How to choose your first baby wrap
If you have found us you've probably given much thought to wearing your baby in a wrap or sling.
You've made the decision and want to try it but don't know how to get started.
How to choose your first baby wrap and when to start your babywearing adventure?
If there are no contraindications: the baby was born healthy and the mother feels good, you can babywear from first days of baby's life.
A lot of emphasis should be placed on uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. It is a mother's privilege that should be respected at all times both in the case of a natural and Caesarean birth. Kangaroo Mother Care can be also practised on preemies. Yet, prematurely born babies can be worn in a wrap or sling once they?ve reached 2 kilos of weight. Below are some selection criteria to be followed when buying your first baby wrap or sling:
Woven wraps are recommended for first-time wearers. Contrary to what one might expect, stretchy wraps are not at all easier to use because they are springy, prone to stretching out and tend to overheat the baby?s body. Moreover, it is very difficult to support the baby in the correct body position: the pelvis is not curled up and the baby easily ends up dangling at the crotch, as is the case with typical carriers. Woven wraps are distinguished from other types by the broken-twill weave, the one recommended for beginners. They tie up into the perfect fit with the baby and keep his correct position. This type of weave prevents too strong tightening or uneven fabric tension. The wrap adjusts well over its whole length and width, and if it?s tightened well and tied with a flat knot, it keeps steady tension while babywearing.
Wraps and slings are made from cotton and/or a variety of additives including bamboo, which adds to the smoothness of the fabric, or linen, which contributes to its strength. 100% cotton wraps and slings are recommended when you are first starting out. Cotton creates a custom fit every time you wrap: it softens easily, can be comfortably tightened and is predictable.
Wraps woven with broken twill weave are most often available in stripes or a uniform pattern. Jacquard wraps, which are woven with a variety of weaves, give you the choice of more complex designs. If you are new to wrapping, it is best to learn on a striped wrap or a plain one with different patterns or colours on each edge. Striped baby wraps can be adjusted evenly on both sides. This means you can learn to tie them up more efficiently by seeing straight away if the fabric hugs the baby's figure symmetrically. Thanks to different colours on edges you can effortlessly distinguish the lower from the upper one and in this way you will master the wrapping more quickly. It is important that the edges are rolled up and stitched. Wraps should have a middle marker in the centre.
The thickness of the wrap is measured by the so called weight, which is expressed in grams of fabric per square meter (g/m2). The heavier the weight, the greater carrying capacity the fabric has, although bear in mind that wraps with heavier weight are more difficult to tighten. No need to worry, though. Once you've grasped the technique, you?ll be able to tighten any wrap of any weight easily. We recommend that the weight of your first wrap be around 190-240 g/m2. Carrying capacity also depends on the quality of fibre used in the manufacture and fabric thickness.
To choose the best length of the wrap you have to take into account the tying style and your own body's unique contours. Different tying styles need different length of the wrap or sling and can be more or less "fabric-consuming". When choosing the right length of a wrap or sling, pay attention to:
a) tying style
There are two basic tying styles appropriate for newborns: Kangaroo hold and a pocket wrap cross carry. For shorter wraps choose the Kangaroo hold. For the pocket wrap cross carry you?ll need a longer one. A newborn baby can be also safely worn in a ring sling in a front carry. Remember that the sling edge should be flipped over. For toddlers who can sit up by themselves we recommend a double X-knot, which needs a longer carrier. Babies able to sit up on their own can be also worn comfortably in a ring sling (in a hip carry).
b) wearer's build
The wearer's size is in fact of less importance when choosing the length of a wrap, but a closer analysis of the table will allow you to see the differences between the length of wraps designed for females and males. So, make the choice once you know who's going to wear the baby. Or, simply, buy a longer wrap.
New or used
This depends on your budget and taste. Generally, a used wrap or swing is considered better because it?s already "broken in" (i.e. softer and floppier).
If you don't know what baby wrap to choose seek advice of a babywearing consultant who usually has a variety of wraps and slings at their disposal and during learning sessions you'll have an opportunity to test them on the spot. We also recommend joining a sling community and meet local slingy types. Popular slingo-meetings and workshops provide an opportunity to explore and test a number of wraps and slings.