The term 'babywearing' is a modern one, but the use of cloth to carry babies has a long and rich history in many cultures throughout the world. Holding babies is natural and universal, and in that sense 'Babywearing' simply means to hold or carry a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier.
We have been babywearing using a variety of carriers for over a year now, it is convenient, compact and we love to cuddle. Last year has seen a surge of many mompreneurs (moms turned entrepreneurs) who are dedicated to the belief that babies should be close enough to kiss, and are laboring and building together an industry that provides safe and attractive baby carriers to encourage parental bonding. I met Chinmayie, founder of Soul Ring Slings through babywearing groups that I was part of. She decided to start 'Soul' so that Indian parents had a Ring Sling brand, which was locally made, well constructed, elegant and suitable for Indian weather.
What is a Ring Sling? - It is a long piece of fabric with two rings sewn into one end. It is a one-shouldered carrier and comes in a variety of materials and styles.
Chinmayie sent me a Superior Cotton Soul Ring Sling in Plum color for trial and review. We have been using it for a month now and mentioned below are my views on Soul as a babywearing carrier.
Delicious Colors: Soul offers a wide range of colors to choose from. The eye-catching color palette of rose, ice, plum, mint, peach, and mango etc. sounds delicious too. Fashion conscious moms would soon take to Soul as their best parenting accessory to babywear and flaunt, on every occasion. My plum ring sling radiates with passion and pride and it also brings out the rosy cheeks of my little one!
Fuss-free Design: I like the simple and subtle design of the Soul Slings. I respect the designers' decision of not hiding the aluminum rings in a volley of colors. In my view, when the free end of the vibrant colored fabric is threaded through the rings to make an adjustable loop around the baby and the wearer, the bare aluminum rings lend it an air of authenticity and a point of differentiation!
Sturdy, Smart & Snug: The rings of the Soul slings are made from strong durable aluminium, they are sturdy and also offer complete mobility for adjustment. The fabrics of the Soul slings are made from 100% natural fibers making them super-supportive and breathable.
One Size Fits All: The Soul slings are fully adjustable baby carriers that are sized generously to fit from Birth (Newborn) onwards till your baby is about 15 kilos (Toddlers). I have a 20-month-old toddler weighing about 12 kgs, and we found the ring sling to be wide and long enough to make a good fit.
Variety of Fabrics: Soul offers ring slings in a variety of fabrics. You can choose from cotton and linen slings in both classic and superior range along with cotton and linen blended slings and some hand-woven cotton slings. This makes sure there is something for everybody! I had selected a superior cotton sling because they are thicker and hence extra supportive for bigger/heavier babies.
Eco-friendly: Soul Slings are made out of 100% natural fibers keeping in mind the Indian tropical climate. According to Chinmayie, natural fibers are the best fabric to wrap your baby in, as they are naturally antimicrobial, breathable, and highly durable, absorb moisture easily, have low dust absorption, and are eco-friendly! I agree…
Learning Curve: Soul slings have a fairly easy learning curve. It did take me a wee bit longer to get used to threading, spreading and adjusting the fabric out properly so it won't hurt my shoulder, as I was dealing with toddler tantrums at the same time, but once you get the hang of it, it is easy to perfect over a short period of time.
Quick up & down: Once you get the hang of the ring sling; they are great for occasions where the babies need to be quickly 'popped in and out'.
Hands free - We all know that babies like to be carried. They cry or fuss much lesser when they are held close. How to keep your babies close and still run a household and/or errands? Slings free up your hands for chores or to enjoy a walk in the park. A ring sling being a one shoulder carrier, cups your shoulder hence you won't get a range of motion with that side, so I always wear it on my non-dominant shoulder so as to have a full range of motion with the dominant hand!
Affordable: Whenever I purchase a baby carrier made in India with love and care by a mom who wears her own baby in the same product, my respect for the product goes a notch higher. The Soul Slings are reasonably priced. To get such high-quality & well-crafted product range at such an affordable price is a boon for Indian parents. There is an emerging market for pre-loved baby carriers in India. I had previously owned a Soul Classic Linen Sling and had to sell it to fund my SSC and it fetched me a decent resale value.
Compact & Portable: I am a big fan of SSCs (Soft-Structured Carriers) but when it comes to portability, they ARE bulky! And tedious to pack with their long flailing buckles & straps. On the other hand, the Soul slings being mostly fabric, folds up well and packs away easily into a handbag/ diaper bag. For us it also doubles up as a blankie, for naps on the go in a car seat.
Gathered Shoulder Style: Soul Slings have gathered shoulder style, which is great to fit all different sizes of people. It can spread out far to cup your shoulder and distribute the weight. The good thing about gathered shoulder is that it can spread out however you want; it works well for people with both narrow and broad shoulders.
In my use of the gathered shoulder Soul sling I realized that it tends to swallows up my shoulder. I personally prefer box pleats because I find them to be more contained than a gathered shoulder. They cup the shoulder a bit, without spreading out as much and I like the 'cush' effect created by the overlap of pleats. But with use, I also realized that the gathered is great to hold bigger babies in. However, the shoulder style is a matter of personal preference.
Nursing friendly: Being heavily endowed, I have never given nursing in a baby carrier a try, but I know many mommy friends who find ring slings really easy and discreet to nurse their baby in. They raise, lower and adjust their bubs into nursing position, simply by loosening and tightening the fabric. They don't have to stay stationary for a nursing session, they get a lot of work done while nursing their baby in a sling, as the tail of the sling also doubles up as a great nursing cover!
Easy to launder and Fast to Dry: Babies are messy and with use the sling will get dirty. You can spot clean your slings or can easily toss them into the washer whenever needed. Being natural fibers, they are easy to clean and dry really fast. I prefer to use a mild detergent on gentle cycle and air dry. It is always a good idea to iron the sling after washing so that the rails are easier to adjust while wearing. Superior slings become softer and supple with a few washes.
1. I suggest parents to start their babywearing journey with an infant as early as possible; it is easier to get the hang of it with a smaller baby. Your shoulder, neck and back muscles also strengthen with babywearing overtime, this way you can comfortably carry your heavy toddlers as time progresses. I got hold of Soul when my baby was already a year old and weighed over 10 kgs, hence this time around, I found it a bit tiring to carry a heavier child on one shoulder for longer periods of wearing. We did well for shorter walks, grocery store trips and for 'Mommy, please pick me up' situations around the house…
2. I am eagerly awaiting attractive prints by Soul in the future.
3. I wish for the tail to be a wee bit longer, for larger people like me, to have an aesthetically pleasing look!
Easy to Buy: Soul Sling as a company has grown leaps and bounds over the period of one year. Today it offers prospective buyers a well designed website to navigate and an online shopping cart to buy their Soul Slings.
Online Tutorials: Soul Slings get delivered in eco-friendly and reusable boxes with a pretty Instruction Booklet. They have a vibrant Facebook page with tempting Giveaways! Their website is your one stop solution offering plethora of images, videos, tips and tricks and FAQs answered for beginners and seasoned babywearers alike.
Surprisingly Versatile - Overall, I found the Soul Ring Slings to be a surprisingly versatile baby carrier for a variety of reasons stated above and some obvious reasons stated below:-
~ Can be used from newborn to toddler
~ Can be worn in front of stomach (heart to heart), on the hip, on the back
~ It doubles up as a nursing cover, blanket, swing etc
~ It adapts well to both the baby wearer and the child
~ It adjusts well to people with varying body shapes and sizes
~ It is ideal for quick and easy use in-between
There is no doubt that babies who are worn are happier, healthier, and secure. Soul Ring Sling is the sling to start with and live in with, through the years…
Do check out and grab yourself a 'Soul' and keep me updated on your babywearing adventures in comments below…!
** We were sent the Soul Ring Sling for the purpose of a fair and honest review **
All images in this post are copyrighted by Out of Focus Pictures