Please read our disclaimer before trying this carry.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding cradle carries in the babywearing community. When many people hear “cradle carry” their minds immediately jump to the recalled Infantino SlingRider, which holds a baby low on the caregiver’s body and near horizontal. A properly executed cradle carry using a ring sling or fitted pouch sling will not pose any of the risks inherent to the recalled carrier. If you own one of the recalled carriers, contact Infantino immediately for a free replacement.
A cradle carry may be a great option for a caregiver who’s wearee prefers to sleep or eat reclined. I still will rock my 1.5 year old to sleep in a cradle carry when she’s having a difficult time. It has been a go to comfort position for us since her infancy. If nursing or bottle feeding in a cradle carry, you should take extra care to assure the airway is clear at all times.
Additionally, baby should NEVER be left to sleep in a nursing cradle carry position. Whenever baby stops ACTIVELY nursing, they should be brought back to a tummy to tummy position or a properly positioned cradle carry. They should NOT be left to sleep in a modified nursing position when using any carry or carrier, as it poses a suffocation hazard. This may sound exaggerated, but not moving the baby poses a very real and unnecessary risk.
Now onto the carry:
1. To start, using an already threaded ring sling grab the rings in one hand with the tail of the sling facing out towards your arm. For instructions on how to thread a ring sling, check out this carry of the month.
2. Next, maintaining your hold on the rings, pass the loop over your opposite arm and head.
3. The ring sling should now lay diagonally across your body with the sewn shoulder capping your shoulder, the rings on your chest, and the tail hanging towards the ground.
(Note the pouch shown above is twisted. The next step will correct this common mistake.)
Adjust the ring sling to fit baby:
4. Check that there is enough space to slip baby in. You may need more space initially for a
cradle carry than when adjusting for tummy to tummy.
5. Check that the fabric is spread evenly through the rings and not bunched. Work any slack or
twists out now.
6. The sling should lay flat and spread across your back without any twists to provide the most support.
7. Rings should sit at “corsage level”. For me that is below my collar bone and above the start of
the breast tissue. The loop of the sling should rest around waist level, but is also dependent on
the size of your child and your torso length.
Getting Baby In:
8. Pick up baby and slide them into the sling. Their chest should face upwards and their legs towards your arm. The sling should envelope baby, with the lower third of the fabric between your body and baby’s.
9. Next move any loose fabric around your body from the back towards the rings at your shoulder.
10. Now, tighten the sling. Pull the loose fabric through the rings. When tightening, you should support baby’s weight with your other arm. Pull the fabric in the same direction as it lays on baby’s body. So the top third is pull horizontally towards baby’s head, the center diagonally towards baby’s lower back, and bottom third towards baby’s bottom. This will keep the rings from moving down.
Note: With a smaller baby, you should keep your arm under their head/back to support them until the sling is tightened.
11. Baby is properly positioned when their body makes an upright check mark
12. Their chest should be visible along with BOTH shoulders when you look down.
13. The chin is clear of the chest.
There you have it, a perfectly safe and comfortable cradle carry.
Nursing in a Cradle Carry:
Many mothers want to learn a cradle carry for nursing while wearing baby. To do this, I would follow the steps above then reposition baby for nursing. Whenever baby is not ACTIVELY nursing (suckling or dream nursing do NOT count), you must reposition baby either in a cradle carry or upright tummy to tummy position. A sleeping baby at the breast in a sling poses a suffocation hazard.
1. Lift up on baby, to support their weight. Then pull up on the rings to add fabric back into
the area holding baby.
2. Reach your arm closest to their head into the top of the sling, supporting their back.
3. Reach your arm closest to the rings into the sling, supporting baby’s bottom.
4. Turn baby’s body towards your chest. Reposition baby lower at the breast.
5. Latch baby onto the breast.
6. Tighten the sling to hold baby in place.
And that is how you nurse a baby in a cradle carry while using a ring sling.
Be sure to reposition baby when done!
We hope this helped and please do not be afraid to ask questions! You can email questions to our Education chair at Education (at) BabywearingHamptonRoads (dot) Org any time.
Photo tutorial not doin’ it for you? No worries. Check out Babywearing International of Hampton Roads’s YouTube channel for more information and tutorials!