I will be sewing until about Dec. 15, and will then be closed for the remainder of the year. Please keep these dates in mind if you think you'll need a sling for a holiday gift. If you are sending a wrap for conversion, please do not ship after Monday, Dec. 16 -- I will not be sewing during my break and would prefer not to have things pile up too much. I may need to stop WCRS ordering before Dec. 15, depending on the workload that's built up before then; I will post on Facebook if that will be the case.
There is more information here than is really necessary. I've just gone into a lot of detail to try to help people out, based on the emails I get each day. If you are an average-sized person and don't want to measure, and don't particularly care what length the tail is, a small or medium sling will likely be fine for you. After all, it's only the length of the tail that changes with the length of the sling, and sizing really is not critical in wearing a ring sling. It's just a little better if you don't fall into the typical "one size fits all" range, and you might enjoy wearing a sling more if it's made with your body size in mind.
If you order based on your t-shirt size, the tail will be around mid-thigh length. This is fine for the vast majority of sling wearers. The thing about the length of the tail (that's the part of the sling that hangs down in front, if you haven't looked at the anatomy page yet) is that it's really completely subjective. Some people prefer a very short tail; others like it knee-length or even longer. In my experience, the most useful length goes to about mid-thigh. That gives you enough fabric to use the tail as a rain or sun cover, or to cover up when nursing, but not so much that you'll trip over or get tangled in it. New users often find a shorter tail less intimidating, while experienced users frequently prefer a longer tail, but I recommend mid-thigh length because it's a happy medium for 95% of users. There's enough fabric that you can be generous while you're learning to adjust the sling (a too-short tail means you don't have as much room to adjust), and if you get a pocket or a tail accent, if the tail is shorter than upper-thigh length, the pocket/accent may run into the rings when you're adjusting it.
Most of the questions I get via email are about sizing, but what I say in email is what I say here: your sling size will be pretty much your t-shirt size, and there's enough leeway in a sling's length that it really isn't an exact science anyway. I did recently redo the sizing chart, so that the sizes correspond to your (women's) clothing size. If you have ordered prior to January 2011, be sure to check your size again, as it may have changed since your last order! [more] Men partnered with women may prefer to go up one size from hers if they are looking for a mid-thigh length tail, but since many men will tuck the tail into the sling or wrap it around the rings anyway, it's just as practical to defer to their partner's size.
When ordering a sling for yourself, there are two factors to consider: your size (and/or your partner's size), and the length of the tail you'd like.
The following chart data come from measurements done on real people wearing a real baby and sling. If your build is not on the chart, don't worry! Weight is more important than height in picking a sling size if your weight is proportional to your height, but if you are tall and thin you will probably want a smaller sling for your weight, and if you are short and heavy, you'll probably want a longer one. Again: I recommend you order by your t-shirt size. If you want a tail that's longer than mid-thigh length, go a size up; if you want a shorter tail, go a size down.
|Measurement||Sling length for tail to end at...|
|Weight range||Height range||Hip||Mid-thigh||Knee|
|125 lbs & under||5'4" and under||approx. 62"||65" (xs)||70" (s)|
|115 to 130 lbs||5'4" to 5'7"||65" (xs)||70" (s)||75" (m)|
|130 to 150 lbs||5'5" to 5'8"||70" (s)||75"(m)||80"(l)|
|150 to 200 lbs||5'6" to 5'9"||72" (s/m)||80" (l)||85" (xl)|
|200 to 260 lbs||5'7" to 6"||80" (l)||85" (xl)||90" (xxl)|
|over 270 lbs||5'8" to 6'2"||85" (xl)||90" (xxl)||95" (xxxl)|
You don't have to have one of the pre-determined sizes; if you would like something in-between, just make a note of it in the "special requests" section of the order form. However, please keep in mind that even wearing an extra layer under the sling will change the length of the tail, so unless you always wear just a t-shirt and your baby never grows, the tail length will vary somewhat as you wear it, and while I do the best I can to sew the slings to the stated length, there will always be a little variation in the finished product.
Measuring yourself: If you are ordering by your t-shirt size, this really isn't necessary, but if you are on the ends of the bell curve, you might find it helpful. Take a long tape measure, or a piece of string, and wrap it loosely around you the way a sling will be worn: start at corsage position (where the flowers are shown at left), bring it around your opposite side at about the level of your natural waist, around your back to the same shoulder, and then let it hang down from the corsage position (NOT the top of your shoulder -- this will make the measurement too long) to whatever point you would like the tail to end. If you measure with the tape tight around you, add about 4 " for the baby. If you find, however, that the measurement you get is significantly different from the table above, I would err on the side of the table; measurements done in this manner seem to be consistently 6-10" too long, from what people are emailing me.
This measurement, combined with some basic information about your height and build, can help us figure out what size to get; please feel free to email me if you have questions. Please keep in mind that due to variances in the fabric's thickness and stretch and the ring thickness, none of the measurements are exact, and when you're wearing the sling, the length of the tail will vary depending on the position the baby's in and how many layers of clothing you're both wearing. It's not an exact science, so asking for a 74.5" long sling will just be frustrating for both of us -- me, because I can't guarantee the length to half an inch, and you, because no matter what, there will be variation in tail length depending on the factors above.
If you're hoping to share a sling with a female significant other, it's very likely you can both wear her size unless there is a large disparity in your builds. A size small will, generally speaking, be long enough for most average-sized men; you will likely end up with a hip- to upper-thigh length tail, which most men find quite sufficient. A medium, on an average-sized man, will be upper- to mid-thigh length; and a long is generally mid-thigh to knee-length. If you are extremely muscular through the shoulders, or, on the other end of the spectrum, built for comfort rather than speed (i.e. you wear a larger than XXL shirt), you may want a size long, but a medium should do just fine; it will just have a shorter tail. As long as the tail is longer than 10-12", it is safe; it can be tucked in around the rings or into the body of the sling if you don't like the look of a dangling tail. For the most part, unless your partner wears an XS sling, you probably won't need a longer sling than she does. (Oh, and if you're on the fence about babywearing, remember that there's very little that women find sexier than a man who can care for a baby! Trust me, you will get all kinds of positive attention if you're wearing your baby in a sling.)
If you are a woman sharing a sling with another woman, or a man sharing with a man, I would suggest a size to fit the larger partner. The smaller partner can tuck the tail into the body of the sling or wrap it around the rings as above. However, if there is not a large size disparity, a size between partners is fine, or if the larger partner would prefer a shorter tail, a size for the smaller partner is fine. It's really all up to personal preference. SBP is proud to support same-sex partnerships and parenthood, and I've long made donations to HRC and other equal-rights groups. I firmly believe that all parents and caregivers deserve our support and respect, and babywearing is for every caregiver.
Most of the orders I get are for medium slings, and I think that's true for most manufacturers. After that comes small, then large.
I am 5'11" tall and when I used to weigh 260 lbs, with a shirt size of between 22 and 26 (2x or 3x), depending on the brand, I preferred an extra-long (85") sling, which came to mid-thigh on me when worn with Susan in a hip carry. A medium sling went to my hip, and short (70") to my waist. XXL (90") went down to my knees. I currently weigh around 200, and prefer a medium (75") sling, on those rare occasions that Susan wants to go in a sling (she's 4 now). A long sling is now nearly knee-length on me.
My sister is 5'4" tall and weighs about 125 lbs, and she wears a size 6-8 or thereabouts. A short sling goes about to her mid-thigh, and extra-small goes to her hip; that's with Susan in a hip carry. A medium sling goes to her knees, and my long sling was almost to her ankles.
A friend of mine wears a size 32 or so, and a medium sling went about to just below her hip. The XXL was closer to mid-thigh, and XXXL was knee-length. It's a very rare person indeed who really needs that much length, in my experience.
While I can hem a too-long sling, I can't usually make a too-small sling longer, though I can add a panel to the bottom if there's no pocket involved in the original, or add a panel in the back. However, if you send a sling back for alterations, that means you're missing it for at least a week, plus paying the shipping costs. I really recommend measuring yourself -- and emailing me -- first, so you can be certain your sling is the right length when you receive it.
Using a long ring slings for ruck-under-bum back carries: I do not personally recommend using a long ring sling to do this style of carry, and must completely disclaim any liability for incidents that occur when using this position against my recommendation. Back carries, especially those done with infants, are inherently more risky than front carries, whether you've been using a sling for a week or for years. I would encourage you to get comfortable with front carries first, and if you want to do back carries, purchase or make a short wrap for that purpose, rather than buying an exceptionally long ring sling to do it. If you would ordinarily wear a size medium, but purchase an XXL sling so that you can do ring sling rucks, and then you find that you are only using the sling for front carries anyway, the tail is going to be super-long, and that's a tripping hazard. I know this is a very popular idea right now, but it's really recommended only for experienced, seasoned babywearers, and I must discourage you in the strongest terms from doing this carry -- or for purchasing a too-long sling for the purpose -- if you are a new user.