Review: Birch Blast – The Newest Eco2Cotton Release by Bijou Wear

Bijou Birch Blast in a Double Hammock with a 3 year old
Bijou Birch Blast in a Double Hammock with a 3 year old

I had the opportunity to try out another release from Bijou Wear, and I jumped at it. I am so interested in this Eco2Cotton yarn and what kind of potential it has in the woven textile world. Birch Blast arrived here a few weeks ago amidst the chaos of our recent trip abroad. I have just recently been able to wear it out and about. This woven wraps completely different from the Windmills High Plains tester that came through here, though they share some trademark characteristics like the color and texture which is unlike any other woven I have felt.

 

For those of you wondering what I am talking about, I will save you a Google trip. Eco2Cotton is this awesome Eco-friendly yarn that is comprised of recycled fabric scraps from textile mills. It is a largely cotton fiber, with traces of Polyester. It is un-dyed after it is spun, further lessening it’s environmental footprint. In its natural state, is creates this grayish color that seems like it is made by mixing all the colors on the palette together. It is unique, and interesting to look at, and you can pair it with any outfit and it will pick up the colors in it subtly. The design itself is really appealing too – who doesn’t like Fireworks? It has a timeless aesthetic. I told my friend a few months back that this was “the year of the Natty wrap”, and this Birch Blast is a wonderful contribution to that  woven wrap category.

 

A LOT of stretch in this weave! This is after a long walk with a 30lb kiddo.
A LOT of stretch in this weave! This is after a long walk with a 30lb kiddo.

This wrap is REALLY thick. The texture definitely contributes to that blankety feel in hand. It was perfect for toddler snuggles. The Dragon Baby would tuck her arms in and snuggle up on my back every time I put her in it. The support was some of the best I have ever felt. That polyester mixed into the wrap gave it a lot of diagonal stretch. After I had wrestled my 30lb 3 year old into a double hammock that I was sure was nice and tight, I took a walk with her to the park. We walked around for about 30 minutes, and upon arrival… I was able to take a few inches of slack out of the carry. I had my partner take a photo, it was shocking! I think a combination of the thickness of the wrap, the grip from the texture, and the stretch of the yarn gave me a lot of trouble getting a tight carry when I was going for fancy multi-pass carries. Not all wraps work in all carries, something we all know very well. The odd thing was – it was not remotely uncomfortable even with the slack in the carry. It did not dig, or cause me to strain my shoulders – it was so thick and supportive it really held her weight well. It wrapped so much differently than the High Plains Windmills I reviewed a few weeks back. This wrap has so much bounce in it, even though it doesn’t appear to when you first feel it.

 

Toddler ruck in the 99 Ranch - Bijou Birch Blast
Toddler ruck in the 99 Ranch – Bijou Birch Blast

I had a suspicion that this would be an ideal toddler ruck wrap, so I tried it out. Perfect. This wrap has the grip, the width, and the 328 g/m2 thickness to rock a toddler ruck. Wore her for over an hour in the grocery store comfortably, and I didn’t have to do any wrestling to get her in a comfy carry. I feel like this weave has more texture to it than Windmills. The pattern itself contributes to that, there is a lot more going on visually with Blast. I adore that texture on this wrap, it makes it shine in a single pass carry. For that reason , I would recommend trying out a shorter size rather than a longer one. I used a knotless finish, and the grip in the wrap held it perfectly in place – no movement after that long trip to the store.  The stretch in the yarn again became evident, when my daughter was able to muscle her two elbows into the wrap between our two bodies, even after I had taken the time to meticulously tighten the carry. There was no movement in the front of the carry, it stayed tight and comfortable even with the addition of her elbows and arms.

 

Ruck with a Knotless finish - a carry this woven seems like it was meant for
Ruck with a Knotless finish – a carry this woven seems like it was meant for

They are known to wrap pretty long, so keep that in mind when you are choosing a size to purchase. The width 26″ (66cm!) across is pretty wide as wraps go… great for toddler wearees.  All of the things I most love about this wrap, make it not the best candidate for a newborn or brand new wrapper. If you are in the market for your new baby, I would recommend checking out some of their Tencel blends instead. If you are looking for a new addition to a toddler stash, or are wrapping subsequent children – you are really going to enjoy this unique new addition to the world of Woven Wraps.

 

 

Post Office in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish
Post Office in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish

 

These woven wraps are so easy to take care of, which is always a win for me. They can be thrown in the washer, dryer with no heat. Iron or not, these things never get wrinkled – definitely appealing if you are as hard on your wraps as I am on mine. I feel like we may start to see some of these popping up in learning libraries as they are such a low maintenance woven with a great business behind them. Bijou Wear is proudly woven in the United States, and contributes a portion of all their profits to the Carrying on Project.

 

 

I am so very excited to have been able to try out these new sustainable fibers! I was not expecting the two different wraps to feel so different in hand, and it has been fun to experiment with them both. This will make me even *more* excited to see their next Eco2Cotton release, and how it differs from these early releases. Congrats to Bijou Wear on another awesome release! I look forward to many, many more.

Playing around with my toddler in the park
Playing around with my toddler in the park

Review: Soul Slings – Double Layer Linen Love

11234829_1580520198867460_2139027599022775552_o (2)Soul Slings have been on my radar since I first saw them on Instagram about a year ago. Upon first glance, I thought immediately of a Sakura Bloom. Their single and double layer cotton slings were gorgeous – very classy and well made. I wanted one immediately. The only problem, was at the time Soul Slings were being produced in India, and had not passed the mandatory testing to be sold in the United States. Well, good news ring sling lovers. They have passed their testing and are now available for purchase here in the states! I was beyond excited when I was sent one of their Walnut Chambray Double Linen Gathered Shoulder Slings to try out with my 3 year old.

 

Fitting room at Crossroads in a Soul Sling
Fitting room at Crossroads in a Soul Sling

I definitely lean towards linen ring slings when I am looking for toddler support. The Soul Sling is 28” wide, a nice size for use with a larger toddler. A one-shoulder carry is not always the best choice with my 30 lb kid at this point, but some occasions really call for it. It is way more practical at the Doctor’s office, or on a trip to the Bank where I want her to be intimately involved in observing what I am doing at the moment. The Dragon baby would pick the ring sling every time if given the choice, she loves being “on the front!” So, we tried it out on a trip to Crossroads Trading. Toddlers have lots of opinions on secondhand fashion (No? Only my toddler? Sigh.), and she was very interested in sharing hers. I wore her for about 45 minutes in the sling, as we walked around shopping the racks together. The sling remained comfortable, the gathered shoulder really helping to distribute the weight nicely across my back.

Soul Sling Kisses
Soul Sling Kisses

 

Even though the linen was very thin, it was not digging at all. My daughter found it quite comfortable as well, neither of us were feeling overheated despite the 95 degree temperature in Sunny California. I highly recommend checking this brand out if you come from a hot climate, and are looking for something that will work in the hottest temperatures.

 

 

 

Cooperative Toddler in a Ring Sling back carry
Cooperative Toddler in a Ring Sling back carry

I wanted to try it out in another carry, but there are only so many you can do with a 3 year old in a ring sling. So I wore my toddler out for our evening walk in a Soul Sling back carry. If you didn’t know you can do a back carry in a ring sling – surprise! You can. Educators consider it a more advanced carry though, so please get some help learning it – or practice over the bed a couple dozen times with your most cooperative wearee before giving it a go in public. My daughter pretty much never resists going up these day… I’m a lucky gal. Anyways, back to the sling. The carry was really comfortable! The linen stayed in place nicely for the length of the walk. Again I experienced great support, no digging, and nothing but approval from the Toddler reviewer.

 

Seal of approval from my opinionated wearee
Seal of approval from my opinionated wearee

Did I mention the sling is reversible? Both sides were so beautiful! They colors were rich, and went well with everything in my wardrobe. Their color choices are just impeccable. Considering how low the cost of these slings are, the fact that you are basically getting 2 different looks for the same price is just one of the many many reasons I am growing so fond of this brand. I have brought this tester to multiple Babywearing Meetings in our area, and it has received nothing but praise from everyone who has had the opportunity to try it out.

 

Chinmayie, owner of Soul Slings and her beautiful littles.
Chinmayie, owner of Soul Slings and her beautiful littles.

The owners of Soul Slings, Chinmayie and her partner Ravindra are gentle parenting advocates. They are a small family owned company, based in Bangalore. Chinmayie is passionate about breastfeeding and babywearing – she wears her children and is active in their local babywearing community. She has worn from her early days as a mother, and has always believed in the power that Babywearing has to change our world through child rearing. She was inspired by the beauty of the ring slings she was seeing available in the U.S. and European markets, and set out to make a brand that would be accessible and affordable to caregivers in her home country. Thus, Soul Slings was born. They have grown over the past year, and have begun to experiment with Soft Structured Carriers, Mei Tai’s, and Woven Wraps. Soul Slings works with local artisans that have been weaving fabrics for generations, and they are passionate about contributing to their local economy. They have fair trade agreements signed with all their fabric producers and sew houses, and they are frequently visiting all the sites they source fabric from. They have recently released a line of handwoven ring slings, that are just beyond stunning. Above all, Chinmayie is fervent about keeping the costs of her products low. A double layer linen sling will run you about $45 US before shipping from India. They fit squarely into the budget category. To have such a beautiful sling at such an affordable price point, really speaks to their dedication to providing a stylish product that every caregiver can afford. If the international shipping really has you fretting, don’t worry. Rumor has it one of my favorite Budget Retailers is going to be stocking Soul Slings very, very soon – so be watching their page for that awesome addition.

 

We love this sling!
We love this Soul Sling!

The quality of these slings are just exceptional. I know we will be seeing a lot more of this up-and-coming brand in the future. I have already had their Mei Tai and a woven wrap tester pass through here, and I am so stoked on what they are working on. Soul Slings is a welcome addition to our worldwide community of Babywearers. ❤

I’ll Always Love the Ergo

Me and my buddy with our littles on our backs
Me and my buddy with our littles on our backs

An ErgoBaby carrier was not the first carrier I had. It isn’t even my favorite out of all of the many that have passed through here. Yet still, it holds a very special place in my heart. I am quick to recommend them, and to defend them against the barrage of Tula recommendations that accompanies any post that mentions the words “Ergo” and “uncomfortable”.

 

Why did I even bother to bring the stroller? Nursing on a hike in our Ergo.
Why did I even bother to bring the stroller? Nursing on a hike in our Ergo.

The Ergo was the first carrier I nursed in. It was mostly out of necessity. I was caught with a screaming baby in the Costco aisle, and I thought to myself “If I could just get my boob into her mouth!”… I fiddled around with the straps for a bit and lowered her to a place she could reach comfortably – and just like that I had found the answer to all of life’s problems. That moment of warehouse desperation changed the trajectory of my parenting relationship with my daughter. I went from a mother tied to my house and my baby and her around-the-clock nursing demands – to a busy, active mom able to seek out the community I would later thrive in.

Busy mom has to eat sometime! Baby is napping here, while I enjoy lunch with friends.
Busy mom has to eat sometime! Baby is napping here, while I enjoy lunch with friends.

I was not always an avid babywearer. The Ergo was so appealing to me, because of its ease of use. I had a ring sling which I adored, but sometimes I was in a hurry and did not take the time to put it on properly, leaving me feeling like it was uncomfortable and not always secure. I never had that issue with my Ergo. Even if I was completely alone with a screaming baby, standing in a parking lot at Target, or hiking with my other Mommy friends – I was confident in my ability to use my Ergo. It truly made me a more self-assured parent. In the mommy groups I attended in the early months of my daughter’s life, the majority of parents had front pack carriers, and they would often complain about how much their back hurt. I would excitedly show them my Ergo and demo a back carry for them. Even though I was new to it myself and probably made it look a heck of a lot more difficult than it should have been – many of them were impressed and bought an Ergo themselves so they could back carry on their own too.

I was like an Ergo evangelist, spreading the Ergo love everywhere. Buying them for friends, recommending them on forums, and demoing carries at La Leche League meetings – people must have thought I was getting kickbacks from them or something! (I’m not, by the way) I was a tad bit obsessed. I could not understand how anyone could spend basically the same amount of money on one of those uncomfortable front packs, when they could get an Ergo instead!

Snack time with daddy in the Ergo
Snack time with daddy in the Ergo

My partner was equally enthusiastic about the Ergo. We bought a second one (used) to have as our beater carrier – to keep in the car and always have around. We took that beater on our family vacation to NYC when our daughter was about 15 months old. She lived in that thing for the week! It was a lifesaver in the Urban environment. Traversing subway steps, riding in crowded train cars, exploring miles and miles on foot, taking ferries to see the statue – not having to deal with our stroller in places not meant to take a stroller, made the trip so much more enjoyable for us all.

 

Times Square Nursing in an Ergo
Times Square Nursing in an Ergo

It became my carrier of choice every time we traveled. When flying, I could wear her through security, and I would avoid those horrible body scanners altogether and have my hands free to drag luggage around. The ease of which I could switch her from my front to my back was ideal for a breastfeeding toddler – so I always had it on hand for hiking, grocery store trips, and amusement parks. Long after I started down the woven wrap rabbit hole, I still found myself grabbing for that Ergo anytime I was going to be out in public somewhere.

 

Proud papa with a sleeping toddler in a Tokyo elevator
Proud papa with a sleeping toddler in a Tokyo elevator

Three years, and 5 Ergos later… I don’t often wear my 3 year old in our Ergo these days. I pretty much just wrap now, sorry to say. My partner on the other hand, will *only* choose the Ergo if left to his own devices. He will wear other stuff if coerced, but he always says they never compare to “his Ergo”. He recently learned how to do a back carry on his own, and watching the pride he feels every time he gets her on his back by himself, is still a really heartwarming thing for me to witness.

 

 

3 year old having a rest on my front in the restaurant
3 year old having a rest on my front in the restaurant

We just came back from a trip to Tokyo, where I was teaching a class on Woven Wraps. My carry-on was filled with woven wraps and a linen Mei Tai for personal use, and my partner brought along his newly acquired Galaxy Grey Ergo to wear our daughter for those long days alone while mama was teaching. He was in good company, we saw Ergobaby all over Tokyo – more so than any other type of carrier. One night we were out to dinner with some of the women from my class, and my daughter started to fuss a lot. I grabbed the Ergo and strapped her in on my front to have a little break while we were finishing up our dinner. They all shared a laugh with me. Perhaps because of how funny a 3 year old looks in a front carry in an Ergo, or maybe because they had just listened to me talk about the joys of Woven Wraps for the last few days. Either way, I feel like it made me seem more familiar to them, this shared experience of a mother and an Ergo. The Ergo held its own in the Tokyo subways, the airports, the dirty fish markets I would never take my woven to… once again I found myself relieved that we had brought this tried and true carrier along on our journey.

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo

 

I often hear from people that their Ergo is uncomfortable. For some people, it very well may be! Soft Structured Carriers (SSC’s) are all designed differently, and so some are better suited for some body types than others! I totally admit that it is not the right choice for every wearer – which can be said in turn for every other SSC out there. *But* 7 times out of 10 when someone says that, there is actually a solution to their discomfort! You would be amazed at how many people out there are wearing their Ergo incorrectly! I see it daily in grocery stores and out on the street. In honesty, the vast majority of folks I see using the Ergo out and about, could have a much better fit. I think because it seems so straightforward to use, many people just strap it on and go on with their lives without bothering to ensure they have a proper fit. So over time, it becomes more and more uncomfortable as their body is straining to support the weight that the carrier should be supporting. If this sounds like you – here is a list of some of the most common “fit issues” I see with an Ergo, and how to fix them.

 

  1. Waistband hurts my lower back
This handy graphic from VBE Holly of BWI Bay Area gives a good visual of proper placement
This handy graphic from VBE Holly of BWI Bay Area gives a good visual of proper waistband placement

Front Carry – The waistband should be in a straight line around your body. The front should not be higher than the back, or vice versa. Make sure that the waist band is completely flush against your body, snug as it can go. You should not be able to slide your hand between the waistband and your body – there should be no space there.

 

BWI Bay Area VBE Gene demonstrates how *not* to wear the Ergo waistband.
BWI Bay Area VBE Gene demonstrates how *not* to wear the Ergo waistband.

Back Carry – same thing goes as far as the horizontal line with the waistband that is straight, without either side(front or back) being higher than the other. The waistband is designed to go on your hips, not on your waist, transferring the weight to your hips rather than shoulders using a design similar to a backpackers backpack.

 

 

  1. My upper back (shoulders) are killing me
Oh gee, these straps are way too loose. Baby is too low, and my back is strained supporting her weight.
Oh gee, these straps are way too loose. Baby is too low, and my back is strained supporting her weight.

As mentioned above, the position of the waistband can have a lot to do with where the weight is being carried, so check that first. Waistband is ok? Great. Next, let’s check out those arms straps. The majority of the time I see an Ergo on the street, the straps are let out way too loose. The baby or toddler is hanging out, leaning away from the caregiver, chillin. They are plenty comfortable, but the wearer is carrying all the weight on their shoulders instead of using the carrier’s design to support the child’s weight.

Baby carriers are best worn High & Tight. Bring that baby closer to your body, and then pull out all the inches and inches of extra slack that you have in those straps. Your baby’s head should be Close Enough to Kiss, and not dangling down by your belly button. In the process of tightening those straps, you will bring that chest clip down lower on your back, so it isn’t right on your shoulder blades – which is contributing to you being uncomfortable.

  1. Rubbing under your armpits
Gene shows us the "armpit rub", caused by too tight shoulder straps coupled with a too tight chest clip.
Gene shows us the “armpit rub”, caused by too tight shoulder straps coupled with a too tight chest clip.

I recognize that for some caregivers, this is going to be an issue with this carrier regardless. As I mentioned earlier, every carrier fits everyone’s body type differently, and for some folks this is something that can be fixed – for others it makes the Ergo a no-go. I have had luck fixing this problem with the majority of wearers by adjusting the straps differently. The most common way, is to let out a little bit of slack in the shoulder straps on both sides, and then tighten the slack out of the clip going across your back instead. This tends to pull those straps out and away from your armpits, making it way more comfortable.

 

  1. Chest Clip rubbing on your neck.
This chest clip is way too high, it should be down across the shoulder blades for optimum comfort.
This chest clip is way too high, it should be down across the shoulder blades for optimum comfort.

I know that many people don’t realize that you can move that chest clip up and down on the carrier straps. The position is not fixed! I see caregivers surprised by this all the time, so I think it is worth mentioning. If you like them further down on your back but cannot reach them to clip them when they are there, then put them where you want them before putting the carrier on, clip it, let all the slack out on your shoulder straps, and then slip the clipped chest clip up over your head, then tighten the straps up.

 

 

 

  1. Toddler is too big and keeps leaning out.
This 3 year old is being worn comfortably, she is all the way down in the seat, no slack in the shoulder straps.
This 3 year old is being worn comfortably, she is all the way down in the seat, no slack in the shoulder straps.

Ok, this one usually causes me to have to restrain myself from eye-rolling a bit. I wear my (75th percentile for height) 3 year old in an Ergo just fine. An Ergo can most definitely last you through your toddler years. When I see toddlers hanging out of the back of Ergos, the majority of the time I find that they are a) Not all the way down in the seat and b) the straps are way too loose. If this is a problem you feel like you are having, a good way to get your kid deeper into that seat, is to grab the straps at the top of your shoulders, pull them upwards, and bounce a couple times to make sure your toddler gets all the way down into that seat. At that point, grab those straps under your arms and adjust them to as tight as you can get them, so your toddlers back is being supported, and they cannot lean away from you so far. This will help keep them more secure, and help keep you from straining to compensate for them leaning backwards away from you.

 

These are just a few suggestions for the most common Ergo fit issues I see out and about. I encourage you to seek help with your carrier if you are feeling uncomfortable. The solution is not always that you need another carrier! (Unless you really want one, obviously) Sometimes you may just need some tweaking with the one you already have!

 

I realize this comes off as a Love Letter to Ergo Baby, but as I said – they are always going to have a special place in my heart. I think they are wonderful carriers, and I am thrilled that there is a carrier on the market that is safe and comfortable and versatile – that I can send someone to Target to get. It is such an accessible carrier, and that is what really makes it stand out to me above all the others.

 

My partner wearing our sandy daughter back from the beach
My partner wearing our sandy daughter back from the beach

 

Review: Bijou Windmills – An Experiment in Sustainable Woven Fibers

Windmills!
Windmills!

This has been an exciting year for American Made woven wraps. I have been watching excitedly as more and more American mills are bursting onto the scene. When Bijou Babywearing offered me a Windmills High Plains Woven Wrap to test, I was really excited! Another U.S. company to check out, and they were experimenting with Eco-friendly textiles – something I am always really interested in. The owner Jamie Gassmann, mother of two, is a fellow La Leche Leader. I absolutely love supporting companies that share in my values, and Bijou Babywearing is ticking all the right boxes.

Double Hammock Xena Finish
Double Hammock Xena Finish

The Windmills wrap is woven with a trademarked cotton fiber called Eco2Cotton. It is considered a recycled yarn, spun from the scraps of fabric taken from the cutting-room floor in large textile factories. It is largely a cotton fiber, though there is some polyester also spun with the cotton as it ends up in the fabric scraps too. The yarn is not re-dyed, which contributes to the eco-friendly element of this woven, and it gives it this very unique neutral greyish tan color. It reminds me of television static, it is mostly grey – but you can see these little pops of color when you look at it from certain angles. The Eco2Cotton is used as the weft, against a natty warp. It is a gorgeous, natural looking woven that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Unlike some of my other favorite dressy natty wraps, this one can take a beating. The cotton blend can be thrown into the washer, and ran through the dryer on a no-heat setting. No matter how many times it ended up balled up my bag somewhere, it never wrinkled or creased.

My first impression was that this wrap was so heavy! It was really thick in hand. Sure enough, it weighed in at a hefty 325 g/m2. This is comparable to the Pavo Etini’s, and reminded me in hand of the thicker 70/30 Natibaby Linen blends, like the Linden. Thick, grippy, textured, but with a smooth quality to the fabric that made it feel really rich. I was not surprised to find that it shared some of the same wrapping qualities as those thicker Natibaby blends too. The Windmill design is beautiful! It is modern, yet still recognizable. It is a very tasteful design, whimsical without being cartoony.

This thick, grippy wrap was great for a knotless finish
This thick, grippy wrap was great for a knotless finish

This wrap had a lot of grip. It took some work to get it tight enough, but it stayed where you put it, even with a lot of jumping around from the toddler. Because the fabric was not particularly bouncy, it was missing some of that “ace bandage” moldability, and with a thicker wrap – that means you have to be meticulous with your wrap job. A sloppy wrap job grew uncomfortable after a short time. When I took the time to really tighten strand by strand and not leave any slack in the carry – it was rock solid even 45 minutes later with a sleeping 3 year old. I found it very supportive in both a ruck, and a double hammock. I tried it with a ring finish too, and its grip made it a very good candidate for a knotless finish. No movement whatsoever. It has been pretty hot here in California, and the thick wrap was insulating in multi-pass carries. I think this wrap is going to become more and more popular in the fall and winter months when that blankety softness that is one of its most prominent features will be coveted. I am already picturing how beautiful the natty is going to be photographed against the snow.

P1000099Because of the thickness of this wrap, it is not going to be one of my top recommendations for a first time wrapper. The texture, the grip, and the innovative use of recycled fibers makes this wrap a welcome addition to any experienced wrappers toddler stash. The price is $165 for a Size 6, so it is in the mid-range category. Bijou proudly donates portions of their profits to The Carrying On Project – as if you needed another reason to want to check this brand out. I am so happy to have had a chance to try their first Eco2Cotton blend release, and look forward to watching this company grow.

So You Want to Buy A Woven?

Woven Wrap Stash Shot
Woven Wrap Stash Shot

This may come as a shock to some of you – but I LOVE woven wraps. They are beautiful. They can be one of the most fashionable accouterments to motherhood, giving me confidence when I am out in the world. They are something that allows me to maintain some semblance of my former self, in a daily routine that is completely centered around my child now. It is no wonder that so many of us have fallen head over heels for these pieces of woven fabric. In order to help guide you on your journey into the world of woven wraps, I have put together this primer. It is a lot of information, but I broke it up into clear sections so you can skim to find an answer to your burning questions. May your wrappees be cooperative, may your arms be ever flexible, and may you find your DISO at or below market value. Welcome you to the world of woven wraps. ❤

 

What is a woven wrap?

Simply put, a Woven Wrap is a long piece of woven fabric used to carry your baby. Some have tapered ends, some have blunt ends. They can be woven from many different materials, and made in many different regions of the world. They range in price from $80.00 – $1 million unicorn hairs.

Why do I want one?

A woven wrap is the most versatile carrier you can own. It can be used from the day your baby is born, until they outgrow being worn. Most woven wrap manufacturers recommend a Maximum weight of 45-50 lbs, but I have seen many photos of adults wearing other adults in wovens, or using woven wraps as a hammock… so in my personal experience…. The upper weight limit of a woven wrap has more to do with the comfort of the wearer than it does the weight of the child.

Double Hammock with a Xena Finish using a Sling Ring
Double Hammock with a Xena Finish using a Sling Ring

A woven wrap can be tied so many different ways, it can accommodate the needs of the majority of wearers. You can use it in a front carry, back carry, hip carry, an asymmetrical carry, torso carry… you can use a chest belt, a waist belt, however you find it most comfortable! You can buy some Sling Rings to try out some fancy finishes, and open up a whole new world of carries with the same ol’ length of fabric. Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

So if you are one of those people who truly believes you only want one carrier to get you through your kid’s wearing years , or you are on a tight budget and don’t want to keep trying different carriers until you find one that works – a Woven Wrap can be a very solid choice for your family.

Do they come in different lengths? Which is best for me?

A Woven Wrap is measured in meters. To make it easier on all of us who don’t use meters, they are most commonly referred to in “Sizes”.

Size 2: 2.7 meters

Size 3: 3.1 meters

Size 4: 3.6 meters

Size 5: 4.2 meters

Size 6: 4.6 meters

Size 7: 5.2 meters

Size 8: 5.6 meters

The size of wrap you need can vary. Most people begin with what we refer to as your base size, which is a recommendation based on your t-shirt size, rather than your height or your baby’s size. Your base size, is the length of fabric you need to do a Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) and tie behind your back. For the majority of average sized wearers, a Size 6 is considered “Base” while a petite wearer could use a 5, and a Plus-size wearer would go with a 7.

Sleeping baby in Kangaroo Carry
Sleeping baby in Kangaroo Carry

The funny thing about woven wraps, is the size is actually pretty arbitrary. Though most educators recommend beginning with your base size and a FWCC, you could instead buy a really short wrap and begin with a Traditional Sling carry instead! Or you could buy a wrap that is your base size -1 and easily do another variation of the FWCC, such as the “tied under bum” version or the “tied at shoulder” version. The pre-tied Front Cross Carry is also a great first carry, and you can use your base size – 1 for that carry too! You could even use Sling Rings to finish a carry that you otherwise would not have had enough length to tie off. Bottom line, is you don’t NEED to begin with one specific size, it is just easier to follow the progression of wrapping that typically begins with your base size and a FWCC.

What are the different fiber contents? Which one is the best?

This is like asking which kind of Micro Brew is the best. You are going to get a million different answers depending on who you ask, where they are from, what the weather is like there, and what their geek level is on the subject. That being said, this is my personal take on fabrics after spending the last 3 years wearing and wrapping with literally hundreds of wovens.

100% Cotton Stripes are great for learning!
100% Cotton Stripes are great for learning!

100% Cotton: Hands down the best bet for a first time wrapper. Easy to maintain, easy to break in, affordable, soft, supportive enough for whatever baby you want to wrap. If you are thinking you are a “one and done” kinda family, you probably want to go with just a basic cotton wrap. Something with stripes is easier to learn on visually, so that may be a good place to start.

Some 100% Linen. So beastly! But nice and thin for summer.
Some 100% Linen. So beastly! But nice and thin for summer.

Linen: My second choice if you are thinking you only want to get one wrap in your whole life. Most linen wraps are going to be mixed, some portion cotton and some linen. There are a few companies out there that make 100% linen wraps, but they can be pretty hard to break in – so I don’t often recommend them for new wearers. Linen is incredibly supportive, so it a solid choice for a heavy toddler in a multi-pass carry. It is also thin and breathable, so it is often one of my top recommendations for someone looking for a wrap specifically for hot weather. These things can be washed and dried and thrown around – no fuss kinda fabric. Despite the effort some linen wraps take to break in, once they get there… they are amazing. My linen blend wraps are among the softest in my stash now.

Some Natty Hemp with  a Toddler
Some Natty Hemp with a Toddler

Hemp: Another easy to care for fabric, hemp also offers the support and breath-ability that linen does. It tends to be a little thicker than linen, and definitely more expensive. I have found that most hemp wraps come feeling pretty crunchy right out of the package, but the majority of them break in quite nicely after a few washes and some wear. Some people swear by hemp for the heat of summer. The few hemp wraps that I have owned have not gotten much love over here… I just grab for the linen or 100% cotton most of the time.

Wool: Totally awesome, soft and amazing. Supportive, breathable, beautiful. Why have I never owned one then? Same reason I didn’t use wool diaper covers. It is too stinkin hard to take care of. People always tell me “It’s not that hard to care for! I just [insert long list of totally improbable care instructions including things like hand washing, patting dry with towels, conditioning, etc]”. Babies are little balls of poop, pee, spit up and snack foods. I want something I can just throw in the wash. Some of you might be into that kind of thing… but it is just not for me. For that reason I never recommend wool or keep it in my stash.

Silk on my Wedding Day
Silk on my Wedding Day

Silk: I actually love silk for smaller babies. I have owned a couple silk wraps in my time, they are incredibly soft and glide so smoothly. As my daughter started to get bigger though, I experienced a lot of digging on my shoulders – it started to feel a lot like a rope carrying all her weight. For that reason I swore off silk for a while. I have recently had the opportunity to host some much thicker silk blend wraps, and am happy to say they were totally comfortable for my toddler. So if looking at silk, make sure it is a weight and thickness appropriate for the child you are wearing. Silk is supposed to be hand washed in lukewarm water and hung out to dry not in direct sunlight. I actually throw mine in the wash on the hand wash setting, no problems yet.

My smooshy soft Bamboo wrap
My smooshy soft Bamboo wrap

Bamboo: A bamboo blend wrap is so soft and awesome for a newborn, but it is not appropriate support for a toddler. It is also pretty slippery to wrap with, so I don’t often recommend it to new wrappers, as it can be extremely frustrating to properly tighten. Another one for the “hand wash” category. Clearly not my first choice, though I have owned quite a few. The softness gets me every time.

Tencel, anyone?
Tencel, anyone?

Sustainable Blends: There are all kinds of new manufacturers and new materials coming out to get excited about if sustainability is your stick. The majority of them are soft after just one wash, break in with no effort, and are affordable to boot. They are soft enough for a newborn, but offer amazing support for toddler’s too. Super easy to take care of also. Most of them can just be throw in the wash. The main criticism I hear, is over the blending of synthetic materials into the woven wraps. A lot of people are really against this practice. I am on the fence about it. I love the sustainability aspect, but myself am a huge fan of natural fibers. Though I have wrapped with many of these blends, I have not purchased one as of yet. If you are concerned, do some research first to see what the synthetic yarn is composed of. Some of the sustainable blends to check out are Repreve (made from recycled water bottles), Tencel (made from Eucalyptus pulp and not considered synthetic), and Eco2Cotton (made of recycled fabric scraps – including some polyester).

How can I tell which one is thick or thin or good for beginners or newborns?

The thickness of a woven wrap is measured by its weight – Grams per meter squared. For most people new to wrapping, this is just a little too much geekery. I will admit it took me years to start to become interested in what the g/m2 is on a particular wrap. Here is a loose categorization of wrap weights, which can vary somewhat depending on the person writing it.

Really Thin: up to 180 g/m2

Thin: 180 – 220 g/m2

Medium: 220 – 260 g/m2

Thick: 260 – 300 g/m2

Very Thick: 300 g/m2

Super thick wrap in a Ruck
Super thick wrap in a Ruck

The Woven Wrap Database has this weight information, as well as listings for many Limited Edition wraps which includes their g/m2. Nowadays it helps me to determine what length I am going to need to be able to use that wrap. If a wrap is under 220 g/m2 I am going to need a base size in order to do a more supportive multi-layer carry. If something is weighing in at a beastly 300 g/m2 +, I am going to get something shorter that I can use in a quick single pass carry like a ruck, and I will know that it is going to wrap short because of the thickness.

If you are a new to wrapping, it is best to learn on a thin to medium wrap… maybe even very thin if you have a newborn. Something thick is going to be harder to manipulate, harder to tighten, and give you a super huge knot to try and work with.

What’s the lowdown on Handwovens? Are they worth mortgaging my house over?

A Budget Handwoven
A Budget Handwoven

The handwoven craze is a little bit of an anomaly to me. Just like anything that people collect, there are fanatics that would spend thousands of dollars on some of these handwoven pieces. There are artisan weavers out there weaving some exceptionally beautiful stuff, but all of the artisan handwovens I have tried have not had wrapping qualities that far exceeded those of the machine woven wraps, or even other handwoven wraps that are not considered “artisan”. There are actually quite a few woven wrap companies that are producing handwovens at a fraction of the price of some of these artisans. They may not be one of a kind works of art, but they share the same wrapping qualities. I recommend starting with some of these more budget friendly handwoven wraps if you are curious what all the hype is about. I can assure you, you are not missing out on anything if collecting woven works of art turns out to not be your thing.

What carry is appropriate for what age baby? (aka When can I wrap the baby on my back?)

The easiest carry to start with, is a Front Wrap Cross Carry. It helps you learn the skills you will need to be a successful wrapper, and to practice them over and over. You can do this with a newborn, and continue to do it until you can’t see over your kids head anymore.

Alternately, if you only have a short wrap, you can learn a Rebozo first, or a kangaroo carry.

Robin's Hip Carry at IBC
Robin’s Hip Carry at IBC

Hip carries are usable with any size baby, with modifications. For example, a Traditional Sling Carry, Robin’s Hip Carry, or Poppin’s Hip Carry can all end with the baby centered on your body, rather than on your hip. So essentially, they can be a one-shoulder front carry. This allows you to use a shorter wrap or try out new carries with an infant. As the baby starts to grow and develops adequate head and torso control, they can be moved to your actual hip. This allows them to pivot their torso to see the world around them, which is very helpful for that stage that babies go through around 3-6 months where they become very curious. This is a nice alternative to a front facing out carry, definitely more ergonomic and comfortable for the wearer.

“What counts as head control? My 2 month old can lift their head up, the doctor says they have amazing head control for their age!” Lifting their head up for a few moments at a time, is not the same as having adequate head and torso control. I usually ask caregivers to hold their baby up, hands in their armpits and see what the baby does. If the baby’s head bobbles around or slumps forward after a few moments, they are not ready for a hip carry or a forward facing carry.

Our first back carry!
Our first back carry!

The recommendation is pretty similar for a back carry. If you are a first time wrapper, it is best to wait to do a back carry until your little one has adequate head and torso control. I am sure that many of you have seen tiny babies wrapped on people’s backs. Even as an experienced wrapper, I consider that an advanced skill. It is difficult to do, and there are numerous safety concerns if you don’t do it properly. For that reason, most educators err on the side of caution when making these recommendations. If you want to try it out – I highly recommend seeking help from a local Babywearing Group, or a Babywearing Consultant in your area.

Proper Positioning

High & Tight, Close Enough to Kiss, Visible and Kissable… all these are different phrases used to describe the ideal position in a baby carrier. You want the carrier to be tight without room for the baby to slump down into the carrier or else lean away from your body – which can really strain the wearer. It may not feel horrible at first, but after a while… your shoulders or upper back will start to ache.

Optimal Positioning Wrap

The proper ergonomic positioning in the carrier finishes with your baby seated with the weight on their bum, and their knees brought higher than their bums in a position referred to as the “spread squat” or “M” position. This supports the natural curve of their spine, creating a comfortable and ergonomic carry for the both of you. I usually guide the baby’s legs into the proper position as I am making the seat for the carry.

Can I nurse in this carrier?

Nursing in Robin's Hip Carry
Nursing in Robin’s Hip Carry

Short answer – yes. You can nurse in most carriers, but it can take a little bit of practice! I recommend first becoming familiar with your carrier, and be comfortable with nursing before you try to combine the two skills. Some may find that nursing in the carrier is not a hands-free process… but one hand free is better than no hands free! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away! It is one of those skills worth figuring out. I found nursing in a carrier to be a liberating experience. It really helped me to be the kind of parent I wanted to be, while still taking care of my own needs.

Nursing in FWCC
Nursing in FWCC

Some of my favorite carries for nursing, are Front Wrap Cross Carry, Front Cross Carry, Traditional Sling Carry, and Robin’s Hip Carry. I have use many others, but these are the ones that I felt were the most forgiving as far as moving the baby to the desired position easily and readjusting after nursing without much hassle.

What makes a wrap “Toddler Worthy”?

New to wrapping? Beginning with a toddler? It’s not too late! My kid was 10 months old already when we bought out first woven – and look at where we are now! Here are some things to keep in mind if looking for a great toddler wrap.

Love this super wide wrap for my toddler
Love this super wide wrap for my toddler

As I mentioned earlier, some fabric may not be as supportive for use with a toddler, so it is important to at least do a little research or read some reviews if your main wrappee is a giant. Another consideration, is the width of the wrap! The width can vary pretty dramatically from wrap to wrap, from 45 cm – 75 cm! A lot of the newer brands tend to be putting out pretty wide wraps compared to some of the older brands. I love the wide wraps with my toddler! Gives me much more fabric to make a deep seat with her, with enough fabric left at the top to give her neck support when she falls asleep. That much extra fabric can be really cumbersome with an infant, making it really hard to get a nice tight wrap job without too much bunched up fabric. This makes wider wraps really stand out for the toddler demographic.

Drawbacks to a woven wrap?

Woven Wrap Fail
Woven Wrap Fail. We’ve all been there.

You mean, other than them being highly addicting? Seriously, it is difficult to avoid “going down the rabbit hole” once you fall in love with it. Just be forewarned!

Woven wraps have a very steep learning curve. All those meters of fabric can be quite intimidating for many new wearers. Some people just find it ridiculous to have to learn all these different carries, when they could just strap on a buckle carrier. But no buckle carrier can give me the weight distribution and aesthetic options that a woven wrap can! Wrapping is a skill. It takes practice to learn it, but it is a really amazing way to keep your child close to you – so many people take the plunge. If you find that you are someone who gets easily frustrated, practice with a stuffed animal or something like that so you do not have the added frustration of a crying baby while you are trying to figure out something unfamiliar. All the YouTube Videos in the world cannot substitute for real hands on help, so try to make it to a Babywearing meet-up in your area to learn all the tricks firsthand.

Where can I get one?

Most woven wrap buying seems to take place online. If you type “Woven Wrap” into Google you will get a myriad of options as far as purchasing new wovens online direct from the brands, or from a retailer. If you want to search for something that is not currently being made, or if you like the idea of a previously loved, well broken in carrier – you might want to check out The Babywearing Swap or Babywearing on a Budget. Both are very active Facebook Groups that are like online marketplaces for carriers. The Babywearer is also a great place to search for woven wraps secondhand. It is a little harder to navigate than the Swap, but there are some great deals there if you have the patience to look.

As always, this is my opinion on the subject. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or need some advice! I am happy to geek out over baby carriers any day of the week. Happy Wrapping! ❤

For a Glossary of some woven wrap descriptions, click here.

For a wonderful size chart for different carries with different length wraps, click here.

Review: Lalu Wovens Throws Their Hat in the Ring

One of the latest American Made Woven Wrap lines to throw their hat in the ring, is Atlanta based Lalu Wovens. A mom owned and operated business who sources their yarn domestically and finishes their products locally…. I was already sold on these guys before the tester even made it through my door. They launched their first collection earlier this year (Spring 2015), and I have been impressed by the both modern and elegant prints that they have released thus far. The color stories have been right up my alley too.

 

Demoiselle Black Currant after a singe wash
Demoiselle Black Currant after a singe wash

When this Lalu Wovens Demoiselle Black Currant arrived at my house, it was quite an exciting package to receive. The out-of-box experience was truly rich, wonderful presentation to accompany such a lovely woven wrap. My Dragon Baby ooohhd and aaahhd along with me for a moment before we unfolded it. At first impression, it was a dead ringer for something from the Pavo Form line. It had that shiny, textured finish a la Gotham or Plume. It was really stiff. I threw it into the wash, tumbled on a no heat setting, then line dried to finish. It came out immediately softer, and the texture was even more pronounced after the wash. It was a pretty thick wrap, weighing in at 292 g/m2. I could not wait to try it out! The Dragon Baby was a willing participant.

 

Demoiselle comes loaded with "sleepy dust"
Demoiselle comes loaded with “sleepy dust”

I threw my 30 lb toddler up in a pretty sloppy Double Hammock. The wrap is very textured, which made it really grippy to wrap with. I’ll be honest, the passes didn’t exactly glide across her back. This wrap took a little bit of work to get in place. But once it was there, it stayed there. There was none of the tighten – then slip, tighten – then slip drama that often comes with some of those more slippery wraps. Once we were settled in, I started to do some chores around the house. About 10 minutes had gone by, and I started to feel Dragon Baby flopping around a bit. I looked in the mirror, and found her passed out asleep on my back. Whoah. Looks like Demoiselle came with tons of sleepy dust. I let her sleep there another 30 minutes so I could really get a feel for the wrap. I appreciated that there was no slack in the carry even after almost an hour of wearing her. It remained comfortable for as long as I was wearing it, and it passed the toddler worthy test when I woke up the next day and was not feeling any soreness from the previous days wrap nap.

 

Black Currant in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish, wrong side out.
Black Currant in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater finish, wrong side out.

A few days later, we gave Demoiselle another go. I put the Dragon Baby up in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater Finish, and walked a few miles around the block and back to settle her down before bedtime. Fancy finishes can be a little harder to pull off with these textured, grippy wraps – but it looked lovely in the end and was quite comfortable for the duration of our walk. I have been using it a few days now, and I have to say… it is breaking in really nicely. I have not put much work into breaking it in (other than the work of carrying a 30 lb child, hahaha) but it is getting there quickly. Because of the wide width (73 cm) and the grip, this wrap is a great pick for toddler worthiness. It would not be my first choice for a newborn, or a first time wrapper… I think that it would be difficult to learn on. For those who have been at it for a while though, these are some really great pieces to add to any collection.

 

Demoiselle Tied Under Bum, wrapped wrong-side out.
Demoiselle Tied Under Bum, wrapped wrong-side out.

I love the level of sophistication they are entering into the industry with, following in the footsteps of some of my favorite woven wrap lines. Demoiselle’s are retailing just shy of $200 for a Size 6, fitting comfortably into that mid-range category of wrap – but the design aesthetic and the effort they put forth in their packaging really makes you feel like what you are receiving is high end. They donate a portion of all their profits to Lift Me Up Baby for every wrap they sell, so if the classy, modern designs alone aren’t enough to make you want to spend a little more cash…. their support of local industries and their philanthropic spirit should help to sway you in the direction of this wonderful line. They really embrace that need for a new parent to have something to wear their baby in that makes them feel beautiful, which is such a large part of my personal babywearing philosophy. I can’t help but appreciate their take on it. I am super excited to see what else these guys have coming down the pipeline. They are definitely a brand to watch!

Wrap nap in progress
Wrap nap in progress

 

Review: BB Tai Stands the Test of Time

BB Tai in a Back Carry Tied Tibetan style
BB Tai in a Back Carry Tied across the chest

Babylonia, the makers of the BB Tai, are veterans in the baby carrier industry. This Belgium brand has been around for 16 years, making quality woven wraps, ring slings, stretchies, and Meh Dai’s. They recently sent me a BB Tai (their version of a Wrap Conversion Meh Dai) to review, and honestly both my partner and I have been wearing it nonstop. I have a pile of woven wrap testers here right now, and the BB Tai has been the carrier I have been grabbing every time we head out the door.

 

 

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Meh Dai’s. They are versatile and adjustable for use with a newborn, through the toddler stage. They are the one of the few carriers that I would recommend to a family looking for “one carrier” to get them through their babywearing years – they are an affordable, ergonomic, easy to use babywearing device for anyone interested in using such a thing. The BB Tai ups the ante on some of the other carriers in this category (Infantino :cough cough: ), by producing their products with organizations that are members of the International Federation for Fair Trade (IFAT), and utilizing 100% organic cotton for their woven materials.

Sherman having a blast wearing the Dragon Baby in a BB Tai
Sherman having a blast wearing the Dragon Baby in a BB Tai

 

The carrier itself is so beautiful in its simplicity. It has wrap style straps, with pleating on the shoulders. There is no padding, which makes for a very sleek looking carrier, but the weight is very well distributed with even the heaviest toddler by the wide wrap straps. The other day we went to a parade, and unintentionally ended up walking a few miles from our car with our toddler in the 90 degree heat of July. The way back we really put the BB Tai to the test, wearing an exhausted 30lb Dragon Baby the few miles back to the car in the hot hot sun. Besides being pleasantly surprised at how breathable and soft the woven fabric was for the summer temperatures, I was also happy to find that the carrier was incredibly supportive and comfortable for use with a giant toddler! I was able to use the wrap straps to provide adequate knee-to-knee coverage for her, providing additional comfort to my back as well.

 

Using those wrap style straps for leggy toddler support
Using those wrap style straps for leggy toddler support

The head rest is adjustable, which made it tall enough for my three year old, but also it was able to adjust to fit a newborn and provide adequate support for their floppy little heads. Speaking of newborns, the BB Tai has this cool little woven insert that uses Velcro to attach to the inside panel of the carrier, acting as an infant insert for a smaller baby. It is fool proof to use, which is one of the things I find most appealing about this particular insert for a first time wearer. Unlike many of the other carriers with infant inserts on the market, this one is not bulky and will not lead to overheating, it fits in just like it was a part of the carrier to begin with, but can easily be removed when you no longer need it.

 

The BB Tai came in a cute little bag, made of the same woven fabric as the carrier. The carrier fit easily into the bag, leaving room for a few other things like keys, wallet, cell phone, and a diaper or two. It even had a smaller zipper pocket on the outside to keep the keys separate from your beloved carrier. 😉 It was such a nice addition, and is likely one of the major reasons that we keep reaching for this carrier over others when we head out the door.

BB Tai has all the sleepy dust! We've had like 5 naps in the last week.
BB Tai has all the sleepy dust! We’ve had like 5 naps in the last week.

 

The BB Tai does not come in a lot of flashy colors or prints, but I am into neutral colors in general, so I find that appealing. It has a classy look to it, and can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. And at $109 retail, you can feel just as comfortable taking it hiking as you would wearing it to a more formal occasion. This carrier is a fantastic addition to anyone’s stash! A great gift for a first time parent, or a nice transition for someone looking to move beyond a Soft Structure Carrier but still weary of the woven wraps. This is a tried and true budget carrier suitable for any wearer.

Tutorial: Poppin’s Finish for a Double Hammock

Double Hammock with a Poppin’s Finish Tutorial.

 

This tutorial already assumes knowledge of a Double Hammock. This is a nice one shoulder alternative finish, and is great for showcasing both sides of a woven wrap in a carry. I am using a size 6 (4.6 meter) Sagitta Sunshine by Risaroo Wovens, which is my Base size +1.   I consider this an advanced carry.

 

Review: Pemberley Muse – Another Luxurious Hit from Risaroo Wovens

Well contained toddler at a Food Show in Pemberley Muse
Well contained toddler at a Food Show in Pemberley Muse

As Risaroo Wovens celebrates their 1st year as a company, I thought it would be appropriate to review the Pemberley Muse tester that I just had the pleasure of hosting. It is the sophomore release in their Orelia collection, and a welcome addition to the world of Toddler-worthy woven wraps.

Tying out a Freshwater finish.
Tying out a Freshwater finish.

This was not the first Risaroo to come through here. We had a go with the Atarah Meadow and Atarah Sundance wraps that they so graciously donated to Babywearing International of the Bay Area, the luscious Kerrington Vita came through here, and I had the pleasure to host a Kerrington Pearl as well. All of these wraps were beautifully made and wrapped wonderfully… but I have to say that this Pemberley Muse was by far my favorite one yet. I admittedly had a little giggle at the name, but it seemed appropriate for such a lavish woven wrap.

The Pemberley is a mercerized cotton blend. It weighs in at a solid 298 g/m2 – thick by any measure. It reminds me of some of the thicker hemp wraps I have tried, like a Natibaby Hemp Gears or a Didymos Pink Dots. But unlike those hempy beasts, this Pemberley didn’t stand up on its own when it came out of the package. The mercerized cotton made for a really soft and moldable wrap after only one wash.

Smiles all around at the NA Food Show in S.F. This double hammock with a sling ring held for hours.
Smiles all around at the NA Food Show in S.F. This double hammock with a sling ring held for hours.

Beautiful isn’t everything in the wrap game, but Pemberley had a lot going for it once I finally got around to wearing it out. I tend to lean towards thicker wraps these days with my primary wearee being a healthy 30 lb 3 year old, so I was excited to put it to work. Despite its thickness, I found it quite easy to wrap with! It glided really well with the cross passes and fancy finishes, no wrestling matches here. Yet it had enough grip that once it was in place – it stayed there. Of course that shouldn’t have surprised me, as the wrap has some gorgeous texture to it! The floral pattern seemed to come right out of the wrap at you. It was quite dense, so it really held its form even after a long time wearing a heavy child. I thought I would miss some of the “bounce” that some of my favorite wraps have, but it made for a solid wrap job with minimal effort. I contained my toddler for over 2 hours on my back as we explored an industry Food Show that really was not the best place for a toddler to be running about. I did not once find myself stopping to readjust. At some point she fell asleep back there, and we both remained comfortable for the length of the excursion. When it came time to take her down, there was zero sag in my wrap job.

This wrap is really wide, 72cm to be exact, so toddler-worthy is an honest descriptor for this beauty. We got really easy knee to knee coverage, with enough width that at the top my little one had slack to cuddle in and nap when she was ready to. I found it easy to wrap with, so it would be great for someone learning to wrap a larger baby. The combination of the width and the thickness would not necessarily make it my first choice for a newborn wrap though. Especially when Risaroo has so many other gorgeous newborn wraps to choose from. (:cough cough: Kerrington Pearl)

Thanks Risaroo for letting this lovely come to play! I look forward to seeing what comes next from this awesome American made woven wrap line.

Having a blast in Pemberley Muse!
Having a blast in Pemberley Muse!

Is It Too Hot to Babywear?

Close to 100 Degrees and here I am in a Moby Wrap. Novice choice.
Close to 100 Degrees and here I am in a Moby Wrap. Novice choice.

As the temperature creeps up around 90 here in Northern California, I can’t help feel for those in even hotter climates right now. My sympathy especially to those in late stages of pregnancy or nursing a newborn all day. My Gemini daughter was born right in the middle of June back in 2012, and I remember really suffering through those early weeks without air conditioning and an infant with colic. I looked to babywearing to help me cope with my daughter who constantly needed to be in arms, but silly (novice)me… I had asked for a Moby Wrap on my registry. I knew nothing about babies or carriers. It was a wonder I didn’t completely give up on it following our first sweaty mess of an attempt at using it. An overheated baby can be dangerous, so does that mean you shouldn’t wear them? Is it too hot to babywear?

Nope. Not too hot. Plenty of cultures babywear in extreme heat. Stands to reason that they also have carriers that are appropriate for those conditions. I get asked time and again what my recommendations for Baby Carriers are for climates that are really hot and humid, so I thought I would compile a list of some of my personal favorite carriers for Hot Weather. If you need some tips on how to safely wear your baby during hot weather, I recommend checking out this blog post on the subject. Without further ado, my Top Choices for Hot Weather Carriers.

 

Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)

The ease of use is a big draw for these carriers. They are easy to get a hold of, and durable for travel. I think they are a fabulous choice for a baby that is roughly 5 months or older, who can be worn safely without the use of an infant insert. Obviously you totally counteract the mesh in these carriers if you put an infant insert in there. I typically don’t recommend wearing a newborn in an SSC as a first choice anyway. This goes doubly in the dead of summer.

My partner wearing his personal favorite SSC - an Onya.
My partner wearing his personal favorite SSC – an Onya.

The Onya Baby – This is by far my favorite SSC for Hot Weather wearing. The Next Step has super soft fabric made of recycled water bottles, which is actually UV 50. The Outback is rip-stop Nylon. They are breathable and sporty. What makes this my favorite though, is that it has full mesh lining throughout the carrier. The straps, the waist band, the panel… it all has breathable mesh on it. It really allows for the air to pass through the carrier, making it a clear choice for me over the other SSC’s if I am going somewhere really hot. The built-in high chair also makes it stand out as a top choice for travel to regions that may or may not have high chairs.

The Ergo Performance Ventus – this Ergo model has “3D Air Mesh” which is not lined, and allows air to pass through the panel. The absence of a storage pocket may be a turn-off for some people, but it is a selling point if you are looking for maximum airflow. It is really easy to get a hold of, available at many Big Box Stores if you need something at the last minute before running out of town.

Lillebaby Airflow – This Lillebaby model has “3D Air Mesh” and an adjustable seat that can be adjusted to fit a smaller baby up to a toddler. I like the wide straps for comfort, but if you run really hot they might not be ideal for you. The two storage pockets are great for stashing stuff during a hike or at the beach. The different heights available for the back panel can be used to your advantage in hot situations as well.

Ring Slings

This would be my #1 carrier preference for a summer born newborn. A single layer of light fabric for baby, an ergonomic one shoulder carry with limited fabric wrapped around mom, a supportive and comfortable fit all around. Not to mention it folds up nicely into your bag when not in use. Not all ring slings are created equal – especially when it comes to those appropriate for hot weather. There are tons out there that would work, but some of my personal vetted favorites for the heat are below.

My lovely friend Cho in a Yaro Ring Sling
My lovely friend Cho in a Yaro Ring Sling

Linen Ring Sling – There are numerous brands of Linen Ring Sling out there that I would stand behind. It all depends on your price point and shoulder preference. My top recommendations for linen ring slings, are Sleeping Baby Productions, Sakura Bloom, Heartiness, Li’l Peeper Keepers and Soul Slings (currently available overseas).

Wrap Conversion Ring Slings There are dozens of choices in this category, but some really stand out for me. IndaJani, Yaro, or Maya Wraps. (I know Maya isn’t technically a WCRS, but it is a woven cotton ring sling and fit nicely into this category) These brands all have light, airy weaves, they are supportive for larger babies and toddlers while still allowing air to pass through the sling. Despite the airiness, they’re thick enough to provide comfort and cush enough for your toddler too. These are also all budget friendly brands, so you can use that as an excuse to buy “one more carrier” specifically for the hot weather. You’re welcome.

Wraps

Nothing compares to the comfort and versatility of a woven wrap, which leads me to grab for it even in the middle of the summer. Over the years I have stumbled upon some amazing woven wraps that are great for the summer. Here are a few of my favorites:

So stinkin hot in this photo, but we remain comfy in our IndaJani.
So stinkin hot in this photo, but we remain comfy in our IndaJani.

IndaJani – it is no secret that I am a huge fan of this brand. Handwoven by artisan weavers in Oaxaca, these carriers came from a culture that has been wearing in extreme heat for generations. Leave it to the experts to weave my absolute favorite hot weather wrap. Their thinner weaves are great for summer newborns, while the thick Huini, Tiil and Binni wraps are amazingly supportive and soft on the shoulders for a heavy toddler in a single pass carry. They are so loosely woven, making them an excellent choice for air flow.

Heartiness – If we are being completely honest, the 100% linen linen wraps come out of the bag feeling like a burlap sack, and are beastly to break in. The 50/50 linen/cotton blends are amazing though! Once they are broken in, they are so thin and breathable, yet incredibly supportive. They are really accessible as far as price point too. Great for multi-layer back carries in hot climates.

Yaro – Same can be said about the out of box feel, but a quick wash will soften up these wonderful budget woven wraps. They recently released a hemp line too, bumping them up into one of my top slots for a breathable, supportive, budget friendly woven. They are not quite as loosely woven as the other suggestions, but they are not a particularly tight weave, and I find them quite airy overall.

We're both really happy in this linen Ellevill.
We’re both really happy in this linen Ellevill.

Ellevill – This was one of my very first wraps – a Linen Zara Cloud. Ellevill linen wraps like a dream. It is thin and beautiful and you get some flawless multi-pass carries. They break in really easy too. The really long tapers help make a nice small knot. I wouldn’t call Ellevill a “budget” line though, which is why I do not tend to recommend them as readily.

Wrapsody Breeze Gauze – This is a wonderful choice for a lightweight newborn wrap. It is thin and breezy (hence the name) and aesthetically pleasing. These wraps are not suited for larger babies, and share a price point with some of the woven wraps Iisted above. Although they are great for the summer, they don’t top my list for those reasons.

There are many many many other choices out there, but hopefully this will give you a starting place in your search for appropriate carriers for this hot summer, or your summer travels. As most of us know, NOT wearing the baby isn’t exactly an option… so let’s at least do so comfortably and safely. Keep cool and wear on.