by Jasmine Plante
So let’s talk about my baby carrier of choice – the woven wrap! I do own an Ergo, which I absolutely love, but there is something beautiful about wrapping and wearing your child in a gorgeous woven textile that appeals to the romantic in me!
What exactly is a woven wrap? It’s a long piece of fabric woven on a loom either by hand, or by machine. Unlike a Moby Wrap, a woven has little to no stretch, which means it provides rock solid support from newborn stage to toddler. It is also a wrap you can back-carry with as well. Some wraps are woven in 100% cotton, others have cotton blended with linen, hemp, bamboo or wool in varying ratios. Different materials provide different characteristics. I personally love a good thick 100% cotton, but in the summer I love 100% linen for its strength, thinness and breathability. Now that fall is here and winter is approaching, I am loving hemp! It’s solid (my almost 40lb 2.5 year old is quite comfortable to wear!), thick and very warm when blended with cotton.
Woven wraps come in different sizes. A standard length is 4.6m, or size 6. “Shorties” are size 2 and 3 (2.6m and 3.1m respectively) and a medium-shorty is a 4 (3.6m). For an average woman, size 6 is a good place to start.
There are a few different brands on the market (Didymos, Natibaby, Dolcino, Kokadi, Ellaroo, Ellevill, Girasol, Vanatai) that are reasonably priced. Some are higher-end boutique brands (Oscha, Heartiness) and then there are the very elusive handwoven brands (Uppymama, Warped and Wonderful, Linuschka, Artipoppe, Pavo Textiles, ETLA). Handwovens are released in limited numbers and the lucky few pay dearly for them (anywhere from $1000+!) Generally speaking, a good woven wrap will cost anywhere from $90 – $300, depending on what brand and length you need. Many, if not all of the big names use sustainably sourced materials, non-toxic dye and are woven by artisans local to the area they are manufactured in. The price is indicative of the workmanship. In addition to these retailers, we are also lucky enough to have locally made woven wraps available at Sweetheart Baby Boutique, certifiably made by Diane Pepin of Mother’s Helper – so go check those out too!
So why do I love wovens so much? Why go thru what can sometimes be a steep learning curve of having to master wrapping when I could snap a different carrier and go? Well…I absolutely love the versatility of a wrap. I love that with a bit of practice, I can take a piece of fabric, wrap my daughter on the front to nurse, switch it up and toss her onto my back and do some chores while she naps. I love that I can take that exact same wrap and comfortably carry my 2.5y/o son without having to adjust anything. I love that my kids will never outgrow that supportive knee-to-knee froggy sitting position that is so comfortable. I love that I can wear my shorty wraps as gorgeous scarves and then use them for simple hip and back carries when my daughter needs to feel close, or when I need to be hands-free. And honestly, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t in it for their beauty! The designs can be absolutely incredible, and I love wearing my daughter in these pieces of woven art. She is, after all, my best accessory and it’s fun to wear her in style!
And so to showcase the versatility, I’ve put together a few different carries you can do with a size 6 (4.6m) wrap – a great size for beginning wrappers. These are just a few of the many ways to wrap and wear. The wrap I am showcasing is an Oscha Okinami Skye. It’s 100% cotton and a medium weight. All of these carries can be typed into the YouTube search bar if you want to watch video tutorials.
FRONT WRAP CROSS CARRY (FWCC) – Variations include the Pocket Cross Carry and Front Cross Carry
This is a great carry for beginners and can be used for newborns and older babies alike.
Once the FWCC is mastered, try this one! It is quite a pretty carry with the capped shoulders (I have often been mistaken for wearing my baby in a fancy shirt!) and because it’s a single layer pass, it’s nice and cool.
RUCKSACK CARRY – Variations include Reinforced Ruck, Ruck Tied Under Butt
The most simple back carry of all! This is definitely one all beginners should master first. This is my go-to carry with a short wrap when I am running errands. Once you get comfortable with it, it’s faster to wrap a ruck than it is to get a baby in a stroller!
If you have sensitive shoulders, try tying the tails of the wrap Tibetan style. Take one tail, slip it under the opposite shoulder strap and repeat on the other side. Cinch it tight, tie a knot, and you’ve created a chest belt where the weight will be re-distributed. Super comfortable!
Hands down the most comfortable back carry out there. The secret is ensuring the chest pass is nice and tight. Doing so ensures that the child’s weight is carried in the center of your chest vs. the shoulders. Not to mention, it’s an absolutely beautiful carry!
A few notes about wrapping in wovens:
1. Take time to master tightening your passes. Wovens need to be tightened strand by strand (i.e. take a small bit of fabric, pull the slack out, grab a bit more fabric, pull…repeat until you have tightened the entire width). A good, tight carry means the difference between being able to wear a child for hours vs. having sore shoulders and back. It also ensures your child is nice and secure!
2. Only seasoned, experienced babywearers should attempt back carrying a newborn. I always tell new moms to wait until their baby shows really good neck control (around 4-5 months).
Practice getting your baby onto your back by watching a lot of online video tutorials, and doing some hands-on practice kneeling on a carpeted floor, or on your bed. Have someone spot you if you’re especially nervous! Use a mirror and practice often. Repeat the process for learning how to get a baby DOWN off your back (don’t forget that too!)
Next post: The shorty wrap!
*Check Sweetheart Baby Boutique’s list of upcoming babywearing classes if you would like hands-on help from an expert on how to do all the carries that Jasmine demonstrated.*
Jasmine Plante is an exercise specialist by day, hooker (of the yarn variety) in her free time. Besides dabbling in photography, she is also a pianist and vocalist at her local church. She is usually found babywearing on the streets of Olde Riverside. Say hello! She doesn’t bite!