By their nature, one-shouldered carriers like ring slings cannot be used for as long as two-shouldered carriers. The weight distribution is uneven and this will eventually cause pain. Swapping shoulders or taking a break is the only way to deal with this kind of pain.
However, most people can use these carriers for more than a few minutes unless they have previous injuries. If you’re experiencing pain in a short time frame and don’t have a reason to believe it’s your body, then it’s probably the carrier.
Some common causes of pain when using the ring sling can be the following:
– The rings are too low on the wearer’s body. If the rings are too low, the baby won’t be held as firmly and will “lean” out of the carrier which can cause pain. Ideally, they should be in the “corsage position” in the hollow of your shoulder. Often, the rings slip down when tightening. If you start with them sitting high up on your shoulder, as you tighten, they will settle into the right place. This takes a little practise!
– The top rail (the part of the fabric closest to your neck and the baby’s) is too loose. The baby should be held firmly against you. In an upright carry, he or she shouldn’t be slumped and you should only be able to fit a single hand between his/her chest and yours. If the top rail is too loose, the baby leans away from your centre of gravity causing pain.
– The baby is too low. Ideally, the baby’s bottom should be about inline with your navel in an upright carry. Keeping the baby up high takes a lot of the strain off your lower back.
– The baby is not sitting deeply enough in the seat creating a “dangle”. This is one of the harder things to do when using a ring sling. Ideally, the baby should be in an “m” position with knees above bottom. If the baby is sitting straighter than that, you can press up under his/her heels to help her settle into this position. Counterintuitively, if the bottom rail (the one running under baby’s knees) is too tight, this can inhibit a good seat.
– The shoulder is not spread widely enough. Spread the shoulder of the ring sling as widely as it will go, across your back and shoulder. This will distribute the baby’s weight across the widest range of your body.
– Cradle carries, facing out and cross-legged carries are more likely to cause pain since they don’t keep the baby as closely aligned with your centre of gravity. If you have a baby who likes to look around, feel free to shift even small babies across to a hip carry so they can see out- just make sure a small baby’s head and neck are well supported. You can roll a washcloth under the top rail to provide extra support if you need it.
Do you love your ring sling? Do you have any tips, tricks or troubleshooting to share? Got a problem and need a fix? Feel free to leave a comment!