The first three months of your baby’s life is dubbed “the fourth trimester” for a reason: Your newborn baby’s favorite place is as close to your body as possible. They spent so much time in their mother’s womb that skin-to-skin contact with a parent is the best way to keep your baby warm, calm, and comfortable.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to always hold even newborns or young babies in your arms, especially if you need to move around a lot or need your hands free to get a task done. The perfect solution to this problem is to use a baby carrier, and baby wraps are the most versatile option to carry your baby. Baby wraps have been used for a long time by parents of different cultures around the world. They allow you to multitask while continuing your cuddle session with your baby in a way that’s comfortable for them.
Keep reading to learn what a baby wrap is, the benefits of using one, and how to use a baby wrap to carry your little one.
What is a Baby Wrap?
A baby wrap is a long piece of cloth that you wear which allows you to support your baby with your body. The tendency to do this is termed “babywearing.” Generally, you tie the piece of fabric into a knot around yourself to create a pouch that your baby can sit in. You can wrap the fabric around your shoulder or torso and position the pouch with your baby’s body to be on your chest, at your hip, or against your back.
A baby wrap should be comfortable for not only your baby, but for you as well. A baby wrap will distribute your baby’s weight across your shoulders and hips, so that you don’t get sore while carrying them. Wraps are best used for young babies, in the first several months of your baby’s life, but you can also use them until your baby becomes too big to fit in them.
If you want a simpler method with similar results, you can opt to use a baby sling. Although you don’t have as many options when it comes to customizing the way you wear a baby sling, it’s easier to put on and to carry your baby around in it. There are also various types of baby carriers, like a soft-structured carrier, a beluga wrap, buckle carrier, or boba wrap.
Here are some factors that may affect the type of baby wrap you get:
- Type of material: Do you prefer thinner, stretchy wrap material, or thicker, sturdier fabric? The type of fabric you use may depend on the climate you’ll be using the wrap in or what feels most comfortable for you and your baby.
- Longevity: If you only need a baby wrap for their infancy, you may be fine with any baby wrap. However, if you want to use it when your child is a toddler or older baby as well, you’ll want to get a wrap that is big enough to accommodate their size and weight.
- Ease of use: Are you okay with having to wrap the fabric around you each time you use it? If you want a quicker and easier method, you may want to consider using a different type of baby carrier.
Benefits of Using a Baby Wrap
Baby wraps are a great tool if your baby is fussy while you need to get something done around the house. Whether that’s meal prep, some light organizing or some work on your laptop, a baby wrap keeps your hands free while helping to ensure the comfort of your baby.
There are other devices available that may be equally effective in calming your baby while you complete a task, such as baby bouncers and swings, but sometimes it’s best to keep your baby close to your body. Another benefit of baby wraps is that you don’t have to worry about transferring your baby to their crib if they fall asleep – baby wraps are safe for babies to sleep in, making them great for on-the-go.
Other benefits of baby wraps include:
- Easy to adjust for different body types
- Prevents your arms from getting sore from carrying your baby and gives them a break
- Extended physical contact with your baby, releasing oxytocin
- Easier to navigate crowds than using a stroller
How to Use a Baby Wrap
The way you wrap a baby wrap depends on the material-specifically, whether the material is woven or stretchy. Stretchy fabric may seem more convenient, but over time, the fabric may remain stretched and start causing your baby to sag or hang diagonally.
Using a baby wrap may take some time to get used to, but with some practice, eventually it will come as second nature, and you’ll have your baby strapped against you in under a minute. It’s best to carry infants on your chest, but at around 6 months old or whenever your baby can hold their head up, you can try wrapping them around your side. Wrapping your baby on your back is only recommended for babies who are at least 1 year old.
Below is a detailed instruction on how to wrap your infant around your chest.
- Unfold the wrap and find the center of it, holding it up in front of you.
- Place the center of the wrap across your chest while keeping the fabric in each hand.
- While still holding the wrap, cross your hands behind you and pull them up to place each end of the wrap over your shoulders.
- You should now have an “X” formed behind your back. Grab each end of the wrap in front of you and cross them over again. You should now have an “X” on your chest as well. The placement of the “X” will determine where your baby will sit – the higher the “X,” the higher your baby.
- Tie the wrap around your waist in a double knot, sort of like a waist belt. If it’s too long, you can wrap the fabric around your waist once before tying it.
- Depending on the size of your baby, you should have 6-8 inches left in the front for them to fit into. If all is good, pick up your baby facing you and lay them against you on the side that is opposite of the inside panel of the wrap. Put the baby’s leg through the inside panel first and then the other one through the opposite panel.
- Pull the inside panel over your baby’s back so that it’s all the way across. Their back, bottom, and thighs should be covered by the inside panel.
- Pull the outside panel over your baby’s back and double-check that they are sitting in a comfortable position.
- Take your baby’s legs and push them through the outside panel. Pull it up until it’s under the baby’s neck.
- Tuck the bottom under their knees, and you’re set!
Every parent will tell you that nothing beats carrying a baby in a baby carrier. Baby wraps serve the function of keeping your baby close to your body while providing versatility. Consider adding a baby wrap to your collection of baby equipment to always be ready to bring your little one close to your heart!