Woven Wraps; Part 1
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Curious about wrapping but don’t know where to start? This blog post will give an overview of all things wrapping.
What do I do first?
Get yourself a woven wrap! All of our lending libraries also have a variety of wraps for you to use and borrow. There are also a variety of online sources to buy a wrap. The wrap size, your child's size, fabric blends and fabric weight(Gsm) all are determining factors when deciding on what wrap you should choose.
What size do I need?
Woven Wraps are sized. Typically you want to figure out your base size and work from there. Your Base size is what you can comfortably do a Front Wrap Cross carry(FWCC) with. All short carries are distinguished as Base Minus(-) and all longer carries are Base Plus (+)
(Woven Wrap Size charts, Left image via Babywearing International, Right image via Wrapyourbaby.com)
Once you know what your base size is you can determine what size wrap you will need for the carries you want to use.
What fabrics and fabric weights?
There are an infinite number of fabric blends that are available on the market. There are also an infinite number of responses when you ask someone “what's the best” the best is subjective to you and what works best for your child. A good place to start is medium weight 100% cotton. But not all cotton (and any fabric for that matter is the same.) Wraps are weighted by Gsm (gm/2) stands for “grams per square meter” and is a measurement of density. For woven wraps, the gsm gives and idea of how thick or thin the wrap is – how much a wrap weighs as a proportion of its size and width.
less than 180 gsm = really thin
180 – 220 gsm = thin
220 – 260 gsm = medium
260 – 300 gsm = thick
greater than 300 gsm = really thick
As you progress in your babywearing journey you will discover that many wraps include a wide variety of fibers in varying proportions including but not limited to; linen, bamboo, silk, mesmerized cotton, recycled cotton, prima cotton, tencel, hemp, merino wool. All of these factors will contribute to the Gsm of the wrap.
How are woven wraps made and how are they different from a stretchy wrap?
Woven wraps are made up of woven threads that run vertically and horizontally. The lengthwise or longitudinal threads are called the warp. These threads are held stationary in tension on a frame or loom while the widthwise threads, called weft is drawn through and inserted over-and-under the warp.
The warp threads are typically stronger, as they have to run the entire length of the woven fabric. Woven wraps have the most stretch when pulled diagonally, due to the makeup of the warp and weft threads.
It is important to know the difference between warp and weft when choosing a multi fiber bend wrap as the warp and welf may have different yarn make ups therefore changing the wrap qualities.
A stretchy wrap (moby, boba, solly etc.) is made of a jersey knit fabric, similar feeling to a t-shirt. and will stretch in one or sometimes two directions, brand dependent. This makes a stretchy wrap unsuitable for a back carry due to the stretch. Manufactures rate stretchy wraps to accommodate up to 35lbs however most caregivers will find that around 15lbs you will start to lose support and the wrap will sag. It is a wonderful option for a newborn but as your child grows you likely will want to transition to an alternative carrier. If you enjoyed your stretchy wrap a woven wrap provides alot of the same benefits but offer being able to use from birth well into toddler hood with lots of support and versatility.
What do you mean by Wrap Qualities?
Wrap Qualities(WQ) are in short the way the wrap, wraps. Every person who uses a wrap will have a personal preference when it comes to WQs. Some different WQs you may hear or see could include; grippy, slippery, dry, soapy, cushy, diggy, recoil, mouldable, dense, airy. For more information about wrap qualities stay tuned for woven wraps part 2
I have a woven wrap, what’s next?
Next step is to learn to use it. New York Babywearing currently offers 9 in person meetings that a trained educator can provide hands on help while learning to use a wrap. We strive to make sure you and baby are both comfortable and safe.(facebook.com/nybabywearing/events) If you can't make a meeting, or are outside our current service area, have no fear, join our online chat group, Facebook.com/groups/nybabywearing for online support.
As with other carriers baby needs to be positioned close enough to kiss, tight, supported and in view at all times so you can monitor baby's breathing and watch for ques of discomfort
If you are using your base size wrap, the best place to start would be a front wrap cross carry(FWCC). This front carry will be a good way for you to learn how to make a seat and properly strand by strand (SBS) tighten your wrap. After learning these basics there are a variety of carries you can do not only with your base size wrap but with base(-) and base(+)
(FWCC Tutorial by Babywearing Faith )
(Strand by strand (SBS) wrap tightening tutorial by Wraplena )
Additional beginner front carries you can use your base size wrap could include
Kangaroo and Front Cross Carry(FCC)
Check out this Youtube playlist for additional front carry tutorials and techniques
Can I back carry in a woven wrap?
YES! A woven wrap can safely be used from birth and beyond providing you are an experienced wrapper. It is recommended that you are confident and proficient in your front wearing skills prior to moving onto a back carry.
With that being said, the smaller the baby you are wrapping, the more experience you should have to back wrap.
If you are new to wrapping it's safer to wait till baby has strong neck and trunk control and sitting up unassisted. Practice over a soft surface such as a bed, and employ the use of a spotter to help you get baby back there. And of course, come to a NYBW meeting if possible!
I always recommend those new to back wrapping start with a Rucksack Carry (Ruck) This high, single layer carry will help you learn the fundamentals of back wrapping. Making a deep seat, maintaining height, strand by strand tightening, and maintaining tension.
(Video tutorial on making a seat and doing a rucksack carry by Wrapping Rachel)
Also check out this YouTube playlist for additional beginner back carry tutorials and techniques
Wrapping Rachel also has an amazing beginning back carry in a woven wrap blog post.
Stay tuned for the next blog installments on woven wraps where we will go through pre-tied carries, short wrap carries, long wrap carries, and handwoven wraps
To check out what wraps are available in our lending library visit Newyorkbabywearing.myturn.com
To buy used condition wraps check out the BST album in the NYBW chat group, The Babywearing Swap, and Babywearing on a budget. These are great places to find affordable woven wraps. Online specialty baby stores such as 5 minute Recess, Purple Elm Baby, and Marsupial Mama have a selection of various brands and styles as well as each manufacturer will new wraps for sale on their individual websites.
A selection of woven wrap brands
Jena Love, NYBW Educator