faq about my slings and services:
- Are your slings safe?
- Are the rings included on my sling?
- Can you make my sling with a closed tail/padded rails/other features like another sling I saw? Will you make me a pouch sling or a mei tai/ABC?
- What's the difference between a padded sling and an unpadded one?
- How long can I use a sling?
- Does it hurt to wear a sling?
- What fabric should I buy?
- It's very hot where I live. What fabric do you recommend?
- What rings are better, nylon or aluminum?
- I'm having a boy/girl. What color should I get?
- What size should I get?
- Will you prethread my sling? Are there directions included?
- Can I send you a wrap to be made into a sling? How does that work?
- How long a wrap should I send you to have it redone as a sling?
- Why don't you make doll slings for kids anymore?
When worn correctly, a ring sling is very safe. Please read my baby sling safety page for much more information.
The rings are sewn in for safety and convenience. While you can make a sling without sewing, it's not as easy to use as one with sewn-in rings. I use the overlapping pleats shown on the construction page for comfort and visual appeal. The rings should not be cut off or removed for washing, but you should examine the stitching that holds them in on a regular basis. I have seen some very old slings of mine where the stitching was holding up great, but there's always a possibility that the fabric can tear if it is used and washed repeatedly for a long time -- this is true of any fabric-based article.
In a word, no. There are a lot of slings on the market right now, each with its own special features. I make my slings using my own design, and respect the work that others have done in designing theirs. I am willing to customize some features of your sling, like the fabrics, length, and addition of pockets and such, but I am not comfortable making direct copies of other peoples' work. If you want a sling that is just like XYZ's sling, you should order one from XYZ. I'm not saying this to be difficult; I am disappointed when someone copies my designs, and of course need to respect others' ideas myself.
As for other features that may not be a direct copy (like padded rails or different shoulder styles), I prefer not to do these simply because I don't have the practice necessary to do them professionally -- that is, I might be able to wing a hotdog or gathered shoulder, or stuff some padding into the edges, but it wouldn't look half as good as those done by seamstresses with more experience, and I'd prefer that the slings I sell look as nice as they should. I'd recommend looking at different WAHMs who specialize in those features and commissioning a custom sling from them.
In order to be sure that I am sewing each sling to my own high standards, I sew only the kind of sling I designed. If you are interested in a padded sling, you can try these sellers. As for pouch slings, I do not have much experience making them for others, and could not guarantee correct sizing, which is of the utmost importance in a pouch. I would recommend checking the sellers here. I am also not an expert on mei tais or ABCs; these companies are a better bet.
Most of the slings you can find in retail stores are heavily padded. These include the NoJo (aka Dr. Sears Original Baby Sling) and the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, as well as the Heart to Heart sling. They have a thick pad sewn in at the shoulder, and thick padding in the "rails" (the edges of the sling), and usually a "closed" tail (which means it's sewn into a strap or tube instead of having the fabric loose and draped). They work well for many parents, but if the size is not correct, it can be difficult to adjust the sling to fit -- the padding keeps a too-large sling from being tight enough, and if the sling is too small, the closed tail becomes the part in the rings, which can be unsafe and uncomfortable.
An unpadded sling is just that -- no padding. Many people find that the padding makes little difference when the shoulder is comfortable for them (after all, the same amount of weight is on your shoulder whether there's padding there or not), and I found an unpadded sling far easier to adjust, as both edges can be fully adjusted independently and as tightly or loosely as needed (for nursing, quick ins and outs, etc).
There are also "lightly padded" slings, which combine a thinner layer of padding in the shoulder and sometimes the rails, and which can provide the best of both worlds. The MayaWrap lightly padded sling is one of these -- it has a completely unique design that makes it very easy to use and extremely comfortable. If you think you might want a padded sling, I would recommend that one without hesitation.
Most slings have a stated weight limit of 35 lbs. Most fabrics and rings will hold much more weight. However, many parents find that by the time their child reaches 35 pounds, the child is more interested in walking than in being held, and that the parent's body is no longer cooperating with a one-shoulder carrier. So while you *can* use a sling for as long as your child and your body will let you, you will probably find yourself reaching for a carrier that goes on two shoulders (a wrap or mei tai) once your child is 25-35 lbs, depending on your physique. For reference, once my daughter Sophia was 3 years old and weighed about 32 lbs, I could still carry her for limited periods (2 hours or so) with a ring sling, but I found a mei tai to be much more comfortable for longer-term wearing. Then again, she rarely wanted to go in the sling by that age, unless she was tired, so my "babywearing muscles" weren't getting the regular workouts they used to! Your child, of course, may vary.
I see babywearing as a form of exercise. If you start off gradually (i.e. wearing a newborn, or a bigger baby for short periods), any discomfort should be minimal with a properly-worn carrier (sling, mei tai, wrap, or soft-structured carrier). As with any form of exercise, when muscles and systems are being used in a new way, you may experience some discomfort until your body gets used the new experience. However, real pain is a sign that you are doing too much too soon, and I would recommend using the sling for limited periods each day, increasing the time each day, so that your body has a chance to build up strength in the right areas. This is generally not an issue if you are beginning with a newborn, but if you have never worn a sling before and start wearing a bigger baby, it will take some getting used to. Stop using the sling if it starts to hurt, do some stretching, try a different position, and build up slowly, just as you would with any other weight-bearing exercise. You will probably find that using a sling puts less stress on your back and arms than just carrying the baby in your arms, but it does take getting used to.
This is the question I get most frequently. The answer depends on what you're looking for in a sling, your climate, and your own personal tastes. I can't account for the latter, but can help with the first two! Please see the descriptions within each fabric in my catalog -- I have tried to be as specific as possible in the long description (from the main pages, click the thumbnail picture, the item's name, or the [more] in the brackets). Because I receive so many email inquiries each day and still have to sew, I would suggest reading the fabrics' descriptions rather than emailing me with this question. It will likely take me at least a few days, if not longer, to answer this kind of question; there just aren't enough hours in the day.
If you would like to send fabric to me, please see the fabric FAQ I wrote for my sling sewing page.
I would recommend linen, French twill, or a Dolcino WCRS. Linen is made from flax, an ancient fiber, and wicks away moisture, while breathing nicely through the weave.The French twill is quite lightweight, but not as supportive for very large babies (that is, over 30 lbs or so) or big toddlers as linen or wrap-conversion slings.
Both nylon and aluminum rings have been safety tested by their manufacturer, SlingRings, and are made specifically for use in baby slings. Personally, I prefer the look of the aluminum rings -- they are more streamlined and feel more "classy" to me. However, they are a little harder to adjust, due to their smaller gauge; of course, that also means they slip very little, if at all. They do not heat up appreciably when left in the sun, as aluminum has a very low thermal conductivity (they don't retain heat well). The nylon rings have a more baby-sling look to me. They are somewhat easier to adjust with some fabrics, but this also means they are slightly more prone to slippage in thinner fabrics. I do not recommend nylon rings for wrap-conversion slings; the majority of wrap fabrics are too thick to adjust through the wide profile of nylon rings.
Aluminum and nylon rings weigh approximately the same, and both are fine in the washer and drier -- just put a pair of socks over them if you're worried about the finish or the noise. The color on the aluminum rings will not chip off. It is anodized on, and has become part of the aluminum the rings are made of. On darker colors, there will occasionally be two tiny patches of plain metal; this is where the rings were held during the anodizing process. It is not an individual flaw, but an artifact of the manufacturing process, and your sling can easily be threaded so that the patches don't show. People who travel frequently may choose nylon rings, since they won't set off the metal detector at the airport, but if you do not travel frequently and wish to wear a ring sling through security, you can let the agents know that the rings will set off the detector and they will often just use the wand to confirm this. (Regulations change frequently and sometime vary by airport, and some inspectors are not allowing babies through security while they are in any carrier; call ahead for best results.)
For me, a sling is less baby-clothes and more mommy-accessory. Most of my own slings are dark blue, because I usually wear jeans and the rest of my wardrobe skews blue. I would kindly suggest that you look in your closet, see what colors you usually wear and pick a sling based on that, rather than the baby's sex. You may find that, like me, you wear your sling pretty much all the time you're out, whether the baby is in it or not (walking around at the park, etc.).
Please read through the sling size page.
I prethread all slings before mailing them, making sure that the fabric is spread out well in the rings. All slings come with a comprehensive guide to wearing, including step-by-step directions for the most popular positions. (You can see them here as well.)
Basically, you send me a wrap (or have it sent to me, either second-hand or from a retailer), and I cut it to size and put pleats and rings on it. I can either hem the other portion (if applicable) or make two slings and/or accessories (depending on its length). Please see the wrap conversion info page for much more information!
Please read here for much more information.
I used to sew little slings, meant for kids to use when playing with a doll or stuffed toy. However, due to increased testing required for items made specifically for children, it's just no longer feasible. Additional testing is very costly, and for the number that I had sewn, it just wasn't worth it. Additionally, there was always an extra element of liability inherent in the doll slings, since they made a closed loop of fabric, which is a huge no-no in children's items. So while I love seeing kids playing with slings -- helping normalize babywearing for the next generation -- it's just not something I can do anymore.
If you'd still like your child to have a play sling, you can make one very easily! Take a scarf or another piece of material, between 40-50" long and about 12-20" wide, and thread a set of rings onto one end, like you're threading a sling. Then flip it over, and thread the other end through as well. This is a no-sew sling, and with the appropriate length, can be used for grown-up slings, too, if you have safe rings and fabric. Or you can use a longer scarf and pretend it's a wrap, or just tie the 40-50" length in a knot like a rebozo.