What the flip? Part Two: How to create a close shoulder flip.

In my recent What the flip? article I discussed the reasons why shoulder flips can be useful when using a number of different slings. It considered the reasons for and against closed and open shoulder flips. In this piece I am going to look at two different methods of achieving a closed shoulder flip. A closed shoulder flip is a secure flip. It helps create a clear space around baby, can make a sling more comfortable by spreading weight over a wider area, help support knee by creating a vertical line and supporting the back with a horizontal line. Learning how to achieve them is a skill that can add an extra set of tools to a sling users toolkit.

There are two methods to achieving a closed shoulder flip. There is a large level of personal preference in which method will choose to use. Neither is the right way. It is up to you. The first involves allowing the fabric to fall from your shoulder before lifting the bottom rail up to your neck. The second requires you to guide the top rail underneath the sling until it has taken the place of the bottom rail. Both work equally well, both are secure closed flips.

 Method 1 – fall and fold.

Decide which carry you wish to do and why you need to achieve a shoulder flip. I am doing a front double hammock. I have switched which wrap I use for teaching purposes during the slide show.

In this method you allow the wrap to fall gently from your shoulder slightly, creating enough space for you to fold the bottom rail up so that it is closest to your neck, creating the vertical line to support the babies knee. When you have completed this, gently gather the slack on your shoulder so you are left with a small capped sleeve, rather than the full width of wrap down your arm.

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 Method 2 – up and under.

Here you can see the method  of reaching underneath and working top rail out. Choose which carry you are wishing to create. I was opting for a Front Double Hammock here. Supporting babies weight with one hand reach up and underneath the fabric to grab the top rail. With this wrap this is the pink stripe. Gentle work this underneath the fabric until it is out in the place of the bottom rail. As you can see here the purple bottom rail is now closest to my neck and the pink stripe is now on outside furthest away from me. This pink top rail is helping to support babies back and provide tension to the carry. The purple stripe is creating a vertical line from babies knee and helping to support this it.

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Once achieved closed shoulder flips are extremely comfortable and secure. Why not have a go too? Why do you like a shoulder flip? Do you opt for open or closed?




What the flip?

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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.

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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.


Photo Tutorial – Short Cross Carry with a sling ring

The Short Cross Carry with a sling ring (sometimes referred to as a Front Cross Carry with a ring) was my go to carry with a shorter wrap with Isaac from around 3-8 months. I liked that it was a “poppable” carry and can be achieved with a shorter wrap. The sling ring acts as a lock so carry is a knotless one too. I wanted to write this blog as a photo tutorial. There are hundreds of wrapping videos but I know that videos do not work for everyone.

Stage One – Preparing the wrap

Thread the sling ring over one end of the wrap until it is in the middle of the wrap. When the sling ring is in the middle take time to pleat the fabric through the rings to neaten the fabric. This will help prevent the wrap from twisting and help ensure a neat looking carry.


Next, loop the fabric over your shoulders so that the ring is placed in the centre of your back. Again, tidy the wrap by gathering and then cross tails.

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Holding the sling ring to keep it flat use the other hand to take first wrap pass and take it over the top of sling ring before going through and pull down towards the floor so that you have a 90o angle. Before repeating this with the second pass. This takes some practise to get the ring to stay flat. If you don’t achieve it the carry will not be knotless as wrap will move freely in ring.


Once again tidy both passes so they are smooth and not twisted. Tighten your bottom rail. The bottom rail is the part of the sling which is in the middle as it comes out of rings.

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Find the positon where you are most comfortable in having the sling ring by lifting the fabric from shoulders and moving it up and down.

Create slack and space for baby by pulling fabric back through ring. Be careful not to introduce too much slack. You want just enough space to put baby in. Thread excess slack back over shoulders and through ring. Use praying hands to double check you have enough space for your baby.


Stage Two – Putting baby in the wrap

Pick up your baby and place on the shoulder of the top pass so that first underneath pass is visible and accessible.

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From the bottom of underneath pass, reach up and find babies foot and bring this through the pass. Ensure the fabric is in their knee pit.


Lean forward slightly and move baby to other shoulder and swap supporting hands. Then bring babies foot through as per last step. Let the wrap take babies weight with them sitting on the cross passes to allow their bottom to drop lower than their knees.


Supporting baby underneath their bottom using the hand of the top pass, use free hand to spread the bottom pass until your supporting hand is covered. Place free hand on babies bottom and then slide covered hand out from under the fabric and complete pulling across babies back.


Remove excess slack by supporting babies weight and working strand by strand across width of wrap. When slack has been gathered up feed this towards ring by leaning forwards (while supporting baby) to pull slack through the ring. As this is a carry with a cross pass the slack goes under the opposite leg to the shoulder it came over initially. Then pull the slack through ring by pulling on the tails.


Supporting baby underneath their bottom using the hand of the bottom pass, use free hand to spread the top pass until your supporting hand is covered. Place free hand on babies bottom and then slide covered hand out from under the fabric and complete pulling across babies back.

Finally tighten strand by strand and work to rings. The carry is now completed.


At this point our final checks are that their airway is clear (you can flip shoulder to keep them visible), that they hands are up near their mouth, fabric is in knee pits and their pelvis is tilted. Check that fabric is smooth on their spine and that you are comfortable too.


Stage Three – Removing baby from the wrap

Remove shoulder flip if you have included one, then un peel the top pass and then the bottom pass so that baby is sat on (and still supported by) the cross pass. Supporting babies back when the wrap is not covering them gently lift them out of wrap.

Why does a bit of fabric mean so much?

Just over two years ago I wrote this blog for the Natural Mamas website: “But it’s just a bit of cloth“.  Since then many more bits of cloth have made it into this house. Isaac is now 3.5 and not carried as much but when he is I still love the flexibility of a woven wrap and often a ring sling too. The memories are even more special the more infrequent they become.

I have owned lots of different wraps but can I make a confession? I have never owned a handwoven, a Pamir or an Artipoppe for example.  Although I have holidayed and played with some of them. I haven’t wanted to own one. That does not mean I have always brought standard line wraps and have owned some limited editions and harder to find slings. My beloved Didymos Silver Geckos 6 took 18 months to find.  This lack of High End wraps doesn’t make me any less or more of a wrapper than someone who has only ever used a SPOC or a budget brand. We are carrying our children. That is all that matters. We are holding them close when it matters.

Wrapping has helped me stay sane. From the early days of a Velcro reflux baby, to wake up from naps, during post op recovery, to mundane things of walking the dog and doing the school run. It has let Isaac attend social events from the security of mummies back. Even today at 3.5 he was a little daunted by an event. But cuddles in our ring sling let him get used to where he was before he chose to go and play.

This week however I have taken delivery of a Woven Wings Leaf Gold Geo and paid for a Pavo Textiles wrap.

The WW is for the sling library  but the Pavo is for me. Why have I just brought it? Well it is called Coy Hearts. My surname is Coy.  I felt it would be the perfect way for us to end our carrying journey. I just hope Isaac has the same feelings. I suppose it will be a legacy wrap. Lots of people want to know what their legacy wrap is. Often believing it has to be the one release on the day their baby was born. It what if you don’t like it? What if there wasn’t one?  A legacy wrap can be anything if you like it, anything that means something to you. I am dreading the day our carrying journey comes to an end. So I suppose I should enjoy the cuddles while I can and make the most of them.