and explain the differences between the shoulders.

Image of two smiling white women standing against a solid wall in a meeting room that's being used for a babywearing meeting. The woman on the right is holding a brown skin demonstration doll on her chest who is sitting partway in a bright blue and orange striped lending library ring sling baby carrier, teaching the woman on the left how to use a ring sling. The woman on the left has a child over one shoulder as she guides the child's legs into a blue ring sling baby carrier.
Ring Sling Demonstration


Choosing a Baby Carrier: https://babywearinginternational.org/what-is-babywearing/choosing-a-baby-carrier/

Ring Sling Shoulders from Babywearing Dallas (photos): http://www.babywearingdallas.com/ring-sling-shoulders/

Ring Sling Shoulders from Babywearing 102 (photos): http://babywearing102.tumblr.com/post/52795393030/ring-sling-shoulders

Ring Sling Basics by Tandem Trouble (video with captions): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKt8fB2nO60&t=13s

Tutorials on Threading/Trouble Shooting/Getting a Good Seat/Front Carry/Hip Carry with a Ring Sling (videos): http://babywearinginternational.org/what-is-babywearing/babywearing-resources/ring-sling/

Optimal Ring Sling Positioning (photo): http://babywearinginternational.org/2014/12/29/optimal-positioning-cards/rs-85×11-01/#main

Jan Andrea’s Ring Sling Shoulder Styles from Sleeping Baby Productions (photos): http://www.sleepingbaby.net/shoulders.php

How to Switch Shoulders of Your Ring Sling Without Disrupting Baby (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=20P1cEPZwVU&app=desktop

The Amazing Versatility of a Ring Sling (uses for ring slings other than wearing your baby): https://babywearingtwincities.org/2017/01/07/the-amazing-versatility-of-a-ring-sling/

BWITC Pinterest Board on Ring Slings (videos and photos): https://www.pinterest.com/bwitc/ring-slings/

If you have any questions about babywearing, we encourage you to contact us and/or come learn in person at one of our meetings! Check out our Instagram @Babywearing.Twin.Cities and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Babywearingtwincities/).

Images have image descriptions in the alternative text accessible to those who use screen readers.

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