Babywearing and the stretchy wrap

Many of us here at The Natal Family have used or are using stretchy wraps with our babies, and if you’ve been to one of The Baby Shows lately, you would have also seen our 12096024_926619247407210_6726738552820438904_nteachers wearing and demonstrating stretchy wraps for parents. We have noticed that stretchy wraps seem to attract a lot of attention from other parents, so we thought we’d tried to explain why we (and our babies!) love them so much!

First of all, let us explain what we mean by ‘stretchy wraps’. A stretchy wrap is a long piece of material (approximately 5 metres, but the actual length depends on the brand), and it’s usually made from a combination of cotton or microfleece (approximately 95% but could be up to 100%) and an elastic material (like elastane or spandex, at approximately 5%), depending on the individual brand. The elastic material can provide the stretch that you need when wearing your baby in it, but most wraps stretch because of the way they are woven, not because of the fibres they are made from.

Benefits of a stretchy wrap

It goes without saying that a stretchy wrap can provide all the benefits that wearing your baby in a carrier / sling etc. can offer to them. For example:

  • Being close to the parent or carer;
  • Being held upright – great for your baby’s digestive system, as gentle movement can actually help them to relief trapped wind;
  • Experiencing comfort from the movement when being walked around.

We talked a bit more about the benefits of babywearing and why we feel that parents could benefit from learning how to wear their baby in a carrier / sling / wrap, here.

But there is more!IMG_1705

  • Stretchy wraps, being just a long piece of material, help us to mould the material perfectly around the baby, so that the baby experiences that sensation of being snuggled up next to you like in a constant, cosy hug. They feel held and touched all round like they were while they were in mummy’s womb.
  • Because of this, and due to the nature of the stretchy material, stretchy wraps are perfect for newborn and very young babies, but some brands, like the Boba wrap may last you until your baby is approximately 18 months (or 35 lbs in weight).
  • Stretchy wraps are so snuggly that you shouldn’t be surprised if your baby falls asleep immediately when you put them in!

A stretchy wrap can have great benefits for the person wearing it too:

  • It’s a long piece of material, so it fits everyone without the need to adjust straps every time you pass it from one person to another (mum or dad to one another or to another care giver, for example);
  • A stretchy wrap is designed to distribute the weight of the baby across your back and both your shoulders, so it should feel very comfortable, and it it shouldn’t hurt.
  • Once it’s on it feels amazing! When your baby is in it, it almost feels like you’re wearing an extra top… with the great advantage that your top comes with a baby inside! And your baby feels secure too, as they’re wrapped in 3 layers of material!
  • Whilst they’re a bit tricky to put on if you’re out and about and outdoors (the material will touch the floor / ground when you’re putting it on, so you don’t want to put it on on a muddy pavement!), they’re perfect to put on indoors and slip the baby in to go out with. If you have a car journey ahead of you, for example, you could put the wrap on before you go out, get in the car, and once you are parked up, take your baby out of the car seat and slip them into the wrap. And off you go!

Are wraps difficult to put on?

A lot of parents compliment us on how cool, cosy, snuggly and soft wraps look and feel like, but they also inevitably ask us whether they are difficult to put on!

Don’t let a lengthy piece of material intimidate you or overwhelm you! Like with everything and anything you’ll ever use, you have to learn how to do it first, and with some practice it WILL become second nature. Yes, it is slightly less straightforward then putting on a carrier with straps and hooks (or a structured carrier, like the Boba 4G or the Boba Air, for example), but once you’ve been shown how to do it (or read the instructions carefully and perhaps watched a video or two or seen a babywearing consultant at your local sling library), a few practice runs in front of the mirror is all you need to perfect your technique. Then you’ll have it on in a couple of minutes, trust us!

Is it safe?

Of course, like with any other carrier or sling, we recommend that you always follow the TICKS safety guidelines for babywearing:

T for tight. Ensure that the sling or carrier helps you keep your baby as close as possible to your chest. This will be most comfortable and safe for both you and your baby.

I for in view at all times. As you look down at your baby you should be able to see your baby’s face straight away.

C for close enough to kiss. Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable.

K for keep the chin off the chest, to ensure that breathing is not compromised.

S for supported back. Your baby should be held comfortably close to your chest so that their back is supported in a natural position.

Remember…

  • You can’t carry your baby on your back in a stretchy wrap;
  • Be extra mindful of not overheating your baby while in the wrap – once your baby is safely wrapped in, they have 3 layers of material already snuggled around them, so you don’t need to put too many clothes on them. Even in winder, a light jacket and a hat may be sufficient to keep them warm.

So if you’re pregnant or have a young baby, we recommend that you give a stretchy wrap a go! We stock some beautiful Moby and Boba wraps in The Natal Family shop and all our BabyNatal teachers can show you how to use one in their classes!

Happy wrapping and let us know how you get on!

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