Onto the third and final part of my series on the three basic types of baby carrier: the ring sling.
This is probably the image that comes into your head when you think "babywearing". A ring sling is a relatively short piece of firm, woven material with two rings at one end, which are used to fasten the sling around you. The look can range from hippie-dippie to smart casual depending on what kind of pattern you choose, although perhaps it says a lot about the babywearing community that most materials are more Woodstock than boardroom.
You need a ring sling if:
* you want something compact: definitely the least bulky of the three options, a ring sling is small enough to stuff in your purse or diaper bag
* you want something versatile: despite its small size, the ring sling offers many different carrying options, including a horizontal cradle hold, up-right front, side and back variations.
* you don't mind that learning how to carry your baby might be a bit tricky: proponents of the ring sling love that it is so adustable. Unlike the soft wrap, which is tied in place before the baby is inserted, the simple structure of the ring sling allows you to adjust the material around the baby. On the downside this means you need some practice to get the right fit.
What to remember when picking a model:
* as for the wrap, pick a colour that goes with most of your outfits. For example, I chose plain grey and grey stripes for mine.
* some companies allow you to choose between a gathered or pleated end - the former is supposedly even more adjustable, whereas the second looks tidier.
* depending on your climate, check the weight of the material
Why I bought a ring sling
Although I liked their compact size, ring slings looked a bit to sparse and difficult to use on my newborn baby (seeing as I wouldn't have anyone around showing me how to use it). I also thought I was set with the structured carrier and soft wrap. And then I read a comment on some forum about how the only problem with the soft wrap was finding time to wash and dry it at night after baby had spit up on it all day...
In my minimalist daze I hadn't factored baby's messiness into the equation. Added to the fact that Brazilian washing machines are rudimentary and dryers practically non-existent it was clear I needed a back-up. I chose a ring sling (rather than perhaps a simpler structured carrier like a mai tai or another soft wrap) as it is compact and versatile - and as its a back-up I will have time to practice fitting it around the baby.