I’ve always used 100% cotton wraps. There is a lot of variety available in 100% cotton. But other textiles are popular, and I’m branching out now to find out why:
Bamboo is popular in wraps primarily because of how soft and airy it is. It has a light, silky feel and a lovely sheen but is very strong and durable enough to machine wash (a big perk for parents). What’s more, parents or children with sensitive skin–or those prone to allergies– may find that bamboo’s hypoallergenic and anti-fungal properties and natural UV protection make it the most comfortable carry around. To cap it off, its antibacterial properties make it naturally odor resistant.
Linen, as a fabric, feels fresh and smooth to the touch. In a wrap, the lightweight, breathable fabric is known for cooler wrapping and is often recommended as a Summer wrap for this reason. Because it wicks moisture away, it keeps you and your baby feeling cool and dry. Linen is not very elastic, and perhaps that is why it is popular with parents wrapping heavier babies or bigger kids: as they have less bounce, or give, linen wraps are very sturdy and hold a rock solid wrap job without having to worry about sagging. Linen is also very durable and can be machine washed.
Silk has a beautifully luxurious sheen, and a lovely drape, making for some very classy baby wraps. It is very flexible, molding around you and your baby like a glove, and provides a supportive carry that is also soft and comfortable.
I have a baby, a toddler, and a seven year old. This spectrum of ages gives me some perspective that I didn’t have when my eldest was younger, and it occurs to me that these concepts compliment and build off each other:
When your baby cries, realize he or she is communicating a need. He doesn’t have words, and crying is how he tells you something is wrong.
When your toddler cries, screams, or tantrums, realize that he or she is communicating a need. Her emotions are bigger than her vocabulary and sometimes she doesn’t even know what is wrong, just that something is. Even if you don’t know what’s wrong, you can help her by being patient, calm, and loving so that she knows she is somewhere safe while experiencing scary and overwhelming emotions, and that will allow her to come back into the present moment and calm down when ready.
When your young child “misbehaves” or acts out, realize that he or she is communicating a need. His emotions are bigger than his ability to handle them gracefully, maybe because he’s hungry or tired, or under some other physical stress, because too many things have gone wrong today, or even because something has keyed him into some scary incident in his past that he doesn’t realize is affecting him. The same thing happens to me when I’m not at my prime–I react to unruly kids in ways that I resolved not to, ways that are not graceful or appropriate or helpful. I misbehave, too. You can help me at these times, and you can help your child the same way, by staying patient and calm and loving so that we know we are with someone safe until we feel safe enough to snap out of it and join you in civilized behavior. Sometimes if my husband just silently pulls me in for a long, full hug, that does the trick. You can try the same with your son or daughter. Understand that this is not his usual face, that he is stressed. The better you get at being a good listener and the less advice you offer, the less of that behavior you will see because you will have provided a safe outlet for when things are rough.
Likewise, if your baby bites you, or won’t leave the outlets alone, or pulls your hair, you know that she is learning and experimenting and it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from her, and her safe from everything else so that she can safely explore. When she continues to do these things despite repeated reminders, you know that it is developmentally appropriate 🙂
If your toddler draws on the wall, pulls the cat’s tail, and keeps getting sticks of butter out of the fridge, unwrapping them, carrying them around in his sweaty little hand, then leaving them around the house (What? No, it’s just a random, common example), you can remind yourself that he is learning how to cause effects in his world, practicing how to do things for himself, experimenting with self-determinism and feeling the waters of interpersonal relations. It is your responsibility to set a good example and part of that good example is how to handle unplanned messes and disappointments gracefully. When he fails to stop drawing on the wall when you come in and say, “No, stop that–STOP THAT!” then you remind yourself that this, too, is developmentally appropriate. It is your job to stop him if it’s unacceptable, and it’s also your job to attempt to do it without bruising his self esteem, pride in his work, trust in you, or peace of mind. Because that’s a parent’s impossible job, and the more often we manage it, the sooner our toddlers will grow into responsible and caring children that can be trusted with markers, cats, and the contents of the refrigerator.
If your young child leaves a mess, breaks her possessions, or disobeys direct instructions, remind yourself of how far she has come, how much she has learned, and how much easier she is to live with…than when she was a toddler. Learn to take deep breaths and think before you act. Think back to this blog post when I told you that the more independence you can grant her, the better you can listen to her, the more ways you can find to accept help from her the way she wants to offer it, the more ways you can find to appreciate her, and the more you can refrain from controlling her, the sooner she will improve on all fronts and blossom into the sweet, thoughtful, responsible and trustworthy person you know she is. Every time you put more attention on what she’s doing right, instead of wrong, that’s when you will see her doing more right. And as always, it is your job to set a good example. She will show you respect when she sees you respecting her needs, objections, crises, contributions, explanations, and bright ideas. She will become responsible for her messes, possessions, and obligations as you model responsibility be behaving consistently toward her and in your dealings with others (they are always watching). Your thoughtful and caring actions towards her, will inspire her to think of how you might feel about her actions. Be honest and frank in your communication and in your love. Listen to her, and you will find her listening to you.
And most of all, remember that mothers who blog about how to mother, are subject to all the pitfalls that you are. Lucky for me, this post was about some ideals to operate from, and not about the facts of my parenting wins and fails. These are my beliefs, and when I am calm and all my children are asleep, I think about these ideas and smile peacefully. In the morning I will do my best to operate from them. I think operating with loving intention is an awfully good start.
Do you see too many babies in bucket seats? Harried mothers carrying a baby in one tired arm and pushing an empty stroller in the other? Wish your sister, and cousin, and your BFF knew how much easier life can be with a baby wrap, and how many benefits there are to babies over “container parenting”?
Be the change you want to see in the world!
Babywearing groups are great and I wish there was one available to anyone. But sometimes there’s a mom that has skills and willingness to help, but does not have the time or energy to create a babywearing group. I want to tap that resource for brand new wrappers everywhere because nothing makes wrapping easier than one on one assistance!
Our Facebook community had created a database of individuals, listed by US state or by country, that would be happy to help a new wrapper learn the basics or troubleshoot wrap difficulties. The database was lost during one of Facebook’s many restructurings, but I saved the info before it disappeared. Now the information sits on my hard drive, not helping much of anyone…
So it’s time to put up a new database, not hosted by Facebook or another entity that gets to change the rules whenever they want.
I’m going to create the list on my website, and ask all of you to be brave enough and proactive enough to volunteer your name and contact info so that when a new mom springs up in Somewhere, West Dakota*, and learns about wraps, and starts to think, “that looks too complicated for me—I’ll just use a stroller…” we will be there to say,
“Wraps are easy with practice, and here’s a list of friendly and experienced mamas in your state who wish you would call them so they can help you get the hang of it!”
Because parenting is easier with a wrap, and the babies seem to like it too 🙂
All of the companies I work with are small enough to remain very much in tune with customers’ needs and wants, and so it should be no surprise that wraps are sometimes discontinued to make room for new colors and designs as they emerge. Here’s a look at some of the changes over the past year:
I was disappointed to learn recently that EllaRoo has discontinued their rebozo (2.7 meter) size wraps. I loved EllaRoo rebozos for quick carries, loved the thinness, and the fringe. I have only one remaining EllaRoo rebozo in stock: Seattle. The brand I have in my store that is still available in rebozo size is Storchenwiege, and luckily, they have many colors to choose from. They are thicker which is nice for a cushier feel on the shoulders, and should still not be too warm for a Summer wrapping solution as a one-layered rebozo carry admits plenty of air flow. Reports are that the organic Bio Louise Storchenwieges are thinner and cooler than the other weaves.
In the beautiful world of Bali Breeze, brought to us by the GypsyMama, we have seen several new colors this year, and said goodbye to several more (Gaia, Haumea, Whitman). The latest wrap to be added to the discontinued list is Alice, which has been a pretty good seller for me, but I am consoled by the fact that she is always coming up with new beauties to replace the old and I would hate to miss out on new artwork just because I couldn’t let go 🙂 I still have some Alice wraps in stock (if you don’t see your size, email me as I may be able to get one), but there will be no more manufactured so these are the last. Here’s Alice:
Alice Bali Breeze, with mother and baby Mynah birds
And in the world of Storchenwiege, we have two brand new Leos (the famously soft, supple, cuddly, and beloved weave exclusive to Storch wraps)–Bordeaux and Cafe. Which makes for seven gorgeous Leo colors now available in all sizes!
Leo Bordeaux Storch
And I’ve got my own plans for releasing an exclusive to Wrap Your Baby wrap. But that’s not news yet. You’ll just have to wait…
The wrap is so wonderful because it is so versatile. You get a custom carry every time, tailored to you and your baby.
There are countless ways to tie your wrap, but even one basic tying method, such as the Front Cross Carry, can be used to carry your baby in an upright tummy-to-tummy carry, a semi-reclined or sideways carry, a high and safe cradle carry, a low nursing carry, a high-shoulder/burp hold carry, or even a facing-forward carry for short periods (though I recommend against the forward-facing position).
Front Cross Carry - Newborn Burp Hold
To become an expert, pick one carry that works for you. Learn to tie it, to insert your baby, and then learn to snug and tighten every part of the wrap so that it holds your baby just where you want him or her. Each time you do it, you will become better and faster. The wrap will become like an extension of your own body, another set of arms to cradle the one you love.
But if you don’t pull the slack out of the wrap, it won’t do the job perfectly. Your baby will start to feel heavy and you won’t wear him or her for long. Or you won’t be able to nurse hands-free, because you need to use your arms to keep baby high enough to stay latched. Or you’ll use one hand to support baby’s head. Or baby will complain because the carry is too loose.
Don’t fret. You’re learning. Next time, pay more attention to snugging and tightening every part of the wrap and it will be better. And you do it every day, and in no time, you’ve got it down and can do it without pausing in conversation.
How to snug and tighten properly?
When you put the wrap on, make sure you are not twisting it anywhere. This is easiest accomplished by holding onto only the top edge as you bring the wrap around your back. Gravity will hold the bottom edge down for you, and you have no chance of getting it twisted where you can’t see.
Holding only the top edge of the wrap as I bring it around my back keeps it from twisting.
Because your wrap is not twisted, you can see where there is slack–perhaps at the top, near baby’s head–and you can tighten along that very strand of the wrap at the end of the wrap before you tie.
If your wrap is striped, or has a color gradation, you can use the colors to help know which part of the wrap to tighten.
Remember that the bottom edge of the wrap should be holding up your baby’s knees higher than baby’s bottom. Pull any slack through so that the wrap is smooth and tight under the knees and around baby’s bottom and back.
A woven wrap can catch on something sharp or rough and if some threads get pulled or torn, you’ve got a hole in your lovely wrap! Of course the important thing is to ensure that the wrap is still safe to carry a little one in.
Some of the ladies on the Facebook page knew what to do when one member of our community had this problem and I wanted to preserve the answer for others who need it in future:
“You just use a machine to straight stitch long zig zags (like 3 inches long back and forth), then repeat the same thing in a perpendicular pattern.”
After that, just keep an eye on it to make sure your fix has solved the problem and . . . Happy Babywearing!
I imagine all babywearers hear it, but wrappers more than most, I think: “I would never be able to do that–I’m not coordinated,” or “That looks so complicated,” or even, “I wish I could do that!”
If you are already wrapping your baby, you may have thought it looked hard at first, too. But now it’s easy. So what do you say to the lady in the store who thinks she could never do it?
Some moms in this community had great suggestions. Tegan says, “It’s easy once you get the hang of it!” Simple and believable 🙂 Then, she shows them! That is key!
Mandy offers to let people try her wrap. Because who is going to invest in a wrap if they don’t believe they can use it?
Siobhan explains that is much harder for her to listen to her baby cry. Ah, the emotional argument!
And Haddas tells them that her 6 year old niece taught her…that puts it in perspective!
So whatever you say, keep it light, and speak from the heart. Remember that saying something like, “It’s not that hard, and it helps me so much!” can be more persuasive than a well-thought out argument with bullet points and scientific references.
Half the wrappers around will tell you that a Rucksack Back Carry is the easiest and should be the first one you learn. It’s true that a Rucksack IS easy and very fast, IF you are good at it. But the other half of the wrapping mamas will tell you that it’s impossible, that they gave up, that it took tons of practice, or that baby never feels secure in a Rucksack.
Why such discrepancy? It’s because you have to know how to get a real good seat in a Rucksack, or it just won’t fly. So if that comes easily, or you figure it out early, Rucksack is easy. And if it took you two years to finally have it click, well after that it’s easy, too. I’m hoping this video showing my method for a deep seat will help be that moment that makes it click so that the Rucksack is easy for you.
Rucksack is such a wonderful tool to have in your toolbox! When you do know how to do it, it’s the fastest thing in the world. I invariably do a Rucksack when the cashier at the grocery store asks me how I got my kid back there by myself. “Wanna see?” I offer, and I take my child down from whatever back carry he had been in, and toss him up in a quick, easy, secure, and always impressive Rucksack. Makes babywearing look easy, which it should.
And while my video isn’t about this, I should note that it is also important in a rucksack to pull the top edge of the wrap good and tight so that your little one cannot lean back away from you. There should not be space between his tummy and your back.
A customer asked about babywearing and dancing. She had seen a video once of someone flamenco dancing with a baby on her back. Could she continue her traditional dances with baby wrapped up? So I asked around and I am in love with all the babywearing dancing I turned up.
Firstly, thanks to some help from the gals on the facebook page, we found the Flamenco Dancer. Love it!
Or their own Boston Babywearing version of Wheels on the Bus:
And what about expressing your love of babywearing with a music video:
When I asked the Facebook community, several people told me they dance in their livingrooms with their babies. Many prefer baby wrapped on the front so they are like a dance partner or can be cuddled while danced around. And their babies love it!
And then I googled “babywearing dance” and found out that lots of places and groups are offering babywearing dance classes. My heart swells at the thought of all the fun being had dancing and babywearing! Do you?
Most babies upwards of 6 or 7 months will enjoy having their arms out of the wrap when you wear them, but when they fall asleep, this makes it difficult to ensure that the wrap provides them with head support. Cassidy (10 months) fell asleep on my back in the woods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I had my husband shoot a quick video of how I tuck his arms and shoulders into the wrap.
This shows a Double Hammock Carry but my technique is the same with any back carry: Get hold of baby’s hand and pull baby’s arm up over my shoulder; pull the inner/top edge of the wrap (nearest my neck) down and around baby’s arm and shoulder, then up and back onto my shoulder, letting his arm sink down into the wrap.
If your baby is laying his head against your neck or back as in this video, you don’t need the wrap to hold him or her against you. Sometimes just tucking in the arms pulls baby close enough against you to lean comfortably on you. If you do pull the edge of the wrap over the back of your baby’s head to support it, make sure that baby’s face is clear. Baby will usually lay one side of his face against you, and you pull up whichever side will go over the back of his head, leaving the face clear. Sometimes pulling the wrap up across the baby’s neck will provide support enough to keep his head from hanging.
It should be noted that he stayed asleep throughout (though he doesn’t always) and the squawking you can hear is from his two year old sister who was impatient with daddy for standing still while she was wrapped on him.
Once you pick a carry, there are still so many variations and ways to customize it for comfort or appearance! Here is a video that shows several different ways to do the straps in a rucksack carry:
standard rucksack straps
crossed in front
twist in front
Different people have different experiences. Some find the EllaRoo not as comfy with a heavier kid as thicker German-Style Woven Wraps. Others happily use their EllaRoos exclusively through toddlerhood.
NOTE: the term “rebozo” in wrapping is no longer used to refer to a short wrap (or any kind of wrap pass or carry) because a rebozo is a traditionally woven cloth used in some cultures for babywearing and other uses. I have changed the title of this old post to reflect that.
Anyone up for a rebozo challenge? I love wraps, but I’ve hardly used rebozo carries at all. The rebozo back carry works for me pretty intuitively…but the front carries need some work. They remind me of the very beginning of my babywearing career when I was struggling to make a Maya Wrap ring sling work. I never did get that right, and I switched to wraps, which were easier for me from the start.
Well a rebozo front carry is a lot like a ring sling carry and there’s a hump I’ve got to get over. It’s just so hard to bother with, when there are so many carries with a longer wrap that are easy, fast, and comfortable! And yet, the challenge of it!
And what an impressive skill! Tying your baby on with a long piece of cloth is awesome, but the ability to do it with a short piece of cloth, that would make you unstoppable, wouldn’t it?
So…are you up for it? Shall we become mistresses of the mighty rebozo? Report back to each other so we can’t get lazy? Or if you are a rebozo expert, will you give me your tips?
In the babywearing world there is a category of carrier disdainfully referred to, by those in the know, as “crotch-danglers.” It’s not that these disdainful mamas are elitist. No, it is that they know what an unsupportive position this is for a baby, and how much stress it puts on the base of the baby’s spine and they wish all the other mamas in the world knew it, too, before they gave or received one of these Bjorn-style carriers for a baby shower present!
A wraparound carrier should be used to hold baby with the optimum leg positioning as shown in the link. This is best achieved when baby is facing your body, with a wide seat underneath the baby’s bottom and thighs. If you have a carrier that does not allow for this, chuck it! There are lots of better options.
Start with a front carry and move on to back carries once you have a good feel for using your baby wrap.
To keep the fabric from getting twisted when you pull it across your back, grasp only the upper edge of it so that you know gravity will keep it straight for you.
When pulling to tighten the wrap, look to see if a particular strand of the wrap is loose–say the top, around baby’s shoulders– and pull on the corresponding section of the end you are tightening, in this case, the upper portion of the wrap. If you kept it untwisted, you can in this way tighten precisely where needed and you’ll find that this helps keep baby from sinking down in the wrap, helps provide sturdy head support, and keeps baby solidly in an optimum–and comfortable–position.
Wrap your baby high up on your chest. Baby’s bottom should be no lower than your belly button and baby’s head should be close enough to kiss.
Keep baby’s knees raised higher than his bottom whether his legs are tucked into the wrap in a newborn-froggy position, or whether legs are wrapped outside the fabric. This will ensure a good seat in the wrap and proper support of baby’s spine. This means that the bottom edge–or rail–of the wrap will get pulled a little tighter, pulling baby’s knees up and holding them against your torso, while the wrap spread across baby’s bottom will obviously have farther to go, though the wrap should be uniformly taut across all of baby’s body, fitting like a bandage around a wrist.
Each layer of wrap around your baby should be pulled snug before the next layer goes across. Any slack in the wrap means that in a few minutes baby will have sunk down or changed position.
Finally, don’t fret! Practice makes perfect and stressing over it will NOT make it easier. Each time you wrap, you’ll learn more about it, so no attempt is wasted. Try again, later!
Mothers who experience SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, also called Pelvic Girdle Pain) after giving birth may find that some baby carriers that put weight on the hips–such as soft structured carriers like the Ergo–are painful. This does not have to put a damper on your babywearing:
A short wrap (rebozo) can be used like a ring sling or pouch, simply knotted and looped over your head and one arm like a messenger bag. Your baby rides on your front or hip in this manner, and none of the weight is distributed to your hips.
However, you may be even more comfortable with a two-shouldered carry, and one that distributes your baby’s weight evenly across your torso, instead of concentrating it on one shoulder. For such a supportive and comfortable carry without a hip band my first recommendation is a Double Hammock Back Carry because it wraps tightly around your upper torso in its entirety. Try tying it high under your breasts instead of at the waist, or finish it off with a Tibetan tie instead of tying at the waist.
If you want to wear your baby on your front, try a modified Front Cross Carry. By bringing the crosses over both of your baby’s legs, instead of between, you allow the band across your back to stay spread wide and this should result in a very comfy, high, tight front carry good for plenty of cuddles. Here’s a video:
If you have SPD, did this, or something different work for you?
The Hip Cross Carry is easy, fast, and poppable. Great for little babies or toddlers, especially for shorter periods and when there will be a lot of getting in and out, such as when running several errands and switching from wrap to carseat. Or, as in this video, at the playground with a baby:
The hottest thing about baby wearing is your baby. Just as your pregnant belly warmed you up throughout your pregnancy, your little heater–now outside your body–will raise the temperature several degrees anytime his or her body is pressed against you.
Baby carriers that are open on the sides will, naturally enough, allow more air flow and many people think they feel a little cooler. However, those people may not be using the wrap’s versatility to its best advantage here: not many carriers allow you to customize your carry to the weather, but a wraparound baby carrier can!
Use carries with fewer layers like a Rucksack or Kangaroo Carry, which has only one layer across baby, and only rusksack straps or a cross on the wearer’s back. A Front Wrap Cross Carry can be modified to have essentially one layer, by pulling the crosses so that they are bunched up along baby’s sides instead of spread across baby’s back as shown here:
When using a back carry that crosses in the front, try rucksack straps instead for a cooler variation. When your back carry ties around the waist, try tying Tibetan style for a cooler feel.
With other kinds of baby carriers, the fabric is as thick as it is, and you cannot make it thinner by using fewer layers. Padded straps are comfy, but cannot be spread thinly hot weather. And waist straps on other carriers cannot be removed when Summer comes…
“Before I met Toby 3 years ago I was in terrible pain suffering with fibromyalgia infact that bad at times I could barely move if I wanted to go shopping it was a challenge to say the least I even brought an electric scooter to help me get about
“I then got pregnant with William and I was dreading the prospect of having a baby and being in so much pain luckily some of the pain went with being pregnant and I started to enjoy a semi normal life again William was born and he has been very challenging waking every hour in the night would not sleep during the day and would never allow me to put him down
“William is now 17 months and is not your average size baby he is 30lb and wearing some 2/3 year clothes he has always been big for his age and I was having trouble holding him as he was so heavy and he was making the pain in my arms worse
“I then found slings and wow what a difference I could hold my baby and carry on with daily tasks even going to the loo was no longer a challenge it was hard at first though William just did not like being in the sling very much and used to fight with me arch his back tried to get out you name it he did it so I would take him out again
“I persevered and now he loves being up I my back looking at people as we go along the street and in shops he has a better view with what’s about and the best part he holds his arms up when he wants to go in the sling
“I still get asked from some family and friends why do I still carry William on my back and also gosh he is to heavy to be there he will damage your back my answer is he is 17 months old you see other babies his age in a buggy so why not on my back he is to young to walk everywhere also we get some lovely cuddles when we couldn’t if he was in a buggy and no he doesn’t hurt my back his weight is distributed evenly unlike being held in your arms
“What I’m trying to say is that if you have a medical problem yes you can still carry your baby listen to what your body is telling you and never over do things and if you don’t find your perfect carrier in your first purchase don’t be put off there is something out there that will be perfect for you but most of all enjoy”
I love this ending, but here’s an update from this month:
“william is now 19 months and is 33lb oh boy i wish he would stop growing for a bit i was told by my gp a few days ago that i have a bladder prolapse and i should not carry anymore due to williams weight will possibly make things worse i cant just stop carrying my baby we love being close so i have adopted my carry now and can no longer carry on my front but for a few minutes or even half an hour i will wear my baby and listen to what my body is telling me and the first hint of a pain he will be going down