Thursday, December 12, 2013

Babywearing: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I'm really excited to have our first guest writer for Beginner Babywearing!! I hope these personal experiences will reach out to you guys and show how babywearing has different roles in everyones lives.

Guest Writer: Amie Cheatham Austin 

I was introduced to babywearing when my daughter was born in 2010. She was a happy baby and babywearing was not something I came to out of necessity, but something I loved because of the convenience and the opportunities for snuggles. At the time I was working two jobs and the chance to come home after a long day and wear her to sleep was something I treasured. But babywearing also gave me some unexpected things- aside from the cuddles, I found comfort and community.

The Good
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I used to joke that half of the reason I got married and had kids was so that I could dress everyone up in coordinating costumes. This year, babywearing played a fun role in our costumes. We all dressed as characters from Sesame Street and I wore my son (dressed as Oscar the Grouch) in a carrier I decorated as a trashcan. It was so much fun and we got so many compliments! We even started a Babywearing Halloween Costume Contest in a group I help admin. It was wonderful to be able to keep my son close to me and happy while Trick or Treating with his big sister. It allowed me to be present with her while she went through the neighborhood instead of having my attention pulled away by carrying my son in arms or pushing a stroller.

The Bad
When my daughter was only a few weeks old, she got very sick and had to be hospitalized. We later learned that she had a birth defect affecting her kidneys. We tried to treat it, but had very little success and she spent a lot of time in the hospital during the first six months of her life. When she was just 8 months old she had a big, bilateral surgery to repair the problems with her kidneys. Watching her go back for surgery with the doctor was one of the scariest moments of my life, and the time I spent in the waiting room hoping for an update was torture. The surgery was successful but the week following it was hard on all of us. She had a drainage tube in her stomach and at only 8 months old, had no understanding of why she wasn’t allowed to pull on it. Wearing her during that time saved all of us. I would put her in an SSC with her tubes through the arm hole. My husband made a little portable pocket to put the bag in and clipped that to the side so I could be hands free and my daughter couldn’t reach the tubes to tug on them. It was wonderful and made what was such a tough time that much easier.

The Ugly
In June of this year I received a very scary call. My father was sick and in the hospital with an infection in his lungs. The week that followed was the worst of my life. He was hospitalized on a Friday and died on Wednesday. It was horrifying, but I was lucky to have that last week to spend with him and say goodbye and tell him I loved him. Following his unexpected death, I found myself “in charge” of everything. Despite being the youngest of four children, I somehow was responsible for coordinating with the hospital, the attorney who had written his will, and the funeral home- all while I had my two small children at home. It was very difficult. My dad was a lifelong sailor and always saw himself as a Jimmy Buffet-esque character. When planning his funeral service, we decided to have a very strict “shorts and flip flops” dress code, just like he would have wanted. I was to give the eulogy. When the day came, my clingy baby boy refused to be held by anyone but me. So with the start of the service approaching, I wrapped him on my back in Ahoi- a wrap that had always made me think of my sailor father, with its anchors and ships wheels. I swayed in the back while people got up and spoke about how my father had touched their lives, how he had helped them- some spoke of how he had saved their lives through his outreach work in the community. It was a beautiful thing. When it was my turn to go up, my son, the child who bore my father’s name, had fallen asleep on my back. I took a deep breath, and closed my eyes. I could feel my son’s breath on my neck and feel my dad’s presence in that moment. It centered me. I gave the eulogy with my son happily sleeping close to my heart. I don’t know that I would have made it through without it. I realized in that moment that babywearing is not just good for the babies. It’s for us too. Wearing him gave me a sense of peace and comfort in a room that was otherwise spinning. 
When it was time to leave, I was loading all of the flowers that had been sent into my car to head back to my home where we would receive friends and family. I found a beautiful arrangement in my favorite colors with a note. “Even though we cannot physically be here for you, please know our love and thoughts are with you today.” It was from my babywearing friends. People I had never met face to face, had only come to know through the community surrounding this thing we call babywearing. I am unable to express how touching the gesture of love and support was for me. I had spent that week being strong for everyone else, thinking of everyone else- and here the people in this community were taking the time to reach out to ME and let me know that I was cared for too.

Sure, babywearing is a wonderful tool for bonding with your child or dealing with a high needs baby. But anyone approaching this community should be warned- you will get so much more than you bargained for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You Paid What?!

Woven Wraps are expensive. They are and although it might seem crazy for someone just entering the babywearing community there IS reason for it. 

  • Woven Wrap companies use very high quality material. These pieces of fabric are weight tested far beyond the weight limit of your child at home. Most use only organic fibers (like Didymos) and all use SAFE dyes. Would you want yucky toxic dyes next to your babies skin? Neither do the wrap companies. They truly care for the safety of your child. 
  • The price of fabric is expensive. ANY type of fabric. It isn't cheap, and when you think about how much fabric it takes to make a wrap the cost adds up. The most common size wrap is 4.6 meters long (Which is LONG!!)
  • Wraps are going to be set under extreme regulations and safety tests coming up in 2014. Most companies are already compliant. This testing isn't free. Its actually thousands of dollars. 
  • The wrap companies care about their employees. They pay them fairly. They pay the farmers fairly. They make sure that they are paying what the material is actually worth. Which is why most of them are apart of the fair trade act. 
Some wraps are more expensive than others. Sometimes it depends on brand. Sometimes it depends on the material blend of the wrap.
  • Cotton compared to other types of material is relatively cheap. If you wanted a wrap with different blends of material (like silk, hemp, and linen) then the price of the wrap is going to go up because those cost more. 
  • Size makes a difference as well. You're obviously going to be expected to pay more if you're getting a longer size wrap. 
  • Some wraps had limited quantities of them made. If this wrap is sought after that causes a problem. What happens when a bunch of people want the same wrap? The price goes up. 
  • Some wraps are handwoven and one of a kind. If I were a weaver putting in 20+ hours on a wrap I would want a decent amount of money for it.
Sometimes its personal.
  • One time there was a wrap that I HAD to have. I couldn't find it anywhere and I knew this would be the wrap I would carry my grandbabies in. Well I found it eventually and I knew it was over priced. Not by much but by about $40 making the wrap a total of $240. At the time that was a lot of money for me to blow (it still is) but I paid it anyways and I'm SO glad I did. Its our favorite wrap. 
  • Some woman do it because they know they can resell it for pretty close to what they paid (normally). I have done this many times. When an unexpected bill comes up I know I can quickly sell a wrap or two and not have to worry. 
  • I have many wraps. Not as many as I used to but still a good amount. I use them everyday and I use different ones for different things. I have one pair of tennis shoes and a pair of boots and get my hair cut about once a year. that's all I need. But some woman need 10 different pairs of shoes and get their hair dyed every 6 weeks. Its the same thing. I spend money on whats important to me.
At the end of the day a wrap is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Why would they want to pay more than they have to? For a lot of reasons, but they shouldn't have to justify why. Just like its not my business if you want a $500 bag or an expensive pair of shoes. You get to choose what you spend your money on and you don't have to justify it to anyone. 

Babywearing doesn't have to be expensive though! There are great DIY ways to make a wrap and I personally help admin a babywearing swap were ALL the carriers are $100 or less (here). Most of the time when we are talking about wraps that are hundreds of dollars they are for the collecters. You don't have to be a collector to enjoy wearing your baby =)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Intro to Soft Structured Carriers

Soft Structured Carriers (aka Buckle Carriers) Is a type of carrier that buckles onto you. The carrier consists of a body (the panel of fabric where baby goes), a waist strap, and two arm straps. These Carriers are normally pretty heavily padded in the waist and shoulders for added support.

SSCs tend to be thought of as a more 'mainstream' carrier. This makes them easier to find in chain stores such as Babies R Us, Walmart, and places like TJMax and Marshalls. The simplicity of them makes them a favorite among many parents. Buckle carriers aren't nearly as daunting as some other choices like wrapping. They are quick and easy. A lot of SSCs are capable of front, hip, and back carries such as the Ergo.

The difficult things about Buckle Carriers is that they have sized bodies, so usually its not a one stop shop. You'll need a regular standard sized one, some type on infant insert, a Toddler size, and a preschool size if you continue wearing an older or bigger baby. It can also be difficult to find a good fit for the wearer. They do have webbing that adjusts but sometimes they don't don't go small enough or big enough. Some brands have extra accessories to combat this like waist extenders or perfect fit adjusters (they make the arm straps smaller).  However once you find a good fit for baby and wearer they are amazing!

Wrapping Basics

 Wrapping Basics

Basic Wrapping Guidelines 

  • Just like with any baby carrier you want baby to be supported knee to knee. Babies bum should be lower than knee making an M shape. 
  • Make sure babies air ways are ALWAYS clear. The wrap should never cover babies face and chin should always be away from chest
  • Babies should be arms in until the get proper head control 
  • The tighter you are able to get the wrap while you are wrapping, the comfier its going to be for every one. Take your time wrapping and get a nice and tight wrap job. 
  • When baby is on front you should be able to kiss the top of their head. This is how you know that baby is high enough. 
  • If baby is on your back you should be able to lean your head back and touch the top of their head. (this has exceptions) 
  • To get wrap more comfy on the shoulders you can always spread the rails and make them wider. 
  • Back wrapping can be very intimidating. It is best to master front carries before you attempt a back carry. The first time you try a back carry have a spotter to help you and do it away from hard surfaces. 
  • Youtube is a GREAT source!
  • Practice, practice, practice it gets easier!!  


Woven Wraps come in all different sizes. If you are new to wrapping you are probably going to want to aim to get a longer wrap, because more options will be available to you. Picking out the right size long wrap tends to go by shirt size more than height. However size has nothing to do with the wrap sizes that you can or can not use. Anyone can use any size wrap. The only thing that will very is the about of carries you can do with a specific wrap. 

size 1 - 2.2 meters
size 2 - 2.7 meters
size 3 - 3.2 meters
size 4 - 3.7 meters
size 5 - 4.2 meters   This is the size I use for my long wrap. I'm petite
size 6 - 4.7 meters   This is the standard long size wrap for an average sized person
size 7 - 5.2 meters   Plus size moms or daddies tend to use this size for their long wrap

Common Carries 

This is no where near all the possible carries but are basic or well known ones. Most of these carries also have a ton of variations. This enables you to be able to do the carry using different size wraps. I have linked a video of each carry as well. Most videos linked are by babywearingfaith. All her videos are amazing and I highly recommend them. 

Front Carries:

Back Carries:
Double Hammock (DH) I did this video =)

Hip Carries:

Wrap Brands


Im going to try to cover each brand for the different styles. For the brands that have websites of their own I will also link those. If I have forgotten one please feel free to leave me a comment informing me. I plan to update this post often whenever new information comes to my attention. 

Stretchy Wraps:

Moby Wrap: This is probably the most popular brand of stretchy wrap. You can buy it at babys r us and is very affordable. It comes in many colors to choose from. Some people complain that the moby gets too hot to wear for extended period of times. This is the brand that I started out with. 

Boba Wraps: This is a basic cotton jersey fabric similar to the moby. These come in sizes based on shirt size.

Bali Stretch: a great well liked stretchy wrap. This is the ONLY stretchy that can be used in a back carry. 

Gauze Wraps:

Babyette: This is a WAHM who makes wovens and gauze wraps. This is the only brand that I am personally familiar with although I know that there are more out there. She seems to be popular with the gauze using moms.

Bali Breeze: A well liked popular gauze wrap.  

Woven Wraps: WARNING! this is going to be a huge list lol I have not personally tried every single one of these brands, although I have tried a lot. I only feel comfortable telling you about my own personal experience and what I have learned through other moms. If anyone has anything they'd like me to add then please leave me a comment or shoot me an email =) 

Amazonas: have long tapers and are getting hard to find in the US. However I have heard that they are cheap and easy to find in parts of Europe.

Artipoppe: I do not know very much about this brand. Very highly sought after wraps, these are one of the ''in'' brands at the moment. They come with a heavy price tag.

Babyette: This is a WAHM who makes wovens and gauze wraps. These are produced in small batches and are

handwoven. She seems to be gaining popularity in the babywearing community. 

BB Slen: This is a great brand for newborns through toddler years. These are known for how wide they are.  Most tend to be thinner but they are an amazingly affordable brand. Great for beginners.

Bebina: Thinner wraps (most of the time) and are typically harder to find. This brand makes the highly sought after astrology sign wraps. 

Colimacon & Cie (C&C): Sturdy and affordable wraps. A lot of babywearers LOVE these wraps. These are wonderful for wrap newbies.

Didymos (Didys): One of the most popular and diverse brands of woven wraps. They come in all different blends (cotton, linen, silk, wool), weaves, colors, thickness etc. every single wrap is different. Didymos releases limited edition wrasp often, making them always sought after. Most of the wraps in my personal stash are from Didymos. I can not say enough great things about this brand.

  Diva Milano: a Brand growing in popularity, this company is relatively new. These were pretty sought after in the babywearing community but the popularity seems to be dying down. They come in different blends (cotton, silk,

wool, linen) and limited editions are released seasonally.

Dolcino: Although I've only tried one of these once. I have heard nothing but good things. This is a great beginner wrap and reasonably priced. The one I tried was relatively thin.

Girasol: Another big name brand Girasols are great beginner wraps. They come in amazing colorways with or without fringe. They tend to be on the thicker side making them quite hot in warmer climates. They are quick to break in and some colorways are highly sought after. Some people tend to think they aren't as supportive as other brands but I have not noticed this to be true.

Ellaroo: Very thin wraps which make them a good choice in warmer climates. Not as supportive as some other brands. All come with fringe and are hand woven. I have one of these in my personal stash.

Ellevill: Come in four main lines (Zara, Jade, Karma, and Paisley) and all have different blends. They come in so many different colors and tend to be on the thinner side. These tend to have really long tapers...which some people love and some hate. They also are quite textured. 

Heartness: Another new brand with a heavy price tag. If you're lucky you might be able to find a reasonably priced one. I have never tried one of these nor do I know much about them.

Hoppediz (Hopps): Are medium to thick work horse, toddler worthy wraps. They can be a pain to break in from what I hear. The few I have tried have been amazing and very supportive. 

Kokadi: Are a very popular German brand. They come super soft right out of the box. They do make limited edition wraps which make some of them very hard to find and sought after, which makes the price of some of them super high. 

Lenny Lamb: Dense wraps that are starting to get popular again. They take some breaking in (like a lot of breaking in) but get buttery soft. I had one of these that I got rid of because it wouldnt get soft. I have heard the newer ones don't have this issue.

Natibaby: One of my all time favorite brands. They come in many different blends and patterns. They get amazing soft once broken in. They do tend to vary in thickness just like Didymos wraps. As of right now I have three of these in my stash.

Neobulle: Soft and easy to break in. Tend to be thick toddler worthy wraps. These are getting harder to find however they are not very sought after.

Oscha: Another high end brand. Oschas come with a very high price tag, even higher if you do not buy them straight from Oscha. The "Oscha Craze'' is dying down. They tend to be very textured and dense wraps. Oscha is known for great customer service. They come in a variety of blends and patterns. They also have limited edition releases. 

Pavo Textiles: Another brand I dont know much about. These are another in wrap and very expensive. 

Strochenweige: Another reasonably priced work horse wrap. They are known for support. They require some breaking in and tend to be medium thick. I have heard amazing things about their 'leo' line

Uppymama: I don't even know what to say about these...the prices on them put all other brands to shame. Seriously. If you buy them from the woman who hand weaves them (in Canada) then the prices aren't as bad, but you don't want to see what they go for on the markets. Its crazy. People tend to think that they are the most amazing things to ever be created though.

Vatanai: Typically thin wraps, these tend to be a great popular choice for summer wraps. I have one thats on the thick side that I love. These tend to have longer tapers than most. However, they do have one handwoven wrap called pamir. The price of that wrap is right up there with the uppys...if not more.

Which Brand to Buy

The best advice I can give is to just buy something that you're drawn to. If you absolutely love the wrap, then more than likely you will find a way to make it work. If on the off chance you don't like it then you can always trade or sell that wrap. Wraps have an AWESOME resale value which make them so great for people who can't afford a lot of wraps but not sure what they want. Now, if you live in florida then you're obviously not going to want a super thick wrap. Think of your climate, the size of the child you're wrapping, etc. 

Other Places to Buy

Here is a list of some popular babywearing venders:

There are also tons of great places to buy carriers used online. Facebook Groups like The Babywearing Swap and Babywearing on a Budget are great places and so are website such as The BabywearerBabycenter, and Diaper Swappers 

Intro to Wrapping

Intro To Wrapping

Wraps are a simple piece of cloth that you wrap around your body in a way to make a carrier for your baby. This is probably the oldest forms of babywearing, and still to this day one of the most popular.  

Wraps were reintroduced in mainstream culture during the 70's when a German mama founded the company Didymos, which makes and distributes woven wraps. Now presently there are dozens of brands/styles/ and colorways to choose from!

Types of Wraps

Stretchy Wraps: This type of wrap, as you guessed, is stretchy. A lot of moms use this style as a stepping stone into babywearing (I did this).  These are ideal when a baby is a newborn and/or less than 15 pounds. Sense these are mostly made out of jersey knit they tend to get unsupportive as baby grows. Which is why its mostly used as a stepping stone into more long term babywearing. The carries you can do are also limited with a stretchy wrap. Front carriers are really only whats recommended. You can do some hip carries. However, back carries are NEVER recommended. 

Gauze Wraps: Gauze is a wrap made from very light weight cotton. They are super thin which makes them wonderful for warm weather climates. Because they are so thin, gauze wraps also tend to get unsupportive with bigger babies. If you wrap very carefully and use a multilayer carry, then you can try to avoid some of the discomfort. You can use this type of wrap for front, hip, and back carries.

Woven Wraps: Wovens are the most popular style of wrap. You also have the most versatility with this style. You can very easily carry a newborn through a preschooler with this style of wrap. They come in a verity of sizes, brands, blends, etc. However they do come at a much larger price than the previous two styles. You can do front, hip, and back carries with woven wraps.