DIY Mesh Water Ring Sling

Summer is coming! Pools are opening, invitations to lakeside barbecues are on the horizon and the beach beckons! What’s a mama to do with her infant when she wants to enjoy the water? Here’s a DIY so simple, even this stumbling seamstress managed it!

Materials:

  • 2-2.5 yards of athletic mesh fabric. This is the stretchy, breathable stuff they make basketball shorts out of. I ordered mine from Fabric.com (in my favorite color, of course), for less than $2 a yard!
  • A set of sling rings, which you can order from SlingRings for about $3. I ordered a sampler set of the nylon rings so I could test which size worked best for my sling, and I settled on the small ones. I chose nylon over aluminum to avoid any rust issues and because they are less slippery — the mesh is already a pretty smooth fabric, so the nylon feels more secure than metal to me.
  • Optional item: A sewing machine and/or needle and thread. I hemmed my sling to make it sturdier and easier to adjust, but this is not absolutely necessary. And believe me, if you choose to hem, it doesn’t have to be done to a golden standard of sewing. I have the skills of a 12-year-old with my sewing machine, but my sling works just fine!

Directions:

Step 1: Lay the mesh out on the floor and cut it in half lengthwise. Now you have the potential to make two slings: one for you and one for a friend! I passed off my extra mesh to another mama and told her what size rings she needed to order to make herself a $3 sling. Needless to say, she was pretty psyched.

Step 2: If you want to hem your sling, hem the edges with a straight stitch. Hemming may help the fabric to hold up better through repeated wear and washing, and it makes adjusting the sling a little bit easier. 

Step 3: Thread your sling through your set of sling rings. Here’s a fantastic video to show you all how I get the sling ready to wear:

Step 4: Put your baby comfortably into the sling and enjoy the pool!

I wore my then-6-month-old baby in the mesh sling to swim in the pool and the lake and she loved it. Babies that young have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so being closely attached to mama means that baby will stay comfortable in the cool water.

Plus, babies who might be scared of the water otherwise will often stay calm if they feel secure and snug attached to mom.

A word of caution: When you thread your sling, make sure it feels nice and tight and secure before you put your baby in. And once baby is in the sling, check again to make sure everything is tight and secure. An improperly-threaded sling poses a falling risk to your baby.

This sling is a wonderful tool for keeping your baby close in the water and keeping a hand free for you to do other things, but it is not going to be as secure as a buckle carrier, especially when holding a baby over 20 lbs.

Because athletic mesh is stretchy, heavier babies may cause the sling to sag and/or slip, so always be vigilant when wearing your baby!

41 Responses to DIY Mesh Water Ring Sling

  1. This is so awesome! I need to have another baby so I can make one for me!

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  3. Love it!

  4. Love it! We don’t have a ring sling, but this looks fabulous for our upcoming vacation to a waterpark!

  5. Hey! So I was looking on Fabric.com and I can’t find any fabric like this! I’m almost never able to find fabric that people say came from Fabric.com. Is there some super secret search technique I’m unaware of! Anyways, any tips on where to look for it?

  6. Cassandra Eastman Reply

    Wow, thank you so much for this! This looks so easy even I could do it!!! This would be perfect for swimming with my little girl this summer! I love your DIY section, thank you for sharing :)

  7. this is such a great idea. i need this with my 5 month old since I have a almost 2 year old, 4 year old and 5 year old…i need my hands free to rangle and watch them!
    *kelly
    kelly-tillotson@hotmail.com

  8. I have been looking everywhere for instructions on how to make these. Thank you so much for posting, now I can get to work on a baby shower gift!!!

  9. Wow! I’ve been trying to find a used water sling to buy but it never occurred to me that I could make one! I’m going to order fabric now and I’ll use the leftover to make a sling for my dear friend who is expecting in November. Thanks for this post!

  10. What an awesome idea! I don’t know if I could be that crafty but I would love a mesh sling for the water!

  11. Ooh I have to make one of these!

  12. That’s awesome,I need this one for my baby ;)

  13. I need to make this!

  14. this is a great Idea :) thanks

  15. Awesome! We are taking our girls to Great Wolf Lodge in a few months and this will be a great way for my littlest to get in the water with us!!

  16. I’ve been looking for a tutorial on how to make one, thanks!!

  17. We’re goign to a water park in the winter… I may have to make this one!

  18. Oh I’m going to have to try and make one!! :D

  19. This is a GREAT DIY!! I am totally going to have to make one for my 8 month old! She loves the water, but my arms get tired from holding her out and moving her around. Hopefully she will be content in the sling and I can relax my arms a little!!

  20. can’t wait to make one!

  21. this is a great idea wish i knew this over the years

  22. I bought this exact fabric https://www.fabric.com/buy/0307269/team-spirit-micro-mesh-white, but the amount of stretch made me nervous. Some stretch is ok? Have you ever used this exact fabric?

  23. Rosie, I have not tried it with that exact type of mesh. Here’s a link to what I purchased – https://www.fabric.com/buy/0307267/team-spirit-athletic-mesh-kelly. It is a little stretchy, which is okay. The stretchier the fabric, the less secure it will be for babies over 15 lbs. But if you’re wearing baby in the water, you don’t need it to fully support his or her weight – it’s more to keep baby close to you and help them feel secure. I have used my water sling both in the pool and for quick trips to the market during the hot summer months. When I’m wearing it out of the water, I use it for a hip carry and keep one hand on my baby just in case.

  24. What are the final dimensions for your sling before/after hemming? I have a piece of athletic mesh 66″x79″ and am wondering if I can turn in into a ring sling.

    • Michelle, my sling measured approximately 90″ by 25″ pre-hemming, and I rolled a very small hem as I sewed so that I would take off as little length and width as possible. 79″ would be a little shorter on the length, but depending on your size and the size of your baby I think you could try it. I’m a pretty average height and weight, and when I wore my 6-month-old daughter, I had plenty of extra length in my sling (as you can probably see from the photos). I hope that helps!

  25. I’m looking at making a water ring sling with the mesh fabric. I’ve been looking on fabric.com and there’s so many different mesh fabrics. The one you used is 100% nylon and Rosie’s link is also 100% nylon. You said it is stretchy. Would polyester be better, not as stretchy? I don’t want any stretch. My 4 month old is already 17lbs! Thank you!

    • Good question! The best way to be sure you’ll be happy with your fabric is to go somewhere you can actually lay hands on it and feel how much give it really has (and once you find something, you can always order the same material online later). I’m not a fabric expert, so I can’t tell you just based on the fact that it’s polyester whether or not it would have any stretch. Athletic mesh is the stuff basketball shorts are made of. It’s not stretchy like spandex, but does have some give. So if the description says athletic mesh, whatever the material, I would guess that it has at least some give to it. The idea in using some kind of mesh is to let the water pass through without weighing down the fabric, so if you can find another more supportive fabric that would do the same job without the stretch, by all means share with us what you used! I’m sure other mamas with big babies would appreciate the tip. Our community pool opens up next weekend, and my 6-month-old son is in 12 month clothes already, so I’m about to see how mine works with a bigger baby.

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  30. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! My fabric and rings came in today cannot wait to get to sewing

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  32. I recommend using at least 2 1/2 yards of fabric I used 2 1/4 and it was shorter than I hoped.

  33. LOVE this. I bought my fabric yesterday at JoAnn Fabrics – it was a bit pricey ($9.99/yd – with a 40% off coupon it wasn’t too bad though! http://www.joann.com/coupon/?icn=Home&ici=hs0-1 ), but the best I could find to have in time for my vacation. We are going to a lakehouse with family in a couple of weeks and I love that this sling can be adjusted to use for anyone, so my husband, my mom or my sisters could also take our Baby Bear in the water!

  34. Incredible!

  35. How wide should the fabric be? The athletic mesh I bought is like 5 1\2 feet wide l. I’m nervous to cut it without without knowing how much I need.

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