Tips for New Wrappers

I’m excited to bring you a fantastic guest post today all about wrapping with a woven wrap for the beginner. Read on to the bottom of the post to learn more about today’s guest writer, Juliet.

If you’re used to a mei tai or SSC, wrapping can look a bit daunting —
all that fabric! But in fact, once you get the hang of it it can be very
nearly as quick as an SSC; and the greater flexibility means that it can
also be more comfortable as your baby grows and changes. If you’ve ever
used a stretchy wrap, a basic front carry with a woven wrap is really
very similar; the fabric just behaves a little differently, but it will
be more supportive (so more comfortable with a bigger/older baby) once
you have the hang of tightening it correctly.

There are loads of resources out there covering particular carries and
ways of tying your wrap, so I won’t go into that here. What I’m going to
talk about is some general tips to get you started out with wrapping,
and a few more if you’re thinking of venturing into the world of back
wrapping.

General tips

  • Before you try wrapping your real live wriggly baby, you can
    practice with a teddy bear or doll so you have a better feel for the way
    the fabric goes.
  • If you have an MT or an SSC, you can pop your LO in that then wrap
    over the top to practice, so they’re secure while you experiment with
    the wrap.
  • When you’re practising, always start out with a calm, happy,
    recently-fed baby. Once you know what you’re doing, wrapping can really
    help calm them (it’s a sure winner when my 13 month old is upset), but
    if they’re already grizzly and you’re not confident in what you’re
    doing, it can be stressful.
  • Relatedly, start with a calm happy you! If you’re already stressed
    out it’s going to be harder to get it right.
  • Take it slowly. Babies tend to reflect your feelings, so if you are
    nervous and wound up so will they be. Remember, wrapping can be fun, and
    it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it totally right first time (or
    second time or…). Don’t wrap for the first time when you have to
    be out of the house in five minutes.
  • Don’t panic if baby gets a bit upset while wrapping, especially the
    first few times when you’re not confident. They can definitely react to
    a lack of confidence. Breathe slowly and keep going, as long as you’re
    still happy to. Once you’re all done, walk around a little bit (or
    bounce on a yoga ball, or rock, or sing a song…), and you’ll often find
    that they calm right down now they’re snuggled up to you and you’re not
    hoicking fabric around and over them!
  • In fact, it’s good in general to bear in mind that while none of us
    want to upset our babies, the fact that your baby isn’t immediately
    delighted to be in a wrap doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give
    up for ever. Sometimes your LO is just having a grouchy day and they’re
    not going to like anything you do. Sometimes you just need to get out of
    the house with them (we don’t have a buggy, so if we’re going out, my
    son is going in a wrap even if he’s grouchy! Happily the fresh air
    always calms him right down). Sometimes it’ll all be better in five
    minutes’ time, and meanwhile, they’re being held safely by you.
  • And finally: have fun! Think of it as playing with carrying your
    baby, and use a wrap you love the look of so it’ll make you smile.

Back carry tipsjulietbackwrap

Back carries can look pretty scary, but they can also be hugely convenient, especially as your baby gets bigger. However, it’s not obligatory! You can carry your baby on your front for as long as you’re happy and comfortable doing it. You don’t ever have to learn to back carry.

If you do want to, though, again, the above tips apply to back carries as much as to front carries. A little bribery can also work well with an older baby (a biscuit, a toy, or watching TV over your shoulder, are all good).

Shorter wraps can actually be easier than longer ones for back carries,
because there’s less fabric to haul around, but feel free to practice
with whatever you’ve got. HOWEVER, you should NOT use a stretchy wrap
for back carries (the one exception is a hybrid stretchy like
JPMBB). It’s not safe; the stretch means that baby can fall out. Any
woven wrap you have is fine.

There are lots of ways to get baby onto your back — check out YouTube
for a few options (hip scoot, superman, Santa toss…) and go with
whichever you feel happiest with. Beginners often like the hip scoot,
although I personally never got on with it and prefer superman.

Expect to have to practice a few times before it really gets comfy.
Stick baby up there, dance round the living room for five minutes, take
them down again, and try again the next day. And as with all new
carries, don’t worry if the first time is a total disaster.

More resources

These days there are so many babywearing and wrapping resources out
there. Have a look on Facebook for groups; check out your local
slingmeet for in-person tips (invaluable!), have a look on a forum like
TheBabyWearer or Natural Mamas where you can buy
second-hand wraps and carriers and ask for advice. Sling libraries are a
great way to try out wraps without a commitment (some do postal loans),
too.

Last but not least: have fun wrapping your baby!

Juliet Kemp lives in London, UK, with her partners, baby Leon, and dog Sidney. She balances parenting and working from home as a freelance writer, with gardening, crafting, and a great many other things that catch her interest. She blogs at Twisting Vines about growing things, making things, and creating things, and is passionate about attachment parenting, full-term breastfeeding, EC and cloth nappies, babywearing, unconditional parenting, and respectful gentle parenting practices generally.

Photo Credit: Juliet Kemp

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