Monday, May 13, 2013

Woven Wraps 101

Most new parents have heard of a Moby. (Perhaps you even received one at your baby shower.)  For those who haven't, the Moby is a stretchy wrap.  It's made of one long piece of stretchy material that parents can wrap around themselves to wear their babies on their chest.  

Maybe you love your Moby and that's great!  But if you find yourself thinking you need more support or would like to try a back carry, the woven wrap is the way to go.  Unlike the Sleepy/Boba wrap and Moby, woven wraps are not stretchy.  We do not recommend using either of these stretchy wraps to do back carries.  Here is a video that showcases why:

Admittedly, woven wraps come with a bit of a learning curve.  You have to learn to guide the fabric around you while holding your baby, and because of the lack of stretch, you also have to learn how to tighten properly.  BUT once you have it down, it is more than worth it, and you have to admit, woven wraps come in way prettier designs than most stretchy wraps!

Woven Wrap Sizing 
Woven wraps come in many different sizes, the most used ones being 2 -7.  The brand Didymos is generally considered to be the standard of woven wraps.  With the vast majority of woven wrap companies being European, wraps are measured in meters.  This is Didymos' sizing:
  • Size 2: 2.7 meters
  • Size 3: 3.2 meters
  • Size 4: 3.7 meters
  • Size 5: 4.2 meters
  • Size 6: 4.6 meters
  • Size 7: 5.2 meters
While other brands may vary slightly, this is a good start for figuring out what size wrap you need.  Different sizes correlate with different carries.  For example, a Rebozo carry is a one-layer carry done with a shorty (short wrap).  A Poppins Hip Carry uses a medium-length wrap, while a Double Hammock, which has two layers and a chest pass, uses a long wrap.  There are literally dozens of carries (and variations) you can do with a woven wrap!    

So which size should you get?  It depends on which carries you would like to do.  Many people start of with a longer wrap, such as a 6, perhaps because you can use the same carries that you learned with a Moby.  Some might prefer a short wrap for quicker carries.    Wrap Your Baby has an excellent guide about various sizes and carriers, while has a very comprehensive chart.

Brands and Blends
Marcia S's stack of Didymos Indios
includes various blends.
There are many woven wrap brands out there: Bara Barn, BB Slen, Colimacon et Cie, Didymos, Diva Milano, Dolcino, Easycare, Ellaroo, Ellevill, Girasol, Hoppendiz, KoKaDi, Lenny Lamb, Linuschka, Little Frog, Natibaby, Neobulle, Oscha, Pavo, Pollora, Vatanai and several other up-and-coming brands that are slated to release their first wraps within the year.  Each company has their own style; some may do only stripes or cotton, while others many specialize in intricate jacquard-weave designs.  In other words, with all of these options, it's likely you'll find something gorgeous that works for you. 

Blends are a little tricky.  There are wraps made of 100% cotton or even 100% linen.  Then there are wraps made out of cotton plus various percentages of linen, wool, cashmere, bamboo, silk, and hemp.

One hundred percent cotton wraps are a great choice and easy maintenance.  Bamboo blends have been described as dense, hot, smooth feeling,  and better for little babies.  Linen and hemp blends are generally considered supportive and great for heavier babies.  Silk blends tend to be on the thinner side.  Wool and cashmere blends are said to be cushy and bouncy and thus, easy on the shoulders; some people find them warm, while others find them breathable and airy in the summer time.  Cashmere is pricey when compared to other fibers.   Both wool and cashmere require gentle handwashing. Blends aside, thickness also plays a role in how a wrap feels when worn.  A thick cotton, for example, can be just as supportive (or even more so) than a thin linen. Overall, it is hard to go beyond generalities, with different wraps and weaves from the various companies.  

Where to Buy
While you can usually buy wraps directly from the company sites themselves, buying from a stateside vendor is an excellent option.  Shipping is generally quicker and on the off-chance that you might want to size up or size down your wrap, doing an exchange is much easier when dealing with a company in your own country!   Here is a list of some vendors we recommend:  The Blueberry TreeEarthy Bliss, Frogmama, Granola Babies, Heart-HugsMarsupial MamasNappies and More..., Paxbaby, Purple Elm BabyRisaroo, SproutsWoven Wraps and Zerberts.  

Yes, a woven wrap is somewhat expensive, at least more expensive than a starter Moby.  But it is an investment and if you pick the right one, it can last you well into toddlerhood. Not to mention that if you keep it good condition, when you are done babywearing, you can sell it!  

Here I am wearing my daughter in Oscha Foxglove Roses,
which I got off the Facebook Swap in a trade.
People sell their woven wraps quite often!  Sometimes it's because they are no longer babywearing, or other times it's just because they want to try something new on a limited budget.  There are two specific places we recommend for buying a used wraps/baby carriers:  The Babywearing Swap on Facebook and FSOT on TBW (you will need to sign up for a TBW account).  Admittedly, babywearing has its own lingo, to include lots of acronyms, which can make it hard to understand what exactly it is they are selling.  You can check out some of the commonly used acronyms in our group document here.

Buying used has a few advantages.  For example, the wrap you get may already be broken in.  Wraps can come out of production stiff and a little hard to wrap with, but over time and with use, they generally become softer and "broken in." Second, sometimes the wrap you want is a limited edition or no longer in production; in this scenario, buying secondhand may be your only option for getting that specific wrap.  Third, you MAY be able to find a wrap for a cheaper price than new.  Now, when buying used, the onus is on you, as the buyer, to do your research on price.  Don't hesitate to ask in the group whether we think the price is good or any other questions about a wrap you are considering.  

Now you've got the basics down about woven wraps; we hope this post was helpful!  If you've stumbled across this blog by chance and are local, please join us on here on Facebook!

**This post was culmination of joint efforts of Paula R. with Jillian D. and Marcia S.   

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