When your little one grows enough that he or she is no longer content always nestling against your chest, pulling one of your baby’s shoulders and arms out of the wrap keeps him close while giving him a little more of a view of the world that is beginning to catch his attention. This age (3 months, in the picture) wonderfully combines the cuddly closeness of babywearing with the burgeoning awareness and absorption of the world and your activities. Before you know it, your baby’s sharp eyes will be taking in everything, whether it’s a natural wonder or how to pay for groceries.
Education isn’t just for big kids–it is a constant process for any human being and the younger you are, the faster you’re learning! It’s no coincidence that my love of wrapping my babies progressed to a discovery of the unschooling philosophy!
Keeping your baby close in your wrap means that your baby is learning from your every move–whether his muscles are learning balance from your muscles, or he is taking in the delicacy of human interaction. When you see an old friend, how does your breath, heartbeat, and body language change? How does your voice sound, and what expressions do you make? How about when you interact with a panhandler in the parking lot. Baby notices the differences and is learning all the time, effortless for both of you.
We’re crossing state borders regularly now, and so far we haven’t escaped Summer. Most of the country is HOT right now! Mothers of babies are, perhaps, destined to be a little warmer than the rest of the population. Like pregnant women, it is part of the package: we trade uninterrupted sleep and bodily autonomy for the joys of motherhood.
Well, growing a baby in your womb is hot work, and producing milk on demand is hot work, and holding a hot little bundle of joy is hot work. The last thing you want is to wrap all that warmth up in a thick piece of fabric!
Keep your baby’s comfort in mind, too. Make sure neither of you are getting overheated. If you need to, find an indoor playplace to replace outdoor playground outings. Stay hydrated. Use a hand held fan. There are lots of options, and here are a few more ideas for staying safe and comfy in warm weather.
What tricks do you experienced babywearers have for staying cool while staying close?
My wrapping style, like my parenting in general, has gotten more comfortable and relaxed now that I’m on the third baby. You know how they tell you that your newborn baby needs to wake up to nurse every two hours, should have 6-8 wet diapers per day, and needs to wear a hat? These are rules designed to help out new, nervous parents, and they’re designed to reassure them too: baby’s peeing enough, thank goodness! The rules are training wheels.
Like riding a bike, once you learn to parent you never forget. And you never need training wheels again. So I haven’t counted diapers, have no idea how often Cassidy is nursing, or how long he’s slept in between. I know enough to know he’s healthy and thriving without those measurements.
Wrapping has rules, too, and once you understand what they’re for and what really matters, you don’t need them anymore. For example, if you know why your baby’s knees should be positioned higher than his or her bottom, you understand enough to know that your baby is positioned well without checking knee-butt level ratio.
Sure a Front Cross Carry is supposed to cross in between your baby’s legs, but as long as your wrap job provides a good seat, you can cross over the legs instead, rebozo style.
Sometimes my baby’s feet are wrapped in the wrap, sometimes they stick out. Sometimes one sticks out.
And when I lower my baby to nurse, in an upright position, he often ends up reclining in more of a cradle position–without my having rewrapped him. And it doesn’t matter whether he’s upright or cradle, just that I know he’s supported ergonomically and can nurse comfortably.
I don’t want to give the impression I’ve given over to lazy wrapping. Rather I feel that it’s effortless (for the most part) and more like improvisation. Maybe I don’t plan exactly what carry I’m doing. I just get my baby positioned where I want him and when I’m done, he’s all wrapped up!
And while I’m worrying less about the details, in a way, I pay more attention to them, too. For example, this baby is my littlest and as such I pay closer attention to his vitals. I’m not worried, I just want to make sure his face isn’t buried in a blanket, since he’s not as buff as my others (yet). And by this point in my babywearing career I understand the physiology behind the danger of letting my baby’s chin fall against his chest. And I recognize that this can happen in an upright position as well as a cradle position, so I am attentive to his chin position and far more likely to tilt his head back, than I am to worry so much about supporting the back of his head.
From this perspective, I have advice for babywearers that perhaps haven’t gained this confidence: RELAX! Yes, it is important to use your carrier correctly for safety and comfort, but remember that you can adjust on the fly, you can take it off and try again, and you can learn something from every attempt. So try to keep it light. And if it’s working, don’t fret over whether it looks just the same as in the picture. In fact, don’t be afraid to mix it up, some! Remember, wrapping isn’t just functional…it’s an art! Art is meant to be a unique expression, not a reproduction!
Anyone who sells or promotes a product should accompany that pitch with advice for using the product safely. But it’s lately occurred to me that “babywearing safety” is mostly the same thing as “baby safety” and is good for any parent or caregiver to be familiar with, whether or not a baby carrier is in use:
an infant’s neck should not be curled with the baby’s chin against baby’s chest–this obstructs the airway and has proven fatal in small or weak infants. When your baby is in your arms, crib, carseat, swing, baby carrier, or anywhere else, make sure that you can easily fit your two fingers in the space between chin and chest to ensure that your baby has a clear airway.
as much as possible, you should be able to see your baby’s face. Proximity is the best defense against SIDS both because your baby’s body will take breathing cues from your body, and because you will be there to observe if something goes wrong and can intervene before it is too late. Babies’ faces should not be covered. Even a breathable fabric will leave your baby inhaling stale air and will prevent your being able to see his or her face.
spines have a natural curve that we should support. Keeping a baby’s back straight and flat is not optimum, nor is a concave curve, as often occurs when a baby is worn facing outward (with the baby’s back against the babywearer’s stomach). Teach your baby to lie flat in a baby device only in moderation and stay mindful that each flat baby holding device you use adds up to more flattened-spine time. This may include strollers, carseats, cribs/bed (if baby sleeps on back), playmats, etc. Remember that evolutionarily, that baby’s body expects to be in arms most of the time, where it can curl up into a desirable position.
spines are developing throughout the first year of your baby’s life, and it is important not to put stress on the spine by sitting all of the baby’s weight on the base of the spine. Baby carriers that hold babies upright but do not support their thighs, suspend baby by the crotch, with the entire weight of baby resting squarely on the base of his or her spine. When using a device to carry baby upright, make sure it is in a more seated position, with the carrier coming under to support baby’s thighs at least out to each knee.
when holding, wearing, or otherwise keeping baby close to you, make sure your activities are safe or out of baby’s reach: cooking, cleaning products, etc. Don’t chop veggies if your baby’s waving arm is within reach in either a high chair or a back carry. Ditto with the hot burner, using chemicals with fumes, and other hazards that I’d hope would be obvious!
I recently added to my store several options for cold-weather babywearing. Of all of them, I picked a kindercoat for myself and this is why:
I only want to own one coat for normal use, pregnant use, and babywearing use. I’m a minimalist.
The fleece insert, used solo, is perfect for most of the cold weather we get in Florida, but I plan to travel a lot soon, and want to have the lighter option as well as the heavier option.
I want a coat I can wear with a front or back carry, a newborn (coming soon) or toddler (I think I can call my 11 month old a toddler now) or both! Also works for babywearing while pregnant (my current scene).
Predictably, the cold weather dissipated immediately upon arrival of my kindercoat. I tried it on a few times but couldn’t get any real use out of it until yesterday. I used just the fleece insert, which was the perfect weight jacket to keep us both warm for a chilly evening walk. The fleece insert is pretty much identical to the fleece kinder jacket, which can be bought separately for a significant savings if you don’t anticipate encountering heavier weather.
With only my six year old around to photograph, here’s what we looked like:
I actually love that last photo! And speaking of love, this is what I loved about the kinder coat insert:
Easy to put on over baby and get head through the head hole.
Easy to tighten (via drawstring) the opening behind baby, so it is snug and doesn’t let in the cold.
Easy to tighten the bottom (via drawstrings) to cinch close around my body. This kept Annabelle’s feet tucked inside the warm coat, and kept cold air from coming up through the bottom.
The collar of the jacket that Annabelle laid her head on covered my hair, which kept it from getting pulled!
The whole thing was soft and warm.
When we went inside later and Annabelle was asleep, I was able to remove the coat without waking her.
All of the wraps I use are woven wraps. There is another kind of wraparound carrier known as a stretchy wrap. Stretchy and woven wraps are close cousins in that they are both long pieces of fabric which you tie around yourself and your baby in the position of your choice. They are tied similarly (or, in many cases, identically).
The difference? The stretchy wrap has more give, so it is less sturdy and secure as your child grows heavier, or in a back carry where you cannot keep an eye on the fabric, or quickly thrust out your hands to adjust as needed!
All the advice I give applies to woven wraps. Stretchy wraps are great, too, but have a more limited use, and I have very little experience with them from which to give advice. Look for tons of tips and experience on the premier (and free) babywearing discussion forums: www.thebabywearer.com
How do you babywear in cold weather? As it turns out, there are many options.
Babywearing outerwear specifically designed for accommodating the two of you and the babycarrier. Babywearing outwear comes in the form of coats, sweaters, jackets and ponchos. Some are for cooler weather than others. Some are water resistant. Some are made from natural and some from synthetic materials.
Babywearing covers that cover the baby and baby carrier for warmth, but do not cover the babywearer (who would wear their own coat).
Larger winter coats for the babywearer to wear that are big enough to close around baby as well, so that both are inside the same coat. Mens coats, swing coats and A line coats are all good options, buttoned up just as far as baby’s neck. As baby and wearer would be sharing the same head hole, it may be necessary to wear a scarf or shawl to cover your neck and chest between the two of you.
Traditional shawl, poncho, or pashmina can be wrapped around both of you. Wool is an excellent material for warmth, water resistance, and breathability.
Bundling baby within the carrier, and wearing your own coat on top.
Some people do their bundling (mother and baby in winter gear) and then put the babycarrier on top of all the coats, as in the photo above. This is not my favorite option as coats can be slippery and unsafe to babywear over, and the bulk can make it tricky to get a comfortably tight carry. It also eliminates the babywearing benefit of having baby close enough to hear your heartbeat, smell you, etc. Also, your warmth is the best way to keep your baby warm so I like to avoid layers between you. However, in some circumstances it works great and it is nice to have the option.
If you want to wrap over Winter gear, consider that you may need a longer wrap than you are used to (or learn shorter carries that you can do with your wrap). You will not have as much flexibility once you are bundled up, so opt for simple carries with fewer layers or easy to spread passes. And look for warm sweaters, jackets, and coats that are not too puffy or slippery for you both to wear under the wrap, like sweaters and fleece.
It is easier to wrap over winter clothes that are not too bulky or slippery so you can get a snug, comfortable, and secure carry.
You should also think about whether you will want yourself and baby to stay bundled up when you get to your destination.
If you’re going to the mall or grocery store, you’re not going to want to be wearing coats when you get there, and you will probably still want baby wrapped up when you get there, so it will be most convenient to NOT have baby bundled up inside the wrap. One coat over both of you is easiest to remove and carry.
Putting one big winter coat over you and your baby carrier allows you to take advantage of each others body heat and also helps keep baby from overheating because your bodies can regulate better and you are experiencing the same temperature as your baby.
If you’re wearing your toddler to the park where he will want to get down and play, then you will want baby out of the wrap, but with his own coat. I find it works well to wrap the baby up with his arms out of the wrap, and then put the coat on outside of the carrier. His arms will go into the sleeves, hood will go over his head, and the coat will remain open, covering his back outside the wrap while his front is toastily pressed against yours. When you get to the park, you pop him out and you and he leave your coats on and button them up at this point.
You can also bundle baby up within the wrap and then put your own coat on over the top, either leaving it open in front or zipping it up part way, under baby.
Front Cross Carry is the perfect winter carry because it is “poppable” which means that you can tie it on at home and put baby in or pop baby out without retying. This makes it very fast to come in and out of a wrap so that you and your baby are not shivering in the cold while you get wrapped up.
Keep in mind that babies are not supposed to wear coats in carseats if the seat belt has to be adjusted looser to accommodate the extra bulk. A blanket over top of the baby once strapped in is a safer plan. So if you are driving, you want the easiest way to keep baby bundled up on the way to the car, and from the car to the house, without a baby coat or bunting. If you don’t have other things to carry or other kids hands to hold, and your car is just out in the driveway, it may be easiest to simply carry your baby in a blanket or under your coat, climb into the car, close the doors, and get him buckled in and tucked in. When you get to your destination, you can either wrap baby up while sitting in the back seat (may take some practice or a roomy vehicle), or carry bundled baby into the mall (for example) and then wrap him up once you are inside.
If you like the idea of a babywearing coat, but lack the funding, consider making your own:
I’ve not used rebozos much, except for a while when Ada was two and I used one for a quick rucksack tied under the bottom…which is not really a rebozo carry anyway!
Well, I tried some rebozo front carries with Annabelle when she was littler, and it was never as easy, adjustable, or intuitive (for me) as a longer wrap so I pretty much stuck with longer wraps.
Because I love playing with wraps and trying new things, I tried a rebozo back carry a few weeks ago and it was REALLY GOOD! As someone who is familiar with wrap back carries, I found the rebozo carry very similar and easy to manage. The diagonal length of fabric across my back, tied in front, is just like many a back carry with a longer wrap.
I think my hang-up with the front carry is that I have to A) reach around my big ole baby to tie it, and B) I don’t have two wrap ends to pull on for tightening or adjustment. Both of those problems are non-existent with the back carry. As a dedicated wrapper living in hot, humid, Florida, I should really work on those rebozo chops. For now, I’m pretty stoked about the back carry, though!
If you’re new to babywearing on your back, you and your baby both need to become comfortable with it.
If you are worried or uncertain, your baby will be worried and is likely to cry.
I recommend practicing without the wrap. The best place is where you and your baby can both see yourselves in a mirror. This helps you to know what’s happening, and is a source of entertainment. If you are not certain you can keep your baby from dropping, of course you must begin over a bed or other soft surface, or with a spotter hovering behind you. Soon you will find that you can smoothly and easily move your baby from your front to your back and back to the front again safely.
Make it a game for your baby or toddler. Play around with it. Make funny faces and funny sounds. Shout, “Super-baby!”
If your baby becomes upset, scared, or frustrated, stop and try again another time when he or she is clearly in a playful, wide-awake, not-hungry mood!
There are several ways to get your baby onto your back. A toddler can often climb on when you squat in front of her and offer a piggyback ride. Otherwise you can scoot your baby or child around your hip to your back, or lift baby, rotate, and place him or her over your shoulder. Your baby might enjoy your swinging him or her around before settling him on your back.
Most back carries with a wrap will have either rucksack straps (the wrap comes straight down from your shoulder and goes underneath the same arm like a backpack–or vice versa, from under one arm to over the same shoulder) or are crossed across the chest so the wrap goes from over one shoulder to under the opposite arm.
A lot of people like rucksack straps because it saves having to find a way to spread the wrap across your chest without looking funny. A lot of people like rucksack straps because they’re cooler, and use a little less fabric.
Some people don’t like rucksack straps because they pinch, or cut off circulation, or feel like they’re going to slip off your shoulders. It varies by individual.
If you are not comfortable with rucksack straps, do the same carry but cross over your breasts instead of doing rucksack straps. If your wrap is long enough, you also have the option of tying Tibetan (instead of doing the cross) to pull the straps together in the center and relieve any pressure or prevent slippage.
Conversely, if you do not care for a cross in the front, you can still do your favorite, traditionally crossed, carry, but use rucksack straps instead of a cross.
Today I took advantage of the versatility of a wrap to switch from rucksack straps to crossed in front. Belle was asleep in a short Double Hammock Carry (tied under the bum) and after a while my arms started to feel tingly, even though I am usually completely comfortable with rucksack straps. I switched to crossed and she stayed up there for another hour.
I dedicated yesterday to my 3.6 meter Inka Storchenwiege. It is one of my very favorite wrap colorways, has been used plenty and is floppy soft, and I used it in July in Florida, albeit mostly indoors.
I am something like 5’3 and 115 lbs. The 3.6 was too short for FWCC or BWCC, but there were a lot of carries I could do.
We went swimming in our friend Darlene’s pool last week and she took some pictures of Annabelle and I in the water wrap. I tied it in a front cross carry, with the tie behind her back instead of under her legs. And Darlene put Audrey in their new Alice Bali Baby Breeze wrap!
It is true of all human babies that they must be able to breathe. This is true in arms, in bed, in wraps, and in cars. Always and everywhere.
Usually there is no difficulty. But in the case of a very young infant, especially premature or weak infants, extra care is wise as the baby may not be able to move their head to get a clear breath, or to move away any obstruction. They are entirely dependent and should ideally never be out of sight.
I love a baby wrap for keeping your baby always under your attentive eye. What you should be looking out for is that the baby’s face is always clear–not covered by cloth or blankets or anything else; and the baby’s neck is straight–not doubled over with chin close to chest.
When using a cloth baby carrier, make sure it holds the baby in such a safe position and that you can see your baby’s face.
When putting your baby down to sleep make sure it is on a firm surface with nothing nearby that can end up covering your baby’s face.
When baby is being held, maintain their position so that their necks are not overly bent.
When baby is in a car seat, try to keep baby’s head from folding down into an unsafe position. When possible, have an adult where they can see the baby, and do not use the car seat more often than necessary.
Any recommendation that slings and baby carriers be avoided is not necessary when parents understand how to safely care for their infants in AND OUT of carriers. The rules for breathing are the same. Please comment with any questions you may have about this. I teach safe babywearing locally, and will be happy to let you know of any babywearing classes I may know of in other areas.
a few weeks old . . . face clear, head tilted upward
“I’m looking for a wrap for my toddler and will keep it later for my 2nd child. She is now 18 months and at the moment I’m using ring sling to carry her. I often experienced pain on one side of my shoulder and that’s why I’m looking for a wrap. I’m quite new to this things and hope you can help me with the following inquiries:
i) What is the different between woven and stretch material? What is the purpose of both?
ii) I would like to carry my daughter in cross cradle, front wrap cross, pocket wrap cross, cross carry, back wrap cross, rusksack carry positions. Based on this position requirement what is the best length of the material should I purchase. I am 5 feet 3 inch (160cm tall). My daughter now is 24lbs.
iii) I’m staying in a hot climate country, what the best material to keep my baby cool.
iv) You have a huge collections, based on my requirement which one will you suggest to me??”
I’ve used many woven wraps, but only rarely used a stretchy wrap, so I am not an expert on stretchy wraps, but here is what I know about it: Many people consider them easier for people who are new to wrapping. Many people consider that they can only be used for the first few months of a baby’s life, and then the baby becomes to heavy to use a stretchy wrap comfortably. Many people also consider stretchy wraps unsafe for back wrapping.
A woven wrap is fantastic for a newborn or a toddler and is the most versatile carrier, and so I would not recommend that you get a stretchy wrap.
A medium wrap (around 4.6 meters long) is perfect for the average person to do all of those carries. If you are bigger or smaller you might prefer a bigger or smaller wrap. Here is more information about sizing.
I think you will be very happy with a woven wrap for carrying your toddler, your newborn, and for keeping the weight distributed across your torso and both shoulders. Let me know if you have any more questions!
A customer has a wrap that she likes but wants a Bali Baby Breeze and wants to know which size to get. Here are some things to consider:
The Bali Baby Breeze sizes are in half yard increments.
When you use your wrap, do you have much fabric left hanging? If you could do your favorite wrap-ups with less fabric, you can get away with a smaller size (measure the excess to make sure there’s plenty to tie with half a yard less fabric).
Alternately, maybe you wouldn’t mind an extra half a yard hanging down and you can get the larger size. Half a yard is 1.5 feet. If you had 1.5 extra feet, that would be 9 extra inches on each tail.
When Ada was a baby, I had fewer luxuries, but over the years we’ve acquired them slowly, and since we had all the baby things we needed leftover from Ada, this time we get to splurge on some of the baby things we wanted!
You know, like a nice wet bag instead of an old plastic grocery bag for wet diapers…
And a water wrap, for wearing Belle in the shower, pool, or at the beach! Awesome! Also, not so necessary with baby number one, but now that I have a five year old to keep up with, a water wrap for the five month old is so valuable! I love this thing:
Belle is watching and learning how to become a handful.
my beautiful family
safe and comfy at the beach
And it actually would have been VERY handy for baby number one, who was a never-put-me-down kind of baby, so I could have taken the occasional shower! I don’t really need to shower with Belle, because she waits patiently for me, but it’s a fun experience anyway: