Baby Sling Carrying Positions
Pictured below are some of the most used carrying positions using a ring style baby sling. These positions can be used with any ring sling, including HAVA (our favorite), SlingEZee and Maya Wrap baby slings.
Cradle Hold - Semi upright
Great for the first month or two, this hold offers baby a reclining position while enabling
them to have a peek out into the world around them. Baby’s head rests below the rings, with her
feet remaining inside the sling.
Cradle Hold - Horizontal
Excellent for discreet nursing or for sleeping, this position places baby’s head opposite
the rings. During the first couple of months, baby’s feet may fit snuggly in the sling. When
baby is bigger, his feet may hang out.
The clutch hold is perfect for nursing during the first couple of months. Baby’s head is
in front of the breast, with her legs curled beneath mom’s arm on that same side. Mom’s arm
supports baby, with her opposite arm free to help baby obtain latch on.
A favorite carrying or sleeping position for many, this position offers baby a cozy
feeling. Baby sits in a pouch created from the lower railing of the sling, with his feet hanging out.
This position is excellent for a baby with good head control who likes to see the world
around them. Baby sits cross-legged at the bottom of the pouch. This is a great tool for
keeping archers tame.
Safety Hip Straddle
When baby can sit up, then she can be carried in the hip straddle. One variation of the
hip straddle is the safety hip straddle, in which baby sits farther back on the hip, with
mom or dad’s arm in front of them. Toddlers love watching and learning in this position.
Tummy to Tummy
This position is perfect for babies from birth to 3 months. Babies just want
to close to their parents, and this position keeps them so close to your face
where you can offer sweet kisses to your baby's forehead. This position a perfect
position for your baby to sleep in.
The Hip carry is the
most often used position
for children 6 months
old or older - as soon
as baby can hold his/her
head up. It's a great
way for your child to
be close to you while
still able to look around
and explore the world
the way many children
love to do.
Wearing your Sling Correctly
The most important tips I’ve learned are these: 1) Make sure your sling is positioned so that your shoulder pad is angled on the cap of your shoulder, rather than on top of your shoulder. 2) Make sure your rings are positioned between your shoulder and breast. 3) Make sure your sling material is spread out across your back as much as possible, distributing the baby’s weight correctly.
For five years, I wore my sling incorrectly by placing my shoulder pad on top of my shoulder. I wanted to make sure that my arm was totally free, but I wasn’t doing myself any favors - I was causing back pain! Now, I wear my shoulder pad on the cap of my shoulder (so the shoulder pad is diagonal instead of horizontal). The fabric covers my arm slightly, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and it doesn’t bother me. If I need to reach something high, I move the shoulder pad on top of my shoulder for a second, then put it back in it’s proper place - no big deal!
Regarding ring placement, sometimes it helps to start with the rings “too high”, so that when you tighten your sling, they end up in the right spot. If the rings are too high, they may cut into your shoulder. If they are too low, your back may feel strained.
If my back starts hurting me while I’m wearing my sling, I first check to make sure my sling fabric is spread out correctly. With the arm that the shoulder pad is above, I reach behind my back and pull the sling fabric as far down my back as I can directly under the shoulder pad. Spreading the fabric out in this way helps distribute baby’s weight, and gets rid of back pain. Keep in mind that if your shoulder pad is sitting on top of your shoulder, instead of being angled on your shoulder cap, you will not be able to spread out your sling fabric correctly. Therefore, weight will not be distributed correctly and you will suffer from back pain. Another error which messes up weight distribution is when top and bottom rails criss-cross.
Did you know that the top and bottom rails of your sling can be adjusted independently? This is called 'bubbling,’ and it’s a great tool to learn when wearing your baby in a sling. Obtaining a snug fit is necessary for comfort, and sometimes one rail needs to be tighter than the other! To “bubble” your sling, clutch the fabric below the rings that corresponds to the top or bottom edge of the fabric that you want to tighten. Pull it to tighten that portion of the sling independently.
If you would like additional information on proper sling wearing and baby positions, we recommend viewing the HAVA instructional video. “The Baby Book” by William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R. N. is also an excellent source of information, with a chapter dedicated to baby wearing. For hands-on help, there’s nothing like going to a La Leche League meeting where there are often experienced baby wearing moms present.
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