However, nothing quite beats the feeling of easing your squishy newborn into a stretchy wrap for the first time. Seeing a mum's shoulders relax, hearing her sigh of relief and seeing that lovely smile on her face when baby settles all tucked up super cosy against her chest is one of the very best parts of my job. Nothing beats the utter beauty and choice of woven wraps, it is a magical world of colours, fabrics and patterns. Nothing quite beats being able to provide a cosy place for your bigger baby to hide all tucked up on your front or nestled against your back, just peeking out over your shoulder taking in the world that you both share. Nothing beats being able to still babywear when you have back or shoulder injuries or problems, using a woven wrap that can be tied in a particular way so as to avoid the weak part of the body.
But the world of long pieces of fabric can be a scary place to enter into...lets break it down:
Where on earth do I start?
A stretchy wrap was my gateway into wrapping. They are a brilliant way to start because they fully support a tiny newborn while they still want to be all tucked up in that gorgeous 'C' shape. With a stretchy wrap you pre-tie it before putting baby into it and so it makes it a brilliant way to get started with wrapping. My favourite stretchy slings are VSL (which we conveniently stock!) and the Hana Stretchy sling, which contains bamboo making it naturally anti-bacterial and awesome for warmer months.
If your baby is older than about 4 months though I would suggest getting straight into using a woven wrap...
Although it seems super long, you're going to want to start with a size 6 wrap which is 4.6m. This will allow you to tie a basic Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC - see day 1 of our wrap challenege) which is a carry that is suitable for newborns all the way up to toddlers, the very bread and butter of wrapping. It is what we call a “base size” for most people. It will also allow you to learn some multiple pass back carries, which offer lots of support when back carrying with a woven.
Wrap sizes go lots smaller and a little bit longer than the size 6. Different sizes allow you to do different carries. So for example a shorter wrap will allow you to do a quicker shorter carry (mostly back carries). It takes practise to get the most out of a short wrap which is why beginning with a size 6 enables you to get to grips with how wrapping works and what happens when you put this bit there, and tug that piece here...
There are lots of amazing fabric choices and often wraps are made using blends of 2 or 3 fabrics, here's a quick guide.
Cotton: basic wrap fabric – a thicker cotton wrap will provide a good level of support
Combed cotton: very soft stroke-able fabric for a wrap
Organic cotton: an excellent choice if you are interested in the production of your cotton
Bamboo: soft, naturally anti-bacterial and ideal as a blend for a newborn wrap
Linen: strong and breathable, excellent for bigger babies and toddlers.
Hemp: beautifully textured, strong and cushy
Wool (merino/cashmere etc): lovely for the winter with lovely strength
Silk: glides and grips beautifully.
Practise, practise, practise
Wrapping is a learnt skill. It is a skill which needs practising and perfecting over time and a skill which grows and changes with you as your baby does. Don't ever be disheartened if you don't get a carry just right on the first go, or if you have a bad wrap day (we all have them). Practise over a bed, with a teddy, or with someone else to spot you. Come along to one of our workshops or book a 1:1 consultation, it's so worth all the effort.
How to choose?
So you want to buy a woven wrap but there are so very many choices, which to choose? Well my suggestion is to find one firstly that suits your budget and you like the colours of. Wraps we have in the library come from these companies:
Some wraps are more expensive than others. Generally you do get what you pay for in terms of wrapping qualities but I have a lot of love for a basic Lenny Lamb rainbow (my first woven wrap).
Rails and tails and passes
There are technical terms used when we talk about wrapping and how to do it, the picture below points to:
Rails: which need tightening when wrapping
Passes: the layers of fabric covering baby (can be single layer or multiple)
Tails: the end of the wrap as you tie off
Shoulder Passes: the “straps” you make for your shoulders with the wrap fabric
Is it worth it?
Sure is. I love wrapping because it's cosy, gorgeous and I can get the wrap just how I like it. There is something very earth mother-y about wrapping which is appealing to me in a world of modern gadgets for babies and life in general. It's a magical art which allows for cuddles, security and bonding opportunities for you and your child.
Join us over on the Facebook page for our 30 day wrap challenge where we will be taking you through a new carry each day throughout June.