What the flip?

emily d shoulder flip1

I spend lots of my time as a carrying consultant telling parents that they can flip the shoulder on their wrap,  wrap strap carrier and even pouches and ring slings. But why? What difference does it make and what an earth is the difference between an open and closed shoulder flip? Sometimes a the term shoulder flip is used to describe a pass which comes under arm and flipped back over shoulder to create a rucksack pass. In this blog we are looking at shoulder flips which spread the wrap over shoulder as seen in the photo to side of screen.


Shoulder flips serve many purposes and they reason for flipping the shoulder can effect which way you want to do it. (Photo with thanks to Emily Dickinson).

Reasons for flipping your wrap include:

  • Safety – it ensures we can keep baby visible by allowing clear airspace around baby
  • Comfort – by cupping the shoulder it helps distribute the weight of baby across a wider area. Many people find it less diggy than a ruck sack pass.
  • Tightens the top rail and removes slack
  • Lines of support by anchoring the wrap in place – that is to provide vertical lines in a carry that can help keep knees high. A horizontal line in rebozo or ring sling carries helps prevent the wrap going across the baby at an angle. 
  • Look – change the colour or contrast of your wrap. Great for wraps with different coloured sides or a right/wrong side.

“I most often use it to provide greater comfort for me. I love the way it cups the shoulder and spreads the weight.” (Suzanne Pearson, Sling Stars).


“It doesn’t dig in when you flip a shoulder, as opposed to ruck straps which can be diggy.” (Renee Jeffery, Close Enough to Kiss Magazine and Norwich Sling Library)

Open or closed?

In this image (courtesy of Rosie from the Sheffield Sling Surgery) you can see both an open shoulder flip on the left and closed on the right (as you look at screen). Both have helped to create space around the baby’s face and both are cupping the shoulders and spreading the weight of baby. But why do one over the other?

closed and open

Open Shoulder Flip

Open shoulder flips are quick, they can be achieved easily and help create that much needed clear space around babies face. They are not though secured in place and can come undone with movement.IMG_5246

They are a temporary quick fix solution securing it in place. By spreading the pass down her arm and folding the bottom suzanne openrail up again it also helps to make the wrap more comfortable for Jen to use. Here you can see the open shoulder flip in its full effect and how well it clears the space around baby’s face.


“It gives a clear airspace around the face in stretchies.” (Jacki Davenport, Director of Slinging London CIC).

Closed Shoulder Flip

rosie closed shoulder


Closed shoulder flips are a secure flip, they cannot come undo and this makes them more suitable for longer period of carrying. They again help create a clear space around the baby’s face by creating a horizontal line with the top rail (yellow rail in this photograph of Rosie from Sheffield Sling Surgery.

sling stars

This helps tighten this rail too making the carry more supportive by removing slack.


The vertical line that is created (green rail in this case) provide support in babies knee pit and helps keep it raised for optimum positioning and comfort. Striped wraps can make working out which rail is which much easier with their clear contrasting rails. You can see in this photo the clear vertical line fro babies knee pit up to shoulder.


How you decide to flip your shoulders, if you decide to flip them at all, is up to you. They can make it much more comfortable for you, make it safer for baby and tighten the carry, as well as being aesthetically pleasing to look at. Next up, I will write a photo tutorial explaining two different ways to achieve a closed shoulder flip.

I” love how you can change the colour contrast of your wrap from just a shoulder flip (if your wrap has stripes or preference to the wrong side look)” (Natasha Wheeler, Carrying Consultant)

emily d open shoulder flip

Links and Thank You

Thank you to the three Slingababy trained carrying consultants who shared their photographs for this piece. Emily Dickinson of The Wirral Sling Library, Suzanne Pearson of Sling Stars and Dr Rosie Knowles of Sheffield Sling Surgery. Thank you to Jen and Baby Tessa for modelling for us too.


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