A note on wraps.
Different people like different ways to wear their babies, but one of carriers I use a lot with my babies is a wrap.
A wrap is a long piece of material that you tie around you in various ways to securely wear your baby or babies. In my opinion, it offers the adult superb support (I still have SPD at 6 months post-partum, and wrapping a baby well means I can barely feel the weight!). Because the fabric is used to firmly carry the baby next to you, there is a less ‘hangy’ feeling, which is particularly important when you are wearing more than one baby or toddler.
Wraps are very versatile. You can wear one baby on your back, front, or hip using a variety of ways to tie. You can wear two babies on your front (newborn twins) or on your back (though I’ve not tried this yet!). You can also wear one baby on the front and one on the back. Wraps offer excellent weight distribution, and have the added bonus of The Snuggle Factor.
Wraps come in a wide variety of lengths.
Once a baby has outgrown a wrap, it is quite easy to sell them on – and depending on the make and style, you may be able to recoup what you paid for it in the first place. Some people keep their wraps to pass on for their children to use when they have children. Other uses for wraps are swings, hammocks, blankets, or building ‘tents’ in your house!
There are a few different types of wraps.
The most mainstream seems to be something like a Moby wrap. This is known as a ‘stretchy’ wrap because it is very elasticated. These sorts of wraps are usually supremely soft and cuddly, though they are limited in use. Stretchy wraps stop being useful for a singleton when that baby hits around 14 or 15 pounds (please note I am speaking in general terms). After that point, the fabric is not as supportive and the baby may slide down, the fabric may pull on the parent’s shoulders and they will feel the weight, etc.
Stretchy wraps are often flaunted as being a great way to wear twins – and for tiny twins (newborn or premature), they probably are. Popular instructions for this show how to wear both babies on your front. Again, these sorts of wraps are about how comfortable you and the babies are. You also need to wrap very tightly with stretchy wraps (woven wraps are more forgiving). Stretchy wraps are not recommended for wearing a baby on your back (with perhaps the exception of tandem wearing with a Wrapsody, which is twin-friendly if you like stretchy/hybrid wraps).
Snort in a stretchy wrap. (Wrapsody/Gypsy Mama Baby Bali Stretch – Isis)
The non-mainstream but most widely used by *ahem* hardcore babywearers are woven wraps. These are suitable from newborn to age three – and beyond! You can comfortably wear one or two babies in this sort of wrap – I prefer to have one on my back and one on my front.
Woven wraps have a slight diagonal stretch – but don’t be deceived by the word ‘stretch!’ They are very supportive wraps, and when I have both babies snugly in one I am not exaggerating when I say I can barely notice their weight. (Snort is over 17 lbs, Coconut over 16 lbs!) I adore woven wraps and they are really all I use, particularly those from Didymos.
Woven wraps, brand new, can be expensive. Some brands are pricier than others, but I do think it’s a good idea to do your research. If you go onto a babywearing forum (see the links at right), you can buy a secondhand woven wrap for a very reasonable price! Another bonus of getting a pre-loved wrap is that they are broken in – much like a pair of jeans, woven wraps soften up and get more comfortable with time.
Woven wraps can be organic cotton, cotton, linen, wool, kapok, silk, cashmere – or any combination of the above.
Non-woven, non-stretchy wraps can also be made from gauze, and several companies sell these.
It is also possible to make a homemade wrap from fleece, linen, cotton, etc. Homemade wraps will not have diagonal stretch – so may be best for a smaller/younger baby as they may not offer a good level of support for an older baby.
Wrapping probably has the steepest learning curve of all the ways to wear a baby. Many people feel confused and overwhelmed by the amount of fabric. I felt like I’d never be able to do it the first time I tried – how could I remember all the steps? Would I do it tight enough? What if the babies cried while I was figuring it out?
Coconut in a woven wrap.(Didymos Lena 6)
I started by wearing just one baby in a wrap – and by the fourth or fifth time I did it, it felt much easier. I don’t even think about it now! Wrapping has also helped me get on much quicker with mei tais, buckle tais/soft structured carriers, etc because the logistics are often based on wrapping.
What do you think about wraps? Have you tried them?