Babywearing with Jess


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The Humble Ring Sling…

A ring sling is probably one of my most ustilised and favourite of all the carriers… There is a perception that because of the one shouldered nature they are only good for a certain timeframe or if used in a certain way.

 

I considered myself quite ‘practised’ with a ring sling before doing the Slingababy Consultant Training in Christchurch… I remember after having a somewhat ‘unsettling’ process trying to relearn my self taught wrapping technique for the first two days, I said to my husband on the third morning as I looked at the itinerary, “oh shit, its ring slings this morning… what the hell am I going to have to ‘unlearn’ here so I can better teach people?!”

 

I couldn’t help but instantly feel a bit defensive as I walked into that module. I have used a ring sling for a long time, unlike a woven wrap. I would even go so far to say I have been a bit obsessed! I have used a ring sling with Jai almost every day since he was born fifteen months ago, I just feed him to sleep in one before laying him in his bed and writing this…

In fact, I have used a ring sling on my parenting journey with Jai even before he was born! I got my first ring sling when Josh was about 15 months old, since then I have added an extra five to my stash. While I ‘may’ have used the excuse that they are for my library but if I am completely honest, I just like to have one in the entrance way, one in the car, one in the office.. And then also, there are so many beautiful options out there, I just wanted more of them! πŸ˜‰

 

There are honestly so many occasions I can think of that a quick up in a ring sling has saved my backside in this juggle with two kids. So many times that chucking Jai up quickly has made things possible for me to balance life…

 

 

Turns out my hesitation wasn’t necessary though. I guess I felt validated the way I have been using it this whole time is essentially pretty close to the method I would use to show someone.. There where tips and tricks about making processes and understandings clearer for teaching (like “the price is right” and “sunrays”) and new ways to use one of my most prized parenting tools since my little dude was born.

I won’t reinvent the wheel here and write more about the various adaptions and approaches we were shown as some of the amazing prior Slingabay trainees have done that for me, so I will just share a great article to check out. It’s by Rosie Knowles (who is among other things a GP), she operates Sheffield Sling Surgery in the UK – http://www.sheffieldslingsurgery.co.uk/ring-slings-how-do-i-love-thee-let-me-count-the-ways/

I learnt many cool things at the training, about ring slings alone. For something I felt I already really had a grasp on, it was eye opening. I haven’t actually used a ring sling the same since we did this training module. The process also inspired me to view my ‘prior knowledge’ about carriers differently and to experiment outside the ‘rules’ more..

 

 

It is also commonly that I get asked if Jai is getting too heavy for the ring sling.. Short answer, he’s not. I still carry Josh in a ring sling occasionally at nearly four years old… When they are bigger and heavy, I find the aspects of positioning like ‘cupping your shoulder’ and ‘bringing your slack to the tightening system’ are more important to make the carry comfortable for me but I can still happily carry Josh in one at almost 20kgs and in size 4-5 clothes…

 

 

If you want to learn more about the various ways and techniques to use your ring sling, check out your local sling meet or contact me for a ‘skills development based’ workshop or Skype consultation. You could also come along to a workshop at MAMA Maternity, next one is this coming Monday, 26th September, 2016 at 1030am-12pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/664969533661104/).

Have you got a different way you use a ring sling than those in Rosie’s article? I would love it if you could share it with me! πŸ™‚


1 Comment

Taming the beast!

I am a massive ring sling fan, I have worn one pretty much everyday for over the last year! My first open tail woven converted ring sling was a Girasol Saltillo which I got when Josh was 18 months old. It was the first ever thing I wore Jai in only a few hours old!

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Not long after he was born and I realised how much of a ring sling fan I was, a friend and I went halves in getting a Natibaby Oxytocin wrap converted into a ring sling by K.I Designs. It is a cotton/hemp blend and the extra stiffness and bulk added by the hemp has completely softened after a year of use! It is my go to ring sling, partly because of the wrap having a “right” and “wrong” side (different look to the print), which makes it easier to spot which way is up and avoid getting myself twisted or tangled with quick ups and downs.

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But now my youngest boy is nearly 14 kgs, despite only just having turned one.. and when my threenager has super epic hormone surging meltdowns and tantrums, it is still a ring sling which I would first reach for first and I thought it might be time to look at getting something even more “toddler worthy”…

So I recently purchased a heavy duty woven wrap that had been made into a ring sling, Poe Chevron converted by Island Customs, as part of a fundraising auction for a new babywearing group being established in Geraldine, a small town down the line in the South Island of New Zealand.

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I knew it was a heavy duty wrap before purchasing it, Poe Chevron is a 425 g/m2Β wrap, the weave is made of four different threads, as opposed to two in a standard Poe woven. It is noticeably thicker and heavier than a standard woven wrap.

And both beastly and beautiful it sure is, just like the threenager I am planning to use it to help me tame πŸ˜‰ but when it first arrived, it was hard work even threading it or tighten through the rings… Not that it was of any concern to my snuggly 3.5 year old who cuddled right in and said “it’s like a snuggle blanket!!”

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Which is lovely but on that first try, I needed some serious bicep power and fiddling to adjust it. Which isnt unexpected with a thicker or heavier weave ring sling wrap conversion.. My hemp/cotton Natibaby took a while to easily glide through the rings as I adjusted it…

But Poe Chevron is a whole different ball game, and as I blogged about recently, my go to approach of a wrap hammock to soften and break in my wraps with my kids help, isn’t going to work the same with a ring sling!

So here’s what I have done so far, because I said I would share the process with you! πŸ˜‰

First, and this is seriously essential, you need to wash your wrap. When wraps arrive new to you, they are often in what is called “loom state”. They have just come off the loom, the weave hasn’t had a chance to settle into place. It is wise to always check the care instructions for your particular wrap on the manufacturers website or in an instructional booklet if you have one, even wraps of the same blend may require different care so it’s safest not to assume anything and double check!

So in this case, following the guidelines on the Poe website, I used a cold wash on a delicates cycle and liquid detergent. I then tumble dried and gave it a through steam iron on the cotton setting.

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Once I had done those steps, it already felt a little softer and mouldable.. But the thing with a ring sling is you are pulling a piece of material, in this case 66cm wide through and between two metal rings, which in this case are about 8.5cm in diameter. There is always going to be some “work” required to soften up that gliding action of the material through the two rings.

The best way to soften or ease that process is by doing it really… Today we had a movie afternoon because we were all feeling average after a long week. So after Mr 3.5 and I went to the video shop and got some DVDs, we sat on the couch together, and while we watched, I sat and pulled the material through the rings and back again.


(riveting photage I know! Haha)

This is a seriously heavy duty wrap, despite changing sides and taking a break, my arms where sore after a while!! So I resorted to an alternative approach of tightening and loosening it as I was wearing it (thanks again Jai for your hands on help with that video hahah).

I’ve already given it another steam iron and will probably sit and pull it through and back again as my husband and I watch something on Netflix later but it’s already noticeably easier to pull through…

We will soften and tame this beast yet! πŸ˜‰