A Newbie's Guide to Stretchy Baby Wraps

Are you pregnant and want to know about carrying your baby in a wrap, or a new parent who has received a baby wrap as a gift or just bought one and are struggling to know more about it? This article is just for you. Read on...

So now that you have your very first wrap, what do you do? The 5 meter long broad cloth could seem quite overwhelming to handle with a small baby, but the freedom and ability to work with a baby; that a baby carrier brings, outweighs these worries. Here are a few tips that could make wrapping much easier than you ever thought!

1. Babywearing is awesome 

Investing in a good baby carrier is worth it. Many moms owe their sanity to wearing their babies, especially when their baby is cranky, or tired, or sick, or teething or just wanting to be held 24/7. Babywearing allows you to hold your baby and still move around and use both hands. It allows you to keep baby close while out in public or while running a quick errand.

Babies easily fall asleep in a wrap. See the magic of closeness!

2.  Research before you buy

There are many things to consider when buying a wrap. There are different sizes, different materials, different prices, different colors and patterns. The tip is to start out with a longer wrap and become comfortable with the different carries, then, depending on the carrying styles you prefer, consider adding something shorter.  Another important factor is the wrap width.  A wider wrap will fit well from newborn to toddler.  

The weight of your baby is also very important to take into consideration. Lighter babies can be worn in lightweight stretchy wraps, such as Relaxed Parent Baby Wrap Carrier-Classic or Relaxed Parent Baby Wrap -Urban. These wraps have ample width to wear from newborn to toddlers.

For babies more than 16 kg use a structured carrier.

3. Certain colors and patterns can make learning to wrap easier

When you are learning to wrap it can be easy to become confused about which side is the top and which is the bottom. (The two long edges of any wrap are called rails.) If you have a wrap that has two different colors for the top and bottom rail, it is much easier to keep track of which edge is where. 

Stripes also help tie the wrap properly as you can see the design lines to guide you. Much better compared with solid wrap where you don’t get the dimensional guidance. 

4. Practice Before You Wear

Read the user manual that comes with a wrap, watch videos on how to wear the baby wrap. Practice wearing the wrap, many times with a soft toy or doll, before you can take your baby into the wrap. Some teenage girls start to practice with dolls while watching their mothers wrap their little sister or brother. It is helpful as they can get much more confident by the time they need to babywear their own kids! Get confident enough in using the wrap before you can wear your baby. You can watch the video on how to use a Relaxed Parent Baby Wrap here.

5. Safety first

Always, always, always babywear safely! Make sure you are using your wraps correctly. Support your baby’s weight while wrapping and until you are sure that they are secure. If you are not confident about wrapping do it over the couch or bed, just in case something goes wrong. While taking the baby out of the wrap, always either have someone help you or go it alone while sitting on the couch or a mattress, to ensure a safe landing just in case baby slips out of your hold.

While in the wrap make sure to take care of the Babywearing Safety TICKS
Slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.
Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
A baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
In an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. (This can be tested by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently - they should not uncurl or move closer to you.) A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.

Once you have confidence in your wrapping abilities you can get your baby up and down anywhere.

6. Patience is key

There is a learning curve to using a wrap just as there is to tying your shoes or weaving a braid. Don’t expect to be able to master every carry on your first try. You might have to readjust several times while wrapping until you get the hang of it. Front carries are the easiest to master, so start there. Once you feel confident with simple front carries, you can advance to more difficult carries if you want to.

7. Make sure your little one is positioned correctly

Getting your child in the wrap correctly is crucial. They need a nice deep seat and the top rail should be up at his or her armpits and the fabric of the seat should cover from one knee to another. Some wiggling, jumping and shifting may be necessary to get all bums and limbs in their proper places. Be sure to follow the instructions provided when you buy your wrap (or Google it if you buy a used wrap) to ensure proper positioning. It is also important that your baby be able to breathe easily and this is especially important to keep in mind if you are wearing a baby who does not have head control. Their chins should never be against their chests, as that causes a pinched airway, and their back should always be well-supported as if you are holding your baby in arms.

 8. Look around for a local babywearing group

This is especially good advice if you don’t have any/many friends or acquaintances who wrap or babywear. Moms, dads, grandparents, anyone who is familiar with wearing little ones can offer fantastic advice and can help troubleshoot if you are having difficulties with your wrap. You may even consult a certified babywearing expert if you want to be sure that the information you are getting is right!

9. Follow the care and wash instructions

To keep your wrap looking gorgeous and working well, you should care for it the way the manufacturer suggests. One thing to know is that many woven wraps may feel a bit stiff or rough when you first receive them. But the fabric can be broken in and made to be softer by washing, using, or being braided. Please remember that fibers soften up when the cellulose breaks down by normal usage and washing. Do not “break in” any baby carrier to the point of damaging the fabric to compromise on safety!

10. Posture is important

If you slouch, your back will begin to complain after a while. So stand up straight, put your shoulders back and wear that baby proudly! If you feel you need to slouch in order to accommodate your baby carrier, find an experienced baby-wearer to help you troubleshoot – likely, a small adjustment will leave you more comfortable.

11. Know that wrapping isn’t for everyone

Variety is the spice of life, right? Not everyone in the world is going to love wrapping. And some people may need to try a few different kinds before deciding on one that will be their go-to wrap. But if you or your baby just aren’t into wrapping, that’s okay!

Hopefully these little tidbits are helpful and makes wrapping a fun and easy learning experience.

Try out the Relaxed Parent Baby Wrap. The wrap is soft and gorgeous, the customer service is superb, and we'll make sure your wrapping experience a very positive one. I would highly recommend that anyone give it a try.

Happy Babywearing!

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