Types of carriers - Wraps

Wraps are also known as wrap slings or wraparound slings. They are very simple carriers made of a long piece of fabric (2.50 m - 5.70 m) and need to be tied around baby and parent. They can double up as blankets, nursing covers, sun shades etc.
There are two basic types of wraps: woven wraps and stretchy wraps.

Stretchy Wraps

Stretchy wraps are made of jersey (T-shirt fabric) or fleece. They are usually more stretchy widthwise than lengthwise, and some are thicker and some thinner. Some have hemmed edges and some overlocked/serged edges. Normally they come in one size (ca. 5 m) which fits all.

Most manufacturers recommend them for children up to 15 kg, but I find that they get more and more saggy and are most comfortable with babys up to 7-8 kg which usually covers the first six months.

Because they are stretchy you need three layers of fabric around your baby, so tying methods are limited. With a stretchy wrap you can do front carries on your own and back carries with help. You can pretie them and then pop your baby in and out, but it's tricky to get them tight enough to support your baby well but still loose enough to get him in and out without untying the whole thing. Nevertheless they are often recommended for beginners and very comfy to wear.

Some manufacturers say that they are good for carrying premature babies, but other specialists recommend a woven wrap for a preemie as the latter will give better support to baby's back.

Brand names are e.g.: Moby wrap, Balibaby Stretch, Hug-a-bub, MaM wrap, Calinbleu (microfleece), Hoppediz, Didymos and many more

Note: The brand names are listed in no particular order and the lists are by far not complete. Their purpose is to give you an idea what there is on the market.


Woven Wraps

A woven wrap is the most versatile sling you can imagine. You can buy lots of differents designs and materials including silk and cashmere blends although most wraps are made of cotton. They come in different lengths (2.50 m - 5.70 m), but most common is 4.50 m - 4.70 m. Choose your length according to your clothes size and to the carries you want to tie with it. Wrap manufacturers usually have size charts on their websites.

You can use a woven wrap for a premature baby (there is no lower weight limit) and as long as you want to carry your toddler in it. You even could carry an adult in one - in Germany they are often used in delivery rooms so that mothers-to-be can pull themselves up on them during labour.

There are dozens of different ways to tie a woven wrap although many are only variations of each other. Still you'll find something to suit you: there are front carries, hip carries and back carries, carries you can breastfeed in, carries you can pre-tie etc. A woven wrap is the most versatile carrier for a newborn as you can do front, hip and back carries right from the start.

cradle carry with a newborn

back carry with a preemie
front carry with a newborn

The disadvantage of woven wraps is that it takes some practice and effort to use them correctly. You need to learn how to wrap them around you and baby and how to tighten them properly so they are comfortable for you and baby. But the good news is that you will only have to learn two or three different carries and your woven wrap will last you from newborn to toddlerhood. And of course you need only one wrap to do this - although often addiction kicks in, and why shouldn't you have wraps in different colours to match your outfit?

Brand names are e.g.: Didymos, Hoppediz, Storchenwiege, Girasol, Bebina, Dolcino, Elleville, Vatanai and many more

Note: I definitely recommend buying a proper brand named wraparound sling and not just use a piece of fabric from a fabric store. Wrap fabric is woven in a special way (usually broken twill or some other symmetrical twill weave) which has the right amount of stretch and firmness to support your baby well. Also normal fabrics can be quite thin and slippery which leads to you suffering from pressure points and having to re-tighten it all the time.
If you feel put off by the cost of a new wrap try to get a used one or consider that you can usually sell it for a good price when you don't need it anymore.


© Mirjam Brockmann 2009