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!