Woven wraps are quite often seen as the type of carrier that only caregivers with a lot of babywearing experience and knowledge use. However, I don’t think that this needs to be true. A woven wrap can be an ideal carrier to start with right away if the caregiver isn’t afraid of a little learning in the beginning. A woven wrap can also be an ideal follow on wrap from a stretchy wrap. If the caregiver has enjoyed the benefits of a stretchy wrap it is not such a big step to learn how to wrap with a woven wrap.
I personally started using a woven wrap when my daughter was about 10 months old and my aunt gave me her woven wrap, which she had first used more then 18 years ago with my cousin and which had been used with countless other babies in between.
What is a woven wrap?
A woven wrap is a long piece of woven fabric which can be used to carry a baby. Woven wraps can be made from different kind of materials like cotton, wool, linen and silk and come in different lengths. They are woven on a loom either by hand or machine. Woven wraps all have in common that the material does not stretch length or width wise, but it does stretch diagonal so the fabric melds nicely around baby and at the same time gives lots of support.
When can I carry my baby in a woven wrap?
With a woven wrap it is not so much a question of when will the wrap fit my baby, but rather which type of carry will be best for me and my baby. A woven wrap can be used from newborn right up until a young child.
A woven wrap does have a bit of a learning curve, so I would recommend to practise wrapping with a weighted doll (demo doll) or a newborn size teddy bear before wrapping your newborn (unless you have previous experience).
Even though wrapping with a woven wrap is similar to using a stretchy wrap, there are some significant differences:
1. A stretchy wrap can be pre-tied, but a woven wrap needs to be tightened with baby already in it. 2. A woven wrap needs to be tightened diligently to give baby best support, while a stretchy wrap uses its stretch to fit around baby and give full support.
For a baby, which already has good head and torso control and starts getting curious, a woven wrap can be pre-tied and then baby put in and out as needed. This will give baby more room to look around, but also enough support.
Toddler and Young Child
The big advantage of a woven wrap is that it grows with your child without it needing to be adjusted and changed in any way. The only thing you may want to do is change the type of carry you are using, but the fabric of a woven wrap can be spread wide to still support your young child from knee to knee.
For toddlers and young children, a back carry can be very handy. This will be easier on your own back than a front carry and your child will be able to see a lot more from high up on your back. Once your child gets used to being carried on your back, they will often help you by holding still or even holding on to you, while you wrap them.
What are typical ways to carry with a woven wrap?
It is quite hard to say which would be the most common types of carrying a baby in a woven wrap as there are so many different ways how to use a woven wrap.
I feel that it is best to choose one type of carry which you want to practise and just start with that. Only once you have confidently mastered this first type of carry would I then move on to another type of carry you are keen to learn. Even though you may learn lots of different ways to wrap with a woven wrap it is very likely you will notice yourself using only a handful on a regular basis.
The one type of carry which is usually recommended for beginners is the Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). This is a front carry, which can be used from newborn until toddler.
In this video from Wrap you in Love you can see how to use the Front Wrap Cross Carry for a newborn and even how to breastfeed.
Hip carrying is a great way to let your curious baby have the opportunity to look around. This can be a good alternative to forward facing as your baby can still snuggle into your body if he starts to feel over stimulated or tired.
This video from Wrap you in Love shows nicely how to do a hip carry with a woven wrap in your base size.
As mentioned above, a back carry is great for toddlers and young children. But even very young babies can be carried on your back already. However, you should feel confident in your wrapping skills and ideally have another adult close by to make sure baby is wrapped safely.
In this video from Wrap you in Love you can see a basic back carry for a toddler or young child.
What is my base size for a woven wrap?
The term “base size” is used with woven wraps for the size of wrap you will need to tie a Front Wrap Cross Carry comfortably. You can also use your clothing size to find your “base size” by using this guide:
NZ 8 ≤ / US 4 ≤: size 5
NZ 10-12 / US 6-8: size 6
NZ 14-16 / US 10-12: size 7
NZ 16+ / US 14+: size 8
What is the sizing for woven wraps?
Woven wraps come in 7 different sizes and even though it is recommended to start using a woven wrap in your base size it can also be handy to use a shorter or longer wrap for different kinds of carries. Especially for carries where not as much fabric is needed it can be good to use a shorter wrap to avoid having very long tails that drag in the dirt.
These are sizes and lengths of woven wraps in metres:
Size 2 – 2.7 m
Size 3 – 3.2 m
Size 4 – 3.7 m
Size 5 – 4.2 m
Size 6 – 4.7 m
Size 7 – 5.2 m
Size 8 – 5.7 m
Do I need to break in a woven wrap?
You may have heard that a woven wrap needs to be broken in in order to be soft and good to wrap. But what does it mean to break in a wrap? When breaking in a wrap you work the fabric of the wrap for example through braiding and washing. This will start to break down the stiff fibres in the wrap and will make the wrap softer and usually easier to handle. However, for most fabrics this is not really necessary. For example, a cotton wrap will most likely be perfect to use after only one wash and will soften naturally when being used.
Why should you choose a woven wrap?
- Fits different sizes and body shapes of caregivers
- Fits newborns, babies, toddlers and even young children
- No need to adjust between different caregivers
- Soft fabric
- Can be used for front carries, hip carries and back carries
- Distributes babies weight ergonomically
- Big learning curve of how to use it
- It may take a little longer to wrap baby than with a different carrier
- Breastfeeding is possible, but re-tightening the wrap may be tricky
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