The best ring slings help you connect through touch with your baby or toddler, while allowing you to keep your hands free. They’re a wonderful tool to help you do what you need to do while keeping your little one close. Many parents swear by their ring slings!
There are lots of choices on the market, so you need to choose the best ring sling that suits your needs and lifestyle. I’ll take you through the benefits and drawbacks of different types of ring slings. Then, I’ll tell you why I chose the favorites I selected.
The top ring slings of 2020 include:
- Nalakai Luxury Ring Sling — Best Overall
- MEBIEN Baby Wrap Ring Sling — Runner Up
- Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling — Best Hand-Woven Ring Sling
- Kids N’ Such 4-in-1 Baby Wrap — Best Budget
- Biubee Water Sling Baby Carrier — Best for Swimming
How to Pick a Ring Sling
Ring slings aren’t one type fits all. It’s important to find the right model for you and your baby or toddler. In this guide, I’ll take you through materials as well as the different styles for newborns and toddlers.
Although ring slings are made of one piece of fabric, they come in a range of sizes, which can be tricky to figure out.
Some brands use one-size-fits-all sizing, whereas others use their own sizing — usually small, medium, large, etc.
However, the standard length of a ring sling fabric is 5.9 feet or 1.8 meters.
Most ring slings are made of a woven wrap fabric that’s sewn onto two durable aluminum rings. These offer an excellent diagonal stretch that creates a supportive hold for babies and tots alike.
There are lots of material options available, such as:
Cotton, bamboo, and linen are personal favorites since they’re easy to care for and soft against a child’s delicate skin. Further, they’re among the most eco-friendly fabrics.
The best material for you depends on your preferences. However, it’s essential to consider the climate you’ll be using it in. Some fabrics are more suited for hot weather as they’re light and breathable. On the other hand, multi-layered wraps provide more insulation during the colder months of the year.
Some carriers come with a handy zippered pocket where you can store things like cash or cards.
There are two main types of shoulder styles: pleated and gathered.
Pleated shoulder generally uses accordion or boxed pleats — although there are many more options. Pleated ring slings are easy to put on as the fabric won’t move around the ring as much.
The gathered option is more prevalent among woven wraps. The fabric is sewn from one side to the other in a straight line, which creates a gathered shoulder.
How to Wear a Ring Sling
Wearing a ring sling is easier than regular baby wraps due to the over-the-shoulder style and the addition of the rings. It’s a good idea to practice thoroughly with a doll before using a ring sling with a baby. Here’s a quick guide to help you get the baby carrier on the right way:
- Place it over the opposite shoulder from where you usually carry your baby.
- Spread the fabric over your shoulder and allow the rings to rest just above your chest.
- Drape the long piece of fabric down your back and do a “butler flip.” Pull the fabric under your arm so that it lies across your torso.
- Draw the material through the rings entirely, then down through the top ring. Sort the fabric through the rings so it doesn’t overlap.
- Wrap baby snugly into the sling and tighten the fabric as needed.
Stroller vs. Baby Carrier
Parents often decide whether they’d prefer to carry their baby in a stroller or in a carrier — some choose both. Here’s a quick pros and cons list to help you make up your mind:
Ring Sling Pros:
- Allows you to keep your baby close at all times
- Easy mobility in crowded areas
- You can breastfeed on the go using a ring sling
- You can do chores or other activities with your hands free
Ring Sling Cons:
- Not suitable if you have back or neck problems.
- Risks of dropping the baby if it isn’t attached correctly.
- Easy to cover large distances without neck or shoulder pain
- You have a place to carry other essentials such as wipes and diapers
- Ideal choice for multiples since you can carry more than one child at a time
- Risk of overheating isn’t as prevalent since the baby isn’t so close to you
- It can be challenging to move around in crowded areas or going in and out of smaller shops.
- It’s tougher to connect with or comfort a baby you’re not holding.
- Some strollers can be cumbersome and tricky to fold.
Are Ring Slings Safe for Newborns?
Baby slings for newborns are safe as long as you’re following the right safety guidelines provided by the product. Although, it’s important to note that they can pose a suffocation risk to infants under four months of age.
A baby carrier for newborn babies has to support their neck well. Ensure your baby’s airways are unobstructed and keep an eye on them regularly while in the sling.
The best sling for newborn babies include the Nalakai Luxury Ring Sling. It’s CPSIA and ASTM compliant.
Which Is Better Ring Sling or Wrap?
This is a question of personal preference. A baby sling wrap is draped over both shoulders, which distributes the weight of the baby better. This enables you to carry your baby for longer.
On the other hand, wrap carriers can be super challenging to put on, so it requires some practice.
Ring slings are easier to figure out; however, they can take a toll on the shoulder and neck.
Are Ring Slings Hands Free?
One of the main perks of ring slings is the fact that you get both hands free. Parents of multiples find slings highly beneficial as they enable you to take care of your toddler while calming your baby.
Can You Breastfeed in a Ring Sling?
Is there such a thing as a breastfeeding sling? Ring slings are actually very handy when it comes to feeding your little one in public.
The great thing about this type of carrier is that baby is already close to your chest — a newborn will probably already be in the right position.
Simply guide your baby to your breast and if you’re feeling shy, use the excess fabric as a cover.
What Factors Drove Our Ratings?
- Material: Breathable fabrics are preferred, such as cotton or a cotton blend with linen or bamboo.
- Weave: A firmer weave — such as cross — that softens with use is optimal if you want to keep using the sling into toddler-hood.
- Aluminum rings: Must be able to hold up to use and abuse for a long time.
Review of the Best Ring Slings
Ring slings are excellent in that they help you keep your baby close without losing a hand or two. Furthermore, ring slings are more compact and easier to carry in a bag compared to other baby-wearing options.
Without further ado, here are my top five ring slings for 2020:
Our Top-Rated Best Ring Sling — Overall
With this soft bamboo and linen blend, you can carry your baby snuggly with less sweating — even during hot summer days. Furthermore, bamboo offers natural UV protection by eliminating up to 97.5 percent of rays. The Nalakai Luxury Ring Sling is available in 20 luxury color options, with the most popular being Warm Sand.
The bamboo material won’t stretch out over time, enabling you to keep using the sling over a long period. Moreover, it ensures a snug and secure fit even with extended use.
The sling ensures your baby is in a comfortable position that won’t interfere with their hip development. Additionally, you can carry your baby in various positions — I recommend trying front-carrying if your baby has tummy issues as this position gently massages your baby’s belly.
In April 2019, Kameron Thayne said: “I love this sling. The only reason I am giving it 4 stars is because I feel like I have to tighten it often. It is very light, and my baby feels safe. I will definitely be purchasing another one.”
Negatives? Some said the sling would loosen slightly when walking about.
Our Top-Rated Best Ring Sling — Runner Up
This Turkish cotton muslin ring sling is an excellent option for anyone looking for easy maintenance and soft fabric. The material contains no softening agents, chemicals, or artificial fragrances.
The MEBIEN Baby Wrap Ring Sling is designed using an open weave that makes the sling highly breathable, excellent for going out during the summer. Furthermore, the open weave is naturally wrinkled, so you won’t have to iron it as often.
The thin muslin material is lightweight and easy to carry in a bag or in your hand when not needed. You can choose between four color options that suit your taste and style.
It’s safe to use with newborns and you can continue to use it up to 35 pounds. Furthermore, it comes in one size that’s long and suitable for bigger mommies.
Juanita Hock said the following in March 2019: “This baby sling is easy to use. The material is soft, lightweight, neither baby or mom got hot or overheated while using it. Supports baby securely so that your hands are free for other things.”
Negatives? Some said the material did not have enough stretch.
Our Top-Rated Best Ring Sling — Hand-Woven
This hand-woven sling from Hip Baby Wrap is made of 100 percent pure cotton that’s soft to the touch and breathable. The Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling can be used with babies as small as 8 pounds all the way up to 35 pounds.
Its ergonomic design helps to distribute the baby’s weight comfortably across your shoulder and neck. The rings are made of durable aluminum that can withstand use and abuse.
It’s available in a range of colors, patterns, and weaves. Each sling is dyed using natural, eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes.
In July 2017, Kayla Johnson said: “I am super impressed by this sling! I’ve tried some of the high-end slings and found this one to be just as comfortable. There are differences though, the fabric isn’t as heavy (which is nice for this crazy hot weather) so it doesn’t feel as supportive of baby’s weight.”
Negatives? The color can bleed slightly when washed, so make sure you wash it separately.
Our Top-Rated Best Ring Sling — Budget
If you’re struggling to choose between a baby wrap and a ring sling, this model might solve your problems. The Kids N’ Such 4-in-1 Baby Wrap is a four-in-one baby carrying sling that can be used as a wrap and a sling. Furthermore, you can also use it as a postpartum belt and nursing cover.
If you’re doing small chores around the house, attach the rings — when going out for longer errands, wrap your baby up. The carrier is made of a cotton blend that’s ultra-soft as well as breathable. It’s easily suitable for men and women; simply adjust the rings or the wrap.
The carrier is available in subtle but stylish colors, including striped gray and solid black.
Cassie Zacharias, in June 2019, said: “Machine washable?! Yes please! My big toddler fits inside with plenty of room to adjust both ways of use (wrap & sling). I like that I can do either and I love how soft & comfy it is. My baby loves to be held, so this helps us avoid meltdowns & the instructions make it easy to use.”
Negatives? Some said they found it a bit warm.
Our Top-Rated Best Ring Sling — Swimming
Made of stretchy nylon mesh, the Biubee Water Sling Baby Carrier is soft to the touch and breathable. It’s excellent for summer use when you go to the pool or beach — no more worrying about dropping your slippery baby in the water with this model.
It features two nylon plastic rings that won’t rust or corrode when used in water. It’s suited for newborns up to 35 pounds.
Sarah A. Ener said the following in November 2019: “It is fairly easy to use. I have another ring sling and it is more bulky. However, the Buibee tends to slip a little when it is not wet and tightening it up is a little tricky. It has been great for its purpose both at the pool and in the shower. I am glad I purchased it.”
Negatives? Some said that the fabric was too narrow.
Other Tools to Help You Get the Most out of Your Ring Sling
In addition to a good ring sling, here are a few things I found to be helpful:
- A carrying bag or pouch: Many slings already include a handy pouch; however, if yours doesn’t, consider purchasing one on the side. These enable you to easily transport the sling or store it safely until needed.
- Additional rings: Having a few backups is always handy — you never know if one gets lost in the laundry or accidentally breaks.
Babywearing Made Easy
So, what is the best ring sling? My top choice is the Nalakai Luxury Ring Sling that features a soft and cool bamboo material. Your baby will be comfortable and protected from the sun.
Which one you’d prefer is a personal preference. I highly recommend that you choose a breathable material to ensure your baby won’t overheat or become uncomfortable.