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Unraveling Woven Wraps (Woven Wraps FAQs)

Woven Wraps FAQs

I am by no means an expert on Woven Wraps. I have two, a Hoppediz “light” size 6 and a Little Frog Sunny Agat II size 3 from Woven Wraps Australia. Being part of a couple of online baby wearing communities I’ve gathered a lot information about wraps over the last couple of years and I’ve had a lot of my own questions about wraps answered – and noticed a lot of people ask the same sorts of questions, whether they’re looking to buy or simply curiosity about why people would strap a baby or toddler to their body with a long piece of colourful fabric.

Why use a Woven Wrap?

I’ve had a few different carriers over the last few years and there are three main attractions for me with a woven wrap.

  • They’re versatile, depending on the length of the wrap, you can do a range of different styles of wraps, to suit the size, weight, age of your baby or toddler and also what is going to suit you and them at the time. With the same wrap you could have baby on your front for a feed and snuggle to sleep, or high up on your back so they can look over your shoulder at the world, or even a hip carry. When not used as a carrier, a woven wrap can also serve as a make-shift picnic rug, baby blanket, pram cover, I’ve used it to clean up spills, or as a towel after some impromptu swimming and for especially creative people they can be used to make hammocks under tables or inside cots.
  • They’re comfortable – if you get them right. Wrapping does take practice for the wrapper and also a bit of patience from your wrapee while you get the hang of it. Of everything I’ve used to carry my babies and toddlers with, my wrap is both the most comfortable and the most difficult to use, but when wrapped up snug, tight and evenly spread, even 15kgs of squishy toddler just melts away.
  • They’re pretty. So pretty.  (This might actually be the number 1 reason for me – if I don’t feel like I have anything nice to wear, I can always wear a baby!)

How do you use a Woven Wrap?

This is the fun part! It’s like fabric origami with a baby. (That sounded more fun in my head). Like most new skills, YouTube can often only get you so far, Youtube is pretty awesome though, definitely use YouTube to help you learn new wraps. But the best way to learn how to wrap is find someone else who already knows how to wrap and say “Hi! Can you teach me how to wrap!”. Rather than rushing up to complete strangers as they walk buy with their wraps, it’s a good idea to find a local baby wearing group. These groups often are really welcoming and can be a great place to also make friends! There’s a list of local groups on Carry My Baby or even try searching on Facebook or Google “babywearing *your area*” and see what you find. If you’re looking for wrapping tips, there’s also really helpful groups like Baby Wearing Buy Swap Sell on Facebook, that have members who are often very eager to help answer wrapping questions.

Are Woven Wraps difficult to use?

They can be. Often it takes time to practice wrapping, for both you and baby or toddler. It’s a good idea when you first start wrapping, or trying out a new style of wrapping, to do it in front of a mirror, so you can see exactly what you’re doing, if you’ve twisted anything behind your back or have any loose bits you can’t see. Having a cooperative bub helps a lot also – with my toddler some days we do use an Ergo carrier instead, because if she doesn’t want to be wrapped, then she isn’t going to be wrapped. It can also help to give baby something to hold and play with while you’re wrapping them, especially if you’re getting them up on your back. Our distraction of choice is a tooth brush.

Why are some wraps*so* expensive?

Why is anything so expensive? I have a trusty pair of target ballet flats I picked up for $10 on sale about 4 months ago, that have just worn completely through on the sides, making them not-at-all-water-proof, but they’re just so comfortable I don’t want to give them up just yet. Meanwhile, I could have bought a pair of Versace ballet flats for $856.66  – and by “could have” I mean “not in this life time”, but you get the idea? There’s a few things that contribute to why ANYTHING is expensive:

Quality of materials. I’m pretty sure that Versace and Target don’t source their materials from the same place, I’m not even sure what materials my shoes were made from, they were possibly made of cardboard. Not all woven wraps are created equally, they come in a variety of different materials, thread counts, sources, also some are made from certified organic fabric, with natural dyes and made from entirely ethically produced materials.

Not. In. This. Lifetime.

The more expensive wraps are hand woven, and making anything by hand takes a lot of time, and care, and experience and patience, also you’re paying for someone’s skill, equipment (looms aren’t cheap) designs, as well as their time, it can take 8 hours just to set up the loom to start weaving. Hand woven wraps can also be custom made, or one of a kind, so there is also a price tag attached to the time a weaver spends with a client designing their wrap, or paying for the exclusivity of a one-off creation. Suddenly $1300 for an Uppy Mama handmade wrap starts to sound like a bargain – if you have the money to spend. (Which I do not).

But even a machine woven wrap, you should still expect to pay $100+ for a wrap. If you’re into sewing, you’ll know that a few meters of good quality fabric is not going to be cheap.

And that’s not to say that a $1000 wrap is going to be “10 times better” than a $100 wrap. Just like a $100 pair of shoes is still a good pair of shoes, but a $1000 pair of shoes is something luxurious, exclusive and special, and not everyone needs a $1000 pair of shoes, some people are perfectly happy with broken ballet flats from target.

Why do second hand wraps cost sometimes as much or more than a new wrap?

Woven wraps don’t really wear out, if anything, they wear in. Some wraps need to be “broken in”  before they’re comfortable to wear, this is because depending on the wrap you buy, it might not be soft and as flexible as it will be once it’s been broken in. Similarly to how quality linen softens over time – especially if your wrap is made of linen. This can be done by washing, ironing, braiding them, making them into swings or hammocks for toddlers or older children to sit in, and over time from use. Some wraps need a lot of work to break in, but generally the harder to break in, the better the pay-off in comfort and support. It can be better for a beginner to purchase a second hand wrap, than a brand new wrap, though many wraps are soft and squishy straight out of the box. So, bad news is, there isn’t necessarily a cheaper to buy a second hand wrap, the good news is, as long as you take care of your wrap, when you’re done with it, you should be able to resell it for most of the purchase price.

What about a DIY wrap instead?

I’m not a wrap purist, you don’t NEED to buy a purpose made woven wrap, though if you’re going to spend the money on quality fabric to make a decent woven wrap yourself, then as previously mentioned, you won’t necessarily save much money, so you may as well buy a purpose-made woven wrap, which has been woven with carrying babies in mind. However, an inexpensive alternative wrap is a stretchy wrap – which are different to woven wraps, as they are stretchy – which are great for newborns, can be made as cheaply as $30 out of t-shirt fabric purchased from a fabric store. These don’t work for long, as once baby has some weight to them they’ll start to stretch and sag, which will be uncomfortable for you and unsafe for them. You also cannot use a stretchy wrap for back carries.

What do the sizes mean?

Wraps come in a range of their lengths.

Below is a guide to what the sizes mean in lengths (in meters).

Size 1              2.0 – 2.2 m
Size 2              2.5 – 2.7 m
Size 3              3.1 – 3.3 m
Size 4              3.7 – 3.9 m
Size 5              4.2 – 4.3 m
Size 6              4.6 – 4.9 m
Size 7              5.2 – 5.4 m
Size 8              5.5 – 5.8 m

How do I choose a woven wrap that’s right for me?

This is a tricky question. It’s much like choosing a pram – there’s no one right answer. But a few things to consider are:

Price. Wraps can cost usually between $100-1000 with a few options falling outside of that range.

Length. The most versatile length usually is a size 6 – depending also on your own height and size. Longer or shorter wraps do some jobs better than others, for example I currently own a size 6, which is good for wrapping at home if I’m not planning to take her out of the wrap while we’re out,and a size 3 that I prefer to take out with me just in case she wants to be carried – because it’s much quicker to wrap a shorter wrap compared to a longer wrap. It’s similar to having a big pram for long walks and a stroller in the boot for quick trips. The below chart from Didymos.de should give you a rough idea about the types of carries you can do with various lengths.

Climate. Different materials and weights are going to be more suitable to different climates, obviously looking for a lighter weight fabric for a warmer climate. For example my wrap is a Hoppediz Light, which was perfect for a Queensland summer, but my Little Frog Sunny Agat II is much thicker fabric and so perfectly suitable for a chilly Melbourne winter.

Yes, they are different…

Aesthetics. Wraps come in a range of styles, colours and patterns. Some woven wrap makers produce the same wrap with different coloured ‘weft’, which is the horizontal threads on a wrap, changing this colour can either dramatically or subtly change the colours and appearance of what is basically the same wrap. This is all a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer intricately woven patterns and designs and other people prefer one block colour or simple stripes.

Why do people collect wraps – and end up with a “Wrap Stash”?

Again, it’s like the shoes thing. Some people have one pair of shoes that they wear day in day out until they need replacing. Some people have one pair of heels, one pair of flats, a pair of runners and a couple of boots. Some people have a pair of shoes to match every outfit and occasion. Similarly, some wraps are more suitable to different weather, or are better for a little baby, or for a toddler- some wraps are precious and only for special occasions, and other wraps are for squishing into the bottom of a nappy bag next to a forgotten banana (true story).

What are wrap conversions?

Wrap conversions are pretty much what they sound like, wraps that have been converted into other carriers. These can be DIY, or done by professional crafters. Either a person with a wrap sends their wrap off to someone to be converted – into either a sling ring, soft structured carrier (like a mei tai) or even a buckle carrier – or you can buy ready-made wrap conversions. If you want to be brave and slice and dice your own wrap, there are many tutorials and patterns to be found online.

So, now I’m interested in Woven Wraps – what next? 

You can head to Woven Wraps Australia and check out their great range of wraps!

CLICK HERE for more information on Babywearing.

 

About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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