Since I had a ton of emails (and Facebook messages and phone calls, etc) asking me about the wraps in my travel pictures, I thought I might do a little post dedicated to the weird and wonderful world of woven wraps so I can have all of the info in one place :)
There are two different kinds of wraps: woven and stretchy. Stretchy wraps (the most common brand is called a Moby wrap) are really great for the newborn stage because they are easy to use for a beginner and can be tied securely before you put the baby in. They’re also very cuddly and soft and mold right to teeny newborn bodies. Since I stupidly neglected to take any wrapping pics at the time, here is a random pic of the exact same Moby wrap that I had when Delilah was a newborn:
There are two downsides to stretchy wraps, however. One is that they are RIDICULOUSLY hot. However much I loved it, I could only really wear it in the air conditioning because I felt like I was going to die of heat stroke once I stepped out into the Aussie summer sun! The other downside is that because of their stretchiness, they only last until baby is around 12ish pounds. Once baby gets to be heavier than that, the Moby sags too much and isn’t supportive enough, which can be very uncomfortable for the wearer and the wearee.
Since Delilah was a beast baby and was way too heavy for the Moby by the time she hit 2.5 months old, I started searching for something that would work better. I tried out several other carriers (Beco Butterfly, Pikkolo, Babyhawk Mei Tai, Ring Slings) and then one day, I stumbled upon woven wraps and it was love at first sight. Well actually that’s not quite completely true. Woven wraps have a bit of a learning curve and take more than a few tries to get the hang of…but once I started working it out, I knew I found the perfect babywearing fit for us.
We now use the woven wraps every time we go out, as well as around the house every day when I need to get things done. In fact, my house is almost always spotless because she likes being in the wrap while I do dishes, cook, vacuum, do laundry, make the bed, etc. I don’t know what I would do without them! I must admit, when we were planning out our trip to Europe, five weeks without a stroller (when I knew we’d be out and about for hours a day) was a bit daunting. But I can honestly say that I am SO GLAD we didn’t bring one. When all the other parents were struggling with strollers on cobblestone streets or massive train station staircases, we just breezed right by. There were some days that I wore all 21 pounds of Delilah for nine hours straight and it was comfy as can be. It was brilliant!
Now the details. Woven wraps are extremely strong (because of the way they are woven) and much cooler than stretchy wraps. They can be worn from the day baby is born until they are well into toddlerhood (although some fabric blends are more supportive than others for heavy toddlers). They come in many different sizes, lengths, and fabric blends, all of which can be very confusing! They can also be worn dozens and dozens of different ways (called ‘carries’) so it’s a bit overwhelming at first. Hopefully I can clear up some of that confusion in this post :)
When looking for woven wraps, you will notice they come in many different sizes ranging from size 2 (2.7 meters) all the way up to size 7 (5.1 meters). The sizes usually work out like this:
size 2 – 2.7 meters
size 3 – 3.1 meters
size 4 – 3.6 meters
size 5 – 4.1 meters
size 6 – 4.6 meters
size 7 – 5.1 meters
Why all these different sizes you ask? While the size of the wearer is a factor in choosing a wrap size, it has more to do with what carries you are looking to do. If you are beginner, you want a wrap size that will allow you to do a lot of different carries so that you can test them out and find your favorites. For most average sized people, this is a size 6 wrap. If you are plus sized, then you would likely want a size 7, and if you are petite, a size 5 would most likely be enough. The majority of my wraps are size 6, since my favorite carries need that much length.
The shorter wraps can’t be used for quite as many types of carries, but can be more convenient to carry around, since there is less fabric to worry about. They aren’t great for beginners though, since the carries are more complex and easier to mess up. I have two 2.7 meter wraps, for example, that can only really be worn one or two ways…but they are very quick and easy to use for around the house when I just want to throw her up on my back for a few minutes to get something done. If I know I am going to be wearing her for a long time, however, I usually go with a longer wrap, since it allows for several layers of fabric holding her up, and therefore gives me more support.
Woven wraps also come in several different fabric blends and thicknesses. These are usually 100% cotton, silk/cotton, linen/cotton, wool/cotton, cashmere/cotton, and hemp/cotton.
100% cotton wraps are usually very soft and supportive, depending on how thick the particular wrap is. My rainbow wrap (Girasol Snow Rainbow) is a thickish 100% cotton wrap and it is one of my absolute favorites. They’re also super easy to care for, since you can just toss them in the washer and dryer.
Silk/Cotton wraps are not as supportive as other blends and are usually very expensive, however they are very VERY soft. Perfect newborn wraps, in my opinion. I have a silk wrap that Delilah is too heavy for now, but it’s so beautiful and soft that I’m saving it for any future newborns that we might be blessed with. They are a bit harder to care for though, since they need to be hand-washed and hung to dry.
Linen/Cotton wraps are the most supportive wraps, in my opinion. They are the best for toddlers and heavy babies, and are virtually indestructible. They are, however, quite scratchy when they are new, so they take some wearing and squishing (I sit on mine at my computer!) before they get softer. They are also very easy to take care of…just toss in the washer and dryer. My Didymos Marigold wrap is a special linen/cotton wrap in that it’s woven so that all the linen is on one side (the outside orange color) and all the cotton is on the inside (the goldy yellow color). This makes it supportive AND soft, which is why I love it so much!
I don’t have any personal experience with the other three blends (yet, anyway!), but I have heard that wool/cotton wraps are very soft and warm for winter, but are much harder to care for (even more so than silk), so not great for throwing around. Same goes for cashmere/cotton, except they are even softer…so soft that they are very sought after (and very expensive!) newborn wraps. Hemp/cotton blends are not as common, but are apparently good for toddlers.
As you may have noticed in my pictures, I wear my wraps in several different ways. My favorite carries are the Double Hammock Back Carry, the Front Cross Carry, the Rucksack Carry, and the Kangaroo Carry. I learned how to do all of these carries by watching videos on youtube and then practicing a million times. Back carries can be a little intimidating at first, so I practiced on a bed (or with a spotter) until I felt comfortable that I wouldn’t drop her (and that never happened…even when trying the first few times on a bed).
The Front Cross Carry is probably the easiest one to start with for a beginner, mostly because it’s the one carry that you can tie first before you put the baby in (and then adjust, obviously). This is what it looks like when wrapped:
It’s our favorite carry for naps, and how Delilah took every nap when we were on our trip! We also use this one for running errands, since I can pop her in and out very quickly and can keep it tied while I get in and out of the car. We also use it when she’s super fussy, since she’s right there to cuddle up to or soothe if I need to. The video I used to learn the Front Cross Carry is here:
The best back carry to start with is a Rucksack Carry. It’s the easiest and quickest to learn when you are just starting. It can be used with babies who have good head and neck control (usually around the three month mark and older). A Rucksack Carry looks like this (sorry, not the greatest pic!):
My favorite video for learning the Rucksack carry is here:
However, as Caitlin will attest to, the most comfortable back carry is the Double Hammock Back Carry. It’s a bit trickier to learn though, so probably not the best for beginners. Once you get the Rucksack down pat, you should be good to go for trying this one ;) And don’t fret if it takes a while…my first ten tries at least were a total fail. LOL. It didn’t take too long before I got it, however ;) It looks like this:
And my favorite video for learning the Double Hammock Back Carry is here:
For my size 4 wraps, my favorite carry is a Kangaroo Carry. This one is trickier to do on the go, but it’s very comfy and it’s nice to only have to cart around a shorter wrap sometimes. It looks like this (shown with my Didymos Cobalt Rouge Indio):
Here is a great video for the Kangaroo Carry (she does a very good wrap job) except it’s in German –
And here is one in English, although the wrap job is not quite as neat –
If you have a newborn, you will want to use a Front Wrap Cross Carry to start with. It’s the best one for teeny babies. It also works for older babies very well, but Delilah doesn’t like this one as much for some reason! A good video for the Front Wrap Cross Carry with a newborn is here:
And with an older baby is here:
There are many many more carries out there (check out youtube if you are interested), but these are my favorites!
As for brands, the big names are Didymos, Girasol, BBslen, Natibaby, Vatanai, and Storchenweige. Here’s my thoughts on each brand:
Didymos – These are the most sought after, and therefor the most expensive. They sell many different fabric blends, as well as a ton of absolutely gorgeous limited edition wraps. My Marigold and Cobalt Rouge Didymos wraps are limited editions, and therefor aren’t sold anymore (except second-hand, obviously).
Girasol – Very reasonably priced, very supportive, and all around really nice wraps. My Snow Rainbow wrap is a Girasol and it’s one of my favorites. So much that I just ordered another Girasol because they can be thrown around anywhere without worrying about them.
BBslen – These are the best wraps for beginners, in my opinion. They are nice and wide, extremely supportive, and best of all, they’re cheap! Great for buying if you aren’t quite sure if you want to invest in an expensive wrap, but are wrapping curious :) All are 100% cotton, however keep in mind that they tend to shrink in the wash a bit, so better to order a bit longer than too short.
Natibaby – I don’t have any of these, but I want to get one if we have another baby because they sell bamboo blend wraps that are apparently the softest things imaginable. Other than that, I’ve heard good things about Natibaby wraps!
Vatanai – These are the perfect summer wraps. They are much thinner than other brands, and are super cool on hot days. Some people don’t find them as comfortable for toddlers or big babies, however, since thinner wraps can sometimes mean they are a bit less supportive. They are relatively inexpensive as well. I had one Vatanai and I really liked it, but passed it onto another babywearing mama when winter hit and I wanted something warmer :)
Storchenweige – These are super super supportive toddler wraps, but can be very hard to break in. They are stiff as a board out of the box. I have one Storch that I put up for sale because I don’t have the strength to break it in! Those that love Storch’s, REALLY love them though.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Now, where to get them. Most woven wraps are made in Europe (Germany is a huge producer of wovens), however there are lots of North American online retailers. The biggest one is probably Piece of Cloth (they sell most brands):
For Didymos in particular, Birdies Room has EVERYTHING Didymos related:
I got my Snow Rainbow Girasol wrap at Pinkletink Baby and had a very good experience with them:
Woven wraps can also be purchased second-hand. The great thing about doing that is that someone else has already done the breaking in for you! And they are just as good second-hand as new. They also hold their value incredibly well…so much so that you can usually sell a wrap for almost as much as you paid for it, as long as it’s not stained or pulled. The best place to do that is on the For Sale Or Trade forum on thebabywearer.com. It’s very fast-moving and a bit overwhelming at first, but there are a ton of awesome deals to be had. You need to register (it’s free) to view it, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion :)
Well I think that’s it! If anyone needs any more info, please let me know. Also, a great resource for babywearing in general can be found at:
Hope that helps some of you!! :) :) :)