Simple pieces of cloth are probably the oldest form of babywearing; many cultures still carry their children SPOC the way they have for centuries. Wraps were re-introduced in Western culture in the 1970s when a German mama found that using wraps helped her better care for her twin infants – the wrap company Didymos was born. Now, almost 40 years later, there are dozens of wrap brands and patterns and styles to suit all tastes.
Wraps are the most versatile baby carrier. The same wrap can be easily used by multiple wearers, can be used in multiple positions, and has plenty of other uses beyond baby carrying (hammocks, swings, blankets….). Because a wrap is literally wrapped on wearer and baby, it provides a custom fit every time. While there is a slight learning curve with wraps, most wrappers will tell you it’s actually quite easy with just a little practice. Woven wraps can be used for high back carries which allows for even young infants to be back carried.
Looking for info on how to buy a woven wrap? Check out my post on the topic!
New to babywearing? Check out my Babywearing Guide!
Types of Wraps
There are three main categories of wraps:
Stretchy: As the name implies, these wraps have quite a bit of stretch to them. Most are made of cotton jersey knit or a stretchy bamboo/cotton blend. Stretchy wraps are best for the newborn phase when support isn’t an issue. They are easy to “pop” baby in and out of – handy if you are wearing baby a large part of the day. Stretchy wraps are best for front carries, but can also be used for hip carries. They should not be used for back carries.
Gauze: These wraps are made of lightweight cotton gauze and are great for warm weather and hot climates. They are thin so best used in multi-layer carries. They can be used with babies and toddlers, but careful wrapping is required with heavier children to avoid discomfort. Gauze wraps can be used for front, hip, and back carries.
Woven: Woven wraps are the largest and most diverse category of wraps. German Style Wovens (GSWs) are a large sub-set (most commercially purchased wraps are GSWs). Wovens come in a variety of lengths and can be used for front, hip, and back carries; and single and multi-layer carries. They are available in a wide variety of blends and styles – something for everyone.
NOTE: You may wonder, where’s brand X? Since I began this page, the wrap market has exploded! Lots of new companies out there. The ones I’ve listed here are wraps that should be easy to obtain (no stalking required!) new or used. And they are brands that I’ve personally used and feel are quality. That doesn’t mean brand X isn’t good quality; if you are interested in a company not listed here, I’d encourage you to head on over to thebabywearer.com forums and check out the wrap chatter section for reviews. I won’t be adding the harder to get brands to this list or brands that I haven’t personally tried…and honestly, it’s hard to keep up these days!
Here are the major wrap brands with a brief description of each. Links are are provided to the company websites although most are available from US vendors (see the babywearing main page for a list).
Gypsy Mama Wrapsody Bali Baby Stretch: Batiked, cotton jersey wraps; these are less stretchy and slightly thinner than most stretchy wraps and are the only brand of stretchy listed here that can be safely used for back carries.
Moby Wrap: The most readily available cotton jersey wrap, the moby comes in a variety of solid colors. Another version, the Moby D, has a decorative fabric panel in the middle.
Boba Wrap: Similar to the moby but a bit less stretchy; a basic cotton jersey wrap.
Calin Bleu: Solid color cotton gauze wraps.
Gypsy Mama Wrapsody Bali Baby Breeze: Batiked cotton gauze wraps.
Bara Barn: Bara Barn shawls are short, rebozo length wraps. They are thin and great for summer or as a wrap for the car or diaper bag when you want something that folds down small. Bara Barns are not tapered.
BB Slen: Sturdy and wide, BB Slens are great wraps for older babies and toddlers (but they work great for newborns too!). Most are on the thinner side (solids tend to be thinner than stripes). BB Slens are also the least expensive woven and make for a nice wrap for beginners.
Chimparoo: This Canadian company produces a variety of carriers including woven wraps.
Colimacon & Cie: These are sturdy wraps in all cotton and a linen blend (there’s also a thinner version called First Spring). C&Cs have a lower retail price tag making them a good budget option.
Didymos: The grand dame of wrap brands, Didymos wraps are more expensive than most but also have the highest retail value. They are available in many blends (cotton, silk, wool), weaves (indios, stripes, jacquards), and thickness – something for everyone. Didymos releases limited edition wraps on a regular basis in addition to their regular line.
Diva Milano: A new player on the wrap scene, Diva’s are elegant wraps …with a price tag to match! A Russian/Italian collaboration, they are produced in the same factories as some high end Italian clothing; the result are wraps that are super soft right out of the box and thin but supportive. Diva has produced cotton as well as wool, linen, and silk blend wraps in a “collection” format (limited editions that are seasonal).
Girasol: Girasols are a medium thin wrap available with or without fringe; they have a more blanket like feel than some brands. In addition to the standard line, many shops carry their own exclusive colorways. Girasols are soft and easy to wrap with without any breaking in.
Dolcino: Dolcinos are soft medium thin wraps that require little or no breaking in; great for beginning wrappers. They have just recently been added to retailers in the US.
Ellaroo: Ellaroos are very thin wraps so a good choice for warm weather; all come with fringe. With a little use, they become quite soft and easier to wrap with.
Ellevill: Ellevills are currently offered in three main lines – Zara, Jade, and Paisley. They have all cotton, silk, linen and bamboo blends. They are on the thin side (Paisleys are quite thin, Zaras are thinner while Jades have more bounce) and come in a beautiful array of colors. Ellevill wraps have longer tapers than most brands.
Hoppediz: Hopps are medium to thick wraps depending on the colorway. They are sturdy and supportive – great workhorse wraps. They will require some breaking in when purchased new.
Lana: Lana wraps are medium thick, dense wraps – true workhorses. They take some work to break in but are very supportive. Lanas do not have tapers. These are getting hard to find in the US.
Natibaby: Natibaby wraps come in a variety blends and patterns – cotton, bamboo, silk and wool. They range from thin to medium thick depending on the pattern and blend.
Neobulle: Neobulles are quite soft and easy to wrap with even when brand new. They are medium thick, sturdy wraps.
Oscha: Another new player in the wrap world, this Scottish company began by offering beautiful grads on 100% Irish linen. They now offer wrap “collections” (limited editions built around a theme) in all cotton as well as silk, linen, and wool blends. Oscha has created quite a sensation for their high quality wraps and attentive customer service. Although there is variation among Oscha wraps, many are quite dense and lean medium to thick; some are very textured. The 100% linen wraps are quite thin.
Storchenwiege: Another workhorse wraps, Storchs are known for durability and support. Most are medium thick (the Louise Bio wraps are thin). Storchs do require breaking in when purchased new.
Vatanai: Vatanais are among the thinnest wraps, so a great choice for summer or warm climates. They are also very soft and easy to wrap with – nice for learning to wrap. Vatanais come in jaquards and stripes; the stripes tend to be a bit thinner. Vatanais have longer tapers than most brands. Oh, and then there’s that Pamir guy (a $$ handwoven wrap also produced by Vatanai).
These seem awfully expensive – Can I just make a DIY wrap?:
You can absolutely DIY a wrap, especially with a small infant. If you love wrapping, you will probably find it worthwhile to invest in a German style woven as your baby gets heavier. It is difficult to find commercial fabric (especially at a good price!) that will have the same wrapping qualities and comfort level as a GSW will with a heavier infant. Also keep in mind that used wraps sell for below retail and wraps have a great re-sale value.
But DIY can be a great way to start! Just a few helpful tips:
- Cotton jersey knit makes the easiest DIY and is great for a newborn – you don’t even have to hem the edges as the fabric won’t ravel! Like all stretchy wraps, a DIY cotton jersey wrap is best used in multi-layer carries; it should NOT be used for back carries. 5 yards is a good length to start with (you could go shorter if you are very thin or longer if you are fluffy). The wrap should be 25-28 inches wide. You may find a DIY cotton jersey wrap will begin to sag sooner than a store bought one unless you use heavy weight material. Still, this is a great and very inexpensive way to get a snuggly newborn carrier.
- Cotton gauze is also an easy way to DIY. This will give you more support than a stretchy wrap and will allow you to do back carries. It should be used for multi-layer carries. Gauze is thin and requires careful wrapping with heavier babies to avoid pressure points. But, its thinness makes it a great choice for summer. Again 5 yards and 25-28 inches wide is a good size to start with.
- Osnaburg (a type of muslin) is the closest thing to a GSW according to many veteran wrappers. Osnaburg isn’t much to look at, but it’s a great blank canvas if you like dye projects. It is also relatively cheap so a great way to try a different length. Osnaburg can be used for any length wrap, so it’s a good choice if you want to try some single layer carries with a DIY.
- Table cloths can also make good short wraps. If you want to do a RUB (rucksack tied under the bum), you will need about 2.5 meters (so about a 100 inch table cloth); for rebozo carries, you can get away with less. You will probably want to hem the width and may find these a bit thicker than many GSWs. Still, it can be a cheap way to experiment with a short wrap.
- For safety reasons, you should avoid sewing together two shorter pieces to make a long wrap. Even a strong seam can fail under the sort of pressure it will be under when wrapping. Experienced seamstress, baby-carrier making mamas are quite adamant about this precaution.
Which brand should I choose?:
The best advice for choosing a wrap is to browse the available options and choose a colorway that is beautiful to you; if you love the way your wrap looks, you are more likely to learn to use it! There really is no “best brand;” each brand has its fans. If you find that you don’t like the wrap you are using, talk to an experienced wrapper (or a wrap retailer) who should be able to help you figure out what brand may be a better fit for you.
That said, you may also want to take in to consideration things like the climate you are in (you would likely want to avoid something thick if you live in a hot region) and the age of your wearer (a stretchy wrap would not be a good choice for an older baby or toddler). Some wraps take some work to “break-in”; if you don’t want to deal with this stage, buy a used wrap or a brand that it “soft out of the box.” All wraps will wrap more easily after a few washes and some use.
What size wrap do I need?:
The answer to this question depends on two things: the carries you want to do and your size (your shirt size more than your height). One advantage wraps have over other carriers is that they always give a custom fit; mamas (and daddies!) of all shapes and sizes can wrap!
Wraps are sized in meters although some brands will also use a numbering system and/or size names. Wraps are most commonly referenced by their Didymos size equivalents:
- Size 1 – 2.2 meters (also referred to as a rebozo length or super shortie)
- Size 2 – 2.7 meters (also referred to as a rebozo length or shortie)
- Size 3 – 3.2 meters (also referred to as a long shortie)
- Size 4 – 3.7 meters
- Size 5 – 4.2 meters
- Size 6 – 4.7 meters (also referred to as a Standard)
- Size 7 – 5.2 meters (also referred to as a Maxi)
Most wrappers start with a long wrap that can be used for multi-layer carries. Most average sized women will use a size 6 as their long wrap; plus size mamas or daddies may be more comfortable with a size 7, while petite folks can likely use a 5. Remember it’s shirt size and not height that matters. You can always use a wrap that is longer than you need; just wrap the extra back around your waist. However, most wrappers find it is best to figure out your perfect size for easiest wrapping. If you find your wrap is too long for you, you can always have it hemmed down.
If you like wrapping, you may find it helpful to have another wrap or two in different sizes to more easily do different carries. Most wearers will go down 2 sizes to do mid-length carries. Most every wearer can use a size 2 or 3 for shortie carries. Size recommendations are included in carry instructions below.
So How Do I Use a Wrap?
General Guidelines: There are a number of ways to use a wrap. Most wrappers will try out a number of carries to find the one that is most comfortable for them (and what is most comfortable may change over time as baby grows). There are a few general guidelines that will help you get a comfortable wrap job with any carry:
- As with any carrier, you want the wrap to support baby out to his knees. Knees should be slightly higher than baby’s bum. Newborns can be wrapped with their legs froggied although their weight should still rest on their bum and not their feet. Babies can be wrapped legs out from birth since the seat of a wrap can be made as narrow as need be to prevent over stretching while still achieving the proper support to the knees position. My preference is to wrap legs out from birth.
- Babies should be wrapped arms in until they have good head and trunk control. This will keep them well supported. You can also use the wrap to support a sleeping baby’s head. Older babies may prefer arms out; if they fall asleep, re-wrapping arms in will provide them more head support.
- Make sure that baby’s airway is always clear (the wrap should never cover the face). Baby’s head should be tilted up and out never down towards her chest.
- Tightening is key to comfort and safety. If you take the time to work the slack out of the wrap, you will be rewarded with a more comfortable carry. Stretchy wraps will stretch more than you think – pull them tight!
- Spreading the wrap carefully is also key. Tightening and spreading will help you avoid pressure points from the wrap and will more evenly distribute the weight.
- If you are wrapping a very small baby, you may find it easier to fold the wrap in half before wrapping (the side where the rails meet should be up so that you have a pocket for baby). You aren’t using the wrap doubled but folding it can help you get a better seat if you are otherwise having trouble.
- Babies should be worn nice and high in front carries. For newborns and small babies, a good rule of thumb is “high enough to easily kiss baby’s head.” Older babies and toddlers will be more face to face with you in front carries. Carrying too low is a common beginner’s mistake that can lead to back pain.
- It is best to master a front wrap or two before attempting back wrapping. You should be confident with the mechanics of tightening and spreading the wrap before attempting back carries.
- You can back wrap even very small babies; however, we recommend that you not do so unless you are an experienced wrapper or have an experienced wrapper to assist you. Babies who have good head control are easier to back wrap. There is also tricky stage when babies learn to roll and crawl but aren’t yet old enough to understand when you ask them to lie still that can make learning back wrapping challenging. Sometimes a toy or snack can help!
- Young babies who are unable to sit unassisted should always be worn high on the back. A newborn’s head should rest at the nape of your neck so you can monitor breathing and provide proper head support. An older child can be worn at any height that is comfortable for you.
- When learning to back wrap, it is best if you can do so over a soft surface like a bed (or have a spotter). Wrapping in front of a mirror is also helpful so you can see where to place the wrap. A car window makes a great mirror on the go once you are ready to take your wrapping on the road.
- When you are ready to learn a new carry, watch several videos (we’ve linked some sources below). There are different techniques and pointers that different wrappers will use/give, so watching multiple sources will help you find the method that will click for you.
- Practice makes perfect! It may take multiple attempts to get a carry just right so keep working at it.
Some Terminology: Here’s a bit of wrapping lingo that you will see referred to in carry instructions and wrap chatter:
- rail: the long edge of the wrap; when wrapping you will have a top rail and bottom rail
- taper: the short end of the wrap, usually angled; “tying in the taper” means you are tying in this angled portion and not “catching” the whole width of the wrap in the knot
- middle marker: most wraps come with a small tag in the middle of the wrap – makes it easier to find the right spot to begin your wrap job
Front Wrap Cross Carry
FWCC is the most common first front carry. It is a appropriate for all ages (newborns can be worn froggy legged if you like). You will need your long length wrap for this carry. You can use a shorter wrap and tie under the bum instead of bringing the crosses down and back behind you. Another alternative is to twist the passes under baby’s bum, bring under the legs and tie behind.
PWCC is the most commonly used stretchy wrap carry (can be pre-tied with a stretchy). It is the same thing as a FWCC except the pocket will be on the outside. This carry doesn’t work as well with woven wraps as it is harder to tighten. PWCC is appropriate for all ages (newborns can be worn froggy legged if you like). you will need your long length wrap.
Front Cross Carry
FCC is another variation on the FWCC. Instead of a pocket around the baby for the first pass, the pocket will be behind you and only two layers of fabric go over baby. This carry can be pre-tied. It is appropriate for all ages (newborns can be worn froggy legged if you like). You will need a long wrap for this carry (although slightly less than FWCC).
Short Cross Carry
SSC is another front cross carry variation that uses a mid-length wrap. It is appropriate for all ages (newborns can be worn froggy legged if you like).
Kangaroo is a single layer front carry (although there is also a reinforced version). It is appropriate for all ages (newborns can be worn froggy legged if you like). You will need a mid-length wrap or a long wrap for the reinforced version.
Back Wrap Cross Carry
BWCC is a good starter back carry because it uses the same mechanics as front wrap cross carry. There are three variations: chest belt, crossed in front, and ruck straps. The chest belt and crossed in front versions generally use a long wrap. The ruck straps version can be done with a size or so shorter. BWCC is good for all ages and can be done legs in for newborns.
Many wrappers find the DH (also known as the Chunei Back Carry) to be the most supportive carry and most comfortable for long term wearing. DH will take slightly more length than you will need for a FWCC. There is also a “tied under the bum” version that can be done with a mid-length wrap. DH can be done with all ages and can be done legs in for newborns.
Rucksack and Ruck Under the Bum
The ruck is probably the most popular back carry – it’s quick and easy once you get the hang of it. There are several different versions: tied-in-front (TIF; the most common), tied Tibetan (TT), and reinforced (RR). Ruck TIF is done with a mid-length wrap; TT will generally take a size longer. Ruck is easiest to get high on your back. For general ruck tips and advice on newborn/small baby rucking, check out our post here.
RUB is a great shortie carry. It is similar to ruck TIF except the carry is tied under baby instead of being brought back to the front. An alternative version – reinforced rear rebozo ruck (RRRR) – ties at the shoulder. RUB is best suited for babies who are able to sit and who have enough bum to tie under (5-6 months is generally a good time to start). RUB is a great toddler carry since it allows for easy ups and downs.
Secure High Back Carry:
Jordan’s Back Carry:
Simple Hip Carry:
Robin’s Hip Carry:
- TheBabyWearer.com: The source for all things babywearing. Check out the stickied threads in the “Choosing and Using a Wrap” forum for lots of helpful information. You will need to create a login to view.
- Babywearing International: BWI has a library of great tutorial videos. Don’t spend hours searching YouTube; we’ve got the best videos collected right here for you!