It’s been a while since I’ve done a simple, resource-y post. So let’s start with something very simple – babywearing.
To go even simpler, let’s start with a kind of babywearing apparatus most people are familiar with: the Moby Wrap. The Moby is a kind of stretchy wrap. Stretchy wraps – which are basically long pieces of stretchy t-shirt-like fabric – are great for your itty bitty newborn, but a bit more difficult when dealing with older and heavier babies. Other kinds of babywearing devices are soft-structured carriers, woven wraps, ring slings, mei teis, and pouches. (For a more detailed, ridiculously comprehensive overview of types of carriers, go here).
I’m going to start with the pros and cons of stretchy wraps, but remember, not all stretchy wraps are created equal. Most of my pros/cons refer to the Moby; other wraps may have some different characteristics. Therefore, I will also go through the information on each type of stretchy wrap to help you pick the best for you.
Pros of stretchy wraps:
Great for newborns. Gives them a snuggly feeling
Great for kangaroo care of preemies
Very comfortable once you get it right. Spreads the weight over both your shoulders. You could wear a young baby in the wrap all day.
Cons of stretchy wraps:
Only safe for front carries! (Despite the fact that there are instructions and photos showing back carry in stretchy wraps, do not do this. If you want to use a wrap for back carry, get a woven wrap. The exception is some woven-stretchy hybrids. But not the Moby. Never the Moby.)
Can get hot in the summer
Somewhat more difficult to nurse in
Sometimes hard to get a hang of putting it on, especially when you’re dragging a long piece of cloth around in the parking lot of the grocery store trying to get a squalling newborn settled in it.
Most of them are only comfortable up to about 18 pounds (the exception being the Wrapsody and other hybrids)
Brands of stretchy wraps:
Moby Wrap – This is the kind of wrap with which most people are familiar. They are about $45-$50 and come in all sorts of colors. The Moby gets HOT in the summer (I know from personal experience).
My personal review? I myself wasn’t a huge fan of the Moby. My babies loved the Moby when I finally got them situated, but it was really hard for me to get it ‘right’. I got the basic hug hold down pretty easily, but the issue was that sometimes I would have it set too tight, and sometimes I would have it set too loose. So I’d have to get the baby mad by taking him or her out and readjusting. And then, inevitably, the baby would have to nurse. Since I could never figure out how to nurse in the Moby, I would have to take the baby out. Neither child liked having the Moby against my skin while I nursed, so I’d have to unwrap the whole thing. Then nurse. Then start all over, trying to get the Moby situated right.
When a good friend asked about wraps, I told her about my Moby experience and recommended the Boba Wrap instead. The Boba (which was formerly known as a Sleepytime Wrap) isn’t as stretchy as the Moby, which means it’s easier to get the tightness/looseness right.
In addition, although I can’t attest to this personally, apparently the Boba doesn’t get as hot, making it much more ideal for warmer climates.
Calin Bleu (microfleece) – no personal experience. The Calin Blue cool gauze wrap is a woven and the microfleece is a stretchy.
Kari-Me – A UK brand similar to the Moby
Tricot-Slen – A Belgian brand similar to the Moby
Hug-a-Bub– An Australian brand similar to the Moby
Cot2Tot – a UK brand similar to the Boba
Wrapsody Bali Stretch* – This is a cross between a stretchy wrap and a woven wrap. As such, it can hold heavier babies. It has a more difficult learning curve than true stretchy wraps (woven wraps are harder to learn) but is more versatile,allowing for back and hip carries. It is also more like a woven in that it stays cool in the summer.
Je Porte Mama Bebe* – another cross between a stretchy wrap and a woven wrap. Similar to the Wrapsody and can also do back carries/toddlers.
Baby K’Tan* – The K’Tan isn’t a stretchy wrap per se; it is more like a cross between a sling and a wrap. But when worn, it looks similar enough to a Moby that some moms look at it as an alternative option, so I’m going to put it on this list.
The babywearing experts at BabyCenter are not Baby K’Tan fans because of its price and because instructions from older versions show back carry pictures, which is a dangerous proposition in the K’Tan.
Caboo Carrier by Close Parent – this is like a cross between a ring sling, a wrap, and a soft-structured carrier. It’s really a wrap, but it’s already put together for you, and then adjustable via rings on the back.
Go here for some comparison between the types of stretchy wraps
Make your own:
The Hug Hold is the recommended carry by Babywearers International. This has different names in different products. Unlike the cradle carry, the hug hold keeps the baby up near your chest where you can safely kiss the top of his or her head and see that he or she is breathing.
Nursing in the stretchy wrap: