If anyone had asked me that question a year ago, I’d have probably shrugged and said that I wasn’t familiar with engineering terms. But becoming a dad at 29 has altered my perspective....
Okay. You’re finishing up at work, a little anxious about your wife, who’s been at home all day, with the new baby. A first time mum, she’s been doing great until now. But you’re still a little anxious.
As you’re leaving, an issue comes up and you end up staying at work for two extra hours. As you finally get away, you check your phone, With a sinking heart, you realise that the battery’s dead. The wife’s alone at home, unable to reach you. What must she be thinking?
You find out soon enough. She’s still in her nightgown. This is a clear case of overwhelm. Junior is bawling at the top of his lungs. Your wife has tears in her eyes. Your explanations sound hollow. You feel helpless. As she hands you the infant and heads for the bedroom, something else dawns on you. You’re making your own tea this evening, sunshine.
You tell yourself to stay calm. Then you spy the ring sling on the sofa, the one she uses to carry the baby around. You’ve seen her put it on many times. So you grab the item, hold the baby in place, start adjusting and soon you have Junior nicely packed up, right next to you.
You head into the kitchen and in no time, soothed by your calm, fatherly nature, Junior relaxes. He’s asleep by the time two cups of tea are ready. You bring a cup of tea to your wife, but she’s asleep too.
It was that ring sling. It saved the day.
Carefully, you put Junior down beside his mum. Could things get any better?
So what’s the ring sling? What does it do? As you’ve probably gathered, it’s a type of baby carrier. Mothers have been carrying their babies around ever since time began and baby prams and strollers are a recent invention.
I’ve done a bit of reading up on this. In 1981, a Hawaii-based physiotherapist, Rayner Garner, invented a sling so his wife could carry their daughter around. He wanted to create a carrier which would give his baby the space to wriggle, the ability to breastfeed discreetly and also room to lie down and sleep. His invention became what we now know as the ring sling.
It consists of a piece of woven cloth, about two metres by sixty centimetres, with two steel rings securely fastened on one end. The advantage of ring slings over other baby carriers is that it allows the baby to be carried in a variety of different positions.
Sometimes, babies just need to go back to that snug, tight feeling they experienced in the womb. Get a fretful baby into one of these, right next to one of his parents and notice the difference immediately.
Ring slings are widely available in a variety of colours and styles. In fact, there’s such variety, it’s downright confusing trying to figure out which one is the best. As a new dad who was previously totally disinterested in kids and is now keen to experience fatherhood full-on, I decided to go on a search.
I wanted to find the best ring sling for me, as well as for baby. There’s just one thing I’d like to mention before sharing the details of the search with my readers.
We, as a couple, are all about giving our baby the best start in life. One of the values we share is concern for the environment. We want to do our bit to keep the planet clean and green for future generations. We like the idea of exploring natural parenting methods as far as possible.
The parents of older generations didn’t have anything like the gadgets we have nowadays. They still managed to raise their kids successfully. Housewives of olden times worked harder than anyone. They even had to make their own beer!
Who had time to stop and take care of kids? Mothers just tied on the babies and got on with it. We’re keen to try out some of the old ways and see if they work for us. They might not all work, of course. We wouldn’t want to be thought of as looking down on parents who don’t take this route. We all have to do what works for us.
As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of ring slings on the market, to suit various pockets and style preference. If I’d tried them all, this article would have turned into a book. So I limited my search to ring sling brands which have decent reviews. Here's what I found.
The name of this product is quite a mouthful. It's not high priced, so it’s very economic to buy.
It seems to fit only as long as your baby is a newborn, which means two months.
What’s a water sling? The product description tells us that it’s waterproof. Which makes me wonder, why would anyone need a waterproof sling? Is this for mothers who are planning to take the baby into the shower along with them? If it’s for mums who want to bring their baby along to the beach, why would the item be in nylon? I don't think that’s the cloth to put next to a baby’s tender skin on a hot sunny day.
This ring sling is quite limited in that it can only be worn in one position, diagonally. This product is well reviewed, but it really wouldn’t be my cup of tea, so I explored the reviews to discover the reasons for its popularity. Apart from the fact that the company gives a fast, efficient and free delivery, this product seems to work for those who need waterproof products.
Parents who wanted to splash around in the pool while holding the baby were delighted with it. They reported it as being totally comfortable to wear and mentioned that it dries quickly. No issues with the nylon fabric that I could see, to my surprise. On the downside, one mum mentioned that she found it uncomfortable for her hands and shoulder. The product comes in a variety of colours.
This one is a quite a bit more expensive than the above, but seems to have a lot going for it.
It comes in two sizes, which I liked, as it gives more choice to the consumer. This ring sling carries a baby up to 15 kilos in weight.
Also, unlike the previous model, it supports the baby while in two different positions. One position is while sitting on the hip of the parent and the other, while lying across the parent’s tummy. This is convenient and provides better adjustability.
The tot can breastfed without changing position and without other people knowing what’s going on (not that that concerns you, daddio!).
The cloth is woven for both stretchability and stability and can support the baby in every position. It’s made of cotton, too, which I liked. I’m always in favour of natural cloth, especially when it’s for something my kid is going to use.
People who have used this product have raved over the ease of use, which is what a parent needs. The company deliver quickly too, so no need to wait too long for it, once you’ve decided to buy it.
This one came very highly rated, although it doesn’t appear to have too many users. But one user who spoke out, claimed to have used it for three years, which verifies that the product is sound.
My own personal opinion is that while it’s an attractive product, it’s a bit too feminine looking for a dad to use. I’m not fond of floral patterns, at least not on what I’m wearing. I don’t mind if someone sees me wearing a ring sling in Tesco’s, but I prefer my colors and designs to be neutral, just saying.
It can carry a baby up to 15 kilos or 35 lbs. It supports the infant in two different positions, cradle and hip. It also features padding, for extra comfort.
This one is the most expensive on my list, but by all accounts, worth every penny. It supports a child from birth till whenever it wants to stop being carried.
It’s made of cotton and the cloth is in a special twill weave which supports the baby firmly. Although it can support an infant of toddler size, the product description recommends that toddlers should only be carried for shorter times.
The product uses the shoulders to carry the weight, so carrying bigger babies for longer periods is not recommended. Customers rave about the bright, sunshiny colour, the fact that it washes well and the strength of the Hoppediz Nairobi Ring Sling.
Not as expensive as the Hoppediz Nairobi, this pure cotton ring sling is definitely a good buy. It carries the infant from birth to three years. It distributes the weight evenly along the back and shoulders of the parent, so he or she can carry the baby for longer periods, which sounds good to me.
It has a nice cool design, not too floral or girly looking. Neutral, in fact, just the way I like it.
It supports the baby in hip or cradle position and can easily adjust from one position to another. It’s easy to store and easy to wash, too, according to the product descriptions. This one seems perfect.
What’s not to like? Checking out what verified buyers have to say, it appears that the Mamaway Baby Ring Sling is the business. It definitely isn’t for everyone, as people have their own personal preferences and there are a variety of packs and slings on the market.
But what piqued my interest was the product feedback I read, which said that this is one of the most dad-friendly of baby products available on the market. One dad said it allowed him to hold his baby and save the world on his X Box at the same time. Now, there’s a recommendation, if ever there was one. There were happy reports from mums too, claiming that it’s the easiest sling to use, while breastfeeding. Something for everyone here, it seems.
Yes, we do. I’m ready to try out the Mamaway and see if all that great feedback is true. Having explored a range of products, this ticks all the boxes on my personal checklist.
Considering the long term use the product will get, its price is competitive. It’s convenient for breastfeeding mums and video game playing dads (who says mums don’t play video games?)
It’s made of cotton which is skin friendly and the shades are neutral, which pleases me no end. Like I said earlier, I don’t mind looking like the father of an infant, but who wants to look like a walking nursery? It distributes the weight sensibly, on the parent’s body and carries the infant up to the age of three, Older infants may even be carried for long periods in this.
Even if the Mamaway fits all the qualities I’m searching for, it has its critics. One mum sent it back because her toddler didn’t like it. Perhaps their comfort level with this product was low just because they’d been using another product and were used to that. But as an environmentally aware dad, who wants to experience hands-on fatherhood, I think this is for me. If the Mamaway doesn't appeal to you (you'd rather it was the Dadaway!), how about one of the others?
We’ll see how it goes.