I hope this blog will help you out (at least a little bit)
How do you decide what clothes you buy for yourself or your child? You pick something by the looks, available in your size, that fits your budget.
After wearing/trying it you decide how you like it and you might continue and buy more of the brand, or if you don’t like it you could tell what it is what you don’t like and you will search for another brand that suits your preferences. Right? It’s the same thing with woven wraps!
A woven wrap is a length of woven fabric you wrap around yourself and your child to carry it in different positions. It’s the most versatile babywearing option and will suit every body size (depending on the length). Wrapping might scare you off and will definitely take some practise, a babywearing consultant can help you out if you’re afraid to try it alone.
Choosing a wrap might be even harder than choosing a nice pair of shoes. So many brands, different materials and different sizes! Depending on your body shape (and how big your child is) you might need a longer wrap for some carries. There are carries for every situation, choosing a carry that suits your child’s development stage, weight and your own preferences will be a process of trial and error. You need to learn what doesn’t work for you, to find your favourite carry. As your child grows, your preferences will change.
A babywearing consultant or visiting a sling meet can be very helpful. A sling meet is a great option to try different brands and sizes.
There are woven wraps for (almost) every budget, maybe you already noticed some wraps selling for extremely high prices (1000 or even 2000usd!?) in auctions. Or you might have seen second-hand wraps selling for prices (much) higher than they retailed for. Some wraps are very limited, the market value (second-hand selling price) is a matter of supply and demand…. with the supply being low and the demand being high the prices go up quickly. The market value of a wrap is not consistent, buying a wrap for an increased price might mean you will lose money once you decide to sell it again. On the other hand you could have found yourself a bargain which you can sell for a higher price even after months of wearing. It’s a risk you take.
I think the most important thing to know is that a woven wrap in a good used state (without holes, stains and/or pulls), will be something you can sell again once you’re done wearing it. This might make trying different brands or wraps an interesting option, knowing you could also try to trade your wrap for something else! There are a lot of sale & trade groups on Facebook, it’s a great idea to observe the market if you want to know the resale value of the brands you like. (not every brand has a high resale price, but even some standard -not limited- wraps can be sold for around 60-80% of the original retail price, which is not bad for a used babyproduct in my opinion)
With woven wraps the second-hand market is where a lot of people will buy their wraps. Wraps that are already worn are softer and especially with blends that need some breaking in people are happy to buy it once it’s softened up instead of working on this themselves. Buying a wrap brand-new from a shop is off course the best option if you want full guarantee and service.
There are brands around with retail prices around 50-80 euro, but you will probably find that a lot of woven wraps cost around 100-150 euro and than there are the ‘high end’ brands that have (much) higher retail prices. You’re the one who sets the budget, starting with a more affordable wrap is a great option, but if you only love the (more expensive) high end wraps, there’s no-one who would tell you that’s bad to start with.
A small selection of brands:
Material Ask other babywearers what they would suggest or what they love and all answers will be different. There are a lot of exciting blends out there and they all sound great. Airy, but supportive? Toddlerworthy? Perfect for summer? But the truth is: preferences for specific blends are very personal. Where your best friend loves silk, you might hate it. Even two wraps with the same blend can wrap totally different. Did you love the wrap with wool you borrowed from a friend? This doesn’t give you a guarantee that you will love every other wrap with the same wool percentage. If you want to start with an exciting blend, go ahead! But don’t be dissappointed if it’s not love.
I think it’s best to start with an all cotton wrap. Easy to care for, (mostly) easy to wrap with and when you don’t have the experience (yet) of wrapping with other blends, you won’t know how supportive or airy this wrap is compared to others. With an all cotton wrap you don’t need to be scared if your baby throws up in the wrap and you can tie the wrap on a parking lot without worrying about the tails hanging in the mud. The washing machine will solve your problems 🙂
With origin I mean it as widly as you can imagine. The origin of the fiber, where it’s woven, the location of the company (or retailer) and everything else that comes to mind. There are some fair trade projects (Iike Girasol) and other brands have chosen local weaving mills and yarns. Do you want organic cotton? Certified? Some brands offer exclusive designs for specific retailers, don’t forget the exchange rates and the possible custom fees you have to pay when buying from overseas. It’s also great to invest in your local economy. Consider buying from a local retailer or brand that is located in your country. If you want to buy second-hand, you could try to find a local babywearing sale & trade group on Facebook (or maybe a babywearing forum for your country).
Choosing the right size might seem confusing. Different brands offer charts and comparing them might show two totally different suggestions for your body size.
(It’s always best to check the manufacturers website to see which sizing they use and when you buy a used wrap, just ask the seller to measure it!)
Size 7: 5.2m
Size 6: 4.6m
Size 5: 4.2m
Size 4: 3.6m
Size 3: 3.2m
Size 2: 2.6m
Most parents start with a size 6. They look for a wrap to use for a FWCC and for most other (back)carries. Depending on your body size you can probably do those carries with a size 5 or you might need a size 7. If you prefer to start with less fabric, you can look at a shorter wrap. Short(er) wraps are very versatile too. I prefer a size 3 or 4 to use for the kangaroo carry & rucksack, or a size 2 for rebozo.
Wearing wiki offers a great overview with different sizes & carries. ( If you’re wrapping a bigger child, you will need more length. )
Some brands run long, if you tried a wrap and liked the size, it’s always best to measure it (or have the owner measure it) to make sure the wrap you ordered wrap has (at least) that length.
This is the most important value. If you love the looks of your (first) wrap, wrapping with it will be much more fun! If you follow brands on Facebook you will see pictures they share and you might have seen babywearing pictures on Instagram or Facebook with designs you like. There are some great databases where you can browse through wraps that have been released. You can search on keywords (like ‘fox’ or ‘apple’), on colours, design name or brand. Slingofest is one of these websites and might be worth a look!
If you’re new to wrapping a wrap with (not mirrored) stripes or a different coloured toprail can be helpful, this way you can easily tell the rails apart and see which part of the wrap you’re tightening. If you don’t like stripes or a grad, don’t worry. You can learn how to wrap with every design, no problem!