Shortly after my first child was born, I attended a babywearing conference in my hometown. I marched into the convention center, proudly donning my beautiful Lilebaby Embossed full buckle carrier. To my surprise, I was practically the only woman there with a structured style carrier. Everywhere I looked, all I saw were these long pieces of fabric wrapped dozens of times around moms and their babies. I felt my face burn with embarrassment. Was my full buckle carrier not the kind of thing that the “real” babywearing mamas use?
I began chatting with the other women at the conference. With profound kindness, they explained to me that they, too, had begun with full buckle carriers. They said that although the full buckle carrier was a great way to get started with babywearing, they eventually found their way to other styles that worked better for their needs. For most of the women I spoke to, the woven wrap was their favorite way to babywear by far.
I went home and began researching woven wraps. It looked so complicated, and I felt overwhelmed. I made my way to other forms of babywearing, like ring slings and onbuhimos, but I never took the plunge with wraps. Now, almost 2 years later, I have finally given it a try. I’ll admit, I’m starting to see what all the hype is about. Let me explain why I am so quickly falling in love with wrapping. Before I start, I want to make it clear that real moms use whatever type of babywearing gear they prefer, or none at all. There is, in fact, NO SUCH THING as “real moms.” So if you are a stroller-pushing mama, rock on! If you love the feel of a full buckle carrier, do it girl! This article is in no way meant to imply that wrapping is somehow better than any other kind of babywearing. I just want to share my wrapping journey with you in hopes that it might be helpful in some way. So, here we go:
1. Wraps are the tightest and most secure.
This might come as a surprise since wraps seem so dangerous to those of us who have not tried them. What keeps your baby from slipping out? This was my biggest reason for avoiding wraps as long as I did. I preferred to stick with structured carriers that I knew my baby wouldn’t wiggle out of. However, over time I began to realize that the structured carriers didn’t quite seem tight enough. My son could wiggle around quite a bit. As he got taller, there were several moments when I feared he was going to lean too far to the side and topple right out. Of all the carriers I have tried, the woven wrap is the only kind that makes me feel 100% confident that my son is safe. Yes, it has taken me some time to gain confidence in my ability to wrap him correctly. But now that I can get a good wrap, there is just nothing like it! My son is close to me and as tight as can be, but he still has just enough room to move around freely and not feel trapped. None of my other carriers can compare.
2. The customizations are endless
Unlike structured carriers that come in a small variety of fabrics and prints, woven wraps come with a practically unlimited number of options for you to choose from. You can choose a long wrap for creating beautiful, reinforced carries for bigger kids, or a short wrap for quick ups and downs without a lot of fuss. You can buy all natural fabrics or man-made fabrics designed for coolness/moisture wicking, or combination fabrics based on your personal preferences. And can we talk about the number of prints available? Solids, patterns, rainbows, monochrome, abstract, you name it. If there is a look you love, you can find it in a wrap. But the best kind of customization of all, in my opinion, it the number of carries you can create with a wrap. You can front carry, back carry, hip carry, and even tandem carry with two babies! Even a six-position full buckle can’t compare with the limitless number of carries you can create with a wrap.
3. No weight limit
One of the most common questions I get about babywearing in general is, “what is the recommended weight limit for each type of carrier?” For most carriers, like full buckle carriers, onbuhimos, and ring slings, the maximum recommended weight is between 35 and 45 lbs. Although this weight limit will definitely get you to the toddler stage, there are still YEARS of babywearing to be missed out on if you stop at 45 lbs. Because woven wraps can be double and triple reinforced (that is, wrapped around your baby multiple times and ways) you can carry your child until the day you both decide it is time to stop.
4. Easy to carry in my diaper bag
One of the second most common questions I get about baby carriers is how to carry them in a diaper bag. Structured carriers are rigid and are notoriously difficult to get in and out of a diaper bag, which can be frustrating when you’re on the go. Wraps, on the other hand, are bundles of fabric that pack easily in just about any bag you might be carrying. Short wraps (size 2-3) can often fit inside of JuJuBe accessories like the Be Quick or the Fuel Cell, while longer wraps (size 6-8) might not fit into a pouch but will still fit nicely inside of most diaper bags. For me, quick and easy access to my carrier is super important when I’m out of the house. I love how easily I can get to my wrap when it’s time to throw my son on!
5. Wrapping is a practice, like meditation or yoga
There is something so satisfying about conquering a challenge. Make no mistake; wrapping has a strong learning curve. There are days when it is frustrating and feels like you will just never get the hang of it. I PROMISE you that if you stick with it, you will get better and better. Like meditation or yoga, the goal is not to become a master at it right away. The goal is to practice it little by little, and enjoy the journey! I am disciplined about learning to wrap. My son and I practice one style of wrap a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. We keep practicing that wrap twice a day until we both really get the hang of it. Then, we move on to something more advanced. I’ll admit that there are days I toss it aside and say it’s just not going to happen today. But man … when I do get it right? It’s such an incredible feeling.
6. Bonding and sleep benefits
This may be a benefit of babywearing in general, and not exclusive to wrapping. My son is a fitful sleeper. Even at 19 months old, sleeping through the night isn’t a guarantee in our household. He is also very clingy at times and has a hard time coping when I can’t hold him. Before I began babywearing, there was a constant struggle between us. I felt like I always had to choose between holding my fussy, tired, clingy son, or getting things done. Babywearing opened the world back up to me. When my son is being needy and I have important things to get done, I can toss him into a wrap and get busy. I love that I can wear him comfortably on my back for long periods of time without pain or discomfort. The wrap distributes the weight in such a way that it doesn’t feel heavy. The best part of it all is that my son sleeps noticeably better when he has spent time in a wrap during the day. I don’t know if there is any science behind it, but my guess is that the time spent bonding with me — skin to skin — during the day fulfills an emotional need that carries him through the night. And when baby gets some sleep … mama gets some sleep. Can I get an amen?
I still have a lot to learn about wrapping. That’s for sure! I am looking forward to the journey and can’t wait to see the bond grow between me and my son. Be on the lookout for more babywearing content as my journey continues!