Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why a wrap when there are so many carriers available?

An interesting excerpt from

"Ring slings are great, and some of the structured carriers are good too. One warning: there is some concern that carriers with a narrow crotch which leave the baby's legs to dangle can be damaging to little spines. Many of the widely available structured carriers are of this type, so please examine the carrier you choose carefully and do some research.

Carrying your baby is so beneficial to you and your child that the carrier that you like to use is the best carrier for you. However, there are a few features of the SPOC (simple piece of cloth) that make it a useful tool, even if you already have and like another sling.

1) Easy to improvise. Once you learn a couple of basic carries, you will never get caught without a sling so long as you can find a length of fabric. Carry your baby on your back using a sweater, tie on a toddler using a scarf, nurse hands-free using a generously-sized baby blanket.
2) Affordable. For as little as $1/yard you can make a great wrap. $5-15 is all it takes to make a 5 yard wrap (which most people find is long enough to do all the carries on this site), and if the fabric is wide enough to cut in half lengthwise, you may get two slings for that price. For as little as $30, you can buy one ready-made. If you'd like something more expensive, don't worry. Hemp silk wraps are available for $200.
3) Easy laundering. No special care is needed (beyond appropriate care for the fabric you choose), and because there are no rings, no buckles, and no padding or layers, it will dry quickly (even on a clothesline) and won't ding up the washer or dryer.
4) Two shoulder carries. For many, this is the big selling point. Ring slings are great for babies, but some parents feel a bit lopsided if they wear the baby in a sling for an extended time. With a long wrap, you can distribute the weight to both shoulders and also your waist.
5) One size fits most. Ring slings can usually be shared between several people, unless they are very different in size, but it's much harder to share pouches and more structured carriers requiring adjustment of buckles. Howver, the wrap that fits you can almost certainly work for your husband, sister, dad, babysitter, or anyone else who takes care of the baby. Perhaps four yards is enough for you to do the wrap cross carry, but not your husband. No problem! He can use the same wrap to do a hip cross carry, or a one shoulder carry, or a strap carry. With a wrap carrier handy, he'll have no excuse to leave you holding the baby. Unless of course you buy a pink wrap with lace ruffles on the end. Then you are on your own. :P
6) Easy to make. Sewing a ring sling isn't hard, but sewing a wrap is ridiculously easy. In fact, you don't even need to sew it at all. Check out our section on making your own wrap."
~Caren Pita

Ever since I started this blog, I have received many feedbacks and comments on the many different possibilities of wearing a baby. Ring Slings, Pouches, Mei Tai, Wraps... Happy, glad, surprised... I now know that though it's not a hot product on the market, some have made known to me that they have Mei Tais and the japanese baby sling, onbuhimo.

It is exactly reasons like these that encourage me to promote it even more and to want to start regular meetings more than ever... You'd never know what you will see!

Anyway, as promised, let me know what you would love to know about on babywearing and I will search it up for you...

Many have expressed interest in knowing the kind of fabric that is suitable for a wrap. Really, anything can be a wrap. It's just a matter of how you would like to tie it and what kind of position you would like to use if for. This pretty much determines the length of the wrap (4.5 metres will generally enable one to do most carrying positions). As for the width, it is recommended by many for it to be something between 20" to 30".

Wrapping is not an option for me now as my little one has gotten used to the convenience of the pouch. The Podaegi could work but he just isn't patient enough to let me tie it on nicely. So, I don't think I would be sharing my own experience on this anytime soon. Will keep trying, though ;)

With my little experience with fabric, I believe lightweight, woven cotton fabric will be suitable for our climate. If you prefer stretchy fabric, you can also opt for the cotton knit fabric. Something you might want to try with... bedsheets!

Why are the ready made ones so expensive? Just like your Cloth Diapers, those specialising in wraps have the fabric specially constructed for the purpose-babywearing! Just as how I still buy pouches from other retailers, you will never know until you try. It could be the fabric. It could be the customer service. It could be the videos included. It could be the never-ending support.... all these are more than just a piece of fabric.

If you do end up trying out wrapping with bedsheets or any other fabric, please do so with caution. Please ensure that your baby is always held on to safely before practising the positions. Again, it would be great to try the different positions out with a doll/bear before practising with the real one. This is especially true with the back carry. You need to have total confidence before trying that!

As for fabric choices, while I did mention that lightweight cotton shall be suited to our hot and humid climate. Please do not get one that is 'too lightweight'. It might not be structured well enough to hold your baby for a long time. Again, try a few and you will see what I mean by 'too lightweight'.

Until the next time, Selamat Babywearing ;)


Rayhana said...

Thanks for doing this post on wraps.

I am a sling-user, then progressed on to mei tais, now am looking into using a wrap for a back carry especially.

The mei tai that I have was made for me by my aunt, but it doesn't seem to work so well for the back carry; hence me trying to search for the wrap.

I had come across a co-op selling ellaroo mei tais for half the price which is a steal, but including the postage it was really beyond what I can afford, so the wrap seems to be it!

If you could help me, what do I tell the salesperson at the fabric/materials shop when I am looking for the correct material? I know next to nothing about sewing what more about fabric! So I should mention, lightweight, cotton? The many videos I have seen on youtube makes the wrap look really easy to use, BUT, I do have a very active and squirmy son so back carries that I have tried thus far haven't exactly been successful!

Thanks again for your post.

Jess said...

Hi Rayhana, sad to say... not many from the fabric store can tell us what is suitable for a sling. Some don't even know what it means by 100% cotton.

Anyway, if you are in KL, Ikea furnishing fabric would be a good 1st try. those selling at RM9.9 per metre. They crease, though.

Also, if you are going to the fabric store, you can give linen a try. It shall be strong enough and airy enough.

I am about to purchase a lightweight cotton fabric to try... if you can wait, I will try first and let you know... email me ;) peekaroobaby@gmail.com

Rayhana said...

Thanks for the reply, Jess.

Hmmm... I am thinking of using it for a wrap, not a sling?

Those really long ones. They are known to distribute the baby's weight the best, especially for torso/shoulder carries, and for DS who is past 9kg already!!

I have a couple of Indon selendangs, but they are not long enough - not even as long as a rebozo about 2.7m?

Ok! Let me know once you 've tried it.

Jess said...

Hi Rayhana,

Yes.. lightweight cotton for wrap... definitely not good enough for a sling.

Anyway, will sure do a post once I try out the fabric ;)

For a wrap, get at least 4.5m of fabric... more if you are bigger in size.

Mom to Haariz & Idrees said...

linen is okay ? i saw a beautiful linen @ binwanis ampang park the other day for RM48 a meter (60inches wide - you can get 2 wrap right?).

stripe design..very colorful & lively.

but, for 4.5metres .. thats gonna be expensive.

Jess said...

Hi Faridah, Yes, linen should be ok. Then again, you might not want to invest so much in it for a start. Perhaps, get cotton/cotton blend to start with and see how much you like wrapping...

Depending on the carrying position and your size, you can actually have a wrap that is between 20"-30" wide. The one you see in the pic is 22" wide.

also, always try the front carries first... and have someone to help you if you are trying out back carries.