New to babywearing and looking into wrap but not sure where to start? There are a plethora of wraps to choose from and, the brands, colors, weaves, fibers can be overwhelming.
One popular suggestion is to find something that is visually appealing to you. If you like the way it looks, you are more apt to use it. I went with this approach myself; my first wraps were KoKadi Ela in Wunderland size 4 and KoKodai Pink Elephants size 7. However, I didn’t research sizing and the 7 was WAY more than I needed, so I moved on quickly.
Another suggestion is to find a budget friendly wrap to begin with. Don’t invest in a $500 wrap when you aren’t sure wrapping will be your thing. Babywearing doesn't mean you have to be a wrapper! Some people like SSCs, some slings, some don’t like it at all, and that’s ok too! So, I’d suggest start with something in your budget. Wraps can vary from under $100 to $1000+. Why? Because they use high quality fibers and go through costly testing which all contribute to varying prices. The economics of babywearing is another topic - if you are interested in check out http://babywearing102.tumblr.com/post/56148580856/the-economics-of-babywearing
Wraps come in all kinds of weights, thickness, densities, weaves, textures, fibers and all kinds of other textile descriptions that you probably aren't even are of! Some are grippy and some glide, some bounce and some are rock solid, everyone has a preference and you may need to try a few before you know what you like. Do you #needallthewraps?! No, but it’s nice to try a few to experience the differences. Certain wraps are just NOT good for beginners. They are thick, heavy and hard to work with. Some beginners may not have a problem with these types of wraps, but often they harder to work with, feed the slack out or tighten and until you’ve learned a few tricks can be overwhelming.
So what is a good wrap to start with? Some qualities I’d suggest are: thinner to medium thin, cotton, soft easy to break in, stripes and affordable for your budget! I love stripes for learning, they make it easy to follow a strand through the carry and work out the slack. Here’s a list of some good starter wraps with some of those qualities (pictures at the end):
Storchenweige (often abbreviated as “Storch”) –(leos or stripes)100% cotton, budget friendly and can take a beating. Medium weight with contrasting rails which help with learning. Another great feature is that they aren’t super wide. They are pretty grippy but that’s not hard to overcome. Definitely try to find one used because they are a beast brand new and require a lot of breaking in (once broken in, they are super soft)! Super supportive and will last into toddlerhood. Flat weave makes them virtually indestructible! Width is about 26’’
Didymos (AKA “Didy”) stripes- 100% cotton, easy to break in, budget friendly, not prone to pulls, feels thinner than it actually is. These are easy to find, easy to wrap with and moldable. Didy’s weave is airy and supportive. Some Didys can run narrow, which can be nice with squish but *may* be an issue to some with toddlers. With that said, I use a didy stripes (Pink Tom) with my toddler… no problem! Width is about 26’’.
Dolcino-100% cotton, another inexpensive, durable workhorse wrap. Thin yet supportive and soft. Dolcinos come in stripes or solids with contrasting rails. They are easy quick to break in. Pretty wide which make them good for toddlers, too! Also are in many wrappers “permastash” meaning they end up keeping the wrap for the length of their wearing days. Width is about 27”
BBSlen- 100% cotton, soft and floppy, supportive enough for toddlers but soft enough for squishes. Easy to break in, pretty wide, also budget friendly. The thickness is a medium/thin. They have lots of bold colors, stripes, solids with striped teaching rails. BBSlens have a little bit of grip but nothing crazy. Width is about 31” (prewash)
Girasol- 100% cotton, super soft and floppy, on the thin to thin-med side (depends on the rainbow). They are great for squishes. The stripes with the rainbows very helpful in learning carries and feeding slack through. There are plenty of color ways and wefts to choose from! Giras come in diamond weave and twill weaves, plus the new “thick twill” (AKA double twill or toddler twill) and herringbone. These are also easy to wrap with and indestructible, but note that herringbone and thick twill are on the thicker side. Width is about 28”
Natibaby stripes –100% cotton. Medium/thin and soft right out of the box, breaks in easily. Nati stripes are another reasonably priced wrap. It’s an average width that’s going to still be good for toddler but not too big for a squish. The weave is a cross twill and airy, it’s super easy to wrap with and moldable. Breaking in is a breeze. Width is about 27”
Easycare- Another striped (rainbow) wrap. Very bold colors, 100% cotton, thin and airy weave as well. They are very soft and break in easy, almost right out of the box. Easycares don’t have tapers, their ends are blunt which can be odd to some. Additionally ECs are wide making it a good choice for toddlers. These are very popular wraps that also make great ring sling conversions. Another affordable option. Width is about 28”.
So what about size? A shorty 1-3, mid length 3-5, or a long wrap 5-7? You want what is called a base size, which falls into the long wraps. This is what you can do a front wrap cross carry with (and later a double hammock). For most mommas’ this is a 6, for petite momma’s it’s a 5 and for fluffy momma’s it’s a 7. As you get more experienced with wrapping you may find you can use a smaller size because you've learned to tighten better. As your baby grows into a toddler, you may find you need to go up a size. If you have a bit of a longer wrap, you can always do extra passes, fancy tie offs, or just have pretty tails. But, if you go too short, you may be limited in your carries.
As far as wrapping, start with a front carry before attemting back carries. Do things like master tightening, strand by strand feeding, and making a seat. Let your baby get used to being carried. Start with FWCC, front cross carry, kangaroo, and move on to hip carries then go on to back carries. When you think you are ready for back carries, practice just putting your little one on your back without the wrap, get the motion down. And always practice over a bed and/or use a spotter. You can even practice with a doll or stuffed toy first!
What is this breaking in business? First off, new wraps, fresh out of the box arrive in “loom state” condition. They need to be washed before first use to get the fibers to settle in their position; you’ll notice the weave even looks tighter after the wash. Washing is a final step in the loom state process and needs to be done. This will make the wrap fluff up and prevent thread shifting in the future. Always follow the washing instructions on the tags, use detergents without brighteners and NEVER use fabric softener. Ironing ALWAYS makes a HUGE difference, especially steam iron (if the fiber allows it). It will soften up the wrap a ton!
Go here for a great link on fabric care. Once your wrap is cleaned up, you can break it in by braiding it, making wrap donuts, making hammocks for the kids to play in, running it through crib rails (but make sure they are smooth with no splinters), tossing in the dryer with dryer balls, sleeping on it (not kidding!), sitting on it at work or in the car, and just plain using it!
So many choices, so many sizes! The lending library is a great resource to help you try out some of the wraps and find what works best for you! Happy wearing!